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Coraline

Posted by LizardBreath
on 02.14.09

Worth seeing. The opening, in which the 10-year-old-or-so heroine is attempting to attract the attention of her parents, both of whom are busily typing away at their computers, was uncomfortably familiar, but in the end the overworked and inattentive parents come off very well by virtue of at least not being soul-sucking monsters.

I wouldn't say it's too scary for any particular age group, but certainly the sort of thing that could give a sensitive child (or adult) the creeps. I was holding Newt's hand at several points; he's very good about being reassuring.


 

horizontal rule

 

You Can Be Anything

Posted by Becks
on 02.14.09

I'm all for race-blind casting. Still, I'll admit it's a bit unexpected when the young Asian Eponine grows up to be black.


 

horizontal rule

 

I Blame Obama

Posted by LizardBreath
on 02.14.09

The NYT Sunday Magazine has a story about some basketball player, Shane Battier, that's got some peculiar racial stuff going on. I don't know jack about basketball, and had never heard of this guy, so you may all know this already, but apparently he's this completely inconspicuous defensive wizard; doesn't take (or make) a lot of shots, doesn't do a lot of obvious blocking of shots, is slow and unathletic (presumably that's by NBA standards), and yet through unselfish team play, a razor-sharp analytical intellect, and good old-fashioned hard work, he's an incredibly effective guard.

This sounds like a conventional racialized story; black players are spectacular natural athletes, white players are hardworking, smart, team players who are underrated because they're not showboating. It's complicated in this case by the fact that Battier's biracial, and went to a mostly white highschool; the second half of the article makes a big point of how 'white' a player Battier is. It quotes a high school coach of his saying that he had trouble moving from a mostly white high school league to a mostly black league because "he didn't have the ego" to add more "flair" to his game.

The really peculiar bit about the article, given the racial issues raised in it, was the cover picture. Battier's medium-light skinned; there are pictures at the linked story, in which he looks like you'd expect, like a biracial guy with one white and one black parent. The cover image, though, looks different in print than on the web: in the print cover, the lighting (photoshop, whatever they did) is such that he looks unambiguously white. Like, I looked at the cover (never having heard of the guy), and read the first half of the story believing that it was a (conventionally racialized) story about a 'smart', 'hardworking', underrated white player.

The article, particularly in light of the cover image, made me wonder: anyone else think that in the age of Obama, we're going to be faced with an effort to save the racist image of blacks as inherently pathological, by doing a lot of work to define successful, non-stereotypical people who could be socially defined as 'black' as non-black instead? I just get the feeling that if this guy looked exactly like he does now and had the same family history, but was a spectacular offensive player, the lighting in the cover image would have darkened, rather than lightening, his skin tone, and his white family might have been mentioned in a line, rather than being a major topic of the article.


 

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Who, indeed?

Posted by Ben
on 02.13.09

Yglesias:

I think the problem is more fundamental than that. I mean, who wants to watch a propaganda channel?

It's a stumper.


 

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Your "honor".

Posted by Apostropher
on 02.13.09

Prison conditions in the United States are an utter disgrace, but I will confess my disappointment that these two soon-to-be-former judges will almost certainly not end up in the type of facility that would offer them a sufficiently unpleasant incarceration experience. Nevertheless, I hope they're both waking up at night in cold sweats.

Update: Pwned. I should read that blog, I guess.


 

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Aggravated, ill-paced rant.

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 02.13.09

Why the F!?*#! don't doctor's offices have an e-mail address for Q&A? It should be filtered through an administrator, and then a nurse, before it actually bogs down the doctors' time. But I've been playing phone tag with the doctor all week, and this is way more time-consuming and idiotic for both of us.

The most recent time I called, the administrator said, "Why don't we schedule you an appointment, and you can ask him in person?" Why? WHY? That wouldn't waste everyone's time? Mostly because my very question for the doctor is "Can I come in every other week instead of every week, like the nurse said I needed to?"

Also I've got a longterm provider for a high-risk situation, who I'd like to keep informed and ask questions like "Hey, I'm pregnant. Do I need to make any special considerations?" but I'd rather not schedule an appointment and drive all the way into San Antonio for something that I can basically figure out online.

Obviously doctors are not available to chat on the phone throughout their day. Isn't the whole point of e-mail that you can store up queries and deal with them all at one time? AARGH.


 

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Valentine's Day

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 02.13.09

My aunt and uncle, who've been married about 35 years, celebrate their monthly anniversary. Each month on the 9th, they kiss each other and say "Happy monthly anniversary!"

I don't actually love Valentine's Day particularly, but this is such a genuinely sweet story that I thought I'd share. (I'm not going to be around tomorrow, is why I decided to run this a day early.)


 

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This is why, this is why, this is why I'm hot

Posted by Stanley
on 02.13.09

First of all, "cold nachos" are great, though I usually employ cheddar in the place of Kraft Singles.

Secondly, I hold an odd warm spot in my heart for the movie Braveheart. I have no explanation for this fact.

Finally, the mouse-over text gets it exactly right: Tabasco sucks. Cholula and, in some instances, Sriracha, on the other hand, are heavenly.


 

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Exotic!

Posted by Ben
on 02.12.09

Look at the strange customs on display from the elders of the tribe! The significance of the stories is unclear, but no doubt their telling serves some important social function.

They don't seem all that old, though.


 

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I sense there may be an omission in your knowledge of cultural trinkets.

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 02.12.09

While being accused of sitting like I'm visiting the gynecologist on a plane, I had a memory. Did you guys ever learn this finger-gesture thing in middle school, (not that finger-gesture thing) that goes "Good girls sit like THIS or THIS but girls that sit like THIS get THIS like THIS!"

with accompanying gestures:
Good girls sit like THIS: Second and third fingers demurely held next to each other, like a pair of legs locked parallel.
or THIS: Second and third fingers crossed
but girls that sit like THIS: Fingers splayed apart like a V for Victory
get THIS: Tuck thumb between fingers to indicate she's getting rammed
like THIS: Snap fingers to indicate how quickly she fell from grace.

It combines all the dexterity of Hammer's 2 Legit 2 Quit with the slut-shaming of a purity ball, all set to a catchy beat. Now you know.


 

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The plan keeps coming up again

Posted by Stanley
on 02.11.09

Tonight eekbeat asked me what I'd do if everything went haywire with my life and I had to move somewhere else to start over.

It was an out-of-the-blue question, to which I responded with a rather specific set of plans including moving to Chicago to live with a particular set of grandparents, who have extra room and would host me for a bit, probably in exchange for a modest amount of grocery money and a good bit of help around the house. From there I had a number of specific sort of job and school options I'd look into, with an eye towards eventually moving out and living somewhere closer to the downtown-ish area (they live in the 'burbs but near a Metra line).

After answering, I was surprised at how specific my on-the-fly plan was, almost as if I'd already thought of this situation before, but not really. Or something. Does that make sense? Do other people have a Plan B at-the-ready? It's possible I just over-think everything, I guess, even the things I don't know I'm over-thinking.

Or maybe I'm under-thinking here. (Oh, quiet down, brain.)


 

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Unsullied

Posted by Becks
on 02.11.09

It's almost equally impressive in this day and age that Captain Sully from Flight 1549 has been in the spotlight as a hero for nearly a month now without some sigh-inducing reveal like he's having a sleazy affair or has a history of DUIs or some such. You know people are surely digging, loving to take down heroes almost as much as making them.

Kudos, sir.


 

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Nannies

Posted by Becks
on 02.10.09

I was listening to a local politician being interviewed on the radio the other day and a number of people called in to complain about a proposed ban on trans fats (or mandatory labeling), calling it one more step on the way to a nanny state. I have to think that if trans fats caused cancer instead of heart disease, this wouldn't even be an issue. I don't understand why people freak out so much about potential carcinogens while being so blase about things known to contribute towards heart disease. Either way is a situation where you're being fed something that has the potential to harm you without your knowledge.


 

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I just want to be relatable.

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 02.10.09

Sometimes I want to post an entry, but I'm plagued because I like to be liked, and I don't want my post to be misconstrued. Then I go ahead and post it anyway because I have no impulse control. Anyway, I definitely have reservations about this next post.

I think I'm tone-deaf about travelling to other countries. I get what's so great about it, but it just doesn't light me up. When I've been abroad, I like to go to the famous gardens and see them, and take a book and read there. I like to go to the bustling center of commerce. I like to talk with people from other countries, but I get really frustrated by the language barrier, and it doesn't matter which of us is trying to speak the other person's language - I miss jokes and innuendoes and get bored of conversations about big obvious topics. Museums are okay.

But none of this gets me that starry-eyed hyperventilation that other people seem to get from travelling. Since vacations and funds are limited, I just would always rather spend them with friends and family who I don't see often enough.

(The only time that travelling abroad seems like a good idea is when I take a trip with someone I don't see very often, so that we're hanging out and sharing quality time while exploring some oddball country.)

See, my fear is that I'll get a bunch of comments explaining to me how I'm a small-minded hobbit who typifies what's wrong with America. Do I have to see things in person to have my eyes opened?

(I suppose I'm asking that rhetorically, because I'm already defensive that everyone is going to chorus "YES", and list a bunch of positive aspects of travelling. And I'll be like, "I get that. And sometimes I do like it. Can't I be of two minds? This is today's mind, get off my case," and everyone will be like "Ooooh, testy! What crawled up your butt and died?" And I'll be like, "I'm not ignoring you; I'm hosting office hours and can only comment intermittenly.")


 

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Creepy Picture

Posted by LizardBreath
on 02.10.09

Check out these bees over at Megan's. No hive or anything, they've just built these freestanding wax shapes hanging from a tree. Something about that sort of organic growth is oddly disturbing; does anyone remember Belle Waring talking about it?

No one seems to share my peculiar phobia of certain arrangements of forms that suggest pustules or bubbles (although the nightmare about the broccoli-like growth comes close). Sometimes poison ivy gets this awful bubbling redness on its leaves, as it it were poisoning itself. I can't look at it. Or into pots of still water which are about to boil, and have a regular arrangement of small bubbles across the interior, each silvery with its reflection of the ceiling. It's a real problem for me taking the bus anywhere in Malaysia, because I can't stand the way the fruiting bodies of palm oil palms look: all these sinister red gleaming berries emerging from a woody cone. Gives me the cold robbies just to think about it.

If this sort of thing bothers you, the detail of how the wax attaches to the tree-branch it's hanging from is particularly bad; the transition from the regular hexagons of the comb to wrapping around the tree-bark? Not good.


 

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And You Thought The "Do Not Call" List Was Popular

Posted by Becks
on 02.09.09

I did my taxes this weekend. I was guilted into it by seeing a bunch of people's "yay! I did my taxes" Facebook statuses rolling in. I know we're still pretty far away from April 15 so most of you haven't bothered. This year when you sit down with your 1040, I want you all to remember that you're only wasting that Saturday afternoon because of a bunch of corporate lobbyists and Libertarian douchebags.

YOU DON'T NEED TO DO YOUR TAXES.

The government has absolutely everything they need to do the taxes for 95+% of the population. What do you think an audit is, anyway? It's when THEY DO YOUR TAXES and then compare their numbers to your numbers and if they don't add up, they knock down your door. They have all of the information they need to send you a pre-filled tax return that you review and either sign in agreement or can throw away if it doesn't work because you need to take some advanced deductions or just really like filling out forms.

And they want to! California's been trying to do this for YEARS! You think this is some kind of craaaaaazy idea? A lot of other countries already do it that way!

So who is keeping us indoors on that lovely Saturday? H&R Block and Intuit, that's who. They don't want the government calculating your taxes for free when they can charge you a fee and sell you a predatory refund anticipation loan. The other people who don't want this program are the anti-tax Right, like Club For Growth, because they want paying taxes to be as painful as possible. They want people to be miserable doing their taxes so they'll want to take it out on the government and hate the IRS.

Now is the time to change this. Obama's election was a rejection of the anti-tax Right and I don't think the public wants to do lobbyists and Big Business any favors. I'm fine with paying the taxes that are my dues for living in a democracy but why should I also have to pay with hours of my time each year when it's COMPLETELY UNNECESSARY?


 

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Modern Love: PBUH Edition

Posted by Becks
on 02.08.09

A surprisingly good Modern Love this week.

And another from last week that may hit closer to home for some of us than we'd like to admit.


 

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Spin

Posted by Ben
on 02.08.09

Harry claims that this exercise can be used to convince students that "the gendered division of labor" might be an "issue" (a tendentious characterization if ever there was one) for their generation, one pertaining to social justice.

But I see it as proof that the opt-out revolution has massive popular appeal! Not among Harry's students, admittedly; they have other ideals. But among their friends, who presumably were not in the class, yes.


 

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Now don't judge.

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 02.08.09

But this is how I spend my time, when Jammies is off playing soccer without me:

Next I want them to sit on stools without meowing.


 

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How unreasonable is this?

Posted by Ben
on 02.08.09

Note that I do not ask "is this unreasonable?".

Sometimes one sees walking about, or standing lanky, in the hip or fashionable or douchey neighborhoods, parties, or bars (no one wants to admit that the first and the third substantially overlap, everyone knows it, but no one wants to come out and say it, as if it won't be true, not really, until someone says it), a man done up to the nines, wearing, let's say, a vest, a dark patterned shirt (it's always at least patterned), a tie, and a hat. This is pretty much unproblematic in the out of doors, but whenever I see someone so attired in the in of doors, I become upset. Why hasn't this person taken off his hat? It really is a mystery. Am I the only person who thinks that one removes one's hat in someone's home? No&mdashnot only Andy but also even a wiki agree with me: "doff your hat when you come inside".

I note as well that these hat-no-doffers also seem insensible to their many entries into conversation with ladies.

No one who wears such garb could possibly be doing so accidentally: it's not that men's hats are completely on the out, but men's hats among the relevant demographic are out enough that it's obviously a choice of style and not just the done thing. (Maybe this isn't always the case, but then the behavior to which I object is all the more baffling.) So it just seems half-assed not to take the fucking hat off! What's the problem, are you afraid no one will notice your hat-including ensemble? Sheesh.


 

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