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Welcome, New York Times readers!

Posted by Ben
on 03.08.08

Various indeed are the honors which honor devises to bestow on those it honors, and it is by these honors that one's place is made known to others, for this means has experience contrived experientially to disclose the order of rank in a society, not all honors honoring equally, but some honors having greater worth than others, those honors having lesser worth than first, and yet a third group having a middling worth, neither great nor little, but in between, so that the bestowal of an honor on a person, though it elevate him absolutely, yet relatively may leave him short of the heights he might have obtained, and this too is part of the method of honor, for those who observe mark both the rise from the bottom and the gap at the top, while the honored person, unused to praise, thinks only of his elevation, and again this very ignorance lowers him in the eyes of others, unless he should be honored by an honor of the first type, than which none is greater, for in this case his attending only to his gain in altitude does him credit, for the high should be proud, but the low ashamed, as honor teaches and is fitting. These then are the worths of honors which honor, following experience, has crafted, the high, the middling, and the low, and a link from the paper of record is such an honor, and it is a further honor for us at Unfogged to be the recipients of this honor which does us so much honor.

At least, that's what I used to think. Back in college, despairing over the possibility of ever meeting someone really for me, who would like the same things I liked—hand-crafted sandwiches with locally-sourced ingredients, Mos Def, stand mixers—things that, when I mentioned them to my classmates at lily-white Swarthmore, met with either shock, blank incomprehension, or, if I happened to run into one of the education students, threats of reëducation—I thought that a link from the Times would solve all my problems. Considering all the readers I'd suddenly get, I felt certain that among them would be one like-minded urbanite who'd let me smash her icon.

It was with irony immeasurable to man that I learned how wrong I was in one of my most despondent periods. Because I was taking a creative nonfiction class that semester, and because I save all of my work for the benefit of my biographer, I can reconstruct my state of mind exactly. I had just finished a draft of an essay in which I hoped, like the narrator of Proust's little book, to expose my true self through high literature. Even now I can't read the first sentence without feeling again what I felt then, and as I retype it on this antique typewriter I know that I may once more be moved to tears. The theme is loss, the loss of hope; I had recently failed to have a date:

The word bus comes from the Latin omnibus, the dative plural of omnis, because it's a means of transportation "for all"—but when a date I had never even met was crushed beneath one's wheels en route to our rendezvous, I began to think that, on the journey that is life and love, I would never be able to take the carpool lane.

I began to neglect my schoolwork, and my one diversion, photography, became so insular and self-regarding that not even "navel gazing" can do justice to my productions in that period. The omphaloskeptic has a superficial sort of self-knowledge, obsessed with himself only as far as the appearance of depth, for the navel does not actually offer an inlet to the body—not at all if you've got an outie, but not even with an innie. My quest to figure out who I was and capture it photographically went deeper. I left the navel behind after a scant twenty studies and moved to proktoskepsis.

It was at this point that I received my first link from the Times. At first I felt literally elated, dragged out of my valley of misery to stand beholding the sea of visitors that seemed to stretch out limitlessly before me, silent on my vantage point upon a peak of joy. I surmised that soon my loneliness would be at an end.

As Emily Brontë would put it: it ended. But not as much to my advantage as I had thought. After all, we must be ourselves in the long run.

Needless to say I wasn't prepared for the onslaught. Each visitor was well-meaning enough, but there were scads of them. My server, running on a new but economical apple laptop, could hardly accomodate them, and as the processor worked and worked the laptop itself grew so hot that I had to sleep with a sword between it and me. And their contributions to my life, the advice on what to consume, what to say, how to be, was helpful—but I didn't think I needed to hear it repeated quite as often as I did. Surely, I thought, with all these identical iconoclasts, there must be nothing but rubble left? None of them seemed to be a match for my essential quiddity. I grew pensive.

Eventually, as the Times began putting up new links, to other places, the sea of visitors withdrew, and my melancholy came roaring back in. But this time it was tempered by my experience of the previous few days. True, I was alone again, but instead of being by myself, I was alone with myself. I won't deny that, at first, I cried. Indeed, I cried, masturbated, and cried more, without even having stopped crying in the interim. But as time went by, I grew strong. I learned how to get along without links from the Times, and, in a Beschränktheit des Ehrgeizes selbst, as Fichte might say, grew contented with less.

And so, though it is indeed an honor to be honored by the link of the paper of record, I for my part, and here I cannot speak for the rest of Unfogged, do not crave this honor—for is it not the case that those who pursue honor must pursue the honors of those in a position to grant honor, and thus, as it were, put their souls in hock to the world? It is (EN 1095b24–6).


 

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You Make The Call

Posted by Ogged
on 03.07.08

John McCain losing his notorious temper is one of the better bets as a way for him to lose the election, so on one hand I'm anxious to see the "McCain is a crazy hothead" meme propagate. On the other hand, this video, which is supposed to show him losing it, barely gets to "mildly annoyed," as far as I can tell, which means that touting it risks undermining the meme as an overblown Democratic talking point.


 

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In Which I Define Ginning-Up

Posted by Ogged
on 03.07.08

Yesterday Drum linked to a story in which the admiral in charge of the Pacific Command said that he began an outreach program with the Chinese but congresspeople and people at the Pentagon had a fit, because better relations with the Chinese threatened their pet big-budget projects.

And right now Drudge has a banner headline about Chinese hackers breaking into the Pentagon's system, except that the story he links has three Chinese twenty-somethings claiming they did it and that they were paid by the government, but unable to offer proof for either claim.

No, I don't think we're going to go to war with the Chinese, but little things like this--and they happen regularly--can add up and get out of control: the Chinese are established as enemies in the public imagination, we have all these high-tech weapons systems and nothing to do with them, etc.


 

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Cultural Norming

Posted by Becks
on 03.07.08

Me: I'd like to check on a flight reservation.

Agent: Do you have the confirmation number?

Me: Yes, it's Thomas Five Robert Yolanda Two Sev..

Agent: "Yankee".

Me: What?

Agent: It's "Yankee". Not "Yolanda".

Me: I think I'm going to stick with "Yolanda".


 

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"The Reason Most Folk Songs Are So Atrocious Is That They Were Written By The People."

Posted by LizardBreath
on 03.07.08

In an attempt to distract myself from the election and the stress of job changing, I picked up His Majesty's Dragon, by Naomi Novik, a Napoleonic Wars fantasy novel based on the premise that Great Britain and the other countries of the time had air forces composed of people riding dragons -- your standard mythical beasts out of western fairy tales, with Chinese and Japanese dragons thrown in as other breeds of dragon. (While I'm not mostly talking about the merits of the book here, it wasn't bad -- if you like that sort of thing, which I do, it's the sort of thing you'll like. If you don't like that sort of thing, it won't change your mind about anything.)

A funny thing about the book, though, was that Novik's dragons seemed to me very clearly to be Anne McCaffrey's dragons. They form a lifelong emotional attachment to some person, who they obey unquestioningly for no obvious reason, the moment they hatch. People who ride them go off and live in a separate society that's viewed with suspicion by outsiders and has loose rules about sex. There's one particular type of dragon that can only be ridden by women. All of this is straight out of the Anne McCaffrey dragon books, and has pretty much nothing to do with any dragon myths or stories that preexist those books.

There's nothing wrong with that, in my view -- it's not plagarism or anything. But it's interesting seeing someone pick up a public domain concept like 'dragons' that has been rattling around various folk and fairy tales for a thousand years or more, and come up as well with a bunch of stuff that got hooked on to the concept in the 1970s by a specific individual fantasy writer. After a while, all of that will just be part of what people think of when they think of dragons.

I bet this happens fairly often -- while I don't know all that much about vampires, I'm sure that books that postdate Dracula include a lot of stuff that Bram Stoker made up without reference to any preexisting myth as part of the definition of a generic vampire. And I'll bet that future vampire fiction, even if it doesn't specifically reference Buffy, picks up the elements of vampirism that Joss Whedon invented (the face changing, the instant collapse into dust on staking). I had a medieval lit professor tell me once that the silver bullet thing is a fairly new addition to the werewolf myth; medieval werewolves didn't have a problem with silver.

Watching this sort of thing accrete in real time is fascinating; it really makes you remember that any story, no matter how old, was something that some individual person came up with on their own way back when. The most cliched and hackneyed narrative tropes were someone's invention once.


 

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Comity?

Posted by LizardBreath
on 03.07.08

As someone who's been arguing that Clinton's been on the receiving end of a fair amount of sexism in this campaign, can we all agree that whatever the rights and wrongs of all the sexism and racism talk, that Clinton's statements that the voters' order of preference for Commander in Chief should be her, then McCain, and Obama last are completely out of line, and form a sufficient argument for voting against her?


 

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Look

Posted by Ogged
on 03.06.08

I defy you to come up with two non-policy-based criticisms of Hillary Clinton (about her personality, or character, or manner, or likability etc.) that can't be argued by reasonable people to be sexist. It's impossible. It can't be done. We don't live in that world. So arguing about whether any particular criticism of her is sexist is deeply silly. But supporters of Obama and McCain aren't just going to cede "personality" and "character" and agree to take them out of play. So let's just stipulate for the next few months that all personal criticisms of Clinton are sexist and all her supporters are being oversensitive.


 

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Now The Damn Scots

Posted by Ogged
on 03.06.08

From The Scotsman (the newspaper),

In an unguarded moment during an interview with The Scotsman, Samantha Power, [Obama's] key foreign policy aide, let slip the camp's true feelings about the former First Lady.

...

"She is a monster, too - that is off the record - she is stooping to anything," Ms Power said, hastily trying to withdraw her remark.

I could have sworn that "off the record" was a meaningful phrase, but I must be confused.

Actually, I don't think this will hurt Obama much because Power is a woman, which mitigates the "poor Hillary" feelings that come out when she's attacked personally; it might even make people think "wow, they hate her even more than they'll say," which, again, I think is good for Obama.


 

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No Connection To Reality

Posted by Ogged
on 03.06.08

Jesus McQueen has been going on about this in the comments, but it seems likely that Obama will actually win the delegate count in Texas (Texas has a mixed primary/caucus system, and while Clinton won the primary, Obama is likely to win the caucus). Which is to say that the real result from Tuesday is a split, which might well have blunted any talk of a Clinton comeback and increased pressure for her to drop out. Instead, the media narrative gives us one candidate who has "momentum" and another who, we're told, doesn't, but is almost impossible to catch in the delegate count.


 

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Look At Yourselves

Posted by Ogged
on 03.06.08

One thing I forgot to mention about "you pirate movies!" night at the bar was my stunning realization that white people *really do* dance like stereotypical white people; a style perhaps best illustrated by Bruce Springsteen in the Dancing In The Dark video (yes, young Courteney Cox, awww). And I see that youtube doesn't disappoint in the white people dancing category: here's a compilation from ESPN and here's video shot "in the field" as it were, from my sweet home, Chicago. And this one is a blooper reel that I'm merely sharing, not attempting to enter into evidence.

I'm given to understand that our own and white Jackmormon can boogie, but I haven't seen it.


 

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Law day continues

Posted by Fontana Labs
on 03.06.08

Via that friend we don't name and Balko comes this interesting statement from the Wire team:

If asked to serve on a jury deliberating a violation of state or federal drug laws, we will vote to acquit, regardless of the evidence presented. Save for a prosecution in which acts of violence or intended violence are alleged, we will -- to borrow Justice Harry Blackmun's manifesto against the death penalty -- no longer tinker with the machinery of the drug war. No longer can we collaborate with a government that uses nonviolent drug offenses to fill prisons with its poorest, most damaged and most desperate citizens.

Interesting. In other news, Volokh has a post on the women-only Harvard gym policy issue.



 

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Outwitted

Posted by Ogged
on 03.06.08

I have to correct the record: Paris Hilton is trailing around a fake buddhist monk as part of a new Ashton Kutcher show that punks the paparazzi and celeb gossip sites. You can go back to respecting her now.


 

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Wait, what?

Posted by Apostropher
on 03.06.08

I'm not a lawyer, so perhaps I'm missing a vital point (certainly wouldn't be the first time) and maybe one of the distinguished attorneys here can help me understand this.

Last month, Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia sparked controversy when he defended torture on BBC radio, claiming that it's "absurd" to say that the government "can't stick something under the fingernails" of a suspect to get information. In Missouri last night, Scalia again said torture should be allowed. "It's a bad thing to do," said Scalia. "But not everything that is bad is unconstitutional."

Doesn't the Eighth Amendment pretty explicitly cover that? Or is Scalia's objection that it doesn't contain the specific word torture in the text of it?


 

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The Language Game

Posted by Ogged
on 03.06.08

A bomb went off a little while ago in Times Square (an "IED," according to NYPD). No one was hurt. What caught my eye was this.

Asked if there was a link to terrorism, the spokeswoman, Laura Keehner, said, "At this time we're still investigating."

Could it be more clear that an essential characteristic of "terrorism" as its defined in the US is that it be perpetrated by muslims? It literally isn't terrorism unless the guy who set off the bomb in Times Square is muslim.

On one hand, this is somewhat enraging, but on the other hand, it's almost reassuring to see that the country's derangement is just old fashioned xenophobia, cranked way up.


 

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Pacing

Posted by Alameida
on 03.06.08

Fatass sacks for everyone!

Prior to the final vote, Ald. Walter Burnett (27th) expressed concern about arresting innocent people. He noted that extra buttons that come with suits, shirts and blouses -- and jewelry that's been repaired -- come in similar plastic bags.

Burnett was reassured by language that states "one reasonably should know that such items will be or are being used" to package, transfer, deliver or store a controlled substance. Violators would be punished by a $1,500 fine.

Well, then, no problem! via


 

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What, did they hack my ipod?

Posted by Fontana Labs
on 03.06.08

Australians rank the gayest songs of all time:

50. Elton John and George Michael "Don't Let The Sun Go Down On Me"
49. Dead or Alive "You Spin Me (Like A Record)"
48. Pet Shop Boys "New York City Boy"
47. Diana Ross "Chain Reaction"
46. Deborah Harry "I Want That Man"
45. Cher "Strong Enough"
44. RuPaul "Supermodel (You Better Work)"
43. KD Lang "Constant Craving"
42. Culture Club "Do You Really Want To Hurt Me"
41. Chaka Kham "I'm Every Woman"
40. Wham "Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go"
39. Paul Lekakis "Boom Boom (Let's Go Back To My Room)
38. Kym Mazelle "Young Hearts Run Free"
37. George Michael "Outside"
36. Donna Summer "I Feel Love"
35. Dannii Minogue "This Is It"
34. Belinda Carlisle "Summer Rain"
33. Peter Allen "I Go To Rio"
32. Sylvester "You Make Me Feel Mighty Real"
31. Heather Small "Proud"
30. CeCe Peniston "Finally"
29. Madonna "Express Yourself"
28. Cyndi Lauper "Girls Just Wanna Have Fun"
27. Charlene "I've Never Been To Me"
26. Tim Curry "Sweet Transvestite"
25. Barry Manilow "Copacabana"
24. Barbara Streisand and Donna Summer "No More Tears"
23. Whitney Houston "I Wanna Dance With Somebody (Who Loves Me)"
22. Sister Sledge "We Are Family"
21. Queen "I Want To Break Free"
20. Dolly Parton "9 to 5"
19. Coming Out Crew "Free, Gay and Happy"
18. Village People "In the Navy"
17. Frankie Goes To Hollywood "Relax"
16. Village People "Macho Man"
15. Judy Garland "Over The Rainbow"
14. Bronski Beat "Smalltown Boy"
13. Diana Ross "I'm Coming Out"
12. Cher "Believe"
11. Gloria Gaynor "I Am What I Am"
10. Alicia Bridges "I Love The Nightlife"
9. Madonna "Vogue"
8. Olivia Netwon-John "Xanadu"
7. Kylie Minogue "Better The Devil You Know"
6. Pet Shop Boys "Go West"
5. Kylie Minogue "Your Disco Needs You"
4. The Weathergirls "It's Raining Men"
3. Gloria Gaynor "I Will Survive"
2. Village People "YMCA"
1. ABBA "Dancing Queen"


 

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Never Tell An Angry Person To Chill

Posted by Ogged
on 03.05.08

Kevin Drum says to calm the fuck down.

I have to say I'm dumbfounded at the number of people who seem to be completely freaking out over last night's results, convinced that they spell doom for the Democratic Party and eight more years of Republican reign. But look: it's a tough campaign. But that's all it is. Hillary Clinton is not destroying Barack Obama, blacks and young people and old people and the working class and everyone else will eventually rally around whoever wins, the party is still in good shape, Republican members of Congress are quitting in droves, we're raising trainloads of money, and John McCain continues to be a putz. Let's stop the hyperventilating, OK?

And, later,

This has sort of taken me by surprise too. I'm reminded of the old saying that the smaller the stakes, the more vicious the battle. Obama and Clinton are obviously different in some important ways, but overall there just aren't any huge gaps between them, either in ideology or governing theory. They're both great candidates (as was John Edwards), and I confess that I have a hard time understanding the level of vitriol that the race has produced among supporters on both sides. I sure hope that all the doom and gloom talk is just talk, because anybody who's seriously thinking about sitting out this election if their guy doesn't win is being an idiot.

I disagree. Edwards on domestic policy, and Obama on foreign policy are decisively different from Clinton. Edwards made poverty the focus of his campaign and that hasn't happened in my lifetime and I'm not sure it will happen again, even though it's the most important domestic issue. And Obama is about as far from endorsing American imperialism and unfettered executive power as a candidate can be these days.

And I'll turn the page on the imperial presidency that treats national security as a partisan issue - not an American issue. I will call for a standing, bipartisan Consultative Group of congressional leaders on national security. I will meet with this Consultative Group every month, and consult with them before taking major military action. The buck will stop with me. But these discussions have to take place on a bipartisan basis, and support for these decisions will be stronger if they draw on bipartisan counsel. We're not going to secure this country unless we turn the page on the conventional thinking that says politics is just about beating the other side.

Clinton is business as usual on both issues: pro-corporate and clearly for a strong, imperial presidency, which is to say that on the crucial domestic issue and the crucial foreign policy issue, Clinton fails. I thought everyone knew this about "the progressive blogosphere:" Edwards was their first choice, Obama their second, and Hillary would mean that they'd been defeated. Why wouldn't things get heated when lefties saw a national situation very favorable to Democrats, two candidates who promised major beneficial changes, and the opportunity to run either of them slipping away?

On the Clinton side, it's not as if there's a close enough outcome to getting the first woman elected president (is there another reason to support her?). It's all or nothing for Clinton supporters, so of course they're going to be heated.

So this "no big difference" talk tends to annoy, because it seems to discount issues that matter a lot to the candidates' supporters, and because the moment seems so propitious for something big to happen, and for one side or the other, that thing isn't going to happen.


 

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Davy Jones Locker Room

Posted by Ogged
on 03.05.08

You're not at work, which is a good thing, because this is not safe for work.


 

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Is A Narrative Arc So Much To Ask For?

Posted by LizardBreath
on 03.05.08

Yglesias has an interesting take on the latest memoir scandal. He suggests that there's an appetite for narrative reading that's not perceived as low-status genre fiction, but isn't as forbiddingly arty as most literary fiction these days -- memoirs can give you a straightforwardly dramatic story without being lowbrow. And so you get these frauds, because there are a lot more people who can write a compelling story than who happen to have lived one, but if they write it as fiction there's not a ready-made market.

This seems reasonable to me -- the kind of story that's salable as a memoir is very different than the sort of thing that's salable now as fiction. Given that it's something people want to read, I wonder why that is?


 

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They Are Among You

Posted by Ogged
on 03.05.08

I'm looking through the referrers and a quick count reveals that right around 10% of all the searches that bring people to the site are about Barack Obama being the antichrist.


 

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Live A Little

Posted by Ogged
on 03.05.08

Back in the day, cerebrocrat and AWB recommended the cherimoya as a yummy and exotic fruit. And yesterday, there on the grocery store shelf, I saw this bizarre fruit and had to pick one up. I now third the recommendation. The pulp is basically a fruity custard; very yummy.


 

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Allah (swt) is my spotter

Posted by Fontana Labs
on 03.05.08

Via Ben H of the Bandarlog I see that Harvard is joining the dhimmi revolution by making one of its gyms women-only for six hours a week at the request of some muslim students.

The policy only applies to one gym, a facility mainly used for intramurals. Because of its location at the edge of campus, it is the university's least used gym, Mitchell said.

The women-only hours are of minimal inconvenience because they are just six out of the 70 hours a week the gym is open, Marine said.

My first thought is that whether this is a bad idea or not depends on the availability of other facilities, degree and extent of inconvenience for the majority, and so on; no judgment about the advisability of the policy is possible without filling in those gaps. My second thought is that this article will, stupidly, get kicked around as yet more evidence of liberal academics signing the death warrant for their own culture. Is there something more going on, or does that about cover it? (UPDATE: be it resolved that Ben H should have titled his post "Crimmis!" rather than "Crimson dhimmis.")


 

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The Ask the Mineshaft question that went elsewhere.

Posted by Apostropher
on 03.05.08

The Daily Record's advice columnist has a winner, though both the URL and the headline seem to belong to another column so it's possible the link may go elsewhere before long. Anyhow:

Q: I got a fright last week. To let you understand, I have always been self-conscious about the size of my penis. A woman told me she couldn't feel it at all. I know it's about average size but I don't think it's thick enough. So I've got into the habit of looking at other guys' equipment. I don't make it obvious but this man noticed me doing it. He followed me out the gents and propositioned me. I felt like punching him but now I am terrified others think I am gay.

A: Not sure I believe your story but if it's true and you're regularly staring at other men's penises, I'm surprised no one's thought of punching YOU. This is a habit out of which you must get before you land in serious trouble.


 

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Gun Nuts I Like

Posted by LizardBreath
on 03.05.08

State Senator Karen S. Johnson of Arizona has proposed some idiotic bill to allow people with concealed weapons permits to carry on college campuses so that they'll be available to shoot back at crazy people shooting students. This is nutty, but probably not importantly harmful. But check out the accompanying picture, particularly the bumper-stickers on her filing cabinet -- the top one and the one with the yellow ribbon. (They were clear in the print edition, but I think you can read them if you squint.)

Right-wing wacko she may call herself, but it's nice seeing evidence of common ground.


 

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Irrational Optimism: A Continuing Series.

Posted by LizardBreath
on 03.05.08

Thesis: A hard-fought, extended primary campaign will strengthen the eventual Democratic victor. Whatever attacks are made on them will have been rendered ineffective by their failure in the primary, and won't be usable for more damage in the general election. And being the focus of media coverage throughout the spring, while McCain is old news, will be a significant advantage in the general.

Discuss.


 

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Super Deuxsday

Posted by Becks
on 03.04.08

The polls start closing in 5 minutes.

G(OH)bama!


 

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This Is Way Less Fun Than Jessica Biel's Ass

Posted by Ogged
on 03.04.08

If this were a different sort of blog, I'd probably noodle on for a couple thousand words about this, but do you sometimes wonder what shamelessness is or how the shameless must think of the world and their place in it? Or how they acquired this superpower? It seems to be the defining characteristic of those in the center of our public life. The Karl Rove/Dick Cheney power players are shameless in their own way, and people like Paris Hilton (now sporting a fake buddhist monk as an accessory) are shameless in another way. And we all emulate their shamelessness in our own little ways, either by oversharing on blogs or what have you.

Maybe this could be the thesis: The grounding of shame in the understanding of opposition as something healthy and necessary to a stable emotional life has been lost, and the practical power of shame has been undermined by the fact that our social circles can be largely chosen rather than inherited. To put it another way, "you did a bad thing" can always be seen as an attack, and people who are inclined to say it to you can be easily ignored.

Look at it that way, and it's easier to see why people in politics and the rich seem to act the most shamelessly. In politics, opposition isn't meant to benefit the one opposed, and one's social group is very likely to be of like-minded and similarly-besieged-feeling folks. The rich don't have to deal with people they don't want to deal with and the rich and famous often are attacked purely out of jealousy.

So maybe shamelessness is best understood as a marker of social position, or, if you like, as a pathology endemic to our culture and most acute at certain positions in our social matrix.


 

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HP: 0

Posted by Fontana Labs
on 03.04.08

LGM reports that Gary Gygax has died.


 

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I Really Want To Know. I'm Not Trolling.

Posted by Becks
on 03.04.08

So I'm thinking of buying a laptop in the next couple of weeks and need to decide whether I'm getting a PC or a Mac. I've always used PCs and would still be using a PC at work but everyone keeps trying to convince me that Macs are supercool and I should get one. Why? I want real, convincing reasons, not "because two fingered scrolling is like whoosh!"

I also would like to hear from people who maintain the balance of PC at work and Mac at home and whether it's easy or a pain in the butt and from people who have switched from PC to Mac to hear about your experiences.

Also (and I know I'm adding a lot of "also"s) I'd like to hear people's strategies for how they keep two computers in synch if they access things like personal email or RSS feeds both at home and the office using two different computers. I've always used one computer for both, which is nice because everything is in one place, but that has...um...obvious issues. I know the easy solution is to use only web-based things like Gmail or an online RSS reader but I like using a "real" application to compose and read email and read the blogs. Advice on the best way to do that? (Both combining Mac and PC and not?)


 

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There's A Surprise

Posted by LizardBreath
on 03.04.08

Jacob Levy is having trouble coming up with modern classics of conservative political philosophy that hold up for teaching purposes:

The problem isn't just, as conservatives would have it, that the conservative temperament isn't easily reduced to programmatic philosophical works-- that part of its point is not to be so reducible. One of the problems is that history keeps right on going-- and so any book plucked from the past that was concerned with yelling "stop!" tends to date badly to any modern reader who does not think he's already living in hell-in-a-handbasket. This is a particular problem because of race in America-- no mid-20th c work is going to endure as a real, read-not-just-namechecked, classic of political thought that talks about how everything will go to hell if the South isn't allowed to remain the South. Someone like Strauss who didn't care about the American south and didn't write much about the news of his day in any event thus holds up relatively better than someone like Kirk. This is a special case of Tyler's depravity point-- but in the context of 20th c American conservatism, an important special case. And note that Oakeshott has his own version of these problems; doesn't "Rationalism in Politics" end up feeling faintly ridiculous by the time he's talking about women's suffrage?

Oddly, he seems reluctant to draw the natural conclusion. Hat tip to Brad DeLong.

Update: Prof. Levy has added an update saying that sniping is all very well, but he was complaining about a real lack of appropriate books for teaching undergrads, where many less attractive philosophies have more accessible works pitched at an undergraduate level. Given the update, I should make it clear that this post was, in fact, substanceless sniping, and I haven't got anything informative to say about what he should assign students.


 

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That's Right

Posted by Ogged
on 03.03.08

I think Atrios' cynicism and the administration's mendacity are uncannily in tune. On the topic of why Republicans would be so keen to give the president despotic power, when a Democrat might soon occupy the office, he says,

The very powers Bush claimed will, for a Democratic president, be the foundation for impeachment.

Chew on that.


 

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I'll Do My Civic Duty When George W. Bush Does His

Posted by Ogged
on 03.03.08

Called for jury duty, again. No bloggy from me tomorrow.



 

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I Am A Foreigner

Posted by Ogged
on 03.03.08

An uncle on my dad's side in Iran has been compiling all the information he can find about our family and wound up writing a big book that he recently sent to my mom. The latest bit: a few great-greats back, a cleric from Najaf was invited to Khorramabad to be a religious tutor. He arrived, liked it, and got married and settled down. When he chose a last name, it was either going to be Najafi or the one he did choose, which is my real last name.

I knew about the Najaf connection, and sorta kinda suspected that my ancestors might have been clerics, given the temperament of folks on my dad's side and Najaf's centrality in Islamic instruction, but this is still blowing my mind a little bit, especially the arbitrariness of the name.


 

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Stud

Posted by Ogged
on 03.03.08

Pacing's gone all to hell today anyway, so here's a swimming post treat: Michael Klueh of Texas doing 15 100s on the 1:00, holding 52s throughout and stroking so easy that it looks like he's warming down. The only way I can think to put this in perspective is to say that if you could do one 100 in 52 seconds, you'd be a faster swimmer than just about anyone you'd run into in daily life--it's a badass 100 yard time--and to do 15 in a row with barely any rest and with such a relaxed stroke is mind-bending.


 

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An Even Shorter Introduction to The Great Depression & The New Deal: A Very Short Introduction

Posted by LizardBreath
on 03.03.08

Eric Rauchway has just published a Very Short Introduction to The Great Depression & The New Deal. If you, like I, haven't heard of the series before*, Oxford University Press publishes a series of Very Short Introductions to various topics, with the goal (roughly, as I understand it) of providing the basic background you'd want in a topic in order to be able to read scholarly work with comprehension of the current thinking on the subject, in a tidy little package you can consume in a couple of hours. As a litigator, I am vaguely familiar with absolutely everything, but have exact knowledge of nothing I haven't researched in the last week, so I'm almost precisely the ideal target audience, and unsurprisingly found out that my knowledge of the period was really quite incomplete.

The initial summary of the causes of the Depression, for example, was largely new to me. Rauchway touches on the speculation driving up the stock market which formed most of my prior sense of what caused the stock market crash and then the depression. (There was a fascinating little aside on 'pools' -- groups of investors who'd manipulate the movement of a stock in the hopes of suckering investors into believing it was about to go up. I read that thinking "You can't do that, that's securities fraud... under the Securities Exchange Act of 1934. Heh. I suppose they could, then.") But the fundamental story is of the change in the global economy brought about by WW I; a transition from an economy characterized by the free flow of goods and labor across national boundaries to a world with higher tariffs and more restrictive immigration. When the war debts owed to the US were added into the mix, the global economy depended on the US's willingness to extend credit, which was not matched by a willingness to accept repayment in the form of foreign goods; when the availability of American credit dried up, the global economy collapsed. Of course, at the length available in a 130-page book, this is all set out in very summary form; I found myself checking the bibliography for books to follow up with.

Also new to me was a large part of the discussion of Roosevelt's methods in the New Deal; I'd had a vague sense that the New Deal was funded by a strongly redistributive progressive income tax policy, mostly because I was aware that income taxes were much more progressive in the 50s than they are now, and assumed that that was a hangover from the tax structure of the 30s. Rauchway notes, rather, that the Roosevelt administration focused on raising regressive excise taxes on liquor and other similar luxuries, rather than hiking the income tax in an attempt to keep business invested in the economy (this sort of thing does start to answer some nagging confusion I'd had about why Social Security is funded in the weirdly Rube Goldberg manner it is). The redistributive effects of the New Deal were accomplished more through the redistribution of power to entities other than owners of capital (e.g., through the empowerment of unions) than through the direct redistribution of money. Similarly, a conservative dislike for the moral consequences of handing out cash relief led to the New Deal focus on work relief -- providing jobs rather than money to unemployed workers.

Overall, it's obviously a quick read -- at 130 pages it could hardly be otherwise -- and given the space constraints relies heavily on assertion; it's an appetizer for more detailed, specifically focused histories, rather than a fully developed historical argument. But it's a great little reference†: it packs in the high points of what you need to know about the New Deal in order to understand an argument on the subject, and sets up a number of arguments intriguingly enough to leave me wanting to find some books from the bibliography and follow the discussion further. I'll be tossing it at my kids when they hit American history in high school, to give them something more interesting than their textbooks to think about.

*Biscuit.

† For those who care about this sort of thing, it's a terribly attractive little book physically -- about 4"x7", on heavy paper, with a well designed cover. I'm finding myself wanting to buy more of the series partially because they're satisfyingly neat objects.

(Conflict of interest statement: Rauchway is a friend. While I wouldn't say anything I didn't mean about his book on that basis, I probably wouldn't have posted a review if I had found myself wanting to say something uncomplimentary. Also, anyone reading this who's written something and wants a review? If you send me a copy, I'll review it. If I know you, you don't even have to send me a copy -- say the word and I'll buy one to review.)


 

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Anecdata

Posted by Apostropher
on 03.03.08

I've been skeptical that John McCain's age would cost him any significant support because, hell, I'd vote for Robert Byrd over any Republican they would nominate and no group gets to the polls quite like senior citizens. However, I went to dinner at my in-laws' last night (leg of lamb!), and while there was never any danger of either of them voting GOP in November, I was surprised to hear the following from a couple approaching seventy, both of whom are still active and have all of their faculties perfectly intact.

MIL: McCain? Please. Too old. Way too old. He must be out of his mind to think he can be president.
FIL: He's older than me, for Christ's sake!

And with that, I felt a little bit better.


 

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To Brighten Your Day

Posted by Ogged
on 03.03.08

This is graffiti? Wildly impressive. Not to mention that they would shut down a ten-block radius if this turned up in an American city.

via alif sikkiin, who links to another amazing one.


 

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F. Labs, bass

Posted by Ben
on 03.03.08

The PFS article on Killed By Death is pretty interesting generally, but the best part has to be this description of the band F:

Republican, straight-edge, gay hardcore. They called the police on their own shows. F released their final record on Mystic records because it was "the crappiest label ever." They pissed off everyone in the punk business, but best of all, they stole their name and all their songs from a bar metal band. A friend of mine recently went to go see the other F when they played with the Pork Dukes. He sang along to all the songs, to their surprise, but never explained why he knew them.

The Pork Dukes is a pretty good name for a band, too.


 

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My Weekend

Posted by Ogged
on 03.03.08

1. Success. Recipe at the link.

2. In the category of "probably not quite how he meant to say it," I went to see a band of bpl's acquaintance play at a local bar last night, and was chatting with another friend of hers who said, "A few months ago she was talking about a guy she liked. Was that you?"

3. Great success. When bpl mentioned before the show that the band members were all out back getting high, I made a show of pulling out my phone to call the cops that was sufficiently convincing that she looked at me aghast, sputtered for a bit, and finally blurted out "You pirate movies!"


 

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AM

Posted by Becks
on 03.03.08

I've always wanted to be one of those people who work out in the morning instead of at night. I'm good at going to the gym in the evening but I think working out in the morning would simplify things - there would be no extra post-gym shower, I could be more spontaneous with my evening plans, there would be no "I have to go to the gym" hanging over my head as I leave work, etc. But I just can't do it! Nine times out of ten, I end up snoozing the alarm clock and going back to sleep and on the rare occasion that I actually wake up and go, I don't have as good of a workout because I'm half asleep.

Anyone able to pull it off?


 

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The square may not seem as immediately dangerous to society as the delinquent or the hipster, but his retreat from public life into pure instrumental reasoning betokens a much more significant and deep-running threat to the possibility of liberal society

Posted by Ben
on 03.02.08

and the notion of a shared public undertaking for the common weal than either of the first two combined, for they, in rebelling, remain in a sense a part of the tradition from which they rebel, while the square withdraws from the world entire. Video, via Dial "M".

The square looks kind of like mrh. WOTTA SURPRISE!!!1


 

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"There is no shame in seeking health care"

Posted by Becks
on 03.02.08

We need a word for people and organizations that are doing noble and inspiring things when the fact those things need to be done at all is infuriating. Case in point: the Remote Area Medical Lifeline program profiled on tonight's 60 Minutes. The group was originally founded to airlift doctors and medical supplies into third world countries but now they're spending more than half of their time treating patients in the U.S. who can't afford health care.


 

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Modern Love: I Need My Space Case Edition

Posted by Becks
on 03.02.08

I haven't linked to Modern Love in a while so why not? Especially one with this opening sentence:

MY newest guy, vintage four weeks, was spending his first overnight at our Upper West Side apartment en famille and didn't know the drill.

While this ML didn't make me as worked up as some because nobody involved was completely loathsome, it did push my buttons because it bumped up against two of my personal pet peeves: (1) people who put their kids' priorities so ahead of their own that they deny themselves basic happiness and (2) people who are lucky enough to find partner(s) that they could be happy with but almost go out of their way to screw it up.


 

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This Is Bad

Posted by Ogged
on 03.02.08

Like Ackerman, I also want to say that this is a hoax.

Depressing as it is, several of the supposed misogynist myths about female inferiority have been proven true ... I am perfectly willing to admit that I myself am a classic case of female mental deficiencies. I can't add 2 and 2 (well, I can, but then what?). I don't even know how many pairs of shoes I own ... So I don't understand why more women don't relax, enjoy the innate abilities most of us possess ... Then we could shriek and swoon and gossip and read chick lit to our hearts' content and not mind the fact that way down deep, we are . . . kind of dim.

But no, it seems this Charlotte Allen is a real person and, as the Magic Man points out in Yglesias' comments, she's also responsible for gems like this.

Frankly, even as a woman, I miss the old sexist days, when stewardesses were stewardesses: pretty young things in cute mini-suits and little heels who oozed attention onto everyone-because who knew? They might end up marrying one of the passengers ... Why does feminism have to mean the triumph of the ugly and the surly?

So one is tempted to dismiss her as a troll, but Atrios is right that ultimately the editors have to be held responsible.

One can and should blame the writer, but really it's the editors who are to blame. There's apparently nothing better than having their fundamental misogyny confirmed to them by women. I suppose there's a tiny chance it's a hoax, but it seems like a fairly standard piece in this genre so I doubt it.

And finally, we have Kathryn Jean Lopez weighing in at the corner. The entirety of her post:

Charlotte Allen eviscerates women. I love it.

I'm about 10% convinced that this is a planned effort to give Hillary a boost in the upcoming primaries, but this does seem like an established genre. Even so, you have to figure that the Post knows that their readership won't approve of this, so is it just that trolling your own paper is lucrative? Look at the page views! Or maybe they really believe this stuff, in which case one really is tempted to vote for Hillary. You couldn't write this shit about blacks (or even muslims, maybe) and keep your job.


 

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