Today I saw two remarkable sights, in succession, or perhaps it is better to say that it is not the sights or the succession alone that were remarkable, but rather all three conjoined, to wit, that these two sights should occur in precisely this succession—nor should we forget the locale, videlicet, the Ferry Building Farmers' Market, nor should we forget at all the sensibility at once refined and acute brought to the proceedings by your intrepid reporter, scilicet, me, obviously.
I will relate to you first the first sight, and then, indicating the change by the use of appropriate temporal and causal connectives, the second sight, for by pursuing this strategy I may omit explicitly to mention the succession in which they occurred, which has certain rhetorical advantages similar to those accruing to emthymemetic discourse.—of course the present paragraph is not an instance of my explicitly relating the succession, for here I mention only the technique to be employed when I do begin to relate. Indeed, I am only now beginning to finish clearing my throat.
At the Ferry Building Farmers' Market today, there was a McCain-Palin booth set up across from the Obama booth, which was not so before (it may have been there last week, when I didn't go). I wandered over in time to hear one of the women manning it tell a curious customer that there was plenty of McCain support in the city among both Republicans and Democrats; I briefly pondered sticking around to make trouble, but decided that it would be too out of character and unlikely to have any sort of productive effect. (It did occur to me that I am probably overqualified for an ambassadorship to Greece, though.) Turning away from the booth, the very next thing that hove into my fair eyes' field, was a man walking towards me (and the booth, though who knows where he was actually headed) with a McCain sticker on his suit's lapel, bald, of regal gait and physique, and with waxed, pointy muttonchops, looking, in other words, for all the world like a caricature of an Edwardian industrialist. Indeed, he wanted only for hat, cane, and coat, and he could have passed himself off very well as the Magnate from Gorey's The Fatal Lozenge, of whom it is written: "The Magnate waits upon the pavement / For his enormous limousine / And ponders further child-enslavement / And other projects still more mean."
Incidentally, do you think that the Nurse with Wound album Brained by Falling Masonry is titled after the fate of so many Gorey characters? I've never heard it and suspect it would be hard to tell even with a copy of the record to hand, but given Homotopy to Marie it's hardly impossible.
My mom and I were talking about gifts for an upcoming wedding we're both attending. She hasn't been to one in many years, being between the ages when her friends get married and when her friends' kids get married. She's not sure what the going convention is for bridal shower and wedding gifts are these days. Sites like The Knot are totally unhelpful, suggesting a range of anywhere from $40-$250. I know what I usually spend but am not sure if it's out of date and should be revised upwards or if it's too high for her because of general cost of living differences between the East Coast and the Midwest.
What say you?
I confess that I am but a babe in the woods when it comes to all matters pertaining to the real world, but that it nevertheless seems that Saiselgy's posts of today have been good.
I went to pick up a prescription after work, and my eyes nearly leapt from my skull when I saw the total in the hundreds of dollars. The pharmacist was called over and explained that my insurance company required "prior authorization" from my doctor before it would cover the drug.
What, I ask you, is a prescription if not my doctor indicating, before the pharmacist fills the prescription, that the doctor would like for me to have said medication? Which is to say, it is a goddamn prior authorization.
Not the end of the world, and I'll have the doctor call insurance tomorrow. But this sort of behavior by insurers is extremely annoying: making you jump through hoops that delay and seemingly second guess medical care at the patient-doctor level. Moreover, my visit to the pharmacist was after business hours. And given that it's a medication that I might have needed tonight* but now won't have until tomorrow at the earliest, this is particularly atrocious.
Fuck. You. Insurance company.
*In my case, I happen to have some samples at home. My doctor gave me prior authorization to try them, which was really nice of her.
Why not do so by listening to some jazz? Out of respect for your tender sensibilities, it is even relatively "in" for the entire 80 minute duration.
Also, for Jackmormon, one of the tracks has tabla. I won't say which, though, other than that it's not the one you probably think, racist.
Also, why not watch this sweet cartoon?
01. Rudresh Mahanthappa - Play It Again Sam, from Codebook
02. Aram Shelton's Flockterkit - Forward Flock, from s/t
03. Fieldwork - Accumulated Gestures, from Your Life Flashes
04. Edsel Gomez - NYC Taxi Ride, from Cubist Music
05. Steam - Chump Change, from Real Time
06. David Slusser - Legend of Ornette, from Trouble in Tiretown
07. MTKJ Quartet - Golianation, from Day of the Race
08. Tina Brooks - True Blue, from True Blue
09. Anthony Braxton - Lennie-Bird, from Eight (+3) Tristano Compositions
10. Erik Friedlander - Quake, from Quake
11. Jeff Parker - Sea Change, from The Relatives
12. Mike Reed's Loose Assembly - The Entire State of Florida, from Last Year's Ghost
13. Blue Cranes - Returning to Portland, from Lift Music! Flown Music!
14. Jimmy Smith & Wes Montgomery - 13 (Death March), from The Dynamic Duo
Some of these are cruel, (Britney Spears, Tara Reid), but a lot of them are realistic, (Catherine Zeta-Jones and Michael Douglas, Ashlee Simpson), and I LOVE the Cameron Diaz one.
I'm kind of fascinated by it. Okay, let's get this out of the way - half the gimmick is "Americans are FAT! Here's what celebrities would look like FAT!" But of course, celebrities are artificially skinnier than the rest of the world because that's their job. They would be heavier if they weren't in showbiz. So if you agree to the premise that being fat is not an insult, it's not problematic that these pictures are fattened celebrities.
I think what I like about it so much is that it confirms my natural adoration of people I see in my daily life. I don't care if you're decked out to look Hollywood or Dollywood or Au Naturallywood. I just like being voyeuristic and like people for looking so dang much like themselves.
Great news! The Obama phone bank where I volunteer got plugged into an autodialer like I so wanted. In fact, the night I volunteered this week was the first night they'd used it. I don't think it's quite as good of a system as the one we used for Kerry but it's still a huge step forward. I reached far more people than the other times, dialing by hand.
I talked to the person running the phone bank to see if I could set up a branch office in D.C. that was plugged into the autodialing system (it's just browser based and can be accessed anywhere) to try to recruit more D.C. people into volunteering. He said no-can-do. The campaign doesn't have enough funds to let even all of the Obama offices use it. Right now, access is being rationed to only the most important field offices. So if you're wondering if Obama really can use your contributions or if he's got money coming out of his ears, there you go.
Last Sunday, Matt F and I went canvassing and OH MY GOD it was the hottest day ever. I paid my penance for sending that other group out into a tropical storm. Both the canvassing and my recent phone banking were for voter ID and I'm shocked by the number of undecided voters. It's at least a third of them. And down-ticket races don't seem all that predictive -- we talked to a lot of people who were definitely voting Democratic for House and Senate but were undecided for president (or voting for McCain).
Oh, and here's your weekly contestants for the "I'm going to start a blog" award: some volunteers wanted to get together to have a debate-watching party but couldn't figure out how to organize one because none of them owned a TV.
What did you do to get Obama elected this week?
Hi, I'm not a lawyer.
Whoever outside the United States commits or attempts to commit torture shall be fined [yada yada yada]
(a) Why explicitly outside the United States?
(b) Given that proviso, wouldn't it have made more sense for the government to set up its torture facilities inside the US?
(c) Given that torture is defined such that only actions undertaken under color of law qualify, and given that "[nothing] in this chapter be construed as creating any substantive or procedural right enforceable by law by any party in any civil proceeding", meaning, I suppose, that it is only relevant for criminal proceedings, which, I suppose, are brought by the government, why would anyone acting under color of US law ever be affected by this? (Similarly.) Or do these sections hearken back to a Golden Age when one might with justice have presumed that there might be at least a few people about with both some smidgen of integrity and the resources to do something with it?
(d), a new one: "severe physical or mental pain or suffering (other than pain or suffering incidental to lawful sanctions)": given the definition of "severe physical or mental pain or suffering" which follows, I would dearly like to know which are the lawful sanctions to which such pain or suffering might be incidental.
A friend of mine, Z., has recently graduated from a fairly prestigious law school. She's taken the bar exam in the state she's currently living in, but won't find out if she's passed for a little while. Meanwhile, she's living with relatives and working at the law firm run by one of the relatives. Unfortunately, the housing situation is getting a little cramped, and said relatives would like her to find her own place in their town, while continuing to work at said law firm indefinitely. Now, Z. has friends in NYC who would like her to move in with them, and are offering reasonable rent. Z. would like to move in with them, temp, study for the New York bar, and be outside the ambit of her relatives. However, they're putting a lot of pressure on her to stay, and that's making her nervous about whether she'll be able to make it in the cold stone canyons of Gotham. How should she deal with the relatives in order to extricate herself with the minimum of hard feelings (as they have been very supportive of her both materially and emotionally over the past couple of years, and she has no desire to break with them or even irritate them) and how reasonable does her plan sound? (I'm not sure exactly how much rent is for the place that she'd be living, but I infer that it is not unreasonable, especially by New York standards.)
on behalf of the "Huddled Masses"
Z. has two problems, if I'm reading it right. The first is how to tell her supportive family that she's leaving her home town, and the family job they've got for her, and going to make it in NY, and the second question is whether making it in NY is a realistic plan.
The first one is easy if the second one is solved: "Auntie Em, Uncle Henry, thank you so much for getting me started as a lawyer and taking care of me. But my long term career development plan is [admiralty law], not [real estate law], and that's not what your firm does, and something I'll have better opportunities for in NY. You guys have been wonderful, but now I have to leave the nest. I'll be back for holidays, and I hope I can call for the legal mentoring you've been so great about. Anytime you have an [admiralty law] issue, call me in NY." In the absence of serious family weirdness, if you've got a convincingly sane career plan, no one's going to take the above as insulting or hurtful.
Is moving to NY for a legal job sane? Hard to tell, without a lot more details. The one generic thing I can say is that once you're off the law-school-to-big-firm conveyor belt, which Z. is if she's graduated already, it's all about the connections. There's a lot of legal jobs in NY, but to get her foot in the door, she's really going to want to know people. Do you know if she's got a specific type of job she's looking for? Soulless big firm; soulful small firm; public interest; government? A particular field?
Connections that she probably has and can work -- her family firm probably knows lawyers in NY, and she could try networking with them. If you're calling her law school "fairly prestigious", my guess is that it's reasonably low profile in the NYC hiring market; the upside of that is that alumni in NY might be willing to do her a good turn on the basis of the law school connection alone, if her law school or Google can get her a list of NY alum contacts.
This is a little damping, but NY is awfully expensive, and I'm guessing where she's from is cheaper. Might a more sensible way of managing the move be to find someplace cheap and local while she studies for the NY bar, fly out to take it, and keep working for the family firm until she passes? (Come to think of it, I have no idea if there's any sort of residence requirement. Anyone know?) And then move to NY and look for work with a NY license in hand? If she's got the savings and wants to move now, then I'm sure she can make it work, but it's not self-evidently the most tight-wadded way of doing things.
Mineshaft, your thoughts?
Kevin Drum wonders whether Obama's epic mini-series of an ad holds our attention. Sure, it's two minutes long, and it's just the guy sitting in his hotel room talking about the issues. But I-- impartial observer that I am-- find it riveting. The transcript, from the Washington Monthly:
In the past few weeks, Wall Street's been rocked as banks closed and markets tumbled," Obama says in the ad. "But for many of you -- the people I've met in town halls, backyards and diners across America -- our troubled economy isn't news. 600,000 Americans have lost their jobs since January. Paychecks are flat and home values are falling. It's hard to pay for gas and groceries and if you put it on a credit card they've probably raised your rates. You're paying more than ever for health insurance that covers less and less. This isn't just a string of bad luck. The truth is that while you've been living up to your responsibilities Washington has not. That's why we need change. Real change.
This is no ordinary time and it shouldn't be an ordinary election. But much of this campaign has been consumed by petty attacks and distractions that have nothing to do with you or how we get America back on track. Here's what I believe we need to do. Reform our tax system to give a $1,000 tax break to the middle class instead of showering more on oil companies and corporations that outsource our jobs. End the "anything goes" culture on Wall Street with real regulation that protects your investments and pensions. Fast track a plan for energy 'made-in-America' that will free us from our dependence on mid-east oil in 10 years and put millions of Americans to work. Crack down on lobbyists â€" once and for all -- so their back-room deal-making no longer drowns out the voices of the middle class and undermines our common interests as Americans. And yes, bring a responsible end to this war in Iraq so we stop spending billions each month rebuilding their country when we should be rebuilding ours.
Doing these things won't be easy. But we're Americans. We've met tough challenges before. And we can again. I'm Barack Obama. I hope you'll read my economic plan. I approved this message because bitter, partisan fights and outworn ideas of the left and the right won't solve the problems we face today. But a new spirit of unity and shared responsibility will.
It's thoughtful and substantive. It also makes a nice change from the attack ads that dominate my airwaves, which, I think, often prompt the reaction "why are we talking about this?"
Wow, I keep watching it. I'm more in the tank than I thought. Hmm, better maximize my political effectiveness by starting a blog.
Maybe I'm just cranky today, but this seems right. The gist:
White privilege is when you can call yourself a "fuckin' redneck," like Bristol Palin's boyfriend does, and talk about how if anyone messes with you, you'll "kick their fuckin' ass," and talk about how you like to "shoot shit" for fun, and still be viewed as a responsible, all-American boy (and a great son-in-law to be) rather than a thug.
White privilege is when you can attend five different colleges in six years like Sarah Palin did (one of which you basically failed out of, then returned to after making up some coursework at a community college), and no one questions your intelligence or commitment to achievement, whereas a person of color who did this would be viewed as unfit for college, and probably someone who only got in in the first place because of affirmative action.
And so many more. I think this is wrong around the edges: when you talk about loving to fuck shit up, as Levi does, some people will think you're fun and a lot of people will do an inner eye-roll and write you off, but at least they can't come out and say it, whereas if you're black they're allowed to do all sorts of things.
Multiple documents claim that "everything is an object", but even this page for beginners acknowledges that functions aren't first-class objects. As far as I can tell the simplest way to refer to a function is with "method(:functionname)" and the simplest way to pass a function to another function (one that's expecting a code block, because they aren't anonymous functions! no! that would make sense!) is with "&method(:functionname)". This, along with those weird contortions with "lambda" and whatnot, is what comes of deciding that writing the name of a function should be equivalent to invoking it (except not necessarily equivalent to invoking it with an explicit argument list of length zero—now there's elegance for you).
From those same first two pages, though not in that same order:
1. "You can make constants (variables whose value you don't intend to change)."
2. "Constants are not really constant. If you modify an already initialized constant, it will trigger a warning, but not halt your program."
Hey, you know, I can make values I don't intend to change in any language (this is rich after the ruby/python comparison page mentions that Ruby has private and protected class variables, unlike Python's __touchmenot convention (the double leading underscore, without a double trailing underscore, is actually more than a convention, since it undergoes name-mangling in class definitions, but wev)—do you trust the programmer or don't you?). Anyway, you can do that in Python too, if for some reason you really think people are going to be modifying variables they obviously shouldn't. (NB that's not been tested much.)
The always reliable Agence France-Presse says that NOW endorses Obama.
The real story here is that NOW has only 500,000 members! Kinda short on manpower, but maybe they can make up for it with moral suasion.
Let's try not to be idiots in the comments, mkay? Thx.
I wonder how effective Obama and Biden's "more of the same"/"Bush/McCain White House" attacks are. Even I can't get riled up by them. The name "Bush" doesn't provoke the same gut-level reaction for me now that it used to, perhaps because Bush has so dropped off the radar with the election going on that I never see him on TV of read about him anymore. I think the attack would work better if it was yoked with another attack that reminded people why they hated him, like "McCain is a liar, just like George Bush".
The "culture wars" accusation that the real problem liberal Democrats face is their inability to hide their contempt for red-state conservatives is going around again; Megan McArdle has a post she's titled "Coastal Privilege" on the subject, and Tim Burke has a thoughtful reaction to Nixonland that also deals with some of the issues.
There are a bunch of problems with the conventional framing of the issue that McArdle adopts; the most obvious is that she conflates "coastal" people, with people who have attended a handful of elite schools, with liberals, with rich people, as if all those words could be used interchangeably. You can see this by the anecdote she picks to illustrate the thoughtless contempt she believes one group has for the other, and the way in which that "contempt" is obvious:
In the 1980s, I played on possibly the worst girl's basketball team in the state of New York. Every time another Catholic school kicked our asses (I believe one memorable game ended at 48 to 2) we consoled ourselves by making fun of their big, sprayed, permed hair, and the lavish eye makeup that ran down their faces when they sweated. We didn't know that what divided us from those girls was economic class--they were the children of plumbers and bodega owners, while we were the children of bankers and lawyers and lobbyists. We genuinely believed that we had simply been gifted with a better fashion sense.
But I bet those girls knew exactly what we were saying as we got on the bus. And I'm pretty sure they knew what we were really talking about.
Now, of course, that's not a story about Democrats making fun of Republicans, or liberals making fun of conservatives, or coastal people making fun of people from the interior of the country, or urban people making fun of rural people. It's a story about rich kids (including some middle-class kids on scholarship whose social world is made up of rich kids) who go to school in the Bronx and whose parents are more likely than not to vote Democratic, given where they live, making fun of middle and working class kids who go to school in the Bronx and whose parents are more likely than not to vote Democratic. Rich people have always had contempt for poor people, and that fact doesn't say anything meaningful about liberals relate to conservatives, particularly given that poor people are more likely to have liberal political views and rich people the opposite.
To think of liberals as richer or more upper class than conservatives, you need to be picturing an archetypical liberal as a professional who went to an Ivy League college and now has a job in NY, and an archetypical conservative as someone who, while they may be, in Megan's words "quite brilliant", went to "ordinary state schools." The "coastal privilege" described here now seems to be the feelings of one group of college-educated professionals about another, not nearly so clearcut a class or economic distinction.
Tim Burke makes a related point nicely in the linked post, as follows:
So again, who are the actual culture warriors? To a very significant extent, this is not a war of elites versus masses, it is an intramural struggle between closely related social fractions whose professional and lived worlds overlap and rub up against one another. Professors versus middle-rank white collar professionals. Commercial illustrators versus chic gallery artists and their patrons. This group of thirty-something think-tank fellows versus that group of thirty-something think-tank fellows. Students from Harvard Law looking for Department of Justice positions versus students from Regent University looking for Department of Justice positions. Mothers who take time off from competitive career tracks to rear young children versus mothers who use nannies and round-the-clock day care. The fiercest and nastiest social and cultural struggles in any society are often between people who are closely proximate and thus are struggling for the same objective rather than between people who are very distant from each other.
So, the offhand formulation of the issue - that 'liberals' generally look down on 'conservatives' generally for cultural reasons, and if they could just somehow quit it, their political fortunes would improve -- is nonsense. There's just no way to reduce 'liberals' to wealthy white urban professionals, while 'conservatives' are middle-class rural/suburban white people who do something wholesome like farm or fix things (for one thing, this formulation totally erases poor and minority voters, who tend strongly to be liberal but don't fit into this narrative at all, from the political world.) Still, the perception is about something; while a lot of it is just dishonest nonsense being sold by conservative intellectuals trying to whip up resentment of liberals, the fact that it has taken off the way it has means that it connects to something in the real world. (To talk about it, I'm going to have to talk about the coastal/liberal tribe as if it described something real, which it does - I'm pretty much a core member as an elite-schooled-born-in-NY-liberal-professional - but what it describes is a whole lot smaller than all city people or all liberals, so I'm going to use a whole lot of sneer quotes.)
If you look at the comments to Megan's linked post above, you can see what I think is going on. You've got people who see themselves as part of the 'conservative' tribe (middle-class white people who don't live in Northeastern/Mid-Atlantic or West Coast cities, and didn't attend 'elite' colleges) complaining about contempt directed their way from what they see as the 'liberal' tribe (white urban professionals who do live in those cities and did attend 'elite' colleges). A fair number of the specific references, though, are to the fact that 'coastal'/'liberal' people just lack the cultural markers of 'conservative'/'rural' people - they don't hunt, or watch NASCAR, or whatever - and that the lack of those markers is in itself evidence of the contempt they're complaining of. John Kerry making a tin-eared comment about NASCAR is proof he had contempt for red-staters, because the only two possibilities with regard to NASCAR are being a sincere fan, or feeling contempt for anyone who's interested in it at all.
This makes the claim that 'liberals' generally feel contempt for 'conservatives' absolutely irrefutable. As a member of the identified 'liberal' tribe, I, in fact, don't know jack about NASCAR, have touched a gun once in my life (my father-in-law had a .22 with which a whole bunch of us were trying to shoot an old wasp's nest out of a tree. I missed.), don't go to church other than for weddings and funerals, and don't know much about evangelical Christianity firsthand, and so on. If not 'getting it' with regard to those cultural markers means contempt, I'm guilty. But that's crazy - in the real world, everyone is a member of some cultural group, and has the markers of that group, and doesn't have the markers of groups that they don't belong to. Turning evidence that some person isn't a member of your group into support for a belief that they despise your group leaves you feeling personally aggrieved by everyone who doesn't share your cultural markers, and refusing to trust anyone who isn't just like you.
This isn't meant to be a convincing argument to anyone who believes in the 'liberal'/'coastal' contempt for 'conservatives' trope - anyone who buys it is going to react by thinking that the contempt is real, and that the evidence they're relying on for it isn't just evidence of cultural difference. I've got no idea how you'd turn this into a convincing argument. But it does, at least, make sense to me: that what conservative intellectuals have done with this trope is encouraged ordinary conservatives to seek out the sort of cultural markers that drive Haidt's ingroup loyalty to create a strong sense of a conservative tribe, and then to interpret anything that reveals someone else as an outsider to the tribe as proof of hostility and contempt.
(This post never really gelled -- I'm mostly just rambling. I posted it not so much because it was done, or clear, but because I'd mentioned that I was thinking about it over the weekend, and I certainly hadn't posted anything else lately.)
Via Sifu, I see that sidetaker has supplanted unfogged as the place to go when you want to say unhelpful things about other people's problems. And you get to vote! and see results!
Stormy seas ahead, my friends. Hard times upon us. Only one thing can save us, and that thing is musical theater.
I'm sure this has already been commented on, blogged about, and discarded as teh sexist, but whatevs, I'll give up my posting privileges when they're pried from my cold dead fingers.
So, how are those stock markets going to be doing today, I wonder? I am having the terror blunted by the satisfaction of being right, since I have been predicting doom to all and sundry for some time now. My husband asked the sensible question of why, if I were so sure, I hadn't taken all our money out of the stock market to put it back in later. I guess I was sure enough to want to say I told you so without being sure enough to do something that might have been crazy/had hideous tax implications/etc.
UPDATE: I can post but I can't comment, it would seem? What kind of crazy, looking-glass unfogged is that, I'd like to know? MOMENTS LATER--UPDATED AGAIN: Aw, never mind. Working, but with a slowness. Also, now I feel like Glenn Greenwald.
So this is that speaking-in-tongues stuff you guys were on about before, right? Okay. Cool. Just checking.
I propose a proscription against musicians encouraging the audience to clap along during live performances. The clapping inevitably subsides, becoming a rather pathetic gesture before dying out entirely. Which, I submit, is just awkward for everyone involved.
Possible exemption: songs with handclaps, though it's not entirely clear whether all songs of this type are performed live with actual handclaps, nor is it clear whether the audience is expected to participate in said clapping.