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Pop!

Posted by Becks
on 01.19.08

I thought Yglesias was an aberration but it's true. The twentysomethings have never seen a popcorn popper!


 

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Nevada and South Carolina

Posted by Becks
on 01.19.08

We've had CNN's Ballot Bowl on in the background all day today and I'm about to punch someone.


 

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Attn

Posted by Ben
on 01.19.08

Emerson on Goldberg.


 

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Whiplash

Posted by Becks
on 01.18.08

I find it highly amusing that my RSS reader has decided to sort the posts by Feministing and Jezebel into the same folder. Who wrote which! Going through that folder is like a party game.


 

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Bingo

Posted by Becks
on 01.18.08

Stanley sent me this link with the note that the Scrabulous lawsuit surprised him. I'm the opposite - I'm surprised it took this long. Still, I think it's a stupid move on Hasbro's part.


 

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Thresholds

Posted by Becks
on 01.18.08

Witt sent me a study that seems particularly relevant as my roommates and I are emailing each other about how best to keep the mess in our house from getting out of control:

In her research, entomologist Jennifer Fewell found that certain bees were almost always the ones to take action once the level of honey in the hive had dropped to a particular level. In addition, she discovered that their work reduced the chance that other, higher-threshold bees would perform the job in the future.
We've all seen the same dynamics play out among humans. For example, if Joan's partner Ted is disturbed when the trash in the wastebasket approaches the rim, whereas it doesn't bother her until the trash spills onto the floor, Ted will take out the trash before Joan is moved to do so. If the difference in their disturbance levels is great enough, Joan never will empty the trash, because Ted will always take care of it before it bothers her, possibly before she ever even notices the garbage.

 

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Ask The Mineshaft: Do-Gooder Edition

Posted by Becks
on 01.17.08

A SeeKRit Commenter asks:

All right, liberal do-gooders, here's your chance to do some good *and* stick it to the shareholders* of a major corporation.
My employer offers a non-profit fellowship program. Eligible employees can take up to six months off to work for a non-profit, and the company pays them 20% of their salary and continues their benefits. The participants are generally young (24-29 y.o.), overeducated (Ivy League and the like), business savvy, and quantitatively inclined. Politically, they tend to be the vaguely left of center, but not flaming socialists. They are also accustomed to working their asses off night and day.
Anyone know any worthy organizations that could use a highly qualified, motivated employee for a meaningful short-term project? Post a comment expressing interest (and naming the organization, if you care to), and I will send you an e-mail to follow up. I will then post the contact information of in the database that our interested employees can peruse.
N.B. I will need personal contacts at these organizations, not just the headquarters address.
*Why, you might ask, would a heartless corporation do something so public-spirited? A lot of our young employees have unfillfilled longings to do something worthwhile with their lives, and this program enables them to go off and get a taste of the poverty and frustration they will encounter in a non-profit career, so that they can tire of it and come back to their highly remunerative jobs with no questions asked.

 

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Sticky

Posted by Becks
on 01.17.08

Watching an old episode of The Wire the other night where a snitch was removing a microphone they had taped to him, I realized that I could never be a police informant. Or, at least, I could never wear a wire.

Over Christmas vacation, my mom's cat scratched me on my leg and I covered the scab up with a band-aid so it would heal faster. The scratch is long gone but you can still clearly see where the band-aid had been stuck over a month later because removing it so irritated my skin. I'd be so busted.

I'm not as much of a delicate flower as Ogged but apparently I'm not suited for undercover work.


 

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Linked In

Posted by Becks
on 01.17.08

Anyone find Linked In or other business social networking sites useful? What do you use them for?

I'm hoping your answers are either "I signed up and got offered a job by a long-lost colleague in the first day!" or "Don't bother" but suspect they will fall somewhere in between.


 

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If Modern Love Did Porn

Posted by Becks
on 01.16.08

OK, so I subscribe to this feminist magazine and each month, along with the usual earnestness, they have a short story porno in the back. Random, but whatever.

Anyway, this month's could be up for a bad sex in fiction award. It's about a girl getting turned on while drinking her "vanilla soy latte" at the local coffee shop while fantasizing about the guy checking his email on his laptop across the room. Highlights:

"His fingers are going to town now, flying across his keyboard with a graceful urgency. His eyes are squinting and his brow is knitted, and he's plugging into his iPod, tell-tale white cord between his bent legs."

"[He takes] to his keyboard with an all-out zeal, applying strokes I can only describe as pounding. Yet still with grace, always with grace."

"Freeing his hard-on from his plaid boxers..."


 

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Speaking of 'clear'

Posted by Fontana Labs
on 01.16.08

And continuing our Scientology theme, here's an interesting video of Tom Cruise* talking about his walk of faith. We're here to help. Via Galley Slaves.

*Cruise is insane.


 

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Clear

Posted by Becks
on 01.16.08

On the one hand, I'm such the perfect customer for a Registered Traveler program.

On the other, the fuck I'm letting these people fingerprint me and take an iris scan.


 

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The ballad of Isaac Hayes

Posted by Fontana Labs
on 01.16.08

Thanks to the magic of emusic I'm discovering Isaac Hayes, who, as it turns out, made some really amazing records beyond (though including) "Shaft." As a result of this I find myself getting annoyed at the way he's been turned into something of a cultural punchline instead of being recognized as formidable musician.* Yet the transformation into punchline came partly at his own hands; no one forced him to take the South Park job, after all, and so I can't be annoyed with a completely clean conscience. Or perhaps my irritation is the manifestation of confused ideals of aesthetic purity and racism.** Not sure. But the Chef routine amuses me less the more I like the tunes.

(If only I can work Hillary Clinton into this post I'll have a trolling trifecta.)

*Did the world need a soul cover of George Harrison's "Something"? No, but it did need Hayes' recording of "Never can say goodbye."
**Hayes is black.


 

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American Idol: I go where Althouse fears to tread

Posted by Fontana Labs
on 01.16.08

The distinguished legal mind pulls the plug on Idol blogging. A nation mourns.

For some reason I watched the whole thing, and though I'm not an Idol scholar of Althouse's caliber I agree that something was off about the premiere. First, the judges are clearly bored with the gravy train, and they seem to be amusing themselves with bad self-impersonations. Second, this show was pretty mean: Middle Linebacker Girl, my heart goes out to you, but did I need the shots of your horribly ill mother and other misshapen relatives right before you stank up the joint with your audition? "Go down moses" guy was pretty sad as well. By the end I was actually wondering if the show would follow the human-interest "my kid has a weird disease" storyline with another ridiculous bit of tuneless singing.

I guess my rule for these things is: there are plenty of people it's fine to use for comic effect (the Cloak Dude with the chest hair is clearly taking the piss out of the show, as is the Stalk Paula guy; the "sing a song of abstinence" guidance counselor was fair game too) but I'm bothered by the display of grotesques who are leading what seem to be genuinely difficult and marginalized lives free of musical self-awareness and it pains me to see them as the butt of jokes; I get the sense this is a role they reprise all the time.

What, I haven't trolled enough this morning? Go read Althouse on prostitution.


 

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Sunshine Peppercorn

Posted by Becks
on 01.16.08

So a few weeks ago I was having brunch with a culinarily-inclined friend and was lamenting that the systems I'd been using to store recipes weren't really working out. Most of them were stored in a really old database and I was having trouble with the software. Others were scattered around in an email folder and various text files. I had still more recipes clipped out of magazines and shoved in a binder.

I told her I was thinking of Asking The Mineshaft about what kind of recipe storage solution they'd recommend. I didn't want any software that would lock me into a certain format and make it hard to switch down the road, I didn't want to spend a lot of time reformatting the recipes to load them in, I wanted to be able to make notes about the recipes and keep track of variations and modifications I'd tried, I wanted to be able to tag and search them easily and ideally access them when I'm out and about at the grocery store or traveling. What? Why are you smiling? It will come to me? Crap. A blog. Because I really need another blog.

Thinking it over, it really was the best solution so I went about it. At first, I only had links to recipes when they were available online but that defeated my purpose of being able to search them and pull them up easily from my phone. (And, really, that's no more useful than something like del.icio.us.) Instead, I decided to have the full text of each recipe and so I also made another decision: to password-protect it. Not because I want to keep it secret but because I don't want the real food bloggers who I like and respect to think I'm trying to steal their stuff by republishing their recipes and because I want to include a lot of recipes by places like Schmook's Schmillustrated and don't want to get cease-and-desisted (as I've seen them do to others).

It's mostly for my benefit, to bring some order to my scattered systems and brain, but I thought I'd share the link with you all in case you find it useful. The site is Sunshine Peppercorn and the login information is username: sunshine, password: peppercorn. I've got about 180 recipes in there now and a lot more that I still want to load. Hope you find something yummy!

(And also a thank you to Ogged for coming up with the name a ways back on Stanley's band name thread.)


 

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Michigan

Posted by Becks
on 01.15.08

They're calling Michigan for Romney. Discuss.

Also: Think this will finally get the press interested in the GOP race and not focusing on Obama-Clinton 24/7?


 

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Dirty

Posted by Becks
on 01.15.08

The other day I was talking with some people about things that would freak us out in the bedroom and I said that I wouldn't be able to handle it if a guy jumped right out of bed afterwards and went to take a shower. I've seen this on TV and in movies but never known anyone who admitted to it or had slept with someone who did that.

Are you now or have you ever known a post-sex shower sprinter? What's the deal? And is this going to make everyone jump on the bandwagon?


 

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Sea Monsters

Posted by Becks
on 01.15.08

This, via Spackerman, is some scary shit:

Since at least 1982, U.S. Navy ships plying the Persian Gulf have been taunted by mysterious radio transmissions that are alternately obscene, nonsensical, racist, infantile, misogynistic and menacing. Sometimes they threatened U.S. ships; at other times they simply babbled away, all night, in falsettos.
Few were taken seriously, until five Iranian patrol boats sped around three U.S. warships last week. Now there are questions about whether the unidentified radio transmissions could be linked to the verbal threat, made at the height of the Jan. 6 encounter, to blow up an unspecified target "in minutes."
U.S. officials initially thought the message was from Iran and aimed at the American vessels, but have since said they cannot prove its origin or target. The confrontation became an international episode. President Bush threatened Tehran with "serious consequences" for any future provocation.

So, essentially, some radio trolls could have started a war with Iran. That's really fucked up. It also makes me think of a post I read recently (from Drum? Yglesias?) wondering why we don't have a hotline with Iran like we did with the Soviet Union during the Cold War. Even (or, perhaps, especially) if someone is our "enemy", we need to keep the lines of communication open so that misunderstandings don't escalate into tragedies.


 

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Yglesias on Goldberg

Posted by Fontana Labs
on 01.15.08

Yeah, this seems right.


 

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How to help: set things on fire

Posted by Fontana Labs
on 01.15.08

em_way.jpg

Henry at CT has a post about Richard Cohen's call for Obama to denounce Farrakhan because Obama's church's pastor's magazine gave Farrakhan an award:

The Obama camp takes the view that its candidate, now that he has been told about the award, is under no obligation to speak out on the Farrakhan matter. It was not Obama's church that made the award but a magazine. This is a distinction without much of a difference. And given who the parishioner is, the obligation to speak out is all the greater. He could be the next American president. Where is his sense of outrage?

Henry:

I strongly suspect that Barack Obama is being asked to condemn Louis Farrakhan not because there's some bogus two-degrees-of-separation thing going on, but because Barack Obama is black, and because black politicians are supposed to condemn Louis Farrakhan before they can be trusted.

Oh yes. Underneath this is the "show us you're one of the good ones!" demand that Obama has to meet in order to demonstrate that he's palatable to annoying white people like Cohen. Fuck a bunch of that, I say, but Obama cannot-- though it would be richly satisfying to hear him do it.

None of this, of course, is any apology for Farrakhan, anti-semitism, or the Nation.


 

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Do Something

Posted by Becks
on 01.15.08

After the Obama victory in Iowa, Matt F wrote:

I'd like to do something, to get involved. Along those lines, does anyone have any suggestions? I am in fact quitting my job tomorrow (to focus on finally finishing up this damnable undergraduate degree of mine), so I'll have pretty much the entire summer to do as I please. I haven't worked a campaign since 2004, and I want to get back in the game. How can I best spend a couple of months a ways out from the election to help with the cause?

I know the simple answer is "go volunteer " but I was wondering if people had advice they could share on which organizations they volunteered with in 2004 and whether they thought they were effective or not, both for people who could commit a lot of time or more nights and weekends people like me. I had a great experience with New York Citizen Action and later the local chapter of America Votes when I was volunteering in the Midwest. What groups would you recommend?


 

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Hiatus!

Posted by Ogged
on 01.14.08

As long-time readers know, any hiatus that I announce will last anywhere from hours to weeks. I think this one is unique in that I'm not leaving because I hate the site and everyone on it so very, very much, nor am I called away to do something. I just figured I'd do something else for a while. Hours to weeks.


 

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Son Of Silent Sam

Posted by Becks
on 01.14.08

I was looking at my alarm clock last night and realized it must be one of the oldest pieces of electronics that I own. It has to be at least 15 or 20 years old. I even remember going to buy it at Service Merchandise with my mother. Do any of you remember that place? I have to wonder if it was a bad concept or just way before its time -- the whole store was a big showroom where you could play with gadgets and housewares and when you wanted to buy things, instead of taking an item off the shelf and putting it in your cart, you typed your order into a computer terminal and it was brought out to you from the back.

I wonder if that protocol would be more attractive to people in the age of the Internet, where people feel comfortable with computerized shopping but want to test drive things like digital cameras. I could see a store using that system and even charging a "Take It Home Now" fee of $5 or $10 versus you just placing their order and having it shipped to your home from some big central warehouse.

Or maybe not. After all, what made Service Merchandise so cool was it felt like The Future.


 

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Pistonius

Posted by Ogged
on 01.14.08

I can't believe that there's any serious discussion about whether Oscar Pistorius, double-amputee with magical prosthetics, belongs in the Olympics. Of course he doesn't. It's only misguided sympathy that has people even considering the propriety of letting someone who can jump around on fancy springs compete against regular-bodied athletes; there wouldn't be any discussion if he'd deliberately had his legs amputated so that he could run faster. "Oh, this jet pack? It's to compensate for my bum ankle." Gimp, please.


 

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Two amusing emails

Posted by Fontana Labs
on 01.14.08

"read is totally Borat."
"I'm convinced read is Rosie O'Donnell."

Indeed.


 

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The Trouble With Arabic

Posted by Ogged
on 01.14.08

Alif Sikkiin hits the nail on the head.

The thing is, it's not like there aren't a good number of Arabic speakers in the US. They do exist, both among people of Arab heritage and those who started learning as adults. The elephant in the room in these discussions about Middle Eastern languages is the fact that most people who feel positively about Arabic culture generally speaking, and who like Arabs as people, are not going to want to be associated with this country's putrid foreign policy. In the course of my studies I've met a lot of people (and not heritage students, either) with fantastic Arabic. Not a single one of them wants to enter government service or the military. The dilemma for the US government is that the only way people become really good at a language is by spending a lot of time in contact with the culture and its people, and this is incompatible with the foreign policy view of the peoples of the Middle East as objects to be manipulated to suit US interests.


 

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More of Neiwert on Goldberg

Posted by Fontana Labs
on 01.14.08

In case you're still interested, Neiwert has a nice (long!) follow-up on Goldberg.

The more I read of this, the more I think two things:
(i) arguing about the application of a cluster-concept like [fascism] in many marginal cases is a fool's game for many reasons including the fact that...
(ii) the real issue is what to do, and thinking about this involves thinking about what's bad about "the left" and "the right." From what I can tell Goldberg's underlying efforts to paint "the left" with the fascistic brush involve charges of paternalism and (by his lights) inappropriate extensions of state authority. But-- and I think this is a point Holbo makes-- he can't, for obvious reasons, come out and make that case, as doing so would involve biting the hand that feeds. So he's stuck in this largely pointless historical project as an attempt to hijack or at least undermine the "emotive meaning" of the term "fascism."


 

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My sure and certain hope

Posted by Fontana Labs
on 01.14.08

The Patriots will beat the Chargers; the Packers will beat the Giants; AJ Hawk will eat the heart of Tom Brady. This I believe.


 

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Gah

Posted by Becks
on 01.13.08

I've halfway written three posts now but they're so inane, even for me, that I can't go through with it.


 

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The Jetsons Were Bored

Posted by Ogged
on 01.13.08

So, what are they going to announce at MacWorld on Tuesday? And, more importantly, are you going to buy one?

More seriously, I feel a sort of gadget satiety myself, or maybe it's just a failure of imagination. I'm happy with my regular ol' Dell laptop, my 3G Windows Mobile smartphone, and my several years-old mp3 player. I have a digital camera that I use occasionally, and someone bought me an inno (portable xm radio) that I never bothered to activate. What do you covet? And what reasonably realistic gadget do you wish existed?


 

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Better is better

Posted by Ben
on 01.13.08

I read today the slide version of a paper/presentation on Google's MapReduce, and was struck by this statement in the conclusions slide: Fun to use: focus on problem, let library deal w/ messy details. Is this not reminiscent of one of the contrasts Richard Gabriel draws, in the first paper of his series on LISP and C, between the MIT and New Jersey approaches, to wit that pertaining to simplicity, the MIT approach believing that (a) the design must be simple, both in implementation and interface. It is more important for the interface to be simple than the implementation. and the NJ approach that the design must be simple, both in implementation and interface. It is more important for the implementation to be simple than the interface. Simplicity is the most important consideration in a design. (and arguably about correctness as well, and really mirroring, with the comment about having the library worry about the messy details, the discussion of the PC loser-ing problem)?

I predict that at most one person will find the above even slightly interesting, but I'm drunk so fuck you. ("You" here referring to everyone else.)


 

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Another Juno Post

Posted by Ogged
on 01.13.08

Great movie; what's the matter with you people? Cute, not cutesy. Sweet, not saccharine. Some of the character arcs are a bit hasty/underdetermined, but who the hell cares? The scruffy young man in the row in front of me yelled out "Best movie ever!" and it's not that, but it's a lot of fun anyway.


 

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