Another excellent article on Iran by Laura Secor (her '05 NYer piece is here). She does a great job explaining the Iranian political structure (and its contradictions) and also notes how much the economic malaise of the country is what really upsets people. (There, as here, only students and a few lefties get really worked up about freedom and human rights; the rest of the people just want to be able to provide for their families.)
And: An informative podcast here.
"Public ambivalence about transplantation was overcome, in part, by arguing that donation was the 'gift of life,' " he writes. "The success of this idea now makes it more difficult to garner support for a market for organs." By emphasizing altruism, transplant advocates gave comfort to the bereaved, conferring meaning on a tragic event and justifying what might otherwise seem like desecration. This early success helps explain why, even in the face of a critical shortage of organs, many leaders in the transplant field oppose any financial incentives for organ donors, including tax credits or payment toward funeral expenses.
Healy argues that it's possible to incorporate financial incentives, as long as the meaning given to the exchange is responsive to the emotional needs of those involved.
"The idea that markets inevitably corrupt," Healy writes, "is not tenable precisely because they are embedded within social relations, cultural categories and institutional routines." Commerce isn't antithetical to culture; it is part of it.
Good stuff. The review is by Virginia Postrel--libertarian, author, blogger--and, more to the point, herself an organ donor. You can read Healy's reaction to the review here.
Office drones of Earth: When leaving voice messages, please keep in mind that those listening to your message have not heard your phone number 10,000 times, and they would appreciate it if you did not speak ten times faster than normal and trail off in boredom when you say it.
Have you seen the new Alexandra Pelosi documentary about evangelicals, Friends of God, on HBO? I caught the part with kids being taught about creationism, and I think it might have been easier to watch the kids being beaten. I know it's not hard to make evangelicals look ridiculous, but it's not hard to make evangelicals look ridiculous.
Let's make it even more plain that this: the Bush administration now explicitly claims that it has the authority to kill anyone on earth, for whatever reason it deems sufficient. Again, I know it's hard even for their political opponents to see our leaders as among world history's villians, but while Bush hasn't quite joined the club in terms of numbers of people killed (though the numbers certainly aren't low), you'd be hard pressed to find anyone else who so deformed the very idea of the law by claiming that what are truly outrageous powers are somehow perfectly normal and even justified by a document as sensible as the US Constitution.
No, even that's not plain enough: According to the American government, the life of any given human being is legally worthless.
I don't know if you've been following the Yglesias/Chait controversy about anti-semitism and Martin Peretz's racism, but Glenn Greenwald has a good recap and an even better catalog of Peretz's racist writings. I was reading the recap thinking that Greenwald had really trawled the TNR archives to dig up so much of Peretz's rants, but then Greenwald said, "And those are all just from the last month or so."
Yglesias deserves a ton of credit for taking on Peretz and people who are quick to charge anti-semitism. Only a smart, tough Jew could have done it, and Yglesias has been up to the task. Not only do spurious charges of anti-semitism stifle debate and devalue the charge, but they also give cover to real anti-semites, who use the spuriousness to accuse Jews of dastardly sophistry.
Comely and most delectable women are everywhere discernible and plentiful. yet eyes and hearts to recognise and enslave them are but few. Therefore, should you indeed wish to discover and acquire for your own account these shapely creatures that all year long hover around streets and squares in happy song, then follow diligently all such as is set out below, which has been tried and tested by generation and generation of amorous men, all of whom found consummate satisfaction.
Choose whatever time of year you wish, whether nighttime or daytime is of no consequence. Enter your bathroom and first wash meticulously and diligently all parts of your body, manifest and unmanifest, inside and out. Carefully bathe and clean the eyes of your body yet also of all your pudenda (in no way neglecting the eyes of your fingers, nose, tongue or heart) and, to the best of your ability, illumine all the secret centres of your mind. Emerge thus in your doorway, bathed, spruced and perfumed, yet also with a heart that is clean and unsullied. Then take out your kerchief of desire (the same that every man keeps carefully concealed within him) and tie it either around your neck or pin it firmly upon your breast. If you are fond of a cigarette or plain tobacco, light one and inhale it as you please. If again you prefer simply an inner song, do not voice it lest it lose its charm in the breeze: allow it to float over your inner lips and it shall be heard, whether you sing out or not.
When, anon, six hours of the clock have passed and you have the taste of poppy (cioé opio tebaico), whether standing in your own doorway or in some corner of the square, or before the church steps, or wherever else your fancy may take you, turn your cleansed eyes swiftly in all directions and survey the view. Should you see passing by a woman plain to most (perhaps even to her own self), regard her in full light and admire her as if she were most comely and deeply desirable to you (for in truth she is) and call to her from within you, humming either the song of the scorned or the hymn to the unjustly slain. Thereupon she will turn all her radiance upon you and all the disconsolateness surrounding her (she being supposedly plain) will dissolve and disappear. It is then that in similar fashion you must reveal to her all your graces and virtues, affective and physical, and recite for her delight the song of those beloved and forlorn. And if anon you say to her "Come, follow me my most precious," she will come in haste, and if you say to her "bare yourself, my fair young lady, and reveal all to me," she will bare herself without more ado, revealing to you her most hidden parts albeit in the midst of the square or the street. And if you say to her, "Prostrate yourself, my dearest, that I might enter you and ride and rummage you till the roots of your hair turn red," she will prostrate herself at your desire and your joy will be consummate.
If again you should find yourself idle and languorous for six hours of the clock, do not yet despair. For, most suddenly, while you are repeating the song of the scorned rider and are thick with smoke and sullen, the atmosphere will clear, as in a flash of joy, and passing before your eyes you will espy a fair woman, gliding and resplendent, such an one as you sought in the years of your youth yet never chanced upon, or one you secretely admired for no less than seven years, without ever becoming deserving of her. Wherefore, cast aside your melancholy and reveal to her most clearly all the parts of your body, all your inner and outer fingers, even your rings, the same which you wore for her in your heart of hearts and on your limbs on account of your subservience and devotion to her, and softly say to her (that you may be deeply heard) "O, you, my Reverie, incarnate and unfashioned by hand, behold how for seven years I cleansed and purified myself on your account. No longer hold yourself so high and haughty, but fly closer to the ground. For now the time has come for me." And forthwith she will cast her radiance upon you and will cease her flight. And she will assume a lascivious pose and will succumb to you molto volontieri and with relish and she will prostrate herself for you allegra con foco and unlaced. And you will mount her as you are (clean and unsullied) and ride her and ram her thoroughly and spiritedly, no less than seven hours of the clock, genuinely and deeply till the final groan.
[From the Eroticon of that amorous Greek, Yoryis Yatromanolakis, which I saw while looking in the library for Vanishing-Point by Aristotelis Nikolaides, and which I opened because of the curious proclamation on its title, that it was "Done into plain English by David Connolly", and checked out because the writing so plainly belies that promise.]
So is anyone meeting M. LeBlanc and me for drinks in NYC on Thursday or are we going to have to drink alone? If it's just us, we're so gossiping about all of y'all. OK, that's a lie. We're going to do that no matter what.
UPDATE: Bumping this thread. Unless someone comes up with another suggestion, the default is O'Reilly's so start thinking.
UPDATE THE SECOND: Man, we so suck at coming up for bars for meetups, don't we? Unless we come up with something better before noon, I'm calling it for O'Reilly's Townhouse at 21 W. 35th Street between 5th and 6th Avenues starting around 6:30. Closest subways are the 34th Street B/D/F/Q/W/V/N/R station, the 33rd Street 6 station, and the 1/2/3 lines at Penn Station. No matter where we go, if you want my number in case you can't find us, email me at becks at unfogged.
I tried to sneak it in and leave the honor for someone else, but a burst of comments resulted in my posting the 250,000th comment to Unfogged. One in which I'm agreeing with W-lfs-n, no less.
It's an idiot thing. You wouldn't understand.
Pelz noted that the [MLK Day] party was started a few years earlier "because one of best friends is black or African American, whichever you deem politically correct, to be his day not to dishonor him." He added, "So I do apologize if you felt any disrespect because none was intended." School officials have launched an investigation into the party and the university's president, Dennis P. McCabe, has denounced the photos as despicable. In a subsequent post, Pelz—who has yanked the party photos from his Facebook page—stated that the party was not meant to be "racist or discriminating."
Well, good thing it wasn't meant to be racist. Let's go to the pictures.
Check out the very cool Missing Object Project. The site catalogs objects that we know existed, but which can't be found, like Benjamin Franklin's chess table or Da Vinci's painting, Leda. Each entry is a little mystery story and a window into a bit of history.
Note: the site's pretty new, and I had some trouble with page formatting in Firefox; IE worked.
Could a story be any more custom made for Unfogged? It starts with this opening line: "Charles Roselli set out to discover what makes some sheep gay." From there, the story arcs through PETA protests, charges of sexual preference eugenics, Andrew Sullivan, Martina Navratilova, and an article in the Sunday London Times titled "Science Told: Hands Off Gay Sheep."
I mean—things that annoy aside from being analogized to apologists for genocide. What I'm talking about is just when you go somewhere in order to do work, because it's hard to concentrate at home, but you forget the essays you actually need to read, and your initial destination is packed, so you have to go where else and inferior, and then you still can't concentrate anyway, and have to drown your sorrows in a damn good éclair. So annoying!
Podcastwise, I decided that rather than stay in thrall to university-provided webspace, with its paltry quotas, I should set something up like this (what I wanted to do was foiled by annoying "security" provisions in XMLHTTPRequest objects, but this'll do), enabling me to serve more than one show at a time. In addition to the proviso located on that page, though, you should be aware that I'll probably forget to add the server to the startup services for a while and that it's really rinky-dink anyway (it seems to be working; if it isn't, let me know, of course). Also, I just got some new hard drives (the NAS was judged a failure and returned) so sometime in the next few days my computer will be offline for hopefully not too long as I swap things in and out.
John Gibson was one of the journalists called out by name by Obama for pushing the madrassa story which CNN debunked. Boy, he must be pretty embarrassed.
GIBSON: Yeah, cause they got a reporter in Indonesia, probably went to the very madrassa, now works for CNN.
You know how when W-lfs-n loses an argument, he'll never admit it, instead just coming back with a more outlandish claim, facts be damned? These guys are like that, and in our love for young Ben, we can find the humor in this maneuver, but then I also think of the guys on the radio in Rwanda, telling their fellow Hutus that the Tutsi cockroaches needed to die. They're also like that. And this isn't an example of the banality of evil--guys like Gibson and Hewitt wake up every day not to do some apparently innocent but tangentially evil-enabling job, but to energetically and deliberately plant seeds of nastiness and hate.
But a couple of Ohio election workers were just convicted of rigging the 2004 recount. They cherrypicked the sample of votes to ensure that there wouldn't be a full recount in Cuyahoga County.
Now, the fact that they fixed the recount so that the totals wouldn't be re-examined certainly doesn't mean Kerry won Ohio, or even Cuyahoga County. But can we please remember not to call people insane for being suspicious about this sort of thing? It happens. (Courtesy of Avedon Carol.)
You know that technique where you cover one side of a person's face to see their "private" face or their "public" face (or just their "one" face and their "other" face, if you like your binary oppositions softened)? Well, Megan's right, this picture of Bush from last night makes for a pretty striking example.
As Apostropher pointed out in comments, Senator Obama just went after the Washington Times and Fox News for lying about his education. It's a nicely forceful statement, naming Steve Doocy and John Gibson at Fox as irresponsibly claiming that Obama was raised as a Muslim and attended a Muslim religious school, when any checking at all would have revealed that the claims were false. People were spreading lies about him, and he promptly called them out for it.
Can Democrats generally make a practice of doing this? It doesn't have to be hostile in tone, just prompt and firm.
Best news I've read all day.
Matthew Yglesias reports on the state of the rebel alliance and Josh Marshall surprises me by sending off a bit of a gay vibe. (I think it's partly the posture. Men lean in to talk to me like that only at the bars.)
I swear I've seen more women wearing fur coats in the last three days than in the last five years combined. What's up with that? I thought the fur issue had been pretty much settled.
Somehow the internet had kept idonothingallday hidden from me, but now that I've found this guy who prowls New York videotaping hot women (with their permission), I'm a bit disappointed: cropping a woman's head out of the frame to focus on her breasts is pretty skeezy, and then there's the overlaid music. Oy. Nevertheless, I can't say I'm exactly bummed to have a watched some of the clips, because the women sure are cute. You can catch his "greatest hits" from last year here (takes a minute to load).
Feminist rants are allowed in this thread.
I'm not sure what surprised me more about the State of the Union: that Bush has converted to Islam, or that he's turned into a producer of cliche-ridden dance music. Listen to the long remix of my earlier dabbling here.
When I bought my car, I put in a new stereo (a "head unit" they call it) and new speakers. So my car is "bangin'" as we say in the hood, but recently one of the speakers died OR there's a problem with the wiring--determining the difference is beyond my ken. Of course, in the hood, every dude and his cuz has a stereo installation shop, so I had to search for suitable help. Finally I found a shop specializing in Lamborghinis, Ferraris and Maseratis (my hood is like that) and figured that they probably wouldn't screw it up. I called, described my problem, and they said, sure, they can take a look at that. "What kind of car is it," he asked? A Honda Accord. Oh man, I could hear it in his voice and did I feel like the ugly dude with the half-tucked shirt showing up on a blind date. Nevertheless! he graciously said I could still bring my car in to be serviced. Pity service. I'll take it.
Boy can I pick 'em? Not only did he fix it, he didn't even charge me. Life as a hot blonde or skinny Iranian in 21st century America: pretty sweet.
Tyler Cowen has a link to a silly study of a couple of hundred very rich people, which shows that very rich women report being much more likely to have had affairs than average women, while very rich men are no more likely than the average to have been unfaithful. While a goofy little study like this doesn't establish anything particular, the results are unsurprising.
Something that casual discussions of the innate differences between men's and women's sexual appetites often skip over is the degree to which women's sexual continence has historically been economically enforced. Half the novels written before WW I have at least one sub-plot involving the fact that a woman who fairly or unfairly loses her reputation for chastity is at great risk of being expelled from her home and left with no means of supporting herself. Upper and middle class Victorian women didn't present themselves as sexless simply because it was culturally valued -- being unchaste could leave you literally on the streets to starve.
Even now, married women are significantly more likely than not to earn less than their husbands, and are more likely than not to, within the marriage and after the end of a marriage, have primary responsibility for taking care of children. The economic support in an intact marriage is more significant for most women than most men -- it's hardly surprising that women are generally less likely than men to risk those marriages by having affairs, or that women for whom the economic issues around marriage are insignificant are much more likely to have affairs.
It's funny -- conversations about the 'innate' differences between men's and women's sexuality rarely seem to address the strength of the different incentives men and women face now, and have historically faced, with respect to their sexual behavior. (Also, check out Cowen's comments -- there are some real winners in there.)
I'm feeling terribly unmotivated about cooking lately and have been eating cold cereal for dinner more nights than I'd like to admit. Help me get out of the slump.
Given my current state of laziness, a cap of 3-5 ingredients and 20-30 minutes prep and cooking time is probably in order.
There's always a buck to be made.
$800 for a three-day class on "Surviving Execution/Beheading/Assassination Attempts & Escaping from Captivity." That's with a holiday discount.
The salesman hawks his wares.
"There's a good chance that anybody in the United States might find himself tied up, hands behind the back, watch his family tied up, and robbers ... will come with a handgun, a silencer, and start to shoot everybody in the head."
And I'll file this one under things that wouldn't have occurred to me, although, now that I've seen it, it makes a lot of sense.
WeatherBill won't be a consumer site; rather, they are combining an ecommerce site with a complicated weather forecasting algorithm to sell weather insurance policies to individuals and businesses. And having a business isn't a requirement to purchase a contract on WeatherBill - users can also use it to simply make a cash bet on the weather swings in a given geographic area.
should change their bookmarks. His blog just moved. (Which I'm all for, because the old site took forever to load.)
Sources close to the background check, which has not yet been released, said Mr. Obama, 45, spent at least four years in a so-called Madrassa, or Muslim seminary, in Indonesia.
But "madrassa" doesn't mean "Muslim seminary" anywhere other than in the United States. It's an Arabic word that's been borrowed by several languages, and it means, "school." I'm imagining the tables turned, some foreign oppo researcher in the US, unearthing a record that candidate Foreignistani went to a school! A School, I tell you!
I'm as far removed from any personal situation that would involve a practical application of pro-choice opinion as possible; I'm a gay man. Just ain't no way never that I'm going to wind up rolling snake eyes on a pregnancy test. Despite that, choice is my #1 measure of a politician. If a politician is pro-choice then I feel pretty comfortable hearing the rest of what they have to say. If they are pro-life to the point of working to undo choice, I am pretty certain that I will be disinterested in supporting them regardless of any other plank in their platform.
Why? For a very simple, practical reason: a person cannot coherently deny women control over their own genitals for their mechanical purpose, the one such people would argue is the purpose given them by God, and at the same time respect my right to use mine for pleasure, satisfaction, emotional health or expression.
If they won't let you control whether you give birth, they won't let you control whether you can have fun, too.
I found his post interesting because, as a heterosexual woman, I use a politician's stance on gay rights as one of my primary measures. Homophobia is one of the few remaining socially acceptable prejudices and I see people's views on homosexuality as closely tied to their beliefs on gender roles. Whenever I hear a politician make an anti-gay comment, I become suspicious of their true opinions towards women. These days, everyone knows it is un-PC to say something disparaging about women but negative comments about homosexuality are still generally acceptable in many circles. If a person looks down on someone for being gay, how do they feel about an "uppity" woman like myself? Is their attitude really just directed at homosexuals or do they also think I should be condemned for not acting "like a girl" and are just too savvy to admit it in public? I don't want to take that chance.
So, McManlyPants: Nice to know we've got each other's backs.
Is Jessica Biel feeling Maria Menounos' butt in a competitive "is it better than mine?" way, or, as per rumor, in an "I'd hit that" way?
Does it matter?
Nothing to add.
It was inevitable: What to call Senator and Former First Lady, Hillary Clinton. I know I've started to type "Hillary" and stopped to think about whether I should say "Senator Clinton" or "Hillary Clinton" instead. But if you check her website, you'll see that there's a clear strategy by her campaign to market her as "Hillary." I can imagine them reading all these earnest blog posts by people decrying the sexism of "Hillary," thinking, "we're trying to SOFTEN HER IMAGE, YOU FOOLS!!" They've done the polling, you haven't, and if you want to be supportive, take your cue from them.
And we're back. LB's post was linked by Ezra, Atrios, and Drum, and although the server seemed to be fine, the site, as you might have noticed, was unreachable. A reboot seems to have done the trick...for now.
The return to a regular radio carries in its tail a return to weekly posts pimping same. So: tomorrow morning, 9-11am PST, on KZSU. I'm probably going to record it. This week: duos! It's unclear as yet exactly who'll be involved, but I'm going to try to maximize the number of female singer-cum-violinist (or violist)/male percussionist duos—I can only think of three right now, but I'm sure there are more.
I thought Elvish Presley was a duo but it seems that it's more a group of varying size. However, researches into this question revealed the existence of a group called Urethra Franklin, so I think on balance everything's good.
Given that it's Blog for Choice Day, I figure it's a good reason to explain why I'm glad that the current legal regime protects abortion rights with very few restrictions.
I've mentioned here before that I've had an abortion; I don't know how clear it was that it wasn't a particularly sympathetic abortion. In spring 1995, I'd just started having sex with a new boyfriend. We were using condoms until I could get on the pill, and either one of us screwed something up, or there was a leak, or something happened, and I got pregnant. I had an abortion as early as I was able to schedule it, didn't find it a particularly upsetting experience (being pregnant was upsetting, both for the obvious practical reasons, and because the hormonal effects of early pregnancy make me very emotionally volatile. One of the odder things about the abortion, and about a later miscarriage, was suddenly recovering control of my emotional state over a period of less than a day.) and haven't regretted it since then. Morally, I think that a ten week embryo -- in fact, any fetus in at least the first two trimesters -- is not sentient and is not a person or anything else with rights, and that ending a pregnancy does not have moral significance with respect to the rights or interests of the fetus.
If it did, I'd be in a very questionable moral position with respect to the abortion I had. While I was using birth control, I was using one, not terribly reliable, method, and probably wasn't using the utmost of care. I wasn't a frightened, abused teenager. I was a twenty-four year old college graduate with a family that, while they would have been irritating to deal with as all get out, had the financial capacity to be helpful and would have been helpful. While I'd known the guy I was having sex with for less than six months at the time, and had been having sex with him for only six weeks or so, turns out he was the sort of person who could be relied on -- at least, our two children think so, and I concur. Continuing that pregnancy wouldn't have been an epic tragedy for me; any proposal for abortion rights that requires abortion to be permissible only when the only alternative would be starving on the streets would leave me right outside.
But man, did I not want to be pregnant. I did not want to be locked into a minimum eighteen-year relationship with someone I'd been dating for a couple of months. I did not want to be responsible forever for someone who didn't exist yet. I didn't want to be physically pregnant. I had no idea of where I was going professionally -- I was a temp receptionist, thinking about maybe taking the LSATs -- or of how I would support myself or a child, and had no idea of how I'd find my way into a career with a new baby. The only thing being able to get an abortion did for me was give me some control over the course of the entire rest of my life.
So, politically useful as it is, I get a little edgy about rhetoric that stipulates that abortion is always a strongly morally weighted decision. I don't think it is, and if it were I'm not certain that my reasons for not wanting to continue a pregnancy at the time qualify as sufficient to do a wrong thing -- if abortion is an evil, it's not clear to me what evil would have been the lesser under those circumstances. But I am thankful every day of my life that I had the option to end that pregnancy back in 1995.
Ranjit Bhatnagar, erstwhile (current?) Kibologist, builder of a theremin-playing robot, and extremely witty guy, scans produce (and dairy, and occasionally eggs and meat) so you don't have to. Submitted for your consideration: currants, a not so innocent peach, variegated kale, eggs in and out of the shell, a corn husk, a strawberry on display, a mushroom.
Some time ago, on his website there was a series of photos of, I think, a dying flower that was very nice, but I can't locate it anymore.
God, I hated junior high. I was lucky enough to have it only last two horrible years - soon after I graduated, my district switched to three year 6-8 middle schools. My brothers didn't mind but the idea of spending another year in that environment makes me cringe even today. I think middle schools are awful -- kids at that age are just horrible little creatures and putting them all together in an environment cut off from the rest of the world brings out the worst in them. My friends who went to K-8 schools had much better experiences and I think I would have preferred it.
Then again, I come from the perspective of someone who went to a very good middle class school district, where the issues weren't violence in schools or getting kids to graduate -- just general Mean Girls/Heathers/John Hughesian bitchiness between students. The NYT has an article today talking about how different schools with different needs are experimenting with what to do with middle school to better serve their populations: make it longer? make shorter? get rid of it altogether?
Things I learned from Terry Teachout:
1. One can define "high art" (aka "serious art").
2. Further, one can distinguish high/serious art from craft (which I suppose is frivolous); in particular, while "unpretentious genre movies" made by "inspired craftsmen" may be a credit to the studio system, they are simply not our kind, dear.
3. However, any merit found in the those movies is due to the individual efforts of those craftsmen in overcoming the studio system.
4. In just the same way, actual high/serious art is always the product of an "iron-willed genius" exerting "single-minded control", never the outcome of a collaboration, much less one in which rigorous lawlike predictability does not obtain. (Compare this claim with Kyle Gann's fulminations against trends towards ever greater precision in music notation for all manner of dynamic, tempo, and other niceties.)
5. This is because there is such a thing as "the true artist"; the true artist has an "unshakable commitment to an interior vision".
6. Because of this, even untutored innocents, if their instincts are strong enough, can attain to high art—catching sight of its nimbus by grace of god.
This should be interesting: Wikileaks (news story here) intends to offer a secure, anonymous repository for leaked documents from anyone in the world. A world in which governments were unable to keep secrets would be so different from this one that I'm having trouble thinking of the consequences. I imagine government agencies will tighten up access to documents quite a bit if things like wikileaks become a problem. And, if I were a potential leaker, I'd want to be damn sure that wikileaks was in fact secure, and not a trap.
Saints v. Bears: Of course I'm rooting for Chicago, but it'll be hard to be upset if the Saints win. Of course, Rex Grossman is already killing us.
Pats v. Colts: You may not root for Peyton Manning.
The fifth-grade Chicago Public Schools teacher chose to have the birth of the couple's second child induced a few days early so [her husband] could attend today's NFC Championship showdown between the Bears and New Orleans Saints.