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Naked Places

Posted by Becks
on 08.05.06

I really enjoyed BitchPhD's post about nudity in the locker room at her community pool. I'll admit it -- I'm one of those people that B can't seem to understand. I don't like changing in locker rooms (although not enough to retreat to a little changing room like she describes some people at her pool doing) but I'm much closer to the Junior High-style changing-your-bra-without-taking-off-your-shirt type than someone like B who is comfortable walking around the locker room in the buff. I don't have a problem with nudity in general and am perfectly comfortable being naked in front of a boyfriend and in some other situations, so it's not like my dislike of locker rooms and other "naked places" comes from a pervasive prudery. In fact, I can't quite put my finger on why I find them so uncomfortable. Perhaps it's because the female gaze tends to feel more critical or just a belief in what I consider to be personal vs. public. Not really sure but I do admire people like B who don't give a damn.


 

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Comic Genius

Posted by Ogged
on 08.05.06

I didn't realize that Brad Neely, the guy behind surpassingly awesome George Washington video, is the same guy who did the alternate Harry Potter soundtrack. Has anyone heard the Potter? I thought it sounded like a gimmick, but if it's half as funny as "fucked the shit out of bears," I'm going to need to listen to it.


 

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Tony Fucking Danza!

Posted by Fontana Labs
on 08.04.06

This starts out in familiar territory, then takes it to the next level. Plus it's got a sweet picture of Ogged attached to it.

Last Christmas, my wife threw me out after discovering I'd been cheating on her. On the night we got back together, I made strong, passionate love to her. Unfaithful as I'd been, I was not going to let her have me over a barrel for the rest of our marriage. I needed to keep a sense of self and not allow her to mire me in guilt and a desperate quest of forgiveness.
I needed to let her know what she would be missing if we broke up for ever. I gave her a manful bravura performance that night, and at the height of her passion, I asked her: 'Who's the boss?'
The question threw her. Initially she wouldn't give me a reply, but I enticed it from her. 'You are,' she finally gasped. 'You are!' I am a very difficult man to be with. I know I have caused my wife great pain and anxiety. But she is an adult, and ultimately it is wholly her choice whether she wants to be with me or not - I cannot be anyone other than myself.

Via Vox Day.


 

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Meritocracy

Posted by Ogged
on 08.04.06

Pardon me while I raise the tone again. This is Britney Spears sitting around chatting with a cameraman we take to be Kevin Federline. I have nothing to add.

via the supe


 

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Food people!

Posted by Ben
on 08.04.06

Identify this plant! Also known as this one and, seen in action, this one. Smells and looks faintly rosemary-y, but is less woody and more citrusy. Tastes yummy on chicken!


 

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McCain's Unstoppable?

Posted by LizardBreath
on 08.04.06

At least Ezra thinks so.

Relatedly, I'm of the increasingly minority opinion that John McCain is virtually unbeatable in a general election. I don't know if he'll make it through the Republican primary and lord knows he could lose his temper, or get caught with a naked boy, or whatever else, but I think much of the blogosphere is bafflingly sanguine about his candidacy.

I really can't see it. In between elections, conservatives like him because he's very, very conservative, and Democrats like him because of the maverick shtick, which involves sometimes giving the Administration a hard time. In a general election, though, Democrats and moderates are going to pull away from him because of the very, very conservative thing, and his backing from the Republican establishment seems likely to be less than wholehearted. If he;s the nominee, I think pretty much any Democrat we might come up with can take him.


 

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NYC Meetup Reminder

Posted by Becks
on 08.04.06

Just a reminder that the New York City meetup tonight is at The Gingerman at 11 East 36th Street between Fifth and Madison Avenues starting at 6 PM. Closest subways are 6 to 33rd Street, 4/5 to Grand Central, or B/D/F/R/Q to 34th Street.

If you're coming, it could be nice to give a shout in the comments so we know how big of a table to snag.


 

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How To Engage In Productive Debate

Posted by LizardBreath
on 08.03.06

Pdf23ds has written an essay giving his thoughts on how to engage in a productive debate with someone you disagree with, partially inspired by a recent discussion in the comments here. If I wanted to boil down what he says to a sentence, I'd say that he advises getting very, very cautious and literal about presuming that you understand the implications of someone's argument as the positions they hold become stranger or more repugnant to you. But I don't want to boil it down like that, because the whole thing is worth reading. Go take a look at it -- it's just a couple of pages.


 

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Blogspat of the day

Posted by Fontana Labs
on 08.03.06

Tbogg has a little misunderstanding with Patterico. Fortunately Patterico has a completely plausible explanation, so it all ends well.


 

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Reading Tea Leaves

Posted by LizardBreath
on 08.03.06

I normally don't do Washington inside baseball posts, because I don't know what the hell I'm talking about. But this was interesting. Charlie Rangel just said that if the Democrats don't take the House back, he's retiring after his next term. Now, he's 76, so retiring is a perfectly reasonable thing to do (particularly two years out), but he seems healthy, and he's always seemed like the type of guy to work till he dropped. He also has always seemed very sensible and grounded -- I like his politics a great deal, but he's very much the working politician rather than the ideologue.

This may be wishful thinking (most of my political thoughts are) but I'm wondering if that was meant to send the message that whatever he says about retiring if the Democrats don't take the House, he's confident that the question won't arise? It just sounded like something he wouldn't say unless he was pretty sure that next January, he's the new Chairman of the Ways and Means Committee.


 

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What should I do?

Posted by Tia
on 08.03.06

My computer broke. It needs a new motherboard, which would cost $500.

I'm pretty sad about all this. It means, among other things, that I can't go to my friend's wedding in September.

Anyway, the computer guys don't recommend fixing it. So I have to buy a new one. I was hoping to get advice from the Mineshaft. I would mostly use my computer for writing and internet, but it needs to be able to burn CD's, at minimum, and ideally I'd be able to watch DVD's on it too. It is more important that it be small and light than that it have a big screen. I was thinking of getting a Mac, because in my experience the hardware seems to work slightly better; they play DVD's and detect faint wireless signals more reliably. On the other hand if I got a PC I could get Photoshop 7 from Graham.

Does anyone have any advice? Brands, places to buy, etc.? I'm thinking of putting my media files on an external hard drive and not worrying about the amount of memory the actual computer has, so I need one of those too. If my total expenses were above a thousand dollars, I'd probably prefer to pay a little bit more for an installment plan. So far, the best deal I've found is the computer on the left. Does it look okay? If I have 256 MB of RAM, will my computer be really slow?


 

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Songs I like hearing even though many people hate them

Posted by Fontana Labs
on 08.03.06

This might be a little more contentious. Some of these are underappreciated greats; others are just funny.

You’re so vain
Night fever*
Sheila
I’ve never been to me
Immigrant song
Come sail away
Hotel California**
Le freak
In the ghetto
Super trouper
Live and let die

*If there's suficient ridicule in the comments I'll write a long, impassioned, and mostly serious defense of the disco era.
** It's a metaphor.


 

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Songs I could happily never hear again (though I probably will)

Posted by Fontana Labs
on 08.02.06

The Rascals, "Good lovin'"
Kool and the Gang, "Celebration"
Anything by Peter Frampton
Almost everything by Van Halen but especially "Panama"
Sam and Dave, "Soul man"*
PInk Floyd, anything from "Dark side of the moon" and later
Chicago, "Saturday in the park"
That Garth Brooks song about losing his virginity
Alanis Morrisette, "You oughta know"
John Lennon, "Imagine"
The Cure, "Just like heaven"
Don McLean, "American pie"

*Two things that almost redeem this song: the truck driver's gear shift, and hearing someone yell out "Play it, Steve!" on the third (?) chorus, right after Steve Cropper does that slide lick, allegedly with a lighter.

Yes, I know, the title isn't accurate.


 

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Is that a lotus in your pants...

Posted by Apostropher
on 08.02.06

...or are you just creating an homage to hope and renewal?

When is a lotus blossom really a phallus? The question is on the minds of some Albany Park residents after seeing a rendering of the sculptures that will grace the front of the new Kimball Avenue Brown line station.

Ravenswood sculptor Josh Garber designed two 10-foot-tall aluminum lotus blossoms -- a Cambodian-inspired homage to "hope" and "renewal." The design was approved by a panel of local art experts and community leaders two months ago, but it became a controversy only after renderings were e-mailed to community leaders.

Gary Medina, an aide to Ald. Dick Mell (33rd), says he has been fielding a number of calls from angry residents wanting to know what his boss is going to do about it.

"Call me simpleminded. I appreciate art," Medina said. "But when I see this, that's what I see [a penis]. I certainly don't see a flower." Medina said he hopes Garber can be persuaded to "soften it up a little."

Interesting choice of words there. The artist says that anybody who sees a penis in his sculpture has a sick mind, but "he's willing to tweak his work to enlarge the petals."

Update: Thanks to IDP, here's the sculpture in question.


 

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They Just Keep On Doing It

Posted by LizardBreath
on 08.02.06

The White House has proposed draft legislation for new special military courts. Some fun features:

  • they would "include trials, for the first time, of people who are not members of al-Qaeda or the Taliban and are not directly involved in acts of international terrorism";
  • they would "also allow the secretary of defense to add crimes at will to those under the military court's jurisdiction"; and of course
  • "defendants would lack rights to confront accusers, exclude hearsay accusations, or bar evidence obtained through rough or coercive interrogations," and
  • "they would not be guaranteed a public or speedy trial and would lack the right to choose their military counsel, who in turn would not be guaranteed equal access to evidence held by prosecutors."

The Navy's top uniformed lawyer from 1997 to 2000 described the proposed rules as follows:

the rules would evidently allow the government to tell a prisoner: "We know you're guilty. We can't tell you why, but there's a guy, we can't tell you who, who told us something. We can't tell you what, but you're guilty."

The last time I saw procedures like this described, it was in a college class on medieval history, and we were talking about the Star Chamber. This is madness. (Via Avedon Carol.)


 

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Coastal Neuroses

Posted by LizardBreath
on 08.02.06

Our Hawaii-based commenter, DaveL, had this to say in comments:

Partly it's because I've come to really love kayaking, but I can't imagine living any great distance from an ocean. I can imagine not living here, but inland would be pretty bad.

and it reminded me of a peculiar experience I had a month or two ago.

I was visiting friends in Tennessee and Kentucky, and while driving from Nashville to Fort Knox I started to get a weird kind of claustrophobic feeling, particularly when I was looking at the map. It was a combination of feeling stifled and disoriented, kind of like feeling my way around a dark room and not knowing where the door was, or if there was a door. It took me an hour or so of driving before I figured out that I was getting weird about being too far away from a coastline -- it felt unsafe, somehow, not having an obvious direction to head for the water if I needed to. (No, I have no idea what sort of emergency would require making it to the water. Read the post title.)

I haven't had this happen much before, but I've hardly ever been off the coasts, if you count the Great Lakes as big enough to count as coastal, which apparently my neuroses do. I do remember having a similar reaction on a college trip to Iowa for a regatta -- the Iowa River is teeny, and there was way too much flat dry land for thousands of miles in every direction.

Does anyone else get like this, or am I just uniquely weird?


 

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Voting Green worked so well last time

Posted by Fontana Labs
on 08.01.06

I'd love to see that unbelievable asshole Rick Santorum voted out of the Senate, and I'm hoping nobody falls for this conservative effort to split the opposition by funding a Green candidate.

As reported today by the AP and the Philadelphia Inquirer, the Green Party managed to get their candidate Carl Romanelli on the ballot with a costly petition drive, which was mostly funded by contributors who had also given to Rick Santorum's campaign. The party raised $66,000 for the effort, all of which they spent on a private company to collect signatures. TPMmuckraker was able to establish that at least $55,000 of that came from conservatives.

AP:

Green Party candidate Carl Romanelli, making his first bid for statewide elective office, acknowledged Monday that Republican contributors probably supplied most of the $100,000 that he said he spent gathering signatures to qualify for the Nov. 7 ballot.

Romanelli said he expects to turn in far more than the required 67,070 signatures by Tuesday's deadline.
"I have friends in all political parties. It's just that my Republican friends are more confident about standing with me than my Democratic friends. And as a group, my Republican friends are a little better off," he said in a telephone interview.

Gah. Is "being a complete tool" a central plank of the Green platform?


 

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Selective editing strikes again

Posted by Fontana Labs
on 08.01.06

Hinderaker:

Yesterday, Representative John Dingell of Michigan appeared on a Detroit television program along with Republican Candice Miller. They discussed the crisis in Lebanon; Dingell proclaimed himself neutral. "I don't take sides for or against Hezbollah; I don't take sides for or against Israel." Asked, "You're not against Hezbollah?" Dingell answers, "No..."

Hugh Hewitt:

Powerline is must reading during these times, as this trio of extraordinarily skilled lawyers-turned-public intellectuals keeps bringing incredible stories and analysis to the attention of an information-clogged world. They are editors of the enormous flow of relevant information, and you should begin every day with a scan of what they have decided to bring to the attention of their audience.

[quotes Dingell via Powerline]

Thus every vote for any Democratic candidate for Congress is a vote to empower Dingell who cannot be made to denounce a terrorist organization engaged in the most sustained series of terror operations the world has ever seen. [My emphasis]

What Dingell really said:

DINGELL: No, I happen to be — I happen to be against violence, I think the United States has to bring resolution to this matter. Now, I condemn Hezbollah as does everybody else, for the violence. [My emphasis]

Your legal profession at work.

Different, but related: apparently Naveed Haq converted to Christianity before shooting up the Seattle Jewish Federation. Huh.


 

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A little dash'll do ya.

Posted by Apostropher
on 08.01.06

Instapundit is making sense. (via PZ)


 

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Because I Can Argue Both Sides Of Almost Anything

Posted by LizardBreath
on 08.01.06

While I'm still very certain that people who are oversensitive about having racism raised as a possibility are being silly, and should stop, I also think that articles like this are pretty stupid. The Times has found a number of marketing professors who are concerned about the 'fat sassy black woman' stereotype in commercials as racist.

Certainly, the commercials described are tacky, and stupid, and stereotypical, but so are commercials generally. If you can't put black people in tacky stupid commercials, you can't put them in commercials at all, which is worse. Getting bent out of shape about a seriously offensive stereotype is perfectly reasonable. Getting bent out of shape if all, or most, media portrayals of blacks fall into a couple of stereotypes? Also reasonable. But this article really looked like the Times trying to dig up something to be offended by -- there didn't seem to be much, if any, actual free-standing outrage to drive the story -- and there's really no need for that.


 

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Also, If He Tore Them Open And Licked The Insides, He Would Get High

Posted by Alameida
on 08.01.06

In the NYT, the story of a man who collects the glassine envelopes heroin is packaged in on the Lower East Side. They have little logos on them. I used to have a fine collection, but my ex-boyfriend threw them away before a move because they were "incriminating." I was planning to make a little album out of them, but I just hadn't gotten around to it! Rassafrackin stupid CIA spy junkie ex! Anyway:

Mr. Patterson said his fascination with the bags started in the mid-1980’s when a heroin user showed him an album in which he had placed bags and listed the places where he had bought them. Over the years, Mr. Patterson has added to that album and started another.

Oh well. I think Taschen should definitely publish this guy's collection. I always wondered about the stamp designers and how they reacted to the ckOne-esque non-logo logo of mid 90's 7th st. outlet "bag in a bag". The bag in a bag guys took the world by storm with their simple, iconic presentation: an undorned glassine envelope surrounded by a sealed, clear-blue plastic bag. Plus they got some great publicity when a couple of dudes died over a short period. Got people lining up around the block! That's quality marketing.

UPDATE: Oooh, I forgot about my very favorite one of all; seriously, I'd like to do a cafe press T of this one. Get Paid. It had a fat little 50's-style cartoon robber with a striped shirt and a mask holding up a tall thin guy in a suit, also in perfect 50's line-art style, at gunpoint. The name was in a blockish, but 50's techno-optimistic, font. Really nice logo.

The other funny thing that occurs to me was that a big-time dealer got the logo on his dime bags--"Poison" in a curly coca-cola font--emblazoned in tiles on the bottom of the pool at his hideaway in Puerto Rico. I remember because when he got busted they put photos of his place in the paper. Classy.


 

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They Don't Do It That Way In The Bronx

Posted by LizardBreath
on 07.31.06

The Boston Globe, a paper I should read more often, is doing a series on debt collection and how it unfairly hurts the poor. The articles are good, and you should click through and read them, because what I'm about to write about them is not terribly enlightening.

The linked article spends a lot of time talking about how small claims court is unfair to the poor and unrepresented, and allows them to get railroaded by fast-talking lawyers from big businesses. And all I could think was, 'Maybe in Massachusetts.' I had a brief and traumatic small claims court practice -- the firm I worked for represented a huge company with famously awful customer service, and a contract saying you could only sue them in their home state. My job was to show up when someone sued us in small claims court, and make a motion saying that they couldn't sue in NY. Foolproof? Not so much.

I got kicked around like you wouldn't believe in Bronx County Civil Court -- Bronx judges don't like lawyers in nice suits who want them to dismiss actions brought by poor, hard-working immigrants just because they signed some piddling little scrap of paper saying that they couldn't sue in NY. Contract or no - what are you going to do for this man! they cry. And I kept on meekly murmuring "But contracts like this are enforcable in NY. You have to dismiss the action." I've never felt so much like The Man in my life.

So really, unjust and all that, I'm sure, but Massachusetts sounded like a lovely change of pace.


 

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Holy Matrimony

Posted by Ogged
on 07.31.06

I've never been much for making fun of Pamela Anderson, because seems pretty nice, and it would be too easy and because I'm not sure what I'd be making fun of, really, but I find myself looking at the barely safe for work photos of her latest wedding, and I have to ask: how long do you give this thing? I'm feeling crazy generous, so I say three years.


 

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This Is Why Party Affiliation Matters

Posted by LizardBreath
on 07.31.06

Do all the New Yorkers out there remember the Republican convention in '04, when protestors couldn't get permission to rally in Central Park because the grass couldn't take it? Turns out that the refusals do appear to have been politically, rather than botanically, motivated, and that Republican Mayor Bloomberg was actively involved in the refusals, despite the fact that he's denied such involvement.

“It is very important that we do not permit any big or political events for the period between Aug. 23 and Sept. 6, 2004,” read one Parks Department e-mail message, referring to issuing permits for the days framing the convention. “It’s really important for us to keep track of any large events (over 1,000 people), and any rallies or events that seem sensitive or political in nature.”

Bloomberg used to be a Democrat, and is the classic 'socially liberal' kind of guy that doesn't scare Democrats. He doesn't go around saying crazy things about people's sex lives. But he's still not on our side. If you're an NYC Democrat, and you voted for Bloomberg because you thought that his party affiliation didn't make any difference at all, you were wrong.


 

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Reason 4,376 We Need Universal Health Care: Without It The Dutch Will Be Able To Beat Us Up

Posted by LizardBreath
on 07.30.06

An article in the Times reports that modern Americans are far taller and much healthier overall than their counterparts from a century or more ago. The 'taller' half of that isn't new, but apparently our odds of developing non-infectious diseases in later life has also plummeted: nowadays people get heart disease, cancer and even arthritis much later in life than they used to. The theory is that not suffering from infectious diseases (vaccines, antibiotics) or acute malnourishment during early childhood makes you much, much healthier in apparently unrelated ways as an adult. (In a rather satisfying little note, obesity appears to be a comparatively small factor.)

The connection to this article on how Europeans are, on average, growing significantly taller than Americans seems obvious. It seems very possible that we're going to be, or already are, looking at a real health gap between societies where universal health care is free, and so children are very unlikely to suffer any untreated illnesses, and societies like the US and the underdeveloped world, where medical care is rationed by ability to pay. Our middleaged people (at least that significant population who grew up poor enough that they couldn't get medical care at will) are going to be sucking up health care spending to care for their diseased hearts and arthritis, whereas their several-inches taller counterparts overseas will be happily gardening.

Can't we get this turned into something to get aggressively patriotic about? "UHC: So we can kick Dutch ass"?*
____________________________

*Apologies to the Dutch. No actual aggression intended.


 

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