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It Counts As A Victory

Posted by LizardBreath
on 02.24.07

When they lose your luggage on the way home, rather than on the way out, so the vacation isn't spoiled. And those ski boots didn't fit properly, anyway.

Full report tomorrow -- I'm going to bed now.

Update: Yay! Luggage has come wandering home to us. An entirely victorious vacation.


 

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Two things about writing

Posted by Ben
on 02.24.07

1. Adam and I are having a wee contest, in which we invite you to participate. (No, not that kind of wee contest.)
2. I hate all you monkeys, from chimpan-A to chimpan-Z!


 

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You Know What's Great?

Posted by Ogged
on 02.24.07

Bollywood.


 

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Your Musical Ability

Posted by Ogged
on 02.23.07

You won't be able to resist this. An academic is doing research in the neurology of music, and he's made some brutally difficult online tests to measure perceptiveness of tone and rhythm. There's an adaptive pitch test (I can distinguish tones that are 7.8Hz apart--that's not so great), a tonedeafness test (66.7% for me; about average) and a rhythm test (80%, which is good).

via discoblog


 

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Law

Posted by Ogged
on 02.23.07

It really is this simple: a unanimous decision based on a simple principle.

Canada's Supreme Court struck down Friday a controversial anti-terror law that allows foreign suspects to be detained indefinitely on the basis of secret evidence.

The court ruled unanimously that the government had broken Canada's Charter of Rights and Freedoms by issuing so-called security certificates to imprison people, pending deportation, without giving them a chance to see the government's case.
"Before the state can detain people for significant periods of time, it must accord them a fair judicial process," Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin wrote on behalf of all nine judges.

God save the Queen.


 

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Post-Party

Posted by Ogged
on 02.23.07

Dooce has up a really good post about Britney Spears's meltdown. Of course, she takes all the fun out of it, but that's how it goes sometimes.


 

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Harry's Potter's wand is uncircumcised.

Posted by Apostropher
on 02.23.07

Because disappointment was expressed at the cropped shot of Daniel Radcliffe onstage in Equus, I present as a service to our readers the full frontal Harry Potter. Obviously, not safe for work.

Update: Unless, of course, you work at the type of job where viewing a seventeen-year-old's genitals is par for the course.


 

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The Privacy Issue

Posted by Ogged
on 02.23.07

I know that what you want is for me to mount a pinhole camera on my glasses and transmit a live feed of the date to the blog. But put on your conscientious caps for a moment, because even the last two updates that I've posted seem to be right on, if not over, the line of what's acceptable to share. The primary consideration for me isn't whether any piece of information is embarrassing or shameful, but "who does she think she's telling?" My sense is that there's a cultural free pass for what happens before a date: you can tell your friends everything, and they can be free with their opinions. After the date, things get murky. (As I've noted before.) They get much more murky when it's not a few friends but a medium-well-read blog that you're telling. If it were a friend of yours that I was going on this date with, how would you want me to handle the telling?


 

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Beyond Awesomenity

Posted by Ogged
on 02.22.07

People of blog, I think this episode might have just topped itself. I asked out the lifeguard via email. She promptly replied to accept. I can't give you the details, but based on her reply, I'm 90% sure that she has me confused with someone else.

Ahahahahahhahahaha!

I wonder: It's kind of cool to think that my first email, which she misattributed, could have been such an ego boost that when she figured out who it was really from, she was thinking that she could do better. It's like I conjured a suitor from a counterfactual world to cockblock me.

In which we learn that she's game: There was a longer, friendly explanation in my inbox this morning. She agreed to the date without having any idea who was asking her out. She thought it was someone from where she'd swum a few days ago (where she hadn't spoken to anyone) who had found out who she was and sent her the email. She recognized the name as Iranian and figured it was one of her Iranian roommate's friends, but Iranian Roommate disconfirmed. I'm imagining fifty Iranian guys getting interrogatory phone calls from the roommate in the three hours that we waited for a response.


 

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Rift

Posted by Ogged
on 02.22.07

I don't know how accurate this report is on internal administration views, but I'll take it.

Tony Blair has declared himself at odds with hawks in the US Administration by saying publicly for the first time that it would be wrong to take military action against Iran.

...

But there are deep fissures within the US Administration. Robert Gates, the Defence Secretary, who has previously called for direct talks with Tehran, is said to be totally opposed to military action.

Although he has dispatched a second US aircraft carrier to the Gulf, he is understood to believe that airstrikes would inflame Iranian public opinion and hamper American efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan. One senior adviser to Mr Gates has even stated privately that military action could lead to Congress impeaching Mr Bush.
Condoleezza Rice, the Secretary of State, is also opposed to using force, while Steve Hadley, the president's National Security Adviser, is said to be deeply sceptical.
The hawks are led by Dick Cheney, the Vice-President, who is urging Mr Bush to keep the military option "on the table". He is also pressing the Pentagon to examine specific war plans -- including, it is rumoured, covert action.

Can we try an exercise? Let's assume that Cheney is both rational and not completely malevolent; what's his plan?


 

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I was hoping to stay out of this

Posted by Fontana Labs
on 02.22.07

The aftereffects of Glenn Reynolds' endorsement of killing ("quietly") Iranian nuclear scientists and religious leaders have been interesting. Paul Campos wrote a column saying that Reynolds was advocating murder; Reynolds responds and blogs about it. LGM has more.

Earlier I snarkily suggested--as many others did-- that the problem with Reynolds' idea is that it's impossible: it's the sort of strategic suggestion that would work only in bad fiction.

But the problems run slightly deeper. One reason that we'd prefer quiet assassination is that it's a better alternative than conventional war, and Reynolds pretty clearly has this consideration in mind. The first difficulty is (of course) that this is an obviously false dichotomy. The second, more serious problem is that it's not even a dichotomy-- there's an extremely high probability that an attempt to perform a series of killings of scientific and religious leaders will be found out, and it's pretty clearly an act of war to which Iran would respond in some fashion.[1] (Fortunately for Iran, there are lots of US military targets located conveniently nearby.) So even if the ninja proposal were possible, it's not likely to head off more widespread bloodshed. On the moral front, those of us with consequentialist leanings can't reject assassinations out of hand, though we can insist on a sober estimate of the relevant probabilities rather than a hopelessly naive stipulation of happy results. That said, if consequentialist reasoning leads you to reject principled refusals to get the hands dirty, it might also lead you to other "unprincipled" courses of action instead.

[1] Reynolds seems to think that we've been at war with Iran since 1979. Huh. Maybe there's some weird Hobbesian thing going on-- like, how princes are perpetually at warre, even without fighting, because there's no common power over them? Otherwise, I don't get it; if there's some sense in which we're at war, it's a sense that doesn't do much justificatory work.


 

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Disabled

Posted by Ogged
on 02.22.07

The thing about heading for a crazy futuristic dystopia is that each step along the way seems reasonable.

Dutch guards overseeing prisoners on supervised parole may soon have a new tool at their disposal: a robotic knee brace that sends an electrical impulse cramping prisoners' leg muscles if they try to slip away.


 

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If You Have To Ask

Posted by Alameida
on 02.22.07

My s33krit agent friend offered me a ride to the meeting the other day (he often gives me rides back to my place which is conveniently nearby.) I sent him an sms to say that I was going to the evening meeting instead so I couldn't take him up on his kind offer. My sponsor is making me go to a certain evening meeting because there's lots of old-timer guys--on the whole I'd rather go at lunchtime, but I see her point. The agent, in an sms explaining that he had changed his mind to go to the evening meeting as well had occasion to send me an sms containing the phrase "I'm not stalking you." He's not, actually; he's really a nice person and I like him a lot. Still, pretty fucking funny thing to say to someone.


 

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For A Better World

Posted by Ogged
on 02.21.07

You know how sometimes you'll turn on the TV just to turn it on (shut up, readers), and the little summary of what's on will pop up, and it'll say "Movie Name, starring, co-starring, AC, AL, N, V" and you think, "Hey, nudity, starring [hottie]" and leave it on in the background because hottie titties in the background can't hurt? And you know how about a third of the time the nudity turns out to be Matt Dillon's ass? That shit needs to stop.


 

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Message In A Bottle

Posted by Ogged
on 02.21.07

Ok doubters, I didn't see the Lifeguard at the pool, and since she doesn't work there regularly now, I went with email. I tried to keep it light, so as not to sound like such a codger.

Dear [Lifeguard],

I know it's a little bit stalkerrific (haha) that I tracked down your email address with nothing but my wits and your first name, but it looks I've done it! Yay!

Anywho...what I'm thinking is, since I'm suddenly single, we should get together. Nothing serious, just hanging out ;-) Let me know!


[Sweet Breaststroking Man]


 

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A Great Mistake

Posted by Ogged
on 02.21.07

Gadzooks, it sounds like (and guys look as if they belong in) an Onion article.

Bret Stieghorst was watching an adult movie with the volume up loud. His downstairs neighbor, James Van Iveren, heard a woman screaming in the movie, but thought a woman was actually being attacked. Instead of calling police, he took matters into his own hands, ran up the stairs and broke down the door, all while brandishing a three-foot long military-style sword.

Worlds collide!

Van Iveren, who lives with his mother in the downstairs apartment, said he did not call police when he heard the noises because he does not have a telephone. He said he barely knew the upstairs tenant.

Unfortunately for the hero of our story, he's charged with a few crimes for breaking down the door and brandishing a sword. Ask for a jury trial, dude.


 

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Innovative!

Posted by Ogged
on 02.21.07

I hate you all. I could have been rich. Said I,

Why not, instead of limiting the uses of a file, encode each file with a code that identifies the purchaser? This would be pretty simple, right? It's like signing a file with your public key, no? Then, if that file shows up on some file sharing service, prosecute. That should have the intended effect of deterring file sharing--would you share something you'd stolen if it had your name on it?--without inconveniencing law-abiding users.

Followed by a few dozen comments mocking my naivete. But!

Enter Streamburst, O'Hear's choice for online distribution. This newly launched UK company takes an interesting approach to copyright. Instead of handcuffing viewers who want to view films they purchase on multiple devices and otherwise use content legitimately in ways DRM blocks - Streamburst takes two steps to prevent movie piracy.

The first is that every film begins with a 5 second display of the name of the person who purchased that copy, as it appears on their credit card. The second step is that Streamburst eliminates an undetectable but unique series of bits from each copy of a file downloaded. The company claims that this signature will survive most editing and format transfers. That idea is that the psychological barrier of being named will stop many people from illegally distributing the files and those whom it doesn't stop can be identified by the unique series of bits stripped from whatever copies make it into illegal file sharing networks.

I don't know if Streamburst has made any money, or if it will survive, but if it does, you all owe me.


 

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In Defense Of Nookie

Posted by Ogged
on 02.21.07

Speaking of...the consistently excellent Meghan O'Rourke takes on those who scold young women for having casual sex. (Typically, I find myself reading O'Rourke and thinking "hey, some professional writers are good writers, I wonder who wrote this....")

For the record, I think casual sex is bad for everybody, but let's not keep discussing that.


 

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Knives out, motherfuckers!

Posted by Apostropher
on 02.21.07

Clinton versus Obama.

The Obama campaign has been awfully impressive with the counter-punching so far. That might even have been a 10-8 round.


 

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Ashes to Ashes

Posted by Becks
on 02.21.07

I know everything in this world isn't All About Me and yet I can't help but feel that people's foreheads today are all little mini-billboards put there by someone or something to shout "You're A Bad Catholic!" in my general direction.


 

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Is Fantasy Football Immoral Unless You Imagine Paying The Players Really Well?

Posted by Alameida
on 02.21.07

Husband X and I were watching the end of season one of The Wire yesterday. There was a montage of shady drug dealing.
Me: "I've copped in open-air markets in low-rise projects like that about a million times."
H.X: "That's weird."
In one scene two of the cops come on a big stash of money and slip a bit into their bullet-proof vests before turning it in.
Me: "I would so do that if I were in that situation. I'm really not a very moral person when it comes right down to it; I'm just restrained by fear and sloth."
H.X: Glances over thoughtfully, "hmmm."
I think we all know Ogged is one fastidious motherfucker. I recall him claiming that he can't even fantasize about having sex with people he knows in real life if some real-life obstacle exists, and so is reduced to fantasizing that they give him a chaste embrace. (Wasn't it Rousseau who claimed that sexual fantasies are a kind of mental rape in so far as the object of fantasy hasn't given you permission to use their mental image in this tawdry way?) I think we need a new thread. Where do you fall on the Alameida/Ogged scale of cheerful amorality, O ye commenters?


 

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I believe congratulations are in order

Posted by Fontana Labs
on 02.20.07

Sweet.


 

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Sex On Wheelz

Posted by Becks
on 02.20.07

I am so not the target audience for this:

Harlequin, the leading publisher of romance novels, has entered into not a marriage, exactly, but what a Harlequin heroine would call a meaningful relationship with Nascar

The article then goes on to discuss a Harlequin/Nascar co-sponsored speed dating event:
Some 50 men and women, roughly divided between Harlequin fans and diehards who belong to the Nascar Members Club, sat at a big U-shape table and, waved on by a checkered flag, moved over every few minutes to talk to someone else. They ranged in age from 20-somethings to people who had possibly begun dating back in the dirt-track era. Most of the men wore caps, and many of them had on racing jackets as well.

It was not clear whether any of these participants experienced the same life-changing emotions felt by Kendall Clarke, the mousy-seeming heroine of the first novel in the new series, perhaps not coincidentally called "Speed Dating." Clad only in a demi-bra, high-cut panties and a slip, she finds herself sitting in a sports car next to the fictional Nascar driver Dylan Hargreave on the night when she is supposed to receive the Sharpened Pencil Award given to Actuary of the Year. "She'd never done anything this wild in her life," she thinks. "Oh, it felt good."


 

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Darth Nookie

Posted by Ogged
on 02.20.07

The time has come, my friends, for me if not to join the Dark Side, to at least hear what it has to say for itself. I speak, of course, of carnal relations with barely-legal lifeguards. I turn to you, the soulless, the deracinated urban cosmopolitans who flit from body to body like so many bees in a field of flowers. I want to be like you; I want to follow my lust, but I don't want to end up at prom, you know?

So, first question: is this wrong? The woman I have in mind isn't actually barely legal, she's probably twenty-two or twenty-three. But I'm about to turn thirty-four. Thirty-four! Does this make me a creepy predator or is that a category comprising only men who wear cologne?

Second question: how do I make this sweet, sweet transaction of the flesh without also becoming bound by the implicit contract of human emotions? Am I going to go to bed with nubile flesh and wake up with a vulnerable girlfriend?

Note please, though strain your credulity it might, that I'm confident that this young woman is "interested," nay, waiting for me to initiate proceedings. (She might also be a religous chick who has a crush on me but won't give it up, but let's cross that bridge when we come to it. Yeah, I said "won't give it up." Bite me, matriarchy.)

And so my friends, minions of evil, I turn to you in my time of burning need. What say you?


 

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Dear all

Posted by Ben
on 02.19.07

I'm worried. It seems as if something's come between us. There used to be such excitement when I was doing a radio show. It was almost palpable. Maybe I'm fooling myself about this, but if so, I wasn't the only one fooled. People would listen, even comment—it was like there was really a meaningful connection. Don't you think so? But lately, when I mention a show, there's nothing but lassitude in response, if there's a response at all. And then I feel less excited myself. I've tried to make it new again, adopting bizarre constraints involving bassoons and accordions. But nothing seems to work. Anway, I thought I should give it one last shot. Tomorrow, from 9 to 11 am PST, there'll be a broadcast on KZSU, with the playlist accessible here when the time's ready. I'll put up a recording, even. There won't be a theme, but there will be a 17-minute solo bagpipe (border pipes, not Highland) track.

I really hope you can listen.


 

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Vroom

Posted by Ogged
on 02.19.07

Best online dating post ever?



 

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Truth

Posted by Ogged
on 02.19.07

Remember that stupid article that likened Iranians' desire to be polite to endemic societal insincerity? This doesn't seem so different.

[Lying] is also so commonplace in everyday life that putting people on trial for lying is somewhat like putting them on trial for breathing.

Experiments have found that ordinary people tell about two lies every 10 minutes, with some people getting in as many as a dozen falsehoods in that period.

...

"Parents venerate Washington and Lincoln but also tell their children there are instances you should not be honest: 'Tell your grandmother you like the gift even though you really don't,' " Feldman said. "Kids learn two messages: 'Always tell the truth,' and the other is, 'Not really.' "

Look, there are interesting things to say about how we shade the truth in order to function in the social world, but "lying" is a broad and loaded term and talking about how people "lie" every few minutes doesn't do justice to the phenomena for which we do have words--"little white lie" "polite fiction" "being polite"--and it undermines the seriousness with which we ought to treat those cases--like the Libby trial, which is ostensibly the hook for this story, for crying out loud--which are unambiguously about misrepresentations of reality which compromise trust between individuals and sabotage the workings of civic institutions.

Ok, with that out of my system, the last paragraph of the article is something everyone should note.

DePaulo once conducted a study in which she asked people to recall the worst lie they had ever told and the worst lie ever told to them. In a reflection of how much our perceptions of lying depend on our particular points of view, the psychologist found that many young people reported that the worst lie ever told to them was by a parent who concealed news that someone they loved was sick or dying. By contrast, DePaulo found, parents never thought of such deceptions as particularly serious ethical breaches -- in fact, they saw them as acts of love.

Iranians do in fact do this "don't tell him, it'll upset him" thing all the fucking time and it's truly horrible. I've had it done to me, and the guilt and alienation of not having known is intensely upsetting. Unless you're sparing someone on his deathbed from some terrible truth that doesn't matter anymore, then you need to tell.

via drum


 

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Chauvinism, Oui

Posted by Ogged
on 02.19.07

Yglesias and his commenters seem to be of one mind that the exclusion of naturalized citizens from the presidency is self-evidently anachronistic. It's always seemed like a good idea to me. Nationalism is real, and even for immigrants like me, who have very few memories of the country of their birth, the old country retains a special tug, and you don't want a president with special feelings for any country other than the one he's elected to serve.


 

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Bits Of Personal Identity

Posted by Ogged
on 02.19.07

I know my worry about losing my email seems neurotic, but I have such a horrible memory. I was looking over some messages from last century and...

Did you know that I considered applying to MFA programs; at least seriously enough to know the funding situation at various ones? Me neither.

Did you remember that I applied for a job at Yahoo! in 1999 (and even had an "in" there, which did me no good)? Me neither.

What about the time I called my friend who went on to win a genius grant "smug?" I hope we've both forgotten that one.


 

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Ask the Mineshaft returns.

Posted by Apostropher
on 02.19.07

A commenter who shall remain nameless sends a query unto us: "If one were trying to cleanse one's system after partaking in the smokey-smoke what might one do?"

I'm a little bemused that the other front pagers get complicated interpersonal relationship questions, and I get the Dude, Where's My Car? one, but I guess you go with what you know. Unfortunately, my knowledge of this isn't all that extensive and I am not a doctor, so anything I say carries no guarantees. From what I have read, though, there is no magic tinkle bullet, despite what the seventy billion shady companies attempting to sell you cleansing teas and herbs will tell you. Here's what I understand to be the dealio.

1. If you smoke daily (or close to it), you'll want 2-3 clean weeks before taking the test and the longer, the better. If you're just an occasional user, you should be clean within a week. First line of defense: try to get the test pushed back due to scheduling conflicts.

2. If you can't get the test postponed, you'll need to go with dilution. Get as much fluid in your system as you can for the two hours leading up to the test. Diuretics, such as coffee, cranberry juice, or PMS water retention meds can help with this process.

3. To avoid having a sample that will be watery enough to arouse suspicion, take a large dose (~100mg) of Vitamin B2 during your water gorge, which will give your urine a healthy yellow tint. Also, spend a few days before the test gobbling red meat to get your creatine levels up.

4. There are a bazillion folk recommendations—Vitamin C, niacin, goldenseal, and vinegar are the most commonly mentioned—but no evidence that any of them do anything at all. Moreover, some testing companies test for goldenseal as evidence of somebody trying to hide a positive. There is some evidence that high-dose aspirin may actually reduce the test's sensitivity for the THC metabolite, so that's worth a shot as well.

That's more or less the extent of my knowledge on sticking it to the man. I've only had to take a pre-employment screen once, back in the mid-90s, to prove I wasn't too drug-addled to hit the start button on high-speed copiers. I managed to squeeze in about 2 weeks of clean time before the test, and drank a ridiculous amount of Mountain Dew on the way to the lab. That was sufficient to get me by, apparently, and at the time I was a several-times-a-day smoker.

Best of luck to you, anonymous Shafter, and the comments are open for anybody with better knowledge or a good threadjack.


 

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Headset

Posted by Fontana Labs
on 02.18.07

I need a new headset for my cell (an LG 8600). I want good sound quality, and I want it to stay on my head without much effort. (The headset that's included with the phone is annoying this way: in order to keep the boom from hitting my face, I have to jam the thing uncomfortably hard into my ear.) I can sacrifice size and elegance for better sound and stability. I'm open to bluetooth but I'm not committed to it. Thoughts?


 

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Aliens Among Us

Posted by Becks
on 02.18.07

Commenter emir is going to be visiting NYC from distant lands and was wondering if anyone would be up for a meetup on Monday. Monday just happens to be the day of the weekly Lawyers, Guns, and Money drinkathon, so perhaps a joint Unfogged-LGM venture?

UPDATE: The usual LGM meetup place is at The Ginger Man at 11 East 36th Street between Fifth Avenue and Madison Avenue. Subway directions: 6 to 33rd Street, 4/5 to Grand Central, B/D/F/Q/R to 34th Street. Scott will be getting there sometime between 6 and 6:30.


 

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See You Next Week

Posted by LizardBreath
on 02.18.07

The kids are on winter break, and we are going to scenic Taos, NM, to see what skiing on something other than bumpy ice is like. I've never skiied anywhere off the East Coast before, and I've heard they have something they call 'snow' out West.

I may check in in the evenings -- Buck's bringing a laptop. But mostly I'm out of here until next week, when I will return with stories of my astonishing heroism in sidling meekly down the bunny slopes. I love skiing, but I'm not particularly good at it.


 

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A Dispassionate Recounting Of What Might Be Facts

Posted by Ogged
on 02.18.07

Just watched The Dancer Upstairs, which is a pretty good movie that I'd never heard of. And damn, Javier Bardem looks like what a 110% straight guy might imagine a straight woman might find attractive. No, seriously, you're gay for reading that.

Did you know there's a site of naked male celebrity pictures? The pictures are kinda small, but celebrities are like that: always smaller than you imagine. Don't shoot the messenger.


 

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Said To Me At The Pool

Posted by Ogged
on 02.18.07

The first acknowledgment:

Lifeguard 1: I love that scar.
Me: Pretty impressive, isn't it?
Lifeguard 2: A scar like that has to have a story. Something about 37 five-year-olds...

The painful truth:

Lifeguard: So you're easing back into it?
Me: Yeah, slowly. I even have a gut now.
Lifeguard: I can see that.


 

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Not The Daytona 500

Posted by Ogged
on 02.18.07

Maybe Shaq is a big baby, but he's a very charming big baby. This dance-off between NBA all-stars is great.

One thing to keep in mind is that Shaq is one of the largest humans on the planet. The first guy who dances with him, LeBron James, looks like a normal-sized human in comparison, but in fact he's bigger and taller than Gigantosaurus Labs.


 

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Nicholas Cage is not the only one at fault

Posted by Fontana Labs
on 02.18.07

I have returned, and what lovely driving weather it was. Did you know that Rush Limbaugh still claims to think that cold winters show that global warming isn't real? Strange but true!

Things that are cool:

(1) motorcycles
(2) fire
(3) skulls

Thanks to the compositionality of cool, putting these things together should provide more than enough awesomeness for a feature film. And yet, Ghost Rider.

A movie has to be pretty bad to convince me that I could write a better one, but in this case it's a tempting thought. All I want is a flaming skull and maybe a little internal good-vs-evil struggle as Johnny Blaze ponders the duality of man, sir. Why does the back story have to go on so long? Why is Eva Mendes here? Why are there such corny jokes? Why do the supervillians have to look like awkward goth teenagers? Why does Carter Slade have to do that hokey special effects thing rather than, say, give Johnny Blaze a map? Why does this movie have to be so bad?


 

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