Taking a super-brief break from my hiatus to ask people planning on attending Friday's NYC meetup to come up with a place and a time before we give poor Teo an ulcer. Looking for venues in Midtown now, not Downtown.
UPDATE: Decision made! The Gingerman on 36th St. between 5th Ave. and Madison Ave. at 6 PM.
There's a lot to like in these posts from Greg Djerejian and Kevin Drum on counterinsurgency and crazy-talk. (I keep waiting for the moment in our long national cocktail party where everyone gets quiet, looks at John Podhoretz, and asks, "what the fuck did you just say?" but I wait in vain, it seems.)
Also, the set of people who are crazy includes Malmood al-Gibson and Hugh Hewitt.
Driving home from the supermarket it struck me that I used to spend a lot of time rocking out with people who looked like this, but now I rock out to music made by people like this. Which of these time-slices is objectively more embarrassing?
Not About Infidelity, Except Maybe In This Dude's Mind
Almost the best thing about being in AA is that you get to meet lots of like-minded (read: batshit crazy) people and hang out with them. I have had trouble making friends here in Singapore, and since I am a very outgoing person (a fact no doubt shocking to you all) I didn't like it. Locking yourself in the bathroom to take pills and drink a half-bottle of wine at one go is not, it turns out, the best way to meet people. Not to say that there aren't assholes in the program, but on the whole everyone has been very nice and I've really enjoyed going out for coffee etc. with people and just generally socializing. I'm also way better at remembering people's names now, but that not be a side effect of sobreity so much as that hearing people say "I'm Grooneyhoffer and I'm an alcoholic" and then you saying "Hi, Grooneyhoffer" tends to imprint the thing in your mind. (No one is actually named "Grooneyhoffer"; that's just an example.) But there are some people that I sort of think, maybe I shouldn't know this person. That handsome heroin addict with the motorcycle who's been clean for about 8 days? I always liked never knowing anyone who knew where to buy drugs in Singapore. It was reassuring. Singapore is not the kind of place where you'd just look up the the local methadone clinic in the yellow pages, go down, and start wandering around looking sketchy, a technique which is guaranteed to succeed in every decent-sized town in America, for some value of suceed. Well, I'm really rooting for that guy. Keep comin' back, buddy! Or else avoid us all like the plague so I never see you again!
So yesterday I was hanging out with a guy (not motorcycle guy), who's nice, in a crazy way. He tends to be a little AA lecture-prone, but he's also very encouraging and stuff. I can see that he does a lot to help out guys who are just coming in. He has the crazy look in his eyes, which are pale blue, and his skin seems to be stretched a little too tight over his face. So, we were hanging out talking. People you know from AA, even if you don't know them at all, have heard all sorts of crazy things about you that you shared at meetings. And of course, part of the fun of chatting with people like this is so that when they tell you about some crazy problem they had with thinking the sky is broken you can be like "OMG! That totally reminds me of when I felt like my skin was a sack filled with fine gravel or crushed safety glass that ground together sickeningly when I bent my joints!" "Lol me too!!", und so weite. So, fine, we were talking about sex, as people do, specifically whether this girl he's interested in who is a virgin at 27 is weird or not (my take: hells yes.) But then he was saying how he was learning to take things on their own terms and not always be obsessively scheming and plotting about how he wanted other people to behave, and as an example of the type of schemy plotting thing he used to think about he offered "talking to you about AA and giving you my phone number so that you could call me when you're really losing it sometime and then we can have sex."
Um. Right, but. I said, "well, that would be very calculating of you." But should I have said, hey fuck you? I mean, I dunno. I'm all for honesty and shit, but how am I supposed to take that? That made me wonder about something else he said much earlier when we were talking with some other people, when I was explaining that Husband X is a remarkably sane, well-adjusted person. Sure, neurotic and all, but in general. Crazyboy's response was, well, I don't know him at all, but I have one really good reason to doubt that's actually so, namely, he's married to you. Another woman suggested that crazy people are more fun to have sex with (a widely shared sentiment), but it was generally agreed that this is not a 10-year-long motivator. So, is this line of reasoning remotely sound, or is this guy messing with my head?
World Gone Wrong
Look, I know they're just actors and all, but is it really ok for Harry Potter to do this?
Daniel Radcliffe will strip off his Harry Potter eyeglasses and robes for his London stage debut next year ... The play delves into the psyche of a boy named Alan Strang who blinds six horses with a metal spike ... In one scene the actor playing Strang is required to simulate sexual ecstasy while riding a horse naked.
I link approvingly to Lileks
In this case, a high school reunion experience.
The program concludes with a memorial for the dead. Ten out of 300. You’d seen the memorial when you first came in the Harvest Room. Some of the names shocked you, frankly. You’d forgotten than the Class Clown dropped on a basketball court a few years ago. You’d forgotten about the boy who shot himself in 10th grade, but only because that’s a memory you long ago wrapped in plastic and sent down the river. You were, as far as you knew, his only friend. He never said a word about what was bothering him. Never gave a clue. Big lanky goofy guy. Bang. Might as well have done his parents first, given the effect it had; you see his picture and you feel the same horrible emotions. Pity swamped by anger soaked with guilt wrapped in fury. Goddammit. Next to him, a kid whose sister you dated for a summer - what? How did that happen? Then you see the face that makes your knees go fluid.
It is just like that. The whole thing, you partisan hacks.
Andrew Olmsted [spelling corrected thanks to hilzoy], the new poster at Obsidian Wings, on AG Gonzales' attempt to shelter US soldiers from prosecution for warcrimes.
I have no desire to see U.S. personnel prosecuted for actions they took that they were told were legal. I would like to believe that, had I been told to apply interrogations techniques like waterboarding, I would have the courage to stand up and say no, although the Milgram experiments suggest that humanity has a sad tendency to go with the flow in such cases and I have no reason to believe I'm markedly superior to the rest of humanity. I'm sure that a number of the interrogators did what they did because they were assured (as Katherine noted several days ago) that it was all nice and legal. But that doesn't change the fact that many (most?) of the techniques being employed were improper, and the people who employed them should face the consequences of those actions. If that means (as it almost certainly will) that people who made an honest mistake face criminal sanction, that's unfortunate but not unfortunate enough to relieve them of responsibility for those actions.
What is truly unfortunate, however, is that the people who originated these policies will not have to face still worse consequences for their actions. If an interrogator was wrong for using waterboarding to extract information, how much more wrong were the senior personnel who approved such techniques? Once upon a time, officers were expected to face much more serious penalties than enlisted personnel for similar misconduct. A transgression that might rate only a slap on the wrist for a common soldier could be cause for the discharge (or worse) of an officer, because officers were held to higher standards commensurate with the greater responsibility they were expected to wield. That tradition seems to have gone the way of the dodo, as to the best of my knowledge the highest ranking person to be convicted for any misconduct in the war to date has been a Captain, while senior officers like COL Karpinsky escaped almost scot-free. (Not to mention the civilian leadership, but let's face it, who's going to go after them?)
On the other hand, he favors abolition of the federal income tax, which is insane, but nobody's perfect.
The funniest Chris Muir strip ever
Check this out: a funny series of remixed Day By Day strips...with actual Chris Muir dialogue!
Israeli Bombing of the UN Post May Have Been Justified.
Apparently there's an email from a Canadian serving as a UN military observer at the post in question (later killed by Israeli fire), saying that Hezbollah was very active right around the post:
"What I can tell you is this," he wrote in an e-mail to CTV dated July 18. "We have on a daily basis had numerous occasions where our position has come under direct or indirect fire from both (Israeli) artillery and aerial bombing."
"The closest artillery has landed within 2 meters (sic) of our position and the closest 1000 lb aerial bomb has landed 100 meters (sic) from our patrol base. This has not been deliberate targeting, but rather due to tactical necessity."
"Those words, particularly the last sentence, are not-so-veiled language indicating Israeli strikes were aimed at Hezbollah targets near the post," said Maj.-Gen. MacKenzie.
Not much to say about this -- I just felt obliged to put it up, because I had assumed, based on prior reports, that the targeting of the UN post was at the least inexcusable negligence. (Via TPM.)
Since we're hating on the law professors anyway...
This Instapundit post certainly gets off to a good start:
JOHN PODHORETZ WONDERS if Israel is too nice to win.
Shazam! But the real source of my irritation comes in the next line:
This reminds me of Josh Marshall's 2003 worry that we weren't killing enough Iraqis and that this would come back to haunt us. I think they're both probably wrong. I certainly hope so.
Reynolds has said this about Josh Marshall before; I think he enjoys it because it's his chance to tweak Josh by making him sound like Misha. (Reynolds likes these 'strange bedfellows' sorts of zingers; see also his use of "civil rights" while talking about gun ownership and his idea that liberals should support annexing foreign oil fields because they like wealth redistribution. Often he overreaches and ends up making no sense, but that's a small price to pay for sticking it to the true face of the left.)
When you follow the links and read Josh's column, it turns out, predictably, that Reynolds' gloss is inaccurate. Marshall:
True defeat changes people and nations too. The fact that our subsequent occupation turned out to be so benign was extremely important. But part of that importance was the contrast between how much these populations had suffered during the war and how much better things got for them after we took over.
And thus our problem. If everything goes according to plan, the loss of civilian life in Iraq will be minimal. Certainly, we all hope so. We’d be even happier if most of the Iraqi army simply laid down its arms when our ground troops march on Baghdad. In addition to our humanitarian interest in shedding as little blood as possible, a low death toll is key to convincing Iraqis and the rest of the Arab world that we are liberators, not conquerors or destroyers. In short, it’s key to making our invasion seem like a good thing.
But that’s the catch. Occupying armies will always keep things under control in the short-term. But the sort of transformation we engineered in the former Axis powers required a far greater pliancy, one which allowed us not only to disarm these countries but rewrite their textbooks, reorient their politics, and do much more.
Doing that in a foreign country may require a mauling of the civilian population that we are rightly unwilling to undertake.
My emphasis. Reynolds' representation of Josh's position seems seriously dishonest to me. "He's worried that we're not killing enough Iraqis" suggests, on a straightforward reading, that he endorses killing more of them. No: he's making a point about the conditions for successful reconstruction.
It's very frustrating to read this sort of thing, even more so from someone who's so keen on the blogosphere.
On a lighter note, do check out the Podhoretz piece, which is remarkable because it contains not a single declarative sentence.
UPDATE: since this getting linked, some more thoughts.
First, Reynolds has a response in an update to the original post:
MORE: Josh Marshall now says I'm misrepresenting his column. Well, the post I link above contains a lengthy in-context quote, and observes: "Not that Josh wants people to die, he just thinks it has a valuable pedagogical function." (Josh claims that I said he called for "the mass and indiscriminate killing of civilians at the outset of the Iraq War," which is at least as much a misrepresentation of my post as he's claiming for his; I don't think that either Podhoretz or Marshall ever called for that).
I thought that was a fair reading of his column then, and I don't believe he objected. Here's another link to his original column, which I also linked along with the blockquote. You can decide for yourself whether I've misrepresented him, but it seems to me that it was a fair reading then, and that it's a fair reading now. But if Josh meant something else by his language, he should say so. [He did say so! In the original language! Argh!] He links to other people who say that my reading of his language is wrong, so I guess he has disclaimed that meaning now, but I should note that those posts came after mine. So either I've been misreading him for three years (possible), or he is more worried about sounding bellicose now than he was in March of 2003. Your call, but I thought the latter, which is why I was tweaking him by bringing it up.
I don't think "valuable pedagogical function" is fair either, but I might have my partisan blinders on. Read the original column.
Second, more reasons to be irked. It still looks like a dishonest reading to me, and that's bad in itself. But it's worse coming from Glenn Reynolds, who seems to think that blogging counts as academic scholarship. (Or at least he's willing to let his dean think this.) If you're going to take a triumphant tone about the wonders of pajama-clad media, you shouldn't play so fast and loose characterizing what people say about civilian deaths in wartime.
A question inspired by a post of Roy's
Which group has suffered a greater loss of prestige with the rise of blogging: pundits or law professors?
You have to blog what you know, and since I've watched all three seasons of the The Wire over the past week, it's time for some Wire blogging. There are spoilers in this post, so skip it if you're concerned about that.
First, I'll repeat that The Wire is by far the best show I've ever seen. But a few things do bother me.
1. Doesn't the presence of Ziggy pretty much ruin Season 2? First, he's just not very believable as a character, because he's too fucked up and volatile; it's all a bit over the top. And it's not just that the one character is a bit much, but he has a fairly central role, so there's something like a deus ex Ziggy effect on the plot as a whole. For example, Frank never goes to the fateful meeting under the bridge if Ziggy isn't in jail.
2. Isn't Brother Muozone also not very realistic; a bit soap-operatic, perhaps? I enjoy the character, but the Mouzone scenes pretty definitively take us out of the feel of the rest of the show, no?
3. Much as I think the rooftop scene with Stringer and Avon at the end of Season 3 is fantastic, and their mutual betrayal beautifully portrayed, don't their failings basically come down to "insufficiently street" and "insufficiently business," respectively? And how sophisticated is that?
I'm happy to be convinced that I'm wrong about these things, and that the show is even better than awesome.
This is a blog about infidelity and sock puppets
Here's a post containing the complete and unabridged sock allegations. I couldn't make it all the way through, but maybe you can.
"Drunken Boxer Style"
Go read Ezra on the masters of OpEd-fu.
A woman wearing pants, is, equally, like a man wearing a dress
You mean, totally hot? I have a question for the assembled masses: what parts of the Cremaster cycle are actually worth seeing? I feel capable of saying on my own recognizance that the answer isn't part one, and I remember mostly being befuddled by the one in which Dave Lombardo lays down a wicked solo. But a movie theater here is playing all of them (individually and, for some reason, in a row on one night for 396 minutes). And I hear part three is good? JL and Armsmasher, this is your chance to give back to the community that's given you so much.
In other news, I bought a german dictionary intended for people learning german, thus containing many illustrative sentences and fuller explanations of when to use things (esp. particles, wtf, german?). Anyway, one of the sentences to exemplify one of the uses of "loslassen" was, roughly, "Isn't it awful to let such inexperienced, young doctors loose on people?". I find myself reading the dictionary every now and then because I actually can read it, unlike, I expect, one of the books I just got (one of several collections of Gottfried Benn's prose, purchased in a bookstore in which all the books were arranged by publisher, making it rather hard to find books by a particular author—interestingly, to me, I have also while here been in a record store in which everything was arranged by label), of which in the conversation in which it was recommended to me I asked whether it was being recommended because it was good, or because I would be able to read it, the reply being "oh, you won't stand a chance.", and also mostly unlike Die Klavierspielerin, of whose paragraphs I can generally grasp the main ideas being presented, though the meaning of many of the words escapes me—or rather, was never present.
If you want it.
Here's a funny guide to writing for the Chronicle of Higher Ed from The Little Professor:
4. I can prove that what I say is true, because
___ I have personal anecdotes
___ I'm going to reveal confidential data from job searches and personnel decisions
___ the CoHE published this essay, and therefore it must be true
It can't make them any worse. Via Berube.
Shocked and saddened
Shocked that Lance Bass is gay. Saddened that Tori Spelling is poor.
Tucker Max on law school
I was reading Tucker Max's blog (?!) when I ran across this speech given to the UCLA Greek community on the decision to go to law school. (His entry is reproduced below the fold for those who are blocked from his web site.)
The gist seems pretty sensible: don't, because it costs a lot and you probably won't be happy after you graduate. And he's right about low job satisfaction levels (not to mention the frequency of depression, substance abuse, and divorce) among lawyers.
Here's the thing that puzzles me. I've heard many people say these sorts of things about law school; I've said some of them myself when students ask for advice about careers. Yet wave after wave of students go off to law school every year. It's as if word hasn't leaked out. Strange.
(You might say that humanities PhD programs present a smaller-scale version of the same problem, which is partly true, though the financial situation is completely different.)
The word of Tucker Max:
"Should I go to law school?
Whenever I am asked this question, my initial response is always the same:
-All jokes aside, I can say that for 90% of you, law school is--without a doubt--the wrong choice.
-How do I know this without even knowing any of you? Well, not too long ago, I sat where you are sitting, thought all the things that you are thinking now, went to law school and worked as a lawyer. I have already been down the path that is in front of you and I know what it's like. I know the decision making process that is going on in your mind, and chances are, you are going to law school for the wrong reasons.
-When deciding if law school actually is for you, the first thing you need to do is ask yourself, "Why do I want to go to law school?" There are many more wrong answers to this question than right answers, but almost all the wrong answers fit under six main reasons:
1. "I don't know what else to do": If you are lost in your life, that is ok, you shouldn't feel bad about it. You are barely old enough to drink, you don't need to know what you're going to do with your life at this point. Relax. I am 30, and I only figured it out a few years ago.
If you feel like you need more time to find your calling in life and figure out what you want to do, that is fine, but if this is true, the WORST thing you can do is commit to a three year school and over $150,000 in debt. How much sense does it that make? At that point, when you finish law school, even if you have decided that you don't want to be a lawyer, you are handcuffed to the profession. You have to take that six figure corporate job just to pay off the massive debt you racked up.
2. "It's the only way I can think of to use my humanities degree": Majoring in English so you had more time to drink wasn't such a good idea now, was it? But to be honest, having a soft major is nowhere near the death sentence that so many make it out to be. The world is changing, and the US economy with it. Most manufacturing and production jobs are moving off shore, and the hard science jobs required to staff them are being taken by Indians and Chinese and other cultures who actually require that their students learn something in science class. But the good news is that our economy is shifting to a service and information based economy, and soft majors are going to become more and more valuable.
I run an internet company right now, and I can tell you that it is VERY hard to find literate, intelligent, well read people who can write and communicate ideas effectively. The demand for these people is not going to flutter out. In plain English: A humanities major now has many many options that they didn't have in the pre-internet era. Do not make the mistake of thinking law school is your only option. That is not true.
3. "Everyone says I am good at arguing, so I should go to law school": I cannot recall a single person that has said this to me that I did not make want to punch in their mouth. Being a lawyer has almost nothing to do with arguing in the conventional sense, and very few lawyers ever engage in anything resembling "arguments" in their generally understood form. Beyond that, to be genuinely good at legal "arguing," you must be smart. I have never met a smart person who made this statement. This really is the stupidest reason you could possibly have to go to law school.
4. "I want to be like Ally McBeal or Jack McCoy from "Law & Order", or [insert your favorite Hollywood bullshit legal character from your favorite bullshit Hollywood legal drama]": Maybe I spoke too soon about the stupidest reason to go to law school. Let me just be very clear about this: Being a lawyer is NOTHING AT ALL like what you see on TV. If you don't understand this fact, it means you are an unrecoverable moron, and you should immediately drown yourself in the nearest toilet to save the world the frustration of having to deal with you and your stupidity.
5. "I want to change the world/help homeless people/rescue stray kittens/whatever": If you are one of those people...I feel sorry for you. Look, wanting to help others is fine and dandy, but if you are one of those rosey-eyed dipshits who sign anti-sweatshop petitions while wearing Nikes, you know what's going to happen when you try to change the world equipped with just a law degree and a healthy dose of optimism? Life is going to kick you in teeth. Repeatedly.
There are some people who have a very clear idea of what sort of public service they want to do and how a law degree will help them, and even those people usually find their dreams crushed against the rocks of reality. If you go at law school with just some vague notion of public service, I can promise you that you'll regret your decision. The first day at Duke, the entire 200+ person class was gathered in a class room and they asked everyone who wanted to be in public service to raise their hand. At least 80 people did. Do you know how many ended up in a public service job three years later? About 3 of them. 2 of them were the very dedicated type I referred to, the other was a trust fund baby who couldn't get a real job. Most people don't think about what $150,000 in debt actually MEANS until they are faced with the option of helping poor people for $30,000 a year, or helping Skadden Arps for $140,000 a year, while having to make 500+ a month loan payment.
and the very worst reason,
6. "I want to make a lot of money": You can unquestionably make a lot of money being a lawyer. Right out of law school even, you can get a job with a big corporate firm that pays $120,000+ to start. Sounds like a lot doesn't it? But have you not stopped and thought about why they pay so much? Do you think it's because the job is rewarding and fulfilling? Didn't your parents ever tell you what it means when something looks too good to be true? There is a reason that there are so many lawyer jokes. There is a reason that the legal profession has one of the lowest job satisfaction rankings of any profession in America. There is a reason that so many lawyers leave the legal field: Being a lawyer--especially a lawyer at the type of big corporate firm that pays so well-- SUCKS.
The American Bar Association has published several studies about the incredibly low job satisfaction of lawyers and in every survey they publish, most lawyers say that they would NOT be a lawyer if they had it all to do over again. Just look at my specific example: Of my ten closest friends from law school, the ones I always write about like PWJ and SlingBlade, only 4 are still practicing law. Five years out of law school, and only 40% are still doing what they racked up a six figure debt to learn how to do. I don't really follow anyone else in my graduating class because most of them were worthless pricks, but from what I understand, the others are just like us: Most are now doing something else.
But beyond that, there are NOT an unlimited number of jobs that start at $120,000 a year. In fact, there aren't many at all, and pretty much ALL of them go to kids who come from the Top 15 law schools. If you go to a law school that is even in the bottom of the first tier, unless you are top 10% of your class or on law review, you are probably fucked. Really. I cannot be any clearer about this: YOU ARE NOT GUARANTEED A JOB OUT OF ANY LAW SCHOOL, MUCH LESS A JOB THAT PAYS SIX FIGURES. They aren't going to tell you that at law school receptions, but it is the truth.
-If any of these reasons are factors into why you are going to law school, stop now. Seriously. No qualifiers on this statement, just stop. Plain and simple, don't go.
-OK, but let's say that none of the ridiculous reasons I listed above apply to you, that you want to go to law school for a what you consider a valid reason. I know when I was in undergrad, I had what I thought was a great reason to be a lawyer: I wanted to be the next great American trial lawyer. I intended to model myself after Vince Bugliosi (in case you don't know, Vince Bugliosi wrote Helter Skelter, prosecuted Charles Manson and the Palmrya murders and is generally regarded as the best prosecutor in American legal history) and fight the same battles that he fought.
Well, I was wrong. I quickly realized that being a prosecutor sucks and it takes years to try murder cases if you ever get that opportunity, all while working just as hard as your corporate brethen, for a pittance of what they make. Beyond that, the system is totally fucked up in many many ways. Granted, someone needs to fight that battle, but by the end of first year I determined that it wasn't going to be me.
So, being in law school, I decided to do what everyone else was doing and be a corporate lawyer. Hated it. Got fired after three weeks. It was just awful. Law school is full of small, pedantic, little dorks and corporate firms are no different, except here they are in charge. It SUCKS.
-If you think you have a good reason to go to law school, the best advice I can give you is this: Work first. Preferably in a law firm, either as a paralegal or a secretary or even a gopher. Do it as a summer intern or full time for a year or so after undergrad. Explore what it is actually like being a lawyer, not by asking lawyers or reading books, but by immersing yourself in the actually day to day life of a lawyer.
Think about it: When you go clothes shopping, you don't just walk around and grab whatever looks good on the rack and buy it, do you? No, you try things on, you deliberate over your options, and you consider all possibilities. Why do you think life is any different? Stop trying to pick out your life off the rack; go out and experience all sorts of different things, try on different jobs and see what fits. If, after trying it on, you still want to be a lawyer, then by all means, go for it. You're probably making the right decision at that point. But I can promise you that if spending some time working in a firm were a requirement for admission to law school, the application rate would probably drop by at least 80%. What does that tell you about whether or not you should go to law school?
-All this being said though, I had a great time in law school itself. Law school is a fucking joke; if anyone tells you different they are either lying or they are stupid. It's REALLY easy. By second semester of my first year I'd stopped going to class, and by second year I'd stopped buying my books altogether. I had many classes where if my exam where to pick my professor out of a line-up, I'd have failed. How do you think I got all these great stories? Not by going to class. My friends I went out 4 nights a week it was so easy. Of course, I went to a Top 10 school, which most people don't go to, and I got lucky in that I had a crew of ten friends who were all awesome. I have had several friends go to other law schools, very good ones and very bad ones, and not many shared my experience. And even the ones who did very much enjoy law school, hated their lives after law school. Why? Because they went on to be lawyers.
-Here is the funny thing about this speech: Someone--in fact, a lot of people--told me all of this before I applied to school. I did not discover any of the points I am making to you. Every bit of it was conferred to me BEFORE I got to law school
You know what I did? I fucking ignored it. I mean, sure all of those other douche bags may be miserable and may hate the legal profession, but what do they know, they're only lawyers? I AM TUCKER FUCKING MAX, I'm going to revolutionize this bitch!
Yeah...how'd that work out for me? You can believe me now or you can experience first hand, but you'll eventually see that I am right.
-I'll leave you with this last quote. I have a pretty big message board attached to my site, it gets like 30,000 people a day or so that view it, and many of them are disaffected lawyers. In response to a thread about this topic, one of them posted this paragraph:
"As I write this, it is 85 degrees, sunny, with a slight, cooling breeze coming from the West. The only reason I know this is that I took twenty minutes to run to get a sandwich to eat at my desk. I am sitting in a basement office which houses three of us, putting off research on state law fair debt collection vs. the Federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act and the definition of a creditor to write this post. If that paragraph alone doesn't deter someone from law school, then I don't know what will.""
Game theory: it's not just a class
Tia's post reminded me of Tucker Max, and, browsing through his site, I came across this gem:
Here is where taking econ classes about game theory at the University of Chicago helps out with real-life game. This is a classic example of the Prisoner's Dilemma; if I keep paying attention to the Blonde and try to capture my small chance to fuck her, I will probably fail and then I get no pussy, and the group gets no lesbian action at the strip club, because neither will come with us. Everyone loses. But, if I take one for the team, ignore the Blonde and instead seal up the Redhead, I can get both to come with us to Baby Dolls. This means that I probably won't fuck the Blonde, which decreases my personal happiness, but I will give the group the best chance to maximize the situation, by getting two girls to come to a strip club with us. See--even Tucker Max can be altruistic. If it suits him.
One of my great fears is that something I say in class will contribute in some crucial way to a completely horrible person getting laid.
Drink Your Big Black Cow And Get The Fuck Out Of Here, You Clowns
Hey, what the hell? It's just not true that no women like Steely Dan (as some people, well, all the people actually, are claiming in the comments to this post). So not true. Take me for instance; I used to not like Steely Dan because I didn't understand that they were joking with their sleazy coked out LA session musician shit. "But they're so sleazy!" I objected. But then a very good friend helped me see the light: they're sleazy, all right, and that's the point. I got wasted and listened more closely to Steely Dan, and it was as if the little crystals in the kaleidoscope all fell into a new pattern...a pattern of awesome. Now I love Steely Dan! One of my fondest near-death experience memories is riding in the car to SF after a day of betting on the ponies and drinking smuggled-in mint juleps I had made the night before. One dude we were with had won $750 on a $2 exacta, and was ready to bankroll a night of fun. My friend who was driving was really in no condition to be driving at all, as his insouciant behavior with his cigar at the gas station proved. Plus the blunts in the car etc. This guy...he is amazing. A Southerner who could sweet talk you into anything. A dedicated, professional partier, and I say this with respect. We were listening to Deacon Blues, all the silvery guitars and processed horns streaming out of the open windows with the smoke, and the stanchions of the bay bridge flashing by overhead like a series of beautiful, deadly gates. Good times! I am a person who bought a third copy of Aja (already having 1 CD and 1 LP) because they reissued it on vinyl and I wanted more warmth in my cold chrome nastiness. And don't try to tell me I don't like Frank Zappa or I'm going to get really angry. You'd probably still like me when I'm angry, but, you know, why risk it?
More tales of Tia's sordid adventures in the big city
You know who you shouldn't trust in the city? Your boyfriend, because he is cheating on you, the bastard.
I posted an ad on Craigslist, which, I admit, was mostly for sex with a side of companionship, because I felt like having some, though I specified that inquiring gentlemen had to attempt to demonstrate that they a) were warm and kind and b) were smart, literate, and could spell. Perhaps I should have added "honest." Anyway, one of the people who wound up writing me was this guy who had written me in response to another ad more than a year ago, I remembered him; he seemed a bit dashing in a chet sort of way, so I just made plans to meet him tonight (dragging my petootie to Midtown I might add), and in spite of his chet job in finance, and in spite of his absurdly big muscles and crew cut (I'm shocked he's not gay. His muscles really were cartoonishly big, and he was wearing jeans and a white t-shirt with his sunglasses tucked into the neck. Doesn't that mean gay, usually?) I was finding him attractive, especially when he told me that what he really wanted to do was run a dog rescue, and he told me all about this sick dog that changed his life. Then the following dialogue ensued:
Chet: I'm going to be a little forward. What are you looking for romantically?
Tia: What do you mean?
Chet: We'd have to meet in hotels. Is that okay with you?
Tia [imagining he has a sick mother]: We can't go to your apartment?
Tia: Can I ask why?
Chet: I have a girlfriend.
Tia: Does she know you see other people?
Tia: Oh, I can't do that.
Chet: I guess it's good we got that out of the way, then.
Tia: Uh, yeah. Why are you doing this?
Chet: I am not entirely fulfilled by the relationship.
Tia: Then why don't you break up with her or talk to her about it?
Chet: I'm going to respectfully decline to answer.
The rest of the time he tried to make conversation and I stared into my drink until I said I couldn't really talk; the whole encounter had made me sad, and we acknowledged the situation was awkward and parted ways. I guess I should have realized something was up when he asked me if I'd ever be available afternoons. But can you imagine? The skeeve! I feel so dirty. There have been a couple of times when I have done something or other with guys who had other women of varying degrees of commitment (once I did very little with a guy with a very committed girlfriend; another time I did a lot with someone who had already announced his intention to move out of his girlfriend's house, and who arguably didn't have a committed relationship even prior), but I was always really love and/or sex starved at the time, and it wasn't so ickily premeditated. I mean, hotels. Why would he even think I'd do that? As if I can't find a hundred other guys as good looking as he is to have deception-free sex with. And I'll tell you, I'd sleep with a married man before I'd sleep with some guy with a girlfriend, because there might be legitimate reasons why you can't get out of a marriage, but if you need to sleep around on your girlfriend, you're just too chickenshit to break up with her, and I can't respect that.
Urban Living And Trust.
I'm a huge evangelist for walkable city life -- I think living densely is more environmentally sound, healthier, humane for people who can't drive (children, the elderly... I know a fair number of old people living happily and independently who would be in nursing homes if they lived in the suburbs), I'm not even going to bring up the cultural advantages (mostly because I hardly take advantage of them these days).
Teofilo has a charming post on another of the pleasant features of urban living -- trusting people. Most people -- really the absolutely overwhelming majority of them -- are very decent. Regardless of whether they have the opportunity to hurt or inconvenience you, they aren't going to. You can believe that on your own, but living in a crowded city, where you're really at the mercy of your neighbors in a thousand little ways, really rubs it in. I think the world would be a better place if more people lived in places like New York.
The clue bus runs off a cliff and explodes.
Given the competing options of 1) a majority of Americans really are as dumb as the rest of the world believes, or 2) Harris has some serious flaws in their polling methodology, I'm really hoping for #2. But somehow I doubt it.
Half of Americans now say Iraq had weapons of mass destruction when the United States invaded the country in 2003 — up from 36 percent last year....In addition, 64 percent say Saddam had "strong links" with al Qaeda....Fifty-five percent said that "history will give the U.S. credit for bringing freedom and democracy to Iraq."....American confidence in the Iraqis has improved: 37 percent said Iraq would succeed in creating a stable democracy, up five points since November.
Now if you'll excuse me, I have to go bandage my forehead and try to glue my desk back together.
Run it up the flagpole.
Obviously, there are better choices if you need to slap Mike Tyson in his eye, but the Excuse Me Belt still has its own virtues to recommend it.
Via Biomes Blog.
Speaking of being able intelligently to discuss skin care
Aren't I a little young to be developing what I would call pretty fucking pronounced crow's feet? I see that they're primarily caused by exposure to the sun—is the hottest July 20th on record (or so claims the U-bahn) responsible for this shit?
So far out
When aging hippies turn bad... Apparently the Steely Dan guys are pissed that Owen Wilson hasn't acknowledged the great debt that You, Me, and Dupree owes to their song "Cousin Dupree," so they've written an open letter to Luke Wilson trying to talk some sense into him.
I sure hope he listens, because it sounds like payback could get nasty:
Your bro may be creating an extremely retrograde reality matrix for himself with his whole sellout movie star game and there may be some righteous dues to pay, amen. For example, there's this guy who works for us sometimes, he's not necessarily the kind of folks you want to know or hang with but if you happen to get into a bar fight or some kind of hassle in a foreign country, he's your best fuckin friend in the world. You guys must go to movies a lot - you know what a Navy SEAL is, right? Well this dudes like that, only he's Russian ... hes a big fan of ours ... I mean one time we saw this guy, WITH HIS BARE HANDS do something so unspeakable that - but, hey man, lets not even let it get that way, you know. Lets just help Owen C. do what's right.
Read the whole thing-- lots of good stuff. It's like The Truth from Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, only in real life, and stupider.
I've been trying to get back into shape. My relationship with Graham was one long slump into empty takeout containers, resistance to spending time at the gym because it took away from valuable cuddling, and complacency about my body. (Maybe I should describe it as a climb into the latter.) When clothes I bought last summer had stopped fitting around New Year's, I put it out of my mind. Maybe they had never fit as well as I thought they did! But recently I confronted sqaure in the face the fact that I am a big lump, and have begun to do something about it.
Yoga, bike riding, and dancing around are about the only physical activities I feel any intrinsic motivation to do, and I don't have a bike, the Crunch regular yoga classes are too hard for me right now at my current level of fitness, and the basics classes are illiberally spattered throughout their schedule. Having faced one truth, it became easier to face another. I had to do aerobics. But those machines are too boring without music. I grumped around for awhile about not having an ipod, and then I said to myself, "Self, portable music reproduction existed before ipods, and there are way cheaper ways to do it." I asked my roommate where I could buy a CD player, and it turned out he had an extra, so he just gave it to me, on the condition that I start listening to Radiohead. He is a Radiohead evangelist. I burned a CD, went to the gym, grooved to my workout tunes on the elliptical, probably looked pretty dorky mouthing the words to "It's Raining Men" and even dorkier when I couldn't resist taking my hands of the bars to do a very contained version of the YMCA dance, and burned 400 calories, or so the machine said.
Then, in a moment of delirium yesterday, before I did the elliptical, I stepped on a scale. I, uh, need be doing this every day. Not to make myself more attractive! Lots of people want to have sex with me, and I know that, thank you. But it is not acceptable for me to have apparently gained the kind of weight I gained over the past year at 26. That's all. I'm going to have to work out a lot on the machines before I feel ready to jump up to Crunch aerobics classes, which I'm sure are murderous, since I used to do Bally's kickboxing and yoga, and given that Crunch yoga is substantially harder than Bally's, I presume that the same inequality obtains for their other aerobics classes, and Bally's kickboxing was pretty darn hard. [I edited this sentence, okay?--Tia]
The point is, I'm going to need more tunes. That's where you guys come in. Please recommend some in comments. I'm also worried that my current workout CD is pretty cliched workout music, for the most part, so if you can, recommend stuff that will have the virtues of the dancey pop I obviously like to work out to, but will also broaden my mind.
Here's my current CD:
Suddenly I See (KT Tunstall. A non-cliched beginning. It's also the opening song in The Devil Wears Prada, which is what inspired me.)
Sweet Dreams (La Bouche, not the Eurythmics. Talk about your treadmill classics.)
Fighter (Christina. A cliched enough gym song that I heard it playing in the gym after I took off my earbuds.)
Total Eclipse of the Heart
It's Raining Men
Since U Been Gone
Like a Prayer
Ring My Bell
Punk Rock Girl
Out Tonight (from Rent)
Girls Just Wanna Have Fun
Eye of the Tiger (I don't like this song. I just put it on because it was cliched workout music.)
I Will Survive
Holding Out For a Hero (This is from the Shrek 2 soundtrack. I highly recommend the fairy godmother version of this as perhaps the best pop dance song evar.)
No More Tears
P.S. I find it weird that all the clothes that stopped fitting properly were dresses--around the bodice, too--but all my pants still fit.
Why we fight
KJ Lopez on Oliver Stone's WTC film:
It’s about our deep, abiding faith in God. It’s about our love of family, and the work we’ll do for them, and the joy they bring us. It’s about the irreplaceable, incomparable bond between a man and wife. It’s about the united outrage we feel when Americans are murdered. It’s about why we fight.
Aside: I'm not the only one thinking of
It's not about these rusty trombone, and dirty sanchez. It's not about rainbow showers and camel-toe slide... and your Cincinnati bowtie, your Arabian goggles or the Hot Karl and pearl necklace... or pussy juice cocktails, shit-stained balls...
am I? Anyway...
Reader email: Uhm, what's this we...?
K-Lo: Oops, my bad.
Cliff May: Hold on a sec! "So yes, Kathryn, you are fighting a war." It's a war of
-- wait for it--* ideas.
All from Think Progress.
Ah, remember this classic moment? I've remained agnostic on the chickenhawk complaint, but the "hey, I get credit too!" routine is, we can agree, pretty lame. Baa, from comments:
And is this not also the gravamen of the 101st fighting keyboardists jibe? The error is not supporting the war without fighting in it, but rather that confusing posting on myspace with smashing Osama defines "delusional."
*Ok, ok, never again. Oy.
I thought I was out, but they pulled me back in
I had been under the impression that Erin O'Connor of Critical Mass had left her position in Penn's English department for good, but apparently it was only a temporary (and unsatisfying) break and she appears to be back within the hallowed halls.
At the time she made her decision I remember thinking "how courageous!" and also "maybe there's life outside of the academy!" Not so much. Looks like I'd better get me some tenure.
This came up via a Chronicle discussion of Juan Cole and whether "blogging can derail your career." Sadly, yes!
UPDATE: from the CT comments thread, this seems right:
I think that if I was the kind of man who threw staplers, I could without moving from my desk bean at least six people who could write a more interesting article than Glenn Reynolds. I have no idea why anyone asks him to do these pieces when he is no good at them. I think I will start citing his prominence as a public intellectual as an example of the QWERTY effect.
Look away! Look away!
The Glenn Greenwald sock-puppet kerfuffle. Short summary here, oodles more at Ace, and Dan Riehl. Best take on the whole phenomenon -- and at an appropriate level of seriousness -- here. Sock-puppetry is, I think, a venial sin. But a revealing one.
I am so. totally. screwed.
In which I betray the only team that matters
News of the World reports that George Michael was involved in some late-night anonymous park sex with...
...a much uglier man. Ouch.
A White Bear posts on being a 'token woman' -- the one who doesn't do all of the girlie bullshit, who stands up for herself, and excels in math, and skins rattlesnakes (this, btw, is cool. But I am, on many levels, eight years old.). She makes the point that a type of feminism that involves rejecting femininity and embracing everything that's masculine can get very close to misogyny, with 'very close' understood to mean 'sometimes exactly the same as'.
I'm not sure what I think about this. I've certainly played the same 'token woman' role -- a funny memory is the day in an eighth grade English class where we were allowed to choose our own seats, and the teacher pointed out that all the girls were on one side of the room and all the boys on the other. Except, of course, for me -- I was sitting with my friends, and hadn't noticed that the class had otherwise sex-segregated itself. I had some female friends in high school, but more and closer male friends. But I never thought of myself as rejecting, or not wanting to be associated with, other girls -- more that I couldn't get the hang of the required feminine basics (makeup, clothes, whatever) to be accepted by them. (I may have told this story before: I accidentally showed up for school one day in eleventh grade or so looking rather well-turned out for once by Eighties standards. A bunch of popular girls were uncharacteristically friendly, coming over to me to chat, when we normally had no social contact at all. When I figured out that the willingness to speak to me was a response to the outfit, I was so horrified I wore only LL Bean turtlenecks and jeans for a couple of weeks.)
I've gotten more comfortable with other women (or they with me) as I've gotten older -- being unable to intelligently discuss skin care isn't a social detriment when you're in your thirties, the same way it is for a teenager. I haven't got much of a point here -- I'm just rambling in response to AWB, who everyone should go read.
Mau-Mauing The Bloggers
Yglesias and Kevin Drum link to a post by David Adesnik arguing that liberal blogs don't write about Israel, despite the fact that they largely support its actions, for fear of reprisals:
I would suggest that there is a part of the online left which is so viciously anti-Israel that moderates have been intimidated into silence. Let's hope that this kind of viciousness never migrates off line, where it might threaten bipartisan support for Israel.
Drum and Yglesias think this is nonsense, and I have to agree with them. I'm generally quiet about Israel, and it's not for fear of making leftist supporters of Palestine angry, it's for fear of offending supporters of Israel. Both sides of the Israeli/Palestinian conflict have acted terribly, terribly unjustly over the last half-century or so, and both sides have the right to consider themselves terribly and justly aggrieved. But as a cohesive society with a functioning government and holding the vast majority of the military force in the area, Israel seems to me to have a huge advantage in the capacity to start unilaterally acting justly, and they don't seem to me to be doing so. (I don't, by this, mean in any way to excuse Palestinian attacks on Israel: just to say that it is less clear how to stop them.) Unfortunately, to defend my position on this, I'd have to have a detailed knowledge of the facts of everything that's going on in and around Israel, and given the amount there is to know, and the problem that any sort of summary source is going to come from a strongly partisan position one way or the other, I don't feel as if I have the education to defend myself. And I have the strong impression that anything short of wholehearted support for Israel's actions will often be misinterpreted as endorsement of the Palestinian desire to eliminate Israel entirely, so a defense will be necessary. Given all that, I keep quiet.
I don't expect nasty emails from anyone about this -- I pretty much don't get nasty emails from anyone, barring a couple when I was rude to Glenn Reynolds (and even those were quite restrained. I was impressed, and pleased, with the general civility of his readers). But in real life, I know a lot more fervent supporters of Israel than I do the sort of campus-leftists who might be expected to support the destruction of Israel (actually, I've never met anyone in the latter category. I'm sure some exist, but they aren't in my social circle.) And so I worry far more about offending supporters of Israel than its opponents. Does anyone out there not avow support for Israel because they're afraid of leftist vitriol?
I'm really bad at first impressions. Not in making them (well, that too) but in assessing them. A large percentage of my closest friends are people I hated when I first met them. My best friend from grad school? Hated her. Thought she was a total bitch. My closest friends from high school? Didn't really care for them at first. My best friend from college? Oooh. This is a good one. We were in biology lab together freshman year and hated each other so much we actually sabotaged each other's experiments. Things escalated over the course of the semester until the day we ended up in an America's Next Top Model-beer-in-my-weave-style catfight outside the science building with one of us shouting "BITCH STOLE MY SLIDES!" at the other. (That this happened is not in dispute. Who did the shouting is, thanks to her campaign of revisionist history. But you all know it obviously had to be her because I am lovely and wonderful and would never do anything like that.)
I wonder why this is. Perhaps it's because I have a strong personality and am attracted to people who also have strong personalities, and we inevitably clash initially as we're trying to negotiate the power dynamics. Or maybe I really am just a terrible judge of character.
Not sure what to make of this
John Hinderaker pseudo-liveblogging Miss Universe. Imagine that it's being read by Steve Carell ("her breasts were like...big bags of...sand") or Liberace.
Open Letter To Will Shortz
In today's NYT crossword (I can't link, it's premium) the answer to the clue 'Lex Luthor' was 'Evilmind'? What is that? Has anyone ever referred to Lex Luthor as an "Evil mind" (as opposed to the possessor of an evil mind)?
Dude, you're slipping.
Some worthwhile reflections from Kung fu Monkey on Dershowitz, bartending, Lebanon. Via Sadly, No!.
Meanwhile, on a lighter note
It's not a powerpoint about prisoner abuse, but it is a funny WASP's-nest style bit about sock puppets.
This Greenwald thing is really embarassing. I noted below that it's odd to be so interested in it, but it's much odder and more shameful to go around pretending to be other people on the internet. So, so dumb.
Is even half of this true?
More torture stuff from Obsidian Wings. Go read, tell me what to think.
Fish on freedom
I'm too tired to go on about why I find Stanley Fish's column on academic freedom and the Kevin Barrett fiasco (here) so annoying. (Althouse says some things if you're interested.) The gist of my complaint is familiar: yet again, Fish gives into his desire to be novel and inflammatory (the "stop! you're both wrong!" school of columnizing); as a result, he doesn't make much sense.
I'm having trouble getting excited about the Barrett thing in part because the most likely explanation of how this came about has nothing to do with ideological commitment. The guy's an adjunct teaching one course, which suggests he was hired at the last minute and in an ad hoc way. My bet is that no one realized he's a lunatic until after he signed the contract, and now there's no way to back away from the situation gracefully.
Any thoughts, Floyd?
''I kept fighting, never stopped believing.''
Nice. Rumors that John Emerson called Landis an asshole on Wednesday could not be confirmed.
Enough with teh Lebanon; I've got a gardening question. How do I get my ground cover to kick serious ass? I'm watering and feeding as directed, but I want to maximize coverage as quickly as possible. Any hints?
On an unrelated note, this story of teacher-student romance is lame.