A sweet and worth reading Modern Love.
I'm very happy with the prospect of doing the Sunday NYT crossword. I never do them on my own; I only do them if someone else is a crossword fan. I enjoy swooping in, answering two or three clues and playing the hero but don't at all have the patience to finish even a Monday by myself. But if you want to spend the morning thinking it all through and figuring it out, I'll be glad to glance at it for a couple of minutes and tell you the answer to 7 down.
So much good discussion in this Crooked Timber thread about the Basra fighting that it's hard to highlight any particular piece of it. You really should start at the top and read it all. But if you're not going to do that, this is spot-on:
Maliki/ISCI/Dawa only think they picked this fight. Sadr has been setting this up, for months, if not years, baiting the trap recently with false reports of splintering factions, etc. will u's description well sums Sadr's long-planned response and the narrative Sadr's protraying:
Sadr didn't abandon his ceasefire or spurn negotiations; Sadr isn't dropping bombs on Basra; Sadr isn't using the national Army (alongside Badr Organization) for partisan ends in anticipation of upcoming elections. In fact, Sadr looks positively restrained, calling for non-violent national protest and nationalist alliance between Sunni and Shiite.
Sadr has his nationalist narrative ready to go, and is responding swiftly and in well-planned, calculated ways. This is not the response of a degenerating organization. Maliki/ISCI/Dawa were played--they may have suspected they were being played and gambled on being able to marshal sufficient force, or to draw the Americans in, but they have stepped in it. If he's true to form, Sadr will let them step back; when they do, Sadr will be stronger, by far.
All of the Iraqis are playing really complex games within games to achieve power and secure the oil. The Americans are there to play stupid and supply cash to finance the manuevering. It is really pathetic.
Is it a coincidence that Maliki's offensive against the Mahdi Army started right after Cheney's visit? Hmm.
Reverend Wright writes to the New York Times about their interview with him.
SomeCallMeTim wants to cut to the heart of the matter when it comes to dating. He asks,
If you could only get terse answers to three questions, and none of the information could identify the person specifically, what would [you] want to know?
Populuxe answered here. My answers (questions) were:
1) Which blogs do you read?
2) If you had to kill one person, who would it be?
3) Have you ever been double-penetrated?
Remember how I told you all that I'd be doing a radio show today from noon to three PST? (As if you've been thinking of anything else all this time!) Well, it turns out, that's not true.
The bpl has precipitously gone and told everyone we know that we'll be competing in a swimming meet in June, and the Coach, who was my last hope for putting on the brakes, said I should go ahead and do it. If you're in the Bay Area and could use the motivation of telling someone else you'll do it, drop me a line. It's a long course meet with pretty good competition, so it should be a lot of fun.
I hadn't realized that punitive damages were so uniquely American. Given a choice between punitive damages and increased government regulation of business and their ability to punish offenders, I think I would choose the latter but the trend the article alludes to of courts moving away from awarding damages without increased regulation to take its place is troublesome.
One of our own might be interviewing Samantha Power for a campus weekly. What should s/he ask?
Like this one from the Times saying that exercise that doesn't actually involve acute injuries isn't going to do cumulative damage to your joints:
"This is so crazy," said Dr. Tim Church, director of preventative medicine at Pennington Biomedical Research Center in Baton Rouge, La. "The data clearly shows that people who are physically active, whether running or walking, have much better joints as they age."
And yet, people often liken their knee cartilage to Michelins, telling Dr. Church, "It's like tires, you only have so many miles to go."
In fact, Dr. Wright explained, the only research that ever looked at running and cartilage found that elite runners who ignore injuries are the ones whose miles saddle their knees with wear and tear. Not so with average runners. "That's not to say that runners don't get arthritis or wear and tear," she said. "But continuing to run has never been proven to make it worse."
Now, it's probably not true, but it's always been something I've been uncharitably judgmental about. I know too many apparently healthy, non-limping people under forty who don't do things because 'their knees can't take it.' Honestly, a hundred years ago they would have walked about twenty times as far over the course of a lifetime, and there don't seem to have been all that many people lamed by overuse back then.
(Yeah, yeah, I'm going to hell for being mean to people who genuinely have bad knees.)
Via Josh in the comments, is this the best dating site ever?
I've been reading personal ads from North Dakota (blogging doesn't just happen, you know) and they're about as boring as expected. One woman is looking for a man with "pretty good hygiene." But another is the first I've seen who chose "Love me, love my recreational drugs" in the "Drugs" category, and even included "My drugs" in the five items she can't live without. Her most humbling moment was giving birth.
An ice shelf the size of Connecticut is splitting away from Antarctica right now. Aside from all the global warming implications, I was watching this on the news last night and thinking that you could drive a Zamboni forever on the big slabs of floating ice. And then you could get cruise ships full of decadent rich people who'd traveled to skate behind the Zambonis as the Antarctic ice cap melted.
The reverie kind of came to a screeching halt as I remembered that there are probably very few decadent rich people all that interested in ice skating.
With all that's going on in my life right now, starting a new job and moving to another city, I feel that I've become completely self-absorbed lately. A perfect example: it was Ogged's birthday last week and I completely flaked on it, despite the fact I had spent the entire previous evening trying to export my computer's calendar data and was using the entry that said OGGED'S BIRTHDAY on it as one of my test entries. That that entry corresponded to him actually having a birthday hadn't even registered.
So for this, and the fact that I've surely done similar things to many of you, I apologize. Each of you gets a free pass to become completely self-absorbed and flake on me and bore the shit out of me with tedious stories the next time you move or get married or whatever. Just remind me of this post.
Apo blogged about Hillary's membership in The Fellowship--a creepy, culty religious group for politicians--and now (via Ari) Barbara Ehrenreich at the Huffington Post is wondering about Hillary's "nasty pastorate." I don't think Obama can bring this up, but other people should.
I really hate to accuse anyone of doping. Athletes trade a normal life for insane training, and a few work hard enough and are gifted enough that they get to be the best in the world. And just when they make it, some hater comes along and says "cheater!" It's annoying.
That said, sometimes things look like, you know, evidence. This is Alain Bernard, who just broke a couple of sprint swimming world records.
Via Emerson at The Weblog, I see that Hillary recently sat down with Richard Mellon-Scaife and the editorial board of his Pittsburgh paper. That's the same Richard Mellon-Scaife who was, as much as anyone, the coordinator of the Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy that tried to bring down the Clintons. The fact that, as TPM notes, the editorial board set her up with a question about Obama and Wright seems secondary to the fact that Clinton is willing to make common cause with these people now. It confirms the impression that for a lot of the "elite" class in Washington, they're playing what is to them merely a game of power and status, the real costs of which are borne by the people they're playing it "for," the audience, which is us, and even more, people poorer than us. Honestly, it disgusts me. And although the Clintons certainly aren't the only politicians in this country who have no honor (not even the only ones in this race--recall McCain's abject fealty to Bush, after Bush savaged him), one does come around again to the Kung Fu Monkey view.
To All My Conservative Friends ...
... who for years nurtured a loathing of the Clintons I found both unnatural and inexplicable:
Yeah. So ... yeah.
As you were.
Jaguar and Land Rover are now Indian companies.
So, have all the cool kids moved to Philadelphia yet? Armsmasher mentioned that his band shared a bill with Make a Rising, about whom I will spare you the considerable effusions I could offer, letting it instead suffice to be said that their first album was really fantastic and I have no doubt but that their second (forthcoming soon!) will be as well; and this prompted two parallel chains of association:
1. There sure are a lot of great bands and players in that city! Make a Rising labelmates Normal Love, Espers and the various projects constellated therearound; Fern Knight; Audrey Chen; Tatsuya Nakatani, I think (turns out actually Easton); and ... well, I might have let noted insane person Michael Anton Parker's enthusiasm for the city outrun my current recall, but, you know, there are more, too. Plus there's a venue called "The Avant Gentleman's Lodge", which is pretty hard to top.
2. I wonder if there are any videos of MaR on youtube? Oh hell yes. Dig those fish in the first one. What is interesting (aside from the obvious) here: both of those pieces are recognizable as being Make a Risingesque, but would also be out of place on their album, because, while many of the songs there have interludes that resemble those pieces, nearly all of them are both more densely arranged, on the whole, and more sectional; while the music in the first video does divide fairly easily into parts (pop quiz: is the ending more like Henry Cow's "Deluge" or your choice of the more in-tune Maher Shalal Hash Baz songs?), they're not different enough from each other to be like much of the stuff on at least the first album.
Also, you know, those shows look pretty awesome. The nearest equivalent recent experience I can think of is when Floss played at 21 Grand and the saxophonist ran backstage midway through the set and then came out wearing a thong. You know, buttfloss. Also, he handed out carrots and actual dental floss at the end of the concert. But that didn't stop him from mostly sucking, whereas MaR mostly rules.
I guess the clip below the fold is "porn," and not the kind of thing I'd normally post here. Not safe for work, obviously. But it's a rare video that would be substantially less gay if it included gay sex, and so I post. To be clear, this is slightly gay in the good gay way, but mostly gay in the bad gay way. I think you'll know what I mean.
Go vote to send Spackerman to Kurdistan with Tony Bourdain! Can you even imagine the television gold you'd get from the combination of these two crazy motherfuckers? (Which I mean in the best way possible, natch.)
Vote early! Vote often! And, um, explain to people in comments how to vote because I can't quite figure it out.
Set aside five minutes or so and watch Sinan Antoon on Charlie Rose (from about 2:45 in) deliver a powerful critique of America's approach to Iraq. He's got the angry grad student look and pulls off the grad student fantasy of going on the teevee and telling it like it is.
Mom's in town, so naturally we kicked it last night by watching that tale of torture and treason, Taxi To The Dark Side. It's very good. I'm not sure there's anything new for someone who's been following the story of torture and its memos, but it does a great job of bringing everything together and, most impressively, humanizing some of the soldiers who killed a detainee, and showing just what kind of environment Cheney and Rumsfeld meant to produce. Worth watching, and definitely worth recommending to someone who hasn't been following these things very closely.
Pro-Life, who is running for the seat of retiring Sen. Larry Craig (R), said the qualifier measure is being pushed by Lt. Gov. Jim Risch (R), who also opposes abortion rights and is running for the seat. "It's pretty stupid, really, to say that a voter doesn't know what he's doing," Pro-Life said.
"Senator Pro-Life, who is pro-life..." I love it. Not sure why, but I do.
I was chatting with a lawyer friend and he got to talking about what he'd do if he had enough money to retire, and I'm pretty sure his plan is an original: sue corporations. He said he'd spend his free time drafting motion after motion to sue various corporations for any plausible reason, just to cost them some money, with particular attention to Halliburton and Dick Cheney personally. Maybe they'd crush him with counter-motions, maybe his car would mysteriously drive off the road one rainy night, or maybe his name would be written in the book of saints.
At least whoever writes the headlines is a very bad headline writer. Look at today's Spitzer story: Spitzer Pushed Staff's Effort to Smear Bruno. The story says that Spitzer was heavily involved in his staff's effort to use the state police to assemble evidence that Joe Bruno was misusing state aircraft for non-legislative, campaign-related, travel.
This is a very bad thing for Spitzer to have done: selective, politically motivated investigations and prosecutions are one of the fundamental forms of political oppression. But you know what it isn't? It isn't a smear. Bruno was misusing state aircraft for campaign-related travel. Calling it a smear would be as silly as calling the investigation of Spitzer a smear: whether or not it was politically motivated, it's unquestionably true that he was having sex with prostitutes.
Bruno has got to have pictures of every journalist in New York in a series of compromising positions: the way the coverage of 'Troopergate' has focused solely on Spitzer's wrongdoing, downplaying the fact that Bruno did get caught with his hands in the cookie jar, has been the most amazing thing I've ever seen.
Remember this? Well, I've been tinkering with it, and ogged and I have been using a revised version, under a differen screenname, for a little over a week with no problems. So I've switched the name back to "unfoggedbot" and invite interested parties to start using it again.
I believe that, before, we ran afoul of at least two things: AOL's rate limiting (incidentally, since Twisted's implementation is woefully underdocumented, I had to spend a lot of time on that page just to figure out what was going on, and let me tell you, if I find out that these cutesy terms in the protocol—SNAC and Foodgroup—derive from some inane pun on "byte", I will be wroth) and the habit the bot was in of sending messages to offline users. The former should be fixed by a new version of oscar.py I grabbed from the py-aimt project which does rate-limiting stuff automagically (you'd think this would be contributed back to the Twisted folks, but evidently not), and the latter by the bot's keeping track of who on its buddy list goes offline and not sending them messages. However, I won't really be sure about the rate-limiting half, at least, until more people start using it.
I will also take this opportunity to let you know that this friday, from noon to three pm, I'll be doing a radio show! Woo. I can't let you in on too many details, but I can answer what is likely your most pressing question: yes, there will be Last Exit.
No, you can't post via the bot. Also, if you're not receiving messages for threads to which you're subscribed, please email me and tell me. Also also, be sure to add the bot to your buddy list before doing that, since otherwise it can't IM you.
the 11th world record to be set since February 16. All of those new standards have one thing in common: the record-breaker was wearing the Speedo LZR Racer suit.
That's just silly. There's no non-economic reason to allow fancy suits or body suits at all. One of the nice things about swimming is its simplicity: water, swimmer, clock. One of very cool things is being able to compare times from different eras and whip out facts to impress your peeps.
Fact: 13 year-old girls swim the 100m freestyle faster today than Olympic champions swam it 100 years ago.
The conversation in swimming should be about swimming, and about innovations in technique in what remains, in terms of scientific analysis, a very young sport. Knowing that someone swam one time in 2005 and then got dramatically better in 2008 should make us look at training or stroke innovations, not wonder about what suit they were wearing. Materials engineers can have their own competition somewhere else.
So! For the men: mandate the old itty-bitty brief. Make it whatever material you like, since it'll be too small to make a difference. It's a bit trickier for women and I'm no clothing designer, but the guideline should be that the suit should cover as little of the body as possible (for the integrity of the sport!) while staying on and keeping things where they're supposed to be. Write your congressperson!
Ackerman makes the case for Obama's foreign policy platform in the Prospect. I'd blurb it but I can't figure out what to excerpt. Go read the whole thing.
Prolific Squalor is a strangely readable blog composed entirely of transcripts of real IM conversations.
Krugman concisely and effectively slams all three presidential candidates for how they've responded to the financial crisis. This is one issue where there really isn't much difference between them in terms of how
corrupt compromised they are, and they deserve the heat.
Moving around all the time is not very conducive to my tendency to be a sentimental packrat. There are so many things that I don't need anymore but that are so hard to throw out: the first scarf I knitted (now tattered and frayed, and always lumpy and full of mistakes), the shirt I wore to some special event that is faded and out of style and no longer fits, meaningful books that I don't plan on rereading, etc.
I've held onto a lot of them far too long but my lifestyle (and lack of storage space) just won't support them. Yet each time I throw one into the trash, it hurts.
black people will know what I mean when I demand they concede that the following people are niggers:
- Jeremiah Wright
- O.J. Simpson
- Marion Barry
- Alan Iverson
- William Jefferson
- Louis Farrakhan
- Mike Tyson
I actually think that the guy is less racist than confused about how racism works; about why blacks can say things that whites can't, about the proper language with which to approach the problem, about the trouble with using group identity to judge character, and about how real the weight of history is. Of course, those confusions are, in some sense, precisely what racism is in 2008 America. But it seems like someone with more patience could get through to this kind of racist.
It's Easter. Today we have hope.
For the first time ever, I'm doing nothing to celebrate Easter. Honestly, it snuck up on me -- it's way too early this year. Also, I have too much I need to get done today so I can't take the day to cook and laze.
The problem is: I have a lot I need to get done today and everything is closed! This sucks! I want the bank and the gym and the store and the coffee shop to be open, dammit!
I suspect that this is a small taste of what it's like to be a member of a non-Christian religion in America. So frustrating.
Genoise with orange liqueur, filled and iced with apricot buttercream, enclosed in a caramel cage.
There is absolutely no chance this thing is making it to Teaneck in the car without the cage smashing somehow. But it should still taste good.