This was well done. I never say anything in these situations, and always wonder if I should or if I would be just blowing off steam.
Just a reminder that there will be a meetup someplace sometime tomorrow in NYC. Since the other thread got sidetracked and y'all never nailed down a place or a time, use this thread to figure out the details.
Now that I've enjoyed, so to speak, my new Le Creuset pot, I have time to stop and smell the lentils and think about why the fuck I haven't bought one until now. A while back I tried to draw a distinction between people who value interaction and those who value autonomy. Another divide is between people who spend their mental energy reconciling themselves to how things are, and those who spend their energy trying to make things better. My mom and I are at the neurotic poles of these traits. No matter how bad a situation gets, I unconsciously revise my expectations and end up thinking "this ain't so bad." My mom, on the other hand, is never satisfied. This means I'm great at things like getting cancer, but I'm terrible at making necessary changes. My mom is fearless about making changes (what kind of recently widowed young mother ups and moves to a country where she doesn't speak the language? MY MOM) but can be standing above Yosemite on a beautiful day saying "I should have worn my other socks." Of course, she and I drive each other nuts, but I think relationships between people who differ in this way can work, if the stoic doesn't mind being bossed around and the progressive doesn't mind being in charge. But even apart from relationships, it's a good thing to locate yourself somewhere on this scale and consciously fight your own tendencies a bit--get off your ass, or let things slide now and again, as required.
(Now it occurs to me that there are also people who are never satisfied and don't do anything about it. Those people need to shape up.)
Dave Chapelle on stage at a little club in London, just shooting the shit with with crowd. The man is funny.
OK, I've been away for the last couple of days and catching up has been a bitch. I wanted to throw my hands in the air and declare thread bankrupcy on the ones that happened while I was gone but, of course, they had to be about the site so I had to read them. Not wanting to pile on to the Unfogged-meta-discussion (which lemme tell you - reading almost 2000 comments of that in one sitting? Jesus.) but I figure I should weigh in.
I think my biggest issue these days (oft repeated in the threads below) is the size of the comment threads. They're becoming so long that it's hard to keep up with the discussions. I swear that every time I step away from my computer for a few hours, it seems like there are 300 new comments. The threads have definitely sped up and grown significantly in the last few months.
When I was reading the threads, I was mentally composing a thread referencing something BitchPhD said a while back about how she encourages discussions in some of her classes: "bring sticky notes to class in two colors. Hand them out at the beginning--two of one color, one of the other. Tell them that two of the notes are for offering a comment or a response to a question, and the third one is for asking a question." but then that bastard SEK beat me to it.
I don't think we need to actually follow this but I think the general point is a good one - that participation should involve asking questions as well as making comments and that (at least I find) discussions to be more interesting when they aren't dominated by a small group of people.
If we're talking about experiments, I wonder what it would be like if we had a day where everyone got 5 comments and that's all they could post in a day. Would people think more before hitting "Post"? Would they be more careful about reading other comments and understanding what people are saying before adding their comments? Would people ask themselves "Am I adding value? Is this something that will entertain or interest most of the people here?" before using one of their comments to write something?
As I mentioned in a thread a while back, I've stopped posting lists of who has written the most comments because I don't think posting a lot of comments is what it takes to be a regular. Quality, not quantity, is what makes me remember someone (although a catchy name doesn't hurt).
The waitress says,
"You people are really nuts," she told a reporter during a phone interview. "There's kids dying in the war, the price of oil right now -- there's better things in this world to be thinking about than who served Hillary Clinton at Maid-Rite and who got a tip and who didn't get a tip."
These pictures of oil slicks in the San Francisco Bay (thanks to a tanker that ran into the Bay Bridge) make me want to cry. Yes, it's always worse when it happens at home. And now I'll have to buy two SUVs to speed our transition to renewable energy.
Rumor hath it that there's all sorts of people who find the conversations on Unfogged fascinating, and would like to participate because they have thoughtful, interesting things to say that they'd enjoy hashing out with the commentariat. Unfortunately, structural features of the blog put them off -- it moves too fast, they feel that their ideas are unacceptable and will be treated harshly, or maybe all kinds of other stuff. This is a thread for discussion of why such interesting people feel excluded, and what can be done about it, if anything, continuing from the last couple of hundred comments in 'Choosiness', with a bonus theory of what's going on under the fold.
I've got this partial theory, in illustration of which I'm going to violate the sanctity of off-blog communication to mention a very kind email I got from I Don't Pay not long ago. In the email, he said that he really enjoyed arguing with me, and due to my incredible rhetorical skills (okay, not his wording) often came out of such an argument that he'd gone into thinking we mostly agreed about the major issues, realizing that, instead, we did have some very real points of disagreement. And from my point of view, that's great -- I'd like to convince people, but I don't hope for it much, argument doesn't change a lot of minds. What I really want out of an argument is clarity: I want people to know exactly what I mean, and to know exactly what they mean, and to be able to state clearly in which regards we agree and in which we disagree. I don't like unexamined comity.
I think this attitude freaks people out on a lot of issues, particularly but not exclusively gender issues. There are areas where people think that your position on a set of issues defines you as a "Good Person" or a "Bad Person" (there are, of course, areas where that's really true -- I'm mostly thinking in this argument that people are being fuzzy in how they think about it), and they want to be on the "Good Person" side of the argument. And they see people standing roughly on the "Good Person" side of the argument (say, opposing torture), and really want to come out of any discussion affiliated with the "Good Person" side of the discussion. But they have real disagreements with the people they see occupying what they generally think of as the GP side of the issue. And one reaction to this problem is to want to avoid clarity, and sweep the fact of disagreement under the rug, sometimes by not mentioning the disagreement, and sometimes by objecting to its identification as disagreement -- if people you think of as GPs are vehemently disagreeing with you, they're calling you a BP, and they shouldn't do that.
I'm guessing, here, that this dynamic is going on: it seems to restate some things that have been said in the comments. But I don't mean to attribute it to anyone who doesn't recognize it in their own thinking. What to do about it, if I'm right that it's part of what people find offputting about this place? Got me -- my only suggestion is 'don't think that way; there are very few issues on which there's only one decent position to take, and if you believe your position is defensible, don't worry about who it places you in opposition with.' But that doesn't actually help anyone much.
(And lurkers? Do you really support Ogged in email? If so, strange.)
Where are all the lefty bloggers? Seriously.
Josh Clover writes,
Moreover Musharraf has now demonstrably outstripped the supposed sins of Hugo Chavez, meaning that if the U.S. doesn't take action againt Pakistan, there will be no justification for opposing Venezuelan socialism. Which means, one imagines, that anti-Chavez activity will have to be even more covert. Seriously, he may be the big loser of this martial law, given that the Allende bullet now seems like the only workable solution for capitalismpanik.
It's always interesting to me to see how certain analysts incorporate the role and power of professed ethical commitments (in this case, to democracy and freedom) into their account of actions by people who they believe are acting essentially amorally. That's not a subtle dig; I'm truly fascinated by how they go about it (and whether it rings true). In this case, it seems that Clover has it right.
And so Single Blind day comes to a close. As I said in the comments, only a few people were clearly identifiable to me: LB, B, Sifu Tweety, Knecht, soup biscuit, and Emerson. Otherwise, not much idea at all. It seems that the original goal, that people's comments would be read "for themselves" didn't really pan out, because trying to guess who had written them was irresistible. Anyway, I'd like to hear y'all's impressions.
I started the day trying to stay out of the way and then participating tonelessly, but then I realized that what I really miss as the blog proprietor is being as mean as I want to all of you, and started to be snippy, but it was too little, too late. I was stu.
Fabio and George Clooney got into a shoving match, which you can read about here. But check out the accompanying photo. First, Official Unfogged Mancrush Clooney is still awesome, and second, the inset, which is supposedly a blow-up of part of the frame, is clearly from a different photograph. Now where's my Blog of the Year award?
Over the last few months, it seems like there's been a consensus here that most political messages are aimed at "low information voters" who can be swayed by emotional appeals or misinformation. But given that Obama is now regularly being asked by "regular folks" in "the heartland" why he didn't put his hand on his heart during the national anthem, maybe we should just go back to the default assumption, that even people who can be bothered to go to rallies and ask questions are by and large fucking stupid.
A small sample restricted to educated folks, yes, but fairly well-supported data about people's dating preferences.
...we found that men did put significantly more weight on their assessment of a partner's beauty, when choosing, than women did ... intelligence ratings were more than twice as important in predicting women's choices as men's. It isn't exactly that smarts were a complete turnoff for men: They preferred women whom they rated as smarter--but only up to a point...men avoided women whom they perceived to be smarter than themselves. The same held true for measures of career ambition--a woman could be ambitious, just not more ambitious than the man considering her for a date.
When women were the ones choosing, the more intelligence and ambition the men had, the better.
Another clear gender divide, this one less expected, emerged in our findings on racial preferences...Women of all the races we studied revealed a strong preference for men of their own race: White women were more likely to choose white men; black women preferred black men; East Asian women preferred East Asian men; Hispanic women preferred Hispanic men. But men don't seem to discriminate based on race when it comes to dating. A woman's race had no effect on the men's choices.
Two wrinkles on this: We found no evidence of the stereotype of a white male preference for East Asian women. However, we also found that East Asian women did not discriminate against white men (only against black and Hispanic men). As a result, the white man-Asian woman pairing was the most common form of interracial dating--but because of the women's neutrality, not the men's pronounced preference. We also found that regional differences mattered. Daters of both sexes from south of the Mason-Dixon Line revealed much stronger same-race preferences than Northern daters.
Fascinating article about gay muslims in America. I'm so used to cafeteria religion that I'm always a bit genuinely surprised to see people who are at pains to reconcile their desires and personal beliefs with their faith.
The consultant, trying to reconcile being gay and Muslim, divides his sins into the redeemable and those warranting hellfire. "Anal sex for either a man or woman is wrong, so when I really think about it, I tell myself not to have sex," he said, describing a failed four-year experiment with celibacy. "I live with what I am doing, but I don't want to live in a double standard, I don't want to go through life unhappy."
That's gotta be rough. Related, and also striking is how much the movement toward liberation is rooted in the text of the Koran.
Since the primary Koranic verses used to condemn homosexuality also suggest male rape, the progressive reading is that the verses revile using sex as domination, said Scott Kugle, an American convert and university professor who specializes in the topic. The arguments are not entirely modern; some are drawn from a medieval scholar in Andalusia, once a seat of enlightened Muslim governance, he said.
That kind of seriousness and care with a text is downright poignant. You go, scholars of Muslim liberation...
Let's try this again, and try not to muck it up, you crazies. Let's do one day (not just on this post) of commenting under new, non-descript handles (maybe choose from a three-letter combination? abb, ijk, ntr, that kind of thing. And stick with one throughout the day). It could be interesting to see how things shake out when the weight of accumulated identity is set aside. I'm imagining basically normal commenting, but without the old handles. I think it's best that if you have to say something that's going to clearly identify you, you should just use your old handle, and try to keep the letter combination anonymous, but use your judgment. Feel free to use this thread to work out other guidelines that I haven't contemplated.
A cooking equipment question: for making my lentils, which involves sauteing onions in chorizo grease, and also having the lentils boil for a while, do I want something like this, or is there something else that's more appropriate or "better" or something? I'd like something that's fairly easy to clean, but not nonstick. Assume that I'll keep it for a long time and am willing to pay a reasonable price for quality.
I think I've finally seen a Halloween costume as awesome as this one. The link is not for the easily offended (particularly the Catholics among you) and the picture below the fold is medium gross. But both are so very great.
I happened to answer the phone when a job candidate called a couple of weeks ago and it went something like this:
Hello, [Company Name]
Hi, may I speak to [HR person]
Sure, may I ask who's calling?
I transfered the call, walked over to one of my co-workers and said "I'll bet you we make an offer to the person who just called." Given how many candidates we picky people pass on, the dearth of information on which I was basing my guess, and the fact that I was willing to give him 2-1 odds, he took the bet. Today, I collected.
Stanley is going to be coming to NYC this weekend so that his band Truman Sparks can play two shows. I've seen them play - they're really good so go out and show them some love!
A White Bear is also planning a NYC meetup this weekend. She was thinking Veselka sometime Sunday afternoon. Mmmm...pierogis.
Would it be interesting or annoying if we went a day with everyone commenting namelessly? I read something yesterday (not on this blog) that cracked me up, and then I saw who had written it, and realized that I probably wouldn't have laughed if I hadn't been wrong about the author. It seems like the names attached to comments shape the discussion quite a bit, and the dynamic might quickly change if we didn't know who was saying what. (Of course, some people's styles (I'm looking at you Opinionated Grandma) are pretty recognizable, but still.)
Ok: You're all a bunch of savages and this was a bad idea.
The most awesome thing you will read today:
You're invited on a FREE tour of the New York City Chinatown Garbage. Did you know you could make art out of dead animals? YES! I am going to show you how to collect dead animals from the garbage in Chinatown to make your own personal taxidermy! This is the first NYC CHINATOWN GARBAGE TAXIDERMY TOUR! You will learn how to dig in the garbage for dead animals. You can make art out of these animals. It's really cool!. I've found everything from sharks to frogs to plain old unidentifiable crap. Sometimes I find nothing interesting, but that is what makes it fun. You never know! RSVP is appreciated but not required. RAIN OR SHINE.
I'm not sure if Tia just witnessed a moment of what people say when they think only their own kind is around, or what they say when they think everyone is listening.
I was picturing a fit, graying at the temple's Sean Connery sort of guy, but if you're talking about some hairy, ugly semite poorly endowed with a whiny voice it's less appealing.
What's funny is that it would have been an anti-semitic stereotype even if he hadn't thrown in "semite." Which makes me wonder if the following exchange is exactly the kind of thing he's angling for, in order to show off his big knowledge.
I wrote back:
you know, I'm Jewish.
Semite, as I'm sure you're aware, applies to a region of north africa eastern mediterranean, includes arabs, jews and christian turks. My ex was jewish, but excessively semitic is not attractive. Jewish you may be, but obviously semitic you are not.
It's the hilariously wrong and specific "christian turks" that makes me think that using the word "semitic" is an edgy thing he likes to do so that he can give this knowledgeable sounding answer when someone calls him on it. Semitic "applies to a region...includes Arabs, Jews...." So great. "I'm sure you're aware." Ahahahaha. Dude, you're killing me. You're also an anti-semitic idiot.
I have a vague feeling that one of my old college professors/now "friends" (potentially, we'll be future colleagues in the same field) may be sort of coming on to me, but I don't know. It's all very vague, and I may just be reading too much into his double entendres or whatnot. He does give off that vibe of being very friendly though, and has since I've known him. You know, the floppy-haired, goateed prof with a slightly lascivious smile and open band-collared shirt kind of vibe, in which his sexual confidence is disproportionately high to his actual attractiveness but commensurate to his deserved intellectual confidence and brilliance. He is attractive in that blinding brilliance way, but only in that way.
I may just be imagining things, and I don't have intuition to speak of. Do I trust my guts when I think my guts have shit for brains? To be sure, my guts register false negatives more than false positives, so that's why I'm asking--I am one of those too-trusting types that only too late realizes someone's real intentions, so its rare that I get a "bad feeling." But there's not much evidence to go on here, so intuition is all I got.
He's always taken a professional interest in me as we are both state-schooled kids, both have had humble beginnings but lofty academic aspirations, etc. Maybe it's all in my head. He probably just thinks of me as his young protege, and has known me for seven years--since I was but 20 years old (he is roughly 15-16 years older than I am). We've recently gotten back into more regular contact, as I'm far enough advanced in my academic career now to ask for more consistent feedback on drafts, advice on going on the teaching market, etc. Most of our communications are above-board. But lately, they've become a little weird. He also invited me to visit him in Paris, where he has an apartment on the Left Bank. That is tempting--who doesn't want to go to Paris and stay for free with someone who speaks French fluently, knows the neighborhood, and studies French politics?
Should I be reading what I think I'm reading in the following, or am I just imagining things:
"I was supposed to be at a conference at Your School this coming weekend. I was in Nearby Scenic Getaway in July, but I did not see you there. So, I made a mistake, not letting you know. We could have done god knows what. It was a big mistake. I house sat a big house in NSG many bedrooms, for a week. We could have this and that."
Should I be on guard? Should I not take his invitation to go to Paris? Does it seem like he wants/expects/will try for something more than just avuncular mentoring?
No, I don't want to sleep with him, for several reasons: yuck factor, creepy factor, and I wouldn't normally be attracted to his type. Of course, if he does make the moves, I can always say "no"--except that he is one of those insinuating, persuasive, break-down-your-will-with-wine-and-wit types. There's no real ethical reason not to engage in such a relationship if I was so inclined, because he's no longer my professor. But he still is in a position to "help me along," being an established professor in the discipline I will soon join (I will go on the market in two years). Only two years ago he wrote me my letters of recommendation. And he's still listed as a reference on my CV. It just seems kind of sketchy.
He's charming in an unctuous sort of way but supremely helpful and professional otherwise. While I rely on him for professional advice and support, I can't help but feel slightly wary and mistrustful of him in his personal capacity. But I don't know if I should feel wary mistrust, because he hasn't actually done anything, and I might be reading too much into the few weird things he's said and the vibe my crappy intuition tells me I get.
No Guts No Glory
A couple of things that cracked me up.
First, Fred Thompson's increasingly bizarre stroll for the presidency.
Trying to encourage his studio to hurry up so an interview could start, Carl Cameron of Fox News said into his microphone: "The next president of the United States has a schedule to keep." Standing beside him, a deadpan Mr Thompson interjected: "And so do I."
And another instance of Yglesias-resentment, which I'm going to identify with frustrated forty-something academic males, and this one is particularly good because in the midst of a thread at Yglesias's site savaging D/en B/este, Ellis pretends that this is a compliment.
"[D/en B/este]'s got this tremendous, hyperactive intellect..."
Not so. At least, I've never seen any sign of this. What I see is someone who is of moderately above average intelligence who either hasn't been in the company of enough exceptionally intelligent people, or someone who has but has been too self-absorbed to reevaluate his own gifts accordingly.
I'd judge both he and Matthew Yglesias to be in the same ballpark in terms of general intelligence--the quite common moderately above average range. Yglesias, having attended Harvard, almost certainly has had a great deal of experience with people of whom he's had little doubt made him look imbecilic by comparison. Therefore, Yglesias is sharp but unassuming, genial and often enough self-aware when he moves into areas where his competency is questionable.
I just got the new Britney album in the mail, and I think it's pretty good.
Inspired by Sasha Frere-Jones, I got some Meters as well, and since I'd heard about them being the epitome of teh funk I was a little taken aback by their similarity to, say, Booker T & the MGs of Stax-Volt fame. Not that this is a bad thing.
Also, yeah, fafblog was ok-- one of those bookmarks I never actually clicked because I couldn't muster the enthusiasm.
I'm off to swim and sadly won't be able to enjoy this thread, but with all the Fafblog love going around lately I have to say that I've been reading those old posts and...they're not funny. I really liked some Fafblog posts at the time, but now they seem light on the humor, heavy on the anger, and generally meh. The interesting question, at least to me, is why it seemed so great at the time.
There I was at Whole Foods, waiting for my sandwich, when an older women standing next to me--dressed dramatically in a white jacket, white pants, and colorful scarf--was doing an open arms, come here you big lug pose in the direction of a younger woman (apparently her daughter) who was looking in another direction. When the daughter finally noticed her mom, she said "Oh, I thought you were trying to pick him up," gesturing in my direction. But the mom made it clear, in dramatically Spanish-accented English, that she was trying to hug the daughter, and the daughter obliged. A minute went by, and the mom decided that maybe the daughter had the right idea, so then I got a big hug and loud kiss on the cheek at the Whole Foods deli counter. The daughter said to me, "See, I told you" and gave me a theatrical wink.
Arthur Frommer, of the travel guide empire, asks:
Why does a U.S. adult passport cost $97? Why does a child's passport cost almost as much? Why isn't there a discounted charge for a family of four purchasing four passports? And doesn't the high charge -- especially, the near-$400 that said family must pay -- prevent or discourage a great many Americans from traveling?
I figured that the high cost of a passport was due to the background checks and processing involved but it appears that Senators Schumer and Dorgan are investigating the true costs of issuing one vs. the cost billed to the issuer. I know agencies are trying to find alternate revenue sources to plug funding gaps but I don't think passports should be a profit-making center. Americans are isolationist enough without this extra financial hurdle to visiting other countries.
True fact: the same person who wrote, and sort of unevenly quavered, "Gates of Eden", is accounted a poetical genius by many acute individuals.
Some dude on the train down to palo alto this morning called his wife/girlfriend/husband/boyfriend/life partner and insisted that today's Garfield was hilarious and proceeded to describe each panel in painstaking detail. He looked to be a mid-30s hipster type, too. But my question is about something that I heard on the way back to the city, to wit, that the speaker's fixed-gear bike is so much more efficient, man, there's no lost power. So I want to know: is this even approximately true?
I suppose it only makes sense that the next step after putting grown women in babydoll dresses is to give them grown-up versions of rufflebutt underwear. I should probably say something about how it shows modern culture infantalizes women or whatever but omg cute!
How unfunny does Jerry Seinfeld have to be, and for how long, before we admit that Seinfeld is not that great?
And why are there not more google results for daseinfeld? Surely if I knew more about Martin Heidegger I could make an awesome joke. The only being whose existence is an irritant for itself. Or something.
This week's column: not too bad. I think it does a good job of capturing the dilemmas involved in building relationships: a large part of friendship and dating is about deciding who you should take a chance on, and to what degree, based on imperfect and incomplete information.
certainly we've all been there: you're at a bar or a party or coffee shop or metro train or wherever, and you see somebody you think is cute and want to talk to, but you have zero entry line to actually make that happen. and so there are either lots of really awkward, semi-creepy opening lines that get you nowhere, or lots of missed opportunities.
i am totally convinced that science, and the blogs, can come up with the 100% perfect opening line for bloggy hipster people. physics dictates, somehow, i think, i never took science in college, that it must exist out there. so what is it?
Sometimes you have to do what's right, even if it's unpopular. Sometimes you have to be that one voice willing to stand up and say what needs to be said, even if nobody wants to hear it. Today, I will take that stand. I will shout the truth from the rooftops. My friends: Blade Runner is a terrible, terrible movie.
I just realized that my previous photos of Point Lobos are totally lame and probably make people wonder why I like it there so much, but the ones I took yesterday will, I hope and believe, make you jealous. It sure was a beautiful day.
I was at a party last night where there was a mishap with a cigarette that narrowly avoided becoming a full-on fire. Which leads me to this public service announcement: when you go around changing your clocks back today, be sure to also check the batteries in your smoke detectors. Or, if you're really flunking Fire Safety 101, be like me and spend the day installing them.
And a carbon monoxide detector while you're at it.