When I go out on a Saturday night, I like to look sharp, I like to have a few drinks, and I like to be prepared if things get out of hand. That's why I keep a lint remover, some Grey Goose, and a short-stock AK in the car.
Maurice Clarett, former (brief) Ohio State football standout, ex-prospect, arrested in Columbus with a Kevlar vest and some serious weaponry. Watching Clarett spin out of control over the last few years has been excruciating. I saw him rip up Washington State in his incredible 2002 break-out game, and I knew it was too good to be true. So, so sad.
Via Galley Slaves.
I'm reading Rose Macaulay's The Towers of Trebizond and it reminds me of DominEditrix, and has made me want to write something called "An Asphodel for Stella".
That is all.
I read a post by Garance Franke-Ruta on TAPPED today and thought, hey, I should see what ogged thinks about this:
When did "Do you speak Farsi?" become the new pick-up line in D.C.? First, I read this report on Michelle Persaud, dubbed the number one looker in The Hill's annual 50 Most Beautiful People issue:
Seeing her dark eyes and mocha skin, her flowing black tresses and expansive lashes, [men] sidle over, take in a breath and start speaking Farsi!
“I just look at them and smile,” the Maryland native, who has no Persian ancestry, says with a chuckle. “I get that all the time.”...
And now, not two hours ago, some man followed me from across the street, into the TAP office building, and up to our seventh floor offices in order to try to hit on me. His opening line: "Do you speak Farsi?"
But there was no need to ask! ogged got there first:
You need about twelve Iranian dudes max before an entire city feels besieged by their cheesy horndogging. My guess is that they might fervently hope that all beautiful olive-skinned women are Iranian, and therefore acceptable to mom, but they really don't care, because an opening line is an opening line.
That's just beautiful, man.
There's a lot of suppressed rage in America in the generally-less-sympathetic-to-Israel camp, since the presumption (and you'll never convince me that this isn't true) is that any criticism of Israel betrays at least some latent anti-semitism. And that suppressed rage is why George Galloway, warts and all, whether all his facts are facts or not, can be so damn refreshing. He's the one establishment guy who says the angry things that regular folks imagine they'd say, if they had the chance. So, enjoy, or get angry, as your leanings dictate.
How excited am I that I recently got that subscription to Esquire?
Actor Stephen Baldwin is the born-again, George Bush-loving Baldwin brother, but who knew he's also a fan of threesomes in the bedroom?
"I like to ask friends of mine, happy couples who seem to have a pretty good marriage, I will ask them, 'How's your sex life?'" Alec Baldwin's little brother writes in a new book excerpted in the upcoming Esquire mag. "They will say something like pretty good or okay or no complaints here. Here's what I tell them: Imagine taking a healthy sex life and inviting the power of God into that exchange."
Baldwin also seems to prefer a muscular — make that violent and aggressive — form of religion.
"I'd always imagined Jesus was the sweet, cuddly, loving dude, and suddenly I find out he makes Conan the Barbarian look like Conan the wimp," he says. "He didn't come with a guitar singing Kum Ba Yah. Jesus brought a sword to the earth, and he is still swinging it."
As for Baldwin himself, "God has called me to go and make disciples of the youth of America. That is what I am going to do. And if you try to stop me, I am going to break your face."
To the extent that this turns out to have been anything real, rather than pure Wolf!-crying, it's worth noting that the plan has been stopped, and it's been stopped through policing, rather than military intervention. The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan? Have no connection to stopping this kind of thing. You stop this kind of thing by investigations and arrests, not through sending in troops.
Nothing these people were planning to do appears to have required governmental aid; they were going to bring down planes with cheap, reasonably easily available explosives. We could overthrow every government in the world we don't approve of, and this kind of terrorism could still happen.
So remind me again why taking a policing, rather than a military, approach to combating terrorism is fundamentally unserious?
Bush says today's plots serve as a "stark reminder that this nation is at war with Islamic fascists." If anything, it's a stark reminder of the reverse. A stark reminder that this isn't a "war" at all -- you don't foil a plot like this with armored personnel carriers and JDAMs. We're also not going to capture the capital city of "Islamic fascism" -- not Kabul, not Baghdad, not even Teheran and Damascus -- and force our adversaries to surrender.
It's not at all difficult to kill or capture terrorists. Instead, what makes them dangerous is that they're hard to identify. What makes them doubly dangerous is that because they're hard to identify, the temptation is to target them very broadly. And as we saw in the administration's desperately failed strategies in the "Sunni triangle" when you tar huge numbers of not-yet-opponents in your effort to find the bad guys, you wind up generating a much larger number of adversaries. The great challenge is to identify strategies for targeting terrorists narrowly enough so that the number of terrorists actually declines as a result of your counterterrorism operations.
First, invading countries and overthrowing regimes does nothing — not one thing — to address the primary problem, which is the inability to identify the people who want to kill us. Second, it actually exacerbates the “root” problem by increasing the number of alienated people and intensifying their anger. Blair and his New Labour Party aren’t exactly oppressive despots, but that didn’t seem to help things much with these guys. Third, pissing off the countries of the world (almost all of whom have an interest in keeping al Qaeda at bay) deprives us of vital intelligence and cooperation. Hint — to combat Muslim terrorism, you’ll need help from Muslim governments more than anyone else. And those are just the problems with the idea of the war — I'm not even considering for now Gitmo, Abu Ghraib, and our fiddling while Israel burns Lebanon. Finally, and as Suskind explained, the war sucked up resources from the real anti-terrorist efforts.
And so there’s a pretty clear difference here that I’m sure some consultant could dress up in purty “clear choice” language. The argument would be that the Dems and the GOP have two fundamentally different ways of fighting terrorism. The GOP believes in fighting terrorism by invading countries and attempting to impose democracy at the point of a gun, which will then through some Rube Goldberg-esque logic lead to less terrorism. The Dems favor a focus on identifying the terrorists through things like intelligence and multi-lateral cooperation. Yes, that’s grossly simple, but it's generally accurate. The neocons fundamentally believe that invading Iraq and Iran are effective anti-terrorism policies. And it’s really hard to overstate just how completely absurd that is. Even if you were sympathetic in 2002, reality should have intruded by now.
In sum, these people simply can’t be trusted with our national security. Let's stop crying and start saying so.
These are thoughts needing wider circulation.
Massage (and full body scrub): Very nice. Really, very, very nice. When I win the lottery, a masseuse on staff is one of the first things I'll spend the money on.
Facial: I hadn't realized that this involved having someone pick at my blemishes. Hard. Like I was worrying that she was going to damage the cartilage in my nose hard. I still have red spots where she was prodding. I could also have done without the commentary "Are you always flushed like this? Because we can probably do something about that with products X, Y, and Z. Or you could go to a dermatologist about it." Um, my face is generally pink, yes. I hadn't realized that wasn't on the list of approved colors this season.
Manicure/ Pedicure: Having your hands and feet put into bags of molten paraffin is oddly pleasant, albeit a little weird. Sharp things on your cuticles, less so. Lecture from the manicurist about how, as an attorney, I really need to use treatments on my nails so they'll grow longer without breaking, "You have pretty hands. But with nails like this? Ugly," distinctly less so.
Haircut: Nice. Quite short, for me -- I was going to go shoulderlength, and then the stylist said "If we take another inch off, you can donate the ponytail to [some charity that makes wigs for kids with cancer.]" So it's chin-length, in a tousled kind of way. But a haircut is a haircut.
Makeup job: Eh. Looked at me and said "Ooo. You have sensitive skin. Don't worry about it, by tomorrow the irritation from the facial will have calmed down, and you'l look fine." Actually, I looked pretty much like I usually do. White eyeshadow, and shitloads of mascara. Can't say as I'm tempted to emulate what he did.
Overall review? I'd do the massage again in a heartbeat, and I do get my hair cut every so often, and this was a good one. Everything else wasn't worth much. But it was interesting seeing how the other .00001 % lives for a day.
So, what do you guys think, is it mean to hang out with someone who has a crush on me? It's not killing him or anything. He's funny and I like having coffee with him sometimes. But maybe it's not so much that he's fun to be with as that it's gratifying to have people moping around with crushes on you? It makes me feel pretty and interesting. If I'm honest with myself I have to admit I've always had male friends like this, but not recently, because I haven't really been seeing anyone aside from a few other moms. Generally, is this a bad, exploitative thing or just a normal thing? Stipulate that I'm a generally flirty person but not excessively so; no one has ever gotten the idea that they might have a chance to get in my pants unless I wanted them to. Except this one crazy stalker guy, but he was nuts.
UPDATE: On reflection, he's not actually moping.
I'm trying not to scream after reading Michael Slackman's truly awful, simply wrong article in the Times about Iranian culture. I've mentioned tarof on the blog before, and explained it as "ritual politeness." There are certain phrases and gestures that are basically the boilerplate of interpersonal interactions: if you grow up in Iranian culture, you learn when to use them, what they mean, and how seriously to take them. Insisting that an elder enter a room before you do is tarof; so is staying standing until everyone older than you has sat down; so is refusing food the first time or two that it's offered; so is the cab driver telling you that the ride is free; so are ornate phrases that translate literally to things like "I'm your slave." You show respect and your good manners wtih tarof. Slackman explains all this with such a stunning lack of understanding that we should all go lay flowers at the grave of Edward Said and tell him he was right about everything.
There is a social principle in Iran called taarof, a concept that describes the practice of insincerity — of inviting people to dinner when you don’t really want their company, for example. Iranians understand such practices as manners and are not offended by them.
"Ritual politeness" is "insincerity." Just like when the Japanese businessman bows before negotiations, he's lying, because you know he really wants your money.
Slackman then goes on to "explain" how tarof is just one part of the Iranian culture of insincerity, and, it must be admitted, he has a bunch of Iranian professors telling him some pretty stupid things.
It is not a crude ethnic joke or slur to talk about taarof, but a cultural reality that Iranians say stems from centuries under foreign occupation. Whether it was the Arabs, the Mongols or the French and the British, foreign hegemony taught Iranians the value of hiding their true face. The principle is also enshrined in the majority religion here, Shiite Islam, which in other lands is a minority religion, often at odds with the majority. There is a concept known as takiya in which Shiites are permitted, even encouraged, to hide their belief or faith to protect their life, honor or property.
He quotes an Iranian,
“When you tell lies, it can save your life,” said Muhammad Sanati, a social psychologist who lived for years in England before returning to Iran in 1982. “Then you can see the problem of language in this country.”
I wonder if Sanati might mean that right now in Iran, speaking your mind can be dangerous. Maybe, just maybe, it's not those wacky foreigners and their inscrutable culture of insincerity, but the effects of living under an oppressive regime. Does Slackman know any Iranians not living in Iran? Are they notably inscrutable?
Then he tries to scratch out some thesis about how the Iranian gift for "indirection" makes them particularly wily negotiators. I don't know enough about diplomacy to know if that's true; I don't really care. But Slackman manages to mangle it all again at the end.
People in Iran assume that when a politician offers something he knows he can’t deliver, it is taarof. They don’t call it a lie.
No, they don't. If you understand tarof, or just think of it properly as "ritual politeness," you can see that that sentence doesn't even make sense. It makes almost as little sense as this next one.
But what about when President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad sends a letter to President Bush. Is it sincere, or taarof?
Ritual politeness has absolutely nothing to do with it, and it's bizarre to read Slackman acting like things that are commonplaces in American politics, and have perfectly good names like "PR stunt," "posturing," "playing to the base" and "bullshit," are uniquely the domain of those mysterious swarthy people.
not to be argumentative, but I for one wouldn't care if 95% of my fellow citizens couldn't name the year in which the Sept. 11 attacks took place. I don't think that kind of ignorance is a useful proxy for much else.
If we're going to run around polling people, I care tremendously about who they think was responsible for 9/11 and what the country should (or should not) do as policy changes in response. But honestly - the specific year? Does it really matter? (Not being snarky; I'm really trying to think why.)
To me, this ties in to a conversation I was having with some people last week about our reactions to the opening of the movie World Trade Center. I incoherantly tried to explain that one of the reasons the movie WTC bothers me is I feel that fictional narratives eventually replace first-hand experiences even for people who lived through an event because the "shared" experience of a movie or book is reinforced through popular culture more strongly than a person's individual experience. In a way, I feel that fictional accounts weaken primary sources and, while the positives can outweigh the negatives if telling the story educates a lot of people who didn't pay attention to an event when it happened (Hotel Rwanda) or weren't around to live through it (Schindler's List), supplanting people's experiences of 9/11 is different because we're still making many foreign policy, etc. decisions that are shaped by people's firsthand reactions to those events.
I can’t quite articulate the way that I feel these are related but I feel like we’re seeing people’s memories about September 11 start to fade, pop culture is stepping in to fill in the blanks for them, and there’s a third insidious step on the horizon. I know this shouldn’t surprise me considering all of the revisionism we’ve seen about the war and I’m sure something similar happened as Vietnam and other significant events transitioned from “news” to “history”, but did it happen this quickly?
I firmly believe that men should wear their hair short. But is it permissible to have hairstyles that require--rather than merely allow-- product?
Fox News' John Gibson: Ned Lamont is Pol Pot.
Update: Ogged is right. The wrap-up to the column is too good not to have on the front page.
Remember the mountain of skulls in Cambodia? It's the Democrats new reality now that the anti-war rabble has tasted blood by taking Lieberman down.
That's My Word.
Don't forget my radio show. Check it out here!
Have you noticed how the right has co-opted the language of "root causes"? They say they want to go after the "root causes" of terrorism (I've heard Bush use the phrase a few times recently), but they don't mean by that phrase what it used to mean: the grievances and conditions that turn some people to terrorism, but instead they mean Iran and Saudi Arabia. If it turns out that this latest terror plot was entirely homegrown in Britain, please let there be much hammering about how the right doesn't get it, ok? You can't, for example, let Israel bomb the shit out of innocent Lebanese and not expect that some people are going to want to bomb you back.
Ah: Here's someone who noticed, but I only skimmed the article so no endorsement, just linking for the quotes....
I'm taking another trip out west soon, and I wanted your suggestions about two issues.
1. What are some fun one-day things to do in (or around, but with a preference for in) San Francisco? (Yes, I've been to Does Your Mother Know?, but I'd gladly go again.)
2. Suggest some travel reading material. Last time I did this I ended up reading The Straight Man (hilarious), Disgrace (good but painful), Saturday (eh, kinda phoned in), and Eternal Love (better, but couldn't live up to the first chapter), so it worked out well.
We haven't been all about the Lamont/Lieberman thing here, but I confess a surprisingly strong response of schadenfreude at Holy Joe's bounce. For me, at least, it's not really about the war per se; it's about the idea that a member of the opposition party really ought to do some opposing, and if he can't muster that at least he could hold off on the other side's talking points. So good riddance, you sanctimonious doofus.
I'll be away from the blog tomorrow -- in honor of making it halfway through my biblically allotted lifespan, I am spending an unprecedented day at a spa, finding out what, exactly, a facial consists of (in the salon, rather than the porn, sense), being massaged, and getting about six inches hacked off my primitive excuse for a hairstyle. I believe other things may be included in the package as well, but I'm not clear on what they consist of.
Talk among yourselves.
Josh Marshall has a column in Time on what the Lieberman loss means, that is both cheering and not too unrealistic sounding. He says that it's pretty much as simple as the President's approval ratings; voters are very unhappy with Iraq, and with the administration, and that that unhappiness is going to show up at the polls. And Leiberman never figured that out: he was stuck in the DC mindset where Republicans always win, and couldn't grasp the idea that for once he needed to run away from them.
If Marshall's right, this fall should see a big swing happening. Let's hope he is.
An anonymous reader writes in to say that he is having a lady friend over for a date this weekend and plans on making her dinner. He wants to stick with things that are fresh and in season and wants to avoid the trap of making the girl summertime spaghetti.
He was thinking of three courses, with a bisque to start, a main course of salmon in a white-wine, curry, and brown sugar sauce, and an as-yet-unidentified dessert. He's stumped on the dessert and was wondering what people thought of his ideas for the first two courses.
Tyler Cowen notes that he has completely different thoughts when lying in bed, depending on whether he lies on his side or on his back. Kevin Drum wonders what kind of thoughts. And, from almost a year ago, Ogged answers the question.
While I'm reading the Prospect, this, by Eric Rauchway, on immigration, is also interesting. Rauchway notes that those who are worried about the effects of immigration on low-wage American workers are in a bit of a bind. Historically, racist restraints on immigration have been quite popular, and the current anti-immigration movement has a strong racist component, as Governor Schwarzenegger seems to be noting by disassociating himself from it. But they aren't something decent people can ally themselves with. Class-based restrictions, on the other hand, while somewhat less unsavory and better tailored to protecting American workers, have historically been terribly unpopular.
Rauchway's solution is to give up on aggressive control of immigration, and focus our energies on reducing the impact on low-wage workers through social programs, both to support current American workers and speed the assimilation of new immigrants. I can't say that I have any better ideas.
Slolerner pointed to this column by Terence Samuel in the American Prospect. It's not cheerful -- it starts out by describing a friend of the writer's who feels like Billmon -- that for the Democrats to win an election now will do them more harm than good. The writer then notes that Republicans are starting to run against the ranking House Democrats: Rangel, Waxman, Conyers, as frighteningly liberal, and Pelosi has responded by making it clear that the ranking Democrats aren't automatically entitled to the chairmanships of their committees -- that everything is up in the air.
This is idiotic (to the extent that it's true. I haven't seen it reported elsewhere, and I'm hoping that it's an error of emphasis). These are our guys -- if you don't want Rangel, or Waxman, or Conyers in charge of an important committee, why would you vote for a Democrat? What is wrong with the Democratic leadership, that they don't grasp the necessity of loyalty to the people on your own side? If we can't convey that we're proud of our own politicians, and that we have confidence in their competence and judgment (yeah, yeah. Confidence in comparison to all the available alternatives, okay?) we're not taking this party anyplace.
Gary Farber has a post collecting some stories. While all depressing, perhaps the most depressing is the one about Vietnam-era crimes that have been largely kept secret until now. It's unpleasant being reminded that we really have no way of knowing what the worst is of what's going on in Iraq now, and we probably won't for decades.
I hate reading these stories, but I feel as if I have to. Not that I know what good it does anyone.
YouTube is beyond fantastic--"video sharing" hardly does justice to its role as collective visual memory bank--and I have to work not to spend hours just poking around there. Here's a flashback for you: do you actually remember Olivia Newton-John's Physical video? I submit that you only think you do. Watch all the way to the end.
Does an age ever come where you stop looking back and thinking the person you were 3 to 5 years ago was a clueless idiot?
Am I still an idiot now and just won't fully realize it for another three to five years? If so, might I someday outgrow it or do we always think that about our former selves?
On the other hand, even when everything is going fairly well in your relationship, you may still find yourself making promises to your children. Ill advised promises. That result in your spending a truly ridiculous amount of time and effort on
At 6 am last Wednesday, in a kitchen that was, literally, 106 degrees Farenheit, I was baking the Chocolate Oblivion Truffle Torte that ended up on the inside of this:
Never again do I let Newt look at the glossy pictures in the cookbook and say "I want that one for my birthday!". But it did turn out attractive, even if a bit over-the-top, no?
A few days ago I ran into an old friend at the gym. He looked rough, and I knew something must be up, but it hit me hard when he said he was getting a divorce. Ten years, two great kids, two nice, reasonable people, and here they are. "It's been headed this way for a while," he said, and I cringe when I think about all that must mean. It makes me wonder how anyone makes these things work. From the inside, I'm sure there's a story that makes sense of it all, but from my perspective it looks more or less like a roulette wheel.
What's the story with wall-to-wall carpet? More specifically, what were people thinking when they decided to cover perfectly decent floors with nasty white shag that would later have to be ripped out by the generous and patient friends of new homeowners? And why did they have to use continuum many staples to secure the stuff? If I find out who's responsible for this, I'm definitely firing a few of those into their foreheads.
There's something I never told you all about my trip to California.
Something happened at one of the Sleater-Kinney shows I saw out there that I was too embarrassed to tell you all at the time. I finally spilled the beans about it to some of the people I went to concerts with this week so I figure it's time to let you all in on my San Francisco secret. Here's the day after account I had sent to my friend Ellie at the time:
The first of my two San Francisco Sleater-Kinney concerts was last night. My plan was that for Tuesday's show I would go early and stake out a place in the front for craziness and dancing (since I was going alone) and tonight would be a mellow night where I'd show up after the opening act and hang out at the back of the theater with Ben.
Everything started out great - the band had a new set list, acoustics were good, and the crowd was really into it. The crowds at Sleater-Kinney shows tend to be enthusiastic, but polite. People at the front are dancing and jumping up and down so you expect to maybe get an accidental stray elbow, but it's not a mosh pit. There are usually a lot of guys but there is a definite feminine (and feminist) vibe. It's all very groovy.
Except for last night. Halfway through the second song, this really drunk guy who is double-fisting beers pushes his way to the front and starts bodyslamming people. It's like he thinks he's seeing Limp Bizkit instead of Sleater-Kinney. The front rows are full of 5'2" girls and this 6 foot guy is ramming them with his full body weight, splashing beer on everyone, and won't shut the fuck up. Everyone is pissed but nobody says anything because, well, he was pretty of out of control and crazy.
I tried saying something to him but he blew me off and then started focusing his obnoxious behavior in my general direction. This all goes on for about two songs and I can't take it anymore. I just can't pay attention when I'm getting bodychecked three or four times a minute. I decide I have to give up my prize position right in front of Carrie Brownstein and move back a few rows if I'm going to enjoy the rest of the show. As I was trying to make my way through the crowd, the guy slams into me again and I just lost it and started screaming at him. I'm sure what I said was incomprehensible and ridiculous and if it ends up on a bootleg, I'm going to crawl into a corner and die of embarrassment. Nobody else had said anything to him, but once I started chewing him out, I got a lot of support from the people around me.
Now, this is where the story should end. I yell at the guy, the crowd backs me up, and the guy is thoroughly scolded and sees the error of his ways. Yay Becks! Yay civility!
But it doesn't. The guy doesn't even blink. He goes right back to slamming into people and being an asshole. He slammed into me again. And then I punched him.
I have never punched anyone in my entire life. I never thought I would punch somebody. But last night, at the Sleater-Kinney concert, three feet away from Carrie Brownstein, I full-on punched this guy in the head. It was a total reflex -- he slammed into me, and I hit him. As soon my brain processed what I did, I was like "Oh my god! I can't believe I just did that! He's going to beat me up! I should, like, run or something!...And I'm probably going to get thrown out of the concert! Or, like, arrested! Holy shit!" but, fortunately for me, (1) he was so drunk I don't even know if he realized what had just happened (2) a group of really butch lesbians let me know they had my back [thanks!] and (3) none of the security guards saw. Instead of kicking my ass, he actually calmed down. He left during the next song.
Still, I cannot believe I hit somebody. That is just not how I see myself as a person. I'm nice! I'm friendly! I used to teach classes on conflict resolution, for Christ's sake! This is so not anything I ever expected to do.