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Oh! Oh! Oh! Oh!

Posted by Stanley
on 12.04.09

Sifu deployed this little toy over here. I'd not seen this marvelous thing before! Has it come up here already?

Mostly, I've been having fun just playing with vowel sounds. For instance. Or my personal favorite.

But certainly, you lot can do much better. Oh, and since Sifu was kind enough to share, I'll also mention that he mentioned some sort of Boston meetup on Tuesday. Feel free to organize that hot mess here, preferably in song form.


 

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Big guy

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 12.04.09

This made me feel really sad for the guy. Is the no-brainer solution that airlines ought to be mandated to provide a reasonable number of larger seats? I can't imagine how uncomfortable he must be.


 

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The sign could have circles and arrows, and paragraphs explaining it on the back.

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 12.04.09

I don't even know the method by which new traffic signs are approved and implemented, and how to educate the people on what this new left arrow with rectangles under it with slashes through them even means. But we need it.

What it would mean is: on this street, you can only sit and wait to turn left if there are no cars behind you. Once a car is slowing down behind you, you have to start going again.

Austin needs a lot of these signs. There are a lot of intersections without room for a left-turn lane, and so there's a no-left-turns sign. So people drive to the next street, a back street, and hang out there waiting to turn left, while traffic backs up into the intersection where they weren't able to turn left. These streets need no-blocking-while-waiting signs. It would be fine to cruise from street to street, hoping to catch a break in oncoming traffic and then weave your way back on course. Or you can make three right turns and go straight through the intersection with the traffic light.

It would mean revising driver's ed, but it would be worth it.


 

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That's What She Said

Posted by Becks
on 12.03.09

I don't think The Office is the most depressing show on television. Or maybe it is but I think what they're doing is kind of perfect and I'm impressed that they're going there. It's an awkward truth that many of us don't want to admit but confront as we move up the chain -- the world isn't cleanly divided between clueless dorks and eyerolling sarcastics that "get it". Michael Scott is, of course, an imbecile but a lot of a boss's lameness is institutional and nobody, no matter how cool, can overcome that. If they've built up Jim Halpert in our eyes just to slowly destroy him over the next few seasons so that he comes full circle, I'll be impressed.


 

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Sweet lips

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 12.03.09

From the How Did We Ever Survive Before These? department. A little NSFW, especially if your workplace deplores that minty fresh indication of cleanliness.

Via contexts


 

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Crash Boom Bang

Posted by Stanley
on 12.02.09

About two weeks ago, I managed to get into my first (me-driving*) car crash, including lots of hydroplaning, a full 180°, and a not-so-pleasant (and yet possibly life-saving) slam into a guardrail. I walked away physically okay.

My question, then: ever since, I've had some trouble sleeping, and I've been overly anxious. My doctor reassures me that these effects will all pass with time, even over my insistence that I really don't like the way I feel right now. Is her judgment right; this all will pass? If not, should I get a second opinion or maybe be talking to a mental-health doc instead?

This is all unchartered territory for me, and in the midst of handling all the non-medical insurance stuff, it seems a bit overwhelming. I solicit your mileage.

*I've been a passenger in a couple of wrecks before; this time was different, I being the driver and alone.


 

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Whatever.

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 12.02.09

The number one song on this day, in 1988, was a heavily synthesized Baby I Love Your Way/Freebird medley. Sometimes I feel like the mountains of unremarkable music that have been forgotten ought to be dredged for the truly bizarrely unremarkable songs. (But not by me. I've got my hands full with the unremarkable songs of '09.)


 

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I NY

Posted by Ben
on 12.02.09

The state senate is debating a bill legalizing gay marriage and you can watch. Capsules of what's gone before.


 

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Obama's War

Posted by Apostropher
on 12.02.09

You all know how I feel about it: Afghanistan will destroy Obama's presidency and it will be his own goddamn fault. The speech last night didn't make me feel even one bit better about any of it. There's still no realistic goal, and his "timetable" for withdrawal is nothing more than vague handwaving toward the idea of withdrawing. He'll use the votes of Republicans and Blue Dogs to fund it and once again tell progressives to suck it up. David Sirota has a set of questions that all deserve honest answers before anybody grants Obama any more leeway on this than you allowed Bush. Two in particular stand out to me:

Simple budget question: Should we now believe that escalating the Afghanistan War at the same annual cost of universal health care will save more than 45,000 Americans a year (ie. the number of Americans who die every year for lack of health insurance)?

Are we really expected to believe that massively escalating a war is the way to end a war? I mean, really? Like, is the public really looked at like we're that stupid? And a follow-up question: Are we really that stupid?

Of course, the answer is yes. We are that stupid and then some, and we're going to prove it beyond the shadow of a doubt, by God. The Medium Lobster has helpfully laid out the arguments you'll be hearing for the next three years while Obama bombs wedding parties, expands the war into Laos Cambodia Pakistan, and shines his Nobel Peace Prize.


 

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Speaking of student loans

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 12.01.09

Bostoniangirl e-mails about the Supreme Court case which was on NPR this morning. (I also heard it.)(Apropo to nothing, I love Nina Totenberg. Sometimes I imagine that she and Dahlia Lithwick are two faces of the same superhero, whose power is having multiple media outlets.)

Borrowing BG's summary:

The short version is that this guy was a baggage handler who wanted to get a technical degree to improve his prospects. Afterward he couldn't get a job, so he was back at his old job at America West, but wages at been cut to $6/hour. He was living very frugally, but he couldn't make his loan payments. At one point they started calling his mother asking her to borrow from her retirement account.

He went into bankruptcy to try to get out of paying some of the interest charges. A plan was set up to pay it off and notice was given to the loan company twice. They did nothing. The debt was discharged. Now the loan company claims that because student loans can only be discharged when paying them would represent an undue hardship, that they were entitled to an adversarial hearing and that the bankruptcy court's judgment is null and void. The student loan industry, several states and the U.S. Government are lined up against the bankruptcy trustees who argue that messing with the finality of a bankruptcy court decree after the fact will throw the whole system into chaos.

My takeaway was that it's outrageous for the loan company to dispute this later, because loan company was given 6 months notice of the pending negotiated deal and they failed to respond, way back in 1997 or something. It sounded like there is a reasonable process for hearing both sides, and the loan company utterly failed to contribute, and so their side was not aired, and an agreement which they later found unacceptable was reached.

Now, granted, they found it unacceptable because it sets a far-reaching new precedent. But I'm not clear on why certain things set precedents and other things don't. (I'm pretty sure the analogy ban is only for comment threads, so I'm going to go there.) If I dispute a speeding ticket and the cop doesn't show up, then the speeding ticket is dropped. I might have been speeding. It's not a referendum on the legality of speeding. But if the cop doesn't participate in the legal resolution process, then they don't later get to say "WHOA! This throws a dangerous precedent that speeding is legal!"

On second thought, maybe I should have let Lizardbreath field this one.


 

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Off the top of my head...

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 12.01.09

Movies that I loved that it would be neat if my kids also love: The Princess Bride, Airplane, Fletch II, Mary Poppins.

Movies that I loved that I don't really care whether or not my kids also love: Adventures in Baby-sitting, Look Who's Talking, Look Who's Talking Too, Naked Gun.


 

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Ask The Mineshaft: Hawaiian Punch Goes To College

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 11.30.09

Eventually. For now, we're setting up a college fund. Do you all have advice? If you've gone through this, have you used a 529? We'd like to pick the collective hive-mind for any pitfalls to avoid or secret magic spots that spit coins if you punch them.

Thanks!
The Geebies


 

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"Black Jail" In Afghanistan

Posted by LizardBreath
on 11.29.09

We're apparently still holding prisoners incommunicado at Bagram for weeks at a time without access to the Red Cross. There's no possible excuse for this -- it's not as if there's domestic political pressure that makes abiding by international law and norms of civilized behavior in this regard particularly difficult. No part of the public who would think of this as being soft on terrorists is paying enough attention to make it an issue. I would really like to be making excuses for the Obama administration as generally well intentioned on this sort of human rights issue, but I have no idea at all of how one could possibly justify this sort of thing.

One of the things that made me want to cut the Obama administration slack for good intentions on detainee issues was that Phil Carter of Intel Dump was the administration official in charge of those issues, and he had a long written record of decent positions on these issues. He's just quit for personal reasons.

I've got nothing useful to say here, but I'm not happy. (Hat-tip Mark Kleiman, who I essentially lifted the whole post from.)


 

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This place could power one thousand Thanksgivings.

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 11.29.09

At Second Thanksgivings on Friday, I got into a discussion about whether our political system would benefit from having more than two parties. The people were very smart and it seemed like a very dumb thing to be debating, and it seemed even weirder that these thinking people were defending the two-party system, but none of that is my point.

My point is this: I was not doing a very good job of arguing against our system, but I did not get flustered at all because I knew I had Unfogged in my back pocket. It was sort of like I'd peeked at the answers manual and knew I could hack together a solution eventually, because at least I was arguing the defendable side.

A different version of this occured with a student who was arguing that we should just have a healthcare system where each individual negotiates their own prices. Here I was able to eloquently knock that shit out of the park, with the laidback upper hand of certainty.

(My obstacles in the political party discussion were this-fold: they said "Most of the multi-party systems of the world are the least stable, with the governments collapsing with each new administration. Like Italy and Spain were for decades." I said "Yes, but there are tons of stable parliamentarian systems, and maybe there's an improved version, and how can we attribute instability specifically to the two-party system?" but I didn't feel like I had won that point. Also they said that it's very hard to govern if you don't have a sufficient constituency and I got quite muddled responding to this point as well.)


 

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