Toodling in my car yesterday, I had to jam the brakes to keep from hitting an old dude in an SUV traveling perpendicular to me. I didn't have a stop sign at the intersection, but he did, so he stopped, looked and then went anyway. I gave him a "what the fuck?" honk and he waved his arm like "yeah yeah." So I yelled, incredulously, "What?" And he responded, incoherently, "I stopped, didn't I?" People unclear on the concept...
Anyway, after I stopped laughing, I thought how insane it was that what I basically wanted to hear was his side of the story. "What do you mean, yeah yeahing me with your arm? How is it that you think you're in the right here?" Fuck a duck. I should have let loose with a stream of profanity insulting the aged and stupid. Next time, old dude.
Justin.tv is basically a high-tech reprise of Jennicam, with Justin wearing a camera and microphone 24 hours a day. It is, of course, incredibly boring. Except when (and I know this is wrong. Wrong! But...) someone spoofs Justin's phone number, which is published on his site, calls the cops, and tells them that someone has just been stabbed. When that happens, Justin.tv shows the cops breaking in, guns drawn, and a very surprised Justin...
Tyler Cowen proposes that we get rid of FDA trials and let companies buy approval for their drugs instead. Pharmaceutical companies would have the incentive to perform tests to make sure their drugs are safe and effective because they could be sued if they weren't. Yglesias counters that:
if you want to know why America is so lawsuit-heavy, you need to blame libertarians like Tyler. You can regulate or you can litigate; the less we have of the former, the more we need of the latter.
To add another data point: I thought this was an interesting topic to come up the same day the NYT had an article about fraud and deception in the Fen-Phen lawsuits:
the clients received only $74 million. An additional $20 million went to a questionable "charitable fund." The rest -- $106 million -- went to lawyers....On average, plaintiffs received less than 40 percent of what the settlement agreement specified, instead of the roughly 70 percent to which they were entitled.
Ever wonder if it's as miserable in the front of the plane as it is in coach, stuck between two drunk and smelly businessmen? The Flight From Hell, told from a pilot's perspective.
I was really enjoying this compilation of on-camera flinches (in reaction to loud noises, bombs, animals, etc.) and I admit I laughed a lot when the former president of Afghanistan literally didn't blink as his interpreter had an epileptic seizure and collapsed in his lap, but when I watched that part again, I thought "dude, that's weird." So I looked up the president, Mohammad Najibullah.
...he was appointed the head of KHAD, the secret police. Under Najibullah's control, it is claimed that KHAD arrested, tortured and executed tens of thousands of Afghans. Amnesty International provided evidence of 'widespread and systematic torture of men, women and children'. Survivors of his prisons have accused him of personally torturing and killing inmates, often by beating them to the ground and kicking them to death.
A-yup. Najibullah, however, didn't quite make it off this mortal coil on his own terms, instead being helped by the Taliban, who, lest we forget, were some twisted medieval dudes.
The Taliban cut off Najibullah's testicles then dragged his body behind a jeep. Then they shot him and his brother, hanging their mutilated bodies from a street lamp outside the presidential palace for two days. In a symbolic gesture of his "debauchery and corruption, the ex-president's pockets were stuffed with money, and cigarettes were pressed between his broken fingers."
My oncologist friend says that breast cancer which has metastasized to the bone can be "controlled" for about two to eight years, depending on the details of the individual case.
Michael Kinsley has a weirdly obtuse post about the US Attorney firings. He starts out fine, by making a reasonable point about the different meanings of 'political' in this context: US Attorneys are properly political appointees, in that their policy decisions are supposed to be in line with the policy goals of the administration that appoints them -- political control of that type is appropriate and reasonable; on the other hand, it's absolutely improper for them to be under the administration's political control in the sense that they are making particular prosecution decisions for the partisan advantage of the administration. But then he goes completely off the rails:
And I remain astounded that people find the Clinton analogy not merely wrong but preposterous. There are plenty of differences, but it's important to try the shoe on the other foot. Sure, I see the argument that a clean sweep is less suspicious than selective defenestration. But I still have to wonder: If Karl Rove had gotten his way and Bush had fired all 93 US Attorneys at the beginning of his second term, would you (that's you, Brad DeLong, and Kevin Drum, among others) actually have shrugged it off as no big deal? If Clinton had fired just eight, would you have been hammering him for corrupting justice? Would the fact that the firings came in the middle of the president's term loom quite so large? If one of the prosecutors had just sent a Democratic Congressman to jail, would you be totally untempted by the White House explanation that the real cause was, say, a reluctance to prosecute abortion-clinic protesters under RICO? Or is there a humongous, crucial distinction between firing prosecutors in in your first term and doing it in your second?
The answer to his final question is of course there's a humongous, crucial distinction. In the one case, what Clinton and every other president including Bush did, clearing out their predecessor's US Attorneys means firing people who someone else, possibly from the other party, appointed. They are next thing to guaranteed not to share the new president's policy goals, and it makes perfect political sense (in the proper and appropriate meaning of political) to get rid of them and replace them with appointees aligned with the new president's politics. Firing prosecutors in a president's second term means firing people that president appointed, choosing them specifically for their alignment with his policies. This doesn't mean that it's never appropriate to fire a US Attorney in a president's second term, but what Clinton did is standard operating procedure because it is always and automatically appropriate to replace someone else's political appointees with one's own when one takes office; it is unusual and worthy of comment and explanation when one replaces one's own political appointees after a period of service. I'm absolutely astonished that Kinsley could ask that question without the answer smacking him in the face.
There's a quote I once read about writing by some famous author or professor or somebody that I can't find online so I'll paraphrase: When asked if universities did enough to encourage young writers, the interviewee said that, on the contrary, universities didn't do enough to discourage young writers and he'd read plenty of bad novels that could have been prevented by proper intervention and spirit-breaking by a good English professor. I thought of that line when reading this atrocity of an introductory paragraph from a theater review:
John Wilkes Booth used a reliable laugh line in Our American Cousin to mask the sound of his pistol shot directed at Abraham Lincoln's head on April 14, 1865, in Ford's Theatre. The discharge was still heard, followed by the actor's hasty escape. It's unlikely that our own decider-in-chief will attend Manhattan Theatre Club's historical semicomedy Our Leading Lady, but would-be assassins take note: You will have many opportunities to muffle your guns.
Good old American ingenuity, misdirected.
A man landed in hot water after police say he hid a tiny camera in a shampoo bottle to watch two of his female roommates as they took showers.
A male roommate, curious why the shampoo wasn't moved for some time, found wires protruding from the back of the bottle....
How the guy didn't die of shame after being discovered, we'll never know. This is the kind of thing that makes you laugh because it's so pathetic, but actually freaks out the victims more and for longer than you'd expect. But it does remind me that although voyeurism seems to be a pretty universal turn-on, I've never heard or read a convincing analysis of what makes it so.
I know the ventriloquist hand of the patriarchy is always up our butts, forcing us all to speak Malegaze, but Sports Illustrated's list(s) of the best-looking athletes includes women and men, and all the judges are women, so try not to complain too much.
A Federal judge struck down the Child Online Protection Act today, which has been winding its way through the courts for almost 10 years now and was supposed to make it a crime for web site operators to allow children under 17 to gain access to anything that violated vaguely-defined "community standards" (whatever those are on the internet). From the decision:
Perhaps we do the minors of this country harm if First Amendment protections, which they will with age inherit fully, are chipped away in the name of their protection
Word. Although the fight is far from over:
parents now have more serious concerns about the Web than pornography -- for example, the use by online predators of social-networking sites like News Corporation's MySpace site.
OMG! We outta pass a law!
Match the headline with the source. Highlight the bottom of the post for answers.
1. Clinton Ad Creator Unmasked
2. Mystery Creator of Anti-Clinton Ad Identified
3. Sen. Clinton's Web Attacker Revealed
4. Creator of Hillary "Big Brother" Ad Steps Up
C. NY Times
D. Fox News
John Edwards on Wednesday visited the doctor with his wife, Elizabeth, who is recovering from breast cancer. He announced they would hold a news conference in their hometown on Thursday to discuss her health.
Link. All the best to her, god damn it.
What a sweet game. That picture makes me want to throw some hard elbows into my assailants' faces.
I just got shanghaied into coaching Sally's little-kid soccer team. It's not terribly demanding -- an hour and a half on Saturday mornings, split up into an hour of drills and a little half-hour game, with all the teams practicing at once in the same park.
The only thing is, I don't know thing one about soccer -- like, directing the kids during the games is beyond me. For drills, I figure I can watch the guy next to me. But does anyone have some useful links to: "So, you're a soccer coach now. (1) No using your hands. (2)..." or similar?
Damage to an area of the brain behind the forehead, inches behind the eyes, transforms the way people make moral judgments in life-or-death situations, scientists are reporting today. In a new study, people with this rare injury expressed increased willingness to kill or harm another person if doing so would save others' lives.
Rarely has someone been busted so definitively. You probably didn't notice, but a little while ago, Joe Rogan (comedian and Fear Factor host) confronted comedian Carlos Mencia on stage and accused him of stealing other comics' material. Mencia denied it, of course, but, uh...
1. Mencia kills the joke.
2. What kind of idiot steals from someone twenty times more famous than himself?
So, say Giuliani is the Republican nominee. And say the Democratic nominee, whoever they may be, makes an occasion to say: "I'm very glad that the Republican party has demonstrated their embrace of tolerance by nominating a candidate like Giuliani. While a great deal of political strife over the last decade has centered on what civil rights are available to gay Americans, we now are in a position where we know that the Republican candidate is not motivated by personal distaste for or alienation from anyone on the basis of their sexual orientation; Rudy's many close gay friends, including the couple he lived with after his second divorce, demonstrate that fact, and as someone with gay friends and loved ones myself, I applaud the Republican party for nominating him. Whoever wins this election, we know that issues like gay marriage can now dealt with on their political and legal merits, uncolored by prejudice at the highest levels of government."
That'd be a flat out, obvious attempt to discredit Giuliani with social conservatives -- appealing to the bigoted vote to stay away from him. But it's all true, and it's not an appeal for the bigoted votes to go to the Democrat.
Would it be wrong? (If you want to discuss whether it would be counterproductive, assume that the Democratic candidate's phrasing would be more graceful than mine.)
the White House would make several aides -- including Karl Rove, the president's chief political strategist, and Harriet E. Miers, Mr. Fielding's predecessor as counsel -- available to the House and Senate Judiciary Committees for informal private interviews. But the interviews would not be public or under oath, and no transcripts would be prepared.
Seriously, is there a straight faced justification for this position? I can see an executive privilege justification for not testifying at all -- that the deliberations of the executive branch are secret and looking into them would impair the ability of the executive to do its work. (I wouldn't agree with that justification in this case, but I wouldn't feel impelled to laugh at it.) But agreeing to testify so long as it's not under oath and there's no transcript doesn't preserve secrecy, it just means that there's no public way to rely on the testimony, and no penalty if it's proven to be untrue. How on earth does it make sense to say "I'll tell you what you want to know, so long as I retain the ability to later deny anything I say to you, and there are no consequences if I lie," unless the intent going in is to lie?
There may be some explanation for this position that makes straightfaced sense (not that I'd expect anyone to agree with it here, but something that would make an agreement to testify, but only with no transcripts and not under oath, a plausible position in principle). Can anyone tell me what it is?
A lesser man would question his commitment to heterosexuality on walking out of JoAnn Fabrics with four yards of purple butterfly-embroidered brocade. Not me. I'm not sure how this will turn into a home-decorating success, but the fabric is pretty enough to make me optimistic.
The only man who might help is dead.
There are funny people in the British Isles and Ireland and there are funny Eastern Europeans, but doesn't it seem to you that the rest of Europe is a wasteland for humor? Sure, they're sometimes witty or clever or some other cousin of funny, but it's not a guffaw kind of continent, is it?
Everyone loves treacle, so I give you the story of a Minnesotan and his goose, Daisy. The video is pretty sweet. Don't hate.
New York magazine declares London the capital of the world.
If Paris was the capital of the nineteenth century and New York of the twentieth, London is shaping up to be the capital of the 21st.
In art, architecture, and immigration, the article argues, London is now where it's at. I haven't lived in either place as an adult, but I've visited both, and my own impressionistic and perhaps idiosyncratic opinion is that this is undeniably true. For all its bustle, New York has always seemed to me dead in its soul, and London alive with possibility; to put it another way, London is what people say New York is.
Looks like the whole issue of the mag is devoted to London.
Lindsay looks at the photographs illustrating the story, and notes that the poses are oddly cheesecakey -- while the women pictured look unhappy and uncomfortable, a number of the pictures show them in pinup poses. She's not sure what message to take from this, but notes that the photographer, Katy Grannan:
...is well-known for fine art photos influenced by pinups and other vintage erotica--her website is probably not safe for work, but definitely worth a visit. She is internationally famous for applying fashion and commercial photography methods and aesthetics to intricately composed informal-looking posed portraits of non-models.
The pictures struck me as odd myself on first reading the story, and I think Lindsay's right in her speculation about the intended message:
Maybe in her assignment for the NYT PTSD story Grannan is parodying pinup photos to make a point how these women soldiers were regarded by their male colleagues.
That's pretty much the sense I got -- that the pictures were intended to express the manner in which the soldiers pictured had felt coerced into a role as 'comfort women', sexualized against their will, and place the viewer in the role of the men who abused them. And if that was the intent, even though I'm sure it was well meant and intended to elicit sympathy and support, I do wish the Times had made a different editorial choice: creating sympathy by reenacting the abuses perpetrated upon the subjects of the article seems very wrong to me -- would anyone have asked John McCain to pose in a tiger cage as a dramatization of what happened to him in Vietnam?
Our favorite incandescently angry mouth-breather, Adam Kotsko, posts a picture of himself--with a woman, no less. (Slain rivals sadly outside the frame.)
Now with the pinkos at Crooked Timber.
I should make some aesthetic improvements to my cardboard box. Given that I'm here only a few more months, what sorts of decorating should I do to liven up my everthing-beige studio? Cheap, easy, and fun are the key, I think-- I want the place to match the personality.
The thing you have to understand about the seventy-something guy at the pool is that he's the quintessence of "doddering." He limps out to the pool, leaning on his cane, and tumbles into the water, because he's too stiff to lower himself into it. Often, when people speak to him, he looks at them blankly for a few seconds, then either grunts or just swims away. Nevertheless, he's the author of such gems as "nothing good" and "no, I gave her all of it." So, today the fifty-something guy and I were chatting...
Fifty-something guy: It's supposed to rain tomorrow.
Me: Really? I thought we were done.
Fifty-something guy: No, see there's this thing called "the news" and on the news they have something called "the weather"...
Me: I just count on you to tell me.
Fifty-something guy: Oh, is there anything else you need to know?
Seventy-something guy: You should stop eating that soft dog food.
I've been discussing realities of urban education over at Jane Galt's, striking my usual note that not every school that serves poor children is a failure: I send my kids to such a school, and think it does an excellent job. And I now appear to have been dismissed as out-of-touch and somewhat racist for describing Washington Heights as the 'inner city':
Yes, we are using a different definition of "inner city". LizardBreath's definition is closer to that used by most of the people I went to business school with: if there is a significant number of poor, brown people in a neighbourhood, it must be the ghetto. Perhaps because I grew up in a neighbourhood with a large number of poor, brown people [that is, the Upper West Side, which to be fair was sketchy back when we both were growing up], this is not my definition.
Now, I'm annoyed by the dismissal, but I'm mostly just bemused by the redefinition of 'inner city'. Washington Heights is a mostly minority, largely low income, neighborhood in the geographical center of a very large city. When did 'inner city' get restricted to only neighborhoods in the process of rioting and burning? Because if you want to talk about the pervasive pathologies of inner city education, and suddenly any place where anything works isn't an inner city, then suddenly, sure, all the inner city schools are terrifying.
On the larger issue of vouchers, I think Galt overstates the depth of opposition to them. I'm not opposed to vouchers on principle, I'm opposed to every actual voucher program I've heard described in the US as likely to do much more harm than good. Commit to a specific, well-defined voucher program that isn't going to shunt poor kids into fly-by-night basement schools, and we can talk.
So I have an interview at a federal agency where I'd like to work in a couple of weeks. And Dr. Oops is finally, ten years out of med school, no longer being trained; she's been hired as an attending by the transplant program where she was working as a fellow. I understand frivolous automotive purchases are being considered.
I was recently mocked for having Slashdot as my web browser's home page for it both being way geeky and unhip. I can't think of what else would make sense. A search engine seems superfluous because I have the Google Toolbar and Google Desktop. The New York Times or another news site would be too distracting -- when I open my browser, it's usually because I have a goal and I would surely get sucked into the latest headline or story before (or instead of) doing what I originally opened my browser to do. Ditto for Unfogged. I wouldn't want my Gmail because I frequently have to open my web browser to search for things in front of co-workers and I don't want them getting a peek at my personal mail. So Slashdot seems like a good, if geeky and unhip, choice. Also, that's been my home page for the last nine years. It would feel weird to change it.
It's a story in yesterday's New York Times Magazine on military women suffering from PTSD, largely but not exclusively the result of rape and sexual harassment from fellow soldiers, in combination with the stresses of combat. Reading it, all I could think is that as terrible as war is for anyone, a soldier is supposed to be able to rely on and be supported by the other soldiers on their own side. How nightmarish it must be to have no one at all to trust.
If you haven't read it yet, you should.
I'm not sure why this homebrew ad for Obama based on the 1984 Macintosh commercial is getting so much attention. This article makes it sound like it inaugurates the age of the homemade internet political ads, but weren't there dozens of these in '04? And, in any case, the ad itself seems a bit tired and heavy-handed. Maybe I'm missing something.
I'd always been skeptical of fancy racing suits, because I figured that skin is pretty slick and things like "turbulence management system" sounded like marketing mumbo jumbo. But when I googled the person y'all recommended to me for lessons, I found this very cool picture of her pushing off the wall; check out the rippling in her upper back and the top of her thigh. Wow. (And she is not a flabby person.) That causes resistance. Maybe not a lot of resistance, but Larsen Jensen just swam a mile in 14:26.70 and missed the American record by .08 seconds: that's 0.009%. Go fancy suits.
(Not that I would ever wear one; they're way way beyond what my splash propulsion could justify.)
I'm listening to Chris Cutler's Twice Around the Earth. It's interesting! One of the bits is Jon Rose interviewing a woman who's promoting a nightclub in Sydney. We join them in mediis rebus and stick with it just long enough to witness a misapprehension.
In case you're wondering what it's like to know that you'll eventually develop Huntington's Disease, you might be interested in this.
Jesus, it's all with the traveling, mountaineering, and world-saving with these personal ads. Are we trying to win The Amazing Race or what, people? I search in vain for the woman who is fit, but sits on the couch all day, smart, but surfs YouTube for hours, cares, but in a passive, intellectual way. The terrible thing is that I suspect that many of these women are more like what I'm looking for than what they say they are, but think that their best face is the worldbeater. How did we get here?
While in Whole Foods earlier today, it occurred to me that we should have a betting pool on which Unfogged contributor will go on a killing spree with an assault rifle. Since the probability of W-lfs-n doing so is .99, I rule him ineligible.
It is not entirely by accident that this thought struck me while I was at Whole Foods.
For those of you elsewheres, check out the band's schedule to see if they'll be in your neck of the woods sometime soon.