The notional difficulty of convening a group of scholars and qualified amateurs in the San Francisco Bay Area in the latter portion of December was inextricably linked with the idea that there would be a large influx interested scholars, for the occasion of the Modern Language Ass'n's meeting, and that they would moreover have the freedom to pursue their interests without fear of recrimination. It now appears, however, that this supposition may have been unjustified, and that the visiting scholars, when superadded to the local amateur and scholarly population, may not create as intimidating a crowd as we feared—or, perhaps, hoped—and that therefore a gathering of same may be had somewhat easily: early encouragement to think along these lines has been provided by the apparent evidence that only three people will be coming to the MLA, and one or two of them will be busy.
With the aim of determining how matters really stand, we hereby solicit from both locals and out-of-towners a nonbinding statement of interest: will you be in the SFBA for, or during, or during the aftermath of, the MLA? Will you be available for a meetup, or party-like event, or summat?
My mother just called to tell me that she'd just gotten off the phone with my grandmother (not her mother, but my deceased father's mother) and had to share the conversation. For background, my grandparents live in south Alabama, as they have all their lives, are devout Southern Baptists in their mid-eighties, and have been staunch Republicans ever since the Dixiecrats migrated to the GOP. My grandmother, a Stephens before she married, is a descendant of Alexander Stephens, the vice-president of the Confederacy. Though I can't say for sure, I very much doubt either of them have voted for a Democratic presidential candidate since LBJ, if then.
And my grandmother is voting for Obama this year. I nearly fractured my jaw when it bounced off of the floor. I would have been less surprised to hear she was getting a sex change and moving to Key West. She told my mother that, of course, there are lots of people down there who simply aren't ever going to vote for a black candidate. Her response to those people has been to ask, "Have you read his book? You should. It will change your mind."
I just... I mean... Wow. I'm still trying to get my head around this. Go Grandma.
A sad day for the groove. NYT obit.
I submit that Love Child, by Diana Ross and the Supremes, is one of the very best uses of back-up singers ever. Okay, first, in the chorus, I love their delivery of Scorned by! and Different from! They are clearly scandalized by the treatment of the Love Child.
But the very best part is the editing. Right after the first chorus, Diana Ross sings, "Started my life in a old, cold, run-down tenament slum," and the back-up singers echo tenement slum.
Someone in editing clearly thought that this sounded excellent, and they were right, so they decided to add tenement slum to the instrumental portion at the beginning of the song. So the very best part is how the song starts with the tambourines and the chimes, and the back-up singers just sing the isolated phrase, tenement slum, apropo of nothing. Tenement Slum!
Here, have a listen:
I've been meaning to write about this but since it came up in comments, I figure now is the time: I don't see how the Flophouse can host UnfoggeDCon according to its usual tradition this year. We usually hold it to coincide with APA East and that would put it on December 27th this year. I'm pretty sure my parents would kill me if I came home for Christmas but didn't stay through the weekend and Armsmasher has a wedding. Also: seriously, APA? That close to Christmas? That's just mean.
When it was pegged to APA East, it was pretty easy to plan because there wasn't much fighting about dates and locations so this might open up a huge can of worms but if people can come to some kind of consensus on what should be done, The Blog will do what it can to help facilitate said gathering.
Not wanting to admit to you that I didn't volunteer two weeks in a row, I went down to the campaign office last night. Even the gatekeepers there, whose job is to shoot down anyone who wants to get out of phone banking with a ready response, were able to hear that my sick, craggy voice wasn't fit for the task so they let me do data entry. No wonder everyone wants to do data entry -- you get to shoot things with laser guns! It's totally fun.
I'd seen the barcoded entry sheets when writing down my phone banking and canvassing results but never been able to play around with the computer system before. Well, technically, I wasn't allowed to play with the voter data system last night, either, but I was alone in a little room and a little giddy from the satisfying noise the laser gun made so the software developer in me couldn't resist checking it out. And OMG -- Barack Obama totally knows everything about you. I figured he knew a lot but it's even more than I'd imagined. It's exactly the kind of data aggregation I would hope they'd have and pretty amazing that their records are so comprehensive given how short-lived campaigns are. Super Duper GOTV Databases are exactly what make me feel like I'm getting my money's worth when I'm donating and I can vouch that your money's being well spent.
Now, awesome databases for GOTV can only get you so far. Without people to implement them, the steamroller of a ground game that people have been speculating about isn't going to work. For the first time, the volunteer email lists I'm on are getting messages from the branch offices saying that the phone banks were completely empty the previous night and they aren't getting volunteers. There was only one person phone banking last night at my office; the previous time I went, there were eight. People are getting complacent.
I know Obama's up by a growing margin in the polls but the race isn't won yet. The polls don't matter if they can't turn people out. Don't let all of the infrastructure they've built up go to waste. This is a critical time - get down to your local campaign office and volunteer.
For those of you who have never read Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged, the basic theme is that John Galt and his allies take actions that include withdrawing their talents, "stopping the motor of the world," and leading the "strikers" (those who refuse to be exploited) against the "looters" (the exploiters, backed by the government).
Perhaps the partisan politics we are dealing with now is really just a struggle between those of us who believe in productivity, personal responsibility, and keeping government interference to a minimum, and those who believe in the socialistic policies of taking from others, using the government as a watchdog, and rewarding those who overspend, underwork, or are just plain unproductive.
Obama talks about taking from those who are productive and redistributing to those who are not -- or who are not as successful. If success and productivity is to be punished, why bother? Perhaps it is time for those of us who make the money and pay the taxes to take it easy, live on less, and let the looters of the world find their own way.
My question to readers is, what are some ways to "go John Galt" (legally, of course) -- that is, should productive people cut back on what they need, make less money, and take it easy so that the government is starved for funds, or is there some other way of making a statement?
This sort of thing makes me so happy. Any productive citizens out there thinking of withdrawing their productive power from our sadly socialistic society, stop by in the comments and we'll give you some tips on frugal, low impact living.
I'm sure that not having kids is partly to blame for me thinking a little-kid version of Gordon Ramsay is funny. I also blame nostalgia for my ex-roommate, who would watch all those Hell's Kitchen-type shows and keep me apprised of the latest drama. It's just too much work for me to do alone.
Bonus points (and this one may be a bit old): Li'l Bill O'Reilly.
So tonight's pretty much McCain's last chance to redeem himself. Will he pull it off? Will he go for a stunt? Will he hand Obama his you-know-what?
This is your debate thread.
Tonight is the final debate, seven national polls show Obama with a double-digit lead (let the record show that I was wrong and mama-geebie was right), and I'll be banking my early vote tomorrow. That's excuse enough to toss up another eighty minutes of celebratory horn blasts and bass slaps, right? You're damn straight it is.
Grab it, y'all. And pull that lever like you mean it.
I learned something today, the sign of a good day. Apparently, and this is according to Wikipedia, the canonical version of a chile relleno includes meat. [Insert a bunch of hand-waving about purported "Mexican" cuisine and a sidebar about vegetarians being annoying notwithstanding something something something.]
I will henceforth exercise caution when ordering chiles rellenos.
Yesterday, on my way to work, the local radio DJ (named Bobby Bones) asked everyone to google "Bobby Bones Vanessa Hudgens Make Out Pictures" and "Bobby Bones Vanessa Hudgens Vacation Pictures." So I did, in the name of Science. Up come all these horrified gossip sites wondering if she's cheating on her boyfriend. Apparently they made Google Trends, too. I am a part of a powerful constituency.
I've been totally unproductive today even though I have lots of things I should be doing, and even though I felt really queasy and sick I ate lots of candy corn and now I feel a million times worse and it's all my own fault!
Is the following, from this article, a fair-for-its-length characterization?
Briefly put, the efficient markets hypothesis states that prices of stocks, bonds, and other speculative assets necessarily reflect everything that is known about economic fundamentals, such as inflation, exports, and corporate profitability. The proof proceeds by contradiction. Suppose stock prices have risen above levels justified by the fundamentals. Then clever speculators, such as Soros, will step in and sell them, thereby restoring prices to their proper levels. If stocks fall below their fundamental value, speculators will step in and buy them.
That's not really a proof by contradiction; a proof by contradiction works by showing how the hypothesis could never really have been true in the first place (hence the name, you see). But this argument works, if it does, by arguing that the hypothesis won't be true for very long, so that it ought also to explain (a) how the stock prices deviated from what's justifiable in the first place and (b) why it won't take arbitrarily long for the rational and clever speculators to be summoned from the vasty deep.
No one would buy an argument to the conclusion that there are no hitchhikers that proceeded by hypothesizing the existence of a hitchhiker, and then asserting that surely a kind soul will give him or her a ride pretty soon.
This idea of "let postmen deliver anthrax medicines if there's an epidemic!" would be a lot more convincing if I hadn't watched Right At Your Door on On-Demand this weekend.
Apparently a 15 year old girl took some nudie self-portraits of herself, e-mailed them out, and got arrested on child porn charges. Can you really perpetrate child abuse on yourself? Is this like a zen koan or something?
Her high school is called Licking Valley. Tee hee.
The FDA has ordered that medical manufacturers replace the propellant in asthma inhalers to one that does not emit CFCs and damage the ozone layer. I just got my first inhaler with the new propellant and, well, fuck the environment: it doesn't work.
You're going to see lawsuits about this, I guarantee it.
What is that when you turn your neck too fast and get that sharp pain? It's not actually whiplash, right? It seems like it used to happen to be all the time when I was a kid, and now not so much. But it happened twice today so far.
You may have seen that support has been on the rise for Prop 8, that is, the proposition in CA that (as the title puts it) would eliminate the right of same-sex couples to marry (people of their own sex). But were you aware that, according to a Christian Newswire, "The subsample of voters between 18 and 34 support Prop. 8 by a considerably larger margin of 53% to 39%"? Perhaps they were swayed in part by sites like this. Note that the facts section of the site doesn't mention any facts that are at al relevant to the issue at hand and that the response to the question whether banning gay marriage and banning interracial marriage are similar is basically "stop being gay, stupid gays!". The analysis of the right to marry is especially awesome proceeding in basically three steps:
- Heterosexual marriage is a civil right, one which people enjoy based on the legal institutions of their society
- In May 2008, this right was extended, in California, to homosexual marriage.
- Therefore homosexual marriage is not a civil right.
Makes sense, right? I challenge you to come up with a more charitable reconstruction of the argument than that. The public health justification comes to this: "Men in traditional marriages are way better off than unmarried men" in a few ways: healthier, wealthier, and if not wiser, at least happier. Since the policy regarding what gay men should do basically seems to be "be celibate" which probably has as a corollary "don't enter into a sham heterosexual marriage which will probably be stressful and anyway not give you any health benefits", it's unclear why this isn't a public health argument for gay marriage, at least on the assumption that it's not the causal properties of vaginal fluids or any other female pudenda per se that make heterosexual marriage so beneficial to the men in them. There is simply no thought whatsoever about what about a marriage might be beneficial to anyone; one suspects that the best analysis one could get here is something like "heterosexual marriage is good because heterosexual marriage is good" (remember that there do purport to be secular arguments on the pro-8 side (and the subject at hand purports to be civil marriage), procreation wouldn't explain increased wealth but increased poverty, etc.) Similar arguments, mutatis mutandis, for these claims. They all seem to add up to: marriage is pretty good! Let's let some people get married!
Not that the general intellectual bankruptcy of those who oppose homosexual marriage is the story of the age. But I'm continually surprised anew when there seems to be evidence that such bankruptcy sells. To mix metaphors.
There's a video up there which I didn't watch but through whose transcript I did flip. Let's take a look at it!
There are lots of little videos scattered throughout the big video of persons such as Chistrian Hosoi, professional skateboarder and pastor, and Jacques Cisera, professional football player and supporter of biblical marriage (whatever that is) encouraging people to vote yes on 8, which are probably even more excruciating to watch than to read, so let's not dwell on those. There's also a lot of instances of the head honcho telling his flock to say this or that word in a way that, in the transcript at least, comes off pretty creepy:
Say love. Very good. … Love is God [sic] obedience. Everyone say obedience. … It's about obeying God. Everyone say obey God. … The stipulation is that there are rules to love. Everyone say rules. … Yo Cheryl, last night was the bomb! The hotel was sweet. It was better than your apartment. … When God does something He has an eternal perspective. Everyone say eternal … In the New Testament the church is the bride. Everyone say bride. … This is very interesting because when we go to heaven the bride, everyone say bride, and the groom, say groom … Guess who created marriage? Everyone say God [?]. Guess who created man? Say God. Guess who created woman? Say God and guess who's the one who said here's how man and woman should be united? say God.
Lies, of course:
Which seem to be catching on:
We're also gonna see indoctrination. We see it in a, we'll see it in the work place. We'll see indoctrination in schools. For example in 2007 the only other state that allowed same sex marriage besides California is Massachusetts. In 2007 a judge passed a ruling that said every young person in Massachusetts will be taught the homosexual lifestyle. Even Christian kids in a public school.
(That's from the first link up there.) The Bee does not seem to have inquired of Choban whether or not he's a raging idiot.
According to the Sacramento Bee, student council member Viktor Choban, 25, said he voted his conscience. "This resolution has everything to do with education because it affects all the public schools and colleges," the Bee quoted Choban as saying. "If Proposition 8 fails, schools will absolutely be required to teach that gay marriage is equal to normal marriage, thereby confusing students and children about the most basic rules of men and women in society."
This guy's got his head on right, anyway. Curious bit there: this guy got a fax from his bishop urging him to urge his parishioners to vote yes on 8. The LDS is putting its weight behind the measure as well. Doesn't that endanger their tax-exemptness? I have been under the impression for about seven hours that religious institutions are exempt from paying taxes so long as they're pretty much politically neutral.
There are thirty short minutes left to sign up to play Mafia! E-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Since only two people have signed up so far, you're not exactly committing your life away. Taking risks is fun.
Update: Only three people signed up, you big bunch of candy-asses. The game is hereby regretfully withdrawn.
When people ask me where I'm from, I say "Southern California", and if they ask for more detail, "Orange County", and if they remain insatiable, only at that point do I get specific. Though I'm not sure what the delta between steps two and three really is:
Gallinger is not the first candidate in Orange County to be attacked for supporting the Council on American-Islamic Relations. Bill Dalati, a Muslim and moderate Republican who ran for Anaheim City Council in 2006, was denounced by former GOP state party Chairman Shawn Steel as anti-American and a "Manchurian candidate."
Do people really abort because they find out the baby has Down's Syndrome? I thought that people had abortions because of the mother's circumstances, the mother's health, or because the baby had such severe abnormalities that it would only live a year or two.
But lately all these people have come out of the woodwork saying, "Yeah, we would have aborted it if it had had Down's." Really? Am I totally out of touch with the baby calculus going on in other people's heads?
Is this the real, dirty secret as to why you're supposed to wait so long to tell people you're pregnant? So that you don't have to admit you aborted your defective fetus? (Full backstory over at my place, here, if you so desire.)