Here is our porch:
Our house is pier-and-beam, and three feet off the ground, because we are in a flood plain, because of the river behind our house. Technically we are above the flood plain, if you're curious about our insurance policy.
Notice in the lower left hand corner of that photo is our trash can.
Jammies ran a string from the lid to the porch railing, so that we can throw trash away without having to soil our tootsies on the ground. Here is Jammies, demonstrating:
We live the easy life!
YOUR ASSIGNMENT: As long as you're lounging around at home, you might as well be on task. Your assignment is to photograph and explain your most ingenious contraption that you have rigged up, to live within the idiosyncrasies of your home.
If you're not at home, or don't have a camera, or have no sense of a good time, just describe your contraption and we'll all rally our imaginations to compensate.
Like all right-thinking patriots, I'm heading into work today. For those of you staying home and nursing freedom beers, I give you comfort in your slothfulness. Turns out, we get to blame China for mucking up our holiday explosions:
Almost all fireworks shot in the U.S. come from China. Charlie Wald, who runs the fireworks company his grandfather started 80 years ago, says it's been quite a year at Wald Fireworks: "It was like whatever could go wrong in China went wrong this year."
In February, an enormous explosion and fire took out 20 big fireworks warehouses and a major port. Chinese officials soon closed other ports to the volatile cargo and finally stopped fireworks exports all together this week. They will resume sometime after the Olympics.
Labor, materials and shipping are all way up, the dollar is down, and Wald says orders are backed up. Whatever is available costs about 25 percent more this year
"It's the worst I've seen, as long as anybody can remember," Wald says. "My generation, my father's generation -- never seen anything like it before.
Still, big pyrotechnic displays like the one near Kansas City will go on as planned, but with fireworks bought months ago. Hundreds of small-town celebrations, however, are off.
I know, right? It's awful. George Washington would be wicked pissed.
No angler, I, but I do recognize the drop-kick as a somewhat unorthodox means of returning a fish to the water.
Since tomorrow is a holiday, and I'm out of town next Friday, let's go ahead and have some friendly logic competition on a Thursday afternoon, shall we?
You are led, blindfolded, into a room. There is a square table, which spins, and always stops so that the corners face North, South, East, and West.
I come into the room and place four cups on the table, one on each corner. They might be face up or face down - your job is to get them all face down.
The game is played like so:
1. I spin the table.
2. You issue a command, of the form: "Flip the cups in the ____ positions", and you can specify exactly which corners you want, as many as you want.
3. I'll carry out your command, and tell you if you have succeeded.
4. If you have not succeeded, I'll spin the table again, and the process repeats.
Design an algorithm to win the game.
First one to figure out the answer gets a hearty helping of smug self-satisfaction!
Oh, and now I've exhausted my personal supply of puzzles. Feel free to e-mail me suggestions.
Sometimes if I'm being mean, I'll screw my face into a grimace and talk in a stupid voice, pretending to be that person. I might say, "OH LOOK AT ME. I'M EMERSON AND I DRESS FUNNY AND SMELL EVEN FUNNIER."
Here's how Fox News does it:
Link, via Jammies
Joshua Micah Marshall, why do you play us?
Update: The thrilling conclusion.
Thank goodness for all the new posters (and the surviving old posters). Because looking at what I've got on my plate, I'm no good to you all until maybe the end of August. Sorry for the interruption in service, but the rest of our crack team of weirdos appear to be holding the fort just fine without my assistance. I'll show up when I can.
"It's extremely passive aggressive."
You said it, bub. I could keep quoting, but just go ahead and enjoy the whole darn thing for yourself.
I found it generally underwhelming. Except for one scene (around minute 8:00 here), which made me well up and lose it altogether. Like, bawling in my kitchen at three in the morning.
My parents weren't abusive at all, but my mom's father was quite so. I'm talking heads-through-walls abusive. And the movie seemed to trigger a sort of lizard-brain reaction to seeing that kind of domestic violence. It was all very, very odd, as I rarely cry at anything, let alone at movies. I'm still scratching my head at the whole thing.
Jammies sent me this article:
Can white woman be buried in black cemetery?
Waller County dispute centers on unidentified murder victim.
HOUSTON -- The woman was found on a Waller County road, her dark hair shorn off, a plastic bag taped around her head, her hands severed. She had been strangled and tossed away.
More than a year later, the crime remains unsolved, the victim's name is still unknown and efforts to bury her have churned controversy in Waller County -- a rural area west of Houston that has long been roiled by racial divisions.
The victim is white. The funeral home and cemetery in Hempstead that a justice of the peace initially chose to handle her burial are historically black.
But the Waller County Commissioners Court balked at paying for that burial. When activists started raising questions about the county's hesitation at burying the woman in a black cemetery, the commissioners asked a white-owned funeral home in Waller to handle arrangements -- adhering to what community activists say is a long-standing tradition of cemetery segregation in the county...
The whole thing is interesting.
This story would be great if it had a better ending. Justin McCain and Antonio Blount applied for a wedding license in Newport News, Virginia.
"They swore an oath when they made the application, but 'bride' and 'groom' are not defined in the law of Virginia," said Jack Fitzpatrick, spokesman for Gwynn's office. "Whether they were intending to deceive or not is not something we can get into their minds on." He added that "changes have been made to prevent that problem from happening again."
The near-nuptials began when the couple arrived at Newport News Circuit Court on March 24 to apply for a marriage license. McCain, who court employees said appeared to be a woman, presented a Virginia driver's license and filled out the section of the application labeled "bride." Court employees commented on "what pretty skin" McCain had, a court official said.
The court eventually figured out its "mistake" and nullified the marriage, in addition to updating the paperwork for future applicants:
Anderson said marriage license applications in Newport News have been changed to read "male applicant" and "female applicant," instead of "bride" and "groom."
What a bunch of wet blankets. It's enough to make you wish that "no backsies" were an established legal principle.
I'm sure this would be funny if we just replaced some of the words with "gay."
UPDATE: formatting changed to soothe Ari's delicate sensibilities. This torture document now conforms to all internet traditions.
WASHINGTON -- The military trainers who came to Guantánamo Bay in December 2002 based an entire interrogation class on a chart showing the effects of "coercive management techniques" for possible use on prisoners, including "sleep deprivation," "prolonged constraint," and "exposure."
What the trainers did not say, and may not have known, was that their chart had been copied verbatim from a 1957 Air Force study of Chinese Communist techniques used during the Korean War to obtain confessions, many of them false, from American prisoners.
The recycled chart is the latest and most vivid evidence of the way Communist interrogation methods that the United States long described as torture became the basis for interrogations both by the military at the base atGuantánamo Bay, Cuba, and by the Central Intelligence Agency.
Some methods were used against a small number of prisoners at Guantánamo before 2005, when Congress banned the use of coercion by the military. The C.I.A. is still authorized by President Bush to use a number of secret "alternative" interrogation methods.
Several Guantánamo documents, including the chart outlining coercive methods, were made public at a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing June 17 that examined how such tactics came to be employed.
But committee investigators were not aware of the chart's source in the half-century-old journal article, a connection pointed out to The New York Times by an independent expert on interrogation who spoke on condition of anonymity.
The 1957 article from which the chart was copied was entitled "Communist Attempts to Elicit False Confessions From Air Force Prisoners of War" and written by Alfred D. Biderman, a sociologist then working for the Air Force, who died in 2003. Mr. Biderman had interviewed American prisoners returning from North Korea, some of whom had been filmed by their Chinese interrogators confessing to germ warfare and other atrocities.
Those orchestrated confessions led to allegations that the American prisoners had been "brainwashed," and provoked the military to revamp its training to give some military personnel a taste of the enemies' harsh methods to inoculate them against quick capitulation if captured.
In 2002, the training program, known as SERE, for Survival, Evasion, Resistance, Escape, became a source of interrogation methods both for the C.I.A. and the military. In what critics describe as a remarkable case of historical amnesia, officials who drew on the SERE program appear to have been unaware that it had been created as a result of concern about false confessions by American prisoners.
Senator Carl Levin, Democrat of Michigan and chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said after reviewing the 1957 article that "every American would be shocked" by the origin of the training document.
"What makes this document doubly stunning is that these were techniques to get false confessions," Mr. Levin said. "People say we need intelligence, and we do. But we don't need false intelligence."
A Defense Department spokesman, Lt. Col Patrick Ryder, said he could not comment on the Guantánamo training chart. "I can't speculate on previous decisions that may have been made prior to current D.O.D. policy on interrogations," Colonel Ryder said. "I can tell you that current D.O.D. policy is clear -- we treat all detainees humanely."
Mr. Biderman's 1957 article described "one form of torture" used by the Chinese as forcing American prisoners to stand "for exceedingly long periods," sometimes in conditions of "extreme cold." Such passive methods, he wrote, were more common than outright physical violence. Prolonged standing and exposure to cold have both been used by American military and C.I.A. interrogators against terrorist suspects.
The chart also listed other techniques used by the Chinese, including "Semi-Starvation," "Exploitation of Wounds," and "Filthy, Infested Surroundings," and with their effects: "Makes Victim Dependent on Interrogator," "Weakens Mental and Physical Ability to Resist," and "Reduces Prisoner to 'Animal Level' Concerns."
The only change made in the chart presented at Guantánamo was to drop its original title: "Communist Coercive Methods for Eliciting Individual Compliance."
The documents released last month include an e-mail message from two SERE trainers reporting on a trip to Guantánamo from Dec. 29, 2002, to Jan. 4, 2003. Their purpose, the message said, was to present to interrogators "the theory and application of the physical pressures utilized during our training."
The sessions included "an in-depth class on Biderman's Principles," the message said, referring to the chart from Mr. Biderman's 1957 article. Versions of the same chart, often identified as "Biderman's Chart of Coercion," have circulated on anti-cult sites on the Web, where the methods are used to describe how cults control their members.
Dr. Robert Jay Lifton, a psychiatrist who also studied the returning prisoners of war and wrote an accompanying article in the same 1957 issue of The Bulletin of the New York Academy of Medicine, said in an interview that he was disturbed to learn that the Chinese methods had been recycled and taught at Guantánamo.
"It saddens me," said Dr. Lifton, who wrote a 1961 book on what the Chinese called "thought reform" and became known in popular American parlance as brainwashing. He called the use of the Chinese techniques by American interrogators at Guantánamo a "180-degree turn."
The harshest known interrogation at Guantánamo was that of Mohammed al-Qahtani, a member of Al Qaeda suspected of being the intended 20th hijacker in the Sept. 11 attacks. Mr. Qahtani's interrogation involved sleep deprivation, stress positions, exposure to cold and other methods also used by the Chinese.
Terror charges against Mr. Qahtani were dropped unexpectedly in May. Officials said the charges could be reinstated later and declined to say whether the decision was influenced by concern about Mr. Qahtani's treatment.
Mr. Bush has defended the interrogation methods, saying they helped provide critical intelligence and prevented new terrorist attacks. But the issue continues to complicate the long-delayed prosecutions now proceeding at Guantánamo.
Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, a Qaeda member accused of playing a major role in the bombing of the American destroyer Cole in Yemen in 2000, was charged with murder and other crimes on Monday. In previous hearings, Mr. Nashiri, who was subjected to waterboarding, has said he confessed to participating in the bombing falsely only because he was tortured.
A reader muses:
I'll guess that I'm naturally a night owl type person, but I'm interested in being less of a night owl. For instance, I woke up at 11:00 AM today. I'll probably be up until 4:00 AM tonight, doing stuff I want/need to do. Physically, I feel fine with this schedule, but I also feel like I miss out on things and sometimes like I'm trying to catch up with others. I work mostly afternoons and evenings, but I do work the occasional Saturday morning and afternoon. When I have to get up at, say, 7:00 AM on Saturdays (or at 5:00 AM to catch a flight or 8:00 AM to get to an appointment, etc.) it screws things all up.
I have been on a more usual schedule, e.g., years ago I'd catch a 6-something AM train to work every day. I wonder if my current schedule allows me to function more in line with with what I'd naturally tend to do. I kind of like the quiet of the late hours, too. When I was on that early morning train to NYC schedule and then switched to an office 10 minutes down the road, I stayed on my schedule and liked getting in to work really early and actually getting work done before other people came in.
I don't even know if there really are night owl and morning lark types or if that's all just an old husbands' tale. I'm sure someone here knows the science about this.
So I'd like to hear what people have to say about:
1. how they've made adjustments like this;
2. how it worked out for them;
3. if they think it's a good idea or not to change (esp. if I don't have to);
4. whatever else they think might be useful to know.
I dunno; maybe I should just embrace my inner night owl and leave things be.
I have nothing clever to say. For me, what schedule I'm on doesn't matter, as long as I'm sleeping and waking at roughly the same times, even (more or less) on weekends. Going back and forth is awful.
Exhibit A: One time I heard an interview with Keanu Reaves, where he said his favorite word was gravitas.
Exhibit B: At one point, I idly asked an acquaintance what her hell on earth would be. She gazed into the misty distant horizon and said, "A world without horns." Horns? "Yes, like in music."
Exhibit C: I acquired a Hebrew textbook somehow, and on the back cover, the author is quoted in big font: "We sensed that we were revolutionizing how the Hebrew language is taught in the United States."
So, let's have a thread where we pool our favorite pretentious-ass blowhard quotes of all times! Wrack your brains - who takes themselves a little too seriously? Who makes earnest declarations about how their bisexualcoholic MTV show helped legalize gay marriage? I want to hear them all.
One of Ann Althouse's commenters came up with this fine image:
A few days ago the NY Times ran these two headlines on the front page:
Anglicans face wider split over policy toward gaysand
Gay makes Olympics in wind-aided record
The latter article is about the sprinter Tyson Gay, but the juxtaposition (predictably!) cracked me up, so I emailed one of our gay correspondents, who sent back this:
In addition to blocking traffic from websites they don't like, it looks like the web-geniuses behind the American Family Association's OneNewsNow site have a few other tricks up their sleeves, such as automatically replacing any use of the word "gay" with the word "homosexual" in any of the AP stories they run ... leading to instances in which proper names are reformatted to meet their ridiculous standard, such as this article about sprinter Tyson Gay winning the 100 meters at the U.S. Olympic track and field trials in which he is renamed "Tyson Homosexual"...
Other AFA headlines include "Homosexual breakes Greene's US record" and "Homosexual barely averts major flop in 100." I'll be chuckling about this all day.
Strasmangelo: I really do miss ogged. How did I miss that he was the blog's only source of news and politics threads?
Snarkout: Here, Heebie, post this. It's political and interesting.
Heebie: Okay self, ready to be a political blogger? Just you do your best, Heebie, and maybe try to think up some colorful analogy to hide your lack of expertise.
Oh, was the mike on? Because I stumbled across an interesting article, all by myself, because of my normal perusal of the most incisive and up-to-the-minute political blogs. If you picture the Republican party as a boa constrictor, then it has started devouring its own tail. Private corporations are claiming to fundraise for token Republican candidates against hated famous Democrats, and then pocketing 90% of the donations.
Is it the business owners taking advantage of those Religious Right who have deep pockets? Or are the televangicals fund-raising like they ran the PTL network? Either way, they are getting digestive juices slobber all over the place. It is both gross and entertaining.
I mostly signed up for this blog to write about pr0n and anal sex. But there's more to me than just my carnal urges. Like, I finally after all these years discovered that it is possible to cold-brew iced tea using the seemingly crazy method of putting tea bags in cold water. I mean, I could've been doing this years ago. I feel like an idiot. On the other hand, I'm an idiot who can make delicious cold-brewed iced tea.
(Recipe notes: The "cold water" is tap-temperature. I use the three of the big Lipton's bags in a quart and a half of water. The tea steeps in less than half an hour. It might take as little as fifteen minutes. I should really time it more closely, but you know, I blog for free here. And in six comments this thread is going to be about something completely different anyhow. Pour the first glass over ice and put the rest in the fridge.)
We took Jammies' parents tubing over the weekend. Here is a thing that happened to me once. (Let's hear it for awkward segues!)
A group of friends and I had gone tubing on one of the rivers in New Braunfels, a little town south of Austin. I was lagging behind the group, and tied to the tube holding the beer cooler.
We came to a rough spot, and everyone tumbled out of their tubes, (garage sale!). When I went over, my top came off. So I had one hand clutching my bikini top over my lady parts, and the other hand hanging onto the tubes and cooler, and I was totally stuck, and my friends were floating further and further down the river.
And then this eleven year old boy popped up next to me and brightly said, "I'll tie your top!"
What could I say? I was out of options. But he did a really bad job and tied it way too loosely, for the record.
Armsmasher and I were out at a bar on Friday and, while waiting for the bartender to pour us a shot, overheard a patron telling his friends about the dream he had the previous night.
He had been asleep with his girlfriend and woke to find the covers being tugged away from him. He tried to pull them back but the force was too great. He turned to see what was going on and discovered that the sheets were being sucked into his girlfriend's vagina. He tugged and pulled but couldn't save them. Next, the pillows were sucked in and, before long, things were flying across the room -- books, clothes, the alarm clock -- all to be sucked into his girlfriend's vagina. When the room was stripped bare, he was next. First, he was pulled in up to his ankle. He tried to free himself, but the force was too great. Soon, both legs were inside her and he was sucked up to his waist. As he said, "It was like being swallowed by an anaconda".
* On "It was like being swallowed by an anaconda", I hoped that meant he was going to be swallowed, spit out, stared in the eyes, and swallowed again, like Jon Voight but, apparently, no.
* Surely, this is ripe for dream analysis and Freudian interpretations. Have at it.
* As Armsmasher mused, what do you call this? It's not vagina dentata. Surely dreams of this nature are common enough to warrant a name. I suggested Dysonata but it was deemed too obscure.
I've been really good about going to the gym lately but if Obama joins it, I'll surely be even better. I can imagine that would change the dynamics of the place a bit, though -- more crowded, with other people working out more to get a glimpse, too, and people trying to glance at his treadmill to see what level he's on and trying to match or exceed it. And I can't even imagine the locker room etiquette implications.
Jammies thanked me afterwards for not taking the bait.
Jammies' parents were in town this weekend. At dinner on Saturday, after a glass of wine, I rolled out the warm-fuzzies and told them that as far as the in-law lottery goes, I feel I've gotten pretty lucky.
His mom returned the fuzzy sentiment and said something warm and welcoming. His dad said, "You know, I'm not going to vote for Obama."
Yeah, well, I'll make fun of you on the internet.