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Good Times

Posted by Ogged
on 06.23.07

Just saw Once, which seems constantly as if it's about to fall over into saccharine, but manages to stay, as the tomatometer will attest, irresistibly sweet throughout. Definitely worth going to if you want to spend a happy couple of hours.


 

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O RLY?

Posted by Apostropher
on 06.23.07

Looks like somebody understands how to play this game.

Washington, D.C. House Democratic Caucus Chairman Rahm Emanuel issued the following statement regarding his amendment to cut funding for the Office of the Vice President from the bill that funds the executive branch. The legislation -- the Financial Services and General Government Appropriations bill -- will be considered on the floor of the House of Representatives next week.

"The Vice President has a choice to make. If he believes his legal case, his office has no business being funded as part of the executive branch. However, if he demands executive branch funding he cannot ignore executive branch rules. At the very least, the Vice President should be consistent. This amendment will ensure that the Vice President's funding is consistent with his legal arguments. I have worked closely with my colleagues on this amendment and will continue to pursue this measure in the coming days."

Well played, indeed.


 

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Applying a double dose of sanctimony directly to your anus

Posted by Fontana Labs
on 06.23.07

I recently made the mistake of trying to do all of my shopping at Ogged's beloved Whole Foods, a errand including, on this particular week, buying toilet paper. What? None of the conventional brands? I had to go with a product from Seventh Generation, a company which, ominously, takes its name from a line in the constitution of the Iroquois Confederacy. Just as you'd suspect, the product has the feel of elementary school paper towels: abrasive and unsatisfying. I cannot imagine that this is the most efficient way of minimizing environmental impact.


 

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Recs

Posted by Ogged
on 06.22.07

I saw The Girl in the Café last night, and the awkward, halting courtship of the first half is fabulous. Not sure what I think about the political stuff in the second half, but it's definitely worth a spot in your queue.

And I've now watched the first disk-and-a-half of the Planet Earth series and it's wall-to-wall amazing. It does really really make me wish I had a high definition television, but I soldier on, and it's stunning. You can watch quite a few clips on YouTube, but of course they don't give the feel of the thing.


 

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Venting

Posted by Ogged
on 06.22.07

I just got a call from a collection agency about a medical bill, which surprised me, because I've been massively anal about my medical bills so as not to screw up my credit in case I want to buy a house. And what's that address you have for me, again? Oh, guess what, fuckwits, THAT'S NOT MY ADDRESS. Never got a bill, never got a call. The second most annoying part of this is that of course the woman from the agency assumes that I'm lying and trying not to pay. And this after she started the conversation in supersleuth mode by asking me for my address. I wouldn't give it to her, so she said, "Ok, just verify your birthday then." "Ma'am, I don't know who you are, I'm not going to give you any information." After we'd established who she was and what she was calling about, she asked for my work number. I told her the number she had (my cell) was a fine way to reach me. "So are you declining to provide your employment information?" Jesus Christ.

Yup. I got in touch with the place that had the original bill, and as I suspected, they had wrong info all over the place. Wrong insurer, a wrong digit in the group number, and a wrong digit in the member ID. Not only should it not have gone to collections, I'm probably not responsible for it at all. But the nice lady said she'd try to get it all taken care of. We'll see.


 

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Is There An Eighth Grader In The House?

Posted by Becks
on 06.22.07

Sure, Bush & Co. have made playing fast and loose with the Constitution a cornerstone of their administration, but claiming that the Vice President is part of the Legislative branch instead of the Executive? That takes their level of contempt for the Constitution that they swore to uphold to a new level.


 

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A man, his guns, and his RealDolls.

Posted by Apostropher
on 06.22.07

Which he does not dress like whores, dammit, and with whom he intends to be buried.

These dolls are worth everything to me, yeah. I'd rather live with them in a cardboard box in a frozen terrain than live, than to live in the biggest castle on, on a planet without 'em. I'll put it that way. Because as good as the sex is with them, the peace of mind is even better.

Safe for work, but still. Via Erica Barnett, who notes that Gordon's YouTube site has more interviews and, of course, he has a MySpace page. He's also quite emphatic that he does not post nor offer nude pictures of his Dolls because he's not about to share them. So don't even ask, you pervs.


 

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Check Her Out

Posted by LizardBreath
on 06.22.07

Heebie's going to be guestposting at Bitch Phd's starting Tuesday. So, everyone go make trouble in the comments.


 

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More Evidence That Environment Significantly Affects IQ

Posted by LizardBreath
on 06.22.07

Who would have guessed? While the linked story refers to a smallish average difference between first-born (that is, raised as the oldest in the family) children and later born children, it's always nice seeing another nail in the coffin of claims that differences in average measured IQ between population groups must be explained by genetic differences.

(Interestingly, the study shows that first-born children have slightly higher IQs as adults, but that the effect is reversed when they and their younger siblings are under 12. Later-born children are apparently more precocious, but peak a little lower. I would have expected the 'more precocious' bit from looking at people I know: all the second kids I know read and did other things earlier than their older siblings, probably because of tutoring by/emulation of those siblings.)


 

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Commute day one

Posted by Ben
on 06.21.07

By the end of this summer I will be in the best cardiovascular shape of my life, assuming my heart hasn't exploded first.


 

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Complete

Posted by Ogged
on 06.21.07

I'm leaning about 51 to 49 that this is a parody band. An interview with the artists.

Either way, this is some amazing shit.

thanks to j.e.b. for the tip


 

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Squished Your Head

Posted by Ogged
on 06.21.07

There are two things wrong with Megan's otherwise amusing post about her crushes. First, I can't figure out if I'm included. Second, what is a grown woman doing with only twelve crushes in her life? I think I have that many going right now.


 

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It's Raining Social

Posted by Ogged
on 06.21.07

A reminder that the bay area meetup is July 7 at Jupiter in Berkeley. We haven't set a time, but will closer to the day. Lurkers welcome, as always. And it turns out that Heebie-Geebie will be in town and available for a meetup on July 22, so speak up if you're interested in that.


 

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Chinese Chinese

Posted by Ogged
on 06.21.07

Folks are wondering why it's hard to find authentic Chinese food in the States. I'll tell you why! Because authentic Chinese food is basically adventure eating. It's not something you go out for when you can't think of what to have on a Friday night. A few years ago, I went here (reviews here) and what's pictured is about a third of the various dishes we saw and a lot of them were unidentifiable to us by sight, taste, or texture. Some things were incredibly good, much of the rest was just odd; maybe an acquirable taste, maybe not.


 

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Bloomberg For Spoiler?

Posted by LizardBreath
on 06.21.07

So, it looks as though billionare playboy Mike Bloomberg may be taking some time off from fighting crime in a mask so that he can run for president. Is this a good thing or a bad thing for those of us rooting for a sane and reasonably progressive president? I'm generally lousy at this sort of political calculation, but I think it might be good for the Democrats having Bloomberg in the race.

First, while I often don't like the policies he comes up with, he's a dry-as-dust data-driven policy wonky type: he's not my kind of guy, but he's playing my kind of politics. In a three-way debate between either Edwards or Obama, Bloomberg, and whichever Republican they run, while Bloomberg and the Democrat are going to be disagreeing on policy, they'll probably be talking about the same underlying facts, while the Republican babbles nonsense about the terrorist boogeyman under our beds. In a two-person debate, that can work: you just call the guy talking about the facts a liar, and figure no one will call you on it (see Bush/Gore debates, passim). In a three-way debate, though, where you've got two people discussing recognizably the same version of reality, the odd man out is going to look out of touch.

Second, on the spoiler issue: I think he takes more votes from Republicans than from Democrats. He's not a personally attractive candidate -- he's got all of Ross Perot's drawbacks except the crazy, but with the additional detriments of being boring and a New Yorker. (I know, so are half the other candidates, but Bloomberg is visibly New Yorkier than any of them. Oh, who am I kidding. He's Jewish. I'm not saying anti-Semitism, exactly, would make him unelectable, but it's going to add to the perception of him as a big-city alien.) So anyone voting for him is doing it because they feel driven to it -- they simply can't vote for either the Republican or the Democrat. In this election, I think that's going to be mostly the sort of conservatives driven more by despising liberals than by anything positive -- the sort of not-entirely divorced from reality blogospheric dead enders who know that the war in Iraq is an incompetent nightmare, the Justice Department (and the rest of the civil service) has been corrupted and politicized, and the GWOBadness, as prosecuted by the Bush Administration, is a sick joke, but still say things like "Yet given my choice in 2000/2004, I can't regret my vote -- Gore/Kerry would have been so much worse." Those are votes that no Democratic candidate conceivable could get, but with Bloomberg in the race, the Republican can lose. I just don't see a similar category of possible Democratic voters at risk of going for him.

All this assumes Bloomberg's running to win. If he enters the race as an intentional spoiler working for the Republicans, he can almost certainly hurt us very badly. But if that's not the case, I think having him in the race may be a good thing.


 

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Sugar And Spice

Posted by Ogged
on 06.21.07

I love this picture of Tara Kirk (group shot, bottom right), who is probably the second best female breaststroker in the world. Big smile, cute dress, girly pose, and triceps she could use to pound you into dust.


 

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Enhance your experience

Posted by Ben
on 06.20.07


 

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I Get Allergic Smelling Hay

Posted by Ogged
on 06.20.07

Some parts of this might be one-sided, but I would dearly love for a reporter to spend some time in the American "heartland" and say that it sucks and the people are close-minded and petty. They already think we think that, so someone might as well say it and put them on the defensive.


 

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Lament

Posted by Ogged
on 06.20.07

Breaststroke, breaststroke mine
Shall I sing your sweet rhythm in rhyme
Or curse you like beauty that cloaks
What in those eyes it defines?

Breaststroke, breaststroke mine
O rippling siren song
What am I, when strangers sing back
"Nice and long, I like that"?


 

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Great Minds

Posted by Ogged
on 06.20.07

I'll just repeat, this country is so fucked. Here's Scalia at a conference of judges in Canada.

Jack Bauer saved Los Angeles. ... He saved hundreds of thousands of lives. Are you going to convict Jack Bauer? Say that criminal law is against him? 'You have the right to a jury trial?' Is any jury going to convict Jack Bauer? I don't think so. So the question is really whether we believe in these absolutes. And ought we believe in these absolutes.

...

I don't care about holding people. I really don't.

...

There's a great scene where he told a guy that he was going to have his family killed. They had it on closed circuit television - and it was all staged. ... They really didn't kill the family.


 

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Easy There

Posted by Ogged
on 06.20.07

If you want to know what getting old means, you might watch the first minute or so of this and then of this.


 

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Linguistic Nitpicking

Posted by LizardBreath
on 06.19.07

John McWhorter has a post at Open University on the tendency of people to adopt slurs as terms of affection -- the adoption by blacks of a variety of anti-black slurs, Italians calling themselves 'wops' and so on. This all seems perfectly reasonable.

But then he says:

South Sea Islanders have made the initially insulting "kanaka" into a term of ethnic pride.

Now, 'kanaka' is Hawai'ian, so I'm working from cognates here, but in Samoan 'tangata' (and 't's in formal Samoan are 'k's in informal Samoan, and I think often also in other Polynesian languages) just means 'man'. White people may have used 'kanaka' as a slur, but I'd be willing to bet that a Hawai'ian using the same word isn't reclaiming a slur as a term of affection, he's just using the Hawai'ian word to mean what it always meant.


 

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Sweet Nothings

Posted by Ogged
on 06.19.07

Still cancer-free, baby. I have to say that the eight days between the test and the results were a long eight days, but now I'm on an every-six-month schedule, instead of every three, so there'll be fewer long days overall. My CT scan nurse each time has been a strapping fiftyish Scotsman with close-cropped hair and a twinkle in his eye who keeps up a constant patter while he preps the IV. And he spent many years in Texas, so he has just about the greatest accent imaginable. There's patter-patter-patter and then it all Stops. "May I?" he says, looking you straight in the eye, the needle poised over your vein. Stick, "I dae apologize fer that," patter-patter-patter.


 

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The Bums

Posted by Ogged
on 06.19.07

If you want to indulge your anger and you live in Chicago, there's a conference at DePaul on the 21st about impeaching Bush and Cheney.


 

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More Fun Than War Bonds

Posted by Becks
on 06.19.07

A thesis developed with the help of Armsmasher and Spencer: Freedom of the Press in today's America is owed entirely to transsexual hookers. For, without them and their precious ad money, most of the nation's muckraking alt-weekly newspapers would go bankrupt.

So the next time you patronize your friendly neighborhood transsexual prostitute just remember that you're doing it...FOR AMERICA.


 

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Ex Recto

Posted by Becks
on 06.19.07

The Discover magazine article I was trying to find online the other day was their cover story on Islam and Science. I can't find an online copy but I figure that shouldn't stop us from talking about it. I mean, it's not like many of you read the articles we link to anyway, right? Thus, I am making this the inaugural (official) instance of Let's Talk About An Article None Of Us Have Read.

In the minute or two I was able to flip through the article, it appeared that the author's thesis was that Islam was incompatible with scientific research. The mullahs and other religious leaders are so concerned with making sure that scientific discoveries don't contradict the faith that researchers don't have scientific freedom and their results are distorted to conform with the religious teachings.

So? How is this any different than fundamentalist Christianity? Isn't the incompatibility Fundamentalism and science, not Islam and science? One of the examples the author used was something like geologists being forced to say that the Earth's crust is made up of seven layers, because that's how it is described in the Quran. How is this any different than young-earth Creationists saying things like Noah's flood created the Grand Canyon?


 

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Degrees Of Separation

Posted by Ogged
on 06.19.07

From Making Light, a coincidence.

#237 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: June 08, 2007, 05:49 PM:

2007: Am stranded in Mesa, Arizona with a dead laptop and very little connectivity.

#244 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: June 08, 2007, 06:25 PM:

My widowed uncle is marrying a long-time friend who lost her spouse many years ago in Mesa tomorrow, if you're in the mood for a wedding.

#258 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: June 08, 2007, 08:35 PM:

Linkmeister (244):

"My widowed uncle is marrying a long-time friend who lost her spouse many years ago in Mesa tomorrow, if you're in the mood for a wedding."

What is your uncle's name? Unless there are two weddings tomorrow morning in Mesa that answer to that description, he's marrying my mother.

#260 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: June 08, 2007, 08:48 PM:

Teresa @258, Oh, no. That would be way too big a coincidence. His name is Dowell.

But I think the coincidence is only a small part of why the story is interesting. The real source of surprise is how little people who hang out together online (and Making Light is a lot like Unfogged in having a commenter community) know about each other. In some ways, people are much more forthcoming online, so there's a real intimacy to the interaction, but lots of details and background are omitted, and something like this throws that into relief.


 

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Econ 101

Posted by Becks
on 06.19.07

The university where my brother will be attending offers extra financial aid for freshmen and sophomores who are majoring in economics so my parents are making him major in that for his first two years. My brother doesn't really have any interest in economics and is wondering what he's going to get out of this experience. Ethics of this aside (I've already told my parents I don't agree with this and its all their fault if he comes out of this a free-market-evangelist douchebag), is there advice you might suggest that I pass on for how he could get the most out of the experience?

I've already told him that macro and microecon are two classes that every undergraduate should take, regardless of major, just to get a better understanding of the world so those he can just consider classes he would have taken anyway and the same probably goes for a lot of the math, etc. classes he'll take his first two years. Are there any other econ classes that you'd recommend he try to take to use his time well if he might end up finishing in another major? Any suggestions on how to get him a little interested in economics, at least?


 

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Fashion/Sports Bleg

Posted by LizardBreath
on 06.19.07

First: is it a fashion faux pas to wear opentoed sandals to work if your big toenails are black in that 'maybe it's going to fall off' kind of way? Yeah, I thought so. I bought some nail polish to cover it up on the way to work. The black shows through the pink in a slightly unhealthy looking way, but I figure no one's staring at my feet.

Second: following on from the first, can anyone recommend a good nerdy running-shoe store in Midtown NYC? I always have problems with shoes (hence the black toenails. In my current shoes I can plod along slowly without injury, but trying to do some faster intervals resulted in instant bruising and pain), and I figure I need one of those 'obsessive sales clerk who looks at your feet and how you walk and prescribes a particular type of shoe' place, rather than just buying whatever's cheap at Modells. Places like that exist, right? I've heard of them, but never actually encountered one.


 

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Nanny State

Posted by Becks
on 06.18.07

Factoid of the day: the Screen Actors Guild has rules that specifically dictate which kinds of condiments may be smeared on babies during the filming of birth scenes:

Grape, red currant, and cherry jelly can be used to simulate birth-related fluids. Strawberry, raspberry, and K-Y jellies are a no-no, for fear of allergic reactions.

 

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Our Bodies, Danger! Danger!

Posted by Ogged
on 06.18.07

You know that great demotivator, "None of us is as dumb as all of us"? Surely this is most true of school administrators.

Fairfax County middle school student Hal Beaulieu hopped up from his lunch table one day a few months ago, sat next to his girlfriend and slipped his arm around her shoulder. That landed him a trip to the school office.

Among his crimes: hugging.
All touching -- not only fighting or inappropriate touching -- is against the rules at Kilmer Middle School in Vienna. Hand-holding, handshakes and high-fives? Banned. The rule has been conveyed to students this way: "NO PHYSICAL CONTACT!!!!!"

I read the article, waiting for a sign that the policy wasn't as insane as it sounds, but no, it really is. No one is ever supposed to touch anyone else. Instead of trying to teach the kids the difference between appropriate and inappropriate touching, they've just banned touching altogether, because you never know where it will lead, dammit! But hey, you can't have your dystopian future without the citizens to populate it...


 

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Critical Thinking For Kids: Googling

Posted by LizardBreath
on 06.18.07

Sally's getting old enough to start looking things up for herself online. I've been thinking that the typical way I look for a fact online is Googling a couple of keywords, and then clicking on a selection of the top ten results for a site that looks 'credible'. Sometimes I won't find a credible looking source, and then I rephrase the search or give up, rather than take what I get from something that looks less reliable.

I'm having trouble quantifying 'looks credible' for her, though. I mean, I think whatever rules of thumb I use are pretty solid -- I don't find myself relying on some website and then embarrassingly discovering that it was written by some idiot inventing the whole thing. But I rely on things like graphic design and layout, which I can't make myself pass on to Sally with a straight face ("You can believe anything you read on the Internet if the background is white or offwhite, accent colors are unsaturated blues or warm earth tones, and nothing on the page flickers.") And of course there are things like institutional affiliations and so forth. But it's all hard to describe in seven-year-old terms.

So, anyone have some good rules of thumb for how to identify a credible website?


 

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Tour Guide

Posted by Becks
on 06.18.07

I liked this article on parents making up stuff when going to the museum with their kids. I do that all the time when I'm giving tours to guests in New York and D.C. Usually what I have to say is at least half true but I figure that making up a date for when something happened or risking conflating two misremembered factoids is more fun for them than hearing me hem and haw and say that I think something happened here but I'm not 100% sure what, even if what I tell them ends up being wrong.


 

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Accomplished

Posted by Ogged
on 06.18.07

Congrats to Jim Henley, brand new traithlete, white man.


 

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2008

Posted by Becks
on 06.17.07

I'd like to see Ron Paul vs. Ron/Paul.


 

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Careful Accounting

Posted by Ogged
on 06.17.07

Crank up the cynicism enough, and it becomes disturbingly hilarious.

Why, you ask, would I consent to give money to Obama? Let me tell you my new philosophy on political giving. I never respond to direct candidate appeals. I give money to candidates when I am asked by other people, generally wealthy/powerful people from my industry. I don't believe -- at the margin! -- that a little money makes any difference to electoral outcomes. Nor do I believe that even raising a lot of money can buy political favors. And I suspect that the people hitting me up aren't so deluded either. What they want is the social cachet of being close to a famous person with political power. A shot at a night in the Lincoln Bedroom, as it were. Now, these wealthy/powerful people could easily afford to give an arbitrarily large amount of money, but campaign finance laws prevent it. To buy the cachet they desire, they instead need to mobilize a network of donors at $5K-ish a pop. If I give $5K when asked, then I have effectively banked a favor from a wealthy and powerful person. Such a person would not ordinarily do a favor for money. Certainly not for $5K! But in this case, thanks to contribution limits, I can put him in my debt for a relatively small amount of money.


 

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I kiss you!

Posted by Apostropher
on 06.17.07

Or me. Or you kiss you. It's confusing, but it's still kinda hot. (via)


 

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