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Where Does CA Go From Here?

Posted by LizardBreath
on 11.08.08

I know nothing about the California referendum process. Can the "No on 8" crowd start collecting signatures now for a referendum next year reverting the California constitution to its pre-8 status quo? It seems impossible that they couldn't win, now that they're really fired up and not distracted by the Presidential election.

But there may be procedural obstacles I don't understand.


 

horizontal rule

 

I vant blood.

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 11.08.08

I have a rudimentary understanding of the current economic crisis. I know there's a bit of perfect stormness with the housing loan repackagings meets the credit default swaps meets the paper money market and so on, (based mostly off This American Life.)

The only piece of this that was totally unregulated was the credit default swaps, if I understand correctly, although the regulatory bodies for grading the packaged home loans were totally non-functional.

My question is: had the credit default swaps been regulated, would the industry just have invented something else to speculate on? Were we screwed by a culture of stinkers? And then, for the future, is there any way to protect ourselves against an industry with a tendency to invent new products to speculate on?

Also, they said yesterday on the news that Conventional Wisdom Sez it was a mistake not to bail out Lehman Brothers. I know that letting Lehman Brothers fail led the mutual somethings to break the buck, which instigated all this panic and froze the paper money market. But I assert that it was not a mistake because:
1) Economic panic went a long way towards getting Obama elected, and
2) Fuck these wall street firms. I want to put a little fear of God in them.

Finally, is there any way to pass regulations that satisfies the vengeance elf in my cold little heart? Or are we hamstrung by the fact that most of these firms were just keeping up with each other and not actually breaking any laws?


 

horizontal rule

 

Hurry up and wait

Posted by Stanley
on 11.08.08

My diplo friend laughed when I described my condition running up to the election as "nail-biting". He said everyone overseas was sure it would be a blowout. Confident bastards.

By way of which anecdote, I share this photo set of the Obama family et. al. on election night.

watch.jpg

Via ari.


 

horizontal rule

 

So

Posted by Ben
on 11.07.08

Is Becks' BFF moving to Canada or what?


 

horizontal rule

 

Hyde Park is an enjoyable neighborhood

Posted by Ben
on 11.07.08

Here is an article about it.

Notable flaws thereof: the University's history in the area whitewashed. No mention of how to pronounce "Valois" (see your food!). The most powerful symbol of racial integration, Rajun Cajun, completely ignored.

Via facebook, of all things.


 

horizontal rule

 

Hot Young Barely Legal Coeds 4 U!!!

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 11.07.08

Just kidding, this post is about childbirth. Hot, gooey placenta-filled barely-legal childbirth.

"Except for being hanged by the feet, the supine position is the worst conceivable position for labor and delivery." (Dr. Roberto Caldeyro-Barcia, The Family Practice News, 1975:11) in Laura Kaplan Shanley, Unassisted Childbirth, 15)

This article and others on vertical birth seem to make a frighteningly stark case: Delivery will be horrible on your back. You're pushing uphill, you're much more likely to tear, blood flow is cut off, the cervix doesn't dilate as much, and so on. Vertical birth means gravity is doing the work, everything opens up more, and life is happy quicker.

On the other hand, there are very few websites at all that talk about vertical birth. And most of the citations are from the 1970s. These things raise my skepticism. Ed: More accurately: these things make me feel less informed.

So what's going on here? What have your experiences been like?


 

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I Yam What I Yam

Posted by LizardBreath
on 11.07.08

Canvassing this weekend was interesting. As I've mentioned here before, I'm an introverted, standoffish person. I don't talk to strangers, and strangers who attempt to talk to me often find themselves seeking treatment for frostbite. Usually, my body language is clear enough that they don't make the attempt.

Obviously, though, you can't go around knocking on doors for a candidate and act that way. I had to spend four days smiling warmly at people, and being friendly, affirming, and open. And it's doable; if I make an effort, I can be charmingly outgoing, and so I had four days of people reacting to me as if I was a different kind of person than I am usually: a sunny, smiling, personally inviting, extrovert.

I hated it.

First, the getting flirted with got old really, really fast. I sympathize with other women who talk about getting hassled, but generally it's not a problem for me - guys just don't make the effort. But when you smile and make eye contact, you're apparently sending the signal that you're interested in hearing about how cute you're looking. This signal is not an accurate one in my case. Nothing particularly hostile, although the weirdo in the gas station who wanted to know if I was married was a little creepy (Guys! if hitting on strange women in public is part of your romantic strategy, try to leave the ones poring over maps after dark alone. It makes us nervous.)

But mostly it's just exhausting. I have mental and emotional room for about one attentive, personally engaged conversation a day. I just don't want to be warmly involved with every goddamn person I interact with; it sucks the life out of me. I was getting home from canvassing feeling wrung out like a wet dishrag.

I'm home, and I don't have to persuade anyone to vote anymore, and I have my barriers all the way back up. No one on the subway has looked squarely at me all day, or all day yesterday. Man, it feels good.


 

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A more perfect union

Posted by Stanley
on 11.06.08

So, three states (CA, FL, and AZ) banned gay marriage. My zany and not-fully-sussed-out position on the issue is: no governmental recognition of marriage for anyone. Government at all levels* should view marriage as it does, for example, Catholic baptism: it's a private matter, not subject to public purview.

And as a substitute for the legal and practical concerns that the category of civilly recognized "marriage" currently (and incompletely, in my view) addresses: civil unions.

Call it something else if you want. "Civil partnership" perhaps? In any case, this new governmentally recognized category would recognize partnerships between two (or more? maybe? I'm not sure) people and accord the apposite benefits: partner visitation in hospitals, insurance access (where one partner has insurance coverage and one does not), etc.

So who qualifies and how? Okay, say, two Jewish folks who married in a registered, tax-exempt synagogue and had the rabbi sign off on the marriage. Or a couple, gay or straight, who, perhaps, demonstrated their history as partners (maybe with shared utility bills or somesuch?). Hell, even long-time roommates who weren't necessarily romantically involved but could establish their status with bills or DMV records or something.

Basically, romance-blind partnerships. Anyhow, I'm off my rocker, am I not?

___________________
*The obviously vague notion of "Government at all levels" should be taken as an indicator that none of what I'm envisioning would happen all at once at all levels of government.


 

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Big Ideas

Posted by Stanley
on 11.05.08

Before the Grand Optimism Train of Hope runs out of fuel and we're all back to slinking, snarking misanthropes, I point you to Kite Power (which could be a good band name, were it not too similar to another, already in-use band name):

Like the varying schemes to draw energy from the power of moving water (for instance!), this idea strikes me as a combination of compelling and no-fucking-way-really? Those crazy Dutch.


 

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The third time's the time after the second time

Posted by Ben
on 11.05.08

Hey unfogged,

I was wondering if you might want to do another mix swap thing. You know, with actual CDs and postage n'at. Previous efforts went well, I think, and this is about the time of year last year and the year before that they took place, so I thought I'd ask (not that I would be so presumptuous as to think you were actually thinking about it!). Anyway, let me know.

Yours in Christ,
Ben


 

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Steelworkers FTW!

Posted by LizardBreath
on 11.05.08

The Obama campaign office I was working out of was a United Steelworkers union hall, and they were great. The steelworkers gave us phones, and internet, and office supplies, and directions to places where Google Maps was confusing. And they gave us local credibility -- telling people to come on down to the campaign office for a yard sign, we're in the union hall got a consistently comfortably familiar reaction. It didn't matter that I was some carpetbagging New Yorker, because if we were working out of the union hall, the steelworkers thought we were okay. And having local guys around was good for our morale as well. It didn't feel as if we were an airlifted crew of outsiders trying to tell Pennsylvanians how to vote; we were working with the guys who lived there and worked in the community every day of their lives.

Anyone who's generally progressive, or even just votes Democratic, but is still negative about organized labor, really needs to think through what they're giving up when they don't ally themselves with the labor movement. Labor might have been a bigger deal in PA than it was elsewhere, but in PA at least, being able to rely on the organizational and local-knowledge support of labor made a huge difference. Obama might have won PA without the steelworkers' help, but not by the margins he actually got.


 

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Guess what?

Posted by Ben
on 11.05.08

Obama doesn't have a mandate. I know you probably thought otherwise, but—nope.


 

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Over

Posted by Becks
on 11.04.08


 

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This is the election thread

Posted by Ben
on 11.04.08

Because of the faces selected in the stylesheet, or something, I am forced to put here an image generated from this mess of entities:

Enjoy.

(This post was drafted nearly a week ago, so really, Becks is stomping on my post.)


 

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Prediction Thread

Posted by Becks
on 11.04.08

What do you thnk the EV tally will be? When will we know? How many seats will the Dems pick up? When will Twitter's servers crash, sucking the rest of the Internet into a black hole?


 

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Vote!

Posted by Becks
on 11.04.08

How was your trip to the polls?


 

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Pittsburgh Minimeetup

Posted by LizardBreath
on 11.03.08

Jroth, with the assistance of his wife AG has produced the most charming infant, and the most drinkiing companionable 4-year old, possible, Iris and Kai made the evening.

Cosma and spouse (whose name I'm not sure is public) were also enchantingly entertaining. I really love the aspect of Unfogged where I can show up in a random city and expect locals to entertain me.


 

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Verities

Posted by Ben
on 11.03.08

Three are well known:

1. The middle class was rising
2. Things were bad for farmers
3. Traditional values were under threat.

A post by hirsute quondam lurker Chris suggests a fourth:

4. The media's response was disappointingly tepid.


 

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Wait

Posted by Becks
on 11.03.08

The media and blogs need to stop treating stories of people waiting in lines for three hours to vote as heartwarming tales of people so excited by the election that they'll do whatever it takes to take part. The people standing in line deserve credit but the real story is that they shouldn't have to. Nobody should have to stand in line two, three, or four hours to vote. We're not talking about the opening of the new Star Wars movie; we're talking about choosing the next president. This is a fucking disgrace.


 

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More Canvassing Highlights

Posted by LizardBreath
on 11.02.08

(1) The voter who explained that he wasn't voting for Obama, but you know who was a good candidate? That guy who ran against him for the Senate. Alan Keyes.

You just don't meet a lot of Keyes fans on the hoof.

(2) Groupies. I was hanging Obama signs on doorknobs, and found myself being watched by a bunch of middleschoolers. "Hey, it's the Obama lady. She rang our doorbell yesterday." Allowing me to respond with "Indeed, I am the Obama lady." They were disappointed that I didn't know him personally.

(3) Middleaged steelworkers find my phone voice appealing. I was making phone calls in the office, and looked up to find the guy next to me saying "Boy, you really sound nice on the phone." Everyone hams it up some when they're doing phone work, right?

I have no idea if we're doing anything useful, but at least I'm keeping myself from going crazy fretting about the election.


 

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The cupid. The shuffle.

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 11.02.08

Down, down, do your dance. Oh I will! I like this song; it makes me want to dance. It's a brand new dance from mid-2007. It's catchy, and it has a line dance. A line dance! What fun.

For the past two years, I've chaperoned the Halloween school dance, which isn't as quite infantile as it sounds. (Okay, it is.) (There's a rule that if student activities want to host an event in a campus facility, like the barn, then it must be chaperoned.)(There's a rule that if you want tenure, you bide your time and put up with stupid shit.)

For the past two years, the DJ has stopped and made a big fuss to get everyone to the dance floor for this next number. What is so great is that, first, this is the easiest line dance I've ever heard of, and second, the kids execute the dance like octagenarians. In the video, you'll see people moving rhythmically as they go. It's almost as if they have a sense of...no, I can't put my finger on it. That's certainly not what our kids look like when they go. Here's the bare facts of the line dance:

Take four steps to the left.
Take four steps to the right.
Kick with your left foot, then with your right, then with your left, and then your right.
Turn 90º and begin again.

I wish I had a video of fifty college students in rows walking robotically - yet enthusiastically! - back and forth, and kicking. They're almost Thriller-esque in style, yet the dance is seriously easier than the hokey pokey.

Anyway, here, you can play along at home:


 

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History, Barack said, is a nightmare from which I am trying to awake.

Posted by Ben
on 11.02.08

I don't take, you know, I don't subscribe to Commentary, so at first I wasn't sure if the claim in this article, which doesn't appear to appear in a translated version on the world's web, namely the claim that for Obama history is a nightmare (one full of: violence and racism) from which we should awaken as quickly as possible, was original to Hannes Stein's pen or if it, like much of the rest of the middle of the article, had been copped from Laurence Cooper's fine mind. After all, I have no idea what Joyce's currency in Germany is. And it is certainly an odd allusion to put there, if allusion it really be. Are we in store for some conscience-forging? Is there a smithy in* his soul?

Investigation has since revealed that the description does not occur in the Commentary piece.

I still haven't read it—the Commentary piece, I mean—but if it's anything like its representation in die Welt it probably isn't worth the time. (It would be an interesting exercise, which I commend to the attention of the ambitious among you, to diagnose and analyse it and its claim that the current election is really a metaphysical referendum as an intellectualizing denial of, well, reality. One would ideally want a slightly less facile treatment than that, but only slightly.) Here is an interesting thing. It is quite remarkable. We learn in the course of a few short paragraphs that McCain wants to inspire people to believe in something greater than themselves, while Obama wants to find solutions to, you know, problems. (This is a grammatical point.) Call that the first description. We learn also that McCain represents honor and Obama reconciliation. And that McCain represents tradition and Obama transcendence. Call these last two pairs the second and third descriptions.

If you told me just the first description and then asked me which candidate represented transcendence, I believe I would pick the one who wants people to, by coming together or whatever, achieve or create or believe in something greater than themselves. You might say that the relation to callow self-interest involved in such a movement is one of transcendence. I don't know. You might not. You probably should, though. Similarly, reconciliation implies not solving problems, but realizing that they aren't problems after all, or at least making do with the current situation. ("Everything that is, is reasonable"—that's reconciliation we can believe in!)

NTM it would be a stretch to call McCain's recent conduct honorable.

Elsewhere: Brigitte Bardot doesn't like Palin (on account of her answers to questions being disturbingly stupid). Also, one of the so-called 25 hottest stars under 25 is all of fourteen years old. (#20, Saoirse (pronounced "George") Ronan—I don't think one can link direct.)

*After hitting publish I remembered that it's actually the much more sensical "smithy of my soul", but isn't what I did come up with, even if accidentally, a cozy image?


 

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Darkness! Imprisoning me!

Posted by Ben
on 11.02.08

The highest of concepts! Take a novel that's been made into a movie, and make a one-man play of it, then release the play as … a movie!

If it's timeliness motivating this exercise, why don't they just ask Metallica to re-release the original movie? (I understand that they own it, these days.)


 

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A very special message for John Emerson.

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 11.02.08

Rob Helpy-Chalk writes in the comments that ScarJo was at the Obama office in Lakewood. When she bumped into Rob, recognition flashed in her eyes as she connected his relation to her long-standing crush, Emerson. Abandoning the Obama torch, she quickly rounded up a camera and wrote a quick script to express her emotions. And so we are graced with the following memento!


 

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San Diego has an emotional mayor

Posted by Ben
on 11.02.08


 

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