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That Labs Still Is One Goes Without Saying

Posted by Ogged
on 01.06.07

In polite society, the word "slut" has been all but retired, and not just the word, but the concept itself--and that's a good thing. But even in those dark corners of America where the word and concept still have purchase, I suspect they wouldn't be used to describe Angelina Jolie. Am I wrong? If I'm right, why is that?


 

horizontal rule

 

Bleeding edge

Posted by Ben
on 01.06.07

Ogged says that he stays on the bleeding edge of music through some ridiculous process or other. What, precisely, does this mean? Presumably it has something to do with keeping current, and in general when one encounters the phrase among the vulgar they're using it to mean that which is the most current—the idea being, I take it, that they're even in front of the cutting edge, that the A-series is a knife moving through the flesh of the B-series (when spelled out this way, it seems a rather weird way of speaking, doesn't it? Raises all sorts of questions as to the personal character of anyone who'd employ it. But we'll pass over such issues for now) and that one oneself can occupy various positions along the blade (like I said, weird image). The cutting or leading edge was long thought to be at the front, and people occupying that area were thought to be as far into the future as one could be while still remaining technically in the present. Recent researches, however, allege that a new position has been discovered, even forerfronted than the leading edge, a discovery which, if genuine, threatens the very name leading edge with being stuck in incorrigible error.

Two things are claimed for this position. The first is that it is the locus of bleeding; the second that it lies further out than the edge which cuts. However, these claims are jointly nonsensical. If we take the edge part of bleeding edge seriously, we must consider the position to be part of the imaged knife; we must therefore understand the bleeding in sensu lato as being that part of the blade whence blood streams—the part where the blood from the cut flesh first spreads out over the knife. But it should be obvious that that part of the knife is, if anything, behind the cutting edge. (As opposed to which other edge? We let it lie.) The cutting edge moves swiftly enough, we may suppose, that in fact while it is cutting it is not being bled upon (indeed, while cutting it is perhaps, owing to the proximity of the very cuttingest edge to the cut area, in fact preventing the flow of blood); the bleeding edge, then, while perhaps still on the edgy bevel, would be less advanced than the cutting.

The real question, then, is why it is that those who are on the bleeding edge think that they're more advanced than those on the cutting edge. One possibility is that, since they are constantly being washed in blood, they think that they are continually being renewed, and hence are always at the newest point. Another is that, as witnesses to the horrible violence which the cutting edge leaves in its wake, of which those in the cutting edge remain oblivious due to its lack of blood, they convince themselves that the bloodshed is not in vain, and the only way they can think to do that (though think is perhaps not the right word for what is undoubtedly a mostly unconscious process) is by stipulating that, although it is terrible, it is the price one pays for innovation—about which they may not be wrong, actually; they're only wrong about their place relative to true innovation. However, these explanations may take the image more seriously than the phenomenon it seeks to explain; the real explanation may merely be that, although able to recognize that something is new relative to the general run of things, they are either too fatuous, or not knowledgeable enough, to recognize just how new something is, and therefore dwell in their ever so slightly retrograde position, thinking themselves far forward. I invite other possible explanations in comments, however, as I'm not entirely satisfied with any of these.

This post has been the third in a series.


 

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Slide

Posted by Ogged
on 01.06.07

I stay on the bleeding edge of hip music by checking to see who's done covers of my favorite old blues songs, and dismissing most everything done since 1930. But occasionally something good pops up, and there are some youngsters calling themselves The White Stripes who are pretty good. Here's their entirely non-embarrassing studio cover of Death Letter Blues (there are many live versions on YouTube).

Sadly, Son House's original version isn't on YouTube, but here's Bukka White just being awesome (with a sweet-dancing be-hatted dude coming in in the second half).


 

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I am in love

Posted by Fontana Labs
on 01.06.07

I can't say enough about my new gym. New equipment, nice locker room, and the showers are great-- much nicer than the one in my apartment, sadly. While the individual stalls and curtains reduce the chances to see grown men naked, they also allow for a more luxurious post-workout cleansing. Glorious.


 

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It Tickled and I Laughed

Posted by Ogged
on 01.06.07

Since everyone's talking about The Sound and the Fury lately, you might also enjoy this masterful Faulkneresque depiction of the Bush administration (with thanks to TomF, who sent it to me about a year ago).


 

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Two martinis on an empty stomach

Posted by Fontana Labs
on 01.05.07

Ogged and Alameida have turned against me. I have only my gin to keep me warm.

UPDATE: did we gloat about this? I hope so.


 

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Does Anyone Know Anything About Sharpening Knives?

Posted by LizardBreath
on 01.05.07

I just reminded myself by telling a knife-sharpening story in the thread below, that all of our knives have gotten dullish, and I'm really unsure of myself sharpening. I know I need a steel (we used to have one, but it fell off its handle and we haven't replaced it) but I think they're past that point, and need to have new edges put on with a stone.

The thing is, whenever I start messing around with a stone and a good knife, I become convinced that I'm further dulling the edge, rather than sharpening it, and they just don't seem to get sharp. Can someone either explain to me exactly what I need, and what the proper technique is, or point me to something online that explains the process in words of one syllable?


 

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You'll dig it!

Posted by Apostropher
on 01.05.07

Now that every profession feels obligated to produce at least one industry-based beefcake calendar to benefit this or that charity, it was only a matter of time before the Men of Mortuaries calendar came to fruition. You can order the 2007 edition here. Because nothing says sexy like a ripped young guy draining bodily fluids with his dangly bits strategically hidden behind the embalming station.


 

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The occultation of the Gayatollah

Posted by Fontana Labs
on 01.05.07

I'll be around and posting, but my blog involvement will be a bit more limited due to the need for research-related program activities. Feel free to email, etc. but I won't be commenting up a storm-- I hope.


 

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Lifelike, without parole.

Posted by Apostropher
on 01.05.07

Sometimes you just wake up feeling like a dummy.

A Detroit man with a record of breaking store windows to satisfy a fetish for female mannequins faces up to life in prison if convicted on the latest charge against him. Ronald A. Dotson, 39, is charged with attempted breaking and entering after police say he broke a display window Oct. 9 at a cleaning supply store in a failed effort to get at a female mannequin dressed in a black-and-white French maid's outfit. Dotson's criminal history includes at least six breaking and entering convictions involving female mannequins over the past 13 years and stints in state prison.

A black-and-white French maid's outfit? I know it's not polite to say this, but honestly, the mannequin was kinda asking for it, don't you think?

Dotson was first convicted in Ferndale for breaking a store window in pursuit of female mannequins in 1993. Police say they arrested him after he had stolen three female mannequins from a downtown business and lined them up in an alley behind the store. In Oak Park, Dotson was convicted of breaking and entering women's stores in 1997, 2000 and 2004, according to police. He was also convicted of a similar charge in Detroit in 1993.

Shortly before his arrest in October, Dotson had told his parole officer he was considering buying a female mannequin so he wouldn't have to commit further break-ins, Ferndale police said.

With the cost of holding an inmate in Michigan well over $30K per year, it seems it would be entirely easier and more cost-effective for the state just to buy this guy a new mannequin every couple of months or so.


 

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Thoughts on travel

Posted by Fontana Labs
on 01.05.07

I offer the following observations and anecdotes regarding my recent journey into the heartland:

(a) radio is still crap, mostly.
(b) even worse is finding oneself relating to bad top 40 songs. This is similar to but worse than my habit of getting emotional at bad television.
(c) I will be sad when my hand stops hurting, because parties should leave wounds.

I'll post pictures of my student-ghetto apartment eventually.

Also, I saw The Good Shepherd. Matt Damon mancrush: intact! Can we stop pretending that Angelina Jolie is pretty and good at acting?


 

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Ethical Question

Posted by LizardBreath
on 01.05.07

There was a Times story a couple of days ago about a man who died, possibly due to side effects from taking Zyprexa. The story wasn't all that exciting, but I found myself bemused by this passage:

A therapist who treated Mr. Kauffman while he was taking Zyprexa recalls him as seeming shy and sad. "He was intelligent enough to have the sense that his life hadn't panned out in a normal fashion," the therapist said in an interview. "He always reminded me of a person standing outside a house with a party going on, looking at it."

The therapist spoke on the condition that her name not be used because of rules covering the confidentiality of discussions with psychiatric patients.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't the whole point of doctor/patient confidentiality that the patient's secrets remain confidential, not so much that the doctor's name not be attached to them? So what happened here is that the therapist told the Times something like, "Sure, I'll violate my professional confidentiality obligations, so long as you keep my name out of it so I don't get busted"? And the Times went along with it.

I'm not a therapist, so I may have this by the wrong end of the stick, but it strikes me as really bad behavior both on the part of the therapist and of the Times.


 

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Maybe If We Started Calling It "Tuesdays With Dilsey"

Posted by Becks
on 01.04.07

There's no way I could do better than Kriston's takedown of Fairfax County Public Library's policy of ditching the classics for John Grisham so I'm not gonna try:

The state, employing its monopoly on violence, coercively collects hard-earned citizen tax dollars and funnels them into moratoriums for the relatively unpopular but absolutely extraordinary achievements of mankind. Achievements like The Sound and the Fury--libraries hold The Sound and the Fury. A book-borrowing building that does not hold The Sound and the Fury--a list that might include the George Mason Regional Library, if it adheres to the quota system that allow it to boost Scott Turow's stackshare by weeding William Faulkner-- is not a library. When no one borrows The Sounds and the Fury from the library for 24 months, the library still retains the novel because it's William Fucking Faulkner...Because, in fact, within an institution of subsidized knowledge and only within an institution of subsidized knowledge, a book can be forever, despite what 21-branch Fairfax library system director Sam Clay seems to suggest when he says, "A book is not forever."
We could just set up YouTube terminals. Dick in a box! Dick in a box for everyone. Let's throw italics around Dick in a Box.


 

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Media Blackout

Posted by Becks
on 01.04.07

Wesley Autrey is a hero. That being said, I'm going to have to stop reading the papers for a few days. Let me know if we bomb Iran or anything.


 

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Looking Good, Dhimmi

Posted by Ogged
on 01.04.07

I'm intrigued by Jessica Alba's boyfriend's tattoo. Is it Arabic? Farsi? I can't quite make it out.


 

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IM IN UR MAILBOKZ, READIN UR LETERZ

Posted by LizardBreath
on 01.04.07

In a signing statement to a postal reform bill he signed into law, Bush claimed the right to open private mail without a warrant under emergency conditions. The law as passed didn't say anything of the sort:

Yet in his statement Bush said he will "construe" an exception, "which provides for opening of an item of a class of mail otherwise sealed against inspection in a manner consistent ... with the need to conduct searches in exigent circumstances."

Getting a warrant isn't hard if you have a reason, and mail doesn't run away under its own power. What on earth is the problem with waiting for judicial oversight? (Of course, we don't know that he's actually doing this. Just that he claims to be allowed to, and that there's no way for us to know if he is. I'm not worried, are you?)


 

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Aw, Criminy.

Posted by LizardBreath
on 01.04.07

Ciber, Inc., the lab that has tested most of the country's electronic voting systems, has been barred by the federal government from doing further testing for failure to follow its quality control procedures or document that it had actually carried out all of the tests it claimed to have.

I've already said pretty much everything I've had to say about this bullshit -- I want a federal law mandating that an official ballot has to be a piece of paper that the voter gets to look at before it's submitted. I don't care how it's generated. This is ridiculous.


 

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Unwelcome phone calls

Posted by Fontana Labs
on 01.03.07

Day one at my new location featured this great exchange:

"Hey, your class started half an hour ago!"
"No, I teach tomorrow morning."
"Uhm, that was changed. Didn't we tell you?"

Nice.


 

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The Series Continues: Keith! Keith!

Posted by LizardBreath
on 01.03.07

Remember Keith Ellison, the newly elected Representative from Virginia who's been getting a hard time over his decision, as a Muslim, to do his photo-op swearing in on a copy of the Koran? Apparently there are some nimrods out there who think this is antithetical to American values.

Representative Ellison has, for the purpose of his swearing in, borrowed a deceased constituent [of Virgil Goode's, the Representative who has been being an ass about this]'s copy of the Koran from the Library of Congress: namely, Thomas Jefferson's. I, for one, welcome our new jihadist Founding Fathers.

[Edited to correct nitwitted error about Ellison's home state. LB]


 

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The Golden Mean

Posted by Ogged
on 01.03.07

A bitter dispute regarding proper skin color has broken out between me and Ben W-lfs-n in the comments of this post. As we all know, tannage judgements are always bound up with issues of class (when tan is associated with working outdoors, pale is best; when tan is associated with leisure, tan is good, etc.). But we sit astride history, not in it, like muck-dwellers. And from here we can see that there is an objectively best skin color: ever-so-slightly-tanned. In the ever-so-slight tan, we find someone pleasantly acquainted with the out of doors, but not forced into it (like a common person) nor too in love with it (like someone courting skin cancer). The ever-so-slight tan tells us that someone is probably physically fit, but not obsessive; unshamed of his body, and of pleasingly hearty tanning (not burning) stock.

I don't expect much agreement from the denizens of blogdom, because in my experience, y'all are some pale motherfuckers. Nevertheless, the truth is the truth. (It should also be noted, lest I be accused of self-dealing, that I usually miss the mean by being too tanned. Nevertheless, the truth is the truth.)


 

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They May Be Persons, But They're Not People

Posted by LizardBreath
on 01.03.07

Brad Plumer posts on a story about a couple of towns in Pennsylvania:

For several years now, a bunch of towns in rural Pennsylvania have been passing various "anti-sludge" laws to prevent corporations from dumping toxic waste all over their fields. This includes bans on companies with previous environmental violations from operating in town, and laws requiring companies to test their waste for safety. Well, businesses weren't too pleased, and some of them sued, arguing that the laws violated their rights to "equal protection, due process... and rights guaranteed under the commerce clause."

In return, the townships of Licking and Porter did something rather radical, passing a town ordinance stripping corporations of their personhood. Bam! "Corporations shall not be considered to be 'persons' protected by the Constitution of the United States."

Presumably this is going to get litigated all the way up, and goodness knows what will happen to the town ordinances. (Oh, who am I kidding? They are so getting overturned.) But this seems self-evidently right to me. Corporations are artificial creatures of the state, and while it's probably necessary to have some form of limited liability organization, there's no moral obligation to have created a corporate form with any particular set of rights.

Rights like the right to equal protection under the law are in the Constitution for moral reasons -- it is generally wrong to give one person lesser legal protection than another merely because of who they are, even if you make the judgment that you'd like to for policy reasons. Such rights are Constitutionalized to make it clear that they are not subject to casual change, and that such casual change would be wrong.

That moral reason doesn't come into play at all with respect to corporations -- participation in the corporate form is a privilege granted by the state, allowing investors to evade what would otherwise be their legal obligations. Conditioning that privilege on restricting the capacities or rights of corporations in a manner that differs from the capacities or rights of natural persons is morally neutral; the state didn't have to create corporations at all, much less corporations with a right to legal equality to natural persons. From a policy point of view, it may be a good or bad idea in any particular circumstance to treat a corporation like a person, and legislatures should be able to decide when it makes sense to do so and when it doesn't. But using the language of civil rights to talk about how how corporations have a Constitutional right to be treated appears to me to seriously misunderstand the moral underpinning of civil rights law, and the moral status of corporations.

(Note: I don't know a darn thing about the actual sludge-related ordinance the corporations were objecting to, or to the merits of their legal claim to have been deprived of the equal protection of the laws. I'm just saying that they shouldn't be able to make that claim on Constitutional grounds.)



 

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Web 3.0

Posted by Becks
on 01.03.07

This weekend, Saiselgy was telling us about his college's Last Chance Dance. In June of each year, there was a big party where members of the Senior class could enter the names of people they'd always wanted to hook up with into a computer and it would print out any matches to help facilitate pre-graduation flings.

Why hasn't something like this been incorporated into social networking sites? Wouldn't that make things a lot easier? The biggest issue I see with this system is ensuring people act in good faith (you don't want misanthropes entering in the names of people they don't really like just so they can point and laugh if it shows a match) but surely there must be some kind of trust/feedback mechanism that can be used to encourage this. Given the large number of computer programmers who are Libertarians, you'd think somebody would have set out to maximize everybody's utility already, IYKWIM.


 

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Zyggy will thank me

Posted by Unf
on 01.02.07

This is what happens when people start making threats.


 

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How My Blog Works

Posted by Ogged
on 01.02.07

Megan: Lost to me in our impromptu accuracy contest even though I had cancer and had never played Ultimate before. Bring your "A" game next time, punk.


 

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Fun Sucks Anyway

Posted by Ogged
on 01.02.07

The management would like to apologize for the absence of a post for people who didn't attend the Unfogged party to hate on the people who did.


 

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Steal Your Soul

Posted by Becks
on 01.01.07

So some people have photos from UnfoggeDCon and we're trying to figure out the best way to let people see them but not have them public. Suggestions?

UPDATE: Pictures can be restricted to only the Unfogged Flickr pool by making the permission on the photo Private and adding it to the Unfogged Flickr group.

UPDATE 2: Also, when in doubt, follow the rule of the Flophouse: Stop Snitchin'.


 

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It's Been A Good Seven Years; Or Another Reason I'm A Liberal.

Posted by LizardBreath
on 01.01.07

January is our babysitter's last month with us -- she's worked for us since Sally was nine months old. With both the kids in school, and Buck working from home, he's decided that we don't need her anymore, and it will certainly be awfully nice no longer having the expense. (I kind of worry that getting work done while he's keeping an eye on the kids will be more of an issue for him than he's thinking, but he's pretty sure it'll be okay.) She should be okay -- she came to us from a high end employment service, and she should be able to walk into a new job somewhere with little difficulty. But I'm still feeling like a bit of a heel, despite the fact that childcare jobs are necessarily time-limited when the kids grow up.

I've been thinking about the last seven years with Nancy, which (barring a couple of issues -- she's way serious about femminess, but no worse than lots of people) have been great. The kids love her, she loves the kids, and she and Buck have had a very easy time sharing space in what is not a very large apartment.

Part of what's made it so easy is a social class issue: she's a person who works for a living, and so are we -- while the employer/employee relationship is essentially asymmetrical, socially, she's always treated us as peers. At the income level I'm at (rich enough to hire a full time nanny, not rich enough that it's not a hell of an expense), people tend to pay low enough wages that the childcare workers they hire are poor enough, or in a bad enough living situation (illegally in the country, for example) that they're living on the edge, very close to being really desperate. And even if you're trying to be a decent person, being in a long term relationship with a desperate person is terribly difficult: there's always the worry that you're being unreasonable in your expectations, and they're going along with you because they don't feel as if they have any choice; and they're unreliable because they've got the kind of life that involves problems that keep you from showing up for work (immigration, sickness without health insurance).

We paid a premium to hire Nancy partially because having a decent income allowed her to be reliable, but a huge side benefit was knowing that we'd hired someone who had other options -- we weren't the only thing standing between her and destitution, so we were reasonably assured that we weren't a nightmare to work for; if we had been, she could easily have walked out and gone to work for someone else. Dealing with someone who treats you as an equal, and assumes that they will be treated as one, is just immensely easier and pleasanter than dealing with someone who's terrified of crossing you. (Obviously, we had the option of doing this because I'm stupidly overpaid as a BigLaw associate. No judgment intended on people paying what they can afford for childcare.)

This is a large part of the selfish reason I favor redistributive social programs; I really, really don't want to deal with desperate people in any capacity. They worsen working conditions for everyone because they feel that they have no choice but to take abuse, and their problems are just depressing and guilt-inducing. I want to live in a society where no one is terrified of destitution for my own comfort, and the comfort of the people I care about, even if they won't ever have to worry about destitution directly.


 

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This is your first day of sorrow

Posted by Ben
on 01.01.07

Happy new year, everyone. I hope you all listened to music for humidifier and celesta last night.

Sadly, I didn't go to Megan's party, so no one got to hear my reading from Fanny Hill, and you'll have to wait a while before On M-Fun: A Post to Its Cultured Despisers is published or, indeed, written.


 

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We Should Get Together Once A Month. With Snacks.

Posted by Becks
on 12.31.06

Everyone at UnfoggeDCon had something in common. Can you guess what?


 

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A Post Party Dish Request Post

Posted by Ogged
on 12.31.06

If you didn't have sex at this thing, please comment in the next five minutes.



 

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