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Reporting

Posted by Ogged
on 06.30.07

Ken Silverstein went undercover to do a story about Washington lobbyists, and the gatekeepers of journalism clucked at him. He has a great response today, very much worth reading. And it's worth reiterating that very little of what's properly called political journalism--finding and tying together facts other than those presented by people in power--even happens today. Sy Hersh does it, and so TPM, may god bless them both. Otherwise, in this, as in all things, this country is so fucked.


 

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Sicko

Posted by LizardBreath
on 06.30.07

Saw it last night (the kids are at my mother's on the beach for a week, so we can go out free of babysitting). As two hours of entertainment, it's worth watching: while I didn't see either Bowling For Columbine or Farenheit 9/11, I'd seen Moore's earlier movies, and he's gotten much smoother and more skilled at making a series of vignettes seamlessly absorbing.

Substantively, though, I'm not really sure what the impact is. It's devoted to making two points. First, that for-profit health insurance creates tragic, horrific results. Which is true, but not surprising to anyone I'd expect to be in Moore's audience. And that universal health care is available in lots of other countries, people like it, and it doesn't bankrupt them or have any obvious bad effects. Also true, and also unsurprising. I mean, I enjoyed the movie, I found the horror stories affecting, and the rhetoric about how in a decent society people take of each other uplifting, but is there anyone who doesn't already agree with Moore who's still going to spend ten bucks on his movie?


 

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I don't read fiction. I prefer good literary criticism.

Posted by Fontana Labs
on 06.30.07

Baa links to a discussion of Catch-22 by Lester Hunt beginning with this observation about "My Humps":

One thing that distinguished this thing from all the other obvious candidates for the the office of Worst Song Ever was that it managed to be both artistically and morally bad. It was offensive in about every way it could be.

I think this is wrong in two ways. The first, and more obvious, point is that lots of songs are both morally and aesthetically bad. (Whole genres come to mind: arena rock, gangsta rap, and so on. These contain moments of brilliance, but there's a lot of aesthetic mediocrity.) Second: as I've argued before, "My Humps" is pretty good. I'm listening to it now, just to see if my enthusiasm holds up, and the song definitely ages well. (The things I'm really enjoying now are the juxtaposition of the syncopation and the blunt, square "she's got me spendin'" bit, and the weird but pleasant "so real" interlude toward the end.) (An opposing view, thin in argument, is here.)

I had meant to write more on Catch-22, which I haven't read, but I find myself bored with this post. Short version: this is a case where I'd prefer to be told, not shown, if being shown requires me to slog through four hundred pages; the lesson seems to be pretty simple, at least judging from what people say about it, and I'd be happy to save myself the trouble of the trudge, which, in order to make its point, has to be unpleasant. Plus, if I recall correctly from my aborted effort, Heller tends to be pretty heavy-handed in the satire, and this is a big turn-off for me. (Are there fun novels in the High School Canon? So many of these books--Catcher in the Rye, etc.-- are so dreary.)

Some interesting thoughts in defense of Heller here.


 

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You Can't Make This Shit Up.

Posted by LizardBreath
on 06.29.07

The Army Times reports on the confirmation hearings for Navy Vice Adm. Eric Olson:

Former Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld turned special operations forces into a "giant killing machine," said Douglas Macgregor, a former Army colonel and frequent critic of the Defense Department.
Now, with Rumsfeld gone and Navy Vice Adm. Eric Olson about to take control of U.S. Special Operations Command (SOCOM), Macgregor anticipates a return to the fundamentals drilled into Army Green Berets, Navy SEALs and other specially trained troops.
"The emphasis will be on, 'If you have to kill someone, then for God's sakes, kill the right people,"' Macgregor said. "In most cases, you're not going to have to kill people and that's the great virtue of special operations. That's been lost over the last several years."

I certainly can't think of a better place to put the emphasis. Anyone else?

(Via ThinkProgress, via Atrios.)


 

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Physics

Posted by Ogged
on 06.29.07

I can usually resist distracty flash games, but I spent a solid half-hour last night messing with this.

via smelt at school


 

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Like sands through the hourglass.

Posted by Apostropher
on 06.29.07

See what happens when you ignore the ½+7 rule?

Deputies say an 82-year-old man threatened his 39-year-old wife with a gun - after he found her in the bedroom with another [57-year-old] man. Now he's under arrest.

To nobody's surprise, this one's from Florida.


 

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The New York Times Is Not A Very Good Paper: Defending People I Despise Edition

Posted by LizardBreath
on 06.29.07

First, having a biographical article about Cindy McCain is wildly pointless in itself. But even assuming that long articles on the personal qualities of long-shot potential First Ladies have any place in a real newspaper, what on earth is this comment, sneaked into a couple of paragraphs of what McCain's mother thinks of her daughter-in-law, supposed to be?

Mr. McCain's mother, Roberta McCain, said it had always been so.
"Johnny had said, 'I'd like you to meet her,' and it never occurred to me it was anything but a friendship," Ms. McCain said in a telephone interview. "She was so exquisite I really couldn't keep my mouth closed. I mean I just couldn't shut it."
She added: "You know how when people talk about their children, and say, 'I have never seen anything wrong about them.' That is how I feel about Cindy." When asked if that is how she feels about her son, the senator's mother changed the subject.

What an incredibly pointless and unpleasant little jibe. While I think little enough of McCain that I don't particularly mind seeing him maltreated, this sort of thing doesn't belong in what's supposed to be news reporting, nor does it belong anyplace else in a respectable paper.


 

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Insufferable

Posted by Ogged
on 06.29.07

Marty Peretz has opinions.

I think the conflict between the Arabs of Palestine and the Jewish state is of less import than the one between India and Pakistan, which like Palestine, is also not a country and the Pakistanis, also like the Palestinians, are not a nation. Oh, yes: why is this of such valence? Because Pakistan has the bomb.

And "of such valence?" Geez.


 

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Mystery!

Posted by Ogged
on 06.28.07

Leave it to the WWE. The plot thickens.

Investigators are looking into who altered pro wrestler Chris Benoit's Wikipedia entry to mention his wife's death hours before authorities discovered the bodies of the couple and their 7-year-old son.

Benoit's Wikipedia entry was altered early Monday to say that the wrestler had missed a match two days earlier because of his wife's death.
A Wikipedia official, Cary Bass, said Thursday that the entry was made by someone using an Internet protocol address registered in Stamford, Conn., where World Wrestling Entertainment is based.

I suspect Vince McMahon.


 

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Chest

Posted by Fontana Labs
on 06.28.07

labpecs.jpg

I got nothing, but damn, those are some sweet pecs.


 

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You're mad, but not about what you think

Posted by Fontana Labs
on 06.28.07

Hilzoy offers a charitable diagnosis of the anger over immigration:

I think that immigration plays something like the same role for Republicans. Suppose that a lot of them have had a growing sense that there is something badly wrong with President Bush's administration. It might be hard to express this, or even to figure out how to think about it, especially for those who have a lot invested in defending the administration, or who are heavily invested in the thought that liberals are always, by definition, wrong. It would be especially hard to express misgivings about the war, since on that issue battle lines were drawn up, and defensive formations created, long ago. If this is right, then some non-negligible number of people on the right would have had a growing sense that something is badly wrong that they had no way to articulate.

If, into this mix, someone were to drop an issue that was not Iraq, and that did not involve agreeing with liberals, but that did allow these conservatives to express their own serious concerns about this administration, I think it would play the same role that the Sabra and Shatila massacre did when I was in Israel -- giving people a clear, readily understandable, and legitimate way to express serious misgivings that until now had remained largely silent (with, in this case, the exception of the Harriet Miers nomination, which played a similar role in a more limited way.) In that case, one would expect the issue to be driven not only by people's views on immigration itself, but by an anger that had, until now, no other form of expression.

Interesting if true.


 

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Our Lovely Language

Posted by Ogged
on 06.28.07

In the category of sentences that can end in many ways, today wingnut lifeguard was telling me about his recent camping trip with his wife. "I just wanted to cover her in honey and...."

On a different topic, we need a name for the goofy self-satisfied smile people have on their face when they're typing something that amuses them. You know the one I mean.


 

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Also, ignorance is strength.

Posted by Apostropher
on 06.28.07

Chief Justice Roberts for the majority in the 5-4 decision: school integration is racist.


 

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Gay

Posted by Ogged
on 06.28.07

I haven't seen 300, so I can't speak to the particular case, but this seems like a good point.

...sophisticated critics routinely dismiss this sort of quasi-heroic cinematic friendship as "homoerotic," and they do so with such offhand certainty that it's easy to miss how doltishly unimaginative this interpretation is. Indeed, claiming a macho film friendship is not-so-secretly gay has become its own kind of silly convention, a fake-subversive cliché. It is better--sounder both aesthetically and sociologically--to view the masculine pathos in films like Point Break in light of the tradition of heroically minded philosophy that runs from Aristotle to Nietzsche.

...

The frisson of attraction that abides in the Johnny-Bodhi standoff is erotic, all right. But it isn't homosexual desire. It's narcissism, the delight of seeing one's rare magnificence in someone else. The fact that Johnny and Bodhi operate on different sides of the law only highlights their mutual identification. Johnny is drawn across that line not because he wants to have sex with Bodhi, but because he wants to be Bodhi--or, more accurately, because he is Bodhi.

...

Now, 300 has earned more than $200 million in America alone, from an overwhelmingly male audience. What more plausibly accounts for this? That 20 million closet cases snuck off to see an illicit fantasy about bare-chested men in Hellenic Speedos, or that young men from the vast heartland of this very conservative, Christian, pro-military country flocked to see an unabashedly heroic tale of Occidental, republican military glory? To believe the latter, all you have to accept is that, in imagining the sort of heroic figures they themselves would like to be, straight men would project onto them not just excellence but physical beauty. Shouldn't a guy be able to do such a thing without being called gay?

I do wonder if this issue would disappear if we made a distinction between homoerotic, which isn't incompatible with something also being narcissistic, and homosexual, which is more straightforwardly "gay." In any case, I think he makes a good point that calling movies like 300 "gay" misses what accounts for a lot of their appeal.


 

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Is there a fact of the matter about what it's like to be Jonah Goldberg?

Posted by Fontana Labs
on 06.28.07

Taking Ogged's musings in another direction, I wonder what it's like on the inside. When reading the NR gang it's tempting to think that they're merely putting on a show, but, of course, the only way for them to do this, day in and day out, is to convince themselves that it's not merely a show. Similarly, Jonah-- I expect-- has to be, for the most part, sincere in his efforts to produce the very serious and thoughtful argument that no one has ever made with such care. But this means that it has to hurt to know that your work is merely the starting point for sweet, sweet snark. Really, the only people who are anxiously awaiting this book are those planning on ridiculing it. This realization is uncomfortable, and this provides a reason to rethink the sincerity that (I hope, for reasons of charity) is bolstered partly by pragmatic considerations-- a rethinking that's dangerous insofar as it reveals the wrong kind of foundation for commitment. Trapped in Pascal's Wager!

immediate update: Noah and I share the hunch that the title change is prompted by a sense that the moment for more or less calling Hilary Clinton a fascist has passed. I wonder if this is right.


 

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Queue

Posted by Becks
on 06.28.07

Not the most earth-shattering exposé, but this article on Whole Foods using a single checkout line made me say "amen".  I think of Whole Foods whenever I go to the U Street Rite Aide in D.C.  Every time I'm in there, the customers all try to form a single line, knowing its the best way to hedge their bets against getting stuck with whoever is the slow cashier that day or accidentally standing behind a person who decided to do some weird transaction that takes a half-hour but noooooooo.  Someone always hisses "please form lines in front of each cashier" and refuses to check anyone out until we split up into three lines.  Bastards.  We know what we're doing!


 

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Into The Muck

Posted by Ogged
on 06.28.07

Another thing about the Goldberg book: presumably this means that we're going to be treated to Jonah's reading of Hegel. But seriously? Is there any recognition that it's embarrassing for a non-expert to even announce such an intention, let alone to try to sell the results? Is it just can-do Americanism and egalitarianism that thinks someone can pick up a book by a world-historical genius, and, without knowing the language it was written in nor the many works to which it's responding, meaningfully expound on what it's up to, or, as is implied, where it goes wrong? Surely I'm expressing Hitlerian elitism by mocking the project. Or maybe this is just another manifestation of the privileging of science, which is technical in a mysteriously special way that makes it inaccessible to laymen, unlike philosophy, sociology, and history, which are just, you know, words. But of course contemporary American conservatives don't believe that either, since scientists are slavishly devoted to their liberal ideology which is just, you know, words. It doesn't take a Goldberg, let alone a world-historical genius, to see that the real work that books like Goldberg's do is to advance the belief that everything is ideology, with no facts that aren't in political play, and no unbiased experts on any topic.


 

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Absolute Pineapple

Posted by Ogged
on 06.27.07

The fact that Jonah Goldberg has a voice in our national discourse is just more evidence of its debasement, but even so, I assumed that the change in the title of his forthcoming book, from the already hilarious Liberal Fascism: The Totalitarian Temptation From Mussolini to Hillary Clinton to the simply absurd Liberal Fascism: The Totalitarian Temptation From Hegel to Whole Foods was a joke by the liberal blogs. It's not.


 

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Twice! In Your Lifetime!

Posted by Becks
on 06.27.07

When reading about the recent poll measuring the political leanings of the youth vote, this paragraph jumped out:

In one potential sign of shifting attitudes, respondents, by overwhelming margins, said they believed that the nation was prepared to elect as president a woman, a black person or someone who admitted to having used marijuana. But they said that they did not believe Americans would elect someone who had used cocaine or someone who was a Mormon.

 

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Christ, what an asshole

Posted by Fontana Labs
on 06.27.07

I mentioned this in comments, but I keep thinking about it: Mitt Romney putting his dog in a crate on the roof of his car and setting off on a long drive.

As the oldest son, Tagg Romney commandeered the way-back of the wagon, keeping his eyes fixed out the rear window, where he glimpsed the first sign of trouble. ''Dad!'' he yelled. ''Gross!'' A brown liquid was dripping down the back window, payback from an Irish setter who'd been riding on the roof in the wind for hours.

Honestly, can you imagine doing this? It's a bad sign that the dog crapped in the cage. Dogs are very reluctant to shit where they live, so to speak, which is why crate training can make housebreaking a lot easier: you're taking advantage of the dog's natural inclination to avoid relieving itself in its own space. That the poor guy let go in the crate suggests fear or extreme need, either one of which makes the owner a serious prick. It's not the biggest issue in the world, but still, it gives me the creeps.


 

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Grad School Edition

Posted by Ogged
on 06.27.07

Ben W-lfs-n is so gay, Michel Foucault used to call him "my acolyte the sybarite."

Ben W-lfs-n is so gay, he likes to say, "Wenn man nicht sprechen kann, dann muß man den Glied von seinen Mund herausnehmen."

Ben W-lfs-n is so gay, his nickname in the department is "the opening of Being."


 

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I Love People Who Do Their Jobs

Posted by LizardBreath
on 06.27.07

Earlier in the week (that is, when I was planning to write this post but failed to get around to it) there was some coverage of Army Reserve Lt. Col. Steven Abraham's filing of a declaration in Bismullah v. Gates, one of the ongoing Gitmo cases. Lt. Col. Abraham was assigned to the Office for the Administrative Review of the Detention of Enemy Combatants (the "OARDEC") with responsibilities including certifying that OARDEC had provided all the exculpatory evidence in its possession relating to a detainee to the Combatant Status Review Tribunal reviewing that detainee's status.

If you read Abraham's declaration, linked courtesy of CharleyC, the procedures were set up so that Abraham couldn't possibly make such a certification -- the file of evidence to be reviewed by each CSRT was compiled by people without the training or access to know what evidence was in the government's possession, and Abraham wasn't given the necessary access to check their work. And so he did his job:

Following that exchange, I communicated to Rear Admiral McGarrah and the OARDEC Deputy Director the fundamental limitations imposed upon my review of the organization's files and my inability to state conclusively that no exculpatory information existed relating to the CSRT subjects. It was not possible for me to certify or validate the non-existence of exculpatory evidence as related to any individual undergoing the CSRT process.

Similarly, he was assigned to serve on a CSRT panel:

21. On one occasion, I was assigned to a CSRT panel with two other officers, an Air Force colonel and an Air Force major, the latter understood by me to be a judge advocate. We reviewed evidence presented to us regarding the recommended status of a detainee. All of us found the information presented to lack substance.
22. What were purported to be specific statements of fact lacked even the most fundamental earmarks of objectively credible evidence. Statements allegedly made by percipient witnesses lacked detail. Reports presented generalized statements in indirect and passive forms without stating the source of the information or providing a basis for establishing the reliability or the credibility of the source. Statements of interrogators presented to the panel offered inferences from which we were expected to draw conclusions favoring a finding of "enemy combatant" but that, upon even limited questioning from the panel, yielded the response from the Recorder, "We'll have to get back to you." The personal representative did not participate in any meaningful way.

And so the panel he was a member of found the detainee whose status they were reviewing not to be an enemy combatant, causing the superior officers in charge to immediately question their decision, ask what further evidence would be required to find the detainee to be an enemy combatant, and reopen the panel so that the OARDEC would have a chance to come up with the evidence. (The OARDEC didn't come up with anything else, and the decision stood.)

The point of filing the declaration, of course, was to testify to the irresponsibility of the procedures set up of the CSRTs. It's comforting, though, to see people like Lt. Col. Abraham who are willing to just do their jobs honestly and competently, regardless of the possible fallout for their careers. The flip side of "The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing" is that the only thing necessary for the defeat of evil is for enough people, in the right positions, to simply do their jobs.


 

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So Maybe The Harry Potter Books Are Good For Something

Posted by LizardBreath
on 06.27.07

Michael Bérubé links to a beautiful essay he wrote about his son Jamie learning to appreciate and understand narrative through the Harry Potter books. (It's a pdf; suck it up and read it anyway.) I can't think of a more fundamental pleasure than that; I'd give up almost anything in my life before I'd give up stories. Reading about someone moving from being unable to enjoy stories to being fully wrapped up in them is amazing -- it's like a story about someone who might have been in a wheelchair their whole lives learning to walk.


 

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Rule Of Law

Posted by Ogged
on 06.27.07

I know some of you Pollyannas don't agree, but what Jim Henley said.


 

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Kentucky!

Posted by Ogged
on 06.27.07

Froz has updated the state/country comparison map with more reliable data.



 

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Tell me this is the beginning of the end

Posted by Fontana Labs
on 06.26.07

Ann Coulter gets a call from Elizabeth Edwards. I wish Edwards were better at this sort of thing, but it's a start.


 

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Worse Than Heated Wipes

Posted by Becks
on 06.26.07

I know we've talked about the ridiculousness of modern baby naming on this site many times (and recently) but holy crap does this article about parents hiring consultants to come up with the optimal baby name for them take it to the next level:

Denise McCombie, 37, a California mother of two who's expecting a daughter this fall, spent $475 to have a numerologist test her favorite name, Leah Marie, to see if it had positive associations. (It did.)
... Karen Markovics, 36, who works for the planning department in Orange County, N.C., spent months reading baby books and scouring Web sites before settling on Nicole Josephine. But now, four years later, Mrs. Markovics says she wishes she'd chosen something less trendy -- and has even considered legally changing her daughter's name to Josephine Marie. "I'm having namer's remorse," she says.
... Madeline Dziallo, 36, a beautician and mother of two in LaGrange, Ill., turned to a consultant when naming both of her children, Ross, 3, and Natalie, eight months. That consultant, Maryanna Korwitts, a self-described nameologist based in Downers Grove, Ill., charges up to $350 for a package including three half-hour phone calls and a personalized manual describing the name's history, linguistic origins and personality traits. "She was an objective person for me to obsess about it with rather than driving my husband crazy," says Mrs. Dziallo.
Despite all of her planning, Mrs. Dziallo began to panic about the name Natalie two weeks before her due date. "I thought, 'I'm going to be calling her from the delivery room'," she says.

 

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Motorhead

Posted by Fontana Labs
on 06.26.07

Another day, another exceptional bass artist. From apo, this awesome performance of Iron Fist.

Flying horse don't make a sound
Flying hooves don't touch the ground
Walk in circle lose you track
Can't go on but you can't go back

You know me, evil eye
You know me, prepare to die
You know me, the snakebite kiss
Devil's grip, the Iron Fist

Does it get any better than that? No, it does not. But if it did, you'd find it here.


 

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Chris Benoit

Posted by Fontana Labs
on 06.26.07

Horrifying.


 

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Let's Go Out To The Lobby

Posted by Becks
on 06.26.07

How did this intro not make the Aqua Teen Hunger Force movie the BIGGEST MOVIE OF THE YEAR?

(h/t: Armsmasher)


 

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Pump it up until you can feel it.

Posted by Apostropher
on 06.26.07

Pump it up when you don't really need it.

Karen Roberts scheduled an appointment with her plastic surgeon at the end of a long day. The 22-year-old student at Solano Community College attended morning classes, caught up with homework and took her 4-year-old daughter to a matinee. By 4 p.m. she sat inside Dr. Justin Salerno's office, readying to become the surgeon's first patient to receive an injection called a G-Shot, also known as G-spot Amplification. With a 3 1/2-inch needle, Salerno would pump a small dose of collagen into his patient's Grafenberg Spot and make it swell to the size of a quarter. [...]

The procedure, which has been performed on approximately 250 women nationally in the past two years at a cost of $1,850 each, appealed to Roberts because she felt life's rigmarole had left her fatigued by the end of the day, hardly in an amorous mood. Even when she felt the surge of excitement, reaching an orgasm was a time-consuming endeavor that took more effort and energy than she and her husband had to offer.

I had assumed that the elective hoo-hoo surgeries that get mentioned every so often were purely cosmetic in nature, but apparently I didn't know the whole story. Whether the procedure actually does anything remains a matter of dispute, but the story is just so odd that I'm surprised I hadn't heard of it before this morning.


 

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Quietly ovulating

Posted by Ben
on 06.25.07

It seems I'm doing a radio show again, Tuesdays 12-2 PST, under the title "Alban Stands There" (stol'n—like a dog—from Richard Youngs). You know what to do. There may well be music by The Dead Texan, and there probably will be music by Lukas Ligeti.


 

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Alabama??

Posted by Ogged
on 06.25.07

Froz has found a genuinely cool map.

Update: Which seems to be substantially inaccurate...


 

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Hey, do we need a theme song?

Posted by Fontana Labs
on 06.25.07

Sure, you can sing "unfogged" to the tune of "mmmbop" but wouldn't it be better if we had a Hanson song penned just for us? Yes.


 

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Live

Posted by Ogged
on 06.25.07

I know there are dozens of hardcore swim fans reading in the Bay Area, so I'll note that the Santa Clara International Invitational is this weekend. I haven't decided if I'm going this year, but I went a couple of years ago and it was a lot of fun. Most of the big names in swimming show up, and because swimming is basically still an amateur sport, the athletes usually come sit in the stands between events, chat with the fans, sign autographs, etc. It's a nice atmosphere.


 

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Facebook = West Elm

Posted by Becks
on 06.25.07

This essay (covered here) makes an interesting claim that there is a class division emerging between users of Facebook and MySpace that began because of Facebook's start with the university set and has been reinforced through each site's design decisions and aesthetics.


 

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There's No Such Thing As Androgyny

Posted by LizardBreath
on 06.25.07

Piny, from Feministe, has a post about some stuff on gender issues relating to past experiences as someone transitioning into being a FTM transsexual (I think -- my vocabulary on this stuff is inexact and probably erroneous. Corrections welcome). The bit that struck me was this:

I've written before about how there sort of is no such thing as an androgynous persona. In a very similar way, there's also no such thing as an androgynous body. There are bodies that are difficult to categorize, but that just means everyone tries much harder. It's nearly impossible to simply have a body that doesn't sit easily on either side.
When I was ambiguous, I was never received as an ungendered person. Even when there was no consensus, almost everyone made a ruling and did their best to stick with it. Julia Serano describes the same reaction in Whipping Girl (which is currently under a pile of dirty laundry in my bedroom, I think): at a certain point in her physical transition, she would get re-gendered from minute to minute, but hardly anyone ever looked at her and read, "Maybe it's not quite that simple." The assumption was not only that she was a man or a woman, but that she was definitely a man or a woman. Most people think they're very good at this whole gendering thing.

I have some experience with this, and it strikes me as absolutely true. While I've always been a straight woman, back in college I was a tall skinny broadshouldered narrowhipped shorthaired unmadeup scruffily dressed woman, and people thought I was a guy fairly often in the winter -- I got chased out of a ladies room once in a particularly memorable incident. And this was no big deal; I actually felt somewhat safer walking around at night by myself in the hope that I was passing as a guy(in retrospect, I'm not sure whether assuming that someone looking like a skinny, wimpy looking guy was safer was correct.)

But it always threw me how sure people were when they thought I was male. The woman who chased me out of the ladies room kept on yelling at me for being in the wrong bathroom even after I said something, and my voice is right up there in a conventionally female pitch. No one ever did a double-take unless I put some effort into straightening them out; I was a girl or I was a boy, but I was never confusing. And given that, at my butchest looking, most people were still pretty sure I was female, I found it very odd that the ones who thought I was male were just as sure of themselves as the ones who didn't. Further, when I'd tell these stories, people would be incredulous that anyone could have gotten my gender wrong; they literally wouldn't believe me -- for the people who knew I was female, they perceived me as far enough from any point of ambiguity that they couldn't imagine anyone else making a mistake.

I don't have any big conclusions to draw from this -- I just found it interesting having my experience confirmed.


 

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Gary Karr performing Paganini's Moses fantasy

Posted by Fontana Labs
on 06.25.07

Cool. Skip to the midpoint for more ham-laden action.


 

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Stroke! Stroke!

Posted by Ogged
on 06.25.07

Billy Squier's bizarre Rock Me Tonite video has been discussed here before, and wikipedia adds,

Squier revealed that his career as a chart-topping rocker came to a stunningly rapid and sudden end with the release of the music video for "Rock Me Tonite", universally derided by his fans (who saw him as a guitar hero) for its effeminate set (a bedroom dressed in soft, pastel fabrics) and Squier's bizarre, homoerotic prancing and ripping of his clothing, reminiscent of Jennifer Beals' performance in the film "Flashdance". The video was a devastating blow to Squier's image among his fans, who deserted him virtually overnight. Billy confirmed that his career didn't recover after that video.

But god help me, Billy Squier's other stuff is still awesome. Everybody Wants You. The Stroke. Great, great stuff. Screw anyone who says different.


 

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Pants judge cuffed

Posted by Fontana Labs
on 06.25.07

Breaking:

The owners of Custom Cleaners did not violate the city's Consumer Protection Act by failing to live up to Roy L. Pearson's expectations of the "Satisfaction Guaranteed" sign that was once placed in the store window, District of Columbia Superior Court Judge Judith Bartnoff ruled.

Bartnoff ordered Pearson to pay the court costs of defendants Soo Chung, Jin Nam Chung and Ki Y. Chung.

 

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SCIENCE!

Posted by LizardBreath
on 06.25.07

I always get a warm, fuzzy feeling from remembering that screwed up as so much of our government is, everyone else has their own crazies. Charlie Whitaker just sent me this story from the UK in which Lord Triesman, the Prime Minister's Special Envoy for Returns (which in context appears to mean the UK guy in charge of deportation) announced that the UK will be "looking at the scientific and technical identification of nationality. This will be an important tool in a series of measures to improve the redocumentation and return of immigration offenders."

Apparently the idea is that if you have a swarthy and undocumented immigrant who won't tell you where he's from so that you can deport him back there, you measure his precise degree of swarthiness with a spectrometer, sort out whether his head is brachycephalic or dolichocephalic, and on that basis send him back to Albania. Actually, I suppose that was how they did this sort of thing back when race science was getting started last century, and now it's more likely to be DNA. Which obviously is going to successfully tell you what country someone is a citizen of.

I assume someone is going to figure out that this can't possibly work ("Aha! My infallible scientific tests reveal that you are of Kurdish ethnicity, making you a citizen of... um. Yes, well. Coffee?") before the British government does anything too idiotic with it, but you'd think they'd have figured out the idioticness of it all before making public speeches about it.


 

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Perhaps The Terrorists Have Won

Posted by Ogged
on 06.25.07

I guess Google Reader was down for a while overnight. This, however, seemed a bit overdramatic.

Update: As at 5:30am PST/ 8:30am EST Google Reader is still down. East Coast Google Reader users are waking to no fresh feeds.


 

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Due

Posted by Becks
on 06.24.07

Always on the cutting edge, the NYT discovers out of control baby showers and baby registries this week.

On a related note, I think that diaper wipe warmers are the ultimate sign of how overprotected and overcoddled the next generation is. Sometimes life is like a cold shock to the ass, kid. Get used to it.


 

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My advice

Posted by Fontana Labs
on 06.24.07

A couple of blogs (Eschaton and LGM) are linking to a news story about "the most severely wounded Iraq War veteran." Robert Farley thoughtfully suggests that you ponder whether you want to click the link. I recommend against reading unless you want to be reminded that the world is capable of being almost unimaginably terrible.


 

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Modern Love: "I even posted my virginity on Craigslist" Edition

Posted by Becks
on 06.24.07

Shorter Modern Love: the women who come into our clinic to get abortions keep reminding me that I'm still a virgin.


 

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Weekend Notes

Posted by Ogged
on 06.24.07

1. I really like Megan's footnote about bureaucrats and the untenability of hardline libertarianism.

I will never believe that you want to decide for yourself what concentrations of chemical byproducts from local metalplating shops is safe for your household AND the seismic standards for the bridges you cross AND the optimal level of pesticides on the lettuce you eat AND the proper response to the introduction of West Nile disease into your county AND I could go on forever. You cannot make me believe that you want to deal with all of those personally.

2. Chemical Ali is sentenced to hang. It's important to note that in Farsi, "Chemical Ali" is the much more euphonious and catchy Ali Sheemi.

3. What's with lip gloss? How many women say in their personal ads that one of the things they couldn't live without is lip gloss? A lot. Weird.


 

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