This being a special holiday weekend, I put on my sporty sandal-type footwear and headed to our local ocean. Pictures here. I saw surfers. I chatted with one briefly, but he couldn't tell me how they decide which waves to let pass and which to try to ride.
Fontana Labs claims that noted song "Summer of '69" is "so evocative of a sad kind of nostalgia"; in saying this he is offering his support to Becks, who finds it "utterly depressing" and despair-inducing. But let's take a look at those so-called "sweet" lyrics, shall we?
What sorts of things do we find praised and referred to as exponents of happy youth? A guitar purchased at a five-and-dime; a garage band; standing on a porch with one's inamorata; drive-ins. Fairly standard stuff, of course. An electric guitar isn't precisely timeless, and neither is a drive-in movie theater, but, if the former is purchased at a five-and-dime (or, even better, out of the Sears, Roebuck catalog) we recognize them as belonging to the halcyon past—and porch-standing is honored by time. But what timeliness they do have marks them out not as belonging to 1969 at all, but (modulo garage bands) the previous decade, or earlier. Obviously Adams is trading on popular associations with the specific things he adduces, and popular associations with the late 60's, without being at all concerned to make them fit together. Just as Beetle Bailey has managed to last its whole tenure long without referring to a single American military adventure, the perspective in the song bears absolutely no relation to its titular season. The closest we might come is one of the final verses:
But clearly the changing times here, and "what went wrong", have nothing much to do with anything of significance.
And now the times are changin'
Look at everything that's come and gone
Sometimes when I play that old six-string
I think about ya wonder what went wrong
Some might criticize Adams and say that he's engaging in a dishonest and artistically capricious exploitation of his audience by assembling these cues together so haphazardly. I laud their aim, but know a much uglier term for the acts described: meretriciousness.
Ok, that date is no good. Leave a comment with dates that work for you in June or July and we'll find a time.
We've been waiting and waiting for that prima donna, Armsmasher, to finalize that dates he'll be in town because god fucking forbid we have the meetup without him, but let's go ahead with the tentative date he gave me, because it's fast approaching. So, does sometime during the weekend of June 9 work for the locals?
All I know about Notre Dame, now NFL, quarterback Brady Quinn is that he plays cover-the-crotch and dresses up to do the Village People YMCA dance. That's enough to make him the official quarterback of Unfogged.
I've been trying not to blog about Iran, because the mullahs suck, but saying so right now is just more fuel for the war machine. And yet, just scrolling down the front page of this blog, looking at the photos and scanning the text, is too arresting not to share.
The "veranda" at my mechanic's. Free wifi, and coffee for those so inclined. I love these guys.
All the dog-training books (and my experience derived from them) say that you get much better results from rewarding an animal for doing what you want than from punishing it for misbehavior. Under the bold and inaccurate assumption that Congress perceives posts in C (D? N?)-list blogs as either rewards or punishments, kudos to the House Leadership for passing a bill requiring campaigns to disclose bundled contributions received from lobbyists. It could have been broader -- it only requires disclosure of lobbyist-bundled contributions, not all bundled contributions -- but it's an excellent step in the right direction, and the Senate's already passed something similar so it's probably actually going to get made into law.
(I'd also praise the increase in the minimum wage, but considering what it was attached to, I can't actually think of it as a good move.)
Surely there's a mundane explanation for this oddly worded note about The Ogged from SEK, whom The Ogged has never met. But The Ogged is wondering if someone impersonated him at a conference. Given that this is SEK we're dealing with, the outlandish seems not improbable. The Ogged has some hangups about being misrepresented, let alone impersonated, but if there's one thing he's learned as a major internet celebrity, it's that the little people need to have their fun. Ogg it up, my munchkins!
Let's be generous and say that with a block start, I could do the 50 free in 27 seconds.
The venerable Seminary Co-op is having its annual members-only sale (20% off!), so of course I bought some books, and then, when reviewing the total, discovered that I'd be saving about $30. So clearly I should take the savings and buy another book, right?
There's lazy, and then there's Las Vegas lazy.
In increasing numbers, Las Vegas tourists exhausted by the four miles of gluttony laid out before them are getting around on electric "mobility scooters."
Don't think trendy Vespa motorbikes. Think updated wheelchair.
Forking over about $40 a day and their pride, perfectly healthy tourists are cruising around Las Vegas casinos in transportation intended for the infirm.
And for Ogged:
Michelle Bailey, a slender, apparently healthy 22-year-old, used a scooter to get around a recent pool tournament at the Riviera hotel-casino. "Four-inch heels," she explained with a laugh, pointing to her lipstick-red pumps.
It felt a little like ratting to snap a pic of our teenaged summer intern, asleep with his feet on his desk, and send it to a few people, but other people had seen him, or heard him SNORING, so I wasn't actually adding information. I don't bear the rich and privileged any ill will; the ones I've known have been decent or annoying about in proportion to the rest of the people I've known, and I don't expect them to give away their wealth to live virtuous lives. That said, this is the third intern we've had while I've been here (people either related to the owners or children of clients) and the second one who regularly falls asleep--although he doesn't, thankfully, surf porn sites like his predecessor did. And I confess that this pisses me off. The experience that they're getting here, in seeing how a real company operates, and being taught simply how to behave in one, is invaluable. Not to mention that very few other kids get to sit with a trader all day to see how he works, or with an equity analyst, as he explains his research process. Kid, the stuff that you're learning is by the minute moving you even closer to the top of the American class system, and you can show a little goddamn humility and gratitude for your great good luck.
Hiring for career positions in the Justice Department was being done on the basis of the political positions of the applicants. If you don't think Gonzales deserves impeachment for this, is it because you think violating law and civil service rules to politicize law enforcement is no big deal, or because you think that it's unreasonable to hold Gonzales responsible for what his aides do, or is there some third option I haven't thought of? Further along the same lines: given that Bush is stating his support for Gonzales's actions throughout this mess, what's the rationale for saying that he doesn't deserve precisely the same treatment.
I am so sick and angry about this story I can't write anything coherent.
Andrew Lloyd Webber sees the world differently than you and me.
Music impresario Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber only threatened to sue his ex-wife Sarah Brightman for publicly discussing the size of his penis, because of bad timing. Lord Lloyd-Webber was horrified when Brightman appeared on British chat show So Graham Norton, boasting of the composer's large appendage. Singer Brightman recently admitted she had received legal threats from her ex following her revelation, but he decided not to sue.
I don't think my ex reads this site, but just in case: I will not sue you for making similar revelations.
During the first Democratic debate, the candidates were asked who believed there was an actual war on terror. Five of the nine candidates raised their hands; the four who did not were, unsurprisingly, Kucinich and Gravel, and (perhaps) less expectedly, Edwards and Biden. John Edwards gave a speech today at the Council on Foreign Relations explaining his stance. It's long, but this came right at the beginning:
The core of this presidency has been a political doctrine that George Bush calls the "Global War on Terror." He has used this doctrine like a sledgehammer to justify the worst abuses and biggest mistakes of his administration, from Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib, to the war in Iraq. The worst thing about the Global War on Terror approach is that it has backfired--our military has been strained to the breaking point and the threat from terrorism has grown.
We need a post-Bush, post-9/11, post-Iraq American military that is mission-focused on protecting Americans from 21st century threats, not misused for discredited ideological pursuits. We need to recognize that we have far more powerful weapons available to us than just bombs, and we need to bring them to bear. We need to reengage the world with the full weight of our moral leadership. [...]
The president has played political brinksmanship over the war in Iraq time and time again. He refuses to acknowledge the futility of his approach, disregards the clear message sent by the American people last fall, and falsely claims that the only way for Congress to support the troops is to prolong the war. That's just not true. Congress can support the troops and end the war, which is exactly what the bill they sent the president last month would have done. When the president vetoed that bill, it was the president alone who was blocking support for the troops. Nobody else.
Any compromise that funds the war through the end of the fiscal year isn't a compromise at all, it's a capitulation. As I have said repeatedly, Congress should send the president the same bill he vetoed again and again until he realizes he has no choice but to start bringing our troops home.
There you go. Clinton and Obama, the ball's in your court.
I don't care what you all say, this is funny.
I count it as a good thing that a young man can leave the world behind for a while and make his way in the middle of nowhere. When nowhere is beautiful and still in America, all the better. Amazing pictures, too. via the hero
I'm going to the beach over Memorial Day weekend with some friends. It's been a while since I had some time off and it's a great group that's going so I'm pretty excited. Except...I'm also a little nervous.
I get nervous when I don't think I'll be good at something and, well, I don't know if I'll be good at going to the beach. It's been years since I've been to one. Most of my vacations involve going to strange cities and exploring them. I'm quite good at that and if, by the end of my trip, I've explored it to my satisfaction, I feel like I've conquered it. I've won. I've beaten the city.
I don't understand how one wins at the beach yet. From what I've gathered from my discussions with people, it involves a lot of relaxing. This worries me because I'm much better at doing than relaxing. I worry that I'm going to be like a little kid: we'll get down to the beach, set up, and after 20 minutes I'll be asking "So now what do we do?" to which someone will reply "We sit here and relax." I'll sit quiet and fidgety for five minutes and then be like "So what do we do now?" Lather, rinse, repeat.
Don't get me wrong -- I'm really looking forward to the trip and I think it's going to be a lot of fun. It's just that I can envision the activities that take place in the evening, like board games and bonfires and walks in the moonlight, because that involves doing stuff, but not the actual beach time, full of lazy hours of just sitting in the sun. It seems ridiculous to admit this, as that's probably most people's idea of perfection, but I'm not very good at doing nothing and relaxing. Maybe this will be my chance to learn.
Clarence Thomas doesn't have much to say.
Justice Clarence Thomas sat through 68 hours of oral arguments in the Supreme Court's current term without uttering a word. [...] The last time Thomas asked a question in court was Feb. 22, 2006, in a death penalty case out of South Carolina. [...] Thomas has spoken 281 words since court transcripts began identifying justices by name in October 2004. By contrast, Thomas' neighbor on the bench, Justice Stephen Breyer, has uttered nearly 35,000 words since January.
Also, I had no idea that Thomas grew up speaking Geechee.
I just had one of many daily "Wait, what the hell was I doing?" moments. I thought, "Am I waiting for a program on a computer in another part of the office to finish running?" But no, I was waiting for a person in that part of the office to give me something. A hazy memory with spatial cues and fuzzy categories. I do this kind of thing constantly: I know I was going to do something in the kitchen, so I go there; I know it had something to do with liquid, so I look around, not water, not milk, V8! But I wasn't going to drink it, I meant to put it on a shopping list. Etc. Everyone does this, right?
It's really hard to make this separation of powers thing work if you knuckle under every time there's a conflict, guys.
Henley links to the page of professional triathlete Desiree Ficker, where the banner has her broadly smiling face next to the tagline, "If it's hurting me, it's killing them." Such a perfect example of how endurance athletes, and triathletes in particular, think. Suffering, if not it's own reward, is a sign that you're doing good work--the more you suffer, the more you can suffer, the better you are. A few years ago, I was reading about America's next big cycling hope, whose name I've now forgotten, who'd been hit by a semi on a training ride, and like Armstrong's cancer, that had been his rite of passage--he even said something about how the pain of training was nothing compared to the pain of his injuries, so he could train even harder now. I don't have a particular point to make here, I'm just fascinated by this idea of suffering as being good for you. I buy it (at least pre-reflectively) to some extent, and since so many of my friends are guilt-ridden Catholics, it seems pretty normal. But the ex, who is Jewish, had absolutely no interest in suffering for the sake of suffering, and that view sure has some intuitive appeal.
Hilzoy points out a fascinating article in Slate noting that the American Center for Voting Rights, the primary nongovernmental organization arguing that polling place fraud is a significant problem that necessitates tighter polling place security and voter ID rules, has just evaporated, leaving not a trace behind. It's apparently served its purpose, making it look as though there were some legitimate non-partisan motivation behind Republican efforts to shrink the voter rolls.
Along the same lines, check out this TPM post from a few days ago quoting Royal Masset, the former political director of the Texas Republican Party.
Among Republicans it is an "article of religious faith that voter fraud is causing us to lose elections," Masset said. He doesn't agree with that, but does believe that requiring photo IDs could cause enough of a dropoff in legitimate Democratic voting to add 3 percent to the Republican vote. (emphasis added)
He said it, not me. Sounds about right, though.
Yglesias makes a simple and important point that's often overlooked.
...on a lot of issues it doesn't really matter what politicians "really" think. If Romney wins the White House with a pro-life political persona, then there's every reason to think he'll stay committed to that persona even if he has no real convictions about the issues.
Exactly. There are certain positions a president of either party can't back away from, on pain of losing all political support. In fact, it might be the case that someone who doesn't "really" believe in required position X will be more zealous in defending it, precisely because of perceptions that he's not fully committed. Of course, this all gets very complicated when the issue isn't clearly demarcated and doesn't have an existing powerful lobby. Character and personal beliefs still matter, as the rise of presidentially sanctioned torture demonstrates.
I've decided that the best way to solve the documentation/communication problem is to move our documentation to a wiki with an rss feed for changes. We're small enough and procedures change infrequently enough that no one will be overwhelmed by updates, and this way, no matter how the information gets into the company, in theory, it can be shared by anyone with everyone, and then everyone can decide whether they need to do anything differently. So do y'all have any experience with corporate wikis? I'd like to host it locally, so online services like wetpaint and pbwiki are out. Ideally, it won't require people to learn any new markup languages like textile or even html. The Wiki Matrix is very helpful, but not as good as someone with some expertise telling me what actually works and what's buggy.
I've reached a point in my life where I don't have to rely on introspection or aspiration or self-deceit to answer the question of what I'm like. There's a lot of evidence by now. So I was driving along, thinking about fun, and it occurred to me to inventory the sources of pleasure that I reliably seek out. The key to the mind-cleansing part of this exercise was to exclude those things that I don't actively put myself in a position to do, even if I enjoy them. My specific list isn't important, but it was instructive that an honest look at what I've done excluded stuff like "helping people," which anyone would be tempted to put on their list, but which experience indicates I don't really care that much about. Obviously, this is marred by tendencies toward self-loathing or self-congratulation, but give it a shot, it might help sort out some priorities.
A reporter wondered why the hell there were so many people out and about in San Francisco during business hours, so he went around asking. Turns out there are a lot of people who think they can write. I hope Modern Love is around in twenty years so they can finally get one thing published.
A few days ago, eb linked to this Michael Jordan clip. It's him just catching the ball and shooting a shot, but nobody moves like Michael. So beautiful.
I feel obligated to link to Yglesias's "Ultimate Nineties Alt-Rock Playlist."
My own 90s music listening went something like: Pearl Jam in the early nineties, whatever was playing at the university pool hall for the mid-nineties (lots of Nirvana and Public Enemy, as I recall), then the Anthology of American Folk Music for the late nineties. But I think I recognize about 3/4 of the songs Matt's picked, so they must have been truly inescapable.
Nancy Nall notices something that's been bothering me-- the use of the name "Cornhole" for the newly popular game involving tossing beanbags into a target. Since I instinctively think of the other definition, it's a little unnerving (read: exciting!) to see signs for "cornhole tournament" or "Thursday night cornhole" or whatever cropping up at all the campus bars.
Some fine-looking twin brothers in Missouri slept with the same woman on the same day, and now neither one wants to pay child support.
are all over NYC -- the first one I noticed was up on 83rd and 5th, nowhere near Times Square. They convey absolutely no useful meaning to me at all, and I can't imagine anyone else understands them without having seen an explanation somewhere.
I've been grumbling about them for a couple of months, and finally googled for the explanation. Honestly, while the traffic changes described may have been a good idea, is there any possible way a driver could have figured out what they were supposed to do from the sign pictured? I don't know what the DOT is smoking.
The simple version of why free trade is good for everyone is that Country A can make Product X more easily and cheaply than Product Y; Country B can make Y more easily and cheaply than X, and through the miracle of comparative advantage, Country A sells X to Country B, Country B sells Y to Country A, and everyone has more stuff than if everyone made all their own products locally. When you start getting into real-world questions about why, in individual cases, certain products can be more cheaply made in Country B (say, for the sake of argument, China), it gets a little less unambiguously beneficial for everyone.
For years, U.S. inspection records show, China has flooded the United States with foods unfit for human consumption. And for years, FDA inspectors have simply returned to Chinese importers the small portion of those products they caught -- many of which turned up at U.S. borders again, making a second or third attempt at entry.
Now the confluence of two events -- the highly publicized contamination of U.S. chicken, pork and fish with tainted Chinese pet food ingredients and this week's resumption of high-level economic and trade talks with China -- has activists and members of Congress demanding that the United States tell China it is fed up.
Dead pets and melamine-tainted food notwithstanding, change will prove difficult, policy experts say, in large part because U.S. companies have become so dependent on the Chinese economy that tighter rules on imports stand to harm the U.S. economy, too.
A significant part of the reason goods produced in the US are comparatively expensive is that we have the sort of regulations that make it less likely that consumers will be injured by, say, tainted foods, let alone our labor laws that make it less likely that workers will be injured producing them. Treating the absence of such laws overseas as a simple matter of comparative advantage doesn't work well -- we have those laws here because we want their protections, and we think they're worth paying for, and when we buy cheaper goods from China we're giving them up.
This certainly doesn't make everything described as "Free Trade" a bad idea, but we do need to remember that the simple story where everyone wins when trade barriers go down is oversimplified.
As you've probably read on other blogs, some members of Congress have been taking the Food Stamp Challenge this last week, where they are trying to live on a food budget of $21 a week. Representative Tim Ryan from Ohio just learned firsthand that, as one of his commenters put it, "'just barely enough' is the same as 'one accident away from disaster'" when his peanut butter and jelly were confiscated by the TSA. Now he has 33 cents and a bag of cornmeal to last him the rest of the week.
"How is your swim going?"
Thus did the Brit in the lime green swim cap begin chatting up the young Asian lady in the lane next to him. Genius! "How is your swim going?" So simple, so effective. He even recovered from her not hearing or understanding him the first time, so he just...repeated it. They must have chatted for a good five minutes. She's probably carrying his baby now.
Because I never have, and because I'm moved to emulation by Jim Henley's Unqualified Puppy, here's DogBreath, immortalized by cellphone.
This week's Modern Love is pretty exciting. Can you make longstanding family difficulties worse by writing about them in the NYT? You betcha!
It's an emotional rollercoaster. We start off with a harrowing ascent:
MY wife and I have been married 27 years, but her first husband still wants her back. When we're together at family functions, he tells everyone that he's just waiting for me to die so he and Julie can remarry. He acts like he's joking, but he means every word of it.
Christ, what an asshole! Frank and Julie married (and had kids) young. Frank walked out because he'd missed out on his youth. Author Kevin came along, but Kevin and Julie didn't have children, so Kevin and Julie run into Frank at all the family get-togethers. Now Frank works out his frustrations with a badminton racket:
After witnessing several of these humiliations, my granddaughter Ashleigh asked him: "Why do you always play so hard against Grandpa Kevin? It's supposed to be just for fun."
Frank smiled at her and said, "I have to pay him back for stealing Granny Julie away from me."
Wow, Frank sounds like a real dick. On the other hand, Kevin, man up: you say you're younger and more healthy, so stand up for yourself. Besides, you and your wife have a great life together, right? No need to worry.
And what a minefield it has been: bankruptcy, foreclosure, brief homelessness, the repossession of two vehicles, nearly 20 changes of address, numerous job changes and even a year's separation.
Whoa, that first descent is a doozy! At least you worked through the hard times together.
All my life I have pursued my passion -- writing -- without unduly concerning myself with our financial needs. I've been able to do this because Julie has put aside her passions -- horses, gardening, photography -- and gone to her job as an escrow officer each weekday to earn a living.
When we married, it was with the well-intended but overly optimistic understanding that she would support my writing until my writing could support us both. And so I have written short stories and poems and novels and essays and newspaper articles and much more. I have spent thousands of dollars attending writing conferences and hiring professional editors to help me perfect my manuscripts. And I have never made more than a pittance in return for these literary labors.
Oh, now I'm getting it. Your wife supported you and your tremendously successful manuscripts. Meanwhile Frank was busting his ass as a union man, which leads us to the big payback:
And it is this financial reality that gives Frank hope that he will one day recover his wife. He was a member of the Teamsters union for three decades and retired with a full pension and good health care benefits. In a few years he will qualify for Social Security. His home is almost paid for. Over the last two decades, he has been able to save quite a bit of money. If Julie were married to him, she could quit working and spend her days gardening, riding horses, taking pictures and reading.
Kevin's feeling like things aren't going his way, so he plays the only card he's got-- writing-- to knock his rival out of the scene with a hit piece. My verdict: tools all around.
Lots of discussion of "selling out" by bands who let their songs be used in commercials, although Media Czech, who disapproves, never really gives a reason why, and Amanda, Lemieux and Atrios, who approve, don't really address why people get upset. Look, making music is a tough way to make a living, and bands should take whatever money they're comfortable taking, but there's no denying that for "consumers" of music, listening is, to varying degrees, a form of self-expression and also a way to feel that they have a sympathetic cohort in the band and other fans. When a band gains exposure, either by going big or appearing in a commercial, the meaning of that self-expression is changed or lost entirely, and the cohort so diluted that there's no longer any real felt sympathy. That's understandably upsetting to fans. (And maybe this makes the fans sound pathetic, but they're usually young and figuring out who they are and give them a break already.) That's not to say that the bands have an affirmative duty to protect the fans from heartbreak at a cost to the bands themselves, but it's not hard to see where the animus toward "selling out" is coming from.
Apparently, John McCain is quite the pet lover -- two dogs, a cat, two turtles, a tankful of saltwater fish, and most importantly, a ferret.
KCinDC, a commenter at Obsidian Wings noted that this opens a wonderful opportunity for McCain to bring the ferret to the next Republican debate, and taunt Giuliani with it. I want this to happen so badly, and I've been really good this year... please, reality, can you arrange for this to take place? I won't ask for anything else for ages.
Dude, not a smart move:
KNOXVILLE (WATE) -- A Tennessee State Trooper is on paid leave after allegations surface about sex at a traffic stop.
The woman involved is apparently an adult video actress who lives in Knoxville. She has posted a vivid description of the incident on her personal website and blog.
You're pretending that you don't want to read the entry. Of course it's nsfw.