I'm interested in the reaction over at Yglesias's to the fact that he attended an off-the-record talk by Obama. I can see the objection, that the insiderish culture of journalists who have information that they won't share with the public is one of the things that bloggers are supposed to combat, not abet. On the other hand, it's inevitable that if you do some reporting, you're going to know things that, for whatever reason, you won't feel comfortable writing about, so there's no such thing as purity to be had here. So I'm torn, and I'm not satisfied by the answer that we'll judge each journalists credibility case-by-case, because not only is that a lot of work--work that most people won't do--but because I think "the culture" of blogging can go rotten even when people are mostly trying to do the right thing, and the effect of the decay won't necessarily be evident until it's too late, much like happened with the regular press.
I really don't know what the guideline should be. Obviously, off-the-record is useful and shouldn't be ruled out entirely, but how much it's used, and whether it's ok to use in this way, where a bunch of people get a secret talk, is a tough call.
My god I have frittered away the day. But at least I had some YouTube fun watching Laurence Olivier and Ian McKellen doing the "winter of our discontent" soliloquy from Richard III (though they both take a few liberties). (McKellen's speech starts around 5:30 into that clip.) So different, and yet both so good.
I was just on Amazon and stumbled across the web page for my new camera (which still hasn't arrived but I'm assured will get here someday) and saw that the price had dropped over $30 since I ordered it last week. Crap!
But then! I remembered reading this article in Slate. Not only does Amazon have a top secret customer service number they also have a top top secret 30 day price guarantee. I called them up and in 5 minutes had the difference credited to my account. And now I'm passing the information along to you in case you're ever in a similar situation.
The fact that I was shocked by this article on high school graduation rates likely reveals how sheltered my childhood was. I'd always known that there were troubled school districts but how can a state have a goal of graduating 50% of its students? A goal! That it might not even meet! And that's with setting its own (in most cases low) graduation standards!
Here's another depressing study on attitudes toward women in the workforce. Victoria Brescoll, a social psychologist at Yale, showed subjects tapes of interview candidates describing an incident where a coworker had screwed them up at work by showing up late for a meeting. The interview candidates described themselves as either angry or sad. You can all guess where this is going: angry men were offered the highest salaries, sad men and women were offered about the same amount (women slightly more than men), and angry women were offered by far the least. Even more fascinatingly, anger was punished more harshly when the angry woman was a female senior executive, rather than a junior trainee; it looks like anger is less acceptable when backed up by achievement and power.
Again, it's 'a study' -- I haven't read the paper, and the subjects were probably the usual gang of undergrads. But it's not cheerful. For cheerful news, apparently the median income for women under thirty in New York and Dallas is higher than that of men under thirty. Nationwide, of course, it isn't true; once you get over thirty, of course, it isn't true; and while the story doesn't mention it, I'd bet that if you look at mean incomes it isn't true. Still, I'll take what I can get.
From the great PENNsound
Henley quotes Greenwald.
This is the most extraordinary aspect of our political culture. Rep. Davis' assumption is that we are going to be fighting a series of "wars." That is just a given. And the only question is whether we will fight our wars "wisely" or unwisely. We are a nation more or less permanently at war, and we really do not debate whether that should be the case. Enforced Beltway orthodoxy requires that this is a given and anyone who challenges that premise will be deemed extremist and insane (see e.g., Ron Paul, Mike Gravel, "paleoconservatives," the "anti-war left", "isolationists," etc.).
The Grand Beltway Consensus, one that encompasses both parties, is that War is how we rule the world. The only debates allowed are how many we should fight, where we should fight them, and how "wisely" we prosecute them. And the principal reason that we don't really debate the fact that we are a Nation permanently at war is because such a tiny percentage of our population -- and an even tinier percentage of our Beltway opinion-making elite -- actually bears the burdens of those wars (at least directly).
I spent a decent portion of the afternoon wandering the halls, slightly dazed at the notion that out there in the MSM a controversy was raging over Barack Obama saying he could rule out the idea of using nuclear weapons to fight al-Qaeda. Hillary Clinton, it seems, disagrees. But why on earth would you use nuclear weapons to fight al-Qaeda? You use nukes to destroy large portions of cities. Remember counterinsurgency?
The number of U.S. citizens who moved to Canada last year hit a 30-year high, with a 20 percent increase over the previous year and almost double the number who moved in 2000.
It's just like, it's just like, that mini-mall guy. Except with big name DC athletes. Be sure to watch the behind-the-scenes clip after you watch the commercial.
One of the funny things about the locker room is how much some guys just love their own bodies. I saw one guy absolutely adoring himself in the mirror the other day, doing a half-turn with an arms down and extended triceps flex and if he had had a ring with him, I swear he would have proposed right there. What was most funny was that he was standing next to a guy who was much bigger, more cut, and more naturally well-proportioned. Maybe this is just my cultural baggage talking, but I thought that only an American male could stand literally next to someone who was clearly superior in relevant ways and still think, "I am AWESOME."
I got shanghaied a couple of weeks ago into managing a fund-raising thing for my office -- a partner in another office got an appeal for phone cards for wounded soldiers in Germany, and she got every office in the firm collecting money. For three weeks or so I've been sending out nagging emails, and people have been coming by my office giving me cash and checks (made out to me) and I've been logging them in a spreadsheet.
Today, I checked the total of the donations, and went to Costco and bought that much worth of phone cards using my debit card, and sent them off to Germany. And now I have the giant envelope full of cash and checks, which is now my money -- I've spent the amount of the donations on the phone cards they were intended for. Somehow, I find it very disturbing thinking about it as mine; I look at the stack of cash, and it looks like "That's money people gave you for charity! You can't spend that!" Apparently, while I know money is fungible, whatever part of my brain functions as a rudimentary conscience isn't that bright.
I've been batsignalled: Ackerman wants to send the Spice Girls to Baghdad. Of course, my hacking chops are exhausted by "Go Team!" and I don't want to burn my hortatory cred too fast, so I note this in the spirit of FYI.
Have I told you about the time that my mom trolled the Scientologist? She has a dear Scientologist friend (who really is great) who after years of asking finally got her to go to a consultation session. The Scientologist probed for things like depression and financial difficulty, but of course my mom insisted that everything was just fine, thanks. Then he tried to explain that she might think everything is fine, but there are higher levels of consciousness, and to explain, the poor guy decided to use the metaphor of a car with a dirty windshield. You can still drive it, but boy, if you only knew how much better it is when the windshield is clean. To which my mom said, "But my car is clean." Now, my mom definitely has an accent and it's easy to assume that she just missed something in the conversation (which, to be fair, is often true), but in this case, she knew exactly what she was doing. No no, the guy explained, it's just a metaphor, it's not a real car. "I know, but my car is clean. I just washed it." Evil mom! She nearly busted a gut telling me about this. This went on, with the guy eventually giving up in frustration. I could have told him it wasn't going to work.
Sometimes I forget how new this web/news/commerce stuff is, until I see something like Slate's truly horrible attempt to branch out into video. I'm trying to imagine the thinking here. "Uhhh, we can do video now. Uhhh, Emily is pretty hot. Uhhh, ok."
I didn't know that Matt F and Ogged had connections at the New York Times.
Private to Zella Ondrey: if you listen to the abridgement, you are cheating.
There's a perfectly bizarre Times article today (and I see it's come up in the comments), about the disdain with which books on tape are treated by book clubs. A lot of it simply didn't make sense to me.
Is it acceptable, they debate within and among themselves, to listen to that month's book rather than read it? Or is that cheating, like watching the movie instead of reading the book?
How in the world are those analogous? Do people realize that some people are much better at retaining aural information than visual information? I can only guess that people disapprove of what they imagine to be the circumstances of listening--driving, working out, puttering about the house--and think that it's a distracted sort of attention. But no one puts it that way, so I'm unconvinced. If I could listen as quickly as I can read, I think I'd listen to everything; I notice and remember a lot more of what I hear than what I read. And, like bitzer says, these people aren't doing scholarly work, where they'd need to mark up the text. Does this make sense to anyone?
I know you all are a bunch of food snobs but surely Rachel and I aren't the only people who will admit to occasionally enjoying the simple pleasures of hot dogs wrapped in crescent rolls. What ranks on you list of "tacky yet delicious foods"?
Gilbert Arenas, genius.
Seen while getting my afternoon coffee: a mulletted and mustachioed woman smoking outside my building, her pack of cigarettes and lighter stowed for safekeeping in the cleavage between her leathery tattooed breasts.
Last night my mom mentioned that they were taking the kids on a field trip to Whole Foods today. "To where??" Whole Foods, for a cooking class.
These kids are six. I'm so jealous.
Frankly, any compendium of reasons that people have sex that doesn't include "I needed something to blog about," leaves me suspicious. Nevertheless:
...both men and women ranked the same reason most often: "I was attracted to the person."
The rest of the top 10 for each gender were also almost all the same, including "I wanted to express my love for the person," "I was sexually aroused and wanted the release" and "It's fun."
More good summary at the link. The full PDF has the complete list and, on page 8, a list of the 50 reasons on which men and women most diverged.
- 1. The person wore revealing clothes
2. I wanted to feel masculine
3. I wanted to relieve ''blue balls''
4. I wanted to feel feminine
5. The person had a desirable body
6. The person was ''available''
7. The person's physical appearance turned me on
8. It's fun
9. The person had an attractive face
10. I wanted to achieve an orgasm
In some ways, this is all ridiculous, because anything for which you can find 200+ reasons doesn't need a reason at all, and we all know that we have sex because we're animals with a powerful sexual drive, but hey, it feels good to feel like you're choosing, so you might as well do it.
Via Yglesias, this ballot measure that would switch California's allocation of electoral votes from winner-takes-all to proportional by district would be really bad for the Democrats and for elections in general:
Imagine, as a thought experiment, that all the states were to adopt this "reform" at once. Electoral votes would still be winner take all, only by congressional district rather than by state. Instead of ten battleground states and forty spectator states, we'd have thirty-five battleground districts and four hundred spectator districts. The red-blue map would be more mottled, and in some states more people might get to see campaign commercials, because media markets usually take in more than one district. But congressional districts are as gerrymandered as human ingenuity and computer power can make them. The electoral-vote result in ninety per cent of the country would still be a foregone conclusion, no matter how close the race.
Wow. That sure was phoned the fuck in, wasn't it?
(spoilers allowed in the comments)
The other day Yglesias linked to an old James Fallows article that discusses (in part), a roundtable discussion from 1987 between military folks, journalists, and politicians. The roundtable is available free online (#7) and very much worth your time. The first half is mostly about whether the military guys would torture prisoners if they were believed to have crucial information, and the second half is about how journalists would behave in a difficult hypothetical. It's very revealing and occasionally intense.
Arthegall thinks maybe you all want to learn from each other or something.
Actually, Unfogged seems to have a lot of programmers and general Computer Literates reading it, along with all the Joe Six-pack Humanities types. Ogged should set up a 'programming group', along the lines of the old-now-defunct reading group, that lets Regulars ask programming or computing type questions, and others answer them, in a semi-structured way.
Some more detail at the link. You can use this thread to hash out whether there's any interest in in something like this, and how you'd like it to be structured. I'm not superkeen on a separate site (not one that I'd want to set up, anyway) but don't let me stop you.
A new phenomenon in New Zealand is taking the idea of you are what you eat to the extreme. Vegansexuals are people who do not eat any meat or animal products, and who choose not to be sexually intimate with non-vegan partners whose bodies, they say, are made up of dead animals. [...] Many female respondents described being attracted to people who ate meat, but said they did not want to have sex with meat-eaters because their bodies were made up of animal carcasses. [...]
"I believe we are what we consume, so I really struggle with bodily fluids, especially sexually. [...] When you are vegan or vegetarian, you are very aware that when people eat a meaty diet, they are kind of a graveyard for animals," she said.
I prefer to think of it as a recycling center for animals, but whatever works for you.
As mentioned here a week or so ago, John Emerson has self-published a book of essays. They're short and wildly varied -- a really funny reaction to one of the sillier bits of Freud; an argument for atheism based on the proposition that God couldn't hide in a sock drawer; a piece ranging from the Barbary pirates, through the mutiny on which Billy Budd was based, to The Good Ship Ruben James; reviews of books, mostly history; and unclassifiable bits of other stuff.
For anyone who's poked around John's website, Idiocentrism, either a large portion or all of the book is somewhere on the website. Nonetheless, it's still worth buying -- if this is the sort of thing you like, it's a great book to have in your bag for a commute, or any time you have fifteen minutes to read a couple of pages on something odd. Reading online isn't at all the same. It's also a great source for ideas for further reading -- there's a medieval romance I missed as an undergrad that I'm now planning to look up, as well as doing some reading on Karl XII of Sweden, and a book on the origins of the Iron Age.
Flaws? Just because you're self-publishing something already published on a website is no reason for it to be in Arial (or some sanserif font). Nothing should be in Arial, ever. I used to work at a firm that would submit briefs in Arial, and spent years whining about its ugliness and illegibility (legibility is arguable on a screen, but on paper, serifs are unambigiously better). But I doubt there's anyone who hates Arial more than I do, and I managed to get over it, so that shouldn't hold you back.
(And the offer to anyone who reads here holds -- if you write a bood and send me a copy, I'll review it. No guarantees that I'll like it, but I'll review it.)
Wendy West at The Great Whatsit writes about what happened when one of her co-workers had The Talk with his son:
Guy I work with has a son named Jack. Good kid. Solid. 8-years-old. Asked his dad the other day where babies come from. Guy suspected his son already knew and was testing his dad to see how much truth dad would tell. Guy tells the truth, the graphic truth - penis this, vagina that. Jack can't believe he's hearing pops spill these words. Guy doesn't stop, tells Jack all about sperm and eggs. At this, Jack, facing his reproductive destiny, runs around the room yelling, "I am not a chicken!"
Despite the explicit talk, Guy tells us Jack refers to "vagina" as "China," which has lead to many "China is the next world superpower" jokes and the like.
I don't recall ever having The Talk with my parents. My parents mostly worked by leaving books in my room for me to read and never acknowledging their existence. What about yours?
One finds this song totally beguiling, and in general one has to admit that, though one talks a good game regarding the avant-garde and experimental, and even walks a good game thereregarding, one is at all times a sucker for sad bastard/tragic sap music (though really even some experimental stuff fits in there), and accordingly one's radio show tomorrow will feature many shorter songs—with words and everything—of that type, as well as a larger than usual proportion of folk and folk-derived musics, performed by the likes of the Satoko Fujii Min-Yoh Ensemble, Pienza Ethnorkestra, Lars Hollmer, Kruzenshtern & Parohod, Meg Baird, (Bub), Jason Ajemian, Talk Talk, John Cale, and the Masada String Trio. And some metal, because, you know.
One is shocked to realize that one forgot to include a link to the stream and to mention the time of the show, to wit, noon to 2 pm pacific standard time.
He's had them before, and while he doesn't have any identified health problem causing them, I'm sure he'll be fine.
Still, if this turns out to be something that would force his retirement, couldn't he have waited a year to make stalling his replacement easier?
It appears I may have to relinquish my title as Teh Hero. Turns out the third kid is the magic threshhold beyond which I can no longer read all the Unfogged threads, much less keep up with the entire internet. Maybe the Justice League will allow me to retain emeritus status or something. Anyhow, a bunch of my imaginary friends from here sent a lovely outfit for la chica soon after she was born, and she's just now gotten to the size where it fits. So I thought I'd say thanks again and let you see it in action. Try to ignore the mosquito bite in the middle of her forehead.
But what I was going to say before I started into all of that is: this is all kinds of awesome.
The hottest. Woot!
Exbeforelast's daughter is about fifteen months old now, and urgently needs to hold the phone if her mom is trying to use it. So EBL turns on the speakerphone, locks the keypad, and hands it off. Now all conversations with EBL have a background of "maa daba BA maaa" and the pitter patter of little feet. And of course you have to yell when the phone gets too far away, or turns a corner, and occasionally things become totally muffled, but she takes it out of her mouth after a few seconds.
WWTDD has a knack for the "you're not going to do better" phrase.
On the breakup of Bridget Moynihan and Tom Brady.
This chick might as well go gay because no dude is gonna wanna follow Tom Brady. He won the Super Bowl three times, he's richer than most countries and he looks like a damn model. I made a list of the guys who have more to offer a girl than Tom Brady:
1. Bruce Wayne
On the breakup of Jessica Alba and Cash Warren, apparently precipitated by Alba's desire, and Warren's reluctance, to get married.
This guy was smart to hold out. He can totally do better. Maybe he can fuck a golden beam of Gods love....
Babcock and Bowles, an economist and a psychologist, have done a study suggesting that women who negotiate (in the experiment, negotiating a salary offer) tend to be penalized by men more harshly than men who negotiate. (Women tend to punish both men and women for negotiating evenly.) Women respond to this incentive by being more reluctant to negotiate with men than with women; in fact, when dealing with women they are just as likely to negotiate as men are. The commonplace, then, that women tend to be less successful in the workplace than men because they are 'innately' less inclined to put themselves forward aggressively is weakened by this study -- it starts to look as though women are as aggressive as men when they have the same incentives to be. (Via Kevin Drum.)
Now, this is the classic study done on a couple of dozen American undergrads, so like all the other studies I disagree with it's not much more than anecdotal evidence, but it does accord with my experience. I live for cases where I'm negotiating with opposing counsel, because I can relax and be as hardnosed as I want (oh, I stay reasonable and polite -- while unreasonable and impolite is a strategy that can work, it's not generally a good idea, and it's not my style) because I don't need opposing counsel to like me. I may need reciprocal courtesy, but I don't need inchoate goodwill. And negotiations with opposing counsel tend to work out fairly well for me -- I'm usually successful in getting the concessions I need, and not giving up the concessions I care about, and if at the end of the case opposing counsel doesn't want to have lunch with me, it's no loss.
Within my own firm, I'm hopeless. To be well thought of and to be given interesting, responsible work in a law firm, you really need to put yourself forward aggressively with your superiors, and I don't do that successfully at all. This isn't just a gender issue, it's also a result of my personality flaws; I enjoy and am good at being straightforwardly forceful, but I have a hell of a time toning it down without turning it off entirely. I can be forceful, or I can be disengaged, but I don't do well with being deferentially engaged. And I'm very inhibited about being forceful with someone I'm going to need to maintain a longterm working relationship with -- while there are some people I've worked with that I can relax and let loose with, mostly I get the strong impression from people I've worked for that when I advocate strongly for a position I believe in, that I'm behaving unacceptably. As a result, I end up rather passively doing what I'm told on the cases I work on, other than in the few precious cases where no one superior to me is paying any attention at all. I think of myself as a forceful, aggressive person, but when I leave this firm, as I'm hoping to fairly soon, anyone in the firm who wonders why I didn't work out long term here will be able to explain it by the fact that I was a passively disengaged wallflower as an associate.
More broadly, I'd like to encourage people thinking about gender differences to think critically about what they mean by 'aggression', and whether generalizing from aggression in one context to aggression in another context is a meaningful thing to do. You get people talking about it as if the mental quality that causes teenage boys to get in physical fights with each other were the same quality that causes people to advocate verbally for ideas they believe in were the same quality that causes people to value deference from people they're allied with were the same quality that causes people to devote mental effort to practical problems not involving direct conflict with, or any kind of relationships with, other people. In my experience of human nature, those are all distinct situations, and someone's behavior in one of them doesn't predict their behavior in the others well at all.
Do y'all know that girl27 has a friend who's a real-live musician with several albums, bands, and soundtracks to his name? You can go here to read about him and listen to some songs ("listen" is in the upper right, and a bunch of his songs are mixed into the playlist that comes up). Myspace with new songs here, official page here. Buy some if you like it! Maybe he'll take 27 to dinner, put some meat on her bones.
Voting appears frozen in Kriston's and Catherine's categories, but I wonder if they've just frozen the displayed vote totals to discourage the bot wars. Which is to say, there's no harm in running the bots until the contest closes in order to be on the safe side, so bot away until Monday at 5pm Eastern. And god help W-lfs-n if Howley wins.
Anyone with reasonably high level statistical knowledge, and an obsessive interest in the Lancet study of postwar mortality in Iraq, it's under attack again, although the guy with the complaints doesn't seem to be saying that his argument supports a claim that the estimated death toll in Iraq was any way different from the study's results. This one is over my head -- that is, I don't understand the attack at all. But if you're better educated than I am, and interested in this sort of thing, Dsquared has a couple of posts on it, first arguing politely with the criticisms, and then sadly, losing his reason.
I have, as of yesterday, served out the term of my two-year cellphone contract. And there are no new phones that I want. It's like getting out of jail on a day that all the brothels are closed.
Are you a nerd, geek, or dorkenheimer? Have you mastered complex computer languages, only to fall down when it comes to spamming the real-life hotness contests going on nightly at your local watering hole? Cheer up, Urkel, because these things can be learned. Ogged's already working one of these angles. Maybe he seems too 'man-hungry'?
via the fabulous Fabulon.
The guy who sent me this song asks,
I mean, why does he even bother? just say . (Especially given how explicit everything else is.)