So Obama's filmed an ad endorsing Representative John Barrow (D-Georgia) against a progressive primary challenger, Regina Thomas. To get a sense of Barrow:
When running for re-election, he ran ads accusing his own party of wanting to "cut and run in Iraq," and was one of the 21 Blue Dogs to send a letter to Nancy Pelosi demanding that they be allowed to vote for the Rockefeller/Cheney Senate bill to give warrantless eavesdropping powers to the President and amnesty to lawbreaking telecoms.
Obviously, no one expected Obama to be perfect -- he's probably got some political reason why endorsing this guy seems unavoidable. But it does make you see the downside, from a supporter's point of view, of Obama's campaign relying on thousands and thousands of small donations; while he may not be obligated to big donors, he's also not obligated to small progressive donors in any way that allows us to easily communicate that he's not making us happy.
You know what I'd really like to see? A couple of big progressive sites that raise a lot of money start a fundraising campaign for Thomas couched explicitly as "Thinking of giving to Obama? Take the same money and send it to the Thomas campaign; when he gets elected, he'll need Representatives like her keeping him honest." If it took off, and got some publicity, it might get the point across to the Obama campaign.
So, the other night at a gig, a group of well-groomed twenty-something guys walked in while my band was playing, a cloud of musk trailing behind them. Normally, this sort of thing—a group of dudes who wear too much cologne—wouldn't turn my head. But this night was different.
In the mix of four or five different scents, one stood out: it was the same cologne I smelled all the time when living in Chile. A sweet, distinctive smell. I've wondered what it was ever since.
(I should note, at this point, that, according to the canon, the use of cologne is deprecated, so this post will probably melt the blog or something. My condolences, in advance.)
Fast-forward to the end of the gig. The musk-eteers are gregariously cheersing beers and chatting with us about the band. I eventually give them a good-natured hard time about wearing too much cologne, noting that one of them in particular seems to be wearing a brand I've never been able to identify.
Which is when it got really weird. They all offered their necks for smelling. Which I did. And I found the guy—a Colombian, who informed me it was Dolce & Gabbana Something or Other. Success! After all these years!
Except that, now, deep inside, I kind of want to buy some. Because I'm a terrible, terrible person.
This comic speaks to me.
I oppose the failed policies of the past. Furthermore, I oppose the failed policies of the present, the soon-to-fail policies of the future, the plenary policies of failure, and especially the policy of having sex with one pony without offering to include any of its pony friends, which you might want to ask my opponent about. Whatever, I'm not going to demagogue this issue.
Witnesses can verify that, after Croatia scored its goal, and with something like a minute and a half left in the second overtime half, I observed that there was still time for Turkey to tie it up.
My new favorite entry in Wikipedia is the one for Coordinated Universal Time. Reading between the lines, it's obvious that the international timekeeping community must be full of bitchy backstabbing doomsday drama queens. I bet they're awesome at parties.
English speakers and French speakers each wanted the initials of their respective languages' terms to be used internationally: "CUT" for "coordinated universal time" and "TUC" for "temps universel coordonné". This resulted in the final compromise of using "UTC".
I can picture the hands thrown up in exasperation. I wonder if the person who proposed "UTC" was being facetious and then was shocked when it was actually adopted or if it was suggested in exhausted desperation after the end of a soul-crushing day.
And then there's the issue that we're going to need to keep adding more leap seconds because the Earth's tides are slowing down its rotation. Presently, there's a leap second every 500 days, but:
As the Earth's rotation continues to slow, positive leap seconds will be required more frequently....At the end of the 21st century LOD will be roughly 86,400.004 s, requiring leap seconds every 250 days....Sometime in the 22nd century, two leap seconds will be required every year....In the 25th century, four leap seconds will be required every year, so the current quarterly options will be insufficient. Thereafter there will need to be the possibility of leap seconds at the end of any month. In about two thousand years even that will become insufficient, and there will have to be leap seconds that are not at the end of a month.In a few tens of thousands of years (the timing is very uncertain) LOD will exceed 86,401 s, causing the current form of UTC to break down due to requiring more than one leap second per day. It would be possible to then continue with double leaps, but this becomes increasingly untenable. Both the one-leap-second-per-month and one-leap-second-per-day milestones are considered (by different theorists) to mark the theoretical limit of the applicability of UTC.
Increasingly untenable! I'm sure glad I'm not going to be around in 2,000 years to see multiple leap seconds a month. That shit's going to be utter chaos. I just hope they'll have enough time to figure out a solution before it hits.
There is a proposal to redefine UTC and abolish leap seconds, such that sundials would slowly get further out of sync with civil time. The resulting gradual shift of the sun's movements relative to civil time is analogous to the shift of seasons relative to the yearly calendar that results from the calendar year not precisely matching the tropical year length. This would be a major practical change in civil timekeeping, but would take effect slowly over several centuries. An ITU study group is to vote on this possibility during 2008.Can I go? SIGN ME UP. I'm sure there will be fistfights in the hallways.
Well, look at it this way: Is there any similarity between "having an actual affair" and having sex with a prostitute while you're married? I think most people would answer yes. Then consider: Is there any similarity between having sex with a prostitute while you're married and paying to watch a prostitute perform sexual acts for your voyeuristic gratification? Again, I think a lot of people would say yes: There's a distinction, obviously, but I don't think all that many spouses would be inclined to forgive their husbands (or wives) if they explained that they only liked to watch the prostitute they'd hired. And hard-core porn, in turn, is nothing more than an indirect way of paying someone to fulfill the same sort of voyeuristic fantasies: It's prostitution in all but name, filtered through middlemen, magazine editors, and high-speed internet connections. Is it as grave a betrayal as cheating on your spouse with a co-worker? Not at all. But is it on a moral continuum with adultery? I don't think it's insane to say yes.
Oi. I think it was Sextus Empiricus [if it wasn't, it should have been] who argued that incest is permissible because touching your mother's toe with your finger is permissible and all the rest is merely a matter of degree. This was a funny joke at the time because it hadn't been made a kajillion times before, but Ross doesn't have that excuse and he doesn't appear to be kidding.
If you too want to be a pain in the ass in this way, I refer you here. It's easy and fun! And that's the problem: all sorts of things can be lined up on a continuum, and once you've got the series you can move bit by bit from one end to the other. (Peter Railton has a nice paper on related issues with the clunky title "How thinking about character and utilitarianism might lead to rethinking the character of utilitarianism.")
Further musings: on re-reading Ross's post and its Sanchez quote, I'm amused by the pains taken to identify "hardcore" pornography and "anything beyond Playboy" as the real problem, as if there we might finally encounter a sharp line. "Honey, I would have been mad if you'd paid prostitutes to have sex in front of you, but if they just took off their clothes after you smeared your retinas with vaseline, hey, that's cool."
Something, aside from their not being funny, is grievously wrong with at least two of the finalists for the current NYer caption contest. (The clear winner is the second honorable mention here. In fact, both of the honorable mentions are way better than either of the finalists.)
- "Will No. 3 please step forward and achieve satori."
- "It's always a problem for us when a crime is committed on Halloween."
- "By the way, we are not allowed to show the face or image of No. 6."
In particular, regarding the third, is it not the case that Jews and Christians are kinda sorta also not supposed to make images of their deity-in-chief? (Referring to "show[ing] the face" thereof is also a little misplaced, since (a) it's not up to you, guy and (b) you may not want to anyway (33:20, obvs, but I link to the chapter rather than the verse in question the better to enable y'all to see the slickness of that site. It's pretty slick!).)
And why is the Japanese term for enlightenment used?
The whole "bugs that light up" thing? It sounds like a weird idea, but a park full of fireflies at dusk is very attractive.
The park I walk through to get home from the subway is full of them; more so than most places. I wonder what it is that makes good firefly habitat.
I hate to bleg, but could anyone recommend a gentle way of hazing the n00bs and signaling in-group identity? Ideally it would be funny in a dramatic-ironical way.
Cross-posted to Unfogged.
My sincerest apologies for the delay. By way of explanation, I'll tell you that ogged (PBUH), in an eleventh-hour bid to produce just one more swimming post, pulled quite the prank at the Unfogged After-Hours Spa and Bathhouse (video below). And, as befits all systems of tenure, the dirty work of cleaning up was left to the n00bs, which really cut into our posting time.
Anyway, hi there. I've got keys to the blog, and I'm stepping on the gas. I'll try not to crash into anything.
Oh, and here's that swimming-prank footage from beyond the O-man's internet grave—possibly your final swimming post ever (yes, yes, until ogged quits quitting again):
I was saying in my last post that I thought alcohol is a more dangerous drug than heroin. One way in which you can see this is in withdrawal: alcohol withdrawal can, and frequently does, kill people. Kicking heroin feels horrible and all, much like the worst flu ever, as Emerson's friend opined. You can't sleep, everything hurts, you've got the shits. But you don't hallucinate and then have a fatal seizure. Likewise, drunk people get up to a lot of trouble. Heroin addiction is associated with crime because addicts commit crimes to get cash, usually property crimes of a minor sort, I think, though no doubt there's some junkie murderer out there. But junkies who have access to cheap drugs and clean works just...sit there being wasted. Drunk people, by contrast--Jesus, can you even imagine what percentage of violent crimes are committed while the perpetrator or victim was drunk?
I have a sponsee now, which is very exciting. A Singaporean heroin addict, she has used off and on, sometimes staying clean for a few years, in and out of jail, but is just now giving the 12-step thing the old college try. She's been clean for like 9 months now, even as her husband has been slipping back, using prescription drugs, using heroin at their place. Normal people probably can't appreciate how amazing it is that she has been able to see him using, see the drugs and all, and just walk out of the apartment and spend the whole night pacing around and smoking and sitting in the empty concrete stairwell of her block until the sun finally rose at 7. Here at the equator it goes from pitch black to daylight incredibly fast, no waiting around in the horrible paling gray.
We've been doing 'step-work', which basically involves her writing about 12-step readings, and then we talk about it. There are worksheets, too; think of your 3 worst experiences using, what excuses did you give for your behavior, etc. You're supposed to be confronted with your own powerlessness when you're forced to recall these embarrassing details and share them with another person. The thing that really struck me about her story is that almost all of her worst incidents involved not heroin, but alcohol. She boosted some stuff to feed her habit one or two times, sure, but in terms of real, awful experiences, it was all happening when she was drunk.
The other interesting thing is her attitude towards the state that imprisoned her for possession for so many years. I was angry on her behalf, because I think it's a terrible system of laws. She was more philosophical, taking the view that the government meant her well, that they were trying to force her onto the right path but their efforts failed because of her own weakness. The time in jail itself she speaks of almost positively. No drugs (unlike in a US jail), healthy food that wasn't bad at all, nothing to do but get exercise, read, and educate herself (she did her A levels from prison, tutoring herself with a workbook.) She did a lot of self-reflection, but it was never enough to keep her clean once the gates swung open.
Sometimes I feel awkward about giving her advice. She's older than I am, and I'm sure sometimes she thinks, "easy for you to say, you rich-ass expat." I just have to do my best, and try to tell her what my sponsor told me. "I did this shit and it saved my life" is a powerful message.
In the comments, BitchPhD opines: "So basically what's happened is Ogged convinced the remaining bloggers to just run the blog as far into the ground as they could. It's like a test to see which of the commenters really are pathetic enough to keep hanging around."
This, of course, is absurd. We're doing our best, and there's bound to be an adjustment period. Anyhow, Ogged left in order to devote more time to his two great loves, swimming and performance art. We got the report on last week's meet, but with Ogged's self-imposed exile, I suppose it falls to me to provide updates on his creative development. You'll notice that the hair has not yet begun to grow back on his legs, but that's just wallowing in Unfogged minutiae for its own sake. More importantly, he's making a powerful statement about the challenges of self-conception for an Iranian-American in a time when those two countries view each other as implacable enemies. I think you'll understand what I mean, but it's important to view the whole thing, as the dilemma he's attempting to illustrate is complex and not easily condensed.
Why does http://unfogged.com call its advice sections "Ask the Mineshaft" anyway?
His commenter answers:
I thought it was due to the old Dilbert cartoon.
I would like new glasses—for that matter, I would like prescription sunglasses, since the good lord above surely knows that with non-prescription sunglasses I'd be nearly as blind as a bat, and my hearing's not nearly good enough for me to repay that debt the way bats do. So I calls up my eye doctor guy today, I calls, and ask for a copy of my prescription, and am informed that, since it's four years old, no one will fill it.
It already seems strange to me that one actually needs a prescription in order to get glasses ("corrective lenses"); wearing them without cause would, I suppose, do one's vision a mischief, and there might therefore be a medical reason to take such things from such a one. (Not that lens-grinders have to swear the Hippocratic Oath.) But suppose someone did want to get corrective glasses, but hadn't had an eye exam—why not?
After all, such a person might simply want new frames, something which would, after all, require new lenses and whatnot, and hence the furnishing to the provisioner of same of the “prescription”. Sure: in the period of time between the original prescribing and the current purchasing, the poor person's vision might well have changed; the new lenses, made according to the old prescription, might not actually be suited to his vision. But of course, if this person is just getting replacement glasses, then the glasses he's currently wearing will also be inadequate, in just the same way, so any argument to the effect that a new eye exam ought be required after a certain time period if one wants new glasses is also an argument that a new eye exam ought be required tout court. Which is ridiculous.
It may be, of course, that lens and frames–vending establishments just won't care about the age of the prescription, but who would want to have dealings with such unscrupulous blackguards?
Althouse is liveblogging Michelle Obama on The View.
After the break, they bring out Matthew Broderick. I think he's wearing a bad wig. He's got a bulky black suit on and a red tie. He fist bumps everyone, and then sit down on little puffy gold chairs. He crosses his legs just like Joy Behar. He's not wearing pantyhose, but white and black striped socks. He has largish feet.
There, you're now significantly dumber than you were twenty seconds ago.
UPDATE: for bonus loathing, read the comments.
We are still waiting to see Michele's LSAT scores. It would be nice to know if she got a special preference or if she was accepted on merit. I guess some poor soul who lost their spot to Obama and ended up going to the UW rather than Harvard is missing out on the $300k salary at a 9-5 job.
I'm eagerly awaiting some affirmative-action jabs from the legacy hires at NRO.
TPM reports the latest swing state polling from Quinnipiac.
Obama (D) 47%, McCain (R) 43%
Margin of error: ±2.6%
Obama (D) 48%, McCain (R) 42%
Margin of error: ±2.6%
Obama (D) 52%, McCain (R) 40%
Margin of error: ±2.5%
It's a long way to November, obviously, but better to start out ahead than behind. Some of the internals are also interesting.
Florida: "Thirteen percent of those who voted for President Bush in 2004 now support Obama. And 19 percent of those who backed Clinton in the primaries now support McCain. Obama gets a 48 - 33 percent favorability rating, with 47 - 35 percent for McCain."
Ohio: "Again, 13 percent of those who voted for Bush in 2004 now back Obama, while 25 percent of those who backed Clinton in the primaries now support McCain. Voters give Obama a 52 - 29 percent favorability, with 46 - 33 percent for McCain."
Pennsylvania: "Nineteen percent of the people who voted for Bush in 2004 now back Obama, while 24 percent of the voters who supported Clinton in the primaries now back McCain. Obama gets a 54 - 25 percent favorability, to 43 - 33 percent for McCain."
I know, I know, another damn politics thread. But you guys scared away all the new bloggers.
I went to see a play a couple of weeks ago and there were a bunch of teenagers in front of me who were texting all throughout the first act, the lights of their phones flashing every few minutes or so. During a movie it's bad enough but during a play, it's unforgivable. An usher finally went up and said something to them and they stopped.
I thanked the usher for intervening and he told me his trick for getting people to stop texting during plays. He used to appeal to people using pleas about respect or distracting the actors, but people didn't care and kept on texting. Now he tells them that their text messages are showing up on the actors' teleprompters and they should stop because everyone backstage is reading their texts. I guess we can be grateful for the intersection between self-interest and stupidity.
It warms the heart, does it not?
We have some new bloggers lined up and they'll be coming on board in the near future. We decided not to announce the new crew this time, instead letting them make the entrances they see fit once they heal from the elaborate initiation rites. I'm sure you'll show them the same kindness and love that you shower upon us and, for that, I apologize to them in advance.
After the sagas of the Ex, the TiVo, and GFEs, it only makes sense that Ogged draw his blogging arc to a close on the day he gets married. My sincerest congratulations, dear friend.
I realize this is a particularly egregious violation of pacing, given the nature of Ogged's post below, but I am ill-mannered. Everybody please grab a glass and stand.
Once again, Ogged leaves us to embark upon his vision quest, and thereby come finally into the full flower of manhood. One hopes. Last time, of course, he just came back with 16.7% fewer kidneys and a gift certificate to the French Laundry but, as the saying goes, if at first you don't succeed, just keep quitting until you do. Or something. Though I still believe he'd be best served retreating to a desert cave with a pet piglet like Saint Anthony of Egypt, this journey is his alone to choose. So swim meets and BPL it is and, while probably insufficiently monastic for Ogged to attain the elongated earlobes of enlightenment, a guy could choose worse fates. Perhaps Labs could send him one of his sets of earlobe spreaders. Or maybe that would create unacceptable drag in the pool. I don't have the answers, see, and that just goes to show that we all have some deep questions to ponder during the lonely nights ahead.
As you've no doubt surmised, those of us with keys to the basement here knew this was coming and have, consequently, moved further through the Kübler-Ross stages of grieving than most of you. Sympathetic counselors from surrounding blogs are available to help those of you who need it to process your emotions in a constructive manner, rather than sitting helplessly and waiting for one of us to troll the blog instead. It's not that we couldn't, mind you. It's just that what fleeting satisfaction it might bring would quickly give way to the same feelings of emptiness, not unlike an hour after eating Chinese.
Therefore, rather than raging against the dying of the light, let us honor his example by graciously and humbly wishing him well. In place of despair, remember the teachings of Chopper that Ogged will one day return and bring Cargo. In our waiting, when we gather to sing the old, old songs, let it be a reminder that we all (well, most of us) carry a little piece of Ogged inside of us. And when that little piece makes the blisters erupt, we should joyously throw our hands in the air and yell, "Titties! Hooray!" In remembrance.
I can't say I think of Ogged as family because that would be gross, but he will always be the founder of our disreputable tribe, first among equals, even as he fades into the mists of myth like Bob before him. One day, noobs will sit at our feet and marvel wide-eyed at the bent-backed and wizened commenters who actually touched Ogged's, um, raiment. And so, below the fold, I present our tribe's traditional dance of farewell and protection and ask that you join Guru Rasa von Werder in undulations of gratitude for the years of lost productivity at work and face time with our families that the O-Dog selflessly provided.
The archives of Unfogged are unknowably vast, containing Plato's youthful poems, Fontana Labs' closeted heterosexuality, and already written retirement posts.
Extra thanks this time to Ben W-lfs-n and especially to Becks, for managing the site behind the scenes. Soon, new bloggers shall mingle among the old, and in their co-mingling, a tingling.
This, sadly, is about Stuff White People Like. Look, I'm blogging the idle thoughts I have, and sometimes it's stuff that we've already hashed out until we all want to vomit. The post is below the fold, so that people too bored to cope can easily avoid it.
In the comments to my post on Haidt's five-axis structure of morality, someone brought up Stuff White People Like. And come to think of it, considerations of ingroup loyalty, and of liberal feelings about good and bad ways to express ingroup loyalty, do explain most of the reaction to it. The whole joke of SWPL comes down to "these are the markers that identify members of the ingroup 'White People' (really, affluent youngish urban upper-middle-class white people, but what the hell) identify with."
And that can be funny for three reasons I can think of. First, maybe it's that it's just so insightful - that the specifics it identifies are things that the reader wouldn't have thought of as group markers before reading the blog, but after reading the blog it becomes clear that they really are. And on that front, the only one on which I find it funny, it gets a quick giggle, but not a lot more; it spends a lot of time shuttling between kind of obvious, and kind of off-base.
Another possible interpretation of the joke is "ha, ha, 'White People' don't think they are an ingroup, with ingroup markers, but they totally are, look, I can identify some of the markers." And that seems to me to be a joke pretty much equivalent to "Look, your epidermis is showing!" If there are people silly enough to believe their tastes and habits don't mark them as belonging to some identifiable social group or class, they should be made fun of for that, just like people who don't know the word 'epidermis' should be mocked by other second-graders, but I don't think there are a lot of viable adult targets for this reading of the joke. Maybe there are, and that's what people find appealing about it.
And the final interpretation of the joke is that it's funny because 'White People' is a contemptible group, or a group whose members deserve abuse (either because of something special about 'White People', or just because ingroup loyalty makes it natural to hold members of other groups in contempt and make fun of them), and so it's funny just identifying that members of the group exist and mocking them for their group identity, like Rosie O'Donnell doing her 'ching chong' routine about Asians (which she did apologize for). And at that point, the possible reactions for a 'White Person' are either the uptight liberal "there's nothing wrong with feeling and expressing ingroup loyalty, but expressing it in terms of hostility to members of other groups just for being different from you is not a good thing, regardless of what group we're talking about," or the more relaxed and in tune with all five of Haidt's axes response "Expressions of ingroup loyalty and hostility to members of other groups are totally natural and cool; the only reason to worry about them is that there are negative social effects like real discrimination against group members, and obviously that's not an issue where the target is 'White People'. Not a thing wrong with the blog, but I'm not going to be particularly entertained by it myself - the whole point of it is that as a 'White Person' I'm not the ingroup audience building loyalty, I'm the outsider being mocked."
Any expectation that 'White People' find SWPL funny on a level beyond the initial "It's so insightful" level seems to either be ignoring how ingroup loyalty works, or to be thinking of mocking "White People" as providing an incentive for them to stop being 'White'. Which, if the kind of whiteness we're talking about is ownership of stand mixers and bike-riding, seems like a pointless and doomed endeavor.
Who to pull for in today's 18-hole US Open playoff? On one hand, I'd love to see Woods win and move a notch closer to Nicklaus. On the other hand, it pains me to think of Mediate being denied such an incredible moment. He's a guy with only five tour wins, no majors, and at his age he won't get many more shots like this. It would be life-defining for him, yet another major for Woods. Plus his name is a verb.
What a crazy fourth round.
Buck scored Nixonland, a new wallet, cards from the kids, a pitcher of margaritas, and the above pie. (My own father deserted us to go to Montreal -- he's probably glutting himself on poutine as we speak.) How was everyone else's Fathers' Day?
At least half of the top ten philosophers' deaths sound apocryphal, but who can resist anyway?
Go look at the chart. Cheaper houses are in your future. Sorry you missed out on a place you liked, though.