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Contortions

Posted by Becks
on 10.11.08

While we're revisiting once-settled subjects, let's go back to this thread (and its more scientific cousin) where we see many D.C. denizens protest that nobody does yoga. And now, looking around the people I know in D.C., it seems that yoga has completely caught on. Is that a function of D.C. being late to the party or that people seem to migrate to yoga later in their 20s when their joints start creaking and back then everyone was just too young and hale?


 

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McCain's Mobs

Posted by Becks
on 10.11.08

Brian Beutler on the tone at McCain's rallies, getting it exactly right:

In a way there's a real irony to the Ayers phenomenon. The Republicans are trying to win this election by associating Barack Obama with a political violence movement that died a generation ago, and in the process they're reigniting a different political violence movement that's been burning in the background for the same stretch of time.

 

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That's So ?

Posted by Becks
on 10.10.08

The Ad Council finally catches up and addresses an issue we tackled over two years ago. Yet even they can't come up with an adequate word to replace it.


 

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Rug Cutters

Posted by Becks
on 10.09.08

My big take-away from last weekend's festivities: people who know how to dance are the best wedding guests and have the most fun. I'm not talking about the dancing one does at a bar or drunkenly in one's living room but actual dancing. The wedding band played a lot of standards and swing-dancing songs from the 40s and the older members of my family completely showed us all up. My 86-year-old grandfather totally owned the dance floor.

It gave me an appreciation for learning how it's really done. Basic, traditional dance steps are like a shared vocabulary, allowing you to at least have a simple conversation with anyone you happen to meet. Like learning a few words of a foreign language, it seems to open up your world to fun experiences with new people that you wouldn't have had otherwise.


 

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The Day

Posted by Becks
on 10.09.08

I used my trip to the Midwest to poll the sentiment of my family members on the election. Most of them are older, more Catholic, and more conservative than my immediate family and, to my surprise, even my twice-Bush-voting grandfather says he's probably going to vote for "that colored fellow".

If Obama is elected, I'm sure we'll see a number of stories about older African-Americans who fought for civil rights and are overwhelmed with emotion because they never thought they'd live to see the day a black man was elected president. I bet my grandfather and many like him would also say they never though they'd live to see the day a black man was elected president, but I bet they have a different tone in their voice when they say it. That it's likely my grandfather will not only see the day but will help make it happen by casting his ballot to put the first black president into the White House shows that Obama has already been a force for change.


 

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Denial is an illocutionary act

Posted by Ben
on 10.08.08

Like Saiselgy, I've never met Cullen Sheehan; unlike him, I find it the easiest thing in the world not to feel even a little bit sorry for him when watching this video (there's also a transcript at the link)—on the contrary, I find it difficult not to feel scorn for him. As far as I can tell Sheehan's job is to deny all but a subset of information to journalists, and to do so with equanimity. Perhaps he did not know going into the business that this would require him occasionally to affect an inability to reason normally seen only prelinguistic children, but then, my impression is that actual questions are a rarity in press conferences anyway. But what we're watching isn't anything tragic; if anything, it's a cheering sight to see someone who is basically a professional liar (as we know, "it's a publicity man's nature to be a liar, I wouldn't hire you if you wasn't a liar … I pay you a C and a half while you, you plant big lies about me and the club all over the map") forced into increasingly absurd positions, like … this one!

REPORTER: And will we find information about clothing on those forms?

CULLEN SHEEHAN: If it exceeds a gift limit, yes.

REPORTER: So is it possible that he received these suits and it was below gift level.

CULLEN SHEEHAN: The Senator has reported every gift he has ever received.

The second question here is kind of odd; if I read these instructions right (and if they are the relevant instructions, of course), the limit is $335 worth of gifts individually worth more than $134. Suits from Neiman Marcus probably qualify. Now, suppose the universe is giftables and let Rx mean "x is reported", Gx mean "x was given to Coleman", and Lx mean "x meets the limit for being reported"; let s name the suits allegedly given to Coleman. Then we have as premise (P1) ∀x((LxGx)→Rx), and as premise (P2) Ls. We know from (P1) that (Ls∧Gs)→Rs; assuming for the purposes of introducing a conditional that Gs, we have from (P2) Ls∧Gs, and conclude Rs, thus concluding that Gs→Rs, so by contraposition we have ¬Rs→¬Gs. Now, whether Rs is a matter of public record, though I don't know how long it takes to get the records, so really, Sheehan needn't have temporized so much.

Not that one really need go through this rigmarole, especially since Sheehan only mentioned the gift limit once. Clearly he's giving a "no" answer, even if he doesn't actually say "no", just as I would be giving a "no" answer if you asked me "do we need eggs" and I said "I put everything we need on the shopping list", eggs not being on the list and the list being available to you.


 

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We're All Doomed

Posted by Stanley
on 10.08.08

I got fifteen of eighteen, but I totally rolled my eyes at each one so it's okay. Now you go.


 

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I Hope You All Made Me Look Bad

Posted by Becks
on 10.08.08

What did I do to get Obama elected this week? Not much. I was going to phone bank tonight but I'm sick as a dog and can barely breathe. (Whine.) I doubt my condition will improve in time to make it up tomorrow or go canvassing over the weekend, either.

Before that, I was traveling to a family wedding. I did register my swing-state-living cousin to vote at the wedding though, so that counts for something. (He mentioned he wasn't registered at the rehearsal dinner so I printed out an application that night at the hotel in the business center and made him fill it out after the ceremony. I also requested an absentee ballot for him, assuming he'd be too lazy to walk to the polls.)

What did you do this week?



 

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Mafia

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 10.08.08

Probably a lot of you have played this before, but let's lay down some ground rules. So, it works best with ~20 people. Through a secret process, two people are designated as cops, and two people are designated as members of the mafia. There is a narrator.

The narrator says, "The town goes to sleep," and everyone closes their eyes. The narrator says, "The mafia wake up and select a victim." The mafia wake up and silently gesture to the narrator who they'd like to kill. The narrator says, "The mafia go to sleep." Then the narrator says, "The cops wake up and select a suspect." The cops open their eyes and silently indicate who their suspect is. The narrator says, "The cops go to sleep."

Finally, the game begins. The narrator summarizes: "The town wakes up. Person X has been killed, and the police were correct/incorrect in their guess." (Person X is out of the game. Sorry. They're dead.)

Now the town goes on a vigilante justice spree, arguing and debating who they'd like to supply as their guess. Cops and mafia are of course both undercover here; cops armed with extra information, mafia trying to sabotage the process. After ten minutes, the town must generate a single name who they'd like to hang.

The narrator says if the person named was a member of the mafia or the police, or a common citizen. Either way, this person is dead and out of the game. The town goes to sleep, and the mafia select another victim, and the cops select another suspect, and the process repeats with another rampage of vigilante justice. And so on.

The game is over if both members of the mafia are killed, or if one of them is the last person remaining.

Why did you read all that?

It strikes me that Mafia could be modified to fit Unfogged. All interactions while the town is asleep can take place over e-mail, all interactions while the town is awake can be done in a thread.

So: Anyone want to play Mafia this Sunday at 8:00 Central time? All I need is a fixed guest list and an e-mail address from everyone playing. So if you'd like to play, e-mail me at heebiegeebie@unfogged.com.

I'll end registration at, say, 6:00 Central Time on Sunday, to give me a little bit of time to get in touch with both members of the mafia and both members of the police.

What fun!


 

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Funny ha-ha? Or funny, you know, the other way?

Posted by Stanley
on 10.08.08

I hadn't even heard of An American Carol before reading of the vast left-wing movie-theater-employee conspiracy to stifle the film's deserved blockbuster status. Wikipedia's drive-by is laughable, but I don't think it's the kind of laugh the filmmakers were going for:

Left-wing activist and filmmaker Michael Malone (a parody of Michael Moore) is campaigning to end the celebration of the Fourth of July. Malone truculently argues to the American people that America's past and present are offensive, and therefore should not be celebrated. Malone's nephew is a naval officer about to deploy to the Persian Gulf, and Malone treats him with contempt. Malone is then visited by three ghosts, Presidents George Washington and John F. Kennedy, and General George S. Patton, who try to make him rethink his view of America. They try to show him that sometimes war is necessary for the greater cause. For example, Patton shows him an alternate world where slavery is still in existence because Lincoln chose not to fight the Civil War. He also shows the filmmaker how British Prime Minister Chamberlain appeased Adolf Hitler. Malone is also visited by the spirit of George Washington (played by Jon Voight) who takes him to the very church in New York where he was sworn in as the 1st President. Washington tells him how the dust in the church is the dust from the World Trade Center on 9/11. In the film's end, Malone is a changed man who loves America and realizes how precious freedom is.

I mean, that's just a boring fucking idea for a movie.


 

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It's good for me, it must be

Posted by Stanley
on 10.07.08

I make no claims as to the medical benefits of sipping them, but lord almighty, hot toddies are delightful. I just might have one a few days on, when I'm not feeling sick, too.


 

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Panem et circenses.

Posted by Apostropher
on 10.07.08

Your obligatory debate thread.


 

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And then, the intercrural sex

Posted by Ben
on 10.07.08

In Scarsdale, N.Y., where Latin enrollment rose by 14 percent to 80 this year, the high school sponsors a Roman banquet on the Ides of March during which students come wearing tunics and wreaths in their hair. Seniors serve bread, olives, roasted chicken and grapes to younger students, and all of them break bread with their hands.

Hot.

While I personally took Latin in high school because I thought it would be cool, rather than because I was under the impression that doing so would make me> cool, I believe that unbiased observer E. Klein can confirm that the Latin population at our school was home to the coolest of the cool. While I have noted before that it was exposure to the subjunctive in high school that set me on my current terrible path (my mother having failed utterly to get me to say "were" rather than "was" in counterfactual conditionals), it's less known that the main Latin teacher at my HS was also a practiced cock-joker, having once (or maybe more than once) claimed, for instance, that semen leaves his penis at improbably, and dangerously, high speeds. (Also: the contraceptive properties of anal sex. No doubt the frequency of such incidents is exaggerated in my memory, but it's still somewhat hard to believe that we ever learned anything, and that neither he nor the other Latin teacher, hardly any cleaner-mouthed, haven't been embroiled in scandal.)

I have to say I think it's super cool that people in some of these schools are actually composing and speaking a bit in Latin; I only ever approached that level of comfort once, after a prose class in college, and it made the other aspects, as you would expect, much easier. The abilities thus gained quickly fled, alas, though I have been pleased in recent days to discover that I can mostly read Cicero's Catilinarians ok (though I have not been rendered noticeably cooler thereby).

Minor gripes: Jason Griffiths seems to be living in the Renaissance, and Don Conetta ought to be ashamed; the opening line of the first Catilinarian (which is what I assume he's thinking of) is super famous (see fourth para. from bottom).


 

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A Daughter's a Daughter...

Posted by Alameida
on 10.07.08

This NYT blog item on disparities in caring for aging parents prompted an unfogged-length comment thread that is worth reading. The author's actual advice seems...bad:

In the years since, I've urged female friends and colleagues, and now blog readers, not to waste energy on this particular iteration of the gender wars. It is what it is, and this arduous interval is a dumb time for a feminist hissy fit. Far wiser to bow to the stereotypes and delegate every male-suitable task you can think of to your brother(s). Then leave them alone; don't micro-manage or tell them what they're doing wrong. It doesn't matter if they do it the way you would, or even if they do it as well, as long as they do it. To be self-righteous, as I was, is counterproductive and won't make you feel very good about yourself anyway.

Her correspondent has advice which could be better, or is at least couched in more affirming language:

"The experience is bad enough in its own right without all that resentment," she said. "You really must give up expecting people to feel and behave as you do. Expectations are what create stress. Having no expectations, if you can get to that point, as a female, is the key to good sibling interactions."

My mother is one of two daughters and has two older brothers. Even though she lives 5 hrs away and one brother lives in the same town fulltime and the other has a weekend home there, she does an incredible amount of the heavy lifting in terms of caring for my granddad. Especially so in the case of actual physical care. The same was true of my grandmother as well. My mom just seems more competent, somehow? Or she steps up to the plate and everyone lets her do it? She's made it clear to my siblings that we're supposed to be learning an important life lesson...hopefully my brother is paying attention.


 

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The chair! Give him the chair!

Posted by Apostropher
on 10.07.08

Remember Jerome Corsi, the professional smear artist behind Swift Boat Veterans for Truth? Of course you do. Well, he's in Kenya right now, throwing thousand dollar bills around some of the poorest slums on earth looking for somebody to say Barack Obama is a secret Muslim terrorist. But perhaps not for much longer.

The American author of a best-selling book attacking Barack Obama is being detained in Kenya because he does not have a work permit, a senior immigration official said Tuesday. Jerome Corsi, who wrote "The Obama Nation: Leftist Politics and the Cult of Personality," was being held at immigration headquarters in Nairobi after police picked him up from his hotel Tuesday, said Carlos Maluta, a senior immigration official in charge of investigations.

"We still haven't decided what to do with him," Maluta told The Associated Press.

Call me, Mr. Maluta! I have a whole list of ideas for what you can do with him!


 

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More email

Posted by Ben
on 10.06.08

Salem Communications sent me another email. I would like to snark about it, but I'm lazy.

John McCain is declining in the polls, especially in key swing states. The National Republican Trust PAC, our sponsor today, has a strategy to help McCain win. Please take a moment to read their message below.

Thank you.

Obama's Radical Agenda Exposed


An Urgent Message from The National Republican Trust PAC


Dear Fellow American:

Never before in the history of our nation have we faced such a grave crisis: one of the most radical political figures ever to be nominated by a major party is just minutes away from becoming President of the United States .

That man is Barack Obama.


He promises to change America forever. If elected, he will do just that - but in ways
you may not like.

Remember Obama is the most liberal member of the United States Senate.

He received a 100 percent Liberal Rating from the National Journal, making him the most left-wing Senator in Washington - more liberal than even Democratic senators like Ted Kennedy.

If you look at Obama's record, you will understand just how dangerous this man is.

He even has terrorist friends he won't denounce. One such man is William Ayers, a leader in the radical terrorist group the Weatherman Underground. The group bombed several government buildings, including the Pentagon, killing civilians and police officers.

In 2001, Ayers said he had no regrets for his actions and wished he could have done more.

The ties between Obama and Ayers are tight. Both served on two non profit boards and they worked closely together. Ayers even hosted a political event at his home for Obama.

Obama has acknowledged he is a friend of Ayers and defends his association by saying he, Obama, was only 8 years old at the time of the Pentagon bombing.

However, Obama has no explanation as to why he is still a friend of Ayers.

Obama has even been endorsed by radicals such as Nation of Islam Leader Louis Farrakhan.

No one can deny hearing about Obama's relationship with the America-hating Rev. Jeremiah Wright.

There should be little doubt that William Ayers and Louis Farrakhan and the Rev. Jeremiah Wright are rooting for Obama - because he is one of them.

In keeping with such friends, Obama has promised to meet with radical leaders like Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad without "preconditions" even though Ahmadinejad has promised to "wipe Israel off the map" and "destroy" America .

Even radical Hamas terrorists have praised him.

"We like Mr. Obama and we hope he will win the election," Ahmed Yousef, senior Hamas leader was quoted by ABC radio as saying.

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He has called for more than $800 billion in new spending programs.

He is so radical he even backed driver's licenses for illegal aliens - even though such a move would help future terrorists move freely in the United States.

He is the most pro-abortion candidate in the history of the country. In 2001, as a state legislator in Illinois , he opposed a bill to protect live born children - children actually born alive! He was the only Illinois senator to speak out against the bill.

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He originally backed Washington D.C. 's total ban on private handguns - a ban that was overturned. The NRA rated him an "F" on gun positions and says he is one of the most dangerous anti-gun politicians in the nation.

Never forget that Obama is a Harvard educated elitist. To him we Americans are simply "bitter" and he has mocked us saying "[they] cling to their guns and their religion."

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And even though Obama was "anointed" by the media and Democratic elites, Hillary went on to win eight of the last 10 Democratic primaries.

How did Obama beat Hillary for the nomination?

Well, using a loophole in Democratic rules, he was able to rack up large majorities in caucus states where he outspent and out organized her.

But in large, contested states she won almost every time. Why? Because when Democrats heard what Obama really stood for, they turned on him.

Make no mistake about it: If we let Americans know the truth about Obama, John McCain can win this election!

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We must expose Obama for the dangerous radical he is.

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This is why the National Republican Trust Political Action Committee is moving to implement a "shock and awe" strategy against Obama in key states.

We plan to take out powerful television ads, Internet ads and other communications to inform Americans about the dangers posed by Barack Obama.

We plan to target key states that can make a difference - But we need your help to do it

As a political action committee, we can accept up to $5,000 in donations per contributor.

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It will most certainly help our great nation.

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Yours for America,

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Executive Director

P.S. Election Day is just weeks away. Your support today can make a huge difference - donate today - Go Here Now



 

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Charming to the unsophisticated

Posted by Ben
on 10.06.08

I have to say that if I were paying through the nose to, or so that my child could, attend, as an undergraduate, an elite institution such as Stanford styles itself, and if, additionally, I had to rent someone else's nose so as to pay through it to provide on-campus housing for myself or my child, and if, despite my out-through-nose-moving gelt, said institution's penury and teensy-weensy endowment caused it to need to be creative in order to provide "increased quality of living" for its undergraduates, despite its recent outlays in other ventures, I would feel pretty let down if it turned out that the creative means on which those who settle settled were Murphy beds, even, or especially, if they were given a cutesy CamelCase name so as to disguise their true nature.

I hereby venture to predict the following further space-saving measures Stanford housing will introduce in the coming years:

1. No lampshades, just bare bulbs
2. Humpbacked squirrels

On the other hand, maybe they just couldn't pass up a deal.


 

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Elsewhere

Posted by Ben
on 10.05.08

Good post about the election and the courts by Kathy G. Abortion figures prominently, obviously (and she cites some kind of disturbing possibly future local and certainly past foreign laws), but also civil liberties, and regulation, generally, as in eg:

Geoghegan discusses some of the most important legal turning points, such as a landmark 1978 case where the Supreme Court decided unanimously to severely curtail state laws that capped interest rates on credit cards. Other consumer protection laws have also been overturned or seriously weakened. Geoghegan observes that the ways pension law and trust law have been changed have fairly radically transferred economic power from individuals to corporations and institutions. "Charitable" institutions like hospitals and universities are no longer strictly held to the former legal standards requiring that they serve the public interest. Hospitals are allowed to do things like sue uninsured folks into bankruptcy for unpaid medical bills -- and yet still preserve their tax-exempt status.

That's now, right, but it's not as if matters are likely to improve.


 

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Let's call the problem handlers.

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 10.05.08

After JRoth said this:

1. if your family is close-knit, it will tend to stay that way, even if it's a kind of dysfunctional closeness; 2. if your family is reasonably functional, then it will tend to want to stay close out of preference.

and after I responded this:

This may be exactly what's going on. We were very functional, but very independent, and it's hard for me to pin down which parent generated this value on independence or if my oldest brother set the tone and we followed. None of us ever spent summers at home after leaving for college. Growing up, we'd report good news and enjoy each other, but by and large only present a polished, solved version of bad news.

I started thinking about how we handled hearing that one of us had a frustrating circumstance in their life outside the family. Here's how we handle it: we all dog-pile solutions and a consensus quickly emerges about what the problem-holder ought to do, free from input by the problem-holder.

If the problem-holder is me, and I'm, say, eleven, then I get defensive and argue for awhile about why their solution won't work, but they are quick to counter my points, and I'm generally not articulate enough to tell them to stop because I want ownership of my problem, and I was just sharing, and stop rushing me to carry out your plans so quickly; I'll deal in on my own schedule. So I don't say these things, I give up and lie and say I'll follow their solution. And then I ignore it. Then the next day, and the next, and every few minutes, someone is asking, "Did you address the class yet with your memo about personal responsibility like we agreed you would? Did you? Did you?" Until I give up, and lie, and say, "Yes, it went great."

Voila, you learn to present your frustrations as polished, resolved past-tense problems.

I know The Books tell you that you shouldn't shove your solutions down your own kids' throats; that you should empathize and say, "That sounds tough! What are you going to do?" and help them think through their own solution, (unless directly asked for advice.)

And as an adult, it's pretty easy to say, "HANG ON, stop, I'm just sharing, not looking for advice."

So it's not currently an issue for me, and I'm not too worried about it with my own kids.

What I'm curious about is: what was it like in other families growing up? How many creatively bad ways did our families mis-handle it, when one family member was in a state of frustration?


 

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Railblogging

Posted by Ben
on 10.05.08

Two and a half hours from SF to LA, for cheap! There seems to be no indication on the site, though, as to when one might expect to be able to take advantage of such a marvelous transit option.


 

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They Don't Need No Education

Posted by Becks
on 10.05.08

This commentary was priceless (again, NPR -- sorry!) It's some kind of Libertarianish argument that we shouldn't care about improving K-12 education for the sake of bettering society and competing in the global market.

I could understand that if it was a "kids should be educated for the simple joy of learning" piece but the argument is more like "we're worried about competing with China and India and, well, they don't bother educating their poor kids so why should we?"


 

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