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Geez, People

Posted by Ogged
on 06.17.06

Thank you. I just received the gift y'all chipped in for, and it's both fantastically appropriate and abashingly generous. For those who are now curious, it's a gift certificate to The French Laundry, which is one of the best restaurants in the country. Wowsers. I can't think of a better way to celebrate keeping a stomach. Many many thanks.


 

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Ask, And Ye Shall Receive.

Posted by LizardBreath
on 06.17.06

So I asked for someone to point out flaws in that study of day care in Quebec I blogged on the other day, purporting to show significant negative effects from the introduction of a heavily subsidized daycare program. Linda Hirshman, (who I'm becoming quite the fan of) obliges, pointing to a critique of the study by some researchers at the University of British Columbia. The main point of the critique is that the Quebec study does not look at any population of children known to be in day care; it also points out that it contradicts many other better focussed studies. Worth a look if you're interested.


 

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Where Labs has been

Posted by Ben
on 06.17.06

I think that's him on the right.


 

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Fiat voluntas tua sicut in cunno et in culo

Posted by Ben
on 06.16.06

So apparently, when the original doubting Thomas touched the wounds in Jesus' side, Thomas was actually fisting Jesus. This might not be the interpretation you encountered when learning about the Bible, but I, as a Jew, am able to look on the matter with eyes unclouded by prejudice and I have to say, it seems a pretty cogent reading. Actually I'll just quote the entire paragraph to which I allude:

Both should treat the act of fisting as a divine spiritual mystery to be entered into with reverence and awe, especially the husband. In another spiritual interpretation of fisting, as he inserts his hand into his wife’s vagina, a man is symbolically re-enacting the moment of truth following Christ’s resurrection from the tomb, when Doubting Thomas touches the wounds in the Savior’s flesh: Then He said to Thomas, "Put your finger here and observe My hands. Reach out your hand and put it into My side. Don't be an unbeliever, but a believer.” (John 20:27) Thomas’ doubt would not be satisfied until he physically felt the wounds in Christ’s body and penetrated His flesh with his hand. Likewise, the spiritual and sexual power of fisting cannot be known unless experienced physically.

The conclusion in the last sentence, while it might be a consequence of what precedes, seems mostly to dance around the more interesting possible conclusions. It's not just, here, that fisting, through the intensity of the physical experience, takes away one's doubts in faith, but that, as the paragraph even states outright, the couple is reŽnacting the Biblical event. However, there seems to be a disanalogy here, in that clearly the correlate to Jesus's wound (which was after all created by a spear, am I right? The ladies know what I'm talking about) is the vagina. But in the anecdote, it's Thomas who needed physical confirmation, whereas (I'm just guessing here, honest, and I realize it's not what the quoted paragraph says) presumably most of the spiritual and sexual power of fisting is experienced by the fistee. So the penetrator/penetrated relationship is confused between the two instances. On the other hand, the analogy also deifies women, while simultaneously making the vagina into a wound. So, in the end, quite thought-provoking, as is the essay entire, which I commend to you.


 

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Friday Botticelli, Anyone?

Posted by LizardBreath
on 06.16.06

I'll answer, and I like the loose rules: first order questions need not match what is known about the subject. The letter is:


J.


 

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Everybody's Nobody's A Critic

Posted by Becks
on 06.15.06

I thought Chuck Klosterman's article on the absence of serious video game criticism from this month's Esquire raised some interesting questions about art, culture, commerce, and philosophy and could be of interest to this crowd. It's not available online so I've got a hefty excerpt below the fold.

Why are there no video-game critics?
I realize that many people write video-game reviews and that there are entire magazines and myriad Web sites devoted to this subject. But what these people are writing is not really criticism. Almost without exception, it's consumer advice; it tells you what old game a new game resembles, and what the playing experience entails, and whether the game will be commercially successful. It's expository information. As far as I can tell, there is no major critic who specializes in explaining what playing a given game feels like, nor is anyone analyzing what specific games mean in any context outside of the game itself. There is no Pauline Kael of video-game writing. There is no Lester Bangs of video-game writing.
...
When someone reviews Moby Dick or Kramer vs. Kramer, they don't spend most of their time explaining the details of the plot (or at least they don't if they're interesting). The meaning of most art is usually found within abstractions. So the problem is not that video games don't have interesting narratives; the problem is that it's hard to decide what it is about video games that is interesting. "[We] need to talk about games in a way that is appropriate to the medium," says [Stephen Johnson, author of Everything Bad Is Good For You]. "In some cases, they're closer to architecture."
...
What makes video-game criticism complex is that the action is almost never static. Unlike a film director or a recording artist, the game designer forfeits all autonomy over his own creation--he can't dictate the emotions or motives of his characters. Every player invents the future.
Look at it this way: Near the end of Gone with the Wind, Scarlett O'Hara asks Rhett Butler what she's supposed to do with the rest of her life, and he says that (frankly) he doesn't give a damn. Now, the meaning of those lines can be interpreted in many ways. However, what if that dialogue happened only sometimes? What if this scene played out differently for every person who watched Gone with the Wind? What if Rhett occasionally changed his mind, walked back into the house, and said "Just kidding, baby"? What if Scarlett suddenly murdered Rhett for acting too cavalier? What if the conversation were sometimes interrupted by a bear attack? And what if these alternative realities were dictated by the audience itself? If Gone with the Wind ended differently every time it was experienced, it would change the way critics viewed its message. The question would not be "What does this mean?" The question would be "What could this mean?"
That, I think, is where video-game criticism should be going: toward the significance of potentiality. Video games provide an opportunity to write about the cultural consequences of free will, a concept that has as much to do with the audience as the art form.


 

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I'm A Genius. Let Me Explain.

Posted by Ogged
on 06.15.06

Suburban Chicago, much like soccer, sucks more the more I see of it, so I've been thinking about what I require in a place to live. It's simple really: I want a place that's quiet and affords a pleasant, reasonably short walk to a good grocery store. Of course, just like the rest of you, I'm terrified of all working class people and want non-white neighbors only if they make more money than I do. But, naturally, I find honky "good neighborhood" code unsavory. Luckily, it's techmology to the rescue. How to find a place to live:

1. Go to the list of Whole Foods stores, find the city you're considering moving to.

2. Plot the local Whole Foods at Windows Live Local.

3. Scan a .5 to 1 mile radius (depends on what you consider a reasonable walk) from each point, looking for leafy pleasantness.

4. Go to Zillow and Craigslist, and start hunting for homes in the neighborhood. The End.

The key here is that Whole Foods has a bunch of schlubs who have already done the demographic research for me: they're only going to be in places where the people are basically like me, but with slightly smaller noses. You don't have to like Whole Foods, or even shop there, to take advantage of their work. Obviously, there are exceptions for those Whole Foods that are placed near major traffic arteries, and university towns often have acceptable neighborhoods even if they're too small to have a Whole Foods, and, of course, it might be that there are no Whole Foods in the place you want to live. But maybe that's a sign that you ought not move there, eh, stranger?


 

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Ask the Mineshaft: More on the Algebra of Loooove

Posted by Tia
on 06.15.06

Dear Tia,

X and Y used to date about a year and a half ago, but
Y broke it off a few months after X moved out of town.
X remained tremendously into Y the whole time. X now
finds Xself back in town for a medium-length interval
(between a week and two months) and is somewhat
frustrated about the whole thing and also about X's
recent lack of dating prospect. Y's friend Z has shown
signs of being somewhat into X; X thinks Z is cool but
does not reciprocate at all. Nevertheless, X asks Z on
a couple of date-like situations in part to see if something
might develop (and in part to avoid sitting at home thinking
about Y). Z develops a full-fledged crush on X, but X
remains still not into Z and has to let Z down gently.

Does X suck? How much?

[Unsigned, but I'm going to call the writer Math Wiz.]

Dear Math Whiz,

When I first saw your letter, my first instinct, which I haven't abandoned, was to say X does not suck at all. There's nothing wrong with exploring the possibility that feelings might develop; I'm sure a lot of relationships would never have come to be if the X's of the world always tiptoed gingerly around the possibility of hurting Z's feelings, and a couple of dates make no kind of a promise of a future. But I decided to publish this letter now because I find myself in a somewhat Xian situation, and it's really all about me. The Monday guy (not Sir Roger Bacon Hitler!), to all appearances, is really into me. I have some serious reservations. He wants to keep seeing me, and also asked that if I wanted to keep seeing him, we not see other people. Since I already had something scheduled for tonight, he said I could wait and get back to him. I don't know if this thing tonight is really happening, so that outcome doesn't matter; I just need to decide if I want to keep seeing him and make a commitment to him, no matter how tentative. So I don't know quite what to do. I don't know if I should value caution with Monday's feelings over openness to the possibility that things might develop or change. I don't know if I actually know deep down I'm not interested but I'm terrified of rejecting someone, which I realized I've never properly done before (I've rejected plenty of people nothing's happened with, but once there's been sex of any kind, I've always hung around till I got dumped, except once when I finally responded to implicit rejection by making it official.) I don't know if some of my reservations weren't weird intimacy panic I sometimes have in the fledgling stages of relationships. So confusing! Advice columnist, counsel thyself.

Yours in the innumeracy of looooove,
Tia


 

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Dootndoodoo--Feelin' Tweaky!

Posted by Alameida
on 06.15.06

Weeeelll, as they ramp the valium down a little I'm starting to feel a bit on the twitchy side. Not "gnawing my cuticles till they bleed" twitchy, just more of the run of the mill "shit why did I drink that 7th cup of coffee" tweaky familiar to grad students all over the world. So, since I was in the mood anyway, I translated a whole buncha Plato. Sometimes I feel like that damn appetitive horse has just run the whole fucking chariot off the rails, but what are you going to do.

Something in the epic Tia's sex life comments thread below really struck me, when people were talking about whether it's worth having sex if you don't have an orgasm. I have a close friend who never has orgasms during sex. And I don't just mean, not while engaging in penetrative sex, but never ever when a sexual partner is even there. But she can masturbate just fine. "Why not just masturbate in front of your sex partner, then and see how it goes from there?" I asked. She's tried, but it doesn't work; she can't come while he's watching. Obviously some intimacy/control issues going on there. But my question to her was, why do you bother having sex? The one other woman present regarded this as a totally ridiculous question, as did my friend. She looked at me in disbelief: "because having sex is fun, duh?" The one other man there was like, yeah, why have sex, then?

TMI below the fold

Now, it's not that I don't think it's fun to make out, or grope each other, or to have sex for a really long time, or just fool around in various pleasant ways, but seriously, I kind of think the orgasms are the whole point. Every great once in a while, sure, quickie oral sex for my partner but I'm having my period so he doesn't reciprocate, because we're both in a rush or something, fine. But day in day out, never or infrequently coming during sex? I have to say I feel like I wouldn't bother. Obviously I say that because it's really, um, easy to make me come? One of those 0-60 in 90 seconds things? More than 6 or 7 times, OK, gets a bit tender buttons down there. Has this rendered me incapable of seeing the fun in all kinds of, shall we say, less goal-directed sexual hijinks? Would the practice of Sting-like tantric delaying tactics be secretly great? (Setting aside the fact that Sting is the most irritating person ever.) Am I secretly male?


 

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Problems With The Staff?

Posted by LizardBreath
on 06.14.06

Apparently it's not just my acquaintances among female lawyers who have had problems with the staff. Check out Iocaste's post at LGM about a female partner at a DC firm who just had a complaint lodged against her by a number of secretaries. Her offense? Having loud, profane arguments on the phone in her office which they were forced to overhear. Is there any wonder women drop out?


 

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Linda Hirshman and 'Choice' Feminism.

Posted by LizardBreath
on 06.14.06

We've been talking about this article by Linda Hirshman from last December on the dropout problem: women with elite educations and in elite careers who give it up to stay home and work part-time. She is, to put it mildly, opposed to this. Others, such as Laura from 11D, are cross with her. Me? I'm pretty much all the way on Hirshman's side -- stay home with the kids if you want to, but don't call it a step toward equality. It isn't. Our discussion starts in the comments here.


 

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Flag Day

Posted by Becks
on 06.14.06

Some interesting thoughts from Julian Sanchez on the perennial election year flag burning amendment push:

[B]urning American flags is a lot like soccer: Americans have never gotten all that into it, but it's wildly popular in much of the rest of the world. A rest of the world that, barring a third Bush term, American law does not cover. So it might be worth considering the effects of a burn ban in the places where most of the actual flag burning happens. What do people in the rest of the world think of when they see an American flag being burned? Maybe they just see opposition to American policy or military power. But maybe—if we're lucky—they also see opposition to American values: Freedom, democracy, reality television. In the wake of a constitutional amendment, though, I can guarantee what a lot of them will think instead is: "This act of political dissent would be a crime in the United States." And in the shadow of that tought, every hateful claim the people burning those flags make about the hollowness of America's commitment to the high-sounding principles it proclaims will seem a little more plausible.

 

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Quebec Daycare Study

Posted by LizardBreath
on 06.14.06

Quebec has been providing heavily subsidized daycare ($7 a day) to its residents since 1997 for 4-year-olds, expanding to include infants in 2000. This is the sort of program that I'm generally all for (making it possible for parents to work outside the home without financial hardship! Yay!) So I was disappointed to see this New York Times article on a study by three economists, Michael Baker, Kevin Milligan, and Jonathan Gruber (linked here), purporting to show that the introduction of the subsidized daycare program had significant negative effects on children.

I'd like the study to be nonsense, but a quick review of the paper doesn't reveal it to be self-evidently so. Still, a couple of points spring to mind. First, it doesn't compare children in daycare to children not in daycare, it compares children in Quebec before the program to children in Quebec after the program. This blog post argues that that makes the study worthless: you can't tell whether the effects measured are occuring in children in daycare or not in daycare. Second, it also, oddly, uses 6-11 year-olds, unaffected by the program, as a control group to compare to the 0-4 year olds who were affected; the way they did this may have been reasonable, but I have to say I don't understand it -- they're comparing behaviors that, while they may be named the same thing (e.g., 'hyperactivity', 'aggression') seem to me to be very difficult to compare across those age groups. Third, it talks about 'significant' negative effects -- while it may measure effects that are statistically significant, in the sense of being reliably measurable, I'm not clear that it claims that they are significant in the sense of being important. There was a study that came out a year or two ago that showed that children in daycare were significantly more aggressive than children not in daycare -- the results in that case could as easily have been presented as 'less retiring' than 'more aggressive', given that there wasn't any particular increase in problematic aggression, just a higher average score on scales measuring aggression.

I'll be interested to see further coverage of this study, in any case.


 

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The Age of AIDS

Posted by Becks
on 06.14.06

PBS finally has a transcript of their "The Age of AIDS" episode up on their web site. I've been wanting to link to this since I saw it last week.

All of the scientists and researchers and even the Reagan staffers interviewed for the show said they wished they had known at the time how bad the AIDS crisis was going to become and regretted that they didn't do more to stop it. Many looked tearful or pained as they described the mistakes and miscalculations they made at the time that allowed the disease to spread.

And then there was Margaret Heckler, Reagan's Secretary of Health and Human Services. I'd like to think there's a special place in hell being set aside for her: "The budget was out of control. I knew the country needed to have fiscal restraint.... I think that we could not have gained anything more by increasing the cash expenditures."

NARRATOR: The epidemic had begun in the first months of the Reagan administration, which had come to power with a mandate to cut taxes and reduce the size of government.
Pres. RONALD REAGAN: It is time to get government back within its means and to lighten our punitive tax burden. And these will be our first priorities, and on these principles there will be no compromise!
MARGARET HECKLER, Secy. of Health & Human Services 1983-85: The budget was out of control. I knew the country needed to have fiscal restraint. The president was right.
NARRATOR: Margaret Heckler became Reagan's secretary of health and human services in 1983. She says she was looking to the scientists to set her priorities on AIDS.
MARGARET HECKLER: AIDS was a mystery. It was a puzzlement even to the scientists. And before we knew what to do or how much it would cost or anything like that, we needed to find out what the scientists could tell us. And my goal was simply to expedite the process.
NARRATOR: But at the CDC, an agency Heckler supervised, officials said their efforts had been severely hurt by the budget cuts.
WALTER DOWDLE, Ph.D., Director, CDC 1989-90: The Reagan administration had come in, and there was a mandate to cut all government activities, but CDC was slated to be cut by at least 25 percent. There was no travel allowed at all. And so therefore, we virtually had our hands tied.
DON FRANCIS, M.D., CDC 1972-92: My area of responsibility at the time was to establish a laboratory to investigate the cause, develop a blood test, and do all of these things. And we really had nothing for the first two years, essentially nothing. We had to steal equipment from the other laboratories. We had to dig out space, and we had to- this was not an appropriate response to a disease that had a mortality that looked like greater than most other infections that we had to deal with.
NARRATOR: In April 1983, four months into her term, Secretary Heckler told a congressional committee that all the federal agencies researching AIDS had adequate funding.
"In the AIDS situation," she said, "I really don't think there is another dollar that would make a difference because the attempt is all-out to find an answer."
INTERVIEWER: There were a lot of people who felt that more money should have been spent.
MARGARET HECKLER: I disagree with that. I think that we could not have gained anything more by increasing the cash expenditures.


 

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I'm Old!

Posted by Becks
on 06.13.06

So there's this new ring tone that the kids these days are using on their cellphones that's made of a high-pitched tone that adults can't hear but younger people can. The NYT has the ringtone up on their website as an MP3 and, sure enough, I can't hear anything when I click on that link. Can any of you hear it?


 

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Solidarity Forever

Posted by LizardBreath
on 06.13.06

Ezra has a good post on the importance of the labor movement to the left generally, and the importance of universal health care to the labor movement. He also recommends a truly great book, Thomas Geoghegan's Which Side Are You On? Trying To Be For Labor When It's Flat On Its Back. If you think of yourself as a liberal, but you really don't have a lot of sympathy for or interest in organized labor, buy it and read it. If you can't afford a copy, email me and I'll buy you one if you promise to read it. (Offer good only for the first few people to ask. But I'm serious -- email me your address, and I'll send you a copy.) It's a memoir of Geoghegan's life as a labor lawyer, but it does a brilliantly persuasive job of laying out the issues that make labor so vital to the left, and describing the incredible damage that has been done to labor in the last 30 years or so.

It's refreshing seeing someone so young and so wonky speaking up for organized labor. One of the greatest PR victories the right has won is the pervasive image of labor as obsolete, and corrupt, and somehow unseemly. Lots and lots of people on the left have bought into this in a thoughtless, unexamined kind of way. But it's wrong: labor has always been and is still vital to the left, both politically and because workers with strong unions don't have to be afraid. That's one of the main goals of the left, right? Setting up a society where no one has to live in fear that they'll be unable to support themselves?


 

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WOOOO!!!

Posted by Becks
on 06.13.06

Good news for Ogged, people!


 

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Guantanamo Suicide Didn't Know He Was Scheduled For Release

Posted by LizardBreath
on 06.13.06

Mani Shaman Turki al-Habardi al-Utaybi, one of the suicides at Guantanamo had been determined by the US military to be a 'safe person, free to be released'. But of course he hadn't been told -- it was still a secret.

Doesn't that make nonsense of the bizarre accusations from Rear Admiral Harris that the suicides were a calculated act of war against the US? This guy wasn't a "smart... creative... committed" terrorist who had "no regard for life, either ours or [his] own," he was some poor schlub who, according to our military, was perfectly safe to be released. Harris's accusations make no sense -- they come from the fantasy world in which Guantanamo is inhabited exclusively by ruthless super-terrorists. The really stupid thing is that he probably had access to the information that one of them was slated for release. Has Harris apologized, or is that nonsense he spouted just going to stay out there?


 

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Mother's Little Helper

Posted by Alameida
on 06.13.06

All is still going pretty well. I'm not feeling too tweaky. I listened to a relaxation tape with a crazy old chinese dude, but he couldn't really speak english, so after we did it in english they played it in chinese, which was sort of freaky rather than relaxing. I'm actually quite suggestible, so I find that kind of directed "now relax the muscles in you arms, etc." thing to be very relaxing. When properly done it produces a pleasant lassitude. Sometimes I do it myself, focus slowly on each area of the body in turn. Sometimes it backfires and I start to feel that I have to regulate my autonomic process, i.e. consciously decide to breathe each time. This produces more of a suffocating panic. Somehow, the Chinese version, coming as it did on the heels of the truly relaxing English version suddenly instilled in me a curious vision of some kind of spiritual trephining, in which a hole was being punched in the top of my forehead and blue flames were burning off. This was conveniently accompanied by a peculiar burning sensation on the spot of the supposed hole. Cool, kind of, but definitely not relaxing. There is a foosball machine in the activities room, which I find obscurely depressing. The girls came to visit for an hour and a half and were fine. Happy to see me but no tears going home or major freakouts. All in all, a pretty sucessful day. Now I'm going to eat KitKats and watch Buffy on my laptop.


 

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Phleboteriffic

Posted by Alameida
on 06.12.06

Mmm, blood tests. It always makes me feel kind of squinky when the tie you off and stick a needle in your vein and--nothing happens! Well, blood comes out, of course. In my case, sluggishly coiling into the vacuum tube, so that the nurse was prompted to say I maybe wasn't drinking enough water lately. And then they came and made me take pills from a teeny cup and watched me all super-hawkishly, just like on TV! I kind of hope Husband X doesn't read these, because he doesn't really see the humor at the moment. I'm strangely enjoying myself and feeling very hopeful about the future. Also, not to be commenter 800, that guy Tia hooked up with was a total tool.


 

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Liveblogging Rehab: Perhaps The Greatest Story Evar Told

Posted by Alameida
on 06.12.06

They let me onto their wireless network! Suckers!!! Let's all hum a few bars of the fine Eels song "Hospital Food":

Karaoke castration
Take the wasp alive
He’s gonna sting you anyway
And take you to the hive
Yesterday was suckin’ and
Tomorrow’s looking bad
Who knew that today
Was the only thing I had

Hospital food
Want some hospital food
Hospital food
Delicious hospital food

Here are my choices for dinner today:
Main Dishes (Select 1)

Chinese-Full Diet
Tofu and Tomato Soup
Steamed Fish With Salted Vegetables
Chinese Cabbage With Black Fungus
Steamed Rice

Western-Full Diet
Lentil Soup
Roast Turkey Breast in Mushroom Sauce With Grilled Bellpepper, Spinach and Herb Potatoes

Muslim-Full Diet**
Cabbage Soup
Mild Mutton (Masala)
Stir-Fried Peh Chye With Sliced Chili and Steamed Rice

Vegetarian Diet*
Cabbage Soup
Avial (Mixed Vegetables) Curry With Steamed Rice

Soft Diet
Mild Mee Soto
OR
Minced Turkey in Mushroom Sauce With Spinach, Mashed Potatoes and Minced Carrot

Light Diet
Wholemean Egg Sandwich
Side Salad and Soup

Choice of Dessert (Select 1)
Sliced Fresh Fruit
OR
Sweet Potato and Ginger Soup

Choice of Chilled Beverage (Select 1)

Orange Juice
OR
Apple Juice

*Lightly Spicy
**Spicy

I went with the vegetarian meal, the sweet potato soup and the apple juice. What do y'all think? Maybe you can vote on tomorrow's meals! Unless you choose the soft diet, then I'm ignoring you fuckers. I think I'm going to do art therapy with the other crazy people later (I'm bascially in the psych ward). Or Pilates or something. I'll keep you posted.

I'm actually feeling quite happy about the whole thing and looking forward to my new life of sobriety. Right after they taper off the valium.


 

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The SS stands for sunshine and sweetness.

Posted by Apostropher
on 06.12.06

There's revisionism and then there's revisionism.

"They said he was a racist. It's a lie. He advocated for, he was in favor of these people. He respected other races." [...] In fact, Junker believes that Hitler himself did more to help the Jews than any other person or government of the time.

So he went and built him a monument/museum in rural Wisconsin to help point out all the good things Hitler did. This should go over well.


 

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Derbyshire Regrets Supporting The War In Iraq

Posted by LizardBreath
on 06.12.06

In a completely morally bankrupt fashion, of course:

One reason I supported the initial attack, and the destruction of the Saddam regime, was that I hoped it would serve as an example, deliver a psychic shock to the whole region. It would have done, if we’d just rubbled the place then left.

He goes on to say that the problem with our attempt to bring democracy to Iraq is that the Iraqis aren't capable of appreciating democracy.

The universalist dogmas that rule unchallenged in our media and educational institutions have fixed their grip on our foreign policy, too. When the Founders of our nation said “all men” they had in mind Christian Anglo-Saxon men. Our leaders, though, want to bring the whole world under the scope of those grand Lockeian principles.

We've finally found out who Bush was talking about when he said:

Some of the debate really centers around the fact that people don't believe Iraq can be free; that if you're Muslim, or perhaps brown-skinned, you can't be self-governing or free. I'd strongly disagree with that.

Apparently, Bush was referring to John Derbyshire.

But Derb has, at least, come around to the realization that the US really hasn't gotten any benefit out of the war at all -- not even the demonstration of our total military dominance that he thought was worth killing incredible numbers of people, and wasting hundreds upon hundreds of billions of dollars, for. Which shows some sort of recognizable relationship to reality. So let's all give about a third of a cheer for him. Hip.


 

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Ugly hacks r us

Posted by Ben
on 06.12.06

Dear friends and enemies,

I've put an ugly hack into the comment pages in an attempt to make it possible to block spam requests from those awful Referer:-faking spambots. It looks like it's working! But maybe … it will work too well. Please let me know if you have trouble viewing or posting comments. I'm pretty sure you can email me at "benw-lfs-n" at this domain.

Specifically, what I did was add some javascript to change the script at which the action attribute of the comment submission form points from /cgi-sys/cgiwrap/unfogged/managed-mt/mt-comments.cgi to /cgi-sys/cgiwrap/unfogged/managed-mt/mt-comments.cgi?x=y, and then put this in .htaccess:

RewriteCond %{REQUEST_METHOD} ^POST$
RewriteCond %{HTTP_USER_AGENT} !(google)|(yahoo) [NC]
RewriteCond %{QUERY_STRING} !^x
RewriteRule ^cgi-.../cgiwrap/unfogged/managed-mt/mt-comments.cgi$ - [F]

My theory is that the javascript thing will keep the spammers from just discovering the new URL (which I suppose just modifying the action attribute directly wouldn't have prevented). Anyway, if there are any problems, or if you think this is a stupid idea, please let me know.


 

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My Dan Quayle Moment

Posted by Becks
on 06.12.06

What does it say about the state of the American father when all of the Father's Day cards I saw were variations on one of the following themes:

* Dad's an idiot and we don't listen to him.
* We'll make this your special day by not making you spend time with your family.
* Dad cares about golfing/watching TV/fishing (really, who fishes these days?) more than his kids.
* Dad is a lazy ass who likes to sit on the couch and drink beer.

If this is what people say on Father's Day, it sure makes you wonder how Dad is viewed the other 364 days of the year.


 

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This One Isn't Affiliated with the DLC

Posted by LizardBreath
on 06.12.06

I posted a while back on the DLCC, an organization that's raising money nationally for state legislative races. I was torn about it. On the one hand, state legislative races are terribly important -- after all, state legislatures are the ones that handle redistricting. (And on a less cynical level, an awful lot of important governance happens at the state level.) On the other hand, it was a DLC affiliate [CORRECTION: I am entirely wrong about this -- it's got nothing to do with the DLC. I swear the fundraiser who called me told me it did. Now that I know this, they also sound entirely worthy.] -- I'm not crazy about the DLC ideologically, and I'm even less crazy about them in terms of effectiveness.

So I was very happy to read this, in The Nation about Progressive Majority, a similar organization not affiliated with the DLC. They take candidates in state or local races who are willing to sign on to their platform:

Candidates must get 100 percent on a forty-item questionnaire that tests their commitment to economic justice and civil rights, including gay rights, public education, universal healthcare, environmental protection and abortion.

And then they fund them, train them, and support them generally. This seems like a wonderful plan -- very similar to what the Republicans have been doing for decades with GOPAC -- and something we should all be supporting.


 

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So it's not exactly cancer or rehab...

Posted by Tia
on 06.11.06

Alright, it's totally trivial. Other people should have my problems. Nevertheless, I want to bitch about something, and you people complained when I talked about my love life deep in comment threads rather than putting it on the main page, so here you go, Tia sex stories for mass consumption.

As I was saying, Graham declared that we could not see each other for four weeks after we wound up seeing each other twice in a weekend. By the end of week two, with no relief in sight, I started to get the urge to, you know, make a certain digital display read 000. I know two weeks is not that long, but like I said, it's harder to not have sex before you enter the comfy dormant phase, when you forget you ever had a vagina. Finally I broke down and decided to email this guy I'd sort of hooked up with when Graham and I were contemplating polyamory. I hadn't been able to complete the hook up because I only really wanted to be with Graham, and he'd told me to let him know if I was ever free and wanted to try again. I'd wanted to hold off until I got a nice haircut and started working out again so I'd look as spiffy as I did last summer, but in my eagerness to reset, I finally figured, accurately, that I knew this guy would want to have sex with me; I didn't have to impress him or worry about saying the wrong thing, so if I just wanted to have sex, he was the guy to email. I don't know what it is about this guy--scratch that, I know what it is, I just don't feel like talking about it--but both times I've seen him, including the first time we met, we've spent about ten minutes staring at each other over drinks scarcely able to speak for the mutual knowledge that we're going to go have sex, until finally we start talking about sex, and then we give up the pretense that we want to wait any longer and go back to his apartment. So that's what we did. And sex was nice and felt good and stuff, but here we get to the part where I'm going to start complaining. First of all, he had two orgasms. He didn't ask me if I wanted to have one or make any motion to facilitate one. The thing is, I don't even care about having an orgasm. It's just the principle. Now, it's conceivable, for complicated reasons, that he thought I wouldn't want to be asked, so I'm willing to give him a pass on that. But this next thing--ooh it gets my goat. So I'd said when we went back to his place that I either had to leave that night or early the next morning because I had stuff to do today, which I did. So afterwards he said he'd like to be able to sleep in, so he wanted to put me in a cab. Now, although I think the pinnacle of ideal behavior on his part would have been to invite me to stay, I was fine with this; I said I wanted to leave early; he only has a couple days a week to sleep in. But I assumed when he said "let's put you in a cab," he meant that he was going to give me cab fare. To put this in perspective, he works in real estate development. He has a beautifully furnished one bedroom on the upper upper west side with a big bedroom, a huge living room, a good sized kitchen, and an office nook. There is no way cab fare is a financial hardship for him. And if we'd met earlier for dinner he would have paid for that, but he didn't, so he could have just chalked the expense up to what he would have paid for dinner otherwise. But then as we were leaving he asked me if I had the fare or I needed to go to a cash machine. I was gobsmacked. I really cannot be spending 40 dollars every time I want to get back to Brooklyn from the Upper West Side. "I can take the train," I told him. And he let me! It took me an hour and a half to get home! People. If you make eighty gazillion more dollars a year than your date and you know it, and you're kicking them out of your apartment because you want to sleep in, offer to pay their cab fare! I am still annoyed. He told me over and over he wanted to keep seeing me, and I hope he really does, because it would be a pleasure to reject his ass.

At least I had sex with a non-Graham person. That's an important step. I have to admit, he probably did me a favor making that four week rule.


 

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Make With The Sympathy, People

Posted by Alameida
on 06.11.06

The mysterious Alameida won't be posting for a while, because I'm going into rehab. No, really. No, I'm actually going into rehab. I want sympathy. And hey, at least it's not cancer!


 

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Sneaky bastards!

Posted by Ben
on 06.11.06

The enemy is cunning indeed. Please excuse me while I vomit now.


 

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A temporary digression from paper-writing

Posted by Ben
on 06.11.06

Footnote nine on page eight of the introduction to Self to Self begins thus: “‘Willing the Law’ (Chapter 12) and ‘Motivation by Ideal’ (Chapter 13). In all of these essays, I assume that narrative is just a way of formulating our causal understanding of the narrated events.” To which I say. (In the event that the good people of Something Awful do some referrer magic on us, it's the first image on this page.)


 

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