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Jammies' Sister's Wedding

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 06.27.09

Is it okay to wear black to a wedding? I don't fit into much in my wardrobe, but I've got this 50's style black dress, with eyelet detail, that I could wear. There are a few options:
a) Tie a colorful ribbon around the waist and wear matching colorful shoes. (Which would need to be purchased.)
b) Wear the dress with black shoes that I already own and love.
c) Get a new dress.

I think the ceremony is at like 4 or 5, and then there's a dinner and evening reception, so I guess it's an "evening" wedding? It's not the most extremely formal wedding ever, but it's at a ski town in Colorado, and the bride generally has J. Crew sensibilities, so it's formal by my standards.

Update: I went back into my closet and it occured to me to try on this dress, which used to be pretty baggy on me, but I LOVE it very much anyway. And now it fits, and so I'll wear it (with my black shoes).


 

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Ask The Mineshaft: Get Out Edition

Posted by Becks
on 06.26.09

One of those questions where you almost hope nobody's an expert, from personal experience, at least:

My aunt and her two teenage daughters have finally had enough. They've set a date and sometime in the next few weeks my aunt is going to serve my alcoholic uncle with divorce papers and move out of the house. He has a very explosive temper and they (and we) are very frightened about his possible reaction and fear he may become violent. (He's already acted physically towards one of them.) My aunt has taken basic precautions, such as smuggling his gun out of the house, and has been taking self-defense classes for the last two years in preparation.
My aunt has been communicating with my mother and other aunts daily for support. I'm terrified that he's going to find her emails and texts and do something before they can act. What should they be doing to cover their tracks? What else should she do before she moves out to protect herself and the girls? They're getting professional help from a therapist to create an action plan and are working with a lawyer but what should they make sure to do before the big day?

 

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I know this kind of thing is far from unique

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 06.25.09

My friend had a baby six weeks after Hawaiian Punch was born. She is 36, her husband has two children from a previous marriage, and they are quite sure that they do not want any more children.

She found an OB who she liked, who was associated with the hospital nearest her house. Ahead of time, they knew there would be a pretty good chance she'd need a c-section, and in fact she ended up with one. Knowing she wanted her tubes tied, and knowing they might be rooting around in there already to get the baby out, she thought it would be nice to avoid being opened up a second time, later.

So was she able to plan on getting her tubes tied on the spot, if she ended up having a c-section? No. Because the hospital is Catholic. Her doctor was on board with the procedure, but it's against hospital policy. So she has to be reopened, later, at her doctor's outpatient clinic. How fucking infuriating. For birth control.

(Could her husband have a vasectomy instead? I dutifully inquired and got some mushy science hocus-pocus as to why he could not, and also got some vibes that it would be antisocial of me to try to pin them down on the particulars of the science-mush.)


 

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Or perhaps Resistentialism is making a comeback

Posted by Ben
on 06.25.09

I see that some are pursuing object-oriented philosophy. There are a lot of choices to make in this matter! Presumably they will want to avoid single dispatch as too hierarchical—as if in any situation one entity controls. But this argument in favor of multiple dispatch seems to be at least the beginning of a case against inheritance and even the tyranny of definite types, and in favor of the free play of duck typing. Anyway, I look forward to new developments.


 

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Terror Goes Marching On

Posted by LizardBreath
on 06.25.09

Ta-nehisi Coates has been on a Civil War kick lately, including recommending the lectures from a Yale class, The Civil War and Reconstruction, given by historian David Bright. I've been listening to them,* and they're fascinating.

There's a whole lecture on John Brown which got me thinking about terrorism. Brown was, clearly, a terrorist -- killing people to make a political point. He tried to get an insurgency started, but never made it past terrorism. The first thing, then, is that there's no such thing as a cause just enough that you're not going to get terrorism in support of it -- the fact that people on your side use terrorist tactics doesn't discredit the fundamental justice of your cause at all. I'd thought about this in the context of the IRA before -- the sins of the IRA as an organization don't discredit the political aims they were seeking -- but Brown's a much better example.

More fundamentally, Brown really made me think about when terrorism is a reasonable, proportionate response. If you look at the situation in the 1850s and '60s, you have a lot of Free Soilers who think of slavery as a terrible problem for the country, and something that's really, very wrong. And their response was to engage in political maneuvering, and try and make sure that slavery couldn't be introduced in new states. All very sane and reasonable, and committed to the long-term elimination of slavery as an institution.

Brown's response to slavery, on the other hand, was to freak all the way out: he reacted to slavery as one might if one heard that there were lunatics living down the block with people trapped in their basement chained up and being beaten. The problem is to Get Them Out Of There, and to do whatever it takes to make that happen -- worrying about careful, proportional response for any reason at all other than maximum effectiveness would be crazy. When you actually think about slavery, terrorist violence (if you thought it would work) really does seem like a more reasonable response than careful political maneuvering. What's the reasonable response if you live across the street from Auschwitz?

Situations where terrorism is sane and justified aren't all that common. But I hadn't thought about them at all before. Thinking about Brown got me to a spot where I was looking at the lunatic terrorist next to all the reasonable politicians, and thinking that he was the only one with a realistic sense of the gravity of the situation.

*As a side note, does anyone else have downloadable college classes they can recommend as entertainment? NPR gets old, and this is great stuff for killing 45 minutes on the subway. If you had a great class that's available online, or given the readership here if you give a good class, point it out in the comments?


 

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Ask the Mineshaft: My Cat is Ted Nugent Edition

Posted by Stanley
on 06.24.09

So, my cat—technically, it's my roommates' cat, but whatever, I'm down with the gatos—has been on a bit of a bird-killing frenzy. Six dead, just this week.

The cat (whom we can call Nugent for the purpose of this post) has lived a mostly indoor life, with occasional (unleashed) forays to the outdoors, normally accompanied by humans who are messing around outside or what have you. Frankly, she's been a bit timid to venture much further than the porch, so this arrangement of rare semi-outdoor activity has worked well.

More recently, she's been much more aggressive about going out. Now in her eighth year, Nugent needs out. And she's killing birds like whoa.

Initially the birds were brought to the porch and left as trophies, full and intact. More recently, she's begun eating parts of them, starting with the head only, but today's kill? Devoured, all but the bum.

Question: is there some some dietary thing we should be worried about here? Nothing else about her behavior has changed, so I'm kind of thinking she's just discovered that, "Holy fuck! I can catch birds! And they taste good!" or whatever. But I'd also like not to have a sick cat on my hands.

Finally, I have now cat-blogged. Goddammit.


 

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Also: how do you get a guitarist off your front porch?

Posted by Stanley
on 06.23.09

I have a complaint, and I direct it with equal rigor towards guitarists and soundpeople.

It is not uncommon for a guitarist to insist that his or her amplifier be at or above a certain volume level; let us call this the "growl" point. At or above this point, said guitarist's amplifier growls in a manner most pleasing to him or to her.

It is also not uncommon for a soundperson—that is, the person who's turning the knobs at a live show, setting the levels, cutting out the random feedback frequencies, etc.—to ask the guitarist(s) to turn down a bit.

Both parties inevitably disagree. And a poorly mixed show results.

I invite these parties to come together and agree on what's what with sound mixing. And, bias on my sleeve, I'm thinking it's usually the guitarists who could come down a bit. But in any case, let us stop this madness.


 

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The digital age

Posted by Ben
on 06.22.09

It is somewhat strange to be writing someone a letter, in this case, for once, with an actual modern pen (specifically a uniball deluxe 0.3mm micro, the best pen ever made) rather than a fountain pen or, even more ludicrously, a dip pen, the instrument with which my last letters were composed, and, looking up from page, see one's intended recipient on gchat, and say, "I'm writing you a letter right now!".

Allow me also to take this opportunity to introduce my new architectural concept, dynamic integrity. Buildings that are constantly falling apart, yet always remain standing. You know—multiple standing configurations, unstable with respect to each other.


 

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Ask the Mineshaft: Infestation Edition

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 06.22.09

So we've got these little bugs that have been hanging out in the kitchen forever, but recently exploded throughout the house. They are very innocuous, so I've been very lazy about trying to figure out how to purge them.

They are about the size and shape of big fleas, but they are crunchy and don't bite and don't jump. So they are easy to ignore. Originally they were only interested in the powder left over on the cutting board where I cut the cats' pills in half.

Anybody know what they are and how to flush them far, far away, short of giving the house a good scrub-down?

Update: I think we found the source! Bye-bye, pancake mix. Thanks for solving our problem, mineshaft!


 

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Books on Intelligence

Posted by LizardBreath
on 06.21.09

I picked up a copy of Intelligence and How To Get It, by Richard Nisbett, a few weeks ago, and had been lazily thinking of writing something about it. Turns out there was no need to: rather than reading the Nisbett book, I should have read What is Intelligence? Beyond the Flynn Effect, by James Flynn, which sounds much more interesting, and rather than writing something about it, I should have linked to Cosma Shalizi's review, which is very much worth reading itself.

The Flynn book is devoted to teasing out the implications of the Flynn effect -- an effect Flynn discovered back in the 1980s, in which any population that's been subjected to repeated IQ tests over a long period of time shows increases in the raw scores, before norming, of test takers: "someone who gets an IQ score of 100 today gets more questions right than did someone who got a score of 100 in 1950, who in turn answered more right than did someone with a score of 100 in 1900." Shalizi summarizes the conclusions Flynn draws from that fact as follows:

The Flynn effect seems to imply at least one of two things: either our ancestors of a century ago were astonishingly stupid, or IQ tests measure intelligence badly. Flynn contends that our ancestors were no dumber than we are, but that most of them used their minds in different ways than we do, to which IQ tests are more or less insensitive; we have become increasingly skilled at the uses of intelligence IQ tests do catch. Though he doesn't put it this way, he thinks that IQ tests are massively culturally biased, and that the culture they favor has been imposed on the populations of the developed countries (and, increasingly, the rest of the world) through a far-reaching, sustained and successful campaign of cultural imperialism and social engineering.

It's interesting stuff, in any case, and seems fatal to the possibility of belief that IQ measures something immutable or outside culture.


 

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Coincidences

Posted by Ben
on 06.21.09

Hanging about the lobby prior to the house's being opened at a performance of Krapp's Last Tape, I met a woman who occasionally mans June Taylor's booth at the farmer's market. We discussed pitting cherries (in a non-prurient sense).


 

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That's right, daddy-o. It's your day.

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 06.21.09

Happy father's day!


 

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