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Chickie Rules, Guy Drools

Posted by Ogged
on 06.14.08

Bpl swam two events, and because she's an inconsiderate show-off, qualified for Masters Nationals in both. Another commenter who was supposed to compete wimped out and didn't show. I, meanwhile, bellyflopped my start and rushed my stroke and misjudged the wall (such a rookie) and didn't make my goal of breaking 40 seconds, finishing in 40.3. But! Room for improvement! And! It was a lot of fun. I had a "holy crap, I'm really about to do this" moment just before I stepped up to the blocks, but it was exciting, and practice actually paid off and I'll probably do another meet soon, maybe even in a few weeks. Don't worry, you don't have to hear about that one.


 

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Grandchild Guidance Suggested

Posted by Becks
on 06.14.08

I'm going to visit my grandparents in a couple of weeks. My grandmother loves movies but doesn't get to see many these days since she can't make it out to the movie theater and the video store in her town shut down. I was going to rent some from Netflix that I could take with me that we could watch together.

I want to rent some movies that are recent-ish that both of us would like. So as not to offend her with sex or violence, I'm thinking of movies that are PG (at most, a soft PG-13), more on the funny side but maybe a mystery.

Any ideas? I'm thinking some of the parents out there might have ideas for "family" movies that didn't suck and appealed to people of all ages.


 

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Truths Occluded By Feminist Discourse

Posted by Ogged
on 06.13.08

It's about a million times easier to shave your legs than to shave your collarbone.



 

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Shocking news deserves its own thread

Posted by Fontana Labs
on 06.13.08

I know, I can't believe R Kelly was acquitted either. Chappelle's "ignition" parody is required viewing.


 

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The Oil

Posted by Ogged
on 06.13.08

A very nice flash graphic of who's got the oil, who uses it, and who sends what where. via the arabist


 

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Suddenly it makes sense

Posted by Fontana Labs
on 06.13.08

I find reading Ross Douthat more amusing after seeing this. Many of the names are great but Tom Rutherfoord's got the best look. Not pictured: Henry van der Luyden.

Via internet hero Roy.


 

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Dickball

Posted by Becks
on 06.13.08

I hate company softball season. You can put that up there with office pizza parties as petty things I think are unfair towards women. Here's what inevitably happens: someone decides to form a team (which has to be co-ed because of antidiscriminatory policies), they realize they "need" X number of women, only X-2 sign up, and the rest of the women in the office get bullied until enough grudgingly agree to play. As, inevitably, some of the women on the team have things that come up and have to miss a game, the bullying continues on a weekly basis because the team will have to forfeit the game if they can't round up enough women to make their quota.

Fortunately, there are enough people at my current company that I've managed to avoid this fate this year but it's happened to me enough times that even hearing "softball" makes me get defensive and start thinking of excuses for things I "need" to do that night. (Hell, my old roommate used to even try to bully me into playing on her company's team when they didn't have enough women.)

I'm not against softball qua softball (if people want to play, great for them) and I know that some women love to play (and good for them) but the quota system behind coed teams is crap. First, it sends the message that women are obviously and necessarily inferior and treats them like second-class players, and I have to wonder what kind of message defining women as a handicap sends in a corporate environment among peers. Also, in the age of Title IX, it's not necessarily going to be true that all women are inferior to the men. They don't make other rules based on these assumptions, like "each team must have an equal number of people over 40." Finally, it sets women up for blame and ostracism - if enough women don't play, it's all their fault that we had to forfeit and lost. Why can't you be a team player? Why'd you have to ruin our fun?

I'm not saying the solution is to abolish softball leagues. The answer is to get rid of the quotas. Assume that both men and women are capable enough to play on the team and let whoever wants sign up, and then set up some kind of way to ensure everyone (no matter gender, age, whatever) gets a fair shot at playing. I think it's time that Generation Awesome stands up and says that women can play ball with the boys and these quota rules are antiquated. And if we don't want to play, leave us the hell alone.


 

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Honky...Where It Counts!

Posted by Ogged
on 06.12.08

Frankly, I'm a little freaked out by the whole thing.


 

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Uniquely American

Posted by Becks
on 06.12.08

Ogged beat me to blogging the free speech article but what struck me even more were the other articles in the series about things America does that almost no other countries do when I clicked through at lunch today. I never realized that bail (especially paying through a bond) and putative damages were such outliers -- until reading those articles, they both seem like normal parts of any justice system to me. Although electing judges? There's no doubt that's uniquely fucked up.


 

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Free Speech

Posted by Ogged
on 06.12.08

Interesting article about the fact that America is almost alone in the world in having a nearly absolute commitment to free speech; several Western-style democracies ban some speech that's hateful or offensive. I grew up in the US (and have family that lived under a repressive government) so my natural reaction is that of course America is right and all the other countries are wrong and...well, and what? It's dogma in the US that if you give up a strong commitment to the right of free speech, you're well on the way to tyranny, but we have now several countries with a softer commitment to it and, frankly, we've come a lot closer to tyranny lately than they have. So what are the prudential or slippery slope arguments in favor of the American conception of free speech that take into account the experience of these other countries?


 

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Real People

Posted by Ogged
on 06.12.08

Via the Jesus, portraits of phone sex operators. Really great photos; safe for work.


 

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Good News

Posted by Ogged
on 06.12.08

A 5-4 decision, with Kennedy writing for the majority.

The Supreme Court ruled Thursday that foreign terrorism suspects held at Guantanamo Bay have rights under the Constitution to challenge their detention in U.S. civilian courts.

...

Justice Anthony Kennedy, writing for the court, said, "The laws and Constitution are designed to survive, and remain in force, in extraordinary times."

...

The court said not only that the detainees have rights under the Constitution, but that the system the administration has put in place to classify them as enemy combatants and review those decisions is inadequate.

Barack Obama, '08.


 

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Playing God, in perspective.

Posted by Apostropher
on 06.12.08

Carl Zimmer:

Imagine that mad scientists defied nature and violated the barriers between species. They injected human DNA into non-human creatures, altering their genomes into chimeras--unnatural fusions of man and beast. The goal of the scientists was to enslave these creatures, to exploit their cellular machinery for human gain. The creatures began to produce human proteins, so many of them that they become sick, in some cases even dying. The scientists harvest the proteins, and then, breaching the sacred barrier between species yet again, people injected the unnatural molecules into their own bodies.

This may sound like a futuristic nightmare, the kind that we will only experience if we neglect our moral compass and let science go berserk. But it is actually happening right now. Today millions of people with diabetes will inject themselves with insulin that was produced by E. coli.

Nobody looks askance at this today but in 1980, as Zimmer explains, there were plenty of scientists ringing alarm bells about the potential ill whirlwinds to be reaped from monkeying with the DNA of bacteria. Next up, getting E.coli to crap gasoline.


 

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"Intending To Upload Something Else"

Posted by LizardBreath
on 06.11.08

One of the finest libertarian minds on the federal bench:

An obscenity trial in Los Angeles federal court was suspended today after The Times reported that the judge presiding over the case has maintained his own publicly accessible website featuring sexually explicit photos and videos.

Alex Kozinski, chief judge of the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, acknowledged in an interview with The Times that he had posted the materials, which included a photo of naked women on all fours painted to look like cows and a video of a half-dressed man cavorting with a sexually aroused farm animal. Some of the material was inappropriate, he conceded, although he defended other sexually explicit content as "funny."...

Kozinski said he would delete some material from his site, including the photo depicting women as cows, which he said was "degrading . . . and just gross." He also said he planned to get rid of a graphic step-by-step pictorial in which a woman is seen shaving her pubic hair.

Kozinski said he must have accidentally uploaded those images to his server while intending to upload something else. "I would not keep those files intentionally," he said. The judge pointed out that he never used appeals court computers to maintain the site.

(Hat tip John Cole)


 

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Randall Munroe, philosopher of science

Posted by Ben
on 06.11.08

Either he hasn't thought a lot about the reducibility of the concepts of any one of the disciplines to those of its immediately righthand neighbor, something that I take it the notion of application implies, or he has thought quite a bit about that, but has declined to give us a persuasive argument. (Although, to be fair, he doesn't say that physics is applied mathematics, just that mathematics is more pure than is physics—and aren't these questions of purity and relative application in fact orthogonal?)


 

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Age

Posted by Ogged
on 06.11.08

Guys in their thirties (particularly, I think, guys who have been athletic (or taxed their body partying)) joke a lot about feeling old and broken down. Partly it's just true: you can't do the things you used to do, or can't do them quite as well, and you have new aches and pains. That truth gets emphasized because it's among the first intimations of mortality (10%) and because it's a good excuse for sucking (90%). I've long been a prime age-griper, but even so, I believed that if I just put my head down and trained, I could recapture former glory. But it turns out that age isn't just a name for a life situation (job, kids, relationships, less time to exercise, etc.) but, you know, a biological fact. Trying to train twice a day for the past few months has made this rather clear to me; after a few days of back to back workouts, I've been spent, with muscles and tendons that refuse to recover in what I remember as a reasonable amount of time.

One mistake is that I'm trying to hush those intimations of mortality by doing something (a breaststroke sprint) that relies on explosiveness in the legs, which, as any old athlete will tell you, is exactly the thing that goes first. If I'd been sensible and trained for a triathlon, like the other people who are scared of aging, I could feel like I've "still got it."

Even more than cancer, which isn't necessarily a disease of the old, and can randomly strike at any age, it's this palpable slow decline of the body that feels, I don't know...urgent. The sense is that the one body I have is being slowly scraped away, and like all those metaphors of time passing behind your back, in imperceptibly small increments, it's a little bit terrifying.


 

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Beercakes!

Posted by Ben
on 06.11.08

As part of my project better to understand human customs related to socializing, interaction, and the exchange of pleasantries, I read this morning morning's mthe Larousse Gastronomique's entry on beer, wherein I learned some interesting titbits, mainly concerning national customs. "Beer is the drink of the people", as the section headed "Beer around the world" informed me, but different peoples drink beer differently: thus in Germany there is a "custom of drinking beer all the year round at at every opportunity", while cooking with beer is "especially popular" in Belgium; Dutch beers, such as Heineken, are quite bitter, while beers in the United States are "very light, delicately flavoured with just ahint of bitterness" and "are drunk very cold"; also, "corn is widespread as an adjunct" in the brewing process, where it enjoys reduced pay, little to no job security, and heavy teaching loads. The Czech Republic is "a land of breweries, making the full range".

That was interesting enough, but the real gold was in the "Consumption" section—recall my project. There I learned that "beer is served with meals and as a refreshment". Brilliant! But what really caught my eye was the claim that beer is used instead of yeast in the preparation of pancakes. Beer pancakes! I want some! But there is no recipe for same in the entire book (there is, right in that section, a recipe for carp cooked in beer), nor in any of my other books. But perhaps one of you has one?


 

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An Excess Of Class

Posted by Ogged
on 06.11.08

I went to a local private high school yesterday, where The Coach was going to be for our lesson, and it was the first time that I've been to a school so swank that I thought "even if I had the money for this, I wouldn't send my kid here." I have a typical Iranian immigrant's love for education and privilege, which means sending kids to the "best possible" school, which in practice ends up meaning the most expensive and exclusive schools, but this place (annual tuition ~$30,000; the google satellite view doesn't really illustrate how country-clubby it was, although you can see all the tennis courts, the sweet football field and track, and the (gorgeous) Olympic-sized pool) was so far removed from anything that seems like real life that it would feel like a disservice to cloister one's children there.

Then again, maybe the kids who go to schools like this run in these circles their whole lives, and that is the real world to them. Seems unlikely, but I wouldn't know.


 

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Dirty, Disrespectful Outsiders

Posted by LizardBreath
on 06.11.08

Bloggingheads had a segment the other day with Jonathan Haidt talking about his work as a moral psychologist. His big insight is that people experience moral intuitions along five axes: harm reduction, reciprocity and fairness, purity, respect for authority, and in-group loyalty. Of those five axes, highly educated upper-middle-class Westerners, and in that group liberals more than conservatives, tend to define only the first two axes, harm reduction and fairness, as really about morality, and think of the other three as being matters of personal preference or emotional reaction rather than right and wrong; in contrast, most people outside that fairly small class feel that all five axes are of comparable moral importance. In political matters, he argues that liberals are disadvantaged by speaking this impoverished language of morality: most people feel that in-group loyalty, purity, and respect for authority are matters of fundamental importance, and liberals don't give those concerns the weight they deserve - to create a more appealing message, liberals would need to talk more about those issues.

Descriptively, I can buy this as a characterization of liberal versus conservative morality, and agree that conservatives are more in tune with most people than liberals in this regard. But the advice to focus on the three neglected axes of morality, particularly in the US, is nutty and unworkable. Liberal morality doesn't focus on harm reduction and fairness arbitrarily, it focuses on them because they are the only bases for morality that function reasonably when you are trying to consider the claims of people outside of your own ingroup.

In principle, any two people can agree on what actions are fair or cause least harm, regardless of their affiliations. ("In principle" is doing a lot of work in that sentence, I admit.) But when you start talking about 'purity', you find that there's not just a conflict between people who think purity is important and those who don't, there's a conflict among any of the million possible standards for bodily purity: non-smoking vegetarians don't have common ground with Orthodox Jews despite the fact that they both have strong purity-based moral feelings about what they eat. The same thing with ingroup loyalty: the essence of ingroup loyalty is treating people inside your group better, or at least differently, than people outside it. Two people who have a strong belief in ingroup loyalty aren't going to be able to sympathize with each other on that basis unless they're members of the same ingroup. Same with respect for authority - it all depends on the identity of the authority to be respected.

And the US is very much not a homogeneous society for these purposes (very, very few countries are - maybe Samoa and similar, but nothing much bigger than that - but the US is one of the more heterogeneous societies out there). Any political program focusing on, or giving any real weight at all to, purity, respect for authority, and ingroup loyalty is going to have to select a favored ingroup, and disadvantage everyone else: not purity in the abstract, but purity by that group's standards; not loyalty generally, but loyalty to members of that group; not respect for authority generally, but respect for the leaders of that group. Taking this seriously, it's a horrific idea: if the favored group isn't liberal upper middle class New Yorkers, I'm going to hate it, and suffer from the effects; if is, most of the rest of the country will hate it and suffer.

Highly educated upper-middle-class liberals have strong values relating to the purity (vegetarianism! second-hand smoke! bottled water! organic food!), ingroup loyalty ("Keep Austin Weird"), and respect for authority (Al Gore is teh shit!) axes, just like everyone else. As a political program, though, we try (imperfectly) to recognize that we live in an incredibly pluralistic society, and where policies based on our values can't be justified by harm reduction and fairness, imposing those particular values on other groups is wrong. Impoverished my political morality may be, but I can't see any way that a 'richer' morality, based on all five axes, doesn't turn into xenophobia and oppression if you base a political program on it. And I'd really rather not participate in that, either from the underside or on top.


 

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If the unwanted squeezing of W-lfs-n's genitals is a crime, let me be guilty!

Posted by Fontana Labs
on 06.11.08

Look, that's just the kind of guy I am:

Cargol's 2001 resignation stemmed from allegations made by a Northern Arizona employee who alleged that Cargol, while naked in a locker room, grabbed the employee's genitals, the Arizona Republic reported. In a subsequent e-mail to the employee, Cargol described himself as "a rub-your-belly, grab-your-balls, give-you-a-hug, slap-your-back, pull-your-dick, squeeze-your-hand, cheek-your-face, and pat-your-thigh kind of guy."

Yglesias made me read that.


 

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This is not instruction

Posted by Ben
on 06.10.08

The above-mentioned Horatian epistle [Ars Poetica] is full of these reflections, and, therefore, is a book for all men, but one which for this very reason contains much that amounts to nothing, e.g.—

Omne tulit punctum qui miscuit utile dulci
Lectorem delectando pariterque monendo

"He carries all votes, who has mingled the pleasant and the useful, by at once charming and instructing his reader." This just like so many copybook headings, e.g. "Stay at home and earn an honest livelihood", which are right enough as generalities, but lack the concrete determinations on which action depends. (Hegel, Introductory Lectures on Aesthetics)

It would be churlish of me to make my reader, who is no doubt curious as to what my purpose might be in quoting Hegel quoting Horace, assuming he does me the kindness of assuming that I have a purpose other than that of attempting to appear learnéd without appearing to want to appear learnéd—for what would be the point of that?—a kindness that I have, arguably, not in fact earned, wade first, before he can gain satisfaction in the paragraph, or paragraphs (since I have not written it or them yet, I do not know how many they will be), below, through a peroration on that great hobby-horse of mine, scilicet, the placement of ordinary articles of punctuation within, or without, quotation marks, when the punctuation logically belongs to the purpose of the author quoting, and not the figure (for she may not have been an author) quoted, even though it is interesting to note that the horse in question is very curiously outfitted in the passage quoted above, as anyone can see who takes the time to peruse it, since I have not, except, owing to my not being British, to substitute double quotation marks (rabbit ears, as they are known) for the original single quotation marks (sparks), altered it in any wise, out of consideration for the fact that it would be a shame to obscure the remarkable disposition of commas, periods, and quotation marks, for in that text, in contravention to all conventions known to man, we find the period enclosed within the closing quotation mark, while the comma cavorts gaily without—so, interesting as I would find such a discussion, I will not engage in one here, and will rather go straight to the heart of the matter forthwith, even though I am, in my inmost being, a churl.

This article will not actually enable you to win the New Yorker Caption Contest, since the advice it offers basically amounts to "make it funny, but not too funny, and simple, but not too simple.". Its chief interest, as far as I can tell, is that it makes extremely gentle fun of the contest, its entrants, and its readers, something that is always popular both with the "edgy" readers of the magazine and the "edgy" nonreaders. With the "edgy", one might say. Cutting to the quick. As it were.


 

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Slow Boil

Posted by Ogged
on 06.10.08

It's really not looking good for the NBA (or David Stern). Yes, Donaghy has credibiity issues, but he's not saying anything fans haven't thought for a while.


 

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Honest To God

Posted by Ogged
on 06.10.08

Last night I dreamt Hillary Clinton naked, on her back, masturbating her penis until it spewed geysers of semen.


 

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A Different Country

Posted by Ogged
on 06.10.08

In my wanderings, I came across Dr. X's Free Associations, which is a great blog with a vintage photo every day.

I'm particularly fond of this one.


 

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Relaxed

Posted by Ogged
on 06.10.08

I love this picture.


 

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Sober, Bitches!

Posted by Alameida
on 06.10.08

I've been sober for 2 years as of today. You young bloods out there might like to read the archives for that whole liveblogging rehab period. That was some funny shit right there. Also, last year my lovely blogging friends banded together to give me a thoughtful gift, but did I thank them? No, because I am a loser. A sober loser.

I should also say, hey a few blog people who are out there, you know how you want to stop drinking or using drugs but you can't? And you wake up every morning in a panic at 5:30am, wishing you had died in your sleep and racking your brains for what you might have done the night before while blacked out? But by 5 that afternoon you're half-way lit up and/or calling your dealer? And every day you plan to quit tomorrow? Y'all should just head right down to your local AA or NA meetings and do what the nice people tell you. There's free coffee! Plus you get to meet lots of people who are as crazy as you but conveniently are sober all the time, not like the so-called "squares" and "amateur drinkers" whom you imagine to constitute all of the sober world.

When I was at my worst period of using drugs (ecstasy+speedballs=near-death fun) I found a pink NA T-shirt in my size at the thrift store in San Leandro, CA that said "It works when you work it!" on the back. I thought it was funny. I was going to wear it to school, but then I thought, my students will think I am addicted to drugs. Which, you know, I was, but they would also wrongly think I was in recovery? In the end I never wore the shirt except to a few raves. As it turns out...it actually works when you work it.

My husband asked me how I dealt with the whole quasi-religious aspect of letting a higher power conveniently relieve you of the tyranny of addiction, and I told him the truth: I decided that having an internally coherent and consistent world view was less important than being clean and sober and happy. People will tell you about how their worst day now is better than their best day using or drinking at the end and this is annoying but absolutely true. Being an addict is hellish and miserable. Being a normal drinker or someone who likes to get high but isn't addicted to drugs is perfectly fine, and I wish such a person joy of it. Dude, drink some Maker's Mark for me, because booze is great! And smoke weed! You can even use heroin responsibly! (For real. Most of the negative things about dope are by-products of its non-legal nature rather than intrinsic demerits. Alcohol is actually a more dangerous drug in my really, really well-formed opinion.)

Unrelatedly, I will be coming through NYC June 24-???, let's say 27. Is there any place we could have a meetup that would be at night but children could go there? On the 26th, maybe? They don't let children in bars, right? I am prepared for this to be a quixotic enterprise and possibly just see a few people here and there. My children can stay up crazy late because it takes them ages to shift the clock around 12 hours. But they don't have fake IDs.


 

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Backfill

Posted by Ogged
on 06.10.08

mrh has done what the rest of us lazy slugs have not, and set up the Pundit Predictions site. Now he needs our help in getting some content up so that it's a compelling site for first-time visitors, and that means we need to find some predictions that have already been proven either true or false (or predictions that will be coming due in the next week or so). Something like this:

My prediction: Surprise Clinton win [in Wisconsin] as complacent Obama supporters don't bother to turn out in the cold. This will pave the way to the ultimate vindication of my "Clinton will win" prediction of a week or so ago.

Help the brother out.


 

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I'm Liking This

Posted by LizardBreath
on 06.09.08

Apparently Obama is bringing in Elizabeth Edwards to work on his health care plan. This seems like an excellent move, both substantively and politically. I think she's great, policy-wise, on health care, and she seems as if she'd be appealing to precisely the demographics he's having trouble with. I hope she ends up being very visible for the campaign.


 

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Bar Night

Posted by LizardBreath
on 06.09.08

Megan has emerged from the archives and is making a farewell-to-blogging tour of the East Coast. She'll be in New York Monday, June 9, which I figure makes for an excellent excuse for us to meet up at Fresh Salt to say hi. As an added attraction, my twentieth high school reunion will have been on June 7, so I can be expected to be twitchy and drinking heavily, leading to wacky hijinx.

Update: Tonight! Comment if you're planning to show up.


 

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Solved

Posted by Ogged
on 06.09.08

Tyler Cowen on how long you should wait for an elevator.

The technical approach is to model the arrival of the elevator as a mathematical process, set up the problem, and solve it. The seat of the pants approach is to ask about your psychological biases. Are you, in the first place, more likely to spend too much or too little time waiting for elevators? In my view standing and waiting isn't so bad, provided you have something to do or think about. So my advice is this: once you start waiting for an elevator, begin to think through some interesting problem you face. The ideal is that when the elevator arrives, you will be disappointed and of course that means you have hedged your risk in the first place. The question that people screw up is not how long they should wait but what they should do in the meantime.

If you've finished thinking about your problem and the elevator still isn't there, take the stairs.

 

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Predictions: A Test

Posted by Ogged
on 06.09.08

I'm casually looking for predictions as I read today. Kevin Drum loves 'em.

I'll bet that Obama never has much less than a five point lead for the rest of the campaign
it's pretty obvious that this is the direction things are going. McCain seems likely to make this into a pretty ugly campaign.

Krauthammer probably didn't mean this one seriously, but like your mother always said, never give a cripple a break.

By the time I write next year's edition, you'll be paying for gas in bullion.

Surely you've read some predictions today. Put them in the comments, please.


 

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Cal State-Compton

Posted by Fontana Labs
on 06.09.08

Snoop Dogg: "A lot of people like to fool you and say that you're not smart if you never went to college, but common sense rules over everything. That's what I learned from selling crack."


 

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Know Your Audience

Posted by Ogged
on 06.09.08

The 9:52am photo from Gizmodo notes that Walt Mossberg, dean of gadget reviewers, is in attendance at the Apple announcement today. But fails to mention that that's Al Leader of the Free World Gore in the background


 

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Polls predict unprecedented Obama landslide.

Posted by Apostropher
on 06.09.08

If we can figure out a way to hold the election in Europe, that is.

A poll in late May of five major countries -- Britain, France, Germany, Italy and Russia -- showed Sen. Obama getting 52% support, compared with 15% for Sen. McCain. In France, 65% favor Sen. Obama, compared with 8% for Sen. McCain, according to the poll for the United Kingdom's Daily Telegraph newspaper. Another poll published online Saturday in Belgium's Le Soir newspaper showed Belgians prefer Sen. Obama over Sen. McCain 74% to 12%.

"Belgians are rooting for Obama because, let's face it, the guy knows what he's talking about, especially compared to Bush," says St├ęphane Mangnay, a 34-year-old house husband in Villers-la-Ville.


 

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iPhone Day

Posted by Becks
on 06.09.08

I'm way excited about today's expected announcement of the new iPhone. I've been wanting one for a while but have made myself wait until the second version is released, since I knew it was on the horizon. Speculate wildly here, gadget geeks.


 

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