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Borat

Posted by Fontana Labs
on 11.04.06

What Yglesias says, more or less. Borat is a funny movie because SBC is good at running a sort of prolonged Milgram experiment: his interactions prompt visibly growing discomfort in his interlocutors by placing their scripts for conventional interaction, and their commitment to conversational charity, under increasing strain. Watching them reach the breaking point (or appear to, in the case of the staged encounters) can be fun* but it isn't very interesting as social satire or commentary, particularly since the barbs are directed at obvious targets (Southerners, frat boys, etc.).

On the other hand, it's funny to see Borat come out of his host's bathroom with a bag of his own feces.

*E.g., when the rodeo crowd turns sullen as Borat progesses from praising "your war of terror" to singing "Kazakhstan is best country in the whole world/all other countries run by little girls," or when his genteel Southern hosts first try to accomodate his weirdness, then kick him out.


 

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Let's take meth and talk about evolution

Posted by Fontana Labs
on 11.03.06

Here's an interesting clip of Richard Dawkins and Ted Haggard. Hard to say who's more irritating; easy to say who's more gay.


 

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More Great Moments In Customer Service

Posted by Ogged
on 11.03.06

Just called someone for business, and my choices after hearing his greeting were (verbatim):

To disconnect, press 1.
To leave a message for someone else, press 2.
If you'd still like to leave a message for this person, press 3.

We'll call it "climbing the ladder of incredulity." I would have preferred, "This is John Smith, don't ever fucking call me again."


 

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Premises

Posted by Ogged
on 11.03.06

It is awesome in itself that Kadour Ziani, a 5'11" Algerian (read: white guy) can dunk like nobody's business. But wouldn't it be far more awesome for someone to send this clip to Marty Peretz and have him blog that the Arabs are breeding a villanous super-race that's poised to conquer Europe, one ghetto playground at a time?


 

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Anyone Complaining About Unpleasant Rhetoric Coming From The Democratic Party Can Bite Me.

Posted by LizardBreath
on 11.03.06

Given this sort of nonsense:

Fort Bend County Democrats are irate about campaign signs linking Democrats to illegal immigrants and terrorists, but the Republican county commissioner who paid for them said they accurately reflect Democratic positions.
Early voters in the heart of the heated race to succeed former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay were greeted Wednesday with red and white signs that read: "Want more illegals? Vote Democrat" and "Encourage Terrorists. Vote Democrat."

(Via Talking Points Memo.)

Also take a look at this Glenn Greenwald post making fun of John Podhoretz's horror that Charlie Rangel called Cheney a 'son-of-a-bitch'. Given Podhoretz's record of calling Sen. Clinton a bitch who should go back to Arkansas and rot, this is kinda goofy of him, don't you think?

The fainting violet act when a Democrat says something hostile about a Republican is just ridiculous. We all lived through the Clinton era, when the vitriol coming the other way got ratcheted up to an insane level, and Republicans are still spewing venom at prominent Democrats any chance they get. There's a limit to how much effort I'm going to put into begging them for civility (and it's a pretty low one) but pretending that they have anything to complain about in comparison just isn't happening.


 

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I am no longer a Democrat

Posted by Fontana Labs
on 11.03.06

I've joined the Dhimmicrat Supergays. Zut alors!!


 

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Music & Addresses

Posted by Ben
on 11.03.06

The playlisting of the CDs has been completed! To be done: tightening up transitions (if I actually bother); actually burning CDs; deciding whether to attempt to make cases or just go with jewel cases. But the point is, the important work is over. Consequently I need the addresses of the recipients. You don't, of course, have to tell me your real address, Brock; you don't even have to tell me your real name (though I'll use it if I know it unless you tell me not to). Since I don't intend to include a playlist with what I send out, being, as I am, a little bitch, I have placed beneath the "fold" is a tracklist for each mix and a list of recipients receiving it. This way, those not receiving anything can look on and envy.

Since I didn't want to make 21 mixes and I lack the knowledge to make decent individual mixes for everyone who wanted one anyway, some of you have been assigned more or less randomly to a mix. If you don't like the looks of yours, you can ask to get a different one.

CD 1, aka "one of the fall-ish ones"; recipients: catherine, mcmc, dagger aleph, bailey


  1. Friends Of Dean Martinez, "Landfall", from Lost Horizon
  2. Tim Buckley, "Buzzin' Fly", from Happy Sad
  3. Claudia Quintet, "Minor Nelson", from Semi-Formal
  4. Brian Eno & John Cale, "Cordoba", from Wrong Way Up
  5. Mountain Goats, "Snow Crush Killing Song", from Sweden
  6. Joe Henry, "Trampoline", from Trampoline
  7. P. G. Six, "The Weeping Willow", from The Well of Memory
  8. Andrew Bird, "Sovay", from and the Mysterious Production of Eggs
  9. Andy Bole, "Ambush", from Ramshackle Pier
  10. Thinking Fellers Union Local 282, "Guillotine", from Strangers From The Universe
  11. Talk Talk, "Taphead", from Laughing Stock
  12. Oso, "Wade the Tide", from 48507
  13. Thuja, "Untitled 2", from All Strange Beasts of the Past
  14. Faun Fables, "Apple Trees", from Early Song
  15. Rick Bishop, "Morella", from Salvador Kali

CD 2, aka "the other fall-ish one"; recipients: susan, nakku, md 20/400, clownęsthesiologist

  1. Richard Youngs, "Gilding", from May
  2. Nils Ųkland, "Hertervig Skisse", from Money Will Ruin Everything (Rune Grammofon label comp)
  3. Hans Reichel, "Upper Larum", from Lower Lurum
  4. Born Heller, "Pansies, Will You Ever Grow?", from Born Heller
  5. Sparklehorse, "Knives Of Summertime", from Dreamt For Light Years In The Belly Of A Mountain
  6. Tim Berne & Hank Roberts, "Invasion Of The Freudian Shrimp", from Cause & Reflect
  7. Angels Of Light, "Evangeline", from How I Loved You
  8. Hala Strana, "Pogonishte", from Fieldings
  9. Fred Frith, "Open Ocean", from Clearing
  10. Carla Kihlstedt, "Last Resort", from 2 Foot Yard
  11. Stanley Brothers, "Rank Strangers to Me", from The Best of the Best
  12. Tom Waits, "No One Knows I'm Gone", from Alice
  13. Boduf Songs, "This One Is Cursed", from Boduf Songs
  14. Part of a track from the album Radio Morocco, released on Sublime Frequencies, run by Alan Bishop of the Sun City Girls; this song (that is, the part of the RM track, which is called "Radio Chechaouen", which is here presented) was covered by the SCG under the title "Cruel and Thin", but who knows what its title actually is.

CD 3, aka "this one doesn't have a theme"; recipients M. Leblanc, A White Bear, apostropher, mattF, JAC

  1. Richard Thompson, "Crawl Back (Under My Stone)", from Mock Tudor
  2. Head of Femur, "80 Steps To Jonah", from Ringodom or Proctor
  3. Manishevitz, "Private Lines", from City Life
  4. Red Pocket, "Never Two Weeks", from Thick
  5. Chris Schoen, "World", from Heraclitus
  6. 5uu's, "Meteora", from Regarding Purgatories
  7. Skeletons And The Girl-Faced Boys, "There's A Fly In Your Soup And I Put It There", from Git
  8. Kimmo Pohjonen & Eric Echampard, "Utopia", from Uumen
  9. Dirty Projectors, "I Sit On The Ridge At Dusk", from The Getty Address
  10. Venus Handcuffs, "Birds Fly Out", from Venus Handcuffs
  11. Bob Drake, "Ten for a Dime", from 13 Songs and a Thing
  12. Sleepytime Gorilla Museum, "Babydoctor", from of Natural History

CD 4, aka "this one also doesn't have a theme but it does have a lot of foreigners"; recipients: becks, mrh, brock landers, NickS


  1. Advantage, "Megaman II: Stage Select & Metal Man", from Elf Titled
  2. Haco + Sakamoto Hiromichi, "Standard Smile", from Ash In The Rainbow
  3. John Zorn, "The Ballad of Hank McCain", from The Big Gundown
  4. Susanna & The Magical Orchestra, "It's a Long Way to the Top", from Melody Mountain
  5. Franco Battiato, "Una Cellula", from Fetus
  6. Ekkehard Ehlers, "Ain't no Grave", from A Life without Fear
  7. Tower Recordings, "Spirit of Love", from Fraternity Of Moonwalkers
  8. Clive Bell & Sylvia Hallet, "Tantamount", from The Geographers
  9. Guigou Chenevier, "La Démarche du crabe", from Les Rumeurs de la Ville
  10. Bilmo, "Johanneksen kirkon puistossa", from Bilmo
  11. Falter Bramnk, "Shleep on it (for R.W.)", from Minimal Romance
  12. Thinking Plague, "Gudamy le Mayagot", from A History of Madness
  13. Amoebic Ensemble, "Gimme A Buck or I'll Touch You", from Limbic Rage
  14. Kyle Bruckmann, "Despite All Evidence to the Contrary", from Wrack: Intents & Purposes
  15. Henry Cow, "Deluge", from Unrest
  16. Pretty Boys, "Dijana", from Pretty Boys
  17. Che Shizu, "Track 3", from I Can't Promise

CD 5, aka "John Emerson and Armsmasher asked for the avant-garde and the different, so this is what they (and two other unfortunates) get"; recipients: John Emerson, Armsmasher, rob helpy-chalk, Chopper. This one has lots of weird vocals!

  1. Demetrio Stratos, "Criptomelodie Infantili", from Cantare La Voce
  2. Derek Bailey & Keiji Haino, "Boka Ga Nejirekireru To Ai", from Songs
  3. Anna Homler & Steuart Liebig, "Case in Point", from Kelpland Serenades
  4. John Zorn, "Abraxas", from Moonchild
  5. Nakatani-Chen Duo, "Eating a Volcano", from Limn
  6. Roof, "Halts", from Trace
  7. Supersilent, "6", from 6
  8. Binder, Weber, Ulrich, "3rd Variation", from Box
  9. Nels Cline & Gregg Bendian, "Saturn", from Interstellar Space Revisited: The Music of John Coltrane
  10. Michel Lambert, "Eternal Errant", from Le passant
  11. Scorch Trio, "Fusrkunjt", from Luggumt
  12. Atomic & School Days, "W Meets A", from Nuclear Assembly Hall


 

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I've Looked At Retail From Both Sides Now

Posted by Ogged
on 11.02.06

1. Yesterday at the grocery store, I went up to the man who was stacking the big pile of avocados and said, "Excuse me, where are the avocados?"

2. A while back the Ex was buying something and handed over her credit card, which she's had for years, and which has her picture on it. The guy at the register said, "Is this you?"
"What?"
"Is this really you?"
"Yes."
"You used to be pretty. Long hair, thinner in the face...."


 

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I've Become Very Fond Of Megan

Posted by LizardBreath
on 11.02.06

For posts like this:

2. I am not real impressed with efficiency in the abstract. Economists are all “But if you go to a Pareto superior position, you can use the gains in efficiency to compensate the losers. And the winners keep some! More overall! For everyone!” and I am all “Yeah, but that doesn’t actually happen. All the gains in efficiency very often go into some already-rich-person’s pocket, adding little to their utility. If you aren’t actually sending a check to the losers, with the Memo line reading ‘Pareto payments’, I am not interested in a move that increases efficiency at the expense of widespread utility.” Unrealized utility is crap.

But mostly for the new subheading to her blog:

Pareto can suck me.

 

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Paying Work

Posted by Ogged
on 11.02.06

Dan Drezner is willing to pay for help battling spam on his blog. Check it out if you have the skills.


 

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White-haired Women In Suits

Posted by LizardBreath
on 11.02.06

I spent my lunch hour at a meeting for organizations working to pass a sex-trafficking bill in NYS. I'll put up something substantial about it later (Does anyone know Sheldon Silver in any useful sense?), but the lunch itself had a lot of impact on me. In my job, I spend an awful lot of time in conference rooms full of older men, with a sprinking of women in their twenties and thirties who work for them. There's a lot of reasons why it works out that way, and I try not to let it get to me, but I was surprised by how affected I was by being in a conference room full of women in their fifties and sixties, who run or are near the top of their organizations, working on achieving something important. It felt really, really good being there.

(On a more frivolous note, I've led a very low celebrity-contact life. Gloria Steinem looks exactly like herself in person, which for some idiotic reason I found surprising. And I had what I assume is the perfectly conventional nitwitted reaction to famous people, which is to feel as though I knew her personally because her face was so familiar.)


 

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More Meetups

Posted by LizardBreath
on 11.02.06

DominEditrix announces a Los Angeles meet-up this Sunday at 7:00. The address is:

French Quarter Market Place
7985 Santa Monica Blvd
West Hollywood, CA
90046-5074
323-654-0898

And anyone in the NY area who wants to meet up for drinks election night and not talk about it, let's do that, too.


 

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Send Roy my ad revenue

Posted by Fontana Labs
on 11.02.06

Alicublog:

Remember, the blogosphere thing is just a bubble, and its skin, like that of the paramecium, is only semi-permeable: news may enter, but outrage mostly stays inside, which is of course the secret of both the blogosphere's growth and its ineffectuality: it swells without discharging.


 

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I Really, Really Hate Suspense.

Posted by LizardBreath
on 11.02.06

I am ridiculously on edge over this election. It's not so much that I have any grandiose hopes for anything much getting better, practically, even if the Democrats take the House and Senate. The margins just aren't likely to be big enough for them to do much.

More, it's that I'm just afraid that if there isn't a big swing toward the Democrats now, that I don't know what to think, or feel, about the voters in the rest of the country. I'm horrified by the possibility that we might get this one wrong -- how could the right answer possibly be more obvious? If the swing doesn't happen now, it's hard not to feel as if it never will.

I need to get over myself and do deep breathing until next Tuesday. It'll all be okay. (Or take out my nervousness in making phone calls from home for MoveOn.)


 

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Truth To Power

Posted by Ogged
on 11.02.06

"Come off it, Jesus, the Romans crucified thousands of people every year"

Thank you, John Emerson.


 

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The Work Of Art In The Age Of Internetical Interrogation

Posted by Ogged
on 11.01.06

This is not a Beatles/Beach Boys suck post. It's a question. What's the big deal about the Mona Lisa? If it weren't the most famous painting on earth, I'm sure that I would walk right by it in any museum. So enlighten me, what's supposed to be so great about it?

(If you say "sfumato," you're banned.)


 

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An Uncertain Reminder

Posted by Becks
on 11.01.06

So there's a Boston area meetup today tomorrow, I think?


 

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It's Still Dia de los Muertos

Posted by Tia
on 11.01.06

so I thought I'd pop in to tell you that I was at a party on Saturday where I witnessed an enthusiastic discussion plotting a sequel to Brokeback Mountain, featuring Heath Ledger and Zombie Jake Gyllenhaal, tagline, "I wish I knew how to quit eating your brains." (Would "I wish I knew how to quit--BRAINS" be better? I don't know.) I thought you'd all want to hear about that.


 

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Superheroes!

Posted by LizardBreath
on 11.01.06

Halloween at the Breath household.

Many thanks to commenter Max's mom, who's into the whole anime scene, for sage advice on making the Nausicaa costume. It could certainly have been improved (if I were doing it again, I'd find darker blue material, to start with), but Sally was delighted nonetheless. She had a great moment answering the door to give candy to a bunch of fourteen-year-old girl trick-or-treaters, who saw her and squealed "Nausicaa!!?! That is the coolest costume!" Sally grew about a foot and began to glow internally, she was so pleased.

(And many thanks to Newt for setting his heart on something commercially available. I'm not particularly skilled with a sewing machine, and making two costumes would have driven me all the way up the wall.)


 

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Ah, the good old days

Posted by Fontana Labs
on 11.01.06

I think this is what Josh has in mind when he urges Democrats to fight back instead of whining about cheap shots. Mancrush on Wes Clark: revived!


 

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One angry man

Posted by Fontana Labs
on 11.01.06

Have you been reading John Cole recently?


 

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Hilzoy, On The Republican Initiative For Abstinence Education For Twenty-Somethings

Posted by LizardBreath
on 11.01.06
These people wouldn't know conservatism if it sat down next to them on the bus. They wouldn't recognize Burke or Hayek if they were participating in some weird necrophiliac group sexual encounter with them.

I'm still snickering.


 

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Who Knew?

Posted by LizardBreath
on 11.01.06

I'm apparently married to Atrios. (Or there are two obsessive Tapeheads fans out there, but really, what are the odds?)


 

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The Basketball Is Merely A Tool

Posted by Ogged
on 10.31.06

Don't evolutionary biologists expect us, as a species, to lose the hair on our heads? 1) Future people are going to think we looked very funny. 2) Nevermind, the future is now.


 

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This Is Great (In That 'I Sorrow For My Country' Kind Of Way)

Posted by LizardBreath
on 10.31.06

Sen. George Allen's campaign staffers beat up a Marine who was asking an aggressive question of the Senator after a campaign appearance. The guy's planning to press charges.

Just one of those hazards of participatory democracy -- being attacked by the candidates' gangs of thugs.


 

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Homeland Nostalgiary

Posted by Ogged
on 10.31.06

I finally uploaded the pictures from my trip to Iran.


 

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I Remember SPY

Posted by LizardBreath
on 10.31.06

Ezra links to a review of a new book on SPY magazine, and complains that everyone he works for at worthy political publications really wants to be funny exactly like SPY was, and he's sick of it. I can't say that I blame them -- SPY hit when I was in high school (a guy I knew from school interned there, and I envied him bitterly. He got to be on the masthead), and I imprinted on its sense of humor like a smartass baby duck. I'm with everyone Ezra works for: if I could work for a magazine exactly like SPY was in the 80's, I'd be just ridiculously pleased with myself.


 

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Product Of The Week

Posted by LizardBreath
on 10.31.06

For the lawyers out there.


 

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"The American People Put Their Trust In The Democratic Party"

Posted by LizardBreath
on 10.31.06

How come we never see that headline?

"The way the polls look these days regular ordinary voters, decent all-American folks, are planning to vote for Democrats in larger numbers than for Republicans. They're out there rejecting the corrupt Republican leadership with its inflated sense of entitlement and turning to the hardworking Democrats that are working to bring them the honest, competent, caring goverment they need. Voters have faith in the Democratic Party."

Now, I don't know that one can meaningfully talk about what the population of the US as a whole feels or believes, but surely national Democrats should be saying stuff like this. If they are, I'm not seeing it. Everything I'm seeing, even from our side, seems to be characterizing the probable Democratic victories in next week's elections as a 'lesser of two evils' thing. Purely as a matter of political rhetoric, as well as because, if we rely on revealed preferences, it seems likely to be true, I'd like to see people on our side saying that voters are going to vote for Democrats because they are liberals. They want liberal policies to be enacted. They trust Democrats to do the right thing both in foreign and in domestic policies. Republican politicians are out of touch with the American people and what the American people want.

Say it a couple of times. It starts sounding good.


 

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Outside The Box

Posted by Ogged
on 10.31.06

Man wisely decides he's too drunk to drive, makes a questionable decision to enlist the aid of his seven year-old son. Funny, but the mugshot, which should be called "Drunk, Thinking" is for the ages.


 

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How many Ann Althouses does it take to change a lightbulb?

Posted by Apostropher
on 10.31.06

Just one. Ann holds the lightbulb and the world revolves around her.

It will be interesting to see how this plays out. I'd like to see the Democratic Party become centrist. If they win because they found moderates to run in key districts, I think they'll have a special obligation to please people like me. I'm going to hold them to the bargain.

You're on notice, Democratic Party. If you win, then you must pleasure please Ann Althouse, or she'll continue doing exactly what she has done before. And just look where that got you.


 

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Probing Your Moral Intuition

Posted by Ogged
on 10.31.06

Trolley problems come to the New York Times. It's a proud day for the Republic.


 

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My Flickr

Posted by Ogged
on 10.30.06

One of the things I'm really enjoying about the recent Flickr outpouring here is the feed of my contact's photos. Every day there's cool stuff by people I kinda sorta know. You should subscribe; you'll like it.

Oh, and another very cool thing about Flickr is that you can run any search, and then subscribe to a feed for that search. Most days, you'll get nifty new pictures. I have one set up for "Tehran" that I love.


 

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Bring It To Its Knees, Please

Posted by Ogged
on 10.30.06

We've been tweaking a bit, and the new host is ready for another test. Would y'all please go and comment away, please? If you feel like it, the most helpful thing would be to post roughly how many seconds pass from the time you click Post until the time the page refreshes for you. And, as usual, please copy and paste any error messages you see.

Thanks again, all done. Definitely faster, but not reliably so. We'll get it yet. One or two more tests in the future, if you'll indulge us.


 

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Money Well Spent

Posted by Becks
on 10.30.06

Yay! Congress has decided that states can spend federal money to set up abstinence-only education programs for people age 20-29 instead of just teenagers! This will surely be the most effective government program ever.


 

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Do Re Mi

Posted by Ogged
on 10.30.06

KF writes,

...this is an astonishingly cool visualization, which makes clear something about the relationship of music and math that I’ve always known was there, but never really got.

That's exactly right. Very cool.


 

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Pathetic

Posted by LizardBreath
on 10.30.06

I'm sure everyone's seen this already but the court trying Saddam Hussein is, by purest coincidence, scheduled to issue a verdict on the Sunday before the elections. (Although it's possible that it may be delayed to after the election.)

Can we get some concerted mockery going about this -- that the timing of the "Ooo, look at the scary dictator man that we brought to justice and only had to kill half a million or so people to do it" event is so perfect? I'd like to hear an awful lot of ridicule of anyone who'd pull a stunt like that. I want to make administration spokespeople say "We had no control over the scheduling, the entirely independent Iraqi justice system just accidentally decided to release the verdict two days before the midterms." I want the Daily Show making cracks about this now -- "Budget problems in the Iraqi government have been solved now that the court system is being funded out of Republican Party soft money." (Or, you know, an actual joke that people would laugh at -- I'm just identifying the topic.) Because this is simply ridiculous. (And if the verdict is rescheduled for after the election, I want people at least thinking that it was because of the mockery.)


 

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Precision Is Not Accuracy

Posted by LizardBreath
on 10.30.06

I assume everyone's heard the above adage, but for anyone who hasn't: if you're shooting at a target, the marksman who can put all her shots in a group six inches across is more precise than the marksman whose shots form a group two feet across. But if the first marksman's group is off to the left of the target, while the second's is centered on the bullseye, the second is more accurate. Precision is a useful thing, but accuracy is more important.

In verbal arguments, I've run into a similar issue fairly often, which I suppose I can describe as a confusion between words on the one hand, and defined terms on the other. I'd like to first make it clear that this isn't something I think of as dishonest, or purposefully tactical, and it's not associated with any substantive position more than any other; it's just a mental error.

Many English words (well, words in any natural language), particularly the kinds of words that are important in political arguments, have imprecise referents that shift with context. "Poor" and "poverty" refer generally to a state in which one's lack of economic resources is a problem; whether that specifically means Pat Moynihan's 'underclass', or a grad student living on ramen noodles, or even a house-poor family who overspent on a McMansion and are now, despite a decent income, fearing foreclosure. In some contexts, poverty refers to grinding hardship; in others, it can describe a state that doesn't involve a great deal of hardship at all. But these are all correct usages of the word 'poor '-- while it's not of infinite extension, it doesn't have a sharp edge. Given any situation, you can argue about whether 'poverty' is a valid description of it, but there are always going to be borderline cases where there isn't a solid yes or no answer.

In order to facilitate public policy analysis, on the other hand, the US Government has created a defined term -- 'the poverty line' -- which does have a sharp edge. If your income is three times the cost of an economy food budget in 1963 (adjusted for inflation) or below, you're below the poverty line; if not, you aren't. The poverty line is a precise measure, and it's necessary for some purposes, but that doesn't make it more accurate than the vague natural-language word 'poverty'. A grad student from a wealthy family with a lot of possessions and family assistance who's earning a below poverty level stipend for a year isn't poor, despite being under the poverty line; a family living in an area with high housing costs and making an income slightly over the poverty line is poor, despite not meeting the definition of the defined term. That's not a reason not to use the defined term, but it's important to remember that the defined term is a tool, rather than a reality; a public policy intended to address 'poverty' and directing its aid toward the temporarily low-income grad student (no implication that there aren't genuinely needy grad-students intended, of course) in preference to the genuinely needy family would be misdirected, even though the first is below the poverty line and the second isn't. For accuracy's sake, it's important to focus on the vague natural language word, which refers to some state of hardship due to lack of economic resources, and remember that the defined term is simply a tool for analysis.

Similarly, in natural language 'the economy' describes the whole system of exchanges of goods and services that go on in our society -- it's incredibly complex, and certainly can't be reduced to one or two statistics. We're interested in the economy because it has all sorts of measurable characteristics that affect the welfare of people in our society. There's a defined term, 'Gross Domestic Product', whose size and growth are equated with the size and growth of the economy. This is precise, and it's not wrong if the reason you're discussing the economy is something that's going to be strongly affected by GDP, but its precision can make it terribly misleading when you're talking about the economy in terms of the economic welfare of individuals. If you find yourself thinking "Well, the economy is strong; even though wages are flat and income volatility is high, it's surprising that people aren't reacting positively to the economic good times" it's because your equation of 'the economy' with something that can be precisely defined, GDP, has left you with an inaccurate picture of what economic good times mean. The vague word is less likely to lead you astray than the defined term.

A lot of people have a tendency to privilege defined terms over naturally used words; if there's a tightly defined sense a word can be used in, they want to call usages that don't fit the tight definition as wrong, or improper. The problem is that you can't shake all of the connotations and baggage away from the natural word; when you say that 'poverty' means only 'the state of having an income below the federal poverty line', you implicitly state that someone who isn't poor by that definition isn't suffering from economic hardship -- while you can explicitly disavow the implication, it's still hard not to be affected by it. Better, and more accurate, to use words naturally, and save defined terms for the contexts where their precision is necessary.


 

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Girthy

Posted by Ogged
on 10.30.06

Pardon me if I don't think the science is unassailable when the intro reads like a high-schooler channeling Aristotle.

When people speak of penis size, they typically refer to length. Thus, a man with a short but wide penis would probably think of himself as having a small penis, and would be so thought of by others, too. However, width is part of size, although usually not acknowledged. Does width contribute to female sexual satisfaction? Is length more important? Or, perhaps size is unrelated to female sexual enjoyment.

Actually, then it gets bizarre.

To test the notion of the possible importance of length vs. width and female sexual satisfaction, two male undergraduate college students - both popular athletes on campus - surveyed 50 female undergraduate college students, considered by the two males to be sexually active, based on the males' prior social experience and knowledge of the females.

Holy shit! When I first read that, I thought this dude had recruited two campus studs to sleep with the 50 women they thought would be most willing. Alas, no one is that committed to science. They just asked 50 undergrads what they thought they preferred. A less enlightening survey is hard to imagine.

For what it's worth, the results, with gratuitous numberology and bonus weirdness at the end:

Of the 50 females surveyed, 45 reported that width felt better, with only 5 reporting length felt better (chi square = 32.00, df = 1, p < .001). No females reported that they could not tell any difference. Some did report that sex in a relationship was better than sex without commitment.

(thanks to charlie whitaker for the tip pointer referral)


 

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Grooming Tips

Posted by Ogged
on 10.30.06

Cutting your own hair and having it look not too bad in the back: wizard cocksucker.

Cutting it to 1/2 inch all around, just when it's getting cold at night: not quite genius cocksucker.

That stuff about insulation is true!


 

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Break It

Posted by Ogged
on 10.29.06

Do we have enough people lurking for another comment stress test? Would you kindly go here (and only here) and comment unceasingly until we have 300 or so comments, please? And please copy and paste any errors you see into your next comment. (Oh, and long comments aren't so helpful. Thanks!)

OK, THAT'S ALL WE NEED FOR NOW. Thanks again. Definitely too slow. We'll try to figure out why.


 

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"The Great Risk Shift"

Posted by LizardBreath
on 10.29.06

by Jacob Hacker, is getting reviewed all over the place in the last few weeks. While I haven't read the book yet, I thought the back-and-forth at The American Prospect was interesting. Yglesias, Ezra Klein, and Mark Schmitt all have criticisms that are worth reading.

Yglesias particularly makes the point that worrying about insecurity is less important than worrying about inequality, and that a discourse that focuses solely on reducing economic volatility is going to implicitly accept a highly stratified society so long as it's secure. While this is a good point, I think Yglesias underrates the degree to which, in the less affluent end of the middle class, insecurity itself constitutes poverty.

My maternal grandparents worked in the NYC subways. They didn't make a lot of money, but they had a decent house in Queens, and took vacations, and had pensions that meant they were secure until they died. While they didn't have all that much money to spend, they never had to be concerned about being able to pay their bills, or pay a doctor. When people on the right talk about how good even poor people in the US have it, they'd have a point if they were talking about a life like my grandparents'. People who are at the same income percentile as my grandparents were, now, are afraid of losing their homes, and losing their health insurance, and not having enough money to retire, in a way that my grandparents never had to be, and those fears themselves constitute a kind of poverty. A family can have a very decent, livable income these days, and still be rationally afraid of destitution all the time, and if you're reasonably afraid of being destitute, it doesn't matter what your income is, you're poor. So, while I'm with Yglesias in wanting to keep the focus on inequality, I think it's valuable to analyze inequality in terms of income volatility.

But go read the American Prospect discussion of Hacker's book, it's interesting.


 

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Free For All

Posted by Ogged
on 10.29.06

People of Earth, can you help us with some testing of the new host? Go here and post [Becks: link deleted] as many comments as fast as you can. Long comments, short comments, comments with or without html, just post like a demon. But don't say anything memorable, because it will all be deleted. I'm looking to get 200-300 comments as fast as possible.

We're going to do this a few more times during the move, to see if we can isolate the internal server error problem.

Oh, and, if you do get any errors, please copy and post them.

OK, ALL DONE No need to post any more comments over there. I think we have all the information we need for now. But we'll do it again soon.

SERIOUSLY We're done. DON'T post any more comments over there or you'll screw stuff up. Thanks for your help! Love, Becks.


 

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Football Is Manly

Posted by Ogged
on 10.29.06

I don't think I'm maximally sensitive to sexism, but I just have to turn off the fucking TV whenever Jillian Barberie is on Fox NFL Sunday. I know a lot of fat, belching guys are watching, and I know they like their women buxom and dumb, but do we have to cater to them every fucking time?


 

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This Section of The Information Superhighway Adopted By: Unfogged

Posted by Alameida
on 10.29.06

All this discussion of the possible trollishness of Y(amamoto?) has got me thinking. (Maybe her mother was a troll and her father was a human commenter, so she's just part troll?) As kid bitzer mentioned, many liberal blogs have got one (or two) resident trolls who just continuously, thoroughly derail conversation. So, TAPPED comments threads are rendered useless by Specialist; Fred Jones and Captain Toke fuck things up at Ezra's place; various primitive AI-bots post as "Al", and so on. (I really can't think of any lefty counterparts who relentlessly troll right-wing blogs. Are there any?)

It's easy to imagine that maybe some low-level conservative gofer is being drafted to do this as a part-time thing, in and amongst his push-polling or whatever. Sometimes I incline that way, and other times I think, no the internet is the sort of place where people are willing to spend hours doing something that weird, for any value of weird. Thus, there's no need for anyone to pay anyone. They're doing it for the love of trolling.

Then I wonder, what would it be like to be such a person? Do the trolls think of themselves as just telling it like it is, so those liberals will hear the unwelcome, rough-mouthed bell of truth tolling in the comments thread of their little magazine? Ask not for whom the Al trolls... Or do they know they are just stinking up the joint, like a drunk businessman taking a shit on the beverage cart of progressive journalism? But this way madness lies.

Then, why not just ban these fuckers? Or bring out the awesome forces of disemvowelling (5 d20 of damage against trolls)? There just aren't that many comments at TAPPED; it wouldn't be an impossible job, and it would get easier quickly. Readers who are in the know, what's up? Barring that, can't the feeble community of non-Specialist commenters just (here, let's all helpfully chant in unison) NOT FEED THE TROLLS? I think part of the dynamic is that they aren't really a community; they're not closely knit enough to have norms. There is always some n00b or very occasional commenter wandering in to respond to Specialist's guff, and it's off to the stupid races.

It is a well known fact that as the number of comments in a thread passes 45, the chance that anyone has said anything worthwhile approaches zero (call it Alameida's Law). Cf Atrios, LGF, passim. (And I read someone complaining at TAPPED recently that the place had Kevin Drum levels of uselessness in Crooked Timber-length threads, surely a new low in signal-to-noise ratios.) There are only two exceptions to this iron rule in the entire blogosphere: Making Light, and the premises.

My husband suggested that maybe we could use our powers to fight trolls elsewhere, like just take over Ezra's for a week and start demanding pastries and making insufferable in-jokes and ignoring people who needed to be ignored. And then we'd blow out of town like Clint Eastwood at the end of Unforgiven: "You better bury Neil The Ethical Werewolf right! Better not go cuttin' up... nor otherwise harm no whores... or I'll come back and kill every one of you sons-o-bitches!" But I don't know if that would actually work.

UPDATE: Maybe it's actually the Landers/Alameida function, confirmation from the googley-hoohole pending. You know what's weird? That sentence actually makes sense.


 

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"Pornography has changed the South for the better."

Posted by Apostropher
on 10.29.06

Red State Update on the Michael J. Fox and Harold Ford ads.


 

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