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Or maybe it's the frumpiness that is so easy to pick out.

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 10.24.09

Yesterday, at indoor soccer, there were a lot of very religious young adults. Girls and women in long skirts are a dead giveaway. The girls there all wore sneakers, long skirts, t-shirts, and long hair, pulled back into a bun, or a ponytail, or with barrettes. They trickled in a few at a time and went to sit in the bleachers next to the second field. The indoor soccer facility recently installed a trapeze apparatus above the second field, and I got excited. There were boys in the group, too, but they were dressed unmemorably, if a little formal.

I went outside to knock mud off my cleats, and one girl was heading inside. I asked her what they were going to watch, and she said she didn't know; she'd been baby-sitting and hadn't had a chance to find out the details. She asked me if I played soccer, and I said I did. She asked if I liked it and I said I did. I would have loved to sit down with her and have a long chat, and I think she might have been game to do the same. But some more people walked up and she headed inside with them.

It turned out they were playing dodgeball on the small field. They played for probably a half hour, and it kind of seemed like a lot of fun.


 

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The health care debate is a corrupt mile away from any valid ethical health care debate.

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 10.23.09

Every single article and news clip discussing how the health care debate is going, and whether or not Olympia Snowe is going to endorse the public option, and whether or not the Republicans would filibuster Chuck Shumer's Whatever, is shoddy journalism unless it mentions how much money the specified politician is recieving from each blandly-named PAC, and who funds the PAC. This is all corruption. If you are no longer representing your constituents, and simultaneously recieving money from some entity which benefits from your decisions, you're corrupt, and that word needs to be tossed around a lot more.

As always, I feel fraudulent when I try to be all political and up-to-date. Go ahead, whiz by me with your "facts" and "detailed understanding of the situation".


 

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Out of Phase

Posted by Stanley
on 10.22.09

I just tried to make a Deftones reference to my roommate, and she was really confused.

Me: "It was a Deftones phase. You didn't have a Deftones phase?"
Her: "No. I didn't really listen to them."

So, did you have any phases that just kind of petered out? I guess it doesn't even have to be music, but another one that occurs to me is a brief stint being really into Limp Bizkit for awhile in 10th grade for maybe two months.


 

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So...less Catholic than the Pope?

Posted by Stanley
on 10.22.09

I raised an eyebrow at the news that the Vatican was welcoming disheartened Anglicans to the Catholc fold. Having been vaguely aware of ongoing Anglican divisions over social issues (matters such as gay clergy, for instance), I kind of winced at the news, as if it seemed to say, "Come hither! Your intolerant views are welcome here!"

But this Morning Edition piece, while acknowledging the likelihood that any of these new early AngliCatholics will almost certainly bolster the numbers and influence of conservative Catholics, suggests the possibility that with time the move could have a liberalizing effect, at least on some policies such as allowing priests to marry. (Imagine, for instance as the radio piece does, a young Catholic who wants (1) to become a priest and (2) to marry; could he {or, heaven forfend, she?} trade jerseys and become a Catholic-aligned Anglican priest?)

So, could this invitation by Rome be some reverse double-secret liberalizing of the Church? Yeah, I doubt it (and frankly, I don't have a strong stake in this one anyway; I'm about as lapsed a Catholic as can be). But I do wonder what the effects of this change will be, especially over the course of a generation or two.


 

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Also we should call it "grass" again, because that makes me laugh.

Posted by Stanley
on 10.21.09

This week's decision by the Justice Department to back off on prosecuting medical marijuana patients irks me a bit. Not, mind, because the Justice Department should prosecute marijuana patients; they shouldn't. But the medical marijuana argument comes off as disingenuous.

I understand the approach (camel's nose in the tent, yadda-yadda), but there's a better argument for decriminalization. For instance, this recent article offers a good overview of the US marijuana economy and why it makes no sense to maintain the status quo:

While the trafficking of cocaine, heroin and methamphetamine is the main focus of U.S. law enforcement, it is marijuana that has long provided most of the revenue for Mexican drug cartels. More than 60 percent of the cartels' revenue -- $8.6 billion out of $13.8 billion in 2006 -- came from U.S. marijuana sales, according to the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy. [my emphasis]

And that's not even getting into what we're spending to try to stop it.

I'm genuinely curious as to what, if any, are the sound arguments against making pot a taxable, regulated substance, on par with alcohol and tobacco. Does anyone make such arguments? I'd love to hear about them.


 

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I'm bad at the internet

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 10.21.09

I took down the previous post until I can figure out how to post it with a less egregious violation of my pseudonymity.


 

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Well, I am a good eater.

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 10.21.09

Let's see if this replaces the bad one.


 

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Eviscerating Stories

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 10.21.09

I was reading The Week, and they had a small blurb on how to tell a story. Tips included: don't drag it out and it's okay to start in the middle or at the end and jump around.

In high school, I launched a personal study on how to tell a story. I studied entertaining people and meticulously noted what made their stories great. I was infinitely confounded by how the same story can have wildly varying effect, based on the narrator.

I improved substantially, eventually. The two key points for me were basically the ones above, except stated much more aggressively. First, cut way more details than you want to. Cut almost everything. Cut so much that you're staying ahead of the person listening. Only fill in extra details if they're still fascinated and you're going back to flesh out the situation. Second, if your audience isn't quite captivated, don't hang on to the point. Blurt it out right at the beginning. If they're still not captivated, give up. If they do become interested, then fill in the details. (High school is a good practicing ground for this because people are rude. Adults are so polite and harder to gauge.)

It's all about not being so in love with yourself that you're blind to how you sound. Cut it down! Cut out the boring shit! Cut! Cut! (Part of me, now, is hypercritical of other people, in that way that your tender spots from high school make you flare up when you see them in others.)

Blogging is very similar. It's not about the content of the post, but about not bogging down in boring details. If you've hooked the reader, then sure, flesh it out. If you're sufficiently entertaining, (I'm looking at you, Mimi Smartypants), then by all means tell us the details of your dream. But don't nobody else go getting any ideas. The content doesn't have to be riveting, (although riveting content certainly helps.)

Finally, there's a certain kind of writer who is incredibly entertaining in real life, and it does not translate onto the page. When they write, they hear their own delivery in their head. And that's not sufficient. Your post must be deliverable in any old reader's painful internal monotone. Your writing must deliver its own pacing. Pacing!

This is most likely a long, boring post.


 

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Ask The Mineshaft: NOLAdvice

Posted by Becks
on 10.20.09

From the mailbag:

I'm going to be in New Orleans for work next week. I'm curious if anybody has any recommendations for things to do while I am there. For all practical purposes this will be my first visit.

I'm extremely opinionated on this subject and will provide tips in comments. For those of you with other pending travel plans, feel free to use this thread to solicit advice from the commentariat.


 

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Vagility

Posted by Standpipe Bridgeplate
on 10.20.09

It's not what you think.


 

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Is this good business or a scam?

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 10.20.09

Bank of America has a very dandy online check-writing feature. (Cheque? Czech?) Everything is free. They will send your czechs for you wherever you want, and have a decent supply of national businesses who will bill you through their online service. It has revolutionized my ability to pay my bills on time.

This summer, I got an extra bill from the OB by mistake. I went ahead and paid it. When they recieved my payment, they realized it had been a mistake, and sent the czech to me without cashing it. I went online and discovered that the money had already been deducted from my account.

It seems like, since the whole service is free, for them to collect the interest on the money during the interim between sending the czech and cashing the czech is reasonable. The problem is that not all czechs get cashed, in which case they've just stolen your money. As far as I know, there's no mechanism to return your money to your account when a czech is sufficiently outstanding. (Perhaps there is. Perhaps if the expiration date passes, they'll return your money. In which case maybe the whole thing is copacetic. But that would negate the entire post, creating a smoking scorched spot on your screen instead of fodder for conversation.)


 

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Ask The Mineshaft: Law School Again

Posted by LizardBreath
on 10.19.09

Dear Mineshaft:

After I thought I'd totally ruled it out, I'm once again considering law school, and this time there's more of a sense of urgency. Talk me into/out of it?

The background: All through college I was convinced I wanted to be an academic. I got into a decent Ph.D. program in philosophy and was doing quite well, but halfway through I realized that I wasn't committed enough to put up with several more years of grad school and then the joys of the humanities job market. So I quit the program, and without a plan B I've drifted among various unexciting forms of underemployment.

Law school has always been an option. I test well and I think I've got a decent aptitude for the kind of stuff lawyers do. I've avoided it because I don't know many happy lawyers, including my dad, who always told my brother and me that he wished he'd become a scientist. (I've known some unhappy scientists, too.) Drawbacks: I absolutely do not want to be a corporate lawyer; I don't want to work the crazy hours, and I don't need to earn tons of money. Law school also feels like a kind of cop-out for me, an admission that I haven't been able to get anything else going in my life and am joining the ranks of the boring yuppies that I've flattered myself by avoiding. (I suspect the cop-out feeling is really about not wanting to embrace adulthood, which I find a bit pathetic in a 35-year-old, but that's that.)

As far as positive interest in the law, I do read some legal blogs and have studied philosophy of law a bit. I think I would find some kind of public interest work fulfilling, but I'm advised that it's very hard to find a job doing it. And I realize there are a lot of legal careers that don't involve 80-hour-a-week corporate litigation, and I'm open to exploring those. Being a lawyer would be a good thing for me if I were either helping people or a cause I believed in or if lawyering were just a trade I practiced that required humane work hours and gave modest, dependable compensation.

Now, the urgency: My current job has been getting on my nerves more and more, and I really need to make a change -- I can't work there another year. The LSAT is in December, and if I started studying right now, this week, I think I could do pretty well. Then there'd be a scramble to complete applications, but theoretically I could be in law school next fall. My therapist is really pushing me to start the process, and of course this is activating all my complexes. I'm also not getting any younger, and if I'm going to start a real career I need to do it soon.

On the one hand, I think I should go ahead and at least take the test and start putting applications together. On the other hand, I'm not sure the reasons I have for going to law school are very good, and if I go through with the whole thing I could incur significant costs and end up just as unhappy with what I do for a living.

BaveD

Dear Bave:

Huh.  You know, I've been negative about law school largely to debunk over-enthusiasm, but that said, if I were just back from the Peace Corps looking for work with a BA in Medieval Studies (it's the "Studies" that really makes it sound dippy), I don't know what else I'd do other than law school even knowing what I know now.  For someone like you or me (clever, goofy), it's a credential that's really pretty easy to get (law school itself should be a breeze) that makes you employable.

Downsides -- admissions are going to be brutal this year, because the economy is probably driving people into school, so you might end up at a lower-ranked school than you would in a normal year.  You want to think hard about costs, and trying not to borrow too much, especially since you really don't want to do BigLaw.  I don't know much about 'good value for the money' schools, other than you probably want state schools. (That said, if you get into a top-ranked school, by which I mean roughly US News top fifteen or so, I'd damn the torpedoes and go regardless of the cost.  Most of them have loan repayment programs if you end up doing public interest, and if you don't end up doing public interest but you go to a top ranked school, you'll probably end up in something soulkilling but lucrative anyway.)

Public interest jobs are hard to get if you go in vaguely thinking about public interest but without focus like I did.  If you identify the job or small class of jobs you want now, and start stalking the relevant organizations (volunteer, see if there are relevant law student internships or clinics, look for personal connections) it's not impossible; you just probably can't do it easily by sending out resumes.

Um, so, if you still want to go to law school after all the negative things you've heard about it from me, go for it.  The world always needs more lawyers.


 

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Misfire

Posted by Stanley
on 10.19.09

I was cold-called by the NRA last night. Some pre-recorded message by their VP telling me all about some new terrible new UN treaty that would ban ALL GUNS FOREVER (presumably on about this), and DID HE MENTION FOREVER? that's right because UN treaties once ratified CAN NEVER BE UNDONE THEY ARE FOREVER. Oh, and that with a Congress full of gun-hating liberals they're certainly going to ratify it, OH EM GEE.

Then it was on to a one-question survey administered by a self-described NRA member, whose one question was what did I think of their recorded message, to which I replied that it was really hilarious, no, seriously, I mean very, very funny, and if they could please sign me up for some more phone calls, preferably every night, that would be great. But please do change the message every night. I think that would be a great way to direct their resources.

The survey taker seemed genuinely confused by my response, and I felt mildly bad afterward for the sarcasm. But I've convinced myself it's all okay, because I was personally very polite to the survey taker, and really, it's her employer or volunteer organization that called me, not vice versa.

In any event, it was all very odd and silly.


 

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Phentermin3 for U

Posted by Standpipe Bridgeplate
on 10.19.09

We desperately need single-payer healthcare, if for no other reason than to have a fresh kind of spam.


 

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Thumbs up

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 10.18.09

Rotten In Denmark discusses hitch-hiking. He's right that it's too bad that it's not utilized more often, but I think he's wrong about why. It's not about our discomfort with strangers and smalltalk, I don't think. I think it's fear of the innocuous looking serial killer. The party line that I was raised with was "hitch-hiking used to be safe, but now nobody does it, so the odds of getting a psycho are high if you hitch, or if you pick someone up."

I've never hitched, and never picked anyone up. But if it was considered standard and safe, I think I'd do both.

(I did know someone who knew someone who picked up a beautiful teenage girl one night. But when they dropped off the hitchhiker, but she wasn't in the back seat anymore, so the driver knocked on the door of the house, and the homeowner said, "You just described my daughter, but she died ten years ago on this very night." And another time the hitchhiker just cut off the pretty girl's limbs. Her younger sister was at home, and heard this noise: whump, draaaaag. Whump, draaaag. Whump, draaaaaag. Because that's what it sounds like when you're trying to get home after having your arms and legs cut off.)

(Update: I just reread his post, and realize he gave more reasons that I gave him giving, above. So, oops. But we can still discuss hitch-hiking. I mean, not me; I'm going to bed. But in the morning.)


 

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Where The Wild Things Are

Posted by Becks
on 10.18.09

Wow did I hate this movie. It was beautiful and captured the book visually but the story was repulsive. It was like one long celebration of passive-aggressive sniping, with the overarching message that we should repeatedly forgive and enable abusive relationships.


 

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