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Six Down, Two To Go

Posted by Ogged
on 03.31.07

The best bet to stop Michael Phelps' attempt to get eight gold medals at the World Championships was supposed to be Ian Crocker in the 100 fly. How Phelps won this race, when he was down almost half a body length with 10 meters to go, I'll never know. Once again, unfrigginbelievable. That said, Phelps has said he's tired, and Lochte is having a great meet, so the 400 IM should be interesting.


 

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Redacted!

Posted by Ogged
on 03.30.07

I've taken down that thread because an enterprising reporter could find out the principals' identities fairly easily, and the story, with its drama and the internet angle, is just the sort of thing that a reporter might get wind of. It's all preserved in the sacred Unfogged database, but keeping it public now just seems inconsiderate.


 

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Friday Decompression

Posted by Ogged
on 03.30.07

What is there to say after today's drama? Consider this an open thread.



 

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Look

Posted by Becks
on 03.30.07

I'm sick of the makeup argument but I think people are missing the point that there is a huge difference between the statements "Women who wear makeup are doing something bad" and "I prefer to date women who don't wear makeup". When you date someone, you're sharing part of your life with them, and I think it makes perfect sense to not seek out someone with a high probability of having an incompatible lifestyle.

While I can't use Ogged's makeup rule, if I was introduced to a guy who was charming and nice but looked like he spent a lot of time on his appearance, I probably wouldn't think of him as someone I would date. I dated a guy for a long time who was very into fashion and grooming once and, yes, he was cute, but I was far more frustrated by all of the times we were late to an event or missed a movie or couldn't be spontaneous because he took forever to get ready, the weekends I spent bored to tears out with him shopping, and (when we were living together and had a joint bank account) the fights we had about money when he spent what I considered to be an excessive amount on clothes. We didn't have the same values and that was not how I liked to spend my time and money and, ultimately, my future.

There's a big difference for many people between the criteria you apply to what makes someone a good person, what makes someone a compatible friend, and what you want in someone you would date. And applying a rule like "I prefer to date women who don't wear makeup" or "I prefer to date men who aren't into fashion" might cause you to miss some good catches or people with values more similar to you than you think. But it makes perfect sense to realize you aren't going to be compatible with everyone and to try to find those you have the best shot of being happy with in the long run.


 

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Blank

Posted by LizardBreath
on 03.30.07

 

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Worldly

Posted by Becks
on 03.29.07

I was perusing this week's US News and World Report in a waiting room (where else?) which is dedicated to 30 Valuable Lessons That Americans Can Learn From the Rest of the World. Most of them are pretty obvious, like more leisure time and paid maternity leave, but I was kind of amused by Germany's idea to retrain prostitutes to be elder-care workers:

"Prostitutes have already learned to get along with people, and they're usually very good listeners," she says. "Plus, they have no reservations about touching people's bodies."

Apparently, we can only learn lessons from Europe and Japan. Surely there's some country somewhere in Africa that has a norm or idea that would provide more benefits to our country to adopt than Yay! High-tech toilets! What would you steal from the rest of the world?


 

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Silky Griner

Posted by Ogged
on 03.29.07

Check it out: a 6' 6" 15-year-old high school girl with a good handle who can dunk with ease. She is really fluid, and I know that people who are six six should be able to dunk but not all of them (AHEM) can.

Update: It is now the opinion of this blog's management that Silky Griner is not dunking on a regulation ten-foot rim.


 

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Bad

Posted by Ogged
on 03.29.07

Do you need to see a tipsy Ann Althouse vlogging watching American Idol? I think you do.



 

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Good

Posted by Ogged
on 03.29.07

Ackerman is back home, and even waiting around at the airport was eventful.



 

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Ho Hum

Posted by Ogged
on 03.29.07

Did Michael Phelps race again? Oh, I guess that means he broke another world record. 200 IM and Spanish announcers this time.

Oh! And winning the 50 back in world record time was Leila Vaziri, Iranian chick! (Ok, half-Iranian chick, but still.) This is the semi-final but she had the exact same time in the final and you won't know the difference. She's cute!


 

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Voter Fraud: Cui Bono?

Posted by LizardBreath
on 03.29.07

There's a good op-ed in the Washington Post on voter fraud, making the point that failure to prosecute enough voter fraud cases is a ridiculous justification for firing a US Attorney, because no one prosecutes a lot of voter fraud cases -- there simply aren't many.

A lot of the Republican discussion of voter fraud seems to me to misunderstand the nature of the crime: it's not like theft, where the motivation is obvious -- people steal money or things because they want them. Committing voter fraud on the individual level, on the other hand, is motiveless: if you're not legally entitled to vote, and you do, what do you get for it? An infinitesimal effect on how the election might come out? I'm sure it happens occasionally, but in an unsystematic way that's dwarfed by the amount of random error in the vote -- large numbers of people don't commit a crime if there's nothing in it for them. If what we're worried about is individuals voting who aren't entitled to, fairly low-key security procedures like the ones most states have are perfectly sufficient.

The only people who actually benefit from voter fraud are candidates and their backers, and they only benefit from large scale, organized fraud. While historically, this has sometimes been done by large-scale bribery (you vote right, and your precinct captain gives you a Christmas turkey), or driving busloads of people around to vote repeatedly in precinct after precinct, that sort of thing is conspicuous, and easily policed against; it happens where the law enforcement authorities are thoroughly controlled by the same people who are trying to fix the elections, and not otherwise. Messing with the counting after the votes are cast, either electronically or otherwise, has the potential for being much less conspicuous, and this is why the counting process is where the heavy-duty security belongs. (And of course systematically keeping legitimate voters from the polls based on demographic predictions about their likely voting behavior can be done legally or quasi-legally with little difficulty, but it's not exactly 'voter fraud'. Works just as well, though.)

The point is that voter fraud isn't the kind of crime, like theft or crimes of violence, where there's a constant crime rate and the more effort you put into enforcing the law the more violators you're going to find. There's a meaninglessly low background level of unmotivated, whimsical 'voter fraud' that there's not much point in worrying about -- other than that, for any given election, there was either a large scale conspiracy to steal it or there wasn't, and where reasonably proper security procedures (the kind of thing that I worry about being absent from voting machines with no paper trails) were followed, there probably wasn't. Penalizing a prosecutor for not finding enough voter fraud to prosecute is ridiculous. (via Talking Points Memo.)


 

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Never Enough

Posted by Ogged
on 03.28.07

Did someone say swim blog? This is the same Phelps swim as the one below, but with English commentary, which gives you non-German speakers an idea of how incredible this swim was. Also worth noting: it includes a post-race interview with Phelps, and it's interesting to see him working in his disciplined way to keep an even keel and not be swept up in the moment (he has, as he notes, another race about 30 minutes after this one) even as the interviewer asks variants of "Holy shit! How did you do that?"


 

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Items

Posted by Fontana Labs
on 03.28.07

Look, I got nothing. Luckily this place has turned into a swim blog, so it doesn't matter.

Puzzle of the day: a guy I know seems to consistently punch above his weight w/r/t hookups. He's always overchicked, and I can't figure it out. Not a bad looking guy, but not really attractive, and not all that charming or funny. Also not a tremendously nice person. Maybe it's his willingness to hit on more or less anyone, thus increasing his chances of at least some positive outcomes. Still, it baffles me.

You may be pleased to know that I took part in the following conversation:

Me: wow, I sound gay today.
Friend: you always sound gay.

And this was before I realized that I really love Taylor Da[y]ne's "Naked without you." Self: no one else can hear your ipod.* Do not dance around in the gym.

*So ashamed. I spelled her name wrong. Watch me get turned away at the velvet rope this weekend.


 

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It's You!

Posted by Ogged
on 03.28.07

I submit that the people and not their apartments, are the problem. That said, I'd be put off if someone had Klimt's The Kiss on her wall, but more as a marker of...call it "sophistication"...than judgment.


 

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Appropriation

Posted by Ogged
on 03.28.07

Kotsko says that only he's allowed to post about religion, so I won't draw any conclusions, but this struck me. Evangelical muckety-muck James Dobson says of reliably conservative Republican senator Fred Thompson,

"Everyone knows he's conservative and has come out strongly for the things that the pro-family movement stands for," Dobson said of Thompson. "[But] I don't think he's a Christian; at least that's my impression," ...

In a follow-up phone conversation, Focus on the Family spokesman Gary Schneeberger stood by Dobson's claim. He said that, while Dobson didn't believe Thompson to be a member of a non-Christian faith, Dobson nevertheless "has never known Thompson to be a committed Christian--someone who talks openly about his faith."
"We use that word--Christian--to refer to people who are evangelical Christians," Schneeberger added.

Did you all know that that's how they use the word? These people can't get enough religious war. I wonder what Adam has to say.


 

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Get Out The Way

Posted by Ogged
on 03.28.07

Michael Phelps broke another world record yesterday, this one his own, with a performance even more amazing than the previous day's. Even if you don't know anything about swimming, this is worth watching just to see him beat the world record line (that's a great innovation in broadcasting, by the way) by a body length and to hear the low key German announcer's obvious incredulity. Even the crowd seems kind of stunned.

In case you missed it in the comments, I was speculating that he was smashing his own records because he recently started lifting weights and now doesn't seem to tire at all down the stretch.

By the way, I rewatched the 200 free, and he was popping up at the 10m mark, not 15, so it was all legal.


 

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Good For Burger King

Posted by LizardBreath
on 03.28.07

Jane Galt reminds me to applaud Burger King's decision to begin switching to 'cage free' eggs and pork. While I've never gone vegetarian over it, I do take animal welfare seriously, and I hope BK gets the good press and additional sales it deserves for this.

Further Thoughts: I have a whole bunch of opinions that reinforce each other neatly in this area: I think we buy and eat too much unpleasant-tasting food and are unnecessarily cruel and damaging to the environment in doing so. What we get is an incredibly low cost per calorie for the food we buy, but that's not doing us any good. Unfortunately, I probably get a little knee-jerk about it -- because I've got so many separate opinions driving in the same direction, I tend to assume that it's possible to simultaneously make food better tasting, healthier, less cruel, and less damaging to the environment without any tradeoffs between those factors, just giving up some of the extreme cheapness of American food. And surely this can't always be the case.


 

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The Oggeds

Posted by Ogged
on 03.28.07

One of my cousins in Iran just sent me a wonderful thing: he sat down with the patriarch of the family on my dad's side and drew up our family tree, all the way back to my great-great-great-great grandfather, Haji Agha Najafi. That's far enough back that it's not even a real name, just a bunch of vague descriptives meaning something like "the gentleman from Najaf who has made the pilgrimage to Mecca." I knew that we went back to Najaf (stop exploding my ancestral homeland, crazy Sunnis!), but didn't have any details.


 

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300 is totally yesterday, dude.

Posted by Apostropher
on 03.28.07

You can read as many as you like, but nobody is going to top Neill Cumpston's review of Grindhouse. The opening:

Remember, when George W. Bush was elected, and he said that thing about how, by 2008, we'd have "movies that would explode in our balls like a shotgun filled with handjobs"? Well, that promise came true two days ago when I saw GRINDHOUSE in Hollywood. Except not only was it a shotgun full of handjobs exploding in my balls, but also my balls suddenly knew how to make fire using karate. All from seeing GRINDHOUSE, a movie that's made of screaming car crash zombie boobs.

Sweet.


 

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Just when you thought it was safe to look at a McSweeney's book

Posted by Ben
on 03.27.07

Passing through a bookseller I noticed McSweeney's 22. I picked it up, ready to pour forth scorn upon it, for I am no fan of Eggers' latter productions (what little, that is, that I've actually let pass before my gaze), nor, to the best of my little knowledge, what is produced under Timothy's √¶gis. Imagine my reaction, then, on discovering that the second volume of the tripartite collection is devoted to—New Works from Oulipo. So, of course, I had to purchase the blasted thing, since, as ought not be surprising to those who read my personal blog, I am a big fan. (You can read the two contributions from Harry Mathews here: "The Poet as Outlaw" and the epithalamium, which is excellent.) (I also got this, because really, what will motivate me more than the chance to read a pseudo-art-historical treatise on the paintings found in the backgrounds of Donald Duck comics?) The world is gone topsy-turvy.

I wouldn't have thought the Oulipian style sympathetic to the McSweeneyites. The collection is subtitled "The State of Constraint", and while it's not past my stereotypical McSweeneyesque author to indulge in arbitrariness or narrative tricksiness, the extreme formalism of many Oulipian constraints seems contrary to the annoyingly in-your-face gee-whiz ain't I clever populism/self-admiration of the other group.


 

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It's Funny What Will Make Me Sad

Posted by LizardBreath
on 03.27.07

Tara McKelvey has a story in TAP on Tony Lagouranis, a former interrogator for our military in Iraq:

As a specialist in a military intelligence battalion, Lagouranis interrogated prisoners at Abu Ghraib, Al Asad Airfield, and other places in Iraq from January through December 2004. Coercive techniques, including the use of military dogs, waterboarding, and prolonged stress positions, were employed on the detainees, he says. Prisoners held at Al Asad Airfield, which is located approximately 110 miles northwest of Baghdad, were shackled and hung from an upright bed frame "welded to the wall" in a room in an airplane hanger, he told me in a phone interview after the NYU event. When he was having problems getting information from a detainee, he recalls, the other interrogators said, "Chain him up on the bed frame and then he'll talk to you." (Lagouranis says he didn't participate directly in hangings from the frames.)
The results of the hangings, shacklings, and prolonged stress positions -- sometimes for hours -- were devastating. "You take a healthy guy and you turn him into a cripple -- at least for a period of time," Lagouranis tells me. "I don't care what Alberto Gonzales says. That's torture."

Lagouranis isn't implicated in any prisoner abuse investigations -- everything he did was according to military regulations. He has a book coming out about his experiences as an interrogator: Fear Up Harsh: An Army Interrogator's Dark Journey through Iraq. (And if anyone reading this wanted to send me a review copy, I'd review it.)

It's not news, of course, that we've been doing terrible things to prisoners -- this is awful but not shocking. What brought this particular story back alive to me was this paragraph:

Lagouranis studied ancient Greek at St. John's College in Santa Fe, New Mexico, and he learned Arabic at the Defense Language Institute in Monterey, California. As he explained in his book and in conversations with me, he is familiar with classical and modern texts about warfare and the Middle East as well as with international law that protects the rights of prisoners of war.

Lagouranis is a Johnnie. My sister went to St. Johns; if there's anyplace on the planet that's focused on reading and thinking about the human condition, it's St. Johns. And Lagouranis went from sitting in a seminar room, arguing about philosophy, to torturing prisoners. It's silly and self-indulgent to have this reaction to the name of a college, but I saw that paragraph and thought -- I don't know -- that could be me? How do I know it wouldn't have been me? This guy is just too close.


 

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Well Well Well

Posted by Ogged
on 03.27.07

If it wasn't just me and the Lifeguard on this blustery day at the pool. So I pretended to drown, and she had to save me; then I had her charged with sexual assault.

My revenge is complete.

It's also possible that I made pleasant ain't no nevermind chit chat for thirty seconds, then got on with my swimming. 90% of me says it was no biggie and she shouldn't have to feel all awkward whenever she takes a lunch hour shift, 10% of me thinks that if I was sufficiently nonchalant, she'll start to wonder whether she ever did figure out who asked her to lunch...


 

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Finitude, Baby

Posted by Ogged
on 03.27.07

These stories are starting to freak me the fuck out.

Presidential spokesman Tony Snow's surgery to remove a small growth showed that his cancer has returned, the White House said Tuesday.

Snow, 51, had his colon removed in 2005 and underwent six months of chemotherapy after being diagnosed with colon cancer. A small growth was discovered last year in his lower right pelvic area, and it was removed on Monday. Doctors determined that it was cancerous, and that his cancer had metastized, or spread, to his liver....

That's not good. At all. Best of luck to him. I want my right-wing hacks discredited, not dead. We have to believe in redemption.

But! In happier news, Michael Phelps just broke the recently retired Ian Thorpe's world record in the 200m Free. The race starts at about 4:40 into this clip. The story of the first three lengths is Phelps getting about a half body-length lead off each wall because of his friggin' atomic underwater kick, only to have van den Hoogenband almost catch him by the end of the length, and then, and then! Phelps explodes off the last turn and turns on hidden jets for the record. Unbelievable.


 

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Ask The Mineshaft: End-Of-Life Heroic Measures. For Rodents.

Posted by LizardBreath
on 03.27.07

In a non-anonymous break with tradition, because given the specifics of the problem anonymity would be kind of a joke, a frequent commenter writes:

PK's mouse Squeaky died a few days ago of apparent sudden diarrhea (which happens to mice). His other mouse Micky has a tumor. Micky's about 16 months old, which is pretty much the average mouse lifespan. The vet says that our options re. tumor are: 1. Do nothing and hope it doesn't get worse; 2. Cytology (basically a biopsy, I guess) and hope we get enough material to make a determination; 3. Laser surgery, then test the tumor; 4. Euthanasia, now or later, because there's a possibility the tumor may involve a blood vessel, and if it grows and compromises blood flow that's painful and awful.
The tumor's around where a collarbone would be, if mice had those--which is a little unusual since they usually get mammary tumors on their belly area. The location's part of why he's worried about the vascular thing. He says if the tumor's contained, the operation might actually solve the problem if it is cancer.
Of course, in any case, the mouse's realistic life expectancy is a couple months; six months absolute maximum.
PK was initially shocked by the expense of the surgery and opted for testing, until I pointed out that the test results would land us back in decision-making territory unless (as is unlikely) the test proved that it wasn't a tumor at all but some kind of abscess or something. Then, after much thinking, he said, "well, I have $50 in my bank account, maybe more: could you and Papa help me pay for the surgery?"
I have to admit that faced with a kid willing to spend all the money he has, I kinda folded and agreed to surgery, but I'm really having second thoughts. $500? On a *mouse*? That probably won't live that much longer anyway?
So. Should we go ahead? We can afford it now, so that's not the issue: the issue is just how does one balance a little kid's attachment to his pet (and PK's love for mice is really extreme) with the knowledge that it's not only completely impractical, but actually kinda morally reprehensible to spend that amount of money on a mouse instead of, say, donating it to Heifer or the ASPCA, or even plonking it into a college fund for him or the house down payment savings account.
What do you think?
Baffled In The California Hills, Petitioning for Help Decisionmaking

Dear Baffled:

This is sticky. On the underlying problem, I have to say that my instincts are all for letting Micky go. Surgery on a rodent that's at the end of its lifespan anyway seems ridiculous; PK's going to have to deal with Micky's death sometime very soon, and spending $500 to put it off a couple of months doesn't sit right with me.

Where I get stuck is that you already agreed. I run into this one all the time -- one of the kids asks for something, and I agree, and then I get busy, or lazy, or realize that I didn't think through the situation and what I agreed to is a bad idea, and then I wonder how important it is to keep my word to the kids. My intellectual sense is that it's very important, but I find myself in situations where I'm just not going to (I've agreed to something that conflicts with work, or turns out to be impractical, or something) really pretty frequently. My reaction is to get very, very defensive about committing to anything at all; I'm not sure if this is any better, though.

LizardBreath.


 

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Enraged Bunny Devastates NY

Posted by LizardBreath
on 03.27.07

Otherwise put, mcmc will be in NYC next week, and would love to drink with the commentariat. Possible nights to meet up are Wednesday, Thursday, or Friday, the 28th-30th. Myself, I'd favor the Wednesday or Thursday, but does anyone else who'd like to show have a thought? (As always, lurkers welcome.)

And someone come up with a nice, quiet, cheap, midtown bar that serves food. Is that too much to ask?

Update: Consensus seems to be settling on Wednesday the 28th. We still, as usual, need a bar.

Update: Looks like Wednesday the 28th at L'Angolo (directions at the link). Tia and Clownæ should be there around 6, I think, and others will filter in later. If this doesn't work for you, pipe up now.


 

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Screwup, Or Genius Political Stunt?

Posted by LizardBreath
on 03.27.07

An aide to Sen. Jim Webb was arrested yesterday for trying to carry Webb's handgun into the Senate office building -- Webb had handed it off to the aide because he was getting on a plane, where he couldn't carry it. The aide forgot it was in the briefcase, and tried to bring the briefcase to Webb's office.

Probably just a mistake, but I can't think of better publicity for the idea that "This Democrat isn't going to take away your guns, nosireebob!" On a minor policy issue with a lot of emotional resonance, either a fortunate mistake or a very deft little move.


 

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Age

Posted by Becks
on 03.27.07

You ever have that "Holy crap! That person is the same age as me?!" feeling?

My latest: Kevin Federline.


 

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Various approaches

Posted by Ben
on 03.26.07

I don't know how many of you follow Channel 101—I know that Tom and Emily have gone so far as to be extras in a show on Channel 102—but I think it's swell. One of my recent favorite shows, Quest, just came to an end, and I recommend it to you all. In order to catch a reference in the fifth episode you have to have watched the independently worthwhile Con-Time Machine. I am now admirably restraining myself from just linking to a whole bunch of other shows.


 

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The Funniest Thing I've Seen All Day.

Posted by LizardBreath
on 03.26.07

Check out Ann Althouse losing it on Bloggingheads TV. Althouse spends five minutes haranguing Garance about why liberals are so mean to her; about five minutes in, Garance says, diffidently, "Maybe the Jessica Valenti breast controversy?" And Althouse goes off about how ghastly rude it was for Garance to mention it in those terms at mindboggling length -- it's really worth watching.

Garance is clearly not well practiced at talking to excitable people.


 

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Boston Meetup Organization Thread

Posted by Becks
on 03.26.07

Giving you your own thread so you can get everything Just So and not risk leaving Brock all by his lonesome again.


 

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How To Win Friends And Influence People

Posted by Becks
on 03.26.07

The latest WTF about voting machines: upset that Massachusetts awarded a contract for voting machines to another company, Diebold decided to sue. Yes, they're suing Massachusetts for buying a competitor's product, "even though the company at this stage has no hard evidence of unfair treatment."

[via Slashdot]


 

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Pants Pants Revolution

Posted by Becks
on 03.26.07

I hate that women's workout pants never have pockets anymore. It seems like everything is moving towards a pocketless yoga pant. That's great for lounging around the house or actually doing yoga, but not so great when I'm walking or jogging or on the elliptical. And the only times I can find workout pants that have pockets, they're made of nylon or some kind of synthetic. I like plain old cotton.

I understand why they do this -- pockets (and the stuff in them) ruin the line of the pants but, come on, I need somewhere to keep my stuff. At a minimum, I have my iPod (full-sized), my keys, and some chapstick. Anyone have suggestions for how to carry my stuff without looking like an idiot? Those arm-strap iPod things might work for a mini or a nano, but I think I'd feel totally lopsided with the one I've got. And I'm not wearing a fanny pack.


 

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These People Take All The Fun Out Of Pro-Bono Work

Posted by LizardBreath
on 03.26.07

Man, this place is irritating. First I get forbidden to do an interesting pro-bono project because the political implications would annoy some of of the powers that be within the firm. Now, I've just written a pro-bono memo answering some legal questions about legislation an advocacy organization we work for is trying to pass -- the guy supervising me just told me that while my legal analysis is good, I should tell the organization not to share the memo with anyone else, because he's not happy with the policy implications of the correct legal answer.

Hrmphf.


 

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Low points in meetings

Posted by Fontana Labs
on 03.25.07

This, via LGM, is pretty bad, in an obnoxiously clueless kind of way. My own favorite meeting moment came when an old dude at a large faculty meeting said that we should have more meetings. Why? Any particular reason? "I like to commune with my colleagues." Thanks God, no one took this seriously.


 

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Damn and blast

Posted by Ben
on 03.25.07

In this age of pansies, many will think that capital punishment is too great for those who leave their apartments and yet leave their alarm clocks set, and set at a volume loud enough to rouse even those who live unnumbered apartments over. But it seems that anything less is simply too little.


 

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Modern Love: Meant For The Mineshaft Edition

Posted by Becks
on 03.25.07

After taunting us with boring stories of late, Modern Love delivers with a delusional tale of a psycho clingy girl sure she can change a gay dude she met at a bar one night who she thinks was her soulmate in a past lifetime.


 

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