Did you catch that only the person the prophecy is about can retrieve it, and that it was Harry, not Neville, who did?
I'm a sucker for these things, so I really enjoyed it, but who knows how good it was. It was rushed, with so much plot to track, but [spoiler's] death was actually more affecting than I remembered it being in the book, so points for that.
Wait: Have you ever seen photos of the actors who play James and Lily Potter at a premiere or cast party? Are they not allowed to go?
Remember Late Night Shots? The Washington City Paper ran an expose of them this week and let's just say it's been the main topic of conversation at every gathering I've been at since it hit the newsstand. Thought I'd let you in on the fun.
I had no idea that Labs' ancestors were buried in Thailand.
Rich Lowry on SiCKO. You'll be shocked to know that he's against it, but the subtitle is great: "Michael Moore is practically the Leni Riefenstahl of socialism."
I know we recently had a camera discussion on an unrelated thread but I can't find it. Anyway, Catherine's looking to buy a new camera and I've been musing about it as well so I figure I'll give her some linky love.
Our requirements are a bit different: she's looking to upgrade from a point and shoot to something a bit more serious but isn't looking to spend tons of money. I'm also not looking to spend tons of money but I am looking for a point and shoot -- something small that I can easily fit in a pocket or purse but with a large LCD and good in low-light situations.
A truly bizarre story. I urge you to read the whole thing, but the short version is: man bursts into party, puts gun to the head of a child, is offered wine, then cheese, then asks for a hug, and leaves.
I've had this Language Log post bookmarked for a couple of weeks now; it's a link to this post from the Three Toed Sloth. Click through and read it, because it's very clever and funny, but I'll summarize it as follows.
So, there's this quality that's intimately connected with the higher brain functions, very highly heritable, and very strongly correlated both with race and with ethnicity on a finer-grained scale than race. It's somewhat plastic in childhood, but unlikely to change significantly after adolescence. A standard liberal reaction to that claim might be "(A) I don't believe you that those are the facts, because (B) if that were true, it'd be clearly an innate, genetic quality, and I don't believe you that there are such genetic differences with intellectual implications between ethnic groups."
The quality, for those who haven't clicked through yet, is accent, which clearly has no genetic component whatsoever. The Sloth goes on to argue by analogy for the plasticity of things like IQ, and you should read the post. But I wanted to use it as a general defense for total skepticism on common-sense arguments about innate qualities of human nature. I end up having a lot of conversations about gender issues, where I'll say something like "There's no convincing research-based evidence causually connecting average behavioral differences between the sexes to genetically determined sex physical sex differences in brain structure." And I'll get a response along the lines of "Come on, there are average differences in brain structure, there are universal average differences in behavior, obviously there's a connection; you're just being difficult here." And that's a very appealing response: I generally don't come out of the argument feeling as though I've convinced anyone of anything.
But you know, in a world where you get highly heritable mental characteristics that are almost impossible to change in adulthood, that are completely and absolutely socially created, I'm not confident of anyone's ability to say what's 'obvious' in areas of this sort.
There needs to be some kind of MacArthur-type award to endow people just to spend their entire day doing crazy and awesome projects with the Internet. If there were, I'd have to nominate Tom so he can create more things like this.
His latest I think you'll all find particularly awesome: it lets you subscribe to Unfogged comment threads through AIM and have new comments sent to you as instant messages. I was playing around with it last night and it's fantastically cool.
This is considerably less safe for work than the normal fare here, but Japanese porn can be simultaneously so vile and so hilarious....
David Markson's latest (and probably last--he's old and has cancer) book, The Last Novel, is out and this made me laugh. On page 131:
For no reason whatsoever, Novelist has just flung his cat out of one of his four-flights-up front windows.
Novelist does not own a cat, and thus most certainly could not have thrown one out a window.
Nonetheless he would lay odds that more than one hopscotching reviewer will be reading carelessly enough here to never notice these two sentences and announce that he did so.
The most cringeworthy article of the day, right here:
Paul Dyer was always able to hold off his boss's invitations to party by employing that arms-length response: "We'll have to do that sometime," he'd say.
But when his boss, in his 30s, invited Mr. Dyer, 24 years old, to be friends on the social-networking sites MySpace and Facebook, dodging wasn't so easy...[D]eclining a "friend" request from a colleague or a boss is a slight.
Mr. Dyer, it turns out, wasn't the one who had to be embarrassed. His boss had photos of himself attempting to imbibe two drinks at once, ostensibly, Mr. Dyer ventures, to send the message: "I'm a crazy, young party guy." The boss also wore a denim suit ("I'd never seen anything like it," Mr. Dyer says) and posed in a photo flashing a hip-hop backhand peace sign.
It was painful to watch. "I hurt for him," says Mr. Dyer.
If memory serves, 2+2 was the site that started the whole "how many five-year-olds could you take in a fight?" thing. Now they've got Steve Albini doing a Q&A, as far as I can tell just because he felt like it.
He doesn't seem to think much of Urge Overkill.
Congrats to Moira, who left her shmancy lawyering job to try to break into TV writing and did just that. You can totally steal our best lines, Moira.
Topic for discussion: how similar or dissimilar is this Muslim donut vendor's case from the pharmacists who refuse to dispense emergency contraception?
Teh Gayzors are less acceptable than Hitler.
The Sydney Morning Herald newspaper reports that when they tried to sign up a person who was called Gay, they were refused permission and confronted with the message: 'Please enter a legitimate name.' It will, however, allow users who are called Hitler. Metro's own investigations seem to confirm this: a search of Facebook does indeed turn up lots of Gaylords, some Gayes, an occasional Gayer - but no Gays. There are, however, plenty of Dykes.
Via Yglesias, Pat Leahy reminds White House aide Sara Taylor about the American form of government. What's remarkable, aside from her original statement, is how even her self-correction is weaselly; just another move in the game, and certainly not contrition or enlightenment. Credit to Leahy for jumping on that, too. These people aren't just going to disappear from the earth if the Democrats win in '08.
Catherine, that vindictive wench, recaps the Unfogged meetup.
As legislation is introduced in more than a dozen states across the country to counter political pressure and proselytizing on students in college classrooms, a majority of Americans believe the political bias of college professors is a serious problem, a new Zogby Interactive poll shows. Nearly six in 10 - 58% - said they see it as a serious problem, with 39% saying it was a 'very serious' problem. The online survey of 9,464 adult respondents nationwide was conducted July 5-9, 2007, and carries a margin of error of +/- 1.0 percentage points.
Huh, the percentage of people who think professorial bias is a serious problem is about twice the percentage of the 25+ population with bachelor's degrees. I work there and I have no idea how serious a problem it is: I don't know that much about what's going on in other people's classes, and if I did I don't know enough about other fields to make competent judgments. Thank God David Horowitz is around to collect anecdotes, or else I'd have no way of forming an opinion.
And the language is corrupted in a way that--surprise--helps the Republican.
If there was one lesson of the 2004 election cycle, it was respond to attacks quickly and directly. In the summer of 2004, John Kerry let a slowly-building media campaign against his Vietnam War experience explode into a debacle. From that campaign a new phrase entered the political lexicon -- "swift boating." Now it appears Republican presidential candidate, former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, may have his own "swift boaters."
But that's wrong. "Swift boating" was the name for an organized and scurrilous campaign of damaging lies, not for any old attack ad. Insofar as there came to be a negative reaction to "swift boating," Giuliani now benefits from being perceived as the victim of it, when, in fact, it seems that the charges against him are true and important.
Hmm, what's a good place to get an external hard drive for my mac so I can back up music and photos?
We need filler, so I thought I'd muse about the filibuster for a bit. Kevin Drum has been talking about the ubiquity of the filibuster and of public misunderstanding of how the Senate works generally. This is sort of a pet peeve of mine, since there's widespread misunderstanding of how voting procedures work, and this misunderstanding affects the way people make judgments of responsibility. (E.g., grumbling about the do-nothing Congress, unable to do anything about immigration.) Oddly, this sort of thing pops up all over: even in faculty deliberative bodies, I've found, there's a lot of confusion about, say, calling the question, tabling, and so on, which would surprise you if you held to the illusion that people with doctoral degrees are smart and competent.
We archived off a large number of comments last night to help reduce the load on the server. If you notice anything odd, especially in the archives, please let us know.
A gay man of my acquaintance likes to say "No pecs, no sex." A recent study seems to vindicate him.
Muscular young men are likely to have more sex partners than their less-chiseled peers, researchers at the University of California Los Angeles said on Monday.
Which the study learned like so.
He and colleagues interviewed 99 male undergraduates about their sexual histories. Muscular men were twice as likely to have had more than three sex partners than less-built types.
That, as any musclebound raisinbrain can see, is pathetically inadequate evidence. Might it not be the case that working out correlates with sociability and a more confident, motivated personality? I don't see the original paper on the author's page, but color me skeptical that it supports anything like the following.
Women were more physically attracted to brawny men, especially for a fling. But when it comes to finding a long-term partner, they tend to pick a regular man over a mate with huge biceps.
"On the one hand, it makes them more sexy to women. On the other hand, it makes women more suspicious about their romantic intentions," Frederick said.
Again, there are so many potentially confounding variables here that focusing on muscularity just seems silly. Women have flings with brawny guys? Again, could this be because brawny guys are more likely to be out looking for flings, and/or more likely to pursue women interested in flings? This stuff is just embarrassing as academic research.
The Dersh plunges into his advice gig. I got nothing, but maybe someone will be interested in the topic.
Q, from another law professor:
I'm Jewish, but not at all religious, and I hold classes on Rosh Hashanah. My son thinks I should reschedule my class when it falls on Rosh Hashanah for the benefit of my Jewish students (perhaps 10% to 15% of the enrollment) and because he feels that I should observe the day by not teaching. Since I would not attend religious services if I canceled classes, I would feel hypocritical canceling. Jewish students can miss the class without penalty, though they would lose the opportunity to attend that class session. Canceling the class, however, would inconvenience the majority of my students, since there would be a makeup session.
I feel very strongly that you should not teach your classes on Rosh Hashanah, despite the fact that you are not at all religious. A teacher is a role model, and a Jewish teacher is a role model to Jewish students. On the issue of teaching classes on Rosh Hashanah, you cannot be neutral. If you teach, you send a message, and if you do not teach, you send a message. I suspect that some of your students, who would prefer to miss classes on the Jewish holidays, show up just because you are teaching.
When I first started teaching at Harvard, there were Saturday classes. I refused to teach them, despite the fact that I was not generally going to the synagogue on Saturday. I did not feel at all hypocritical. I felt that I was standing up for a principle, that principle being that universities should not be asking Jewish teachers to teach on important Jewish holidays. It's none of their business how we spend those holidays. I strongly believe that principle is more important than convenience. You will be respected for standing up for a principle, without regard to how you spend the day.
I love when phrases like "send a message" and "standing up for a principle" are thrown around without any regard for the content of the message or principle. Granted, a 10-15% Jewish student body sounds like a reason to cancel classes on Jewish holidays, and a reason for professors to cancel classes on their own if not, but it's weird that there might be a special obligation for nonreligious Jews to do this.
The blog seems to be deleting comments, so posting Col. Chaim's question probably won't do much good.
What I found striking about the article was that none of the guys interviewed said they liked to do it because it was fun or felt good. It seemed that the real attraction was being able to tell their friends that they got a girl to do it afterwards. Sample bias or do you agree?
With only weeks left before Hayden Panettiere turns 18, we face the urgent question: when to perve?
Psychology Today recently published a very silly article purporting to list "Ten Politically Incorrect Truths About Human Nature". My favorite economist/minor deity spent the time to write a four-part discussion of how weakly based in any sort of actual data the 'truths' are: Part One; Part Two; Part Three; and Part Four. It's long, but worth reading.
We just got a visitor searching for "can a women feel sexall tention form a man." I figured it must be from a foreign country, but no, it's from the Berkeley psych department.
Ok, this time everything will work: It won't be a day of streaming silence, the streams will actually be up…I swear. 12-2pm PST, 90.1 FM & online. Featuring such works as a setting of a recording of this sermon (not the whole thing, some chunks in the middle go missing) and an eccentric (but aren't they all?) cover of "Lonely Woman" by Hugh Hopper, and such artists as Head of Femur, Ultralyd, Nazca, Death Ambient, Už Jsme Doma, and the (EC) Nudes.
 When we get to the part where King says "And so Jesus gave us a new norm of greatness. If you want to be important--wonderful. If you want to be recognized--wonderful. If you want to be great--wonderful", I can't help but think of the wedding scene from Little Murders.
1. I don't think that S-EAC-SX's policies are a good model for other nations. It's just a very strange place whose exceptionality proves (really in the sense of pointedly challenging) many rules about what we think of as the normal consequences of various policies.
2. I'm actually some kind of inalienable rights crazy, thus it is interesting and curious to me that I can view S-EAC-SX with such a sanguine eye. This sanguinity consists in wanting to live here rather than in some fly-over state in the US, not a desire to preach the goodness of trading liberty for security. That said, true physical security is underrated, I think.
3. I thought it was fairly obvious that I am google-proofing because Narnia's got actual people monitoring the internet all the time, wire-taps all outgoing international phone calls, and can fuck up my life if they think I'm saying things that reflect badly on their fine nation-state. Not in a 'oh no, the secret police' way, more the 'summarily terminating your employment contract and visa' way. They're notoriously touchy, which is why I rarely blog about it in such a direct fashion. Thus, the references to Narnia are not forced whimsy. They are meant to cast an ironic light on the statements, nu?
1. Weezer's first album is still quite catchy.
2. It is hard to know in advance how much pepper to include in a cantaloupe and black pepper granita, though I think the basic idea is sound.
3. This is probably pretty good.
4. I was extremely surprised to discover, the day after Josh's threadless shirt was (briefly) a topic of conversation at the meetup, an email from, of all people, my mom, seeking to inform me about threadless's existence and telling me that I should get this shirt.
5. This book is pretty great, though it's made somewhat hard to read by the fact that the chapters are all single whacking great paragraphs (they don't even start with any indentations, it's just boom, off to the races) in a sort of stream of consciousness narrative. It contains a lengthy description of someone trying to hammer a nail, which only succeeds when he stops trying to think theoretically about how best to do it and gives himself over to the act, which sounds annoyingly tendentious but works pretty well in the book itself. Apparently a movie was based on it—probably worth checking out as well.
6. Vanity moves me to point out, since the Transformers movie seems to dominate conversation these days, that I did this.
BONUS 7. According to the New Yorker, Loudon Wainwright III covers Peter Blegvad's "Daughter" on the soundtrack, or soundtrack album, for Knocked Up. Good for him! Peter Blegvad is an excellent songwriter (though that is not his best song, it is off the best of his singer-songwritery albums that I've heard, Just Woke Up), author of such hits as "War", "Casablanca Moon", and "Seven Scenes from the Painting 'Exhuming the First American Mastodon' by C. W. Peale". So, uh, buy the album for to line Blegvad's pockets.
We slowly become Craigslist.
I have a good friend, someone I've known for several years. She's a regular Unfogged reader: a dedicated lurker for at least the last year. And she's stuck in Seattle for the next couple of weeks, bored out of her mind and lonely.
She asked me if I knew anyone sufficiently nerdy and interesting in Seattle who she could meet and pass the time with (she may have phrased it as, "have a torrid affair with," but she's also given to hyperbole). And I don't, because I am an antisocial East Coast nerd who sits in front of a computer all day and avoids the sun.
But then I thought, "What about Unfogged? This is a website filled with interesting and nerdy people, and some of them must live in or near Seattle. Perhaps some of them are even single, and wouldn't mind meeting a nice girl for a drink or something?" And I thought I might email you, on the off chance that you or your blog-mates wouldn't object to a suggestion like this.
I can tell you that my friend, who I might call 'M', is in her mid-20s. She's nice, funny, very smart, thrifty, and attractive. Also, quite single. And, like I said, only in Seattle for two more weeks or so.
Speak up, folks. Keep in mind that if you meet this woman and become one of these "you won't believe what this guy did when we went out" stories, you will be ridiculed forever.
Yelp tells you everything you need to know. How is Jose's Landscaping?
Jose Barajas and his gang of six cabaleros!
My neighbor recommended Jose to me when I saw her landscape done a few years back. Negotiate! Jose is flexible as he is kind. Since 2003 to the present , I had Jose put in a new lawn and water sprinkler system (which he still maintains), a brick trim on the garden and patio ( and part of the driveway), two fences, new plants and box hedges in the front and back of my home, I worked out a flat fee for a mow and blow job twice a month. Jose's men fertilizes your plants/lawns at least five times a year. Whatever you want done, Jose and his crew does it fast, clean and effeciently.
I'm surprised the cops haven't shut Jose down. The whole thing reminds me of My Sweet Farm Girl.
See, now, I meant to go on and say more there but I got distracted, etc. Ran into editing problems, blah blah, here's the rest of it. One answer to the question of why I live here is just: the vagaries of fate and the academic job market. But then, if I hated it, I would surely have moved away by now, so I must find it at least tolerable. And the truth is, I quite like it. It's impossible to buy drugs, which is great! No, that's not it exactly. The thing is, S-EAC-SX combines being an actual city with being preposterously safe. It's a real city in that it has great public transit, and delicious things to eat (one of the best cities in the world on that measure, certainly), and lots of neighborhoods with varying character. People hate on the squeaky-clean, sanitized nature of the thing, and I know what they're talking about. Still, there's lots of legal transsexual Cambodian prostitutes wandering around the right spots, if that's what you're looking for in a burg (and they have to get AIDS tests every month!) It's really not possible to overstate the low-crime thing. I was walking back home through the dimly-lit park next to my place the other night, and I suddenly thought: in NYC, this would be creepy. I leave my door unlocked! I could jog at 3am! Now, I used to deride "the squares" with their bourgeois concerns about "safety" and so on, but the truth is that living in a dangerous neighborhood is a drag. I like never getting hassled on the street. I like that I can let my 5-year old walk down to the playground by herself, and when I glance out and see her talking to someone I think, oh, she's talking to some nice malay lady, great. Not: strange adults are talking to my child!! There's nowhere in the US that's this safe from that perspective other than boring gated communities; there aren't any cities like this. Now, would I want to be a Narnian citizen?, no. Living here as an expat I get to reap the rewards of their quasi-authoritarian social policies (such as totally forbidding vagrancy; people who would otherwise be homeless are whisked off to some home for the indigent, or their families are made to care for them). I don't have to suffer any of the downsides, particularly, because they don't impact me. I have never wanted to start an Islamic political party, for example. On the whole I have to admit that I have a much more positive view of Narnia's strange mix of soft-authoritarianism and fabian-socialist engineering than I would have thought possible before. I was willing to move here but imagined that the atmosphere might be stifling, and that there was a reservoir of supressed hostility towards the government on the part of ordinary citizens. There's just...not. People bitch about taxes, and intellectuals dislike the conformism, but on the whole teh citizens of S-EAC-SX are proud of their ass-kicking, up-from-nothing economic success. I'm sometimes not even sure why the ruling party bothers keeping the clamps on the opposition parties. Sure, lust for power. But they're really not doing anything very nefarious with the power that I can see: the political elite of Narnia is made of rich people, but probably less so than in the US. They're really a bunch of (humorless) technocratic mandarins out to improve things, and their sucesses are humanized by their earnest, ridiculous PR campaigns. Look, it's Singha the courtesy lion! When people here ask me if I want to move back to the US, I say, yes, if we're going to move back to California or Mega-City One. If it's Narnia vs some college in the Mid-West, my ass is going to sit right here and enjoy some turkish delight. I tried the hazelnut for the first time tonight and it's good.
UPDATE: this post has decided to "choose life." Sorry for the confusion. You'll note that I didn't talk about the fairly Draconian penal code. If someone is convicted of murder in Narnia, they get executed, by hanging, no exceptions, and with a quickness. Re: caning I've long thought that if given the choice between being caned and staying in jail for a while I'd go for the caning. Keeping people endlessly locked up in cells is actually very cruel and awful, but we're inured to it somehow. When the caning merely augments the prison term, however, it's not very appealing. Narnia's current executioner has had the job for many years and holds the world record of executing 18 people in a single day. He is a jolly-looking, fat, Indian man with resplendent moustaches. I am not a believer in the afterlife but I would nonetheless be very worried, were I him, on my deathbed.
Because I've talked it up in the past, I'm obligated to point out that the current season of Entourage is friggin awful, and if you're going to watch it, you should watch the first two seasons. There are still occasional funny moments, but at this point the show is mostly gimmicky self-parody.
I thought this Times story about the reluctance of any of about twenty witnesses to the shooting of a little girl to come forward was going to be about anti-snitching culture, but it's clear that plenty of people want to talk, but are afraid. And so it's actually a reminder of how very different and very horrible are the living conditions of a lot of Americans. The threat of violence is so immediate that the police have basically lost the ability to investigate many crimes. I think sometimes we forget how rare such a circumstance is anywhere in the world outside of war zones; even in poor and apparently backward countries, people just aren't wondering if they're going to be shot when they leave the house.
Rule Number 32: Don't write about "The Rules" for Modern Love.
There are many signs of a successful meetup, and surely one among them is to have me and Jake on the phone with the very patient wife of the very drunk Froz Gobo, trying to measure his sobriety against the complexity of his path home on public transit. Froz on my couch: narrowly averted! Froz will probably read this in a couple of days when he wakes up (one hopes in the vicinity of his wife) and I say to you, Froz Gobo: dude, you were so fucking drunk. I had to catch you.
And so it was that we had a smashing success of a meetup. In attendance were: Googleplex reader, who is a shockingly young gentleman, with a real Google business card and everything, and A. Chandler Moisen, who not only met his wife online, but did it on usenet. Bow to nerdcore, people.
I finally met the charming Catherine, and if my conversation with her is any guide, she's sitting somewhere right now saying catty things behind my back. Oh, yes you are. And she wants everyone to buy Yglesias's book when it comes out. Don't forget!
I found myself at one point sitting between an animated Dave W and Bitchphd, as they discussed high school curricula, or some such. It was a pleasure to meet Dave W, and Bitchphd's secret is that she's gracious and adult in real life. When she's not trying to LICK MY FACE. (Which attempt...no, attempts, failed. A Shia's face does not get licked.)
Much more pleasant was chatting with Rhymeswithmaria and Saheli. We were all charmed by Rhymeswithmaria's apparent belief that the suburbs in which she works are a strange and foreign land, best avoided if possible. Saheli was, I must say, the only person who seemed notably relaxed. She wasn't there for very long, but wicked hanging out skills were in evidence.
Josh and Magpie have the ease of a couple who've been together a long time, and somehow their spirits remain unbroken. It seemed that whatever group they were sitting near had conversation flowing. It was great to meet them. After most people had left, Josh, Magpie, Jake, Froz and I went around the corner to dinner at an Iranian place where, well, actually we mostly listened to the very drunk Froz Gobo tell us things like "Many cultures, all around the world, have made great contributions to the lexicon of...what tastes good."
Jake is a big dude, and he showed up in his leather motorcycle jacket and steel-toed boots, carrying his helmet. It was, like, legit. Also very easy to talk to. We agreed that I'd whoop his ass in a race soon.
And, of course, there were Slolernr and Ben W-lfs-n. Slol is urbane. How many urbane people do you know? He's all elegant and witty and you'd be perfectly justified in hating him if he weren't so elegant and witty and also apparently a genuinely decent guy. I assign Emerson the task of hating on Slol.
W-lfs-n, well, what's to say? There was this exchange at the table:
[Magpie asks Ben to please hand her her purse]
[Ben picks up the purse]
Slol: Ben has a pu-urse.
Me, to Slol: Watch, he's going to tell her he likes it.
[Ben tells Magpie he really likes her purse]
[Slol laughs and laughs]
Ben, to Slol: What?
But we all love Ben, even when he's trying to start a fight between Catherine and the lovely Megan, who was there for all of five minutes, before she had to go see cooler friends. And there was no fight, because Unfogged is love.
And so we all sat at Jupiter, chatting away happily, swapping seats so that everyone got to talk to everyone, which I think we actually pulled off. (Well, I didn't get to talk to Ben's friend Craig, but with apologies to Craig, who the hell is Craig?) Our cute redheaded waitress's shift ended and we got Preston, the very performancy lip-ringed civil-war reenactor. But he kept the beers coming and all was well. It was, by the standards of UnfoggeDCon, a tame meetup, but not, I suspect, the last of meetup we'll have, and hope springs eternal.