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Earnestness in pop music

Posted by Ben
on 09.08.07

This fellow opened for Richard Thompson last night. It was amazing.


 

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Opinion

Posted by Ogged
on 09.07.07

I don't think Bin Laden should have dyed his beard.


 

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"Dated"

Posted by Ogged
on 09.07.07

Do you know about Who's Dated Who? Sort of a celebrity gossip via social ties thing. Maybe the resident sociologists will have interesting things to say about it. My prurient sensibility notes merely that Yul Brynner and Pamela Des Barres have very impressive dating histories.


 

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Creepy Friday

Posted by Becks
on 09.07.07

Pulled up from comments: What's the most unintentionally creepy song lyric?


 

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The Classics Are Classics For A Reason

Posted by Becks
on 09.07.07

You know what's completely awesome? When someone knows you're having a bad week and makes you a mix tape to cheer you up. I think people have started to devalue the mix tape given how easy it is to create a playlist in iTunes and burn it to a CD. They shouldn't. That's some quality shit.


 

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Shots across the bow?

Posted by Apostropher
on 09.06.07

I'm no foreign policy expert, but I'm guessing this probably isn't good news.

The Syrian government charged Thursday that Israeli aircraft dropped "munitions" inside Syria overnight and said its air defenses opened fire in a new escalation of tensions between the decades-old foes. It was unclear what happened. Syria stopped short of accusing Israel of purposely bombing its territory, and an Israeli spokesman said he could not comment on military operations.

Analysts speculated such a foray could have been probing Syria's defenses or monitoring long-range missile bases. The reported path also would have taken the jets near Iran, whose growing power and anti-Israel government worries leaders of the Jewish state. The incident came after a summer of building tensions that have fed worries of a military conflict erupting between Syria and Israel. Syria accused Israel last month of seeking a pretext for war, and the Israelis are keeping a close watch on Syrian troop movements.

I'd like to believe this isn't being coordinated with the White House in an attempt to goad Syria or Iran into something that could be spun into a casus belli. I mean, I really, really want to believe it. But.


 

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The Decider

Posted by Becks
on 09.06.07

When it comes to The Big Questions about your life, career, family, etc., what is your decision-making style? Do you methodically make a list of pros and cons? Do you just trust your gut? Or do you try to avoid making decisions, hoping fate will bounce you in the right direction?


 

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In Time For The Holidays

Posted by Ogged
on 09.06.07

Why should the apostropher have all the fun?


 

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Beat It

Posted by Becks
on 09.06.07

Over the weekend, when I was off road-tripping, I got slapped with a parking ticket. I think it's completely unfair -- it wasn't clear at all that it was a tow away zone and the signage sucked. I took plenty of pictures back this up (here are two) including a panoramic shot of the signs that could be seen from where we parked.

Do I have any chance of fighting this without making an appearance in court? It would cost more to go back down there than the price of the ticket so I'm not going to do that but I really think this is bullshit. Any tips for fighting parking tickets from afar?


 

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Tennis?

Posted by Ogged
on 09.05.07

Anyone else watching Roddick-Federer? Pretty amazing play. And Andre Agassi, who I thought was a bonehead, is doing some great analysis.


 

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Throwing Like A Girl

Posted by LizardBreath
on 09.05.07

Neat little article by James Fallows in the Atlantic on the mechanics of throwing, how difficult it is to learn to throw as an adult, and how girls often don't end up learning how as children.

It caught my eye because I do -- I was a complete non-athlete as a kid, and never picked up most of the basic athletic skills. I actually made a bit of an effort to learn to throw properly a couple of years ago, so as not to be a bad influence on the children, but hit a difficulty Fallows doesn't mention -- the incredible dropoff in accuracy you get when you're changing the way you throw. I can toss something a short distance with reasonable accuracy using the godawful body mechanics I've always used; it doesn't go fast or far, but it goes basically where I meant it to. After some practice, I got so I could throw a lot farther by getting my elbow up and my hand outside my elbow, just the way Fallows describes, but boy, did I not have any control over where the ball went within about a sixty degree arc. Catch gets remarkably frustrating, very quickly, like that.

So I'm a bad influence on the children still. I suppose I should try to get them into Little League next spring.


 

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My discomfort knows no bounds.

Posted by Apostropher
on 09.05.07

I read this article in the print version of Mother Jones and have been patiently waiting for it to show up online. Hey look! There it is.

When Clinton first came to Washington in 1993, one of her first steps was to join a Bible study group. For the next eight years, she regularly met with a Christian "cell" whose members included Susan Baker, wife of Bush consigliere James Baker; Joanne Kemp, wife of conservative icon Jack Kemp; Eileen Bakke, wife of Dennis Bakke, a leader in the anti-union Christian management movement; and Grace Nelson, the wife of Senator Bill Nelson, a conservative Florida Democrat.

Clinton's prayer group was part of the Fellowship (or "the Family"), a network of sex-segregated cells of political, business, and military leaders dedicated to "spiritual war" on behalf of Christ, many of them recruited at the Fellowship's only public event, the annual National Prayer Breakfast. (Aside from the breakfast, the group has "made a fetish of being invisible," former Republican Senator William Armstrong has said.) The Fellowship believes that the elite win power by the will of God, who uses them for his purposes. Its mission is to help the powerful understand their role in God's plan.

I, of course, am a godless heathen dedicated to wrecking the morals of America's youth and ushering in the new era of drug-fueled pansexualism, so take my revulsion as a given. Nonetheless, this is one more piece of evidence that HRC's gross moral posturing isn't just posturing, and it reinforces my already near-unshakeable belief that she's just about the worst possible Democrat we could put into the White House in 2009. Your mileage may vary, naturally, but if you're unfamiliar with The Fellowship, I highly recommend the original 2003 Harper's piece on the group.


 

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Tribute

Posted by Becks
on 09.05.07

I was kind of surprised by how insensitive and cold some of the quotes were in this article asking what the appropriate level of commemoration is for September 11 as we get further and further from the date. I don't plan on going to any of the 9/11 tribute events this year. I have in the past but the last time I went was for the fifth anniversary. Still, I'm glad they're happening here in New York for the people who find them meaningful or have lost loved ones.


 

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Standards

Posted by Ogged
on 09.05.07

Eric Rauchway has a good piece about the standards to which America wants to hold the developing world, and why that's a bit problematic.

Presumably we should preserve and extend American ideals because they made us what we are. But if American history provides a script for becoming rich and free, how do you follow it? Postpone an end to chattel slavery for around 100 years and implementation of universal suffrage for around 200. Put off having a proper central bank until you're already among the richest nations of the earth, protect manufacturing industry from foreign trade with high tariffs until you're indisputably the richest nation, and display a fine disregard for the intellectual property of foreigners until you hold most of the worthwhile patents. Delay creation of a merit-based civil service for more than a century. Restrict the movement of foreign capital, and invest enormous public resources in education and state-funded enterprise.

One thing that struck me about Rauchway's point is that on the one hand, it's clearly anti-imperialist (specifically anti free-market imperialist), but on the other hand, it's very similar to the arguments that free-marketeers make about developing nations, viz., that applying our standards for wages or protection of workers actually harms the people we're trying to help. In any case, it's a short piece and worth reading the whole thing.


 

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Keillor

Posted by Ben
on 09.04.07

I know people here have pooh-poohed Harry Shearer and Le Show in the past, putting him down as impossibly snide or some such bosh, but since others here have pooh-poohed Garrison Keillor, and since Sen. Craig has come up on the blog recently, I point you all to this lovely bit of real audio. And—bonus!—if you listen past the end of the Keillor segment, you will hear Oscar Brown, Jr., performing "All Blues".


 

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They Will Not Have Plumbed In Vain

Posted by Ogged
on 09.04.07

I don't know what's more crazy, that it's now the law that you have to pack out your shit when you're backcountry, or that they used to do dangerous helicopter missions to empty the outhouses. But I am thankful that if I choose a mate impulsively or indiscriminately and end up with one who wants me to go backpacking, I can say "You want me to shit in a bag?" and pretend that I'm refusing not from wimpiness, but a surfeit of dignity.


 

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Post-Mortem America

Posted by Apostropher
on 09.04.07

From the Department of We're Fucked, May As Well Get Hammered comes this essay from Chris Floyd.

It is, by any measure, a remarkable achievement, one of the greatest political feats ever. Despite Bush's standing as one of the most despised presidents in American history, despite a Congress in control of the opposition party, despite a solid majority opposed to his policies and his war, despite an Administration riddled with scandal and crime, despite the glaring rot in the nation's infrastructure and the callous abandonment of one of the nation's major cities to natural disaster and crony greed -- despite all of this, and much more that would have brought down or mortally wounded any government in a democratic country, the Bush Administration is now in a far stronger position than it was a year ago.

How can this be? The answer is simple: the United States is no longer a democratic country, or even a degraded semblance of one. [...] Yet the belief persists that if there are not tanks in the streets or leather-jacketed commissars breaking down doors, then Americans are still living in a free country.

It won't do anything but depress you, but still very much worth reading the whole thing. Via Arthur Silber, in a post you should read as well.


 

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Guy Talk, Or, You're All Prudes

Posted by Ogged
on 09.04.07

I have a friend who asks variants of the same three questions any time I go on a date. "How was it?" "Is she hot?" "Did you have anal sex?" Our last such conversation, somewhere in the mists of the past, went something like this,

Did you sodomize her?
According to the laws of which state?
Good point. I mean anally.
You know I wouldn't tell you that. Have you still not had anal sex?
I have, it's not that great. Did you come on her face?
So it's just about defilement for you?
Yeah. I like to know before I meet someone, especially if she doesn't know that I know...
Whether she's been defiled?
Yeah.
That's a little disturbing.
But that's just who I am.
You know there are people who don't think anal sex is defiling.
That's true, but not many. Kind of like how some people think being a professional baseball player wouldn't be the best job ever.
Yeah, you're right. I think you're pretty normal, actually.


 

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Stock Split

Posted by Becks
on 09.04.07

According to New York Magazine:

The shaky stock market and subprime disaster have some divorce attorneys advising their clients to pull out of marriages (now!) as a way to cut losses on future payouts. "I was talking with one of my clients the other day, and I told him, 'You don't need to ride the market and your wife,'"

Classy. The thought is to divorce while your assets are worth something so you get more in your half. If you're going to be a calculating bastard, wouldn't it make more sense to wait until the market crashes so that they can cry poverty for alimony payments?

Will? Can you shed some light on this?


 

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Yeah

Posted by Ogged
on 09.04.07

Yeah yeah, it's a swimming video, but this one is cool for a few reasons. First, I think this angle is the best one from which to see how incredibly fast the fast people go. And it's of Anthony Ervin, an Olympic gold medalist who is attempting a comeback after retirement, racing in a Masters meet, rather than other world class swimmers. So there's more of a scale against which to judge his speed (but note that the second place guy is a former Texas A&M swimmer, and that's one of the elite programs). Third, there's the awesome crowd reaction, and finally, note that Ervin's time is a full second off what the elites are currently swimming in this event, and that is, pardon my diction, more faster than he is than the second place guy.

(And here's some boring stuff for the people who actually like swimming: 50m LC heats shot entirely underwater.)


 

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Not Waving

Posted by Ogged
on 09.03.07

Things you don't want to hear when you're choking (at about 1:45 in).

"Does anybody know the Heimlich?"

"Put him on his back."

Oy vey.


 

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She was a very hip ambassador's wife

Posted by Ben
on 09.03.07

Everyone loves This Heat, right?

Listen y'all, to-morrow I have got MUCH pastoralism for you. With some slight exceptions this is going to be one mellow and pastoral show. (We're operating, of course, with the definition of "pastoral" that means it's meandering go-nowhere vaguely folkish improv-like stuff, as on this excellent slab o' whatever CDs are made of or some of the Jewelled Antler Collective's releases, or various drifty-droney-sleepy-summer-eveningy sounds.) I advise not listening if you are going to be operating heavy machinery. If, on the other hand, you want to experience awesomeness, then you should listen, from 12-2 pm PST. Artists to be played include, but are not limited to, Clive's Original Band; A Broken Consort; The Red Sparowes; Feathers; Son of Gunnar, Son of Shel; Peter Kowald & Junko Handa; Ekkehard Ehlers, and Lyle Lovett. It was going to include Joe Henry until I noticed that the song I wanted to play ("Bob & Ray") includes an FCC ("fuckin'"). Fucking FCC. Incidentally I think that all of Joe Henry's releases after and including Fuse are basically what so-called "adult contemporary" music ought to aspire to be like, not least because they're actually good and make good use of the hotshot sidemen employed on them.

Oren Ambarchi has been involved in some extremely well-named single-track releases: with Johan Berthling, "My Days are Darker than Your Nights"; with Tetuzi Akiyama and Alan Licht, "Willow Weep and Moan for Me".


 

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When Little Boys Grow Up

Posted by Ogged
on 09.03.07

Today at the pool.

Me, to seventy-something-guy, as a man prepared to share the lane with him, "Looks like you've got company." "Huh, doesn't even have tits."

Fifty-something-guy, to a resting seventy-something-guy, "Daylight's burning, SSG." "Shh! I'm peeing."


 

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The Little Boy And The Unwanted Erection

Posted by Ogged
on 09.03.07

I was getting dressed after my swim and I noticed a boy around 11 or 12 years old, wrapped in a towel, acting very nervous, and repeatedly glancing at my cockular region. Curious youth I understand, but this kid seemed to be on the verge of hyperventilating and I don't mean to undermine the foundational myths of the blog, but I'm not that huge. So I looked at his cockular region and damn if he didn't have the most hilariously cartoonish erection tent. I turned around and somehow managed not to laugh, but as I finished getting dressed, I thought that he might be locked out of his locker and not realize that you can call to have someone open it for you (the locks are built-in, and people are forever getting confused by them). You can just imagine the terror of a little boy around all these naked adults, with a hard-on that won't go away. He was darting around nervously, persistently priapic, and I figured I'd be solicitous and ask him if he was locked out of his locker. Without exaggeration, I thought he was going to faint when I spoke to him. "Are you locked out of your locker?" [Freeze. Verge of tears, slight swoon.] "What?" "Are you locked out of your locker?" "No." That was as far as I willing to go with The Hard Luck Kid, so I left it at that. I hope you made it, kid.


 

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A welcome gap in the literature

Posted by Fontana Labs
on 09.03.07

You know how you'll be reading a comment thread and notice some dude taking a position that doesn't quite cohere with his other views, or defending a claim in an unusually robust way? And this doesn't really make sense until you realize that he's trying to impress the ladies? Is there a name for this? Remarkably, your first thought and mine, "hornblogging," doesn't seem to be in use.


 

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Conclusion Drawn From A Day Spent In Civil War Country

Posted by Becks
on 09.02.07

How did we ever think we'd have the political will to stick out the proper post-war reconstruction of Iraq when we gave up on the post-war reconstruction of our own country?


 

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Sister, I'm the uncertainty of a poet

Posted by Ben
on 09.02.07

Diana Krall is probably the best-known female jazz singer these days, oder? Such is my impression, anyway.

Compare and contrast:


What a wimpy band. Just for good measure:


 

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Ask Accessorize The Mineshaft

Posted by Becks
on 09.02.07

Sir Kraab asks for our help picking out a new pair of glasses. I know we had a theoretical discussion about eyeglass selection a while back -- maybe now those of you who offered advice can show us what you meant about cheekbones, etc.


 

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