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Hate In Many Colors

Posted by Ogged
on 01.13.07

This is a thread wherein you may express your desire to see Ray Lewis sack Peyton Manning with such force that Manning's head is detached from his body and rolls lopsidedly to its rest but! not so quickly that Manning doesn't realize what's happening.

In other news, George Bush says that

the Iraqi people owe the American people a huge debt of gratitude

And, this guy is my age, writing about his years held in Guantanamo. He's still there. Please read it.


 

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Keep hope alive

Posted by Fontana Labs
on 01.13.07

Another post constituted by miscellany.

Boy, 15, missing for four years, is found:

''Shawn is a miracle here,'' his mother, Pam Akers, said Saturday at an elementary school in his hometown of Richwoods. ''We're glad to have him home. I still feel like I'm in a dream, only this time it's a good dream, not the nightmare I've had four-and-a-half years."

It's a small thing, but it's a good moment for some cheer.

As if in sympathy with the flophouse, my new topsecret hideout appears to have had, at one point, a mouse problem. I've plugged in some little ultrasonic devices and set a few traps; my fear is that something will actually get caught in the traps thereby forcing me to dispose of its corpse. Really, I'm the victim here. (I'm reminded of concentration camp guards who blamed the Jews: what terrible people to make me do such unpleasant things to them!)

Ogged's post about music reminds me that I very much need a way of being exposed to new sounds. What, for the technological neophyte, is the best way to go? And, on a related note: for the first time ever I've been considering getting an mp3 player. (My topsecret hideout is austere, so I didn't bring a stereo or CDs.) Is this insane? I don't know that I want to capitulate to the forces of modernity but, on the other hand, I said that about cell phones too, and now I love mine, not least because it makes humiliating drunk-dialing experiences that much more likely.

In other musical news, I'm not playing much at all right now, and-- here's the surprising part-- this isn't bothering me. What I hate about musical performance as a project is that it requires a lot of day-to-day maintenance, and the hour(s) spent with exercises and etudes could be put to much more intellectually interesting pursuits, so in a sense I'm welcoming the change in values. Maybe I'll go back when I return to my old life. This is an almost-interesting example of pragmatic concerns shaping one's values in a way that might be illegitimate (for being the wrong kind of reason, etc.).

Barney Frank shows command of the rules. (He's definitely on the short list that I think of as "people I'd like to have dinner with, but won't, though having dinner with them is not ridiculously implausible.") If I someday have tenure, insha'Allah, I will master Robert's Rules and use my knowledge to cause great suffering.


 

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Hook 'Em

Posted by Becks
on 01.13.07

When someone tells you "X and Y hooked up", what do you take that to mean?

(1) X and Y had sex
(2) X and Y fooled around but did not have sex
(3) X and Y fooled around and may or may not have had sex

In a recent RL discussion, there were people championing each of the above options. One person even thought that "hooking up" was a euphemism for oral sex. Me, I'm for the expansive third option.

Should a clear definition for this term be agreed upon or is its imprecision precisely what makes it so valuable?


 

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Pandora

Posted by Ogged
on 01.13.07

I've been playing around again with Pandora, and finding myself more frustrated than pleased. The big problem, it seems to me, is what mrh said, a few months ago.

it turns out the music I like sounds an awful lot like the music I hate

This is, you might say, deeply true. When we like a "type," it's usually not defined by obvious, or even known, characteristics, and even if you describe your preference as finely as "gritty electric blues with a strong vocal element and mildly syncopated rhythm," you're likely to get a bunch of songs and artists you don't much like. So although our vocabulary says that one song is "like" the other, our ear likes different likes altogether. I'm particularly frustrated because I think Pandora has the tools and the data to solve this problem--let users see the list of characteristics, and mix and match them themselves--but won't let us interact beyond the uninformative song and artist groupings. Maybe I like minor key tonality with women's voices, but major key with men's. It would be cool to find out. (Actually, for me, it would be cool to find out what "minor key tonality" means.) I suppose they're unwilling to expose so much of their proprietary system, but on the other hand, I probably won't go back to the site.


 

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Climate Best By Government Test

Posted by Ogged
on 01.12.07

Mid-twenties in the Bay Area tonight?? Global warming's never around when you need it. If our red state compatriots could read, no doubt they'd be making hell-is-freezing-over jokes tonight. But thank beelzebub that there's no precipitation, because much of the city would be totally undrivable if it snowed.


 

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In Country

Posted by Ogged
on 01.12.07

Ok, here's some more information about what's going on with Iran.

A recent series of American raids against Iranians in Iraq was authorized under an order that President Bush decided to issue several months ago to undertake a broad military offensive against Iranian operatives in the country, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said Friday.

"There has been a decision to go after these networks," Ms. Rice said in an interview with The New York Times in her office on Friday afternoon, before leaving on a trip to the Middle East.

So they're aggressively going after Iranian "networks" in Iraq, but swear that they don't intend to go into Iran. I'll take that.

And note something odd in the Times article.

In the view of American officials, Iran is engaged in a policy of "managed chaos" in Iraq. Its presumed goal, both policymakers and intelligence officials say, is to raise the cost to the United States for its intervention in Iraq, in hopes of teaching Washington a painful lesson about the perils of engaging in regime change.

Is that really how they think? Even when totally rational and reasonable motives are staring them in the face (eg, don't let a hostile superpower establish a base of operations next door), they think that this is something personal about teaching lessons? If that's not just sloppy writing, or off-the-cuff talk, these people are whack.


 

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I need a cable package that includes Al-Jazeera

Posted by Fontana Labs
on 01.12.07

Via the Bandarlog, a nice clip of reasonable discourse. I will now start referring to Ogged as a "Persian shoe."


 

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YouTune

Posted by Ogged
on 01.12.07

Nevermind the video on this YouTube clip; it's the song--what my friend calls "Scottish mariachi rap," that's totally awesome. I wish I knew who it was.

Update: Thanks to mike d in the comments, we now know that the song is by a band name Arbol, and is called Ya me voy. Because it's ok to steal from foreigners, you can go to this page, copy and paste the links, download the files, unrar them, and have yourself the whole album the song is from.


 

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He's mad, I tell you. Mad!

Posted by Apostropher
on 01.12.07

While we ponder in the thread below whether Bush is indeed about to attack Iran, allow me to throw another log on the fire.

At a not-for-quotation pre-speech briefing on Jan. 10, George W. Bush and his top national security aides unnerved network anchors and other senior news executives with suggestions that a major confrontation with Iran is looming. Commenting about the briefing on MSNBC after Bush's nationwide address, NBC's Washington bureau chief Tim Russert said "there's a strong sense in the upper echelons of the White House that Iran is going to surface relatively quickly as a major issue - in the country and the world - in a very acute way."

Russert and NBC anchor Brian Williams depicted this White House emphasis on Iran as the biggest surprise from the briefing as Bush stepped into the meeting to speak passionately about why he is determined to prevail in the Middle East. "The President's inference was this: that an entire region would blow up from the inside, the core being Iraq, from the inside out," Williams said, paraphrasing Bush.

Despite the already high cost of the Iraq War, Bush also defended his decision to invade Iraq and to eliminate Saddam Hussein by arguing that otherwise "he and Iran would be in a race to acquire a nuclear bomb and if we didn't stop him, Iran would be going to Pakistan or to China and things would be much worse," Russert said. If Russert's account is correct, there could be questions raised about whether Bush has lost touch with reality and may be slipping back into the false pre-invasion intelligence claims about Hussein threatening the United States with "a mushroom cloud." [...]

While avoiding any overt criticism of Bush's comments about an imaginary Iraqi-Iranian arms race, Russert suggested that the news executives found the remarks perplexing.

"That's the way he sees the world," Russert explained. "His rationale, he believes, for going into Iraq still was one that was sound."

MSNBC's Chris Matthews then interjected, "And it could be the rationale for going into Iran at some point."

Russert paused for a few seconds before responding, "It's going to be very interesting to watch that issue and we have to cover it very, very carefully and very exhaustively."

So, not just a few bloggers talking about this any longer. Looks to me like the decision has already been made.


 

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Wow. Maybe Congress Is Going To Stand Up

Posted by LizardBreath
on 01.12.07

I don't watch much C-Span, but yesterday's Senate Armed Services Committee hearing was dramatic. [I can't find a transcript -- if someone's got one, could you link it in comments?] Senator Hagel (R-NE) described the surge plan as "the most dangerous foreign policy blunder in this country since Vietnam, if it's carried out." He also explicitly compared possible attacks on Iran and Syria to the Vietnam-era bombing of Cambodia. Kerry went after Rice on the fascinating question of what it is we are planning to do if Prime Minister Maliki's government doesn't meet the benchmarks that this surge is purportedly conditional on; if this isn't an open-ended committment, what are the conditions for closing it and what does that mean? Rice had no answer -- she said that identifying a 'Plan B' was incompatible with really committing to making this plan work.

(Update: An exchange I didn't see, from Josh Marshall:

Relative to what I said below about expanding operations against Iran and Syria, note Joe Biden's exchange today with Condi Rice in which he warned her that an attack on Iran would "generate a constitutional confrontation in the Senate, I predict to you."

I suppose that's good news, bad news. The good news is that Biden is standing up for Congress's capacity to keep the war from escalating further. The bad news is that he probably wouldn't be saying that unless he was pretty clear that the Administration was planning to escalate further.)

Just because Senators are talking tough in a hearing doesn't mean much, but there are other signs of life. Senator Kennedy and Representative Ed Markey have introduced legislation requiring Congressional approval of any increase in the number of troops in Iraq over the number on January 9, 2007. It's not everything, but it's a start, and five minutes worth of emailing your senators and representative so that they know you want them to take back control of this mess might help them stand up. (Phone calls are better than emails, and paper mail is better than phone calls, or so I've always heard.) Go, email.


 

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Alles was irgendwie nützt

Posted by Ben
on 01.11.07

Check out who's playing on Jan 15:

valerian maly (CH) - elektro-gitarre, champagner, türe oder fenster, sand

That is, electric guitar, champagne, doors or windows, sand. Sure, nearly all music has an element of show and benefits from being seen as it's being produced. Even relatively staid orchestral music, I think, benefits not just from being heard live but from being seen—being able to look at a particular section often, for me, allows me to hear its contributions more clearly, since I can see the movements of the performers. (One of the annoying things about laptop music is that when you see it performed, the performers are just sitting there clicking at a computer, heightening one's initial skepticism that they aren't actually doing anything and it's all been prerecorded, as well as not exactly being interesting to look at.) But with this sort of thing the showmanship is probably integral. Even if a recording of the concert were made, and were interesting in its own right, there's no doubt in my mind that listening to the recording would be essentially different from being at the performance recorded. Even if he doesn't do anything with the champagne (champagne! what could he possibly be going to do with champagne? Yeah, contact mics, blah blah, but really), just the knowledge that he might will affect the audience experience—a tension that someone listening alone might well not have, especially since it's an open question whether or not any of the sound sources will be recognizeable. The doors or windows (and how will he decide, and why not walls, too, or the floor?), for instance, are probably capable of producing basically similar sounds, if processed.

In other musical news, tomorrow (Friday the 12th!!! scary!) I'll be doing a radio show on KZSU. When, exactly, is a bit mysterious—I and another dj will be broadcasting out on campus on some portable rig in an effort to attract new dj applicants from noon to 2pm PST. However, owing to requirements about when we'll be allowed to have the PA going full-blast, we might be alternating sets with each other instead of one taking one hour and the other the other. Nevertheless, I encourage all to tune in, especially Jackmormon. There will be throat singing, clapping, a hymn, a musical saw, and a jaw harp (those last two even in the same song) among other wonders.

UPDATE: I'll be on from 1-2pm PST.


 

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I'm Sure I'm Just Overly Touchy

Posted by LizardBreath
on 01.11.07

But if you're another associate I'm helping out with some research, and I tell you there's no NY statute that provides for X, I don't want to hear insistence that there is, because you saw a case that you can't remember any details about once that said there was. As a fellow associate, if you're going to tell me I've fucked up an elementary bit of research, you need to (a) be polite about it, and (b) have some identifiable basis for what you're saying. (Also, responding to the case I handed you saying "New York has no X statute" by saying "That bit isn't a holding of the case, it's just what one of the attorneys is claiming. There's no reason to think it's right."? Similarly not endearing.)

From partners, I take nonsense like "I think there was a case I saw once that went the other way. The plaintiff's name started with a vowel, maybe? And it had something to do with dairy products." From another associate, less so.


 

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This Is Failure

Posted by Ogged
on 01.11.07

Following up on Lizardbreath's post below, I'd like to point out once again the absurdity of the American position that the neighbor of a country we went around the world to invade is behaving unacceptably by trying to influence events in that country. Again, the underlying premise is that any action contrary to the interests of the US, as perceived by people in the White House, is a justification for war.

Moreover, this is a perfect as-it's-happening example of how the Democrats and the press fail, and by failing, make disastrous wars possible. When the administration line is "Aha! More Iranian meddling!" someone needs to point out that the presence of Iranian agents in Iraq is perfectly reasonable and nothing close to a justification for military action. But making those points will seem like "being on the other side" and I predict that not a single Democratic congressperson, and no one on the big three networks, or at the Times or the Post will make this totally obvious, totally necessary point.


 

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War On Iran

Posted by LizardBreath
on 01.11.07

We've raided their embassyconsulate in Irbil. (Thanks to NattarGcM in the comments for pointing out the story). As far as I understand it, a country's embassy is the sovereign territory of that country; legally, we just invaded Iran. [Neil, in comments, points out that I'm wrong about the legal status of an embassy -- it's still part of the country where it's located. This should be a link to the treaty that governs an embassy's immunities.][Second update: It's a consulate, not an embassy, which means it was established under a different treaty. We still broke that one. All inaccuracies in my initial post are blamed on carelessness and trying to work while I blog.]

I wonder if we meant anything particular by it -- an announcement that we're at war, now that declarations are passe? Or was it just intended to convey that international law means nothing to us?


 

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Farber Alert

Posted by LizardBreath
on 01.11.07

Gary's having a particularly hard time. Does anyone know of any writing/editing or similar work he can do remotely? Because this would be an excellent time to get in touch with him if so. (And I'm sure donations remain welcome.)

Update: Here's a fuller explanation of what the problem is. Brainstorming about possible sources of work in comments might be useful.


 

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24

Posted by Becks
on 01.11.07

I used to like the show 24 but have stopped watching it in recent seasons because I feel it treats the subjects of torture and depriving people of their civil liberties too blithely. In 24, every encounter with a bad guy is a "ticking time bomb" scenario and they present torture like it is almost always justified. While the creators are going for entertainment, I feel this desensitizes the public and gives them a false impression of what their actual government is using these tactics to accomplish.

Given the way the show has handled these issues in the past, I'm especially apprehensive about where it looks this season is headed:

America is reeling from a nationwide string of bus and train bombings that have killed hundreds...Confused by contradictory data, newly inaugurated President Wayne Palmer (D.B. Woodside) defers a little too much to his chief of staff (Peter MacNicol), a cross between Joseph Goebbels and Tolkien's Wormtongue, who's been secretly preparing a final solution to the problem of Islam in America.


 

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Speech

Posted by Becks
on 01.10.07

Whaddaya think?


 

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In order to be successful, one must project an image of success at all times

Posted by Fontana Labs
on 01.10.07

Better even than Aleksey Vayner is George Michael Bluth portraying Aleksey Vayner. Damn, I miss Arrested Development.


 

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Idle Hands

Posted by Ogged
on 01.10.07

This is a disturbing video (as in, think about whether you want to see it) of what look to be Russian? toughs beating random people who look vaguely ethnic, and sometimes burning what seem to be their passports. I'm not sure what to say about this, except to wonder how often it happens; how often it happens in the US, and whether we should start giving all the nice immigrants guns when they emigrate.


 

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Jesus Talks

Posted by Ogged
on 01.10.07

Gizmodo is calling the beautiful Apple iPhone the Jesus Phone, and that seems like a good way to capture the reaction to it, and deflate the hype a bit. But you know what bugs me? Reactions like this, from a commenter at the NY Times.

How is this thing really different than a Palm Treo 750 running Windows Mobile? I know it looks much nicer, but will it enable me to do things I can't already do with existing equipment? I think I sense some Reality Distortion Field in effect.

The thought behind attributing Apple's popularity to a "reality distortion field" is that aesthetic considerations aren't "real" and that beauty itself is somehow false and misleading. Not everyone is a soulless drone, mister! Beauty matters to a lot of people, and they're willing to pay for it. I'm not going to get an iPhone, because word is that typing on it is not so great, but I still love it, because it's a beautiful gadget with a beautiful interface.

Unlike most competitors, Apple also places an inordinate emphasis on interface design. It sweats the cosmetic details that don't seem very important until you really sweat them. "I actually have a photographer's loupe that I use to look to make sure every pixel is right," says Scott Forstall, Apple's vice-president of Platform Experience (whatever that is). "We will argue over literally a single pixel."

It shows. People care.


 

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What's A Surge?

Posted by LizardBreath
on 01.10.07

Yglesias notes that even the initial architects of the surge plan think that the 20,000 troops Bush is planning to send are insufficient to have any useful effect:

We need to cut through the confusion. Bringing security to Baghdad--the essential precondition for political compromise, national reconciliation and economic development--is possible only with a surge of at least 30,000 combat troops lasting 18 months or so. Any other option is likely to fail.

This does leave the impression that this is a purely political exercise, intended to run out the clock so that Bush doesn't have to admit failure before his term ends. (Note to Democratic Presidential candidates: Run on a plan to pull out as expeditiously as possible -- the war has been a hopeless failure for years now, and just needs to end. Anything more guarded is just going to give the nitwits who did this cover.)

Further on that point: I really know very little about military matters, but my impression has always been that we weren't tens of thousands soldiers short of what is necessary to secure the situation in Iraq, but hundreds of thousands. Without all the drama around calling it a 'surge', I wouldn't have thought of an increase of twenty thousand troops as a significant change in strategy -- more like a minor tweak. Surely the number of soldiers in Iraq has varied by that much, or close to that much, over the last few years?

Really, the whole thing looks like a pointless stunt.


 

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It's Snowing!

Posted by LizardBreath
on 01.10.07

Just started a minute or so ago. Yay! Maybe the world isn't coming to an end this week.


 

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I Didn't Even Realize That Deck Had A Race Card

Posted by Becks
on 01.10.07

When I read that D.C. was going to become one of the first school systems to require the HPV vaccine, I was kind of proud to be living somewhere progressive enough to put the health of students over religion and politics. Apparently, I still have a lot to learn about living in D.C.:

Let's say you have an 11-year-old daughter in D.C. public schools. She'll be a sixth-grader next year. You are reminded that she must be immunized before she will be allowed to return to school. She'll need the usual vaccinations against measles, rubella and chickenpox. But this time, there's another disease on the list, one that the D.C. government is strongly urging your daughter be immunized against: the human papillomavirus, or HPV, which is sexually transmitted. After all, your daughter is 11 and probably black, so the assumption is she'll be having unprotected sex in no time -- but don't take offense.
...
Only the most progressive and caring elected city officials -- in this case, two nice white people -- would propose a program to vaccinate against sexually transmitted disease girls under 13 in a predominantly black school system.
...
"With January being National Cervical Cancer Awareness Month, now is the perfect time for the District to lead the nation in the fight against what is in essence a preventable disease," said D.C. Council member David A. Catania (I-At Large), a truly well-meaning, if naive, co-sponsor of the legislation. Forget about taking time to educate the public about HPV or exploring any adverse side effects of the vaccination. Let's go right at these presumed-to-be-promiscuous, 11-year-old black girls.
...
A large body of evidence demonstrates that school-based laws are an effective and efficient way of boosting vaccine-coverage rates, Colgrove writes. ... So forget about the ham-handed way the legislation was proposed in the District. Your tissue-paper feelings just don't matter.
And please don't bring up that old paranoia about government agencies conducting medical experiments on black people. The Tuskegee syphilis experiments are old news. Besides, all of those black guinea pigs are dead and gone.


 

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Air, Or Something Like It

Posted by Ogged
on 01.10.07

You can see the smog in the picture I posted of Tehran.

Now, a report says,

Air pollution is estimated to have killed nearly 10,000 people in Tehran over a one-year period, including 3,600 in a month, Iranian officials say.

I think I've told these stories here, or to some of you in real life, but 1) I was on the roof of my cousins' apartment building in Tehran for about half an hour, and when we came back in, there was a ring of soot around our nostrils and 2) we went to see some people in the south of Tehran, where the air is worst, and after the 45 minute drive down and then back, we all came home and promptly fell asleep, feeling ill, basically poisoned by the air. They told me it was typical to feel ill after you'd been out for any extended period.

Cheap fuel encourages car use in Iran, correspondents say, and many vehicles do not meet global emissions standards.

It's awful, and these numbers are apparently a recent increase, so it's even much worse than when I was there a few years ago. I was told that a lot of cars were now running on natural gas, which Iran has massives stores of, but it's not doing the trick, apparently. Go nuclear!


 

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Obiter animadversa

Posted by Ben
on 01.09.07

"Fud", variously capitalized, is both an initialism for "Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt" and a Scottish colloquialism referring to the vagina (or so claims wikipedia, but really, I suspect, to the vulva).


 

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Chump

Posted by LizardBreath
on 01.09.07

I bought a wedding present on my lunch hour: I knew what I wanted, and where I wanted to buy it, and had a pretty good sense of what it was going to cost. And then I got there and found that I was way, way off on the price -- it was significantly more than I wanted to spend. And yet somehow, rather than walking back out of the store and finding something else, I went ahead and bought it, just because I was embarrassed to be seen to have been put off by the price tag. I really am an idiot sometimes.


 

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Affirmative Action

Posted by LizardBreath
on 01.09.07

Obsidian Wings has a couple of posts up on affirmative action. I've been arguing for it in the comments. I tend to sound more vehemently in favor of affirmative action than I am, because opponents tend to be against it as a matter of principle; an argument that can be caricatured as "By god, racial discrimination is racial discrimination, and there's no moral difference between considering race as a factor in hiring the first black lawyer in a firm and considering race to make sure that the first black lawyer never gets hired." And this is pretty much nonsense -- the moral difference is perfectly clear.

Still, I worry about effectiveness, in an uninformed sort of way -- it's not clear to me how effective affirmative action programs generally are. I've read that the Army's affirmative action program is terribly successful, but other than that I don't know a lot of positive large scale stories, rather than anecdotes like Hilzoy's. To the extent that affirmative action programs aren't effective, they're just enraging people for no reason. While I don't know that this is the case, it worries me.

And in some contexts, I worry about justice to people negatively affected: I have seen arguments that affirmative action in college admissions doesn't particularly affect white admissions (a couple of percentage points), but does affect Asian admissions severely. (I have to say that I don't quite get how this works -- assuming we're talking about a system that doesn't explicitly penalize applicants for being Asian, but just advantages members of other minority groups, and assuming that in college admissions the Asian applicant pool is on average as strong or stronger than the white applicant pool, I can't quite see how advantaging members of other minority groups is going to disproportionately disadvantage Asians. But I've seen it often enough that I'll assume it's true.) That bothers me; given that Asians generally aren't advantaged by the long history of past discrimination in their favor that advantages whites, it seems wrong that affirmative action programs should disadvantage them. This post on The Nation's blog was comforting in that regard; apparently affirmative action is very popular among Asian voters, at least in California and Michigan.


 

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Qutbin' It

Posted by Ogged
on 01.09.07

I've made my peace with serial monogamy, but I confess this: when I see people documenting their relationships on Flickr, and then I see them documenting their next relationship on Flickr, it kicks me a little bit. Time was, you'd come across the picture of someone with his/her ex when you were flipping through an old photo album with them, and there'd be a brief moment of "oh, yeah..." before moving on. That's what pictures do, right? They make moments present, and now the past is hanging around the present all the time. I don't mean that this is a problem and that you're all bad people who are going to hell; just noting one of those facts of life that the oldsters are going to have to get used to.


 

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About last night

Posted by Fontana Labs
on 01.09.07

We got off to a great start, didn't we? I thought things were really headed in the right direction, but it all fell apart so quickly. Part of the problem was that you wanted things to work so much that you tried to make something out of nothing, and it kept blowing up in your face. It wasn't long before we knew things just couldn't be saved, even though we stuck with it too long, just to see how humiliating it could get. Damn.

At times like these, there's only one thing that can cheer me up.


 

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Outraged By Chappaquiddick

Posted by Ogged
on 01.09.07

B-Rube calls it quits. I'm surprised he kept it up so long, what with having to drive out of Pennsylvania in search of an internet connection every time he wanted to post. There comes a time in every frequently-updated blog's life--and it seems to be around the three-year mark--that you have to either make your peace with the fact that it's the most important thing in your life, or turn it into a paying gig, or make it a group blog. You can tell yourself that it's "just blogging" only so many times before you can't ignore the fact that it's an incredible amount of work, both in terms of time spent and mental energy expended. So, best of luck to him; he's not going to need it where he's going.


 

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XML: fuck that.

Posted by Ben
on 01.08.07

Or anyway, fuck XSPF. Dig the list of advantages XSPF is supposed to have over various other playlist formats: it's simple, not like SMIL; unlike ASX, it's open, and, in contradistinction to M3U, it's XML!!! Wait! Didn't they just say it's simple? (This is especially ironic given that at least part of SMIL's complexity comes from … being XML.) But at least they've got what everyone wants in a playlist format, right? Viz., something that won't be easily manipulable—whereas before I could correctly parse my playlist with nothing more complicated than cut (may be an exaggeration), now I get to use expat. How exactly have I won, here? Oh, and the file's really big, too. (Mine's 13 megs, though in fairness, my m3u playlist is 4.7)

I also like the way audacious pretends not to know that it's displaying escaped strings. I know—maybe I'll listen to "J%E4%E4, Hyv%E4 Mieli". or something by Fant%F4mas. In a rather striking change from the last time I interacted with the developers, this time I've found out that xspf will be mandatory, and when I said that one of the plugins wasn't working, was told that if I wanted to submit a patch, that'd be fine. Right… AFAICT the plugin is irremediably buggy, actually, though in a different respect that I don't care so much about, and is written in such a way that an entirely separate process could do exactly the same thing. This is pissing me off perhaps too much, though the usability of the plugin was sort of a vital part of my grand plan to examine myself.

If I'm lucky nenolod will show up and make a fool of me.


 

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Hosting Matters

Posted by Ogged
on 01.08.07

I need a new host for my personal domain (email, basically). Requirements: super-duper reliable, with around 3GB of storage. Hosts I don't want: Lunarpages, Dreamhost, Totalchoicehosting, Site5, or anyone so small that they might just fall off the face of the earth one day. Suggestions?

Decision: I signed up with TextDrive. I'll let you know how it goes.


 

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Fascists. There, He Said It.

Posted by Ogged
on 01.08.07

Worth watching the ad to read Salon's interview with Chris Hedges about his new book, American Fascists: The Christian Right and the War on America.

..."fascism" or "fascist" is a terribly loaded word, and it evokes a historical period, primarily that of the Nazis, and to a lesser extent Mussolini. But fascism as an ideology has generic qualities. People like Robert O. Paxton in the "Anatomy of Fascism" have tried to quantify them. Umberto Eco did it in "Five Moral Pieces," and I actually begin the book with an excerpt from Eco: "Eternal Fascism: Fourteen Ways of Looking at a Blackshirt." I think there are enough generic qualities that the group within the religious right, known as Christian Reconstructionists or dominionists, warrants the word. Does this mean that this is Nazi Germany? No. Does this mean that this is Mussolini's Italy? No. Does this mean that this is a deeply anti-democratic movement that would like to impose a totalitarian system? Yes.

...

People have a very hard time believing the status quo of their existence, or the world around them, can ever change. There's a kind of psychological inability to accept how fragile open societies are. When I was in Pristina, the capital of Kosovo, at the start of the war, I would meet with incredibly well-educated, multilingual Kosovar Albanian friends in the cafes. I would tell them that in the countryside there were armed groups of the Kosovo Liberation Army, who I'd met, and they would insist that the Kosovo Liberation Army didn't exist, that it was just a creation of the Serb police to justify repression.

You saw the same thing in the cafe society in Sarajevo on the eve of the war in Bosnia. Radovan Karadzic or even Milosevic were buffoonish figures to most Yugoslavs, and were therefore, especially among the educated elite, never taken seriously. There was a kind of blindness caused by their intellectual snobbery, their inability to understand what was happening. I think we have the same experience here. Those of us in New York, Boston, San Francisco or some of these urban pockets don't understand how radically changed our country is, don't understand the appeal of these buffoonish figures to tens of millions of Americans.

I know he sounds shrill, and I jokingly post about the casual acceptability of anti-muslim sentiment here, but as I keep saying, I think we're one major attack away from very scary days.


 

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Man, I Love Barney Frank

Posted by LizardBreath
on 01.08.07

It's an old story, but it's new to me.

This immediately reminded me of a much earlier appearance in the chair by Frank, in the early 1980s, during one of those interminable end-of-year round-the-clock sessions when junior Members were often dragooned into presiding in the wee hours. During a tedious speech by Republican Rep. Marjorie Holt on school prayer, Holt referred to America as "a Christian nation." Frank interrupted her to observe: "If this is a Christian nation, why does some poor Jew have to get up in the middle of the night to preside over the House of Representatives?"

No real import to it, I'm just a sucker for wit.


 

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The Decemberists are not the only band to have made contact with Emerson, I see

Posted by Ben
on 01.08.07

The first lines of Gogol Bordello's "When the Trickster Starts A-Poking (Bordello Kind of Guy)" are As I walked into the bar / A man came up to me and said / You know the older you will get / The more perverted you will get?..

Gogol Bordello put on a great live show, btw, and I commend their appearances in your town to your attention, especially if the crazy awesome old violinist is still with them. I doubt you'll get a more appropriate venue than a former brothel, though.


 

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Wait, this is a bad thing?

Posted by Apostropher
on 01.08.07

Since Ogged has played the race card a couple posts down, I'll go ahead and link to White Men Can't Hump (as Good as Black Men). The author has a blog, which frankly lowered my hopes for the book. Nonetheless, I'm intrigued at this from the About section:

White Men Can't Hump will ask why two well known Stereotypes that have been historically assigned to Black Men, are only considered negative when applied to Black Men. Most men desire a large Penis and an elevated Sexual Prowess, but all across America (in offices, bars, and locker rooms), the Black Penis and the Black Prowess are always the Punch Line to jokes. W.M.C.H. will ask why, and will also ask a question that will create a debate for the ages: "Who's better in bed, Black Men or White Men?"

Over the course of my nearly forty years living in the South, I've known lots of black men. Never having gone to bed with any of them, I'm simply not qualified to address the closing question. However, I do feel safe in asserting that not a single one of my acquaintances found "well-endowed and good in bed" to be a pernicious stereotype, nor one they felt needed any pushback. In fact, the general (and, indeed, often expressed) attitude has been, "If you're going to believe any stereotype about black men, do make it that one, please."


 

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Welcome To The Labor Pool

Posted by Ogged
on 01.08.07

Schools don't do a lot to convince me that their primary purpose isn't to abuse children.

Six-year-old Karlind Dunbar barely touched her dinner, but not for time-honored 6-year-old reasons. The pasta was not the wrong shape. She did not have an urgent date with her dolls.

The problem was the letter Karlind discovered, tucked inside her report card, saying that she had a body mass index in the 80th percentile. The first grader did not know what "index" or "percentile" meant, or that children scoring in the 5th through 85th percentiles are considered normal, while those scoring higher are at risk of being or already overweight.
Yet she became convinced that her teachers were chastising her for overeating.
Since the letter arrived, "my 2-year-old eats more than she does," said Georgeanna Dunbar, Karlind's mother, who complained to the school and is trying to help her confused child. "She's afraid she's going to get in trouble," Ms. Dunbar said.

Such an obviously horrible idea, and apparently several states are rushing to adopt it. A Dr. David Ludwig says all there is to say,

"It would be the height of irony if we successfully identified overweight kids through B.M.I. screening and notification while continuing to feed them atrocious quality meals and snacks, with limited if any opportunities for phys ed in school."

If you don't want people to be fat, maybe you shouldn't train them to become immobile office drones. That six and seven year-old kids are kept at desks for several hours a day is already wrong and perverse, but to take away their designated play time and to then tell them that they're overweight is, literally, abuse. The fact that we do it to all the kids doesn't mean it's ok; it means we're crazy.


 

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Not In That Way

Posted by Ogged
on 01.08.07

I was riding up the elevator at work today with a handsome young black man, to whom I said, entirely sincerely, "that's a nice hat." This was the first thing I'd said today, and I have a cold, so in an unanticipated twist, I sounded less like a man complimenting another man in a manly way, than an over-the-top tranny phone-sex worker.


 

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Paul, On The Other Side

Posted by Ogged
on 01.07.07

Via atrios comes the latest in the ongoing series of wingnut stupidity and paranoia. Yesterday, John at Powerline portentously declared,

This afternoon, some idiot hacked into our server and briefly disrupted the site ... We're not sure whether we will be able to identify the perpetrator or not, but if so, we will make every effort to see that he is criminally prosecuted.

At the Powerline forum, the nature of the enemy was contemplated.

I think we may have at last found something that everyone on this site can agree to; that thte cretin who attacked the site was a mindless idiot.

***

No, they're not Idiots, it takes some degree of intellect to hack a site like Power Line, someone a bit brighter than the average Script Kiddie in fact.

You confuse lack of intellect with moral bankrupcy ...
Do not underestimate our enemies. Now this may have been a prank, and after all, no-one actually got blown up, it's not in the same league. But someone who could do something like this could do a huge amount of damage to infrastructure, if they were given guidance on what to hit. No, I'd rather not give hints, but yes, I have done Threat Analyses and know how vulnerable we are.

He has done Threat Analysis. Another commenter agrees.

The perpetrator is neither an 'idiot' nor a 'moron', but someone quite bright, emboldened with malicious, or malevolent, intent.
This is a crime, which should be prosecuted. Have you contacted the FBI?

National security could be at stake. Or, maybe his co-blogger Paul hit the wrong button.

Last night, John reported that "some idiot hacked into our server and briefly disrupted the site." He promised to "make every effort to see that [the hacker] is criminally prosecuted."

It turns out that this was an inside job and that I was the idiot hacker. I won't explain how I managed to take down our site, since we're not interested in copycats. Let's just say that, as dangerously ignorant as I am when it comes to computers, it's surprising that I haven't managed something like this before.

 

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Oscars Watch

Posted by Becks
on 01.07.07

I hate awards shows, especially the Oscars. That said, watching Helen Mirren get interviewed all over the place for The Queen in anticipation of her inevitable Academy Award nomination I find highly amusing. I know the clips all show her like this but, whenever I see her, I'm reminded of this. (so very NSFW. also just generally horrible.)

Now, what the world needs is a mashup of the two, with Helen Mirren as Queen Elizabeth II leading her naked slaves around in chains.


 

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Thank Goodness The Media Is In The Tank For The Democrats.

Posted by LizardBreath
on 01.07.07

Because otherwise all these powerful truths Ryan Lizza told us in the Week In Review today might seem to pose problems for us. Apparently

  1. A number of the new representatives elected last fall were all butch and shit, to the point that some nitwit named John Lapp is calling them "Macho Dems";
  2. This sort of manliness in our candidates is all artificial strategy -- apparently before this election, all Democrats were effete nancy-boys, or, worse, actual women;
  3. But it's risky -- that 'gender gap' that works for the Democrats is due solely to the fact that women won't vote for candidates that are insufficiently feminine -- women are going to leave the party in droves if we keep on running men for office without castrating them first;
  4. And anyway, once Democrats start running any Real Men™ for office, voters will notice that some of our leaders aren't Real Men™, and will refuse to vote for them, meaning that Clinton and Pelosi, (and, oddly, Obama, who seems to be insufficiently butch for Lizza's tastes) are doomed.

So, the Democrats have been scorned by the voters for our effeteness in the past, but any attempt to butch up is totally fake and doomed because women only voted Democratic because Democrats were effete and anyway we won't go whole hog and purge all the girls and wimps from the party. God, I love the political guidance I get from reading the Times.


 

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Porn Star Distinctions

Posted by Ogged
on 01.07.07

Dig the polite applause (video) from the assembled masses.


 

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