I was driving on the expressway today when I heard sirens behind me and looked in the mirror to see a big white pickup approaching with two Highway Patrol cars behind it. I got out of the way so that he could get out of the way, but he barreled past me with the cops blaring just off his bumper. I wasn't quite sure why he wasn't pulling over until about three seconds later when he pulled the old try to lose the cops by pulling onto the exit from the left lane at the last possible moment maneuver. It didn't work. I kinda doubt he got away.
Anyone know anything about Pakistan? Other than that it's much scarier than Iran?
Sometimes I wonder if the acknowledgement that fur is cruel has been a huge boost to the fashion industry's bottom line. My mother said that most of her life women she knew who could afford to would save up, buy a fur coat, and that would be their coat for the next 30 years. Now that this mindset is out, it seems like people who try to be fashionable are much more likely to buy a new coat each year, which surely adds up to more than a fur coat over time.
Not that any of this affects me because I'm not one of the women who would have bought a fur or who cares about staying on the cutting edge of fashion, but I do find it interesting how something that was once considered the ultimate luxury good has so disappeared and wonder what things that are considered status or luxury goods used for signaling might be the result of that change.
Best blog posts ever seems like a strange enterprise. I note, in passing, that male political bloggers seem to favor political and didactic posts (and not, say, any of dooce's extraordinary letters to her daughter) but more to the point, many of the "best" blog posts are written as moments in a conversation, and any standard of best that excludes, for example, those posts that Yglesias seems to write at least once a week that neatly crystallize or demolish an argument that's making it's way through the discourse, or ignores the power of repetition and mockery of something like Atrios's "very serious people," seems like a wrong and distorting standard to apply. So take this opportunity not to nominate your own favorites, but to say horrible things about these bloggers, who are oppressing us all.
Location Location Location
A while back, Stanley emailed and suggested the topic of unusual places people have had sex. I think that sounds like just the topic for a Friday.
May the circle be unbroken.
Yesterday morning, we were all at the table eating breakfast when my two-year-old, Noah, looks at Roberta and announces:
"Mommy, there's a GOAT in my BUTT! And it has TEETH! Wanna see?"
[reaches behind him and pantomimes pulling the goat from his butt]
"Here you go! Wanna eat it?"
At which point I thought, "On a hotdog?" And Roberta did the exact maneuver.
Anyone else kind of surprised by tonight's My Name Is Earl? (For those who didn't see it, it was a flashback to the town's first post-9/11 Fourth Of July party.) I mean, many of the jokes were funny and some of them were bitingly dead on, but daaaamn. I'm a bit shocked that was on network TV.
You can watch it here. (OOPS - Not until next week.)
M/tch M/lls is a jerk
And Emerson needs a place to stay if he's going to come to DC, which, let's face it, every right-thinking person would want to support:
I can afford to go if I have a place to stay there. I'd prefer to spend at least a week somewhere on the East Coast, not necessarily DC. My whirlwind 4-day NYC visit was to much travel for not enough stuff.
I question their blackness
Anyone up for talking about this Sasha Frere-Jones article about the whiteness of the current indie crop? The Arcade Fire: definitely not syncopated.
Ask the Mineshaft: ancient decrepit software edition
When my sister and I were young we, but especially she, liked to play a game on an old (not old at the time, but you get the idea) Mac, in which one piloted a little spaceship around shooting things and collecting powerups and then very carefully navigating through a gate to get to the next level. I recall that one could only shoot in the direction one was travelling or facing, as in Asteroids; that on some levels there were blobby things that went "oof" when you shot them; that the source of powerups were crystalline thingies that flew around at tremendous speed; that it was really hard; that the level structure was that on one level all the enemies would be of a certain new type, and then on the following level there would be a mixture of enemy types from all previous levels. The graphics were, as you would expect, primitive.
Does anyone recognize this and know the name of the game? My sister wants to know if she can obtain a playable copy for her present computer (which runs Windows). Your help is appreciated.
Prospective Unjustified True Belief
Matt Welch, who works at the LA Times, addresses Ron Rosenbaum's "everbody knows there's a big scandal" claim.
I can tell you the following -- I have never, ever, ever, never, ever, ever, ever heard anything about this. And I spent last week in Washington DC, worked in the LAT bureau, went to parties with LAT muckety-mucks, and gossiped with dozens of people who cover presidential politics; none of whom ever so much as mentioned anything about it. Rosenbaum's single, anonymous source is most certainly wrong, at least about the "everyone knows" part. He also most certainly is wrong that the same "everyone" apparently "doesn't know what to do with it" -- seasoned political journalists are not helpless bystanders in the face of juicy rumors, they are specifically trained to go out and investigate them, and report when relevant.
Meanwhile, Luke Ford says that Hillary is a big lesbian.
I think I believe them both.
Issues? What? Yeah, Hillary still isn't liberal enough.
I Am Not Your Zombie Slave
I could not agree more with DCeiver's Facebook rules.
Yes. I am aware that there are a lot of opportunities to join groups on Facebook....But I feel like I have to be really shrewd about what groups I join...if I impulsively join something like "Virginia Tech is in the Wahoos Hearts Forever," what happens when I lose interest? If I leave the group, everyone in the damned world's going to get a message about it. And then I'll feel like a dick.
I'm Going To Create A $1000 Gym Bag
The Tale of the Town on the River
In honor of Halloween, a link to one of my favorite creepy short stories, excerpted from Martin McDonagh's "The Pillowman".
Fred Phelps of God Hates Fags fame just lost a $2.9 million lawsuit against him for protesting at a dead soldier's funeral ("Thanks God For Dead Soldiers.") It'll be sweet if this puts him out of business, but surely there are free speech issues here?
Halloween post: ol' pumpkinhead must go
Via Atrios: Paul Waldman gets off a tremendous blast against Russert.
I have a fantasy that at one of these moments, a candidate will say, "You know what, Tim, I'm not going to answer that question. This is serious business. And you, sir, are a disgrace. You have in front of you a group of accomplished, talented leaders, one of whom will in all likelihood be the next president of the United States. You can ask them whatever you want. And you choose to engage in this ridiculous gotcha game, thinking up inane questions you hope will trick us into saying something controversial or stupid. Your fondest hope is that the answer to your question will destroy someone's campaign. You're not a journalist, you're the worst kind of hack, someone whose efforts not only don't contribute to a better informed electorate, they make everyone dumber. So no, I'm not going to stand here and try to come up with the most politically safe Bible verse to cite. Is that the best you can do?"
So true. We deserve bad government for putting up with this shit.
A moment of weakness
I know I shouldn't bother posting this stuff but I feel compelled to note a terrifically stupid thought: waterboarding isn't torture because we do it to military personnel as part of SERE training. No one would actually say something so dumb, right?
If waterboarding is torture and torture is illegal, then didn't Congress break the law every year when they passed a military budget that contains funds specifically dedicated to conducting waterboarding as a matter of course?
Mr. Nance conducts waterboardings professionally or did, and yet he believes that the procedure is fine for our troops, but somehow not fit for our enemies? I have a very hard time wrapping my brain around that concept. Congress banned the use of torture in the Detainee Treatment act of 2005. So, if it is torture we shouldn't be doing it to ourselves, but if Congress authorizes the military to do it, then it can't be torture. Congress is not allowed to authorize money for patently illegal activities, therefore their knowing authorization explicitly says that waterboarding is not torture.The only good to come out of this is a link to Malcolm Nance's fine post on waterboarding.
You Are Not Special
Gah, this kind of thing drives me up the wall. If reporters think they know something, it influences their coverage and does so without giving the public a chance to weigh the issue for themselves. I understand that they feel like they have a dilemma when allegations aren't "proven," but my 100% serious solution is that things like this need to be leaked to bloggers or Drudge or the Enquirer in order to get them out into the open and have the evidence examined in public. A "secret" allegation is much more powerful than one that's in the open, and weak evidence seems much more convincing when only insiders know about it--insiders have psychological motivations not to debunk these allegations, because knowing them is a big part of what makes them insiders, and there's also the simple fact that more people who know means more skepticism brought to bear.
Trick Or Trunk
On my recent trip to the heartland, I learned about the latest trend sweeping suburbia: Trick or Trunk. Instead of taking your kids door to door on Halloween, a bunch of parents park their cars in a school or church parking lot and kids go from car to car asking for treats. This, of course, all started because of parental hysteria about theoretical child murderers that could be lurking behind a bush somewhere that would snatch your child from your grips as you were walking through the neighborhood after dark.
I'm sure Trick or Trunking is fun (the model is a big tailgate party with candy) but it's still kind of ridiculous that it's come to this. We've gone from taking candy to the hospital to get X-rayed to only allowing trick-or-treating while it's light out to Trick or Trunk, all because of dubious fears in neighborhoods where, come on, there aren't that many real threats.
When I was visiting relatives, my aunt asked me some questions about my memories of junior high and puberty and being a pre-teen to help prepare for her daughter going through those experiences. She surprised me when she asked me whether someone that age could use a tampon - I figured that was kind of common knowledge among women. Then it got me thinking - when I was growing up, most of the ads for those kinds of products featured a freaked out girl asking her older sister or mom something like "OMG! If I use a tampon, will I still be a virgin?!" and I realized you just don't see those kinds of ads anymore. Have kids these days become more savvy about such matters or are they just sluttier and don't care?
Not Like A Prole And Not Manstealing Either
Catherine gets invitations with the following guidelines on how to dress.
"Don't dress like an outsider" would have been more to the point in each case.
The DC Party Thing
I just booked my ticket for DC. Prices are only going to go up, people of blog. Get on the stick.
Jonah Golberg: beyond parody
Ogged didn't know this, so maybe you didn't either: Jonah Goldberg has another new subtitle. Now the book is Liberal Fascism: the secret history of the American Left from Mussolini to the politics of meaning. I should order the damn thing already.
Via Nancy Nall I read this touching and disturbing tale of family tragedy.
Turns out my mother/sister OD'd. Spoons and lighters everywhere. About 300-400 syringes all over the floor. Residue of OxyContin in the spoons and on the tables. And a big 2 gram package of heroin on the counter.
I called the cops who found the body, and asked them what to do with the heroin. They said I could bring it in to the station.
What a kick in the ass. What's more...
Oh, and she managed to get $30k in cash advances on her credit cards last month. Turns out she has about $100k in credit card debt, some of it at 30%. So much for my inheritance, huh?
I had a relative die with some credit card debt a few years ago. One lawyer told us to call the credit card company and say, look, the guy died, there's no money. I think we took a more high-minded route by settling for some fraction of the debt. (It was slightly complicated because there wasn't a will, but there were valuable assets that passed directly to other people.)
Anyway, an f'ed up situation no matter how you slice it; condolences for the loss and best wishes for the road ahead, which sounds like it could be weird.
Ok, I'll link to it, too. Via CT, Norman Podhoretz, in true right-wing talking points style debating wants to make sure that you know that Iranians can't be deterred, because they're crazy, and they're also Hitler. Crazy Hitler, got that? So crazy! So Hitler!
It Takes Money
A lot of the news stories I've read about the fires in California have compared the response of FEMA and state agencies between this disaster and Katrina. The two themes I keep seeing are "we learned our mistakes during Katrina - look at the improvements!" and, pushed by the Bush administration, "this is all about local leadership: Schwarzenegger vs. Blanco".
While I hope that the first idea has some merit and that FEMA has learned from its mistakes, the second is dubious. I think the real lesson, and one which nobody in the media seems to be discussing, is that you're a lot safer in a disaster if you live in a state where most of the residents have funded their state agencies adequately instead of one of the states where people believe in low taxes above all else. California has had a more effective response not because they have a better governor but because they have the infrastructure in place to handle a disaster. Leadership may have helped but Schwarzenegger has had far less impact on the California wildfires than having supplies at the ready and people trained to use them.
UPDATE: Actually, it looks like Yglesias wrote a good piece on something kinda sorta similar to this.
I confess that I find the use of mathematical models to predict the outcomes of international conflicts, and to propose a solution for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, pretty damn fascinating. You'll want to click the links after you click the link.
I know it's a difficult problem, but non-text search tools (like those in youtube and flickr) are so totally muggle. This is what happens when you have to rely on user tagging, but man, would it be nice to be able to exclude every yahoo who covers a song you're looking for, or to exclude the same person's 300 close-ups of rock formations when you search for "Yosemite." I'm not sure what youtube can do, but flickr should let you click on a user's name and exclude their pictures from your search results. (Then they should send him an email and tell him that no one cares about his stupid rocks.)
Obama seems to be seriously screwing up in the past week. First there was the decision to include a black performer who was "cured" of his homosexuality in an Obama event, compounded by bringing on a white minister to balance the message (and Obama's own clumsy defense of his position) and now he's attacking Hillary Clinton for her complacency about Social Security, a move which apes (articulately) a right-wing talking point that rests on a false premise. On the other hand, it's possible that all these moves are deliberate and he's decided that it's ok to alienate "us" and that he has a better chance of winning by courting the black vote and making Hillary seem callous. Mmmm, politics; feel the clean.
JK, You're So Bad
Rita Skeeter wasn't as full of it as we might have guessed. This Times article on Dumbledore's gayness reminds us of a passage from Deathly Hallows
I'm afraid those who go dewy-eyed over Dumbledore's spectacular victory must brace themselves for a bombshell--or perhaps a dungbomb. Very dirty business indeed. All I'll say is, don't be so sure that there really was the spectacular duel of legend. After they've read my book, people may be forced to conclude that Grindelwald simply conjured a white handkerchief from the end of his wand and came quietly.
The Important Questions
Anybody up now is an insomniac and has nothing better to do, so I'll share this video, called "Why asian guys can't get white girls," which is clunky and silly, but which I nevertheless watched in its 15-minute entirety and found pretty entertaining. If you do try to watch it, ignore the first minute, which is just bad.
And: You can check out this series of short interviews with college-age Asian-American women about the same question.
Dialogue in "Modern Love" essays is reconstructed from the authors' memory.
Things To Look Forward To
Via the Discover magazine blog, a breakdown of the number of deaths in America by cause and age-group. A few quick thoughts: 1) I guess cancer kills a lot of people 2) it's a little freaky that a basically new cause of death (HIV) is so prominent and 3) they should re-label "septic infections" "going to the hospital." Jesus.
Dumbledore is gay; what about Yoda?