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A Dee Doo Dah

Posted by Becks
on 10.06.07

Via lurker Chris, an interesting site that shows you the demographics of your ZIP code and how they compare to neighboring area.

And with that, I'm off to here(-ish) until Monday.


 

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All things revealed in time

Posted by Fontana Labs
on 10.06.07

I've wondered for a while whether social conservatives in general and James Dobson in particular actually care that much about abortion (i.e., very much want it to stop) or whether they enjoy it as a wedge issue (i.e., fear that it stops because this cuts off the funds).

I wonder if Dobson's behavior toward Giuliani will provide some insight into this. Lemieux thinks that Dobson is trying to influence the primary but would support a nominated Giuliani in the general election, since President Giuliani would make more Dobson-friendly judicial appointments. Yglesias thinks that Dobson will act to prevent a pro-choice Republican from winning in order to preserve the strength of the social conservative bloc, which loses influence if it's widely believed that a Republican can win without its support.

Hurray! An experiment!


 

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My true home is at Oral Roberts University

Posted by Fontana Labs
on 10.06.07

Two of my favorite things--schadenfreude and late-night texting-- in one great news story:

Richard Roberts is accused of illegal involvement in a local political campaign and lavish spending at donors' expense, including numerous home remodeling projects, use of the university jet for his daughter's senior trip to the Bahamas, and a red Mercedes convertible and a Lexus SUV for his wife, Lindsay.
She is accused of dropping tens of thousands of dollars on clothes, awarding nonacademic scholarships to friends of her children and sending scores of text messages on university-issued cell phones to people described in the lawsuit as "underage males." ...
Mrs. Roberts -- who is a member of the board of regents and is referred to as ORU's "first lady" on the university's Web site -- frequently had cell-phone bills of more than $800 per month, with hundreds of text messages sent between 1 a.m. to 3 a.m. to "underage males who had been provided phones at university expense."

I know it's a cheap thrill, but I never get tired of seeing tiresome moral scolds revealed to be as lousy as the rest of us. Via tpm.

(On the other hand, if ORU has to lay faculty off, where do they go? It's not like they're competitive for mainstream jobs....Sad moment: reading job applications from New Orleans-based academics who had clearly been coasting for decades after tenure, not knowing that they'd have to face the market again.)


 

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They Found It

Posted by Ogged
on 10.06.07

The appendix, not so useless.

Obviously, I'm enormously grateful to doctors and to modern medicine generally, but there's no doubt that a lot of the scientistic foofraw and the white coats etc., are meant to make us forget that there's a lot of guesswork in medicine and I have no doubt that in fifty years today's treatments will seem just slightly more sophisticated than bleeding with leeches, and in another fifty years, those will seem crude as well. That's to medicine's credit, of course, but it's also a reminder that there's a lot about the body that we haven't begun to understand.


 

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The Habit Of Getting It Exactly Right

Posted by Ogged
on 10.05.07

Kevin Drum (who has a full post feed now), links to the new Obama ad, and says, exactly rightly,

As long as a candidate is broadly in tune with my own ideological preferences (as all three of the leading Democratic candidates are), judgment and temperament are the most important qualities I look for. It's what all the rest of us should be looking for too. The problem is that judgment is a famously nebulous characteristic and it's really, really hard to signal it effectively. After all, in the same way that everyone thinks they're a better-than-average driver, everyone thinks they're endowed with better-than-average judgment too. That makes it tough to convince people that your judgment is really something so special that they ought to vote you into the Oval Office.


 

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Reconsidered

Posted by Ogged
on 10.05.07

You know, it just might work for him.


 

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One Day More

Posted by Becks
on 10.05.07

I've noticed my capacity for outrage becoming numbed by all of the bullshit being pulled about the war but this broke through even my hardened shell:

When they came home from Iraq, 2,600 members of the Minnesota National Guard had been deployed longer than any other ground combat unit. The tour lasted 22 months and had been extended as part of President Bush's surge.
1st Lt. Jon Anderson said he never expected to come home to this: A government refusing to pay education benefits he says he should have earned under the GI bill.
"It's pretty much a slap in the face," Anderson said. "I think it was a scheme to save money, personally. I think it was a leadership failure by the senior Washington leadership... once again failing the soldiers."
Anderson's orders, and the orders of 1,161 other Minnesota guard members, were written for 729 days.
Had they been written for 730 days, just one day more, the soldiers would receive those benefits to pay for school.
"Which would be allowing the soldiers an extra $500 to $800 a month," Anderson said.

I don't know why anyone would let their child join the military these days.

[Via Kay]


 

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STFU

Posted by Fontana Labs
on 10.05.07

Honestly, this whole Obama-lapel-pin thing is making me think that we deserve whatever bad things are headed our way.


 

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And That's OK

Posted by Becks
on 10.05.07

We no longer have the coolest meetups of the internet.


 

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Ask The Mineshaft: Losin' It Edition

Posted by Becks
on 10.05.07

Educate the youngins, Mineshaft:

Sex: should you wait till the person who wants to have it with you is someone you actually like? Also, as a high school senior, my time is kind of running out - how important is it to go into college without your virginity?

The girl in question has been flirting/touching/asking me over to her empty house on various pretences for a long time (all of which I've ignored or turned down), and if it's obvious enough that I'm picking it up, it's obvious enough that it's getting hard to ignore. The problem is that I'm not especially attracted to her, either physically or personality-ly.
She hangs out with three wonderful and intellectually curious friends, all of whom I've ineffectually crushed on or briefly and awkwardly dated over the last three years. But I've always found her *brutal honesty which I feel bad typing* kind of dull, so I've probably paid less attention to her, which was probably what made her interested, which is great except that... you know how it goes. I want so badly to say "Stop the giggling and the arm-touching, just casually name-drop P.G. Wodehouse or Neil Gaiman in a conversation, watch how quickly the pants come off," but such is not the way of the world.
Additional complications: I don't know how much of my finding her not-all-that-attractive is related to uncomplimentary, sexist comments my guy friends have made about her and her group of friends, which I called them out for but which I'm not sure I've fully scrubbed from my head. It was really weird - I kept getting this urge from some misogynist part of me, when I was writing this email, to attach a picture of her so I could get some "objective" validation. Effing subconscious. Now I'm thinking "The only way to really prove you're not influenced by their comments is to fuck her. Lie back and think of Mary Wollstonecraft!" But even I know that's not a reason to have sex with someone.
So anyway, should I go for it?


 

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Greetings

Posted by Ogged
on 10.04.07

War, politics, and cultural nuance aside, it must be admitted that this week's New Yorker cover is pretty awesome.


 

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Miscegenation

Posted by Fontana Labs
on 10.04.07

Maybe the lawyers in the house could tell me if this is true: one difference between interracial marriage and same-sex marriage is that mixed-race marriages were recognized as marriages but were violations of the criminal code, while same-sex marriages aren't recognized as marriage.

One might use this purported fact to argue against same-sex marriage on grounds of conceptual necessity. I would not, mostly because I'm opposed to thinking about concepts that way.

Apologies if we've discussed this before. Google tells me that I had a long string of boring posts about gay marriage but I can't bring myself to read them all.


 

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What Do Retired Rock Stars Do?

Posted by Ogged
on 10.04.07

I couldn't work. I was too handsome.

Thanks, I just needed to type that.

The real topic of the post is the Hillary Clinton presidency, which a Republican acquaintance is trying to resign himself to. He was asking me (expert on all things Democrat) what role I though Bill Clinton would have in a Hillary administration. He was hoping I'd say something like "Secretary of State" or something else high profile (because Bill is good at some things, you see), but I really don't think so. I figure that they don't want Bill overshadowing Hillary so anything he does will be ad hoc or low profile; maybe some hot spot diplomacy, or head of an environmental initiative, etc.

Consider it a challenge not to let this thread become about the patriarchy.


 

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Work From Wherever

Posted by Becks
on 10.04.07

Yglesias asks why telecommuters would bother to pay $25 a day (or $175 a month) for a drop-in office-type space when they could work in a coffee shop instead. I can think of reasons a freelancer might spring for it (fewer distractions, an "office" is more convenient if your job involves a lot of conference calls or other tasks that might annoy fellow coffee-shop-goers) but I think the main lure is (or at least should be) for companies.

I know a lot of companies (mine included) lament the high cost of office space and try to encourage working from alternative locations that they don't have to pay for but are suspicious that people working from home are really working. Companies that were willing to pay for a membership to one of these drop-in centers might feel more confident that their employees were being productive than if they were home and potentially distracted by their home entertainment options and household chores. I've seen the cost of providing office space broken down by employee and for many companies I would think offering to pay for something like this instead would be a big cost savings. And, since the employee would surely choose a place close to home, I'd think it would be something to be encouraged from a traffic management/sprawl/environmental impact standpoint.

If I can dream, I'd love to see my company (and others) give employees with location-flexible jobs an option - we'll either provide you with typical office accommodations or we'll give you a debit card with a monthly stipend that can only be used with certain pre-approved work-related vendors - a drop-in center for those who want to work in a more "officey" environment, T-Mobile for people who want to buy a monthly wi-fi package for working at Starbucks, Kinkos for copying and faxing, somewhere like Office Max for people working at home who need supplies, etc. I think employees would be happy and like the flexibility and companies would save more money on overhead costs than they spend on these cards. And it would be a net plus for the environment and might even help keep housing costs under control if people weren't all competing to live near the same arteries for commuting.


 

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I sense a plot twist headed toward us

Posted by Fontana Labs
on 10.04.07

Some of Gil Thorp's players have been amusing themselves by googling their teammates, and now they're about to dig into the internet's file on mysterious (but hard-hitting!) recluse Cully Vale.

Hmm, I wonder...could this end in some sort of revelation that eventually brings the team closer together and teaches us all a life lesson? A few years ago one of the basketball stars was living at the local homeless shelter-- but what's Vale's secret?


 

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Funderwear

Posted by Becks
on 10.04.07

I like this idea: turn your old sentimental concert t-shirts into panties! It's a fun concept, if overpriced. The back is sexy mesh instead of just more t-shirt, but still $30 is more than I'm willing to spend. It does make me want to go find a pattern and learn how to sew, though, so I can whip up some of these at home.


 

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Folk songs for dreamers and losers in love aren't selling this year

Posted by Ben
on 10.03.07

The old mix thread seems to have died, and I'm about to depart for colder climes, but out of consideration for apo's claim that he's never been able to get "into" Richard Thompson, I have tossed together an extremely one-sided mix of sad-sack tunes performed by same (and one neither performed nor written by him, but related to one that he performed and wrote). I emphasize again that the mix is not at all representative of the range of his stuff. Track list below the fold. Some of the files are encoded as oggs. All modern software can decode such things: every linux player, VLC, winamp (I'm pretty sure), audion—all the modern ones.

1. Richard & Linda Thompson - Shoot Out the Lights - Don't Renege on Our Love
2. Richard Thompson - Intermedia Arts Center - Johnny's Away on the Rolling Sea
3. Richard Thompson - Watching The Dark 3 - The Great Valerio
4. French Frith Kaiser Thompson - Live Love Larf & Loaf - Bird in God's Garden-Lost and Found
5. Richard Thompson - Semi-Detached Mock Tudor - She Twists The Knife Again
6. Martin Carthy - RT 6: RT on FR - Farewell, Farewell
7. Richard Thompson - RT 1: Walking the Long Miles Home - Withered And Died
8.Richard Thompson - RT 5: Something Here Worth More than Gold - Bad News Is All The Wind Can Carry
9. Richard & Linda Thompson - Shoot Out the Lights - Walking on a Wire
10. Richard Thompson - Watching The Dark 3 - Jennie
11. Richard Thompson - Small Town Romance - Small Town Romance
12. Richard Thompson - Watching The Dark 2 - Beat The Retreat
13. Richard Thompson - RT 2: Finding Better Words - Down Where The Drunkards Roll
14. Fairport Convention - What We Did On Our Holidays - Meet On The Ledge
15. Richard Thompson - When The Spell Is Broken - ?
16. Richard Thompson - RT 3: Shine in the Dark - Calvary Cross


 

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The hallowed halls of academe.

Posted by Apostropher
on 10.03.07

Turns out some messages are best delivered face-to-face.

A former professor at a Chicago college is suing his previous employers for wrongly firing him - after he allegedly left a note on a colleague's door saying 'Jack sucks donkey c*ck.'

Reid Hyams, formerly a professor at Columbia College's School of Media Arts, says that he acknowledges that the note he left on colleague Jack Alexander's door was inappropriate. But he doesn't think he should be fired. And, crucially, he maintains that he didn't write 'Jack sucks donkey c*ck' - he actually wrote 'Jack sucks donkey d*ck.' A 'donkey d*ck', Hyams says, is a slang term in the industry for a type of microphone.

Oh. Well. That changes things. I guess.


 

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State Of Mind

Posted by Ogged
on 10.03.07

Via LGM, I see that noted babe and genius Ann Althouse has lamented thus.

Hillary Clinton has taken over control of the nation's brain, as demonstrated by the fact that people seem to think it's worth talking and talking about the sound of her laughter. Excuse me while I go bang my head against a wall.

Attributing agency to Clinton for this seems a bit odd, but maybe AA just meant that we're all obsessed with Hillary. Or, maybe not.

I think it was her strategy to make us talk about that instead of substantive problems she has. It's a distraction. She's deliberately laughing in a way designed to derail us from going in a direction that would hurt her. (So was the cleavage.)

I officially declare that I'm not even going to try to hurt Althouse's feelings anymore. You know what this reminds me of, seriously? I was walking through an underpass once and a clearly mentally deranged guy approached me and I said something like "Hey, how's it going?" And he said, angrily, "So you're not going to say 'hello' to me?" I kept walking while he walked a few feet behind me berating me for my rudeness. Which is to say that he was able to use words and he had beliefs and feelings, but they were all reflections of what was going on in his head and not what was going on in the world that most people share. Quite apart from being followed by an angry crazy guy, it was scary.


 

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What The Hell?

Posted by Ogged
on 10.03.07

Jerry Lundegaard?


 

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State Of Denial

Posted by Becks
on 10.03.07

Continuing the theme of states with outlier demographics dictating policies for the rest, Ryan Avent has a good post up about how geographic divisions in Congress led to the fall of SCHIP. Go read it.


 

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Kantian Tunes

Posted by Ogged
on 10.03.07

Almost all foreign pop music sounds like it comes from the same treacle factory, but Mohsen Namjoo is trying to shake things up at least a little in Iran. Here's his song New Kantian Ideas (no, I won't translate the lyrics and apologies for the insipid slides the uploader has included) and here's a live performance of some more traditional music where he experiments with his voice a bit. At about 2:50 into the second clip, you get good illustrations of something that I can't friggin stand about Iranians and also something that I really like about them. First, when the camera cuts to the audience, the maroon who uploaded the video decides that it's fine to overlay his own crushingly earnest message of political unity. I need to talk to some Iranian intellectual types, because while I'm sure the concept of "maudlin" exists in Farsi, it seems to be kept under guard, and familiar to only a few. But if you look at the audience themselves (itself), you'll see looks of amused incomprehension (and some amused appreciation), and that reminds me that there isn't a real anti-intellectual streak in Iranian culture: if you're talking over someone's head (or performing there, IYKWIM), they don't get resentful, they just admit that they don't get it and they respect you for being a smarty-pants. Of course, they might not like your idea or your performance, and tell you so, but they're not angry about it.


 

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Primary

Posted by Becks
on 10.03.07

We all know that people in Iowa and New Hampshire are very white and love their ethanol but this graph in the NYT also shows that residents of those states are more likely to have health insurance than the rest of the nation and less likely to be affected by the mortgage crisis, which could affect the outcomes of the early primaries in interesting ways.


 

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Inevitable

Posted by Ogged
on 10.02.07

Adam Kotsko has needs.



 

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Thief!

Posted by Becks
on 10.02.07

It wasn't until I walked through the door of my apartment that I realized that I still had the towel from the gym still in my hand. I now realize that the gym attendant wasn't just being unusually friendly on my departure.

I feel disproportionately guilty about this.


 

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On Thomas

Posted by Ogged
on 10.02.07

In the same way that I appreciate Yglesias taking on the Jews who are quick to accuse their political opponents of anti-semitism, I was glad to see Keith Boykin setting the record straight on Clarence Thomas, who has been promoting his book and trying to redefine his public image.

Don't believe the hype. Clarence Thomas is still the most dangerous black man in America. But he's not dangerous to white America; he's dangerous to African Americans. He's exactly the kind of black man who would sell out his people for the approval of the larger white society. We know because he has. From his days in the Reagan Administration to his tenure on the Supreme Court, Clarence Thomas has done nothing but harm to black America. But now, after years of turning a blind eye to the concerns of legitimate black victims in the courtroom, he has the nerve to call himself the victim.

...

Just this year, Thomas voted to eliminate public school integration plans across the country. But his record of disregard for the poor and minorities goes back years.

Thomas has voted to eliminate affirmative action, to limit access to the courts for plaintiffs, to deny rights of appeal to defendants, and to protect the corporate status quo. And he cast one of the deciding votes in the divided 5-4 Bush v. Gore decision that stopped the counting of ballots in the contested 2000 Florida presidential election. Croft allowed Thomas to portray the criticism as some sort of manufactured black outrage created by the likes of Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson. But in reality, Thomas on the Court has been an enemy to women, the poor, gays and lesbians, and many other disenfranchised minorities. It's not just blacks who have a vested interest in protecting themselves from Thomas's jurisprudence.

...

But more to the point, how can Thomas complain about the politics of personal attack at the same time he wages his own attack against Anita Hill? And why didn't Steve Croft point this out in their interview?

I know the answer to the last question. We went through this once before in 1991. It's the reason why more white liberals didn't speak up as forcefully as they should have. White people, especially easily guilted white liberals, are afraid to challenge black conservatives for fear that the black community will consider them to be racist. But some times you have to call a spade a spade, to use an unfortunate metaphor.

 

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Starvation

Posted by Becks
on 10.02.07

If something has been on my To Do list since 2004 and still isn't done, I should really just cross it off.


 

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Girl, You'll Be A Woman

Posted by Becks
on 10.02.07

Laura Sessions Step (ugh, I know) has a wandering article in search of a thesis in today's Post about how people of the female gender are more likely to embrace the word "girl" than "woman" these days. She wonders why, making some ventures into theories about femininity that don't make much sense.

Her article got me thinking, though, about my use of those words. I definitely identify more as "girl" than "woman" and wonder why. My age suggests "woman" and so does my grownup job. Maybe marriage? No, I still call some of my married friends girls, too. I think it has more to do with motherhood -- when I think about the people in my life I would call "women" versus "girls", they all have kids and strongly identify with their role as a mother. So perhaps this girl/woman thing has less to do with women acting feminine or not storming the castles of corporate America than the tendency for our generation to delay child-bearing.


 

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Clean Up

Posted by Ogged
on 10.01.07

I'm going to bed, but perhaps y'all can see to it that the forces of good prevail in the thread here and those it links to, without letting it all degenerate into a shouting match.


 

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Runner

Posted by Ogged
on 10.01.07

Yesterday, Haile Gebrselassie set the world record in the marathon at 2 hours and 4 minutes. I'm not sure how best to convey how incredibly fast that is.

It's running an 18 second 100 meters (and that's faster than you think) four hundred and twenty one times in a row.

It's running a mile in 4:45, 26 times in a row.

Or, try it this way: get on a treadmill, set it to the highest speed it will go, which is usually 10mph, and think about doing that for two hours. Now consider that you're still going almost three miles per hour (30% !) slower than Gebreselassie's 12.7mph pace.


 

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A Decided Lack Of Coaching

Posted by Ogged
on 10.01.07

As you well know, Pam Anderson was at one time married to the gentleman, Tommy Lee. Theirs was the first sex tape to receive major publicity and we were happy that they were happy, but eventually he beat her, they got divorced, got back together, and went their separate ways (more or less). Then Pam Anderson married the gentleman, Kid Rock, after having been engaged to him years earlier, but calling things off. They went on to have several weddings in several locations. The marriage itself lasted, I believe, some months. Now comes word that Pam Anderson is once again married. This time to one Rick Salomon. That would be the gentleman Rick Salomon whose prior fifteen minutes of fame were as the co-star (NSFW) in the Paris Hilton sex tape. All the best to the married couple.


 

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Passive-Aggressive Plastering

Posted by Becks
on 10.01.07

The Wall Street Journal has a trend piece on people throwing parties to rope their friends into helping them renovate their houses:

As the housing market cools, homeowners looking to save money on renovations are hosting parties where they invite friends over for an evening of ripping out walls and laying floors. But when novices who've had a few drinks get a hold of crowbars, drills and Sawzalls, the results are sometimes less than satisfactory.
One reveler near Chicago hung a sheet of drywall backwards, while a partygoer in Seattle messed up the host's bathroom floor by installing the tiles crooked. During her recent "Martini Bash" renovation event in Toronto, Debora Beam wandered upstairs to find one of her friends halfway through sledgehammering out the wrong wall.

How many of these "oops"es do you think are at least somewhat semi-intentional?


 

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Put Me In, Coach

Posted by Becks
on 10.01.07

We kind of got into this in the discussion of Mystery and the PUA but I think Ezra makes a very good point about how we shouldn't turn up our noses at people who seek professional help with dating. Maybe the type of help, if it involves methods of The Game, etc., but not the act of seeking it:

Once a week, I go to some guy's house and pay him a fairly significant sum of money so he can tell me in which order I should pluck strings on my guitar. I would like to learn to play guitar well. But it's nowhere near as central to my happiness as my lovelife. Yet I'm allowed -- even praised -- for seeking expert guidance there, but would be roundly shamed if I sought a dating coach.
The idea that folks who need a bit of coaching or advice on these matters are painted as pathetic and weird has always struck me as deeply unfair. This idea that our romantic lives should be organic and spontaneous is rather nice, but for some folks, quite unlikely, and for others, quite self-deceptive. Most of us, after all, have had dating coaches: An older sibling, or a charismatic friend, or an honest lover. That society suggests those who haven't had free guides or good luck should be too ashamed to seek outside help is pretty cruel.

 

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Relic

Posted by Becks
on 09.30.07

What's up with Chicago? I'm looking at hotel rooms there and it seems like every time I find a halfway decent deal, I click through and find it's a smoking hotel room. WTF? Who even has those these days? How is this a city full of smoking hotel rooms?


 

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Workout

Posted by Becks
on 09.30.07

Thinking of this post: how much would you exercise compared to now if exercise was completely separated from appearance and health? If they magically created a pill tomorrow that would keep you at the weight you wanted and let you live a long, healthy life, would you still go to the gym/track/pool every day?

I'm sure the answer for most of you (the exceptions maybe Ogged and Megan) would be no. I know it would be for me -- that's the only reason I go to the gym. Sure, I enjoy when my body is able to do something strong and impressive but do I enjoy that more than the five hours or so each week I'd gain if I could cut that task off my To Do list guilt free? Don't think so.


 

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The Cackle

Posted by Ogged
on 09.30.07

The New York Times writes about Hillary Clinton's oddly-timed laughter, Matt Yglesias disapproves. But once again, this (and this kind of thing) is far more important to getting someone elected than the specifics of any particular position they happen to have. Hate your fellow citizens, if you want, but they're still your fellow citizens, and if you think that if the NY Times doesn't mention it, no one will notice the cackle, you're wrong. Having a media that's not out of touch can also suck.

About the laugh (and it's really quite noticeable), I think the "real or fake" rubric doesn't really capture it. Lots of people laugh when they're nervous, or even when they're angry, and for Hillary, who is, as the article says, trying to avoid seeming "brittle or defensive" in the face of criticism, it seems like a good response to adopt, or an effective natural reaction to play up. But now she needs to recalibrate.


 

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Cut

Posted by Ogged
on 09.30.07

If you take a step back and consider, the unremarkableness of a web site like sixpacknow.com, devoted to working one particular muscle, is very strange. It seems to be legit and to offer good advice (cardio and diet are at least as important as resistance exercises), but what I'm finding myself fascinated by is what becomes clear from the advice of the "abs of the month" winners, namely, that getting incredible abs (or a very cut body generally) requires that you arrange your life around that one goal. Almost all of them eat five or six mostly tasteless meals a day and measure their protein/carb intake in grams. Then, of course, there's all the working out. I don't have a big point to make, just that, for most people, getting something like an "ideal" body is a full-time job. I realize the important of this message is probably wasted on regular blog readers.


 

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