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Holiday Cheer

Posted by Becks
on 12.16.06

Once again, I had grand plans of printing up holiday cards with this cartoon and mailing them out but couldn't find the time. Oh well. There's always next year.


 

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I found the troll bait

Posted by Fontana Labs
on 12.16.06

What are two things we love to complain about? Basketball and Ralph Nader. Imagine we had a news story that combined the two:

Almost simultaneously with Stern's announcement [that the NBA would go back to its old ball], a letter from Nader to Stern appeared in many newspaper e-mail files across the country. That meant, we might presume, that the letter was not really meant as much for Stern as for the next morning's headlines. Publicly fighting for the consumer was one interpretation. Eleventh-hour grandstanding was another.

It seemed strange that the consumer most affected, most benefiting from Ralph's roar, were several dozen millionaire jocks.
Among the points cited by Nader were that Steve Nash of the Phoenix Suns and Jason Kidd of the New Jersey Nets had injuries "like paper cuts" on their hands, that the new ball "frequently became lodged between the rim and the backboard," and, our personal favorite, the New York Knicks' Eddy Curry saying, "The ball never leaves my hand the same way."
Nader ended his letter of chastisement to Stern with a body blow: "Perhaps, finally, you will learn your lesson as to your attitude toward the league you have been entrusted to manage. The well-being of the players should be your highest priority. After all, you need them more than they need you."

But what did Bill Clinton do about the NBA? Via Drum.


 

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Wingnewt

Posted by Apostropher
on 12.16.06

As twisted as this logic is, I can't help but admire how effortlessly Gingrich assumes the position. Since the six imams ejected from the plane last month turned out not to be terrorists, Gingrich goes to New Hampshire and says:

Those six people should have been arrested and prosecuted for pretending to be terrorists. And the crew of the U.S. airplane should have been invited to the White House and congratulated for being correct in the protection of citizens.

I mean, really, wow. Don't count Gingrich out of the GOP race just yet. He could out-crazy them all.


 

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Wonder Years

Posted by Ogged
on 12.16.06

Wow, what a time warp this is: Camille Paglia on Donahue.



 

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Last big push

Posted by Fontana Labs
on 12.15.06

Sad, in a way, to come to the end of our journey. Today is the last day I hector you to vote for The Moderate Voice.

I take the text for today's harangue from a recent post dedicated to what Althouse falsely believes is the single most important question about her blog: why does she pick on liberals so much? Her answer touches on themes we've discussed before:

My standard -- inadequate -- response to this question has been something like: My way of blogging is to write about whatever gets my attention, and these are just the things that happened to strike me.

But I now know the answer to the question (and knowing the answer is likely to change what I notice in the future and what I will write about). The key thing about me is that I am -- usually -- writing from my remote outpost in Madison, Wisconsin. My milieu is thoroughly liberal and even leftist and has been for more than two decades. Things in the news catch my attention because they resonate with my observations in my real world life. I know the way people talk about things around here. I have a sense of how liberal and lefty folks react to things, and I am used to reacting to them. I take them seriously. They are quite real to me. They irritate, amuse, and confound me on a daily basis. I feel the urge to push back.

The first answer is inadequate partly because what and how things happen to strike you isn't distinct from your political preference, ideological commitments, and so on. Thus if true it undermines the "but I'm a moderate" routine. Althouse's second explanation--it's because she's surrounded by liberals--is more plausible, since it's easy to see her as the sort of person who would react strongly against the superficiality and smug attitudes of the granola set. I sympathize. Liberals are annoying.

So, you may wonder: Why do I have this insight now?

Indeed. As we've said before, something has gone seriously wrong if your political commitments are determined by these kinds of reasons. Compare Jonah's admission that the war's opponents were right but he was right to be wrong because some of their arguments offended his sensibilities. The second thing to say about this observation is that, even supposing that the politics of pique is the way to go, this observation of Althouse's more-or-less acknowledges that she's been misled by a biased sample, or by the psychological salience of one part of the political spectrum in her vicinity, or by the availability heuristic, or whatever, and thus she ought to revise her commitments accordingly.

Looks like we'll have to go to the comments to drive our voting rage. Take it away, Very First Comment:

Left-wing liberals are long on criticism and short on facts. They are easy targets because of their reliance on big government, other people's money, European socialist ideas, cumbaya foreign policy, a constitution that they love to tune up on a daily basis, reliance on a judiciary involved in social change, dislike of all things military, particularly the money it uses that presumably would be better spent on drugs, and the latest junk science-global warming. They are arrogant caricatures of themselves as the prsumed leaders of the unwashed illiterati that exist outside the hallowed halls of academe like the farmers markets of old set up outside the gates of the castle.

Sweet.


 

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His What What?

Posted by Ogged
on 12.15.06

Atrios writes (emphasis mine),

Obama could've been the Not Hillary if he'd gone that path, but his knee-jerk tendency to triangulate has made that unlikely.

How has this become the conventional wisdom of the lefty blogs? Obama is the same guy who said,

"There are times I think we're not ambitious enough," Obama says. "I remember back in 2004, one of the candidates had made a proposal about universal health care, and some DLC-type commentator said, 'We can't propose this kind of big-government costly program, because it'll send a signal we're tax-and-spend liberals.' But that's not a good reason to not do something. You don't give up on the goal of universal health care because you don't want to be tagged as a liberal. People need universal health care."

And,

According to Congressional Quarterly, Obama voted with his party 97 percent of the time in 2005--the same as John Kerry and three others--with only eight senators voting consistently more Democratic than he did. (As a point of contrast, John McCain voted with his party only 84 percent of the time.) It's hard not to call that record liberal, as much as Obama dislikes labels. When Obama was still in the Illinois state senate, his contributions were certainly viewed as liberal--sponsoring the Earned Income Tax Credit, requiring that confessions for capital crimes be videotaped--though he was also known as a man who worked skillfully across the aisle.

Also see this post by Hilzoy.

But I do follow legislation, at least on some issues, and I have been surprised by how often Senator Obama turns up, sponsoring or co-sponsoring really good legislation on some topic that isn't wildly sexy, but does matter. His bills tend to have the following features: they are good and thoughtful bills that try to solve real problems; they are in general not terribly flashy; and they tend to focus on achieving solutions acceptable to all concerned, not by compromising on principle, but by genuinely trying to craft a solution that everyone can get behind.

His legislation is often proposed with Republican co-sponsorship, which brings me to another point: he is bipartisan in a good way. According to me, bad bipartisanship is the kind practiced by Joe Lieberman. Bad bipartisans are so eager to establish credentials for moderation and reasonableness that they go out of their way to criticize their (supposed) ideological allies and praise their (supposed) opponents. They also compromise on principle, and when their opponents don't reciprocate, they compromise some more, until over time their positions become indistinguishable from those on the other side.
This isn't what Obama does. Obama tries to find people, both Democrats and Republicans, who actually care about a particular issue enough to try to get the policy right, and then he works with them. This does not involve compromising on principle. It does, however, involve preferring getting legislation passed to having a spectacular battle. (This is especially true when one is in the minority party, especially in this Senate: the chances that Obama's bills will actually become law increase dramatically when he has Republican co-sponsors.)

"Triangulate" connotes what Hilzoy calls "bad bipartisanship:" compromising principles for political gain. But there's very little evidence that Obama has done that. And disagreeing with other liberals about issue X doesn't make one a triangulator, as long as one actually believes that liberals are wrong on issue X. I don't get the sense that Obama's religion, for example, is a put on. If you don't like his position, fine, but saying that he's triangulating adds a baseless insult to a substantive disagreeement.

The good word for what Obama tends to do--and some articles use this word--is "reconcile." His mode is "I hear you, but...." This is not a bad way to be. In fact, this was the idealistic liberal vision of public discourse, before they decided they had to master the Republican attack game. Now that they have mastered the attack game enough to win, they don't want to go back, even though Obama is someone who makes idealistic vision popular by marrying it to personal charm.


 

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Strong-willed Woman

Posted by Ogged
on 12.15.06

Remarkable story of a woman who went from Jordan to Staten Island to Saudi Arabia to Queens and then to the Army. I don't know if there are larger lessons here, but it's pretty amazing.


 

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A thread to help polytheists everywhere

Posted by Fontana Labs
on 12.14.06

I find Christmas shopping to be extremely stressful, and this year I seen to be in worse shape than usual in terms of gift ideas. Here are some of the family problems. My mother doesn't want any more stuff, so I've started giving gift certificates for spa days, massage, concert tickets, and so on. This strategy is not yet tapped out, so I'm all right on this front. The sister-in-law problem can be solved the same way, because she likes the mani-pedi and I have some good references for places in their area. My brother-- totally screwed. He has really particular taste for expensive things, so a lot of what he wants (wine glasses, cooking stuff, etc.) he'd much rather buy for himself. He's really busy, so books might just sit around. Travels a lot-- maybe a travel gadget? Hard to know. My nephew (3) and niece (1) are the other problem. Their many area relatives are always bringing things over, and I have the sense that more toys and books won't really do much good. But I feel like a chump just handing over a check for the college fund.

Mainly I thought it might be interesting to have a thread for fun gift suggestions, so don't be constrained at all by my problems. If you have ideas, though, share away.


 

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The Legends, Reviewed

Posted by Ogged
on 12.14.06

It's fair to say that I worshipped Michael Jordan as I grew up in Chicago. It was almost impossible not to: no one did anything better than he played basketball, and he was handsome and charming and in charge, and having fun, and winning, and on top of the world.

I was talking to a friend recently who felt the same way about Michael and we had to admit...Michael isn't so likable lately. He seems almost sleazy nowadays, and what's stranger, bitter. He's not trying very hard to be good or charming anymore. And we talked about Larry Bird, who even more than Michael has become something of a bitter old man. It's tempting to say that these hypercompetitve people just don't know how to live after they give up the one thing that's been at the center for them. But then we had to admit that the guy we hated with a passion when we were younger, that phony little bitch, Magic Johnson, was looking like a pretty good guy these days. He seems happy with his life, and he's done a ton for poor black communities without a lot of self-promotion.

Other than being a famous actress, I can't think of anything else where you can go from being on top of the world to washed up in your early thirties. What a brutal adjustment to make, and it's not as if these guys have been studying the canon and acquiring wisdom; they've spent their years being encouraged to be ruthless and driven.

And I can't write a post about this without mentioning Hakeem, who confounds all the expectations. A fantastic player, a truly good guy, devout (he fasted during Ramadan, even during the NBA season), and now a happy and successful businessman. I think he wins.


 

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The end is in sight

Posted by Fontana Labs
on 12.14.06

Let it not be said that this blog does not honor its traditions. It is, indeed, that time of day when one must vote for The Moderate Voice. With a 3,000 4,000 vote lead, it looks as though TMV has this one in hand, but, as you know, ritual matters.

Althouse:

What is it about the '08 presidential season that is making Maureen Dowd's nicknames seem funny -- instead of annoying -- all of a sudden?
And then there's that verb -- "crush" -- a word that, around here, launched a thousand hissy fits... and reminds me to remind you to toss another vote into the roiling cauldron of spite that is the "Best Centrist Blog" contest.
But enough about me, back to Maureen....

She gets under Scott's skin too. I feel a bit better about myself.


 

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100 greatest!

Posted by Fontana Labs
on 12.14.06

If you've got "Mr Crowley" stuck in your head, you might rinse it out by looking at Guitar Magazine's list of the 100 greatest guitar solos. It will surprise no one to learn that the list contains much horrible wankery, but there are a number of not-so-technical parts as well.

This is not the blog to debate this, obviously, but is there a more terrible system of notation than the guitar tab? Reading music is not hard to learn, and once you've got it you can actually play music without hearing it first. If you've got the time to learn "Eruption" you surely have the time to learn what a key signature is. Is the attraction that you don't need notation software to post your transcriptions to the internet?

My whining is motivated by the thought that it would be fun to learn some of these things sort of as etudes, sort of as goofing-around material. Nothing lights up the orchestra like the riff from "Crazy Train."


 

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Even I'm not this petty

Posted by Fontana Labs
on 12.14.06

Michael Crowley criticizes Michael Crichton's global-warming skepticism, then notices that a throwaway child-rapist character in Crichton's next novel is called "Mick Crowley."

All who immediately think of this are my heroes.


 

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50 Foot Queenie

Posted by LizardBreath
on 12.14.06




From mcmc


 

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New Decision In Hamdan Yesterday

Posted by LizardBreath
on 12.14.06

Judge Robertson, of the DC district court, issued an opinion on Hamdan's habeas corpus petition yesterday, and it's weird. What it comes down to is: (1) to the extent that the MCA purports to remove habeas rights from someone who has them under the Constitution, it can't. The Constitution allows habeas to be suspended in case of invasion or rebellion, and neither one applies here. So far, Yay! for Judge Robertson. (2) So the question is whether Hamdan, as a non-citizen being held outside the US, has Constitutional, rather than only statutory, habeas rights, and Robertson says no. This, on the other hand, appears to me to be both wrong and silly (analysis below largely adapted from CharleyCarp, in email and in this ObWi comments thread. Errors, of course, are mine.)

It is unquestioned that some aliens can have constitutional habeas rights -- there's plenty of law on the subject, discussed in the opinion. If there's a bright-line rule between who has habeas rights and who doesn't, it can't be drawn at the line between citizens and aliens. And Charley points out that the Habeas Corpus Act of 1679 (a statute which formed part of the historical writ of habeas to which the drafters of our Constitution refers) specifically addresses the effect of holding detainees overseas in an attempt to deprive courts of habeas jurisdiction over them, and states that the courts retain jurisdiction regardless. (This would be one of those Stuart abuses that ended up leading to the Glorious Revolution in 1688. Just mentioning it, George.) Robertson threads the needle by saying, essentially, that even though Hamdan would have habeas rights if he were being held in the US -- his status as an alien wouldn't matter -- and he would have habeas rights if he were a citizen regardless of where he was being held -- location wouldn't matter -- that because he's a non-citizen being held outside the US, suddenly he's got no rights at all. This strikes me as weak and silly, and Charley's take is that there are five votes in the Supreme Court that will go the right way. Unfortunately, that means another year or so to wait.

Pretty much, these guys are getting out (or at least having their cases heard, to see if there's any reason at all for them to be imprisoned) when a new administration gets in. I want to start hearing some campaign promises to that effect.


 

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Hang on, Tim!

Posted by LizardBreath
on 12.14.06

Everyone should be sending their best wishes to Sen. Tim Johnson (D-SD), whatever's wrong with him (from what I heard on the radio this morning, they're saying it's not a stroke.). And callously, he shouldn't resign if there's any way to avoid it, regardless of his health status, because, at least according to the Yankton Press and Dakotan, the Republican governor is pretty much guaranteed to appoint a Republican.(if you need a login for the YP&D, bugmenot's got them.)

Annoyingly, South Dakota law provides for a special election to fill Senate vacancies, but special elections can only be held at the time of a general election -- every even-numbered November, in this case 2008. And Johnson's term (whether or not he's able to complete it) ends in 2008, so the special election is moot.

Update: Hey, it looks as though there's a good chance that he'll be okay. It was a congenital arteriovenous malformation -- a tangle of blood vessels in his brain present from birth that just ruptured -- and they're saying surgery was successful.


 

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One Of Us

Posted by Ogged
on 12.14.06

Funny little story about The Wire's fantastic Andre Royo.

Walking back to his trailer while shooting the first season of "The Wire," Andre Royo was still in character as the homeless junkie and informant Bubbles - face scarred, hair a craggy black mess - when a real junkie approached with what Royo calls his "Street Oscar."

"He said, 'Yo, you need this, man. You look like you need a hit,' " recalls Royo. "I laughed a little bit and I got emotional. I was like, 'Wow, he thinks I'm a junkie for real.' I felt validated."

And a real junkie who shares. Kinda heartwarming, actually.


 

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"I'm not really a rock-throwing kind of guy"

Posted by Becks
on 12.13.06

Via Julian, another article from this month's Esquire that's worth a read. Is the American government "unoverthrowable"?

I've been thinking about the possibility of revolution, or--more accurately--the impossibility of revolution. I've started wondering what would have to happen before the American populace would try to overthrow its own government, and how such a coup would play itself out. My conclusions are that a) nothing could make this happen, and b) no one would know what to do if it somehow did.
...
It would not matter what the government did or to whom they did it--nobody knows how to change things in any meaningful way, and the only people who'd try are dangerous and insane. We have reached a point where the reinvention of America is impossible, even if that were what we wanted. Even if that were what everybody wanted.
You might think the government is corrupt, and you might be right. But I'm surprised it isn't worse. I'm surprised they don't shoot us in the street. It's not like we could do anything about it, except maybe die.


 

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Your civic duty

Posted by Fontana Labs
on 12.13.06

Another day has passed: it's time to vote once again for The Moderate Voice. Or so I urge.

Motivating Althouse text (1):

For example, I've noticed that arch ambiguities, terse sarcasm, and mischievous fun-poking confuses a lot of people. But I'm not going to change. I'm not in this to persuade people to agree with me. I write for the sake of writing and observe because I am alive... up here in my lonely outpost in Madison, Wisconsin.

Motivating Althouse text (2), explaining her daily plea for votes, this time expressed by a rather plaintive "Please...vote." Note the way the text undermines itself:

That's it? "Please vote?" Althouse, throw your enemies a crumb -- a crumb of antagonism or pique -- they want to feast upon it. A crumb is a feast in this virtual sphere!

Nah.

Again, some things have to be shown, not said.


 

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Speaking of errors...

Posted by Fontana Labs
on 12.13.06

Via Snarkout, Robert Kurson, "My favorite teacher." Disturbing throughout, but more so at the end.


 

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Cull.

Posted by Apostropher
on 12.13.06

A friend of mine sent me a link to this story about a pigeon cull in a British town. I wasn't sure why until I got to the comments, which I can't recommend highly enough.


 

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What would Aristotle do?

Posted by Fontana Labs
on 12.13.06

Musing about Bush v. Gore brought to mind a possibly interesting question for discussion: how would you respond if you found yourself in some way responsible for a mistake of tremendous magnitude, for example, on the scale of the Iraq war as most of our readers judge it? For my part I don't think I could live with myself. It would be flattering to say that this is because of my exquisite moral sensibilities, but in fact (I confess) it's a matter of psychological squeamishness. I'm unnecessarily pained by stupid and thoughtless things I did years ago, even though there are no bodies. But what's the right way to feel?

(I take a lot of comfort from the fact that poor performance of the sort I might be guilty of won't actually harm anyone all that much. Oh no! For the rest of your life, you'll misunderstand the Frege-Geach problem!)


 

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Meet The New Boss, Dumb As The Old Boss

Posted by LizardBreath
on 12.13.06

I missed blogging on the fact that Silvestre Reyes, our new Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, doesn't know the difference between Sunni and Shi'a on the most elementary level. All I could think about it when I read the story (other than "Oh good grief. We're all going to die, aren't we?") was that I don't vote for Democrats because I'm under any illusion that they're globally more competent or less personally corrupt than Republicans (something like the Foley mess could have happened to either party, and Rahm Emmanuel's having sat on knowledge of it for a year is pretty awful. Less awful than the inaction of the Republican leadership, who were in a position to do something about Foley rather than just blowing the whistle on an ambiguous email, but awful.). I vote for them because I think the policies they advocate, generally, are better policies.

But today's Times had a note of hope for Representative Reyes, in the form of a simple mnemonic he can use to distinguish Sunni from Shi'a in Iraq. Once we leave Iraq, the Sunni militias will be the ones funded and armed by Saudi Arabia, while the Shi'a militias will be the ones funded and armed by Iran. See? Simple and clear.


 

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Six years on

Posted by Fontana Labs
on 12.13.06

LGM's d reflects on the sixth anniversary of Bush v. Gore.

In early November 2000, I had gone several months without writing a word and had even told several friends that I was going to quit and apply to law school. The morning after the "election," I resolved to finish the project by spring 2001, because in all likelihood the Earth would be a smoldering lump of ash before too long. For some reason, I did not want to face the dark void of eternity without a Ph.D. in hand.

In the fall of 2000 I was living in Ithaca and, like d, trudging through my dissertation. Driving home from campus the night of the election, I heard NPR report that Florida had been called for Gore, and I felt a moment of relief that everything was going to be all right. Then everything started to fall apart, and as the strange period between the election and the decision dragged on-- the lawyers, the chads, the for-hire mobs-- it became clear that things were not right at all.

"Really, there's not that much difference between Bush and Gore." Ah, misty watercolored memories of the way we were. I wonder how James Baker feels about this.


 

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My last non-Althouse Weblog Award post

Posted by Fontana Labs
on 12.12.06

If you can stand more award material, have a look at the Best Individual Blog category, which might be politely described as "diverse." One terrifying data point here is that it looks like some people take The Anchoress seriously after all-- a revelation that unsettles the useful fictions I need to get by-- but really Majikthise is a much better blog and half of the Unfogged readership has a crush on Lindsay anyway, so go ahead.


 

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No wonder vegans are wussies.

Posted by Apostropher
on 12.12.06

When you just can't get enough crazy in your diet, you turn to WorldNetDaily.

There's a slow poison out there that's severely damaging our children and threatening to tear apart our culture. The ironic part is, it's a "health food," one of our most popular. Now, I'm a health-food guy, a fanatic who seldom allows anything into his kitchen unless it's organic. I state my bias here just so you'll know I'm not anti-health food.

The dangerous food I'm speaking of is soy. Soybean products are feminizing, and they're all over the place. You can hardly escape them anymore. [...]

Soy is feminizing, and commonly leads to a decrease in the size of the penis, sexual confusion and homosexuality. That's why most of the medical (not socio-spiritual) blame for today's rise in homosexuality must fall upon the rise in soy formula and other soy products. (Most babies are bottle-fed during some part of their infancy, and one-fourth of them are getting soy milk!) Homosexuals often argue that their homosexuality is inborn because "I can't remember a time when I wasn't homosexual." No, homosexuality is always deviant. But now many of them can truthfully say that they can't remember a time when excess estrogen wasn't influencing them.

That would explain why China is having such trouble achieving any sort of population growth, I guess.


 

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Vote!

Posted by Fontana Labs
on 12.12.06

Hypothesis: Althouse losing to The Moderate Voice will prompt more unintentional hilarity than Althouse winning. Thus you have a utilitarian duty to vote once every 24 hours. Is this a reason? Possibly. Or maybe I just have something in my eye.

Ezra and LGM are with us. We will prevail. Does it matter that The Moderate Voice does not want our votes? No.

UPDATE: A classic Althouse comment:

One of the main things that draws me to writing about something is the desire to make fun of people who are taking themselves too seriously, like those bloggers who were so dorkily proud to be lunching with Clinton.

This in the comments to a post reading

Please, don't forget to vote today. There's some vicious negative campaigning on the other side, you may have noticed, so it's become especially important to show your support each day.

Lunch with Clinton, sure, make fun-- but a Weblog Award! Her blog is a parody site, right?


 

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What Does 'Full Time' Mean?

Posted by LizardBreath
on 12.12.06

A while back, I read this Jane Galt post, on how the realities of working mean that it's going to be very difficult, if it's possible at all, for women to achieve professionally to the same degree as men. As history would suggest, I disagree generally, but I wanted to pick at one of her premises:

1. For most people, the most rewarding jobs have the highest degree of autonomy and cognitive content.
2. Those jobs cannot be successfully divided. A very smart expert working 80 hours a week will be more productive than two equally smart people working forty hours a week. Because their jobs involve facts and ideas linking up in new and unpredictable ways, the more time they spend accumulating facts and ideas, the better they will be at their jobs. And the higher the informational component of the jobs, the trickier the handoff between two people. Increasing worker autonomy increases coordination problems exponentially.

Now, I've got one of these autonomy and cognitive content jobs, and I'd say that the claim that one person working 80hrs a week would be more productive than two people working 40hrs a week is flat wrong, at least with respect to lawyering. My job can be separated into smart bits and stupid bits -- things that are roughly of the form "Learn this area of law, come up with some insight into it that solves our problem, and then produce a brief or an argument or something"; and things that are paper-shuffling, which may be vitally important, but aren't individually difficult. The stupid bits can be passed around to other people, depending on who isn't busy. More bodies means shorter hours, no less efficiency.

The smart bits are more complicated, but I still don't think that one person working double the hours can outwork two people in half the hours. My experience is that one problem is indivisible, as Galt suggests -- that you can't split it between two people without massive annoyance and difficulty coordinating. But it's also that working much past an eight-hour day on a smart problem doesn't get me any further; my capacity to solve problems at a high level works more by the day than by the hour, and putting in more hours on the same problem mostly means spinning my wheels. I can do more than a full day's work if I move from one problem to an unconnected one, but of course if the second problem is unconnected, it could be shuffled off onto someone else without losing efficiency.

There are emergencies, like working on a trial, where long hours are genuinely necessary -- there just aren't enough people with the depth of knowledge of the case built up over time to split the work enough different ways. But for most of what I do, working long hours, rather than having the office close at 5, isn't in any way made necessary by the nature of my work. I work long hours because I'm expected to bill a lot, and because I'm expected to be visible in the office at night (to an extent, this place really isn't terribly bad that way). For me, working as a lawyer, I simply don't buy that (given that my weeks are more like 60 than 80 hours) there'd be any loss at all from having three people as bright as I am working 40hr weeks rather than 2 working 60hr weeks.

But I've seen Galt's premise taken as an assumption lots of other places. Does it ring true to anyone else? Lawyers with different working styles than I have? People in different industries?

Update: Okay, so it sounds like most people here think this one is just not true. How come it seems like all the intellectually challenging jobs expect long hours these days? They didn't always.


 

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My Tunes

Posted by Ogged
on 12.12.06

Apparently, iTunes isn't doing so well.

since January, the monthly revenue going into Apple's iTMS has fallen by "65-percent," with the average transaction size falling "17-percent." Notably, it's not just Apple suffering the cashflow drought, as Nielsen Soundscan reports that the "industry as a whole" is steadily declining.

Since this tracks so neatly with my own experience, I figure it must be true. [Update: But see.] Back in the day, I enjoyed hopping on to iTunes once every couple of weeks and spending an hour or two sampling music and buying what I liked. I did that because I could buy it, run it through JHymn, and have an unprotected mp3 to do with as I pleased. With version 6 of iTunes, JHymn stopped working, so I stopped buying music online. And CDs are a pain in my keester, so I've only bought a couple in the past year. I don't download pirated music, but I won't buy something that I can't be sure I'll be able to play on anything or convert into a format that I can play where I want.

O abundant geekheads, tell me what's wrong with this idea: The music companies want to discourage file sharing, so they use DRM which limits the ways a file can be used. Often, the DRM is a hassle even for the person who has legally acquired the file and wants to use it in normal ways. Why not, instead of limiting the uses of a file, encode each file with a code that identifies the purchaser? This would be pretty simple, right? It's like signing a file with your public key, no? Then, if that file shows up on some file sharing service, prosecute. That should have the intended effect of deterring file sharing--would you share something you'd stolen if it had your name on it?--without inconveniencing law-abiding users. Maybe the signing would be cracked, but DRM is cracked regularly anyway. It might be the same escalating game, but you wouldn't also be deterring your regular customers.


 

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Roadmap

Posted by Ogged
on 12.12.06

Now that I've read this article and have learned that TechCrunch is making $60,000 each month in ad revenue, and that Fark (Fark!) is "on pace to become a multimillion-dollar property," it's clear to me that I need to monetize Unfogged. I don't want to mess with ads, since people using Firefox don't see them, and no one really clicks them. And I don't want to discourage people from reading future posts here. My goal is to make a million dollars, and we have about 220,000 comments in the database. Lots of those are mine, but I think that if I charge you all $5 for each comment you've left, retroactive to the launch of the site, I can meet my goal without changing the way you interact with the site. We can iron out the details of payment delivery in the comments (your first comment in this thread is FREE!!!).


 

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Pinochet

Posted by Fontana Labs
on 12.12.06

I wasn't planning on posting about Pinochet's death, but I feel compelled to note disgust at the reactions. Have a look: Hilzoy responds to Red State, Yglesias makes two good points, as does Roy at Alicublog, and of course the Instapundit takes an opportunity to wallow in resentment.


 

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Congratulations, Dennis.

Posted by LizardBreath
on 12.12.06

Remember one of the goofier aspects of the 2004 campaign, that Dennis Kucinich was simultaneously running for president and looking for someone to be his first lady? Sometime in the intervening couple of years, he's found someone. I'm glad: he always seemed like such a nice little man.

And he's running for president again, too. I wonder if he'll get any credibility points for having been wholeheartedly anti-Iraq-War before it was fashionable. Oh, I'm being silly, of course he won't.


 

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Solve for n

Posted by Fontana Labs
on 12.11.06

How many [expletive]s want to [expletive] this [expletive]?

Chopper or someone else asked where to buy tea on the internet. This is not a euphemism. Please advise.


 

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Apologies For Lameness

Posted by LizardBreath
on 12.11.06

What with what turned out to be strep throat last week (went into the doctor on Friday for a culture and started feeling better Sunday morning before starting antibiotics, so I figured it must just have been a cold. Then the doctor called back today and it was strep, so I feel slightly less pathetic for staying home on Friday) and some actual work I need to do (the conundrum I posted last week in brief form. It's actually not terribly difficult stuff, Labs - there are just a whole lot of different arbitrary little tests and rules you have to learn for each new area of law, and then forget when you move on to the next case) I haven't been blogging, and I don't see that changing in the next couple of days.

Sorry about that. But everyone else is turning out good stuff, barring Unf and Bob.


 

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Namond, Reconsidered

Posted by Ogged
on 12.11.06

It's a Wire post; Unfogged's regular readers can check out now. Also, spoilers.

The little hoppers of the blogosphere seem agreed that Namond Brice is "least sympathetic" or a "total fuck up." They also read his adoption by Bunny--when the other kids are left to flounder--as indicative of the utter injustice of life for kids in West Baltimore. Wrong and wrong, my homies.

One overarching theme in the series is the corrupting power of institutions over individuals. And in the four seasons of the show, I can think of only one character who started out firmly inside an institution and made a conscious, considered decision to leave it, and that's Namond. (McNulty almost managed this--and note how much happier he is running the "last true dictatorship in America," the police beat--but he's still a cop, after all.) Namond had two moments of self-understanding, and they both show remarkable maturity, and not just for someone his age. First, when Michael steps in and beats the kid who tried to scam Namond out of his package, and then tells Namond to get his package from the boy, Namond responds (with tears in his eyes) "I ain't want it," and runs away. In the smaller context of corner boys, this is wuss move, and we think less of Namond for it. But it's also precisely the right reaction to Michael's brutality: "Holy shit, I want no part of that." Given Namond's desire to be respected and liked, this is an amazing disavowel. Later, this all becomes explicit, when he says about his father (again, with tears in his eyes), "I ain't him." Al Gore didn't manage this much insight until he was in his fifties. It's an incredibly hard thing to realize and, having realized it, to admit--particularly when you have reason to believe that your closest friends will think less of you for it.

Namond does a lot of posturing and shit-talking, and we hate him because we see through him and see the weakness that motivates some really unlikable actions (being nasty to Duquan foremost among them). But, in the end, he's the only one (with an assist from Bunny Colvin) who tries to get out of the institution he was trapped in.

(Another interesting possible angle: Namond is the kid from the most stable family of the bunch, and ends up as the most socializable for something other than the corner.)


 

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The immoderate voice

Posted by Fontana Labs
on 12.11.06

Althouse has been urging her readers to vote daily in the Weblog Awards. (Amusing: her blog is in the "centrist" category.) See this petulant exhortation, for example.

It's tempting to initiate a daily cycle of posts urging readers to vote for "The Moderate Voice" (a blog I haven't read, but which currently runs a distant second), just to be that way, but on the other hand it might cross a certain line.


 

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Historical Actors

Posted by Ogged
on 12.11.06

Does anyone remember Clinton's rationale for not ejaculating the first few times Monica Lewinsky gave him a blowjob?


 

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Suburbia

Posted by Ogged
on 12.11.06

Driving to work this morning, I saw on one side of the street a very attractive 40-something woman putting something in the back seat of her Volvo and on the other, a 50-something man who got out of his Mercedes and regarded her with such a look of naked lust that I glanced in the rearview mirror part-expecting to see that he'd either tripped and fallen or was on his knees at the dotted yellow line, begging her for ungodly favors. Wow.


 

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Portland Minimeetup

Posted by LizardBreath
on 12.11.06

Meet John Emerson and Jesus McQueen somewhere in the Portland area, sometime around December 15th, and listen to a band that sounds something like the Pogues.

If you want more details, ask Emerson in the comments, or email him (the domain is gmail, and his userid is emersonj), because that's all the information I've got.


 

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Ogged's big NYT debut

Posted by Fontana Labs
on 12.10.06

As if aesthetics would ever yield to Science:

The equation that describes the quality of the female rear end, according to Holmes, is (S + C) x (B + F)/T - V, where S = Overall Shape ("including tendency to droop"), C = Circularity, B = Bounce Factor (not to be confused with "wobble"), F = Firmness (with perfect being "like a comfy bed"), T = Skin Texture and V = Vertical Ratio (the goal: "on the top-heavy side of symmetrical"). For the male rear end, the equation replaces bounce, circularity and vertical ratio with M (Muscularity), L (Leanness) and O (Overall Symmetry).

...

There's not much debate over the perfect male behind. (Brad Pitt's is pretty much the callipygian ideal.) But the female rear end is a different story. "There is a massive -- and I mean massive -- disagreement among the public between the larger, motherly, 1950s womanly bum and the impossible small, pert, athletic, rounded one," Holmes says. He calls it "the J. Lo bum verses the Kylie bum," after Jennifer Lopez and the singer Kylie Minogue (who scores close to the ideal). Holmes's personal bottom line: "The J. Lo bum is more feminine and more representative of Woman; the Kylie bum is actually very close to the perfect male bum -- it's far more androgynous than people would like to admit."

"Uhm, dude, this equation says you're gay."


 

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Sunday Tunes

Posted by Ogged
on 12.10.06

I thought all the BBC's stuff was online and free. So how do I acquire this?

In other news, it's really hard to do Robert Johnson covers. I haven't listened to all of these, but only the old Jewish dude, David Bromberg, does a cover I'd listen to again.


 

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Mailbag! The Sequel.

Posted by Becks
on 12.10.06

Another letter to the editor from a Major Midwestern Newspaper:

Smoke Nazis have come into power
It was doctors under Nazi Germany that first studied the effects of smoking on the human body.
In their quest to form a perfect world run by perfect people and rule over all others, corrupt little Nazi German people who could not control their own unhappy lives tried to control the lives others for their own good.
But freedom-loving people rose up against them and restored freedom.
For example: freedom to choose. Do I go to a business that allows smoking or choose not to go to that business?
But sadly, in a corrupt state run by a convicted governor, "Smoke Nazis" came to power once again, rallying against tobacco, ignoring more serious issues like another injust war in Iraq, poverty, homeless, illegal drugs, and America's jobs and manufacturing ability sent overseas to enrich a communist country like China, (58,000 American soldiers died to stop the spread of communism in Vietnam). They also ignored the outcome on the prohibition of alcohol in the 1920's.
What's one more law going to hurt among the volumes of man-made laws? Most people can't recite the Ten Commandments, let alone live by them.
My main concern as I get older and near retirement is people will live longer and as Social Security fails, what will be the Smoke Nazis' final solution to that problem?
John T. Klee/berger


 

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Beauty School Dropout

Posted by Becks
on 12.10.06

A possibly inflammatory rant below the fold.

So I called my grandmother tonight and she told me that my 16 year old cousin is pregnant. She's going to have the baby, live with her mother, not go to college, and enroll in beauty school. Everyone soooo excited!!! A baby! Do you think I can make it out for the shower? What a joyous occasion!

Um, no. This girl is COMPLETELY FUCKING UP HER LIFE. Off the top of my head, I can think of at least three better plans than the one she's come up with. Is this because I have a different perspective on things because I don't live in Small Midwestern Town or is it because I'm the only person willing to say "Hey! You're screwing up your future!" I mean "drop out and go to beauty school" seems like something that a pregnant teen would do in 1957 not 2007. If we're going to go all retro, why doesn't she go "take care of a sick aunt in California" for nine months or something. Jesus Christ.

The older relatives in the family are thrilled. I mean, in a way, I guess it's good that the family is rallying behind her and not slut-shaming or whatever and they did the same thing when my other cousin knocked up some girl in high school but really. I'm not for slut shaming but perhaps a little shaming of the general variety is in order to show the other teens in our family that, you know, having a kid in high school is NOT ACCEPTABLE. Maybe if there'd been a little more shame spread around last time this happened, some lessons could have been learned, eh?

I also can't help but wonder how much of the reason that the family elders are excited is because she's having a boy. That's the first thing everyone says and a point that people keep returning to. Finally! A boy to carry on the family name! How wonderful! (This side of the family has a different last name than we do.) I'd like to think that the family would have had the same reaction regardless of the baby's gender but I'm beginning to suspect not.


 

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Dept. of Easy Targets

Posted by Ben
on 12.10.06

This may be a case—I hope is a case—in which one only needs to display. I give you parts of a blurb by Dave Eggers. I initially only read up to the first quoted portion; it was then pointed out to me that the final sentence holds its own rewards:

With Adverbs, Daniel Handler, who's always been a great stylist, goes ten steps further, to become something like an American Nabokov. He and the Russian man…

Anyone who lives to read gorgeous writing will want to lick this book and sleep with it between their legs.

Some more blurbs.

Incidentally, I just saw the philosophy of mind thriller The Prestige and I have a question: is the final shot just there because Nolan is worried that the audience might be idiots?


 

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