Twee instrumentals from Gatto Marte and l'Ensemble Rayť! A twee song from Sodastream! And that's not all: music from noted pal of Deleuze and follower of Fripp Richard Pinhas, a song by Hans Eisler sung by Dagmar Krause, and not one but two (2) abstract banjo thingies!
Yes, if it's Friday it must be time to listen to me pleasure myself aurally by "clicking" the "link" sometime between 1 and 3 pm PST!
Do you want to run the Friday game?
(Teofilo said he wanted to be the answerer for a Two Minute Mystery last week. If he doesn't show up, we can play Botticelli, the old standby, but I am sick, and too weak to answer questions, so y'all will have to take up the burden.)
When I posted on the massacre at Haditha before, I called it monstrous, and what I had thought happened was monstrous. From what I had read, I believed that a group of American soldiers had, after being attacked, entered a nearby house and murdered the men, woman, and children inside in a fit of rage, or revenge, or some other motivation I can't even guess at. And while that was criminal and inexcusable, I realize now that I was consoling myself by thinking that moments, or minutes, of insanity happen to people under great stress, and that while I couldn't excuse it I could at least, almost, understand it.
Our soldiers hunted down the Iraqi civilians they murdered over a period of hours. They went into two houses; they took five men out of a taxi. And they killed them. It seems that perhaps only a few of the Marines involved committed the murders -- the others present simply condoned them. I didn't think I could be sicker and sadder about this than I was already. Via Tom Tomorrow.
Go read him on the problems with the FBI raid on Rep. Jefferson's office. The quick summary is yes, Jefferson is a bad guy, yes, there has to be some way to investigate corrupt Congresspeople, but this is an intolerable violation of separation of powers. Allowing this sort of search allows the FBI to intimidate Congress at will, and that's a bad, bad thing.
If you want to read me on this, I discussed it with Slartibartifast in the comments to Obsidian Wings starting here.
Denny Hastert appears to be distinctly cross about the leak from the Justice Department saying he's under investigation. He's calling it retaliation for his objections to the raid on Rep. Jefferson's office.
Pleeeease can the Republicans in Congress start fighting bitterly with the Administration? Pleeease? I've been good, and it would be so much fun to watch.
WOOOOOOOOO!!!!! SOUL PATROL!!!!!!!!!!
And dude, David Hasselhoff was crying.
The Journal of Medical Ethics has an article [PDF] making the case that the rhythm method might actually kill more embryos than other forms of contraception. I say the anti-contraception crusaders should go Full Quiver or STFU.
[Via Hit and Run]
A concern for consistency has pushed advocates of the pro-life position into opposing all contraceptive techniques that cause embryonic deaths....What has gone unnoticed is that, if one is willing to make a few relatively innocent assumptions, then the rhythm method may well be responsible for massive embryonic death and the same logic that turned pro-lifers away from morning after pills, IUDs and pill usage, should also make them nervous about the rhythm method.
It seems reasonable to assume that an embryo that results from an ‘‘old’’ ovum (that is waiting at the end of the fertile period) or an ‘‘old’’ sperm (that is still lingering on from before ovulation), and that is trying to implant in a uterine wall that is not at its peak of receptivity, is less viable than an embryo that comes about in the centre interval of the fertile period. Let us make a conservative guess that the chance that an embryo conceived in the centre interval of the fertile period, which coincides with the abstinence period in the rhythm method—let us call this ‘‘the heightened fertility (HF) period’’—is twice as likely to be viable as an embryo conceived at the tail ends of the fertile period. So now let us run the argument. We know that even conscientious rhythm method users get pregnant. Conception may occur due to intercourse during the tail ends of the fertile period and the conceived ovum may turn out to be viable. Rhythm method users try to avoid pregnancy by aiming at the period in which conception is less likely to occur and in which viability is lower. So their success rate is due not only to the fact that they manage to avoid conception, but also to the fact that conceived ova have reduced survival chances.
Pro-lifers oppose IUDs because their main mode of operation is to make embryonic death likely. Now suppose that we were to learn that the success of the rhythm method is actually due, not to the fact that conception does not happen—sperm and ova are much more long lived than we previously thought—but rather because the viability of conceived ova outside the HF period is minimal due to the limited resilience of the embryo and the limited receptivity of the uterine wall. If this were the case, then one should oppose the rhythm method for the same reasons as one opposes IUDs. If it is callous to use a technique that makes embryonic death likely by making the uterine wall inhospitable to implantation, then clearly it is callous to use a technique that makes embryonic death likely by organising one’s sex life so that conceived ova lack resilience and will face a uterine wall that is inhospitable to implantation.
So what is the alternative? If one is concerned about minimising embryonic death, then one should avoid types of contraception whereby each unintended pregnancy (due to its failure) comes at the expense of a high embryonic death rate. Given our first assumption, a condom user (who makes no distinction between HF and non-HF periods) can count on one embryonic death for each unintended pregnancy. A rhythm method user, however, should count on two to three embryonic deaths for each unintended pregnancy. Assuming a success rate of 95% for condom usage, we can count on an expectation of .5 pregnancies in 10 years. Hence, the expectation of embryonic death is .5 per ten years for a condom user, which is substantially lower than the expectation of two to three embryonic deaths per ten years on the rhythm method. Even a policy of practising condom usage and having an abortion in case of failure would cause less embryonic deaths than the rhythm method.
I didn't say anything about the Sunday hit piece on the state of the Clintons' marriage, but now David Broder has picked it up as proof that Clinton's marriage is going to be a major issue in her chance of getting elected:
But for all the delicacy of the treatment, the very fact that the Times had sent a reporter out to interview 50 people about the state of the Clintons' marriage and placed the story on the top of Page One was a clear signal -- if any was needed -- that the drama of the Clintons' personal life would be a hot topic if she runs for president.
There is absolutely no acknowledgement that the Times pulled this article out of nowhere -- there's no news hook, there's no connection to any indication that anyone outside the media gives a damn about the state of their marriage, nor that their marriage differs in any important respect from that of any other politician. (Do I have to list known Congressional adulterers who don't get this nonsense? Didn't think so.) Broder is simply stating that he and his buddies in the media intend to hound Clinton about the state of her marriage forever, because they feel like it, and because they had so much fun with it in the '90s. Useless nitwits, all of them. (Go read digby, too.)
Update: Tiny Revolution has an interesting comparative take on Broder's priorities as well; it's worth clicking through to read.
Online, for your delectation—but for how long?
Crooked Timber links to a website called DefendDelay.com, which appears to be raising money for Tom DeLay's legal defense. At the top of the page, as support for their attempt to make the case for DeLay, is a video clip of Stephen Colbert interviewing Robert Greenwald, a filmmaker who's just made a movie about DeLay's misconduct, in Colbert's character as a faux-conservative talking head. That is, the people at DefendDeLay appear to believe that Colbert's schtick is real.
It has to be a hoax -- DefendDeLay can't possibly be a real organization. Someone, please, tell me that no one is that stupid.
Update: Damn. The donate page works, at least to the point where it can detect a made-up credit card number. Good lord, they really don't seem to be kidding.
I stopped going to the stupid gym with an escalator and started going to a smaller one with a laid-back "where everybody knows your name" kind of vibe. In general, I like it but there's one area where it's too laid back. After a couple of weeks, the girl who works the front desk started recognizing me and waiving me past the desk most nights without scanning my membership card.
Now, I don't like going to the gym. I'd much rather do something outdoors and "real". So if I'm going to drag my ass to the gym, I want it in the damn computer. I know there's no grade for attendance but I feel cheated not getting credit for my workout in The Great Gym Computer. I envision some imaginary person pulling up my usage report and clucking that I'm one of those people who pays for a membership but only shows up twice a month and want to shout "No! I was here five times this week! The computer is full of liiies!"
The server upgrade is complete. Comments are reopened. Long live Unfogged.
It looks like Elliot Spitzer has the NY gubernatorial election locked -- the Conservative Party has just endorsed some pro-life dude named Faso for governor. If Faso gets the Republican nomination over William Weld, he has no hope -- he's simply too far right for NY. If Weld gets the Republican nomination over Faso, as he almost certainly will, he loses because Faso splits off the far right wing. No Republican has won statewide office in NY without the Conservative endorsement for thirty years.
Nice: that's one less thing left to worry about. Now can someone talk Bill Clinton into running for mayor of NYC? He'd do a great job, and it'd be relaxing.
Discussion thread here.
This is clearly intolerable -- we're giving up and going to a dedicated server. We should have comments back up and running by Monday, maybe sooner. (There will be new posts during that time, and the incomparable Becks will be hosting comment threads for them.)
Sadly, this means that my earlier post disclaiming any need for your stinking money is now inoperative. There will be fundraising to cover hosting costs. We'll try to make it unobtrusive.
Further, the fact that we keep on having this problem suggests that there is something deeply messed up in the guts of the site. If you are a programming wizard who's good with perl and CGI scripts, capable of doing a kickass job of optimizing Movable Type, and you do some consulting work on the side, email Becks (at unfogged.com): we'd like to actually hire you for, you know, money, to see if you can fix these problems, and maybe let us drop back to shared hosting when the six month dedicated server contract is up.
Despite Ben's truly amazing awesomeness, we've been shut down again. This time we almost crashed Pair's server due to a bunch of simultaneous mt-comments.cgi scripts running (not from the same IP, so not a spam attack) and they're pretty pissed. So, we either need to move the site or upgrade.
And, in case you didn't guess, we're bitching here.
Yes children, the comments are back—after a fashion. As you can see, they're read-only, which means that my amazing triumph in the Innocence thread can no longer be appreciated for the masterwork which it was.
Here's the new regime: periodically, like once or twice a month, all comments to posts more than two (or four!) weeks old will be archived, that is, written out to a plain ol' html file, so that we can still have the joy of reading and linking to them, but without the comment database we've been dragging about and which has, or so we suspect, been causing us all these troubles. We are also maintaining the comments in a separate database, in case we have to do something drastic and database-assisted.
If a redirection isn't working, or you experience comment-related woes, don't hesitate to let me know—after all, I don't have to finish the reading I have for tomorrow that I wasn't doing today because I was slaving over a hot keyboard for the ungrateful likes of you, or anything like that; besides, Hegel reads quick, no?
These columns always piss me off. Every week I think they've hit a new low, but now...now...I'm "going" all Kaye Grogan on "them". This has to be the most irritating NYT "love" "column" ever. It's really hard to say quite what is so annoying. I mean, the author is a self-proclaimed feminist. Great! And she's heterosexual! Who cares?! And...
As a girl, I was in love with the idea of love — love poems, letters, stories, songs, even Courtney Love, for what seemed to me her well-worn heartache [oooh, stop scaring me with your countercultural ways. Couldn't you have just loved Courtney Love because she's a kick-ass rock musician in a seminal band? Oh, sorry.]. Boys themselves, with their fake guns and dirty knees, didn't interest me much [gosh, now imagine that I yawn ostentatiously]. But as they were my ticket to romance, I adored them more or less as a practical matter.
In high school, during marathon phone conversations, cheap pizza dinners and long suburban car rides, I began to fall for boys because of who they actually were, or at least who I thought they might become. I still loved Love, but now the love began to stretch to real people.
And this is where things got complicated, because around the same time, with my working mother as a role model and an influential teacher as my guide, I started to identify as a feminist. I read, re-read, and underlined "Backlash," "The Beauty Myth" and "The Feminine Mystique." I grew enraged by what I learned. Enraged, and utterly confused. Who was keeping women down? Men. But who were just so cute that I couldn't sleep at night for thinking and writing and obsessing about them? You guessed it, the self-same.
OMG!!! Feminists might want to have sex with men!? Why wasn't I informed that they weren't all scary lesbians who don't shave their armpits? And have lesbian sex?! Dude, and this chick totally went to Smith! But then she entered the cut-throat world of the NYC dating scene:
Soon I began to recognize a familiar look on the faces of the men I went out with, the physical incarnation of Check, please. I knew that I could be too harsh, too quick to judge and probably guilty of the very sexism I railed against. But I couldn't back down.
Tia, I think you're taking this too seriously. But f'realz, what is the consummately tedious lesson of this little essay?
And now I have fallen for a man who understands and respects my feminist beliefs, and who also takes me to dinner, holds the door, calls me Babydoll in a slow Southern drawl.
Embracing those contradictions has led me to discover a world between the harsh reality of sexism and the airy wishes of my love-drenched fantasies.
Wow, so it turns out committed feminism doesn't doom you to a life of crazy cat lady celibacy or stipulatively boring lesbianism with a woman with a too-sensible, iron-grey she-mullet? No. Fucking. Way. If there were ever a time when some crippled newsie shouted "stop the presses!" and the great machinery of the NYT screeched to a halt in a whine of protesting gears, this would be that time. Because the real message of this piece can be summed up one way.
I'm sorry, but...
Becks wants us to comment at high speed to see if the site will have trouble on a high traffic day even without our archives up. To that end, I direct everyone's attention to A White Bear's recent post on a male attitude toward women she analogizes to orientalism -- a sort of exaggerated sense of the the awesome mystery and appeal of the feminine, leading to a tendency to treat women as objects of reverence and wonder rather than people.
While certainly not all men do this, and many more men do it occasionally and then snap out of it (which isn't necessarily a problem at all, so long as they do snap out of it. I've certainly done my share of dreamily appreciating the appeal of men being 'manly', in a manner that wasn't necessarily focused on them as people), I know exactly what she's talking about. There are few things more disconcerting, for me, than finding myself in a conversation where I realize that I'm embodying womanhood in all its mysterious glory, and not being able to change the tone of the interaction. I end up, mostly, avoiding men like that -- it's a shame, I'm sure some of them are decent people -- I've just never been able to figure out how to talk to them.
There's been a lot of discussion of whether Representative Jefferson's corruption investigation (there certainly doesn't appear to be much more to investigate -- $90K in his freezer?) is going to blunt the impact of all of the much more exciting Abramoff/Cunningham/DeLay/Nay/etc. corruption. Matt Yglesias, sitting in for Josh Marshall, makes the argument that there's no real equivalence there -- Jefferson appears to be a isolated crook, operating at an entirely different level from the web of corruption that pervades the Republican Congressional leadership.
I think he's right that there's no real equivalence, and that fact makes it possible to turn Jefferson's corruption into a political asset for the Democratic party -- it makes taking a hard line on corruption look evenhanded, rather than like a partisan witch-hunt. Pelosi can come out and say "When we find crooks in our ranks, we disown them, and support their prosecution. Why won't the Republicans do the same?" And the real answer -- that walking away from Rep. Jefferson is painless, because he's no one terribly important within the Democratic party, while walking away from Tom DeLay is a big, painful deal for the Republicans -- only helps us; while the Democratic party has some corruption on the fringes, the Republicans are corrupt at the root.
While we contemplate the future of Unfogged, another important future is being decided, the future of a SEX GOD. That's right, tonight at 8:00 is the final showdown of Monkey v. Robot. I don't know who initiated the meme of describing the battle that way, but it's fairly apt: warmth, humor, vibrancy, even, some might say, spasticity, versus prepackaging, convention, and emotional disconnect. The flaw in the analogy is that a robot would be reliably on pitch. You can listen to all the Monkey's mp3's here. Even if you haven't been watching AI thus far, watch tonight, and then vote for the Good.
It's growl v. melisma.
It's convulsions v. pageant smiles.
It's soul and funk v. pop.
It's the art in yourself v. yourself in the art.
It's monkey v. robot.
But of course, I would never presume to tell you who to vote for.
While we figure out a long-term solution, I deleted all but the last week's worth of comments (don't worry, I backed them up) and the host agreed to re-enable us with the understanding that if the server spikes again, we're shut down for good. If the server spikes with only 1500 comments in the database, we've got bigger issues so I guess that's OK. Please let me know in comments or via email (becks at unfogged dot com) if you see ANYTHING weird. (Errors, etc.)
I was going to just send this to the bloggers, but I figured I'd go ahead and post it here for all to see since this really is a community. I've made up a list of the options for the site as I see them, given our current predicament with our host. Ideally, there's probably some way to fabulously optimize our scripts so that it can handle our current comment load and ~10,000 comments per month growth but, well, I just don't have the time to figure it out and our host isn't really giving us the time to try to find it.
I think we're all sick of the downtime and the internal server errors and so on and it's time to pick a solution, even if it's imperfect, so we can make the site more stable. Please feel free to contribute your comments and feedback here.
My goal is to implement the solution over the weekend. In order to have enough lead time, we need to come to some kind of decision by Tuesday 5 PM EST.
A caveat: while we want and appreciate everyone's input, the final decision will be up to the bloggers, since we'll have to do the maintenance.
Option 1: Move to Haloscan for new comments, somehow archiving old comments
I would really prefer not to do this. Given the personal/sensitive nature of some of the things we talk about, I think we need to retain full control over our comments. I want direct access to the database where they are stored in case we ever need to repeat The Great Redaction of March '06, for all of our safety.
* Comments no longer our problem
* Takes comments out of our control
Option 2: Periodically archive old posts and comments to HTML, leaving only the last month in the database
I don't like the idea of completely deleting the old data from the database, for the same reason as in Option 1. It gives us fewer options in the case of a CYA incident. At a minimum, I think we would need to store the data as a backup in a local version of MT so we can regenerate them.
* May be a way to do it without breaking internal and exteral links
* Would cut down on spam
* Can't comment on old posts
* Difficult to edit archived posts/comments
* Some duplication in site maintenance
* More work to archive comments/regenerate archives than other options
Option 3: Create an Unfogged Archives site at another domain/subdomain
Every 2-4 weeks, archive the data from the main Unfogged site to an archive Unfogged site.
* Costs less than dedicated hosting
* Could be done in a way that preserves interal links
* Would cut down on spam
* Could easily edit archived posts/comments
* Archiving could be fairly automated
* Would reduce server load for main site because search engine traffic would go to archived site
* Not super-cheap
* Can't comment on old posts
* Some duplication in site maintenance
* Would probably break links to archived comments from external sites (although probably not links to posts)
Option 4: Move from MT to bulletin-board software (phpBB)
Although Unfogged has become kind of a bulletin board/IRC channel, I'd like to avoid this because I think it would take us out of the conversation of the blogosphere. Also, I think most of us prefer the "bulletin board on a blog" feel instead of a real bulletin board.
Option 5: Dedicated hosting
Would leave everything open and commentable, but would be super-expensive.
* Can comment on old posts
* Everything in one place
* No periodic maintenance to archive comments
We got shut down by the host again, only this time in a way that we can't fix. I'm going to have to call them and ask to be re-enabled after work. Will keep you updated.
UPDATE: Well, this sucks. I just called and tried to get comments re-enabled and the host said that they won't do it. They said that we have two choices: find another host or upgrade to a dedicated server. They are no longer willing to let us try to figure out how to reduce the server load programmatically or through database changes. Upgrade to a dedicated server or find another home if we ever want to comment again. They're holding us hostage.
We're in the process of discussing what to do.
Here's an interesting (scary) blog from a National Guard pilot in Iraq. The linked entry is about flying through bad weather with useless weather reports. I haven't got anything to say about it, but thought it was worth reading.
This story in the Washington Post discusses the GOP's hopes for regaining control of the political discourse by making a strong showing in the midterm elections. The funny thing is that they seem to be defining making a strong showing as holding onto control of the House.
I thought the conventional wisdom, at least as of a few weeks ago, was that while the Democrats were expecting to pick up some seats, we really weren't thought to have a realistic shot at winning the House. Is the GOP just trying to set expectations for themselves very, very low, or is there a genuine belief out there that even despite the incredible difficulty of ousting incumbents, that this might actually happen?
I know that one of the features of a gerrymandered political landscape like the one we have is that they facilitate delayed, exaggerated swings in political control -- if one party has set up districts so that it has a narrow majority in a lot of districts, and the opposition has an overwhelming majority in only a few, it can retain power for a while even when it's at a numerical disadvantage. When that numerical disadvantage gets too great, on the other hand, a lot of those narrow-majority districts can flip all at once. I just hadn't thought we were anywhere close to that point yet.
We just experienced another hiccup with the site where the host shut us down for using too many resources. This doesn't appear to be traffic-related (because of few new posts and, I assume, pretty weather, this has been one of the lowest-traffic weekends in a long time). Our host thinks that this is because we have such an unusually large number of comments in our database. Remember when Apo posted about our 100,000th comment two months ago? Sometime tomorrow, I expect that we're going to hit 120,000. 20,000 comments in two months? Holy crap, people.
I should finally have some time to look at the comment scripts this coming weekend and see if I can do anything that will reduce the load. Until then, we might have some ups and downs so I appreciate your patience (and your heads-ups when the site goes down).
ALSO: I don't know what's up with this but every time I try to go to Six Apart's Movable Type forum (here, but you might not want to click - keep reading) in the hopes of searching the archives or posting a question, my anti-virus starts wigging out and says that it's trying to download dozens of trojans to my machine. I have to reboot to get control of my computer again and then get a message saying that Windows recovered from a severe error. So, I don't know what's up with that but it's seriously limiting my research abilities.
I have a tendency to buy books for my kids at any expression of interest, however vague; partially because I like buying stuff for them, and if I limit myself mostly to books I don't feel like I'm being too indulgent; partially because I figure that there's some educational value to it; and partially because I like children's books myself. Last fall, Sally was asking what I knew about Wonder Woman, and I ordered her this, a collection of the original Wonder Woman comic books from the 40s. I figured that current comic books are a little intense for a six-year-old, but anything from the 40s couldn't be too inappropriate.
At the time I got her the Wonder Woman book, Sally was 'reading', in the sense of puzzling things out word by word, but it was well over her level -- she looked at the pictures a bit, and it went back on the shelf. Sometime a few months ago, she became pretty much fully literate all of a sudden (and surprisingly suddenly -- she went from reading one word at a time to taking in paragraphs of information at a glance in what seemed like a week or two. Is that what people mean when they talk about 'breaking the code'?) And this weekend she picked up Wonder Woman again, and is enthralled.
So far so good. Except that I looked at the book the other night, and man oh man is it weird, weird stuff. All sorts of bondagey things going on, and just general bizarreness, which I find from poking around online was in fact explicitly intentional on the part of the writer, who had some sort of odd plan to make feminism attractive to men through bondage imagery. I figure that it won't do Sally any harm, particularly when I think of all the random inappropriate stuff that I read as a small child and entirely failed to understand (or was absolutely terrified by, but without any visibly lasting damage), but I do have a nagging feeling that a better parent would make sure her children weren't reading anything with a sexual subtext at this age. My plan is to ignore this feeling and let them read whatever they want to, but I am not entirely sure I'm doing the right thing.
So I'm going to take the opportunity to ask, is there any defense for the four-in-hand knot? Perhaps my animosity is derived solely from the fact that the only times I've knowingly encountered it was on my fourth-year college roommate, who used a tie that was already thin, wore a wide-collared shirt, and was himself fairly broad, so the resulting knot was comically undersized. But perhaps it's because the knot itself is worthy of disdain!
Of course, I can't even identify the last time I wore a tie at all, so. Probably some time last February or March when I was interviewing for jobs.