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Buzz

Posted by Becks
on 05.22.09

So 'Smasher tells me there was a game tonight?


 

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Don't tort my skort or I'll court your fort

Posted by Ben
on 05.22.09

We could have yet another thread about silly fashion reportage in the NYT and alternately bemoan and ridicule the existence of shorts that sell for hundreds of dollars (and muse on the comment that "It's like you are getting less fabric and less workmanship for more money"—an awful lot like that, I should guess), OR we could discuss and give copious examples of words that are fun to say, such as "skort".

Also, this article which I haven't finished yet seems interesting. Note that the author is a former affiliate of the ComSocTht, in which capacity he was doubtless exposed to some sympathy for the idea of the respectability physical work. When reading this article, you might want to bear both "On Being Bored Out of Your Mind" and "The Usefulness of Final Ends" in mind—or not.

REAL TIME ARTICLE-READING UPDATE: The author has just used the phrase "heedful absorption".


 

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New breakthroughs in january

Posted by Ben
on 05.21.09

New to me, anyway: were you aware that SMS technology allows members of a party to make bitchy comments about other members of the same party without waiting until the latter are out of earshot and also without letting on.?

So, Star Trek, huh? Pretty mediocre. No one really feels otherwise, right? I restrict myself to noting that the opening sequence, you know, before the titles, really blew. The soundless violence over which is played swelling music only made me think of Ran, and, uh, ST rather suffers in the comparison. (Especially what with this sequence coming right in the beginning and being accompanied by extremely melodramatic and obvious music.)


 

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Emotional Withdrawal

Posted by Becks
on 05.21.09

So Jezebel ran an article a couple of days ago called "Can We Stop Shaming Women Who Practice Withdrawal Now?" about a study that showed that withdrawal isn't a completely ineffective form of birth control. (It's still not as effective as other forms, but it's better than nothing.)

I wouldn't support shaming people who use that as their birth control, of course, but I'm kind of surprised at how popular it seems to have become. I feel like I never heard it talked about until a few years ago, when it seemed to become a big trend among the hipsters in Brooklyn. Now, it's even not-uncommon among people I know, with some sheepishly confessing to it and others stating it matter-of-factly. (And these are people who definitely don't want to get pregnant -- not couples who are kind of ready for a baby and playing roulette.)

Is there a withdrawal resurgence or is another factor at play? Worse access to health insurance? Influence from porn? Or is it just that people I know getting older and in monogamous relationships?


 

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Plus my pipes leak all over the place now.

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 05.21.09

In general, Jammies and I are pretty un-doctrinaire about gender. Or at least I like to think we are. I like androgyny.

But wow, has this last month really driven home the basic asymmetry in the sexes for me. Jammies transcends his gender as a parent - I mean this in terms of cheap clichés about fathers doing less work - but he can't transcend his sex. When Jammies is not at work, he becomes the primary parent when it comes to soothing Hawaii and cleaning up the house. But he's not lashed to her the way I am, because of the breastfeeding.

I'm not reflecting here on bottle vs. breastfeeding, in some liberation sense. I am extremely glad breast pumps and formula exist, and I've stepped out for an evening here and there, which has been wonderful. But at the moment, I'm marvelling at how, biologically, there are irreducible differences to the sexes, in which case it makes sense to be all on-the-veldt-y and pretend breastfeeding is the only option.

To have a biological child (on the veldt), women have to totally warp their selves. The last months of pregnancy, you're big and unwieldy past the point of comedy. Then have an extremely painful labor, and then you stay in proximity to a very helpless infant for months. Fathers take care of the infant, but their self is not warped. Jammies has continued to play hockey and soccer without discontinuity, like men did on the veldt.

I know I'm doing the state-the-obvious dance here, (I think the team that wins will be whoever has the most points at the end of the game), but the experience is really driving home the point for me. Boys and girls have different plumbing. For the bulk of my life, I advocate that the plumbing doesn't affect things. But sometimes it really does.


 

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Policing aspiration

Posted by Ben
on 05.20.09

Ownership of these chairs would exhibit self-satisfaction and unselfconfident ostentation simultaneously.


 

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Someone Had Better Have Ended Up Sitting Out In The Sun With A Fine Mat On Their Head And A Case Of Corned Beef Next To Them Over This

Posted by LizardBreath
on 05.20.09

This American Life had a story last week on fraudulent international adoptions. I was particularly fascinated because the specific story they were telling was about Samoan kids adopted away from their families without the families' consent.

The people who ran the scam, a Mormon agency called Focus on the Family, are terrible people, and as the second link shows, the US criminal justice system didn't do much to them. (Hopefully the Samoan traditional justice system worked better, or at least more severely, on the culprits actually in Samoa.)

That said, the fraudulent adoptions were slightly less tragic on an interpersonal level than you'd initially think. The Samoan families hadn't consented to having their kids adopted, but they had agreed that the kids would be taken care of by American families until they were eighteen. This isn't particularly weird by Samoan standards - kids move freely from one family household to another, and the outer boundaries of family are pretty loosely defined, and can easily be thought of to include fellow church members. For a Mormon family to send their kid to live with an American Mormon family in America is more distant, but not a fundamentally different kind of thing, than having them live with a second cousin on another island. So, while what the agency was doing was fraudulent and wrong, the parents had agreed that their kids would be going away -- the kids weren't literally kidnapped.

Mostly, I came out of the story judging the adoptive father who blew the whistle on the agency; not for blowing the whistle, which was the absolutely right thing to do, but for how he ended up treating his adopted daughter.

Mike Nyberg and his wife adopted a four-year-old Samoan girl who they named Elliea (I have to wonder if they gave her a new name, or just messed with the spelling -- with a single 'L' that would have been plausible as a Samoan name, but the double 'L' is unlikely.). When they met her, she spoke no English -- they were told by the agency that she'd been in a group foster care for nine months because her family didn't have money to feed her. They took her back to the US, where she picked up English fast, and she told them that she'd been living with her parents and siblings until the day they put her on the plane to send her to the Nybergs.

The Nybergs investigated, and found out that the Samoan family had been lied to, and were expecting continued contact with their daughter -- that they'd thought of the arrangement as getting Elliea an American education, not as giving her up. This process took about two years, during which the Nybergs turned the agency in to US law enforcement. At the end of that time, the Nybergs took Elliea back to Samoa, where they reconnected with her family, and the two families decided together that Elliea would stay with her birth family in Samoa.

So far, the Nybergs had behaved as well as anyone could have (assuming we're not going to blame them for trusting the agency to begin with). Mike stayed in touch with Elliea and her family by phone, and a few months later, the family proposed that given that Mike was so attached to her, that they return to the arrangement that they'd thought they were getting into in the first place, where Elliea would stay in America with the Nybergs and maintain contact with her birth family.

So Elliea came back to the US, and everything was great until a few months later Mrs. Nyberg (I can't find her first name) divorced Mike -- due to the stress of the legal proceedings and the uncertainty, she'd never really bonded with Elliea, and the whole mess put too much strain on their marriage to stay together.

And here's where I start judging Nyberg: when his wife left, he decided that Elliea's family had only agreed to her living with an intact Mormon couple, not in a divorced family. So he sent her back to Samoa. That seems so wrong to me -- at that point, he'd made a commitment to the kid to raise her in the US, and her birth family had consented to that. Just on a sheerly material level, that's the difference between wealth and poverty on a global scale; I can't imagine taking a kid I claimed to love and sending her to live in poverty because I'd only signed up to care for her as one of a married couple, not as a single parent.

Anyway, he's stayed in touch with the family, and was very flattered that they named a couple of babies after him. Clearly, this means they're friendly, but someone should probably explain that naming isn't all that big a deal in Samoa.


 

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Git-No

Posted by Becks
on 05.19.09

Why don't we want the Guantánamo prisoners housed at regular normal (maximum security) prisons? If it's because they might escape, what does that say about the other superbad prisoners that are already there? Is it something uniquely terrible about US prisons (the fact that gang leaders can run their businesses from inside makes them worried they could run Al Qaeda operations out of them?) Or something uniquely bad about the prisoners compared to, say, homegrown serial killers that are already housed there? If it's the prison system, given the amount of money we're spending towards Guantánamo, can't we just redirect some of that money and fix the damn prison system?

I'd really like someone to convincingly answer the question "The Guantánamo prisoners are uniquely worse than the worst homegrown prisoners because of ____" or "US prisons aren't equipped to handle the Guantánamo prisoners because of ____, even though they can handle the worst homegrown prisoners".

(This post inspired by m_leblanc)


 

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Chicago meetup

Posted by Ben
on 05.19.09

I guess there is one? Discuss.


 

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And yet even more seriously

Posted by Stanley
on 05.18.09

I'm having a hard time believing the Bible-verse-on-the-intelligence-briefing story but it's leaning towards "Oh, that was a really stupid fucking idea".

I'm vaguely holding out hope we'll find out this is a prank, because that would be SO. FUCKING. STUPID. a thing to do.

Not that I'm holding out because I like the people involved. I don't tend to like their decision making, but they've seemed, you know, not like total dumbshits. Rather, I didn't want to have to go there.


 

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"The chemicals are bumping and grinding"

Posted by Stanley
on 05.18.09

It's like that nosflow guy on peyote but much, much dumber.

Slightly more seriously, NPR does peyote (in the requisite NPR voice).


 

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I wanna RTFA, basically

Posted by Stanley
on 05.17.09

I find myself in the fortunate position of having four grandparents still shuffling about this mortal coil. And I have this ongoing hair-brained harebrained [ed.: damn you, spelling!] idea to travel to where they are and talk to them on tape (video or audio; probably audio, but I'm not sure why I lean that way; I think I blame NPR's StoryCorps project).

I'm a bit unsure of how to pitch this idea to them. Because "Um, you're probably gonna die sooner than I will, and I really wish we could get some of your zany fucking stories [ed. note: there are zany fucking stories, I assure you] on record before you shuffle off" seems, well, uncouth.

But I would do it, if I could figure out how to phrase the question proposing the meet-up.

Help?


 

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Fightin' Irish

Posted by Becks
on 05.17.09

This whole Notre Dame commencement thing pushes a lot of my buttons. I'm sorry for the graduates that the day that is supposed to celebrate their accomplishments is being turned into a sideshow and pissed that most of the controversy is being whipped up by people not associated with the university. It also bothers me that Catholicism, the religion I most closely identify with, is being boiled down to one issue and politicized.

I know this isn't new. In a way, I witnessed this shift first hand. When I entered Catholic school, many of our religion classes were about human rights and standing up for things like ending torture and the persecution of women but, by my senior year, there were announcements on the loudspeaker in the mornings asking for us to pray for the election of politicians who would preserve the sanctity of life.

I guess this doesn't bother me as much with evangelicals because so many are proud anti-intellectuals. Modern Catholics, as I always saw them, believe in education and the exploration of ideas so shutting someone out and rejecting what they have to offer because of one belief seems like a big step back for the religion.


 

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