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Saturday: a day for disorganized posts

Posted by Fontana Labs
on 02.02.08

Thinking a bit more about the college question:

I agree with Emerson's broad point that people ought to be informed, early and often, about employment opportunities connected to various courses of study. Of course there are many reasons why this is difficult. One is that (for example) I have no special access to long-term data about philosophy BAs from my institution and the students I keep in contact with are far from a random sample. Another is that institutions have interests: it's good for our department to attract majors; it's good for our college to attract students. Combine interest and ignorance and you get a lot of "oh, but what you major in doesn't matter" talk. (This is less bad at a place where 25% of students come from families making >$250k/yr, but still.)

On the other hand I'm in the Earl Shorris camp of those who think that studying the humanities is good for people even-- or especially -- when they're poor. It's easy for someone with a background in the humanities to take for granted the values, sensibilities, and background knowledge that can be gained through the academic experience and, in doing so, to make the mistake of imagining the internal life of someone who went to Tech as the life of someone with both practical skills and the ability to wonder if troubleshooting Windows is a techne. Sadly these habits of mind are expensive.

On something completely different: I've been trying to rid myself of "electability" thinking during the primaries, not because I think those considerations are unimportant but because I think we have pretty limited knowledge of them and because it would be better if everyone followed the general rule "don't go meta" when deciding how to vote. But I can't hold out. Hypothesis: the part of my brain that responds to the McCain tough-guy honorable-man image is roughly the same one that responds well to the Obama transcend-the-divides image. So I'm keen on Obama over Clinton partly for the pragmatic reason that Obama is better than Clinton at negating McCain's main asset, viz. his ability to seem like True Grit without actually doing the right things. I am teh sexist!


 

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Access

Posted by Becks
on 02.02.08

A health insurer that denied a medical claim for two girls who were anorexic and bulimic are trying to get access to their MySpace and Facebook pages as part of discovery because they hope to prove that their conditions are psychologically, and not physically, based. They're also asking for access to their emails and personal diaries. The emails and diaries seem like a clear cut case of violating someone's privacy* but I wonder how the courts will treat quasi-public information, like information on social networking sites that can be limited to certain groups or blogs that allow you to restrict access to certain posts.

(* Although NĂ¡pi quickly points out that doesn't matter at all)


 

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Perhaps I'm religious after all.

Posted by Apostropher
on 02.01.08

I know that at this point in his presidency, Bush asserting something brazenly counterfactual as a no-duh obvious point should no longer surprise me. It has been his bread and butter from the get-go, after all. And yet, I feel I would be remiss not to highlight this latest pearl, because it's just the damnedest thing.

The world in which we live is a dangerous world, but a world full of great opportunity. We're involved in an ideological struggle -- the likes of which we have seen before in our history. It's an ideological struggle between those of us who love freedom and human rights and human dignity, and those who want to impose their dark vision on how people should live their lives. This is a -- not a political conflict -- I mean, a religious conflict. And I'll tell you why: because one of the tactics, and the main tactic of those enemies of freedom, is to murder the innocent to achieve their objectives. Religious people do not murder the innocent. (Applause.)

This is the same logic Bush brings to bear on torture, of course. Torture is bad, America is good, therefore America by definition does not torture and pay no attention to the screams behind that curtain. Religious people are good, killing innocent people is bad, therefore religious people don't kill innocent people, regardless of how many planeloads of bombs they drop onto civilian neighborhoods. Oh, and those jihadi guys who have devoted their lives to imposing their religion on others? Not actually religious! New house rules: the outside of the house is the inside and the inside of the house is the outside and you're outside, Osama! Take that!

It's really sort of impressive in its own way.


 

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Fallen

Posted by Becks
on 02.01.08

I saw someone make a reference to Milton's Of Man's First Disobedience today, which made me think: what was your first disobedience? When was the first time you remember getting in trouble and being punished?


 

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Equivalence?

Posted by Becks
on 02.01.08

Somebody please explain to me this: why are people who get a GED instead of a high school diploma forever dinged and treated as second-class graduates? And is there a way for online high schools to fill the gap? I can see that people might think someone with a GED has an inferior education to a diploma-holder because their coursework might not be as rigorous as a regular high school's (what's the diff? fill me in) but can an adult enroll in one of the online high schools and get an honest-to-good high school diploma instead? Otherwise, it seems to me like we're just punishing people who didn't take the normal life path and have their act together when they were 16.

Then again, I'm not sure I'm 100% convinced these online high schools aren't a crock. Wouldn't the best way to figure that out be a standardized test like...the GED?


 

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Super Tuesday Planmaking

Posted by Becks
on 02.01.08

About those Super Tuesday meetups: we should figure out the details.

UPDATE: New Yorkers - please put your heads together and decide on one of these places and a time by the end of the day. I'm too busy today to even review things and make an executive decision. If you could take care of this, I'd appreciate it. KTHXBAI.


 

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Who's f'ing Matt Damon?

Posted by Fontana Labs
on 02.01.08

Sarah Silverman!

Not entirely safe for work. Still, hilarious.


 

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For your own good

Posted by Fontana Labs
on 01.31.08

Several people mention that they want to try using Ch/n/t/x to quit smoking. A friend of mine tried this and had some pretty serious psychological effects that began and ended when the medication did. I know, anecdotes, etc., but something to be aware of, esp. since the affected mood can change one's perceptiveness re the cause of the mood.


 

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Open Relationships

Posted by Becks
on 01.31.08

Heebie relates a story:

I was toying with the idea of using our friend Tim to refinance my mortgage, and I said, "But then Tim and Kara will discuss our finances behind our back." Kara is Tim's wife, who we're also friends with. And not that I care, I was just saying.
Jammies said, "Maybe he wouldn't. Legally, he's not supposed to."
And I said, "So? Who wouldn't tell their spouse what their friend is earning?"
Jammies said, "I wouldn't."
I shrieked, "But it's ME! You wouldn't tell ME? If we were married?"
Jammies said, "No."
"You would know big secrets and you wouldn't tell ME if I was your WIFE?"
Jammies said, "No. Once it's out, you might tell Kelly or Miss Shell or someone, and then it becomes a rumor."
I nearly had a conniption. "You have to tell your SPOUSE the best gossip! If you can't get the best gossip from your SPOUSE, who can you get it from?? I wouldn't tell Kelly and Miss Shell. That's totally different, I'm not MARRIED to them."

How much do you tell your boyfriend/girlfriend/spouse? Did it change when you got married? What do you consider private/confidential and don't share with them? Or is everything between you an open book? And do you owe your BF/GF/spouse the best gossip?


 

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There is a reason for that

Posted by Fontana Labs
on 01.31.08

Jonah gets letters:

An amusing illustration of the whole point. I sent the Hitler quote on page 363 (about Christianity's slow death) to some friends of mine and asked them to guess who said it. The first person to respond's first thought was John Lennon, but he went with Hitler. And thus your point, sometimes it is hard to tell the rhetoric of the two apart. And there is a reason for that.

Ok, fess up: which liberal blogger sent him a prank email?


 

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Gauntlet: thrown!

Posted by Fontana Labs
on 01.31.08

Farley is back on the meth:

I just wanted to say thanks to all of LGM's commenters. You guys really are the best. You could win a knife fight against any group of blog commenters on the intertubes.

We will cut you, Farley. We will cut you.


 

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SOTU Style

Posted by Becks
on 01.30.08

So now that we have a woman as Speaker Of The House, does the president's office call her up and find out what she's wearing before the State Of The Union address? She can wear far more color than a male Speaker could and surely they care about composing a good photo shoot so they wouldn't want to pick a tie for him that clashes.

I don't bring this up as yet another tired article you see critiquing the fashion choices of female politicians, more thinking that you could do some fun power plays if that were the case and, like Pelosi, you were of the opposing party. Fuck you, George Bush! Try to find something that doesn't clash with my suit but doesn't wash you out and make you look like a troll. Muahahaha.

It doesn't look like Pelosi's attire has influenced his tie selection -- doing some googling, it appears that he was into light blue ties for the SOTU even before she came along with her pastels, with some reds thrown in. How much you want to bet they wanted to take Hastert out behind the woodshed after this one?


 

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Two Men Enter, One Man Leaves

Posted by Ogged
on 01.30.08


 

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Times Knifes Rudy Again, Or Why Unbiased Reporting Is A Bad Idea

Posted by LizardBreath
on 01.30.08

The Times had a great story last week on what makes Rudy such a loathsome, contemptible excuse for a human being. It was a bunch of old stories from his mayoral terms about his using the powers of office to take revenge on anyone who crossed him politically -- I remember some of them from when they happened, but they're all very much the sort of thing everyone knew he did, and they're disgusting. While he no longer seems to be politically relevant, anyone interested in why I find him personally contemptible should read it.

And they had another shot at him today: A cute little anecdote about how, right before he took office for the first time, he happened across an accident scene, where he got into an argument with the paramedics trying to treat an injured kid, and bullied them into making a bad medical decision (the mother had wanted the kid driven six miles to the hospital where his father was a surgeon; the paramedics wanted to take him to the trauma center a mile away, and had successfully talked her into it when Giuliani showed up).

Now, I'm sure these stories are true, and they're politically important and valuable: if Rudy still had a shot at the presidency, everyone in the country should know what New Yorkers know about what a worthless creep he is. But there's no way to look at this as anything other than politically biased reporting: someone at the Times agrees with me about Rudy, and is going through his record in an attempt to torpedo his political campaign. No one who was indifferent to what happened in the election would be hauling out this sort of stuff.

So, and this is hardly an earthshattering conclusion, but these stories made me think of it, there's nothing wrong with bias, as such. Truth is important, and there being enough outlets with differing biases that everything gets out there is important, but there's no way to avoid bias, and overzealous attempts to avoid bias just turn into withholding information.

(One thing, though. Times? Weren't both of those stories a hair late? I'd have been happier seeing them published while he still had a chance. The scheduling gives rise to the worry that possibly, if he still looked viable, they would have stayed in the box, and they just got pulled out to kick him while he's down. And while I'm all for kicking Rudy at any time, he needed the kicking much more while he was still on his feet.)


 

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Oh hell

Posted by Fontana Labs
on 01.30.08

I can't enjoy Rudy dropping out without Edwards spoiling the fun? Come on, John, give me some time to savor the moment.

In other news, I just got a shipment of tea from Mellow Monk. It's good stuff.


 

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Florida

Posted by Becks
on 01.29.08

I think "Goodbye Rudy Tuesday?" wins pun of the year.


 

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I Gay Up The Blog In Order To Erase The Feminine

Posted by Ogged
on 01.29.08

It's like Labs doesn't even remember that he's gay anymore. You know who's hot? 100 meter freestyle world champion Filippo Magnini. Here's video of an interview. Isn't it adorable how he can't remember the English word for "avant" and stops himself, but repeatedly refers to competitors as "agonistes?" Yes, it is. And he has muscles and sensitive eyes.

And before I re-hiate, I also note that the Italian, stereotypically, says that he owes his success to the fact that swimming makes him happy, as opposed to Americans, who typically say that they succeed because they "worked hard" and "stuck with it."


 

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C+A+W

Posted by Becks
on 01.29.08

A reliable source tells me that this is Unfogged material.


 

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I bet he's eager to tell you how proud he is to be a feminist, too

Posted by Fontana Labs
on 01.29.08

I either missed or forgot about this profile of Dennis and Elizabeth Kucinich.

"I saw her eyes go to the light consciousness picture, then to the Gandhi bust, then to me," he says. "It was like one, two, three. That's when I knew."

Sometimes "making a soul connection" is really code for "yeah, I will definitely be hitting that later." Quoth a real feminist: "what a tool!" [UPDATE: the record should note that the link and the attribution of toolishness are from B.]


 

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I'll pace YOU!

Posted by Fontana Labs
on 01.29.08

But I also did want to note this hilarity-- fake Jonah fanmail from d of LGM that got reprinted on the LF blog.


 

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Free advice to undergraduates

Posted by Fontana Labs
on 01.29.08

[blah]


 

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SOTU

Posted by Becks
on 01.28.08

Because I'm sure you'll want a State of the Union thread.


 

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Things I learn from reading Instapundit

Posted by Fontana Labs
on 01.28.08

First, that we shouldn't allow any more mosques to be built in the United States until Saudi Arabia allows for the construction of 20 synagogues and churches. Why the United States should do this is not made clear; neither is there any indication that the author understands that (a) the Saudi government, however oppressive its policies may be, is not like the Islamic Vatican; and (b) that it's sort of central to Islam that this is so.

Second, that Christian leaders seeking better understanding with Muslim counterparts should go fuck themselves. Whether the author understands that "Allah" and "Yahweh," "Lord," etc. are coreferential is unclear.

If this sort of thing keeps up I might start to think that this guy has no idea what he's talking about. Perhaps he would pay attention if we wrote the Qur'an on a molecule using a very tiny robot.



 

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AJ Ayer anecdote post

Posted by Fontana Labs
on 01.28.08

Seeing Yglesias mention the infamous encounter between Ayer and Mike Tyson reminded me of my second-favorite Ayer story, this one illustrating his rather austere inner life. "What do you think of when you think of Paris, Freddie?" someone asked him at a dinner party, expecting him to reply by naming some famous monument or scene. "I think of a sign that says 'Paris,'" he replied.

Before making fun of Language, Truth, and Logic please keep in mind that it was written in a hurry while Ayer thought he'd have to leave the profession for want of a job.


 

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Questionable Questioning

Posted by Becks
on 01.28.08

Spencer has a big feature up about the CIA's development of interrogation techniques. The quick version (although you should read the whole thing) - instead of talking to agencies that have a history of interrogation (like the FBI) or trying to learn from previous conflicts (like interrogations of Nazi officers during WWII), they just copied whatever they had heard of other countries doing without examining the effectiveness.

And Yglesias has good commentary on the piece explaining how, like many other programs put into place under the Bush administration, this was surely not a bug but a feature.


 

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Ask The Mineshaft: Interview Inquiry Edition

Posted by Becks
on 01.28.08

A job hunter writes:

I'm looking for a new job because my present one isn't providing an adequate work/life balance. Since that's my main reason for job hunting, I'm very concerned that I'll leave this job only to find that the new one is even worse. I feel like this is a touchy topic to bring up in interviews but it's something I want to know about because it's going to be one of my main criteria for evaluating offers. How do I ask about this without raising red flags during an interview?

 

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Ask The Mineshaft: Anything But Love Shack Edition

Posted by Becks
on 01.27.08

A reader asks our help with one of the pressing questions of our age:

After singing karaoke for years with the Xbox, my friends and I have recently taken to performing at karaoke nights in public. My problem: it's really hard for me to choose a song, since singing in public offers so many more chances for humiliation than just singing in front of my friends. I have a decent voice, but I want to sing something fun that the crowd can get behind and not some crappy power ballad.
I'm primarily looking for suggestions of songs originally sung by women, but if a song can successfully cross the gender line, I would consider it. If you do karaoke, what are your favorite songs to sing and what do you recommend?

 

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