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Honesty is the best policy.

Posted by Apostropher
on 08.26.06

"The cautionary tale of a janitor, his dildo, a rope and two Samoans."


 

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Be it resolved: 'Sexyback' is the single of the year

Posted by Fontana Labs
on 08.26.06

Strange but true. I love the lo-fi dance sound, but what really got me was the background "yeah!" and the way the guy yelling "take it to the chorus!" sounds like he's having a religious experience.

I now return to my hiatus.


 

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Mile High

Posted by Becks
on 08.26.06

The terrorists? No longer winning. Now allowed on your person or in your carry-on bag: up to 4 oz. of lubricant.

[From someone, via someone else]


 

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Logic Problem

Posted by LizardBreath
on 08.26.06

I don't have an opinion overall about the Duke rape case; all the people outraged by the horrendousness of the prosecution's case do seem to have a point, but on the other hand they're reacting to the case as framed by the defence counsel. But I read Friday's big Times article on the case, and noticed something that's been bothering me about negative coverage of the case.

The article reports on an irregular photo lineup which incorporated only people known to have been at the party, rather than including fillers known to be innocent:

The array of photographs used to identify the suspects violated generally accepted guidelines for lineups, because it included only lacrosse team members. Defense lawyers have challenged it in court, arguing that all evidence that followed from the identifications should be thrown out.

While I am very concerned generally about problems relating to inaccurate witness identifications, this concern, if stated without further explanation, seems to miss the point of including fillers.

Everyone agrees that the accuser was at the lacrosse team party, working, and had the opportunity to see the party guests. She says she was raped there, and the party guests say she's lying. Whether or not she's telling the truth she should, therefore, be able to pick party guests out of a lineup -- it is unquestioned that she's seen them before. The point of including fillers in a lineup is to find out if the witness can recognize a suspect -- if the witness can't distinguish the suspect from the fillers, then there's no reason to think the witness has ever seen the suspect before.

Here, because we know she's seen the suspects before, being able to pick them out of a properly conducted lineup wouldn't be evidence for the accuracy of her story (she should be able to do the same thing whether or not her story is true) and the fact that the lineup wasn't properly conducted doesn't, in this case, mean that it is much less useful than a lineup with fillers would have been. The point of the lineup in this case wasn't to find out if the accuser had seen the suspects before -- we know she has -- it was to find out which of the party guests she contends attacked her.

(Idealist, who I discussed this with, points out that a lineup with fillers would have been useful in one regard for the defense. It is possible that if other evidence had convinced the jury that the accuser's story was truthful, the defense could still argue that her visual memory was inaccurate -- that she had fingered the wrong guests from the party. If she had been faced with a lineup including fillers, and she had identified fillers rather than party guests as her attackers, that would be evidence that regardless of her truthfulness, the accuracy of her identification as among the party guests was open to question. This is fair enough -- the point I wanted to make is that her ability to pick party guests out of a lineup with fillers couldn't possibly have given the defense any evidence about the truthfulness of her story.)


 

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I'm Very Fond Of Silly People

Posted by LizardBreath
on 08.26.06

Check out the following letter to the New York Times Book Review.

To the Editor:

Reading Dexter Filkins’s review of “The Looming Tower,” by Lawrence Wright (Aug. 6), I was both concerned and outraged to learn that the “cave-dwelling madman” Osama bin Laden is, in fact, only six feet tall. Since the horrific attacks of Sept. 11 I have naturally assumed, like many Americans, that bin Laden was 6-foot-6 if not taller. This shocking revelation has forced me to radically reassess my views on 9/11, the war on terror, the Bush administration, the liberation of Iraq, and Islam, which is caught between the rock of tradition and the hard place of modernity. No longer do I consider bin Laden to be an invincible Goliath-like demagogue. Now that I know his true stature, I think we should move on to pressing domestic concerns.

Lt. Col. John Petzen, Ret.

Sun City Center, Fla.

Who wants to bet that Col. Petzen is a Monty Python fan who has dreamed for years of exploiting his retired military status to write goofy letters to the editor with that added touch in the signature? Even if not, he is officially my favorite person in the newspaper today.


 

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Browne

Posted by Ben
on 08.26.06

People, this is an excellent website, though it's occasionally been prone in the past to disappearing unexpectedly. True story: I stumbled across it long ago then forgot about it for a few years, and when I found it again it I was shocked and amazed to discover that I used to work with the proprietor at the Journal of Chemical Physics (he had a real job, I was just there for the summer writing shell scripts). I have copied below two bits from the fifth part of Hydriotaphia:

To be content that times to come should only know there was such a man, not caring whether they knew more of him, was a frigid ambition in Cardan: disparaging his horoscopal inclination and judgement of himself, who cares to subsist like Hippocrates Patients, or Achilles horses in Homer, under naked nominations, without deserts and noble acts, which are the balsame of our memories, the Entelecchia and soul of our subsistences. To be namelesse in worthy deeds exceeds an infamous history. The Canaanitish woman lives more happily without a name, then Herodias with one. And who had not rather have been the good theef, then Pilate?
But the iniquity of oblivion blindely scattereth her poppy, and deals with the memory of men without distinction to merit of perpetuity. Who can but pity the founder of the Pyramids? Herostratus lives that burnt the Temple of Diana, he is almost lost that built it; Time hath spared the Epitaph of Adrians horse, confounded that of himself. In vain we compute our felicities by the advantage of our good names, since bad have equall durations; and Thersites is like to live as long as Agamenon, [without the favour of the everlasting Register:] Who knows whether the best of men be known? or whether there be not more remarkable persons forgot, then any that stand remembred in the known account of time? without the favour of the everlasting Register the first man had been as unknown as the last, and Methuselahs long life had been his only Chronicle.

and

In vain do individuals hope for Immortality, or any patent from oblivion, in preservations below the Moon: Men have been deceived even in their flatteries above the Sun, and studied conceits to perpetuate their names in heaven. The various Cosmography of that part hath already varied the names of contrived constellations; Nimrod is lost in Orion, and Osyris in the Dogge-starre. While we look for incorruption in the heavens, we finde they are but like the Earth; Durable in their main bodies, alterable in their parts: whereof beside Comets and new Stars, perspectives begin to tell tales. And the spots that wander about the Sun, with Phaetons favour, would make clear conviction.


 

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So Much Better Than Mom Serving Us Pizzas

Posted by Becks
on 08.25.06

Elevated from comments, DominEditrix helpfully suggests a new planetary mnemonic: "Mel Very Thoughtlessly Made A Jewish Slur, Undeniably Nasty".


 

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My Mom Never Let Me Have Open Threads

Posted by Alameida
on 08.25.06

My parents let my highschool boyfriend sleep over...but he couldn't spend the whole night in my room. A Solomonic decision, or perhaps a fairy-tale one: answer these my questions three/and with my daughter you will be/but should the dawn light catch you there... On the creepy side, my parents once gave me sexy lingerie as a present for my boyfriend. With a garter belt. So, for some of us, carrying on with the old-time homestyle values we were brought up with just doesn't appeal. I say no sleepovers, even though I realize this is just an incentive for my daughters to become bisexual or gay and get off on a technicality.

Unrelatedly, do a lot of people actually read unfogged? Like, read and not comment? Just read the posts, even? (Surely not.) Do we have high traffic just because a small group of dedicated fanatics reload the comments all the time, often breaking teh entire internets in the process? Are we the only blog ever to track down our commenters and criticize them for commenting elsewhere? Can commenting here help teo get laid? No, really, what are our stats like, Becks? Everyone else can consider this an open thread, but keep it down. Your dad and I are right here!


 

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Dating Sucks

Posted by LizardBreath
on 08.25.06

At least current conventional middle-class collegey American straight young-people dating. The standard, normal method of pairing up is: (1) Acquire large pack of mixed-sex friends that does lots of social stuff together; (2) gradually notice an affinity with a member of the opposite sex; (3) start smooching sometime without any prior discussion or negotiation (4) Bingo -- you have a (girl/boy)friend. If you're concerned that this hasn't happened yet, 'Relax. Just be friendly. It happens naturally. Don't push it.'

And, you know, bullshit. If you're a loner (I'm not talking clock-towers and rifles here, just the sort of person who doesn't gravitate toward packs) relaxing and letting things happen naturally doesn't cut it. This sort of pairing-off system works great for the gregarious and very, very, socially skilled (all that 'happening naturally' doesn't happen without some help -- it's just uncool to do anything visible.). But it's a great way to make introverts, even generally happy, charming, contented introverts, feel unwanted.

Do I have a better idea? Eh, things would be easier if sex were less portentous and important than it is here -- part of what makes this all so difficult for the not-terribly-gregarious is that all of the preliminary negotiations have to be completely unspoken, because god forbid you express an interest in someone who doesn't fall into your arms instantly. It would also be easier if things were a little more formalized: while 'dating' seems awkward and stupid, it's easier directly approaching someone you're interested in than turning yourself into the kind of person who spends all their time with a pack of friends and manuvering your pack deftly enough to pick a mate out of it.

But I'm probably just whining because I was so, so, horrifically and painfully bad at this shit back when I was doing it. Feel free to tell me that the current system is actually the best it could be, in the best of all possible worlds.


 

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They So Deserve Each Other

Posted by Ogged
on 08.24.06

Answering Jim Henley's request for a Farsi speaker took me to these excerpted bits from a recent Ahmadinejad speech. It's only a few minutes long, and much worth watching, just to get a sense of what's being said "on the other side," and also to get a kick out of how he's using the same "they hate freedom" line that Bush is using.

It's subtitled, so you can watch with the sound off, if you need to, and the translation is actually pretty good.


 

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Sleepover

Posted by Becks
on 08.24.06

Yglesias has a post up about an advice-seeker who wrote into Slate asking whether she should forbid her 17-year-old son from sleeping over at his girlfriend's house. I don't know how I would handle that as a parent. You can't really stop teens from having sex and it's a lot easier for them to practice safe sex in a bedroom than in the backseat of a car. On the other hand, I'd think that, for a parent, knowing your kid was in the next room getting it on would be the definition of squick.

[Update by Ogged--Henley's solution: Pure awesome.]


 

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Controversy

Posted by Ogged
on 08.24.06

What say you on the most pressing issue of our time: lonelygirl15: real or fake? It seems pretty damn obvious to me that we're dealing with someone who is acting. You can find her videos ordered chronologically starting at the bottom here.


 

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Good News/Bad News

Posted by Becks
on 08.24.06

Good news: The FDA finally approved Plan B for over the counter sales to women 18 and up.

Bad news: Thanks to Ortho-McNeil increasing the price of their birth control pills to family planning clinics, fewer low-income women may have access to subsidized contraceptives.


 

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Evolutionary Psychology Cracks Me Up

Posted by LizardBreath
on 08.24.06

I'm reading Adapting Minds, by David J. Buller, a discussion of flaws in the theoretical paradigm used by most researchers in evolutionary psychology. (Buller distinguishes between evolutionary psychology, the study of how natural selection and adaptation have affected the human mind, and Evolutionary Psychology, a theoretical structure which most current researchers in the field use to guide their research. He has no quarrel with the first, but thinks the second has some real problems. I may have something to say about the book as a whole later on; this is just something that made me laugh.)

A group of EP researchers decided to study whether women were attracted to high-status men by asking them to rate two descriptions for attractiveness. Dominant John was described as follows:

John is 5'10 tall, 165 lbs. He has been playing tennis for one year and is currently enrolled in an intermediate tennis class. Despite his limited amount of training he is a very coordinated tennis player, who has won 60% of his matches. His serve is very strong, and his returns are extremely powerful. In addition to his physical abilities, he has the mental qualities that lead to success in tennis. He is extremely competitive, refusing to yield against opponents who have been playing much longer. All of his movements tend to communicate dominance and authority. He tends to psychologically dominate his opponents, forcing them off their games and into mental mistakes,

NonDominant John sounded like this:

John is 5'10 tall, 165 lbs. He has been playing tennis for one year and is currently enrolled in an intermediate tennis class. Despite his limited amount of training he is a very coordinated tennis player, who has won 60% of his matches. His serve and returns are consistent and well-placed. Although he plays well, he prefers to play for fun, rather than to win. He is not particularly competitive, and tends to yield against opponents who have been playing much longer. He is easily thrown off his game by opponents who play with great authority. Strong opponents are able to psychologically dominate him, sometimes forcing him off his gae. He enjoys the game of tennis but avoids highly competitive situations

And wonder of wonders, women preferred Dominant John to Non-Dominant John. Then another set of researchers decided to check how the experiment would work out with a third option, Control John:

John is 5'10 tall, 165 lbs. He has been playing tennis for one year and is currently enrolled in an intermediate tennis class. Despite his limited amount of training he is a very coordinated tennis player, who has won 60% of his matches.

On women's ratings of attractiveness, Control John kicked the shit out of the other two guys. I don't know why, this just cracked me up.


 

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System

Posted by Ogged
on 08.23.06

This video doesn't quite give the feel of what it's like to drive in Iran, but if you keep your eye on the pedestrians going across the grain and think about what you're seeing, you can get a sense of the underlying insanity.


 

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Hey!

Posted by Ogged
on 08.23.06

What's the disappeared Weiner doing commenting at Tapped? And where the hell is Tripp, anyway? I still see him commenting at other sites. What did you people do?


 

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Goodwood

Posted by Ogged
on 08.23.06

A while back, I was watching some bit of porn starring a pretty young lady whose dialogue was the typical high-pitched "oo oo yeah oo" better known as the lullaby of the bored American male, but who, in the beginning of the scene, after the co-star she had obviously just met tenderly smelled her hair while she prepared to blow him, said to him, in a completely different, very grown-up voice, "Quit smelling my hair. We're here to fuck, not be friends."

He looked slapped. And now that I've watched all the television I intended to watch, I'm wondering why we don't have an awesome HBO ensemble show about the world of porn. Anyone who's worked in porn for any time at all must have ten anecdotes like that one, and know a slew of colorful characters. There's also the sex. And the politics. You'd have to screw it up unbelievably badly before people stopped watching.

I'm imagining something told mainly from a producer's point of view, with all the cajoling, caretaking, abusing, deceiving and etc. that one imagines a porn producer does. Probably more comedy than drama, because an honest look at the business of porn would be unspeakably depressing. The part that gives me trouble is the season-long story arc. What's the abiding drama? Maybe he (or she?) is being sued for obscenity? Maybe the performers are trying to unionize? I'm not sure, but you'd watch it.


 

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“Why is America so weird?”

Posted by LizardBreath
on 08.23.06

Eric Rauchway, who showed up here recently after I linked a Prospect article he'd written on related issues, forwarded me this interview with him in Inside Higher Ed on his latest book -- Blessed Among Nations: How The World Made America.

I've read the book, and it's interesting, although far enough outside of any area where I have much knowledge that I can't approach it critically. It argues first that American exceptionalism is a real thing -- that there is a meaningful sense, across a number of metrics, in which America is politically and economically unusual as industrialized countries go. So far, fairly obvious. And then goes on to argue that these differences can largely be traced to the effects of 'globalization' -- largescale movements of labor and capital across national borders -- in the 19th and early 20th century.

It's persuasive in a lot of ways -- as I understood the argument, the American resistance to social welfare is explained in terms of two forces. First, the heavy investment of foreign capital in American business simply made social welfare less necessary -- the American working class had a higher standard of living that the European working class. (I was reminded here of something Orwell said somewhere about Twain's Roughing It; that the comic bizarreness of the people Twain describes can be attributed to the fact that they aren't afraid of getting fired -- they can always find something else. A European of the same class would be cowed and conventional, because losing his job would mean much more significant hardship. Now I want to link in John Holbo's incredibly Holboneriffic evisceration of David Frum's Dead Right, which, although it's not directly related, everyone should read if they have a week or two and haven't already.) Further, the lower strata of the working class were largely made up of immigrants, who were heterogenuous enough that they couldn't exercise significant political power (this is distinct from countries like Brazil, with a comparable percentage of immigrants, but mostly from Italy, so they could band together as not merely immigrants but Italians), and were regarded by the native-born Americans as something between a resource and a pest, depending on whether they were cheap labor or competition for jobs -- in either case, there was little of the feeling of cross-class solidarity that supported social welfare movements in Europe.

What I've described is just a fragment of the book's argument -- it's worth reading if this is an area of interest of yours.


 

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How Does Stuff Like This Get Published?

Posted by Becks
on 08.23.06

Forbes has an article on why all you men should avoid dating and marrying career women.

If a host of studies are to be believed, marrying these women is asking for trouble. If they quit their jobs and stay home with the kids, they will be unhappy. They will be unhappy if they make more money than you do. You will be unhappy if they make more money than you do. You will be more likely to fall ill. Even your house will be dirtier. [Edited to remove citations for readability.]

Surely this next statement isn't going to help my dating prospects but, goddamnit, I just want to hunt down and cockpunch the author (who is a man this time, unlike with that Details article).

The reasoning behind this is just ridiculous, like #6 "Your house will be dirtier". Yes, because god forbid you suggest that guys help out around the house. And "You are more likely to fall ill" ("wives working longer hours not do not have adequate time to monitor their husband's health and healthy behavior, to manage their husband's emotional well-being or buffer his workplace stress.") How about some personal responsibility? I'm sure Forbes is all about personal responsibility when it comes to cutting social programs. And the worst: "You are much less likely to have kids." (Only 51% of ultra-achieving women (those earning more than $100,000 a year) have had children by age 40.) Anyone think of looking into correlation vs. causation? Maybe these women aren't having kids BECAUSE GUYS ALREADY refuse to marry "career women".

Update: Forbes has decided to recast this article as half of a "debate". Whatever. The fact this is even considered something worthy of debate is obnoxious.


 

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That Was Fast

Posted by Alameida
on 08.23.06

OK, crush boy has totally lost it now. I just had the most irritating hour I've spent in ages; it's like I'm in fucking AA junior high or something.

I know this woman who has been coming to the program for a few weeks, but hasn't been suceeding so well at the not drinking part. I've been hanging out with her and talking to her; I really wish her the best and hope she can work things out. Anyway, I arranged to have tea with her after the meeting tonight. She had a bad day last Saturday and basically ended up drinking between the two meetings (!) in the coffeeshop where we usually hang out. Crush boy and a visiting couple were there but had sort of pointedly not invited her to sit with them; she got all upset and ordered a beer. Then she called him on the phone (from 15 feet away) and he refused to talk to her. So, whatever, this is really her problem but in any case she's annoyed with him. I haven't seen her this week yet, so she and I went for coffee while everyone else went out to dinner for a guy who's leaving. Except boy, who followed us down the road (not walking with us, so I didn't even know he was there) and then invited himself to sit down--I really should have said 'hey, we're talking', but I can never do things like that. He's obviously been pissed off at me about something but I haven't bothered to find out what. So then he proceeds to be so incredibly hostile and strange. Perhaps in some sense he means well because he thinks he's calling this woman out on her bullshit? But in fact he's sanctimonious and hostile and lecturing. Really, like, it was very strange. The spectacle of someone so extraordinarily tightly wound lecturing someone else on how they need to 'take it easy' was comical. I was just like, mmm, te halia, so yummy. None of my attempts to change the subjects or minimize his critical diatribes were working. So she finally got up to leave and I stayed or a minute to hear whatever was on his mind and ask him to lighten up because he was obviously upsetting her. He explained how he was angry that I had sent him an sms a week or so ago in which I said he was "cheering, in his hectoring way." I apologized; I really had intended to be funny. I think if I'd said it to him in person it would have been fine. I have teased him before about his habit of telling everyone what to do. At the time he said 'no I don't', and I said, 'you offered me unsolicited child-rearing advice and you don't have a kid.' Later he admitted I had a point. So, I said my sarcasm obviously went amiss, but he had to admit he did lecture people sometimes. (Like he's just been doing in an insane way for a fucking hour!) I didn't say that, though, because although it might not seem likely from my blogging persona I'm actually very polite. Polite like sometimes I get into conversations with crazy homeless people and my friends are like 'just walk away! Stop answering his questions!' 'I didn't want to be rude', I'll mumble. Anyway, he accepted my apology and I got up to leave, and as we were walking I hazarded that he came across as kind of hostile to our friend just now, and then he totally wigged out and ran away. With running. The worst thing of all was that this woman really wasn't doing that well, and had to my mind been drinking in the bathroom. She was also offering up lots of bullshit rationalizations about how she was doing so great that I would have liked to gently suggest were maybe not so cool. But because crush boy was vehemently attacking everything she said and going on about how it would be interesting if a python ate her chihuahua, I ended up abetting her bullshit! Seriously, seriously high school.


 

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Paris Hilton, Paris Hilton

Posted by Ogged
on 08.23.06

Or Paris Khan.

"I'll pick out two outfits, one which is disgusting and one nice and I'll ask my 'friend' what they think. If they go for the revolting one, I cut them out of my life."

On a lighter note, you might want to check out the video for Paris's new single. Tell the truth, it's not notably better or worse than most other pop songs, right?


 

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546 seconds of Meat Loaf

Posted by Ben
on 08.23.06

Sooo, apparently yesterday was the last day of class. I guess I should probably have gone, but in fairness to me, I thought that today was the last day, and was planning on going (honest). I did come in to use the free internet and on the way out encountered a classmate who told me that many were planning to gather at lame beer garden X, which I went to and discovered that one of my classmates lived about a block away from me in Chicago, used to date one of the guys who started Zombi (revealed when she mentioned Goblin and I recommended Zombi to her), was pals with ex–Flying Luttenbacher and current touring member of Hella Jonathan H/schke, and once witnessed Weasel Walter singing "Paradise by the Dashboard Light" at a karaoke bar.

All this only serves to demonstrate that, in fact, I probably should have tried to spend more time with my fellow students? Even if they unaccountably believe that English is an easier language to learn than others. It would be an interesting exercise to draw up a list of what I should have done otherwise while here. (It's really awful, isn't it?) Therefore p.


 

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Wolves

Posted by LizardBreath
on 08.22.06

Hey, can someone remake the 'Wolves' Bush campaign ad as "The Boy Who Cried Wolves"? Start out with a scary pack of wolves in the woods. Cut to a whiny kid, with something that makes him look like Bush or a Republican somehow, looking at a clear, harmless meadow filled with sheep, and yelping "Wolf! Wolf!" The villagers boil out of the village and come to help him, and then leave when there's nothing there. Repeat, but this time the villagers are actively disgusted with the kid. And then cut back to scary wolves while a voiceover says "It's a dangerous world. But leaders who can't separate reality from fantasy can't keep us safe in it, no matter how loudly they sound the alarm."

It's fearmongering, but fearmongering works, and I think it's a legitimate way to fearmonger and criticize Bush at the same time.


 

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Guess We Dodged A Bullet

Posted by Ogged
on 08.22.06

Not that y'all particularly need reminding, but it's worth at least noting that some people (including noted scholar Bernard Lewis) will say just about any old shit in order to make an enemy seem crazy, which is to say inhuman, which is to say morally insubstantial. Remember all the hubbub about how August 22 would be the day that those crazy Muslims would launch a "cataclysmic" attack? Well, August 22 has come and gone in Iran. You can rest easy now.

More: A good roundup of charlatans from Michael Totten.


 

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More Deadwood Thoughts

Posted by Ogged
on 08.22.06

Having been reminded that Deadwood's David Milch was also responsible for NYPD Blue, it all came to me in a flash: of course, Bullock is the Caruso character, Mr. Smoldering Righteousness, and Swearengen is the Dennis Franz character, the violent hothead who is civilized by the love of a good woman. Along with those characters comes a hefty dose of male fantasy about bravery, competence, and control. Whatever else the show has going for it, the central drama is the same old same old, and distasteful, if not simply boring.

And I'm moved to make a logically invalid claim about the dialogue: just as the dialogue in NYPD Blue seemed cool and edgy at the time, and now seems like a strained attempt at mimicking tough-guy culture, I think the dialogue on Deadwood will seem simliarly stupid in several years.

That said, there are some things the show does very well. The way that minor characters accommodate themselves to power is varied and true, and the rise of civic institutions is interesting and fun to watch.


 

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I cock an eyebrow in surprise.

Posted by Apostropher
on 08.22.06

Perhaps it's too early in the presidential race to place much importance on any polls, given that nobody has even made a formal announcement about a candidacy, but this is surprising.

Months of polls have suggested the New York senator would lose the 2008 White House race badly if she won the Democratic nomination. But Time magazine's survey puts her just two percentage points below Mr McCain, with 47% to his 49% - within the poll's margin of error.

Huh. Given that this contradicts a slew of earlier surveys and widely-held conventional wisdom, I'd want to see it reproduced by some other polling outfits before giving it too much credence. Also, a 2% popular vote deficit could still translate into a decisive Electoral College loss, and HRC has a much easier path to the Democratic nomination than McCain does to the Republican one, so I don't really expect to see this particular matchup. However, these are interesting results, all the same. If they hold up, my already-cloudy crystal ball will get much cloudier (but I still won't like her).

Update: Also, ARG has the Connecticut Senate race within the margin of error at Lieberman 44, Lamont 42, Schlesinger 3, Undecided 11.

Update 2: Rasmussen confirms the ARG numbers. Lieberman 45, Lamont 43, Schlesinger 6.


 

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Cute Shoes

Posted by LizardBreath
on 08.22.06

Every so often I forget, and buy myself a pair of reasonably cute shoes. I don't go crazy -- I avoid really high heels or those spaghetti-thin straps that cut into your feet like razors. And then, despite what I think is sufficient caution, I suffer.

I've been bumbling along with no summer shoes I could wear with a dress other than a pair of suede Tevas, which I wear to work every day. And I thought to myself "Self, this is silly. You're a professional, you should have a pair of shoes you can wear with a skirt in the summer that don't attach with Velcro." So, after what I considered an inordinate amount of shopping to find sandals that weren't thongs, and didn't have razor straps or heels over two inches high (and what is that? I won't buy shoes I can't try on, so the Internet is no use, but shoe stores all seem to carry a couple of dozen styles that all share the same flaws. I literally spent weeks in Midtown Manhattan sticking my head into shoe stores when I saw one, and couldn't find low heeled sandals with wide straps.), I ended up buying these:

Reasonable, right? Low heels, at least. The first day I wore them, I walked a total of maybe ten blocks -- to and from the subway. I had raw, bleeding, blisters that woke me in the middle of the night for three days everytime I turned and my feet touched the sheets.

I don't think my pain tolerance is particularly low -- I gave birth twice without medication -- but I can't do this. Do other women's feet not hurt from cute shoes, or are they all just much tougher than I am? Why does this sort of thing sell?


 

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Tune In

Posted by Becks
on 08.21.06

Just a reminder that The Mineshaft's own Joe Dry/mala will be featured on Primetime tomorrow night on ABC at 10 PM Eastern. (Actually, 10:01 PM because ABC hates God, America, apple pie, and TiVo.)


 

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I Swear, If I Read One More Decision Like This I'm Registering Libertarian.

Posted by LizardBreath
on 08.21.06

The Eighth Circuit has lost its tiny mind. There's a statute stating that the Federal Government may confiscate certain categories of property used in relation to drug crimes, including money:

All moneys, negotiable instruments, securities, or other things of value furnished or intended to be furnished by any person in exchange for a controlled substance or listed chemical in violation of this subchapter, all proceeds traceable to such an exchange, and all moneys, negotiable instruments, and securities used or intended to be used to facilitate any violation of this subchapter, except that no property shall be forfeited under this paragraph, to the extent of the interest of an owner, by reason of any act or omission established by that owner to have been committed or omitted without the knowledge or consent of that owner.

The idea is that when they break up the drug ring, the dealers forfeit the suitcases full of money found in their closet next to the kilo of coke. The standard for forfeiture is that the government must establish a 'substantial connection' between the money and a controlled substance offense.

It turns out that 'substantial connection' doesn't mean a lot in the Eighth Circuit. The linked opinion tells the story of Emiliano Gonzolez, a guy with limited English fluency. He got stopped for speeding, and the police asked for, and received (insert tone of scepticism here) permission to search the car. They found $125K in cash in the car, and a police dog 'alerted' to the cash. Nothing else related to criminal activity was found in the car, and Gonzolez has no criminal history beyond a drunk driving arrest.

Gonzolez's story is that the money is the pooled cash savings of friends of his, which they intended to use to buy a refrigerated truck for use in the produce business. He flew out from California to Chicago to buy a truck that he'd heard was available; when he got to Chicago, the truck had been sold, and a friend told him that he couldn't legally carry that much cash around, so he got nervous and had a third person (he hasn't got a credit card) rent a car for him to drive home. The friends whose money was pooled for the truck-purchase back up his story.

The government's story is that having that much cash, and giving some inaccurate answers to initial questioning by the police (Gonzolez denied having a criminal record, later saying that he didn't think drunk driving counted as such, and gave the wrong name for the person who rented the car for him), combined with the dog's alerting to the money, together were sufficient evidence of a 'substantial connection' to a drug crime. That's it. That's all they've got. Absolutely no direct evidence of any, you know, crime. And the Eighth Circuit agrees with them, and is letting them take 125K from these people.

Now, certainly, you can call me naive -- I recognize that it's perfectly possible that the money is the fruit of criminal activity. But no one made anything that I'm willing to call a showing that that's the case -- all they have is "Someone like you is inherently unlikely to be carrying that much cash around legitimately, so we're keeping it." The dog alerting to the cash means nothing, as far as I know -- doesn't a large proportion of currency have drug residue on it?

This is disgusting. I'm not really going to vote Libertarian, but they've got the right idea about the War On Drugs. (via TalkLeft.)


 

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Blogging Tia-Style

Posted by LizardBreath
on 08.21.06

I saw a puzzle over the weekend that struck me as awfully clever, and given that we haven't had one for a while, here goes.

You have three wrongly labeled jars of jelly beans -- Red, Blue, and Mixed. The jar with the mixed jellybeans has red and blue beans mixed in some proportion, but you don't know what: it could be half and half, it could be one red and the rest blue, or anything in between. How many jellybeans do you need to draw out of the jars to get the labels straight?

Hint after the jump.

If you're figuring out complicated contingencies, you're going down the wrong path. The answer is simple and satisfying.


 

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Where Labs Has Been

Posted by Becks
on 08.21.06

A dispatch:

HE LOOKS like a Buddha.
He sweeps like your gay granny.
He curses like a sailor gone off his Lithium.
"F- - - off!" Fontana Labs cried, over and over, until he resembled a toddler suffering from a wicked case of Tourette's.

Fontana Labs - yes, that Fontana Labs - showed up in lower Manhattan yesterday in black, cut-off sweat pants, slide shoes and a shaved, tattooed head. For five days of court-ordered community service, he was to sweep the streets of New York like a common vagrant.
But once he donned a Day-Glo orange Department of Sanitation vest, Labs, 47, grew enraged.
"What d'ya think - you're better than me?" Labs screamed at a TV reporter, moments after a van deposited him and two fellow cleaners on Henry Street.
"Go home! Let me do my community service. This is supposed to make me humble."
Minutes later, Labs was taken by van to Robert F. Wagner Place next to the Brooklyn Bridge. But a convoy of media shot through red lights to flood the street around Labs, greatly limiting his sweeping ability.
"I don't feel anything," an angry Labs snapped at someone who asked how he felt.
"I think you're really pathetic!"
An onlooker reminded Labs that he was the one carrying the broom.
He shot back: "You're the one following me cleaning! Who needs to get a f- - -ing life? F- - - off!"
I managed to ask Labs if this exercise in humiliation was likely to rehabilitate him. And a funny thing happened.
The storm clouds parted, the mood lightened - and Labs seemed to realize he'd drawn his biggest audience in years.
He flashed me a depraved grin and moved in to confide, with a devilish flourish:
"Nothing's gonna rehabilitate me!
"I'll be the same tomorrow and the same next week!"
Then he actually swept my feet with his broom.
"I've swept your feet."
...
He only approached the gate during a break to bum a smoke - he took the whole pack - from a video cameraman.
Then he skipped away, calling back with a laugh, "I'm going to have sex with the guards!"


 

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Not Cynical Enough

Posted by LizardBreath
on 08.21.06

Thursday night, I was watching the local news, and this story came on -- an 'Amber Alert' appealing to viewers to watch out for a child (a fourteen year old girl) who had been abducted from midtown by a guy in a minivan. The story was illustrated with a picture of the abductor: a big scary football-player-build black man with a beard and dreadlocks, looking mean. And I sat there and thought to myself "That guy didn't do anything -- a guy looking like that probably gets harassed if he tries to buy a sandwich." And I was ashamed of myself for indulging in knee-jerk cynicism about racial profiling without any justification at all.

Of course, I was right. Turns out the 'abductee' was forty-two, rather than fourteen, and was discovered, fine, a couple of hours later. After the guy's name and picture had been splashed all over the news as a child molester. There's just no way to be cynical enough -- if you ever managed, you'd be too cynical.


 

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Shanghai

Posted by Ogged
on 08.20.06

Hey well-traveled Unfoggetariat, and by that I mean our man Millsy, I have a friend who is moving in a couple of days with his wife to Shanghai. They plan to be there for a couple of years. She'll be teaching and he'll be lawyering; she speaks some Mandarin, he none at all. And they'd rather not spend too much time with other ex-pats. Any advice? Where to live? What to do? Places to visit? What not to do? Things to watch out for? Etc.


 

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Deadwood

Posted by Ogged
on 08.20.06

I'm three episodes into Deadwood, and looking for reasons to keep watching. A friend noted last night that Deadwood and The Wire both understand the drama of business, and I can see that, but I'm having a lot of trouble with the Swearengen character. Where does he get his power? I see no one who has any loyalty to him beyond being afraid of him, so I don't see what keeps anyone from killing him, which, in turn, makes the show seem like an exercise in "what if a sociopath were in charge?" which doesn't interest me very much. What am I missing?

(Part of the problem for me, I'm sure, is just the setting. In fact, I think setting accounts for a lot of the differences in taste in TV shows that we've been talking about lately. No matter how awesome Buffy might be, the hocus-pocus and fight scenes just bore me. Ditto Battlestar Galactica, which I've watched enough to know is really well done, but which bores me because spaceships and laser guns bore me. The wild West interests me more than those settings, but not a ton.)


 

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Cosmopolitan

Posted by Ogged
on 08.20.06

A proud day for the British: passengers refuse to fly with two men who are speaking Arabic and "regularly checking their watches." The men are removed from the flight, which leaves without them.


 

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I'm a Loophole Man

Posted by Ogged
on 08.20.06

Do I have this right? In most of America, it's illegal to pay someone to have sex with you, but it's legal to pay someone to have sex with you if you tape it and try to sell the video. Am I losing my mind?


 

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