Have you ever been indifferent about a person or company and then stumbled across their blog and had your opinion about them totally change? That's my feeling lately about Arthur Frommer. I'd always thought Frommer's travel guides were kind of boring and lame but the dude's a badass online, constantly highlighting the obscene excesses profiled by the travel sections of the NYT and other papers.
This can cut both ways, though, as Scott Adams recently decided.
I need a digital file of a pretty good quality calligraphy "Bismillah" and I'm having a little trouble finding one. Should be more or less linear, like this, rather than round or in the shape of a bird or anything like that.
One happy upshot of my search is finding Blingdom of God, which makes me laugh.
And just in time for Eid here's a feel-good story about a Muslim saving Jews from Christians.
I have a hard-earned reputation at the pool as the lazy-ass who only swims sets of fifty yards at a time. So today the bp lifeguard showed up on her day off and jumped in to make me swim 100s. Such service! I realized the true scope of my reputation when I came in on the first hundred and all the regulars, who had stopped swimming and were watching to see if I'd die, sent up a hearty cheer. O sweet mockery.
But I'm here to talk about what happened after the lifeguard said "why don't we race?" She used to swim competitively; I used to play a lot of Doom. But I know, like every guy in every corner of the world knows, that the bedrock fact of Da Patriarchy is that boys beat girls at physical stuff, and, perhaps infinitesimally more controversially, if a girl beats a boy at something physical, the boy's chances of scoring that booty (yeah, I said "scoring that booty") plummet.
Of course she beat me. I can't race a fucking hundred, man; I don't even know how. She came in around 1:10 and beat me by two lengths.
Luckily! I've lowered expectations so much that literally not dying was impressive. Not impressive enough to score that booty, But! then we raced a fifty. The real work that lowering expectations has done is to make the 100 a "distance" event (when really it's one of the sprints) and the 50 a sprint. I did beat her in the fifty, praise god. And we didn't even race breaststroke, since we both knew I'd win, so there's that.
'ooty? We'll see.
As if on cue, Michael Vick's letter to the judge becomes public.
Your honor, I am not the bad person or beast I've been made out to be. ... I'm a very humble, soft spoken, and caring guy. Also kinda shy. I'll do anything for anyone and often have a hard time saying no.
Next week: John Yoo takes care of his kids.
1. So w00t is the word of the year. What should have been word of the year, and maybe the word of the times, is "trolling." If you start looking for instances of people saying things just to rile others up, or to cement a bond with a group who imagines that it will rile others up, or just to get a little attention, or to get paid, if you will, you'll see trolls everywhere.
2. I've never seen Gossip Girl, nor read the New Yorker review of it, but I feel certain that this janedark response to both is dead right, and I want to read more things like it. Of course, saying that everything is about business can be a tic of lefty cultural analysis, but sometimes it's right.
If I'd known that dating would lead to watching someone perform while her ex-boyfriend stood a few feet away from me while looking like a kicked puppy, I would have gotten back to it a lot sooner. Thanks, forlorn dude, you made me laugh. The bpl says, "I think I was his Prozac."
Furthermore, nobody has anything interesting or witty to say at 110 decibels.
More further, bars creep me the fuck out; I keep waiting for someone to try to knife me, and this wasn't even that kind of bar.
The other day the boss mentioned that he'd done something that had saved x pieces of paper and I politely acknowledged his claim, but not so politely that he didn't go off muttering "Yeah yeah, you're not green, you don't care." "Is that my reputation?" I asked, wounded. "In all the years you've been working here, have you once said that we should buy something because it's more efficient, or come up with a way to save paper or energy?"
Busted. So I've been thinking about the gap between my self-regard and the facts of the matter. I give some tiny amount to charity, and do the occasional running off to help out a political campaign, but for the most part, although I think I care about the homeless, and the poor, and civil liberties, and the environment, and some dozen other issues, I don't do anything about them. And even an inventory of my thoughts would turn up a whole lot of "I hope it hurt, motherfucker," mixed in with the vague thoughts of humane sympathy.
I don't mean to beat up on myself, because I think I'm probably pretty typical. The interesting thing is that most of us think of ourselves as decent folk, but it's not like we earn that self-regard. As long as we're not hanging puppies, we give ourselves a pass. Hell, I bet that even Michael Vick thinks he's basically a good guy. My guess is that a lot of the self-regard rests on basic kindness to those near and dear to us, which certainly isn't nothing, but the patterns of everyday life regularly put us in a position to be decent to those close to us, and those are tests that only assholes fail. When it comes to taking affirmative steps to do a little good in the world, meh.
The evite for UnfoggeDCon has been sent! If you had RSVP'd and we accidentally left you off the list -- oops! Sorry! Please send us another email and we'll add you to the list! The evite should have all of the logistics that you'll need -- if you have any more questions, please post them in comments or drop us a line.
While we love most surprises, please do RSVP to the unfoggedcon email address (if you haven't already) and again on the evite so that we know who to expect and how many people to plan for. (And, of course, please keep our address and stuff under wraps to protect
Armsmasher the inhabitants from their throngs of adoring fans.)
And one small favor -- we're going to be running around getting ready and setting up right until 7:30 on the day of the party. While it was really nice for people to come by early last year to offer to help, it's actually a lot easier to get everything situated with fewer folks in the house so we'd kindly ask that people not show up early. We know that a lot of you are coming in from out of town and might need somewhere to kill a little time before the party starts, so we have a few suggestions for Flophouse Approved places you might want to hang out before the party in the comments.
OK, enough with the rules -- woo party!
Now it takes more than a little chutzpah both to push the udcon2 post down the page so soon, and, in light of the high number and higher quality of mixes that get posted by posters and commenters here in electronic form, to make a mere announcement that I'm considering making mixes the only distinguishing feature of which would be that they would be burned onto CDs and put through the physical mail and attempt to solicit interest in receiving such things—yet I intend with the post to do nothing other than those things. Stanley did suggest that, after all, people like getting mail, and the venture seemed to be a success last year. So I intend to see if it can't be done again. It could even be a much larger swap, really; after all, Armsmasher owes many of us CDs (and a smaller number of us books). So I'd like to know who might be interested, since the number of such people will influence how many different CDs I make. Ok? Ok.
I've only really thought about how one of them might go, but current plans call for it to feature a tune by bedsit folkie Nick Drake 'nuggling up against a tune by bedsit black-metaller Xasthur.
Did we ever discuss this? Interesting stuff.
...Putnam writes that those in more diverse communities tend to "distrust their neighbors, regardless of the color of their skin, to withdraw even from close friends, to expect the worst from their community and its leaders, to volunteer less, give less to charity and work on community projects less often, to register to vote less, to agitate for social reform more but have less faith that they can actually make a difference, and to huddle unhappily in front of the television."
"People living in ethnically diverse settings appear to 'hunker down' -- that is, to pull in like a turtle," Putnam writes.
In documenting that hunkering down, Putnam challenged the two dominant schools of thought on ethnic and racial diversity, the "contact" theory and the "conflict" theory. Under the contact theory, more time spent with those of other backgrounds leads to greater understanding and harmony between groups. Under the conflict theory, that proximity produces tension and discord.
Putnam's findings reject both theories. In more diverse communities, he says, there were neither great bonds formed across group lines nor heightened ethnic tensions, but a general civic malaise. And in perhaps the most surprising result of all, levels of trust were not only lower between groups in more diverse settings, but even among members of the same group.
"Diversity, at least in the short run," he writes, "seems to bring out the turtle in all of us."
You should probably read the whole thing before you opine.
You might have seen this Robert Maranto op-ed from a few days ago complaining how it's hard out there for a conservative academic. Lemieux posted a nice bit of snark about it, and now
Rauchway has a satisfyingly thorough post on the issue.
It's hard to take this too seriously when John Kerry had a one-vote margin in my department in 04.
And another thing-- when clerks ask for your phone number or address before ringing up your stuff. It's incredibly annoying, but refusing also feels rude, and I know it's not the clerk's fault. Is there a graceful exit?
The spark of youth post had a slightly odd genesis: someone emailed me last night to say enough with the boring political talk, how about a post about Jessica Biel's ass. That seemed like a fine idea, so I went looking, not necessarily for pictures of Jessica Biel's ass, but pictures of someone not yet celebrated here. The first thing to note is that I didn't find anything that tickled my fancy, which is a sad state of affairs. The second thing to note is that I did come across this picture of Jessica Alba, which made me write the spark of youth post. Maybe she's just tired. That's not the point.
They will bury us. Politely and unobtrusively.
Although English speakers outnumber Japanese speakers by more than 5-1, slightly more blog postings are written in Japanese than in English, according to Technorati, the Internet search engine that monitors the blogosphere. By some estimates, as much as 40 percent of Japanese blogging is done on mobile phones, often by commuters staring cross-eyed at tiny screens for hours as they ride the world's most extensive network of subways and commuter trains.
Blogging in Japan, though, is a far tamer beast than in the United States and the rest of the English-speaking world. Japan's conformist culture has embraced a technology that Americans often use for abrasive self-promotion and refashioned it as a soothingly nonconfrontational medium for getting along. Bloggers here shy away from politics and barbed language. They rarely trumpet their expertise. While Americans blog to stand out, the Japanese do it to fit in, blogging about small stuff: cats and flowers, bicycles and breakfast, gadgets and TV stars. Compared with Americans, they write at less length, they write anonymously, and they write a whole lot more often. [...]
Technorati found that of all recorded blog postings in the fourth quarter of last year, 37 percent were written in Japanese, 36 percent in English and 8 percent in Chinese. This was not an aberration. In the past three years, Japanese has been running ahead of or about even with English as the dominant language of blogging, according to Technorati. About 130 million people understand Japanese, while about 1.1 billion understand English.
You know that "Kant attack ad" making the rounds? First, it's not funny. Second, its failure to be funny is exacerbated by the way in which people feel an obligation to laugh to demonstrate that they get the joke-- haha, yes, I know what the Universal Law formulation is, as you can see by the fact that my sides are splitting; had I not laughed you would take me for an ignoramus.
What's the correct length of time to hold a grudge? At the gym this morning I ran into someone who done me wrong a few years ago, and while I didn't do any overt snarling I did attempt to look vaguely menacing and to conspicuously lift more weight than this person. Fortunately this was easy to do. I suspect Ogged's answer to the question is "forever" and that pleases me.
When I order stuff online, why can't I type in a state abbreviation rather than use a drop-down menu? This bothers me.
Back in grad school, exbeforelast and I (well, mostly I, but she knew what I meant) would watch and note just when the spark of youth left someone's eyes. It doesn't happen to everyone, but it happens to most people, and in our class in contemporary America, the late twenties/early thirties is typical timing. Kids will usually do it to you, as will a dissertation. It's the moment when you go from seeing your life as a set of possibilities to be explored and new experiences to be had, to realizing that you will not do or be the vast majority of what you might have done or been, and that your life is what it is. It usually takes a few years of mechanically putting one foot in front of the other until people reconcile themselves to the new regime, and begin to figure out that they can still be happy and content, even if it's not in that bathing in the richness of the world way they were.
Unfogged Wonder Twins Power, Activate!
This may be the most ridiculous bureaucratic fuckup I have read ever: SEK paid a $13 library fine and his $2600 registration fees on the same day. The college misapplied the funds and has expelled him for not paying his registration fees. That check for two grand? They logged it as a donation to the library.
Since the university no longer considers him a student, his health insurance has lapsed...right before he's supposed to go in for his annual checkup to determine whether his cancer's still in remission.
What are Scott's options? Belle Lettre makes some legal suggestions here. Any others?
I know we surely aren't big enough to rate but reading this story about the Obama campaign maybe doing opposition research on liberal bloggers made me laugh to wonder what the Unfogged dossier would look like.
The other day Atrios mentioned that he didn't think a new band that sounded just like the Talking Heads would get any airplay today. I have no idea if that's true, but it did make me go looking on youtube, which has this performance of Psycho Killer from 1978. 1978!
And as long as we're near the 80's I want to confess that I still really like the very cheesy, very great Life In A Northern Town.
The Hillary Cackle and the Rudy Giggle.
A very good piece on the importance of the destroyed CIA torture tapes.
The motion to preserve evidence that the article mentions was filed by our own Charles Carpenter, Esq.
And you know what? I can't believe that some tapes of torture at the hands of Americans don't still exist somewhere. I wonder if they'll ever be leaked.
An intense few moments for people confronting the church shooter.
This sounds like a good idea:
Taken in high enough doses, heroin and other opioids suppress the brain's regulation of breathing and other life-sustaining functions. Naloxone is a chemical that blocks the brain-cell receptors otherwise activated by heroin, acting in minutes to restore normal breathing.
Since its approval by the Food and Drug Administration in 1971, naloxone has become a standard treatment for overdoses, used almost exclusively by emergency medical workers. But it has lately become a tool for state and cities struggling to reduce stubbornly high death rates among opiate users. By distributing the drug and syringes to addicts and training them and their partners in preventing, recognizing and treating overdoses, the programs take credit for reversing more than 1,000 overdoses.
My friend reminded me the other night that people kicking dope sometimes shoot up with water, just to soothe themselves with familiar rituals and faintly, momentarily mitigate the pain. That's dark night of the soul right there, and it makes me feel so sad even to think about it. I've just been worrying that thought over in my mind for a while now, like sticking your tongue up into a bloody pit where the tooth was for the millionth time.
In AA-type meetings there's often a moment of silence to think about all the people still suffering from addiction, and I really do turn my mental attention to them: those stupid fuckers huffing gas in Metter, GA! People who just had the bright idea to go get an eight-ball! My brothers! And those shitheads calling up to bring her drugs and works for free because they know she's hurting; they're my people too. They're the fellowship of night, a true fellowship, and they do love her in the cramped confines of their suffering selves. I've been grateful for true night-side friends like that many times. Those fucking soulless insect bastards.
The last three things I've ordered online, all from different companies, have not come with pre-printed return labels. That means I'm actually going to have to leave the house and go to UPS or the store to return them. If this is the future of the internet, I'm scared.
Speak up if you're interested in playing Team Fortress 2 with your Unfogged buddies, or if you have questions about it. Gonerill has set up a private server (which is stable and fast, and which he and I played on last night, so that I could get my daily dose of humility) that he can bring online if we settle on a playing time.
Is there an elegant way to tell someone after one or two dates that you don't want to see them again? Or, to put it another way, you overanalyzing intellectual types you, what's actually worked well for you? (Severing communication doesn't count.) Maybe the best ways are situation-specific or depend on one's charm, but there must be decent general methods. And no, this has nothing to do with anything I'm dealing with at the moment.
I kept failing at non-trollish versions of this post. This Slate apologia for high-end audio equipment keep noting that recorded music is "once removed" from live performance. Sure, but don't studio recordings sound better than 99% of live performances? (The exception is classical music, where the richness of the instruments really is lost when it's recorded.) People go to concerts to feel the vibrations in their bones, to feel the energy of the interaction of the band and the crowd, to watch the performers play, and, ultimately, to
feed their will to power get laid achieve zen. But the music sounds worse. It's too loud, or you can't hear it, or it's garbled, or mixed improperly, or the performer is having an off night, or...always something. If I want an "experience," I might go to a concert, but if I want to actually hear music, I'll put on a CD.
Having no kids of my own, I'm always stumped when I have to buy a gift for one of my younger cousins. What the hell does an 8 year old boy want? So I can totally relate to this Ask The Mineshaft, from a reader wanting to know what to get her 2 year old nephew:
Can I get picture books? A teddy-bear-type thing? What about clothes? Does anyone have any memories or suggestions of what a two-year-old will really get into, especially book-wise?
Suggestions from parents out there? And, more generally, I figure this thread can be for asking advice about gifts for people you're stumped about.
I was just talking to a friend who coined a great term (which of course has nothing to do with any date I've ever been on) for those kisses that you'll recognize as soon as you read the word: kissmissal.
A service to the rosy-toed Alameida. Apo had some comment earlier linking to many mixes, but I can't find it anymore. Alas! If your mix isn't noted in this post, please put up a comment linking either to it, or to the comment in which it was first announced. Theoretically, this post can be updated if future mixes are posted.
Some of these are not actually available anymore.
- One by Sifu
- By NattargcM ("Music Not for Dancing Mostly").
- By me ("Let's Dance with Irregular Rhythms").
- By Robust ("Madness Mix").
- By Wrongshore.
- By Bave. (also by bave? Is this the same one?).
- By me ("some songs").
- By Po-Mo.
- By JL ("Modern Girls").
- By NickS ("Women and Men").
- By KJ ("Contemplative/Movin' On")
- By DS ("The All or Nothing Days").
- By Nworb Werdna ("Unimproving Music").
- By Apo ("Apomerica").
- By NattarGcM ("Spelling it 'Phat' is Deprecated").
- By DS.
- By Sifu ("Ample Sample").
- By Ogged ("Smile! :):):):)").
- By Robust.
- By apo ("Unfunkked 2: id est, UNH!")
- By me ("Smooth Jazz Mix").
- By Sifu ("50 Hex").
- By apo ("Unfunkked").
- By me ("Dead Souls").
- By me (Sad-sack Richard Thompson stuff).
- Apo - Don't Bogart That Groove
- DS: The Guilt, Folly and Sources of Suicide.
- Sifu: Wha?!?
- Sifu: Yea!!
- Wrongshore: Take back the Knecht.
- Wrongshore: Blues from Wrongshore.
- By me. Ken Vandermark stuff.
- By redfoxtailshrub ("Xmassery").
- Sifu: Dance, dance, unfoggidycon, dance.
And that's all I could find in thirty minutes.