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I want my MineshaftTV!

Posted by Apostropher
on 06.03.06

Used Wigs: Unintentionally Gay Videos.

Back in the heyday of MTV some established rock acts made a genuine attempt to be innovative with their videos, trying to break the mold of chintzy special effects, testosterone-filled clichés and the perfunctory live performance. Striving to be completely different, some videos turned out, shall we say, just a bit gay. By "gay" of course, we mean every conceivable meaning of the word.

The Billy Squier video really is something to behold.


 

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Love is Patient, Love is Kind, Love is...

Posted by Becks
on 06.03.06

For your entertainment, the best sex advice column exchange ever.

(It's a bit old but I was recently reminded of it and I think this is wisdom for the ages.)


 

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I am Marie of Roumania

Posted by Ben
on 06.01.06

I'm listening to Scott Walker's "Boy Child" from Scott 4, and not really paying attention to the lyrics, until suddenly I heard "She'll make you happy / She'll take you deep within". Sort of takes you off your guard. (This song is awfully similar to some of the songs on Climate of Hunter, incidentally.)

But why do I mention Scott Walker when I won't be playing anything by him on—that's right—tomorrow's radio show (as usual, 1-3pm PST), which will rather contain a higher than usual proportion of jazz, from such persons and groups as Tim Berne, Otomo Yoshihide's New Jazz Orchestra, Jazzkammer, and XTC! Why? I have no notion why. Also an unusually high number of tunes named after parts of New York. So, listen, or I'll hunt you down Nuge-style.

I'd also like to announce that if I ever do an all-noise show, it'll be called "Buzzing Booming Contusions".

If you'd like, we could also talk about this review (inexplicably behind a paywall at the NYRB's site, and hence reproduced for you here). Has anyone read the book?


 

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Make It Stop.

Posted by LizardBreath
on 06.01.06

The BBC has evidence of another group killing of civilians by American soldiers, this one in Ishaq, north of Baghdad-- 11 Iraqis, ranging in age from 75 to 6 months, were killed. The US military account of the incident in March is that a building collapsed under heavy fire, killing four people inside; the Iraqi police accused the US military of rounding up the 11 civilians and shooting them. The BBC now has a videotape showing 11 bodies, killed by gunshots rather than by a building collapse, which they believe to be geniune based on comparison to other images of the scene known to be genuine.

Please, can we just bring our armed forces home? We can spend as much as anyone wants on aid to Iraq, and on trying to hold the country together diplomatically, or through providing support and training to Iraqi forces, given that the state Iraq is in is our fault. But can we stop killing people? (Via Kevin Drum.)


 

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Passing The Hat

Posted by Becks
on 06.01.06

Hey, everyone. As you know, last week our host forced us to upgrade to a dedicated server while we figure out what's causing our scripts to go all crazy. We're hoping this will only be a temporary solution and, after we get everything tuned and running more smoothly, can drop back to a cheaper, shared server.

In the meantime, I hate to do this but we're going to have to do some fundraising to help defray the hosting costs. All money donated will be used to maintain/improve the site (to pay for hosting, guruing, etc.). I promise to put it safely away in an Al Gore-style lockbox to keep Alameida from blowing it on liquor and whores.

I know some of you have mentioned that you were apprehensive about PayPal or couldn't use it for one reason or another so, if that's the case and you'd still like to donate, please shoot me an email at becks at unfogged dot com and we'll see what we can work out.

Thanks in advance to everyone who can contribute!

[Paypal button removed]

UPDATE: As of May 31 @ noon, we're about 75% of the way towards covering the $1300 needed for 6 months of dedicated hosting. Thanks everyone for your contributions so far!


 

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More Mongol Rally Blogging

Posted by LizardBreath
on 06.01.06

My friend Audrey is featured in Time Out New York, talking about her insane plan to drive to Mongolia. Team NewYorkistan has another fundraiser/party coming up on June 29th -- everyone in the NY area should put it on their calendars.


 

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Garcetti v. Ceballos Isn't All That Bad

Posted by LizardBreath
on 06.01.06

I'm going to jump into my guest-blogging stint here by disagreeing with my esteemed host; surprising though it is, given the makeup of the majority and the dissenters, I think Justice Kennedy's opinion in Garcetti v. Ceballos gets it right, and the Breyer and Souter dissents get it wrong. Speech made by a government employee as an integral part of the employee's duties, even on a matter of public concern, shouldn't be protected against retaliation by the First Amendment.

I'm somewhat disturbed by the company I'm keeping here, so let me lay out my thinking explicitly. The case originating current doctrine on the First Amendment protection of government employees' speech is Pickering v. Board of Ed., 361 US. 563 (1968); which stands, essentially, for the proposition that the First Amendment protects government employees against retaliation for speech on matters of public concern -- in that case, a teacher writing to a newspaper and accusing the Board of Education of wrongdoing. Pickering sets up a balancing test as follows:

At the same time it cannot be gainsaid that the State has interests as an employer in regulating the speech of its employees that differ significantly from those it possesses in connection with regulation of the speech of the citizenry in general. The problem in any case is to arrive at a balance between the interests of the teacher, as a citizen, in commenting upon matters of public concern and the interest of the State, as an employer, in promoting the efficiency of the public services it performs through its employees.

Under the Pickering balancing test, the State can regulate speech to the extent that its interference with the 'efficiency of the public services it performs' outweighs the speaker's interest in commenting on matters of public concern. This has proved to be a perfectly workable test: it turns on such things as whether the speech is being made in the speakers' role as a citizen or as an employee, whether it is actually disruptive to the place of employment, and other similar issues. The question posed by this case is: how does that balancing play out when the speech in question is the 'public services' being performed? And when it's put like that, I think the conclusion that the State, as an employer, is entitled to control the manner in which its employees perform their services, and that the First Amendment does not allow state employees to override the employer's judgment as to how their duties should be performed, is inescapable.

The problem with Garcetti is that the facts are so sympathetic -- if they are as stated, Mr. Ceballos was attempting to correct a severe and inexcusable case of wrongdoing by the L.A. Sherriff's Department, and the District Attorney's office was absolutely wrong to have retaliated against him for it. But this is persuasive only to the extent that Mr. Ceballos was right -- if, instead, the memo he wrote were incompetent nonsense, containing unfounded allegations against the Sherriff's Department (I don't mean to imply anything about Mr. Ceballos -- I'm thinking of a possible next case), it's obvious that the District Attorney's office would have to be able to 'retaliate' against him for it. Where someone's job consists of speech, in the form of memos, briefs, court appearances and such things, the content of that speech determines whether the job is being done well or badly; and the employer has to be able to regulate that content and 'retaliate' against the employee when the content is not what the employer wants, or it has no control at all over the job it has hired the employee to do.

Souter and Breyer both nod to this issue. Souter contemplates that speech by government employees in the course of their duties should only be protected only insofar as it meets a high standard of responsibility and consists of "comment on official dishonesty, deliberately unconstitutional action, other serious wrongdoing, or threats to health and safety"; Breyer believes that even that standard would unworkably deprive state employers of control over their employees, and suggests that the First Amendment should protect such speech only where "professional and special constitutional obligations are both present". Either of those standards, still, either: (1) ends up protecting employees whose duties consist of speech from management action even where they are wrong or incompetent in what they have said, which seems absurd, or (2) ends up extending First Amendment protection to speech only when a court considers the speech correct or valuable, substituting the court's opinion on how to perform the employee's duties for the employer's, which seems, likewise, absurd.

I'd love to be talked out of this position -- I'm uncomfortable with the company I'm keeping. Comments, anyone? (Also posted at Lawyers, Guns and Money.)


 

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Guest Blogging

Posted by LizardBreath
on 06.01.06

I'm going to be over at Lawyers, Guns, and Money for June, filling in for Scott Lemeiux. Everything I post (barring Unfogged internal business posts -- fundraising, reading group, etc.) will probably appear both places -- I can't see managing to come up with more content than I do now.

I'd greatly appreciate comments from you guys at LGM, if you've got the time to come over there.


 

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Just Sayin'

Posted by Alameida
on 06.01.06

You know, if we reach our fundraising targets and want to launch a new campaign for a live-blogged Alameida purchase of coke and hoooooers, I'd be fine with that. I mean, we'll also have to buy me a ticket to Bangkok or something. That ping-pong ball thing is kinda cool and all. Kinda. Obviously those Thai chicks have been heeding the tedious advice of mainstream US chick mags that you do kegels in the 7-11 check out line, or whatever. (I have always found the prospect of having to pay people to have sex with you a little depressing, though, no? I mean, should be vice versa if anything.) Although prostitution is, surprisingly, legal in Singapore!

Also, sometimes I flake out on my unfogged thread reading responsibilities and don't know what the hell is going on. So, allow me to address many issues at once:

1. Indonesian food is, in fact, hotter than Thai food, and also worse, and food from Kerala is even hotter, but actually good. Travel vegetarianism is a fine idea, unless you're going to Eastern Europe, in which case you should just give up and have some brains. I had a crazy CIA spy boyfriend for a while who knew Russian (and Serbian and Hungarian and Finnish etc.) and I learned how to make calf brain pelmeni just for him. Eh. Also, they've got some famous Goan pork dishes, but I advise against them. A friend and I ordered some up, but then, after hearing the agonized squeals of the unfortunate pig in question, my friend refused to eat anything, and I had to do double duty in the "festive meats" line. Luckily, I was incredibly drunk and stoned. Also, it was probably the freshest meat I had during my entire trip, so, w00t!

2. Anthony Bourdain was a B- heroin addict? I can totally see this. How could anyone fail to be a heroin addict par excellence, you ask? Well, you could just use like three times and start mooning around like you were dying or something, because you thought Heather Graham was hott in Drugstore Cowboy. (IRL it takes a long time to get hooked on drugs, which means that I am a fucking moron. Also, "drug education" frequently backfires. "They said I would be a junkie by now but I'm fine?! They lied about PCP!!! and so on.) Or you could always be shocking people with your shocking, shocking behavior, instead of hiding works in a Altoids tin like a normal person. Finally, I bought a whole lot of people their first ever dope and that was a shitty thing to do. I have surely signed up for five turns in the Hell of Iron Mortars and Pestles on that one. Irrelevant, pointlessly conscience-salving pseudonymous apologies all round! Aw, I'm drunk, you guys have got to cut me some slack. Also, give us money!!!


 

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My Little Girl Is John Derbyshire's Worst Nightmare

Posted by LizardBreath
on 05.31.06

Well, maybe not precisely. But he appears to strongly disapprove of bilingual schools like the one she attends. Apparently such programs are "part of a deliberate program of Hispanicization on the part of our political and bureaucratic elites." I can't quite figure out what his problem is -- is he actually afraid that programs like this are going to reduce the dominance of English-speaking in the US? Because at Sally's school, the reverse is happening -- the kids who go in speaking primarily Spanish come out with excellent English, better, it appears, than in the neighborhood schools that teach in English only, and the Anglo kids remain Anglo kids, just Anglo kids who can speak Spanish. (via Yglesias.)


 

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Fraidy Cat

Posted by Becks
on 05.31.06

I agree. This discussion of phobias is too short. What are you afraid of?

Me, 2 things:

1. I'm petrified of falling onto subway tracks. You'll usually find me standing on the platform as far away from the edge as possible, practically flat against the wall.

2. I hate escalators. I've had two near-disasters on escalators in the last couple of years so I get kind of nervous riding them, especially if I can't see the bottom or top. This, combined with 1, makes riding the D.C. Metro loads of fun.


 

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Unfogged, As Always, In The Vanguard Of The Blogosphere

Posted by LizardBreath
on 05.31.06

There are a number of interesting posts about the oppressiveness of the culture that expects young people to do internships, working for free, reacting to this NY Times OpEd by Anya Kamenetz. Majikthise weighs in, as does Garance Franke-Ruta [and Ezra Klein, twice, don't know how I left those out].

Of course, we at Unfogged covered this first.


 

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Fafblog About To Return?

Posted by LizardBreath
on 05.31.06

Gary Farber says soon. Yay! More Fafblog!


 

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Liberal Media Strikes Again

Posted by LizardBreath
on 05.31.06

Yesterday, TPM commented on an AP article that raised questions about the propriety of Sen. Reid's conduct in accepting boxing tickets from the Nevada State Boxing Commission (which Senate Rules allow him to do) and then voting against the commission on the relevant issue. Can you figure out where the impropriety was there? Yeah, me neither.

This morning the NY Times weighed in:

The news that a former boxer got free seats at three big Las Vegas fights hardly seems the stuff of scandal. But it does grow intriguing when that former amateur boxer turns out to be the Senate minority leader, Harry Reid of Nevada, off on a left-jab, right-cross fact-finding mission. His freebie tickets were provided by the Nevada State Athletic Commission when Reid, a Democrat, was sponsoring legislation to increase federal oversight of the sport and the state agency was an anxious party.
The fight-loving senator said his conscience was clear because he had not violated Senate rules by taking the free tickets. Indeed, the rules do allow gifts from state agencies (although they caution against attempts to influence official decisions). Each lawmaker must make his own call in countless such situations, and Senator John McCain, a fight-night companion of Mr. Reid in 2004, chose to pay for his $1,400 championship tickets. . . .
Senator Reid is hardly in the dock. But his discomfort — and that of House Speaker Dennis Hastert in being mentioned last week in the endless Abramoff speculations — certainly should reinforce the need for Congress to emphasize vigilance over regret by upgrading the enforcement of ethics rules.

First, the conclusion makes no sense at all -- what on earth does the fact that the media are giving Sen. Reid a hard time over doing something permitted by the Senate's rules have to do with "upgrading the enforcement of ethics rules"? The ethics rules could be enforced as much as anyone likes, and Sen. Reid would still have been free to accept the tickets.

Second, if you were writing this, wouldn't you find it relevant that Sen. Reid consistently opposed the position of the boxing commission, and that thus, not only was there no impropriety under the Senate Rules, there was no appearance of impropriety? No quo for the quid? How come the Times doesn't see fit to mention that part of the story?

You'd almost think they were straining every fiber to make Congressional corruption look like a problem affecting both parties equally. Even if they had to make stuff up.

Update: This just gets better. According to TPM Muckraker, it would have been illegal for Sen. Reid to have reimbursed the Boxing Comission -- the 'tickets' were VIP credentials without a face value, and the commission was prohibited by law from accepting payment for them. But Sen. Reid's behavior is still questionable, somehow.



 

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Imagine there's no something.

Posted by Apostropher
on 05.30.06

It something something do.

[As long as it remains the top post there, you can see the clip without having to wade through the irritating Visa ad by clicking here.]


 

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Reading Group: On Drunkenness

Posted by LizardBreath
on 05.30.06

(Note: I spaced out on having promised to come up with some discussion questions -- the following is an offhanded reaction to the essay rather than anything terribly thoughtful. I've never read Montaigne in any academic context, or, indeed, at all, so my apologies to the extent that I've achieved blinding obviousness.)

Initial reaction: Isn't it awfully incoherent? The essay skips from thought to thought:

  1. Drunkenness is a particularly distasteful vice in that it destroys the higher facilities;
  2. Some people behave badly and out of character when drunk (the unnamed ambassador, Pausanias, the widow) while others do not (Lucius Piso, Cimber);
  3. The ancients were more approving of the capacity to drink a great deal than opposed to drunkenness;
  4. Montaigne can't really disagree with them on that point;
  5. Anyway, don't people now drink a lot less than the prior generation?
  6. It's because they're more lecherous than the prior generation, and drinking interferes with that;
  7. Montaigne's father, for example, was a virgin when married at thirty after a military career;
  8. Back to drinking, Montaigne should consider developing a taste for drinking considering that it's a vice compatible with old age;
  9. Back to the first point, can a wise man be overcome by drink?
  10. After all, when someone does something extraordinarily virtuous, isn't it generally a result of succumbing to some passion rather than rational choice?
  11. And isn't that sort of passionate madness necessary for excellence, or poetry, or prophecy?

While the essay still looks incoherent after that quick and dirty summary, there do seem to be some possible questions:

  • Is Montaigne setting up an opposition between drunkenness and lechery as meaningfully opposed vices, rather than merely practically incompatible ones? Is drunkenness a more wholesome, social vice of the prior generation, rather than the current generation's lechery?
  • What can be said about the question Montaigne raises twice -- can anyone be 'overcome' by drink, or are some of strong enough character (or having some other quality) to resist it?
  • Montaigne is doing something with the idea of being 'overcome' -- drunkenness is distasteful at first because it overcomes people, and yet by the end, being overcome somehow is the key to a sort of transcendence. What's going on here?

Have at it.

(Procedural note: I've made the title of the post teal green, so as to set it off as a reading group post. If anyone thinks this is a terrible idea, or would prefer a different color, I'll change it.)


 

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Newsflash: John Emerson Moving To Rotterdam

Posted by Becks
on 05.30.06

Send us a postcard:

Dutch pedophiles are launching a political party to push for a cut in the legal age for sexual relations to 12 from 16 and the legalization of child pornography and sex with animals, sparking widespread outrage. The Charity, Freedom and Diversity (NVD) party said on its Web site it would be officially registered Wednesday, proclaiming: "We are going to shake The Hague awake!"
The party said it wanted to cut the legal age for sexual relations to 12 and eventually scrap the limit altogether.
...
"We want to get into parliament so we have a voice. Other politicians only talk about us in a negative sense, as if we were criminals," Van den Berg told Reuters.
...
Toddlers should be given sex education and youths aged 16 and up should be allowed to appear in pornographic films and prostitute themselves. Sex with animals should be allowed although abuse of animals should remain illegal, the NVD said.
The party also said everybody should be allowed to go naked in public and promotes legalizing all soft and hard drugs and free train travel for all.


 

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Mmm, that mackerel is totally spongeworthy.

Posted by Tia
on 05.30.06

In the beginning of this Saletan piece arguing that society should move as rapidly as possible toward eating meat grown from lab cultures, he mentions, embedded in a list of ways that the boundary between humans and animals has proved fuzzy, that "Dolphins teach their young to use sponges as protection." When I read that line, I was gobsmacked. Dolphins had figured out how conception happens and were using a barrier method to stop it? I was pretty disappointed when I actually clicked through to the article. I suppose it's still cool, but not as cool as safe dolphin sex.

Update: In other animal product 'n' conception related news, a new study has found that women who eat dairy products are five times more likely to give birth to twins as those who do not, possibly because of synthetic growth hormone.


 

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Trusted Sources

Posted by Becks
on 05.29.06

Matt F has a post up about how his brother is like his mobile encyclopedia, a person he can always call when he's away from an internet connection to look up things like directions or phone numbers or addresses. My mother usually acts as my mobile encyclopedia and she's quite good at it. It's always nice to have someone like this available, but I learned you have to be careful who you trust with this responsibility.

A few months ago, I started to come down with pinkeye and wanted to nip it in the bud before it got bad. I went to the store and bought some boric acid because I remembered my grandmother using that on me when I was little but it didn’t have any instructions for diluting it. I didn’t have my computer at home so I called my mother to find out what to do. She was out for the evening, so I asked my 17 year old brother to Google “pinkeye boric acid” for me and see what he got. Our conversation:

Brother: This site says to mix 4 ounces of water with one tablespoon of boric acid.

Me: Can you look on another site just to double-check?

B: OK. (pause) This one says to mix a quart of water with one tablespoon of boric acid.

M: That’s really different. The first one said four ounces for a tablespoon and the second said a quart.

B: Oh. I read that wrong. The first one said a teaspoon, not a tablespoon.

M: Yeah…Great…do you think you could read things a little more closely considering you’re researching how much ACID I should put on my EYEBALL.

B: Um. Sure. Yeah.


 

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Chew On This

Posted by Becks
on 05.28.06

August J. Pollak has a great post (and cartoon!) up about the difference between what is marketed as "guy food" and "chick food" and how advertisers use men's fear of being perceived as prissy to sell meat and other crap while encouraging women's self-denial. It's something to think about as you fire up the grill for your Memorial Day barbecue:

I’ve rarely, if ever, seen an advertising angle more alluding to sexual orientation challenges than food consumption. Using hot women to sell food is certainly no new thing...but this is a new direction--rather than saying a product will get you girls, Burger King now goes further ahead and says if you don’t like the Texas Double Whopper you’re a pansy-ass girly boy and honestly, no girl wants that.
...
Another ad that inspired this week’s is the one for one of those tchotchke-grafted-to-wall restaurants advertising their new entrée of various meats. Three men, again, proving their masculinity and heterosexuality by bursting into melody, each sing the praise of one of the meats until the last of the quartet praises his vegetable medley. The implication is in no way subtle--he has essentially said "hey guys, you know whose balls I had in my mouth last night?" Immediately, he rejects his much-loved vegetables to sing the praises of sausage, and the equilibrium is again pure. You can only imagine him on the phone later in the evening, whispering softly to the vegetables he cannot be seen with in public how much he wishes he could quit them.
...
Contrary to Burger King’s celebration of men being revered for shoveling food into their mouths, Lean Cuisine molds women as such: a group of woman brag to each other about how shitty their dinner was last night. “Last night I had a half bag of microwave popcorn.” “I ate three leaves of lettuce.” “I just ate right out of the cat’s litter box.” But lo--the uppity one deigns to speak--“I had a delicious meal that actually tasted good.” Astonished, she must then pacify her friends, ready to eviscerate her for her audacity. “Relax, girls! It was just a Lean Cuisine! A shitty frozen microwave dinner. I mean, Jesus, you don’t think I’d actually enjoy eating, would you?” And then they all giggle and discuss the latest corset styles and what it would be like if they had the right to vote.


 

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Reminder

Posted by Tia
on 05.28.06

The first official meeting of the reanimated Unfogged reading group is this Tuesday, and we're discussing Montaigne's "Of Drunkenness".

P.S. I don't understand the rules about when you put punctuation inside quotation marks and when you don't. Can someone explain it?


 

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