1. To whoever lives in DC, is clicking through from Obsidian Wings, and has a Verizon FiOS connection: I'm envious.
2. It's harder to laugh at Kenneth Eng when it's pretty clear that he's genuinely nuts.
Is the best, gayest movie ever. It's like a bunch of studio executives sat around and thought "Hey! We should make a queer BDSM version of Braveheart!" Four stars!!!!
So I was arguing in the comments over at Jane Galt's blog, and ran into a current Volunteer from Peace Corps Samoa who has a blog. It simply never occurred to me that PCVs would have internet access now. Man, back in the day when I was a volunteer in Samoa, if we needed to know something for curriculum development, we didn't Google it; Google didn't exist. No, we researched things the old fashioned way, by asking the other people drinking at Otto's Reef if they happened to know the answer.
I don't know how interesting the blog is to anyone else, but PC Samoa still looks the same -- there's a post on getting traditional Samoan tattoos, and the PCV's are still going to Suluape, the same guy everyone went to back in 93-94. It must be an incredibly, incredibly different experience, though -- with internet access, even if you're in Samoa, you're just not isolated from the US in anything like the same way.
Here's what I'd do if I were president
As president I will lower gasoline prices below $1.40 a gallon and force the oil companies and the IRS to pay each American between the ages of 35 and 60 a $25,000 bonus check with no taxes taken out.
As president I also will put people with incomes of $1 million a year into a 45 percent tax bracket, $2 million or more, a 55 percent tax bracket. These people would still live the good life. People earning $100,000 or less, including married couples, would be in a 10 percent tax bracket. Above $100,000, a 15 percent tax bracket.
Property taxes would be cut to $800 a year for every household.
How could we afford this and also support schools, police and fire, and city crews, you ask?
As president I will stop sending American dollars to rebuild countries that are bombed by other countries. No more economic aid to countries we know cannot ever pay it back.
As president I will slash government by 50 percent, maybe even more, including the IRS as well.
Every child must graduate in order to get a driver's license. And each child upon turning the age of 18 who agrees to serve for two years or more in the U.S. military, upon completion will have their education completely paid for in whatever field they choose. No more student loans needed.
Would you vote for me so far?
OK, so chalk one up for the pessimist divorce lawyers. This woman's husband is away travelling for work about 90% of the time, spends lots of time in bars, frequents tanning salons, and doesn't wear his wedding ring. Case closed.
I can hear SCMT now: "Some guys are dicks, didn't we already know this?" Sure, but this feels more like another part of the fall of the republic. You have to figure that only some proportion of the population can have no shame and no soul before everything goes to hell.
via my brother in dismay
The latest post on his health problems is kind of scary. And while other people have been keeping his blog going since he's been sick, it just isn't the same.
Warning: this is a swimming post that might bore even the swimmers.
Michael Phelps owns the IMs, but it's interesting to watch the 200 from the Olympics, where he leads after the fly, leads by a lot after the back, just holds off a charging field in the breast, and brings it home with the free, and compare that to what happens a year later at the Worlds where Czeh leads after the fly, still leads after the back, and then he and Phelps pull away in the breast, with Phelps winning the race pretty much with the last turn. I don't know whether to think that this means that Czeh is a legitimate threat to Phelps or that Phelps is so awesome that he can spot you a lead after his best strokes and still win. Given that the winning time in both races is quite a bit off Phelps' world record, I'm inclined toward the latter.
I don't much care, really, if Scooter Libby is pardoned or not; while he certainly deserves it, there's no particular good that will come of his actually going to jail. But when people talk about it, I'd really like them to recognize what a pardon means: it's Bush saying: "Yes, Libby's a felon. He lied to investigators to block their investigation of a crime. But it was a crime I ordered, and he was working for me -- either acting directly under orders, or at least trying to protect the political interests of my administration. I've got the power to protect my people from the consequences of the criminal things they do in my service, and I'm exercising it."
That's what all of this "he was a fall guy" sympathy for Libby that makes a pardon look reasonable is -- it's not that what he did wasn't criminal, it's that he was acting on behalf of his superiors, and it seems unjust that he should suffer for it. And a pardon confirms that: if Libby were acting criminally on his own behalf, there'd be no reason to pardon him. By pardoning him, Bush takes ownership of Libby's crime.
Eleanor Roosevelt narrowly defeats Bono in a poll for the title of Best First Lady Ever.
I was talking to some friends today. One was complaining about her husband acting like an asshole--and for a topical example I give you this: he was criticizing his wife by comparing her to the superior being that was his ex-girlfriend. My friend responded, well, if she was so great why did you break up with her then? Answer? He noted regretfully that she had developed cellulite. Just doing his part for the patriarchy, no need to thank him.
Anyway, another of her complaints was that they hadn't had sex in two months (they've been married less than a year and don't have kids). I was expressing sympathy when my other friend said she hadn't had sex in two years. She actually burst out laughing at the look on my face, which was a mix of incredulity and horror. It's not as though she's 80 years old or something. And hell, I hope lots of 80 year olds are out there having great sex right now. Now, OK, marriage problems, drinking, etc. But surely this is extreme and insane, right? What's the longest dry spell y'all have gone through? (Of course, there's dry spell in the sense of just not having a sex partner for a while, and then there's this Bataan death march married but not having sex thing. Surely a data point in favor of the Emerson no-relationship policy, since, if you're not even getting laid, it's hard to see why you would put up with having to deal with this other person all the time. For the record, since I started having sex I've gone without for one and a half months or two months on a number of occasions when I went someplace without my SO.)
Right after your kid is born, OK, I could see going a few months there, although you can still have oral sex just fine at that point. When I was on bedrest with my troublesome second pregnancy I was told not to have penetrative sex, since I was having unexplained bleeding. That seemed reasonable. But I read a number of pregnancy books that recommended that I also not have any orgasms until the baby was born, and we were talking about 4 more months at least. It can stimulate contractions and thus trigger labor, allegedly, although attempts to use it to rush late babies are useless AFAIK. I just decided on my own that was total bullshit and the magic of oxytocin rushing to baby too would outweigh the potential harms. And seriously, is there any medical condition for which doctors would say to a man, you can't come for 4 months? I think not.
"Dmitri was abandoned by his mother, and everything else comes from a Freudian analysis of that; you don't really need any more textual evidence".
This came not long after the speaker announced his desire to psychoanalyze all the brothers K—to get them on the couch, was the phrase I believe he used. He also referred to being on the third page of his paper as if three pages were a nontrivial component of the expected total.
In other news, my officemates turned my desk over and hid my books and papers today. But I will revenge myself.
I'm writing an exam question that presents students with a difficult case and asks what utilitarianism, Kantian ethics, and virtue ethics might say about it. But I'm having trouble coming up with a case. Ideally it would be one where
(i) the theories (plausibly) disagree about the morally best course of action;
(ii) there's enough going on that students might seize on one or another aspect of the case, to allow for creative responses;
(iii) each theory's answer might be at least a little unclear (e.g. there's some apparent conflict between virtues, there's a worry about long-term precedent or a question about correct ranking of states of affairs, or it's unclear what maxim should be universalized).
My first attempt was a case where a professor's fair grading might harm the career of a future medical researcher, or something along these lines, but this seems kind of lame and obvious. Any helpful thoughts?
An Iraqi immigrant with a suspicious device lodged in a body cavity was detained Tuesday at Los Angeles International Airport, authorities said. A jetliner bound for Philadelphia, meanwhile, was diverted to Las Vegas because the man's luggage was aboard. Officials said the device and the luggage were cleared by bomb squads in Los Angeles and Las Vegas.
"There never was a threat," said Larry Fetters, a security director for the federal Transportation Security Administration. Fadhel Al-Maliki, 35, was held for a mental evaluation and for a possible immigration violation, federal officials said.
Al-Maliki, of Atlantic City, N.J., is a permanent legal resident who came to the U.S. in 1994. He had flown to Los Angeles from Philadelphia on Monday and was booked for a return flight early Tuesday. He triggered an alert during a security screening, FBI spokeswoman Laura Eimiller said. "He initially said (the device) was therapeutic," she said.
The device had a wire and what may have been a magnet concealed in his rectum, federal officials said. It did not contain any explosives.
John Edwards has announced that he won't attend the Democratic primary debate that was scheduled to be held in Nevada and hosted by Fox News, and it appears to be sinking the entire affair. I couldn't be happier. What I'd really love to see is an agreement among Democratic candidates (and officeholders at large) that they won't deal with Fox News, period, because it isn't a legitimate news organization, but a media division of the Republican Party.
The House passed the Employee Free Choice Act last week, which if signed into law will allow workers to organize when over 50% of a workforce signs cards indicating that they support the formation of a union ("card check"), without the subsequent NLRB sponsored secret ballot election that employers are now entitled to demand.
Like pretty much everyone else who generally supports the labor movement, I think this is a wonderful idea (I doubt it'll make it through the Senate, and if it does it'll be vetoed, but it's the right thing to do.) NLRB elections are a long drawn out process that provide scope for employers to intimidate workers and illegally fire organizers -- under these circumstances organizing becomes next thing to impossible. The card check process, on the other hand, is simple, fast, and much less easily manipulated -- it gives unions a fair shot. If anything's going to reverse the decline in private-sector union membership, card check organization is it.
The reaction from those who are less enthusiastically pro-labor, on the other hand, has been between dubious and hostile. The problem they see with card check organization is the danger that workers will be intimidated into signing cards for fear of violent retaliation from organizers if they refuse. One response to this is that in the US today, intimidation by management is a significant problem, and intimidation by unions really isn't, as demonstrated by a study that's been going around showing that there's less intimidation fom union organizers than from management under any circumstances, and less intimidation from either union organizers or management in card check elections than in NLRB secret ballot elections. The response has been (and it's a fair one) that it's one smallish study, and by itself doesn't say much.
A better response, I think, to concerns that workers will be violently intimidated by organizers to sign up with a union is that card check is the law right now. Any organizing campaign now has to go through the card check stage before the workers are entitled to a secret ballot election, and failure at that stage is fatal to the campaign. So organizers now have the same motive and opportunity for violent intimidation that they would under the EFCA scheme -- the signed cards are a sine qua non for a successful organizing campaign, and the organizers know exactly who has signed. Any violent intimidation to be expected under the new regime should already be happening now, at pretty much the same level of intensity you'd expect under the new regime -- secret ballot elections would have fewer successful unions, but they wouldn't be likely to involve less union-sponsored violence.
Now, I'm not going to commit myself to the position that there has never been violent intimidation of workers by union organizers, but I will say that I haven't seen reporting on it in the couple of decades I've been following labor news. Whatever union sponsored violence in organizing campaigns goes on now, it appears to be infrequent enough that law enforcement is completely on top of it; given that the EFCA should reduce management intimidation without having any significant reason to increase union intimidation, then, I'd consider it an unmixed good.
I'm delegating this week's Modern Love blogging to Gawker, who has a great rundown on this week's article about a mother who had fertility treatments, ended up pregnant with triplets, and decided not to reduce the pregnancy to twins. It's a good post, read the whole thing, but here's the topic I'd like to discuss:
Listen. The biological urge to reproduce--yeah, it's some crazy stuff. We get it! We talk to our cats. We've had those fucked-up moments of baby obsession. We hear her. And we know that all over Manhattan, women are emptying their bank accounts to get pregnant. But at least they're spending their husband's bonus money.
But with a good insurance plan and Medicaid's coverage for babies under 2 pounds 10 ounces, we were relieved that we did not have to pay the million-dollar hospital bill. This was not the time to pontificate on how our quest to have a family resulted in a significant financial drain on society's resources, though that knowledge has weighed on me.
Actually, this seems like a great time to "pontificate," though that's a word choice we'd certainly question. Clearly, after all the fertility treatments, we're not talking about poor people here. A million dollars? A million dollars? Also we'd question the phrase "quest to have a family" too, because God knows spending upwards of seven figures to breed isn't by any means the only way to get a family. Wow. Modern Love has actually made us Libertarians or something.
I'm pretty conflicted about this. I, of course, don't like to see people bankrupted by health problems and support a woman's right to choose, including choosing not to have an abortion but this woman (and others like her) got themselves into the situation of having an expensive pregnancy through their own choices. But saying that Medicare won't pay for multiple births that are the result of fertility treatments might lead to a slippery-slope of denying payment for other conditions that are caused by "choices", such as lifestyle. And yet...and yet...
A while back, I was emailing with someone about why the lookist discussions around here are so much about bodies and so little about faces, when faces are so important to attractiveness. We didn't really pursue it, but mentioned a few possibilities:
1. Talking about finding faces attractive makes guys feel vulnerable because while a body is something that you can talk about in objectifying, acquisitive terms, a face--which has a personality--isn't something that you can have, but rather something (someone) to be with, which then opens up the possibility that it (s/he) can choose not to be with you.
1a. Talking about the faces you like means talking about the personalities you like, and that reveals much more about you than what kind of ass you like.
2. Because faces implicate personalities, judging them publically is too cruel.
3. Face talk happens, but doesn't spawn big discussions because it's harder to blame the patriarchy if a face is considered unattractive.
And I'm sure there are other explanations...
I finally got around to watching the Iron Chef version of BloggingHeads and it really is as awesome as everybody says. The Grammar.policeman was a judge, making Catherine and me now the only members of the Flophouse who have never been on the show. I feel like we're not doing our part towards being the Awesome House of Bloggers.
Maybe we could film a diavlog where Catherine and I argue politics without really knowing what we're talking about. Preferably while drunk. Each segment can end with us talking about how guilty we feel about not following the news as closely as our other roommates and then giving up and deciding to go make cake. Or maybe I could diavlog with Ogged about topics I do know something about thanks to blogging, like which Modern Love was the biggest abomination, some excruciatingly nitpicky belief about how people should interact, and the relative merits of Jessica Biel's ass. I can see it now: "Titties: Hooray?" Or maybe Catherine could have a Liberal/Libertarian karaoke contest (I was going to say dance-off but remembered they had Julian) where contestants are judged on both the quality of their singing and how much their song selection enforces their political ideology. The show can end with a tender duet where we realize, despite our differences, common ground can be found on the issue of Summer Lovin'.
I might buy my first lottery ticket tonight. Thoughts occasioned by thoughts of winning:
Wow, it'll be a lot of work managing that money.
What kind of foundation should I set up? Who will we give the money to? Should I be actively involved in the decision-making?
How much should I give to my relatives? Friends? Should I set up another trust or foundation just for them? Would I decide if they get money, or should I have the trust administrator do that? They're all going to hate me.
I could build a house with a 50m ionized pool. That would take years. I could be dead in a few year. Maybe I'll buy a condo near a pool.
I could live in Santa Barbara. Then I'll spend day after day hanging out at the pool and getting that washed-out Hollywood look before my meaningless life finally ends.
Should I buy a ticket?
I'm generally quite a happy guy, but the prospect of winning the lottery has always seemed like a big burden. I might get used to it though, and my mom could retire, so a ticket I shall buy.
I just went to pee and one of the two urinals was being used. As we've discussed, I'm pee shy, but I don't mind waiting for the other guy to do his business and leave so I can pee in peace. But I hadn't been set up, so to speak, for more than a few seconds when the deafening silence from the other urinal told me: he's pee shy too! We stood there--holding our wangs in communal silence, each hoping against hope that the other would break the stalemate--for a very long thirty seconds. Part of me wanted to know just how long this could go on. A minute? Five minutes? But a much bigger part of me was about to burst out laughing, so I implicitly confessed to my affliction by zipping up and leaving him to battle his demons. I washed my hands and as I pulled open the door, I heard behind me that first, hesitant tinkle of relief...
Verdict expected in about twenty minutes...
Guilty on four of five counts. Link.
The Spackerman has landed in Iraq.
Yessir: it's that time. The time when I exhort you to listen to KZSU tomorrow from 9 to 11am PST. This time I return to themed music, the theme being "music for like instruments" but—get this—without including any music from the series of albums Vinny Golia has released under that title (because I don't have access to any). But there will nevertheless be vocal, guitar, laptop (stretching things a bit), and saxophone trios; guitar, bass, and bass clarinet duets; saxophone, guitar, bass clarinet, and piano quartets; an accordion quintet; a percussion and an all-Moog ensemble. And more, dear sir, many more. You owe it to yourself to listen to the first half hour because there will be some actually, like, listenable and melodic music which is also pretty and good.
I leave you until then with this injunction, which I invite you to follow:
consider an older child, one ignorant of, but ripe for a pumpkin….
I'm stuck in the airport for the next two hours or so because my flight is delayed and I'm much less annoyed about the whole thing than I normally would be because the entire airport has free wi-fi. There is no better opiate for the masses (or me, at least) than free wi-fi.
I'd love to see all airports have free wi-fi but, at a minimum, here's what I'd like: I think there should be kiosks throughout the airport that give you an access code for wi-fi if your flight is delayed. If your flight is delayed, you just scan your ticket into the kiosk and it will print out a code that is good for free wi-fi until the time of your delayed flight (rounded up to the next hour or something to account for possible additional delays). Short of free-under-any-circumstances wi-fi, this would go a long way towards making me much happier when I travel.
Tara McKelvey at Tapped is hearing military gossip that soldiers have been told to expect being sent to Iran:
Soldiers in three separate units in Fort Stewart have been saying they are now being informed that they will soon be deployed for 12 to 18 months -- and they should plan on going to Iran. At least that's what I heard from an army wife in Hinesville. I didn't really believe her.
Still, I mentioned it at a recent NYU Law School symposium, "The Mirage of the State: Fragmentation, Fragility, and Failure and the Implications on Law and Security." (We just called it the "Failed States" event.) A woman sitting next to me said she had heard the same thing from a lieutenant colonel she knows. "He has been told that they are going to Iran," she recalled.
I haven't heard anyone seriously argue that attacking Iran would be a good idea. I've seen plenty of people argue that it would be an absolutely terrible idea. Gossip like this, which gives the impression that we're inevitably sliding toward war despite the fact that there's no sane justification for it, frightens me unspeakably.
There may be nothing at all to this; and I may be worried about nothing. But worrying about nothing is harmless -- letting a gradual movement toward another insane war go forward without comment is a terrifying idea.
(Too busy to write anything substantive, so here's an attempt to get a gender issues argument going). I was looking at the JMPP mockery, and one of her points of praise for her boyfriend was that she was a lousy driver and he did all the driving for her.
And I'm thinking, maybe the people I know are just hidebound and stuck in their oldfashioned rigid gender roles, but who drives really does seem to be a very sex-determined thing. My mother was a much better driver than my father, and they were both about as feminist as anyone in their generation: still, I don't think I ever saw my mother drive with my father in the car. Thirty years younger, if Buck and I are both in the car, he really wants to be the one driving, and given that it seems unimportant, I don't argue about it. He'd rather drive for six hours himself than switch back and forth. (There is some justification in that I learned to drive late, and am not an astonishingly skilled driver. But I'm competent enough, and certainly not frightening.) And other couples I know seem the same -- if there's a male/female couple in a car together, almost always, the man drives, regardless of how equal the relationship seems.
Is my perception of this off? That is, are there lots of men comfortable with being passengers while their wives or girlfriends drive, to the point that the driving gets shared 50-50 or the woman drives more? Or if my perception is on, then why is driving, particularly, an issue where gender roles are hard to get past?
Human faeces can contain significant B12. A study has shown that a group of Iranian vegans obtained adequate B12 from unwashed vegetables which had been fertilised with human manure. Faecal contamination of vegetables and other plant foods can make a significant contribution to dietary needs....
2. In the midst of a post about swimming, Jim Henley says,
A massive raging shlong like mine is a gift, but also a curse!
Preach it, brother.
3. Flipping channels, I saw that a channel abbreviated HOM was showing something called Dude Room. Got my hopes up, but it was the Home channel, about a guy renovating his den.
I'm really mystified by why Mike Huckabee isn't a more serious player among Republican presidential candidates. He's genuinely conservative, articulate (for a white guy) and seems pretty damn likable. What's the problem? Does he just not have much money, or did he once help an injured black person, or what?
Spackerman vs Jane Galt cookoff; Armsmasher, pronouncing "bruschetta" as if it were German, among the judges. Banterwise Team Liberal seems to have won hands-down, though the real winner is, of course, Julian Sanchez.
Spencer seemed distinctly nervous while introducing his meal.