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Effed Up!

Posted by Stanley
on 06.18.11

I have to believe that Rick Perry is running for president:

"It saddens me, sometimes, when my fellow Republicans duck and cover in the face of pressure from the left," Mr. Perry said, urging activists not to separate economic and social priorities. "We need to redouble our efforts to elect more conservative Republicans." [my emphasis]

But mostly I'm just pleased that you can pronounce the title of his book in the manner of this post's title. How true, Governor. How true.


 

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More twitter spats!

Posted by Ben
on 06.18.11

I believe the preferred nomenclature may be "twaps", actually. Remember this guy, author of a dissertation on life-hacking?1 He's been offering Kotsko advice on the use of Twitter to advance his career. Be sure, when you have read everything on that page, to "click" the button for "more", so that you can see our hero lamely redeploying a Gore Vidal quip in a context in which it makes very little sense.

1. Not, mind you, that I doubt for an instant that there's an interesting dissertation to be written about the concept, its spread, significance, etc.


 

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Not Wasted, Still Crazy

Posted by Alameida
on 06.18.11

Sorry if I scared anybody out there, I forgot to post on my AA anniversary which is June 10. I picked up my five year chip! It's made of real...some sort of cheap brass or something, but who cares. That means Heebie has been kicking around here for five years also. OMG we're all OLD WTF???/?!1

My newest sponsee, whom I've tried to sponsor before, relapsed and is going to take naltrexone, let's all wish her well. Her previous plan of getting married to cure her alcoholism and heroin addiction didn't work. It actually makes less sense than getting pregnant to save your marriage, which is saying something.

Hey, but that doesn't mean weird stuff hasn't been happening to me because of drugs! I got prescribed Lyrica a while ago when I developed an allergy to my previous medicine (As longtime readers know, I've got a lame chronic fatigue syndrome thing, a fancy way of saying "your immune system is messed up but we don't know why and maybe you're faking because bitches be trippin'." I recently learned this also involves rheumatoid arthritis, because my femur was touching my patella when I tried to bend my left knee with weight on it. That was both gross and I'm falling down painful. I've been doing physical therapy like a good person. Also I started eating normally again.)

So, I was prescribed one a day to start. But my sister takes four! Obviously two would be better. It was better! Ditto three. I take three a day now and it's good. Then, one day I took four. I was sitting on the toilet looking down at the tiles and they started to dance around a bit, which I often see, but then a heavy white mist started to rise from the floor, which is definitely not normal. A section began to rise from the center until it was just at the height of my head. It was a horrible jellyfish squid monster made of infinite coils of white mist, and full of cold black hatred, not just for me, but for everything alive. I was just getting used to that when it suddenly shot out a fine translucent cloth at me, which covered me, and the worst thing was I could feel it on my back. I've never hallucinated being touched by something unreal, and it ain't because I didn't take enough acid. I couldn't deal at all so I closed my eyes and said, "OK, I fucked up here, but I'm going to count to ten and when I get to ten I'll open my eyes and nothing will be there." That is what happened.

But since then I've been having horrible dreams within dreams, where I know I'm dreaming and force myself to wake up. At first everything seems fine, but then something happens that lets me know it's still not real, either that a translucent webbing is over my eyes and I can't tear it off, or a bird flies down out of the sky and crashes into the bushes and becomes a translucent white shadow-cocoon of a bird. Often I'm trying to wake up to the wrong place, like I think I'm asleep in the blue room at my grandfather's; this makes it very difficult to force myself to wake up. My sister said, "you've been liked by Cthulu!" This seems right. (Status update: Cthulu likes Alameida.) Fuck.

So, yeah, not drinking. Not wanting to drink, which is the best part. Buying dope in NYC when I'm there by myself has seemed strangely appealing for fleeting moments recently, though, which indicates something is a bit off. I'll have to work on that with my sponsor. Everybody in the program has random thoughts like that from time to time; the question is whether you entertain the thought or just calmly push it away and think about something else, like helping another person. Also, meetup at Fresh Salt July 31st! Who's holding?


 

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Doing the Standing Still

Posted by Stanley
on 06.17.11

For completely unselfish reasons, I'm thinking about how best to shoot a band photo with five or six people in it, with an eye towards avoiding the canonical dudes-against-a-brick-wall thing. I do sort of like gimmicky photos (for instance, everyone posed as a soccer team or something like this Lagwagon photo).

But, really, I'm having a hard time thinking of many other band photos that I like, and I'm hoping the 'tariat can help. Or talk about lunch. Either one, really.


 

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Fraud Baud

Posted by Stanley
on 06.17.11

This story's interesting. My own personal old-fogeyism (see also: "Socks, argyle" and "Newspaper, still subscribes to one in 2011") makes me vaguely uncomfortable with the idea that punching a handful of numbers into a keyboard makes my money fly around the globe. But, of course, I still do it.

And, having been a victim of identity theft (to the tune of a couple grand), I was most surprised by how painless it was. I was inconvenienced for a day or so, and then the money was available again. Presumably, the merchant in [state I've never visited where the transactions occurred] ate it as the cost of doing business. But, still, it's a strange world.


 

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Top ten scariest states to be atheist

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 06.16.11

This is a pretty disturbing list of anecdotes of anti-atheism. However, Texas comes off looking pretty good. Just kidding.

Via Mimi Smartypants


 

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A deliberately light post

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 06.16.11

Either I have a hidden talent for not succumbing to dehydration, or it is completely overhyped in our culture. I think it's the latter. All these idle click-throughs about different diets, from threads below, all exhort constant water consumption, and I think it's bullshit.

For what it's worth, I deliberately limit my water intake for an hour or two before exercising, even outside in the afternoon, because childbirth has left me a wee bit incontinent, thankyouverymuch. Although it's improving. And I'm totally fine. Even jogging outside in the afternoon heat. Sure, I'm thirsty afterwards, and so I drink water.

Here's my guess: drink according to thirst. If you're drinking mostly carbonated/sugary drinks instead of water, then the sugar/sodium/etc is probably higher than you need, so feel free to swap some of those out for water. The end.


 

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Just in case you were in any danger of feeling optimistic.

Posted by Apostropher
on 06.16.11

Fukushima: It's much worse than you think

Japan's Nuclear Emergency Response Headquarters finally admitted earlier this month that reactors 1, 2, and 3 at the Fukushima plant experienced full meltdowns. TEPCO announced that the accident probably released more radioactive material into the environment than Chernobyl, making it the worst nuclear accident on record. Meanwhile, a nuclear waste advisor to the Japanese government reported that about 966 square kilometres near the power station - an area roughly 17 times the size of Manhattan - is now likely uninhabitable.

In the US, physician Janette Sherman MD and epidemiologist Joseph Mangano published an essay shedding light on a 35 per cent spike in infant mortality in northwest cities that occurred after the Fukushima meltdown, and may well be the result of fallout from the stricken nuclear plant. The eight cities included in the report are San Jose, Berkeley, San Francisco, Sacramento, Santa Cruz, Portland, Seattle, and Boise, and the time frame of the report included the ten weeks immediately following the disaster.

It's worth reading the rest, but the news doesn't really get much better from there.

Update: Ample skepticism about the article in the comments to this post but, of course, you can't discount the possibility that those are from radiation-weakened minds.


 

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Some sort of no-brainer

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 06.16.11

From Emerson, this administration is seriously stupid. Biden writes in an email:

I bet you didn't know that your tax dollars pay for a website dedicated to the Desert Tortoise. I'm sure it's a wonderful species, but we can't afford to have a standalone site devoted to every member of the animal kingdom. It's just one of hundreds of government websites that should be consolidated or eliminated.
This kind of waste is just unacceptable. Particularly at a time when we're facing tough decisions about reducing our deficit, it's a no-brainer to stop spending taxpayer dollars on things that benefit nobody.

Yes, consolidate websites. What an extravagant waste.

More seriously, this is what infuriates me about Obama the most:

Obama's motivations for rolling over on the desert tortoise and other environmental protections is transparent. Republicans and corporate lobbyists have accused Obama of being anti-business, and more concerned with arcane environmental regulations than with creating jobs.

The accusations from Republicans were always going levied, and were never going to be influenced by any policy choices whatsoever. He has sold out smart policy so many times to avoid being called mean things by Republicans, and then he's shocked, shocked, that he gets called the mean things anyway, and whoops, we've squandered the presidential term fighting two wars, not addressing unemployment, and with a bunch of tax cuts. Wheeee.


 

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A Swimming Post

Posted by Stanley
on 06.15.11

This would be neat, and, in general, I like the idea of Kickstarter.

Plus, rivers are my second favorite bodies of water to swim in, after lakes.


 

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Undeveloping Nation

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 06.15.11

McManus linked to this article on how the life expectancy for women is shrinking in some parts of the US. On the whole, life expectancy has risen, but not as fast as in most industrialized nations, and the gap between the healthiest and least healthy groups has gotten worse.

For life expectancy to decline in a developed nation is rare. Setbacks on this scale have not been seen in the U.S. since the Spanish influenza epidemic of 1918, according to demographers.

This is the type of thing I file under "The US is no longer a first world nation."


 

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A necessary calculation

Posted by Ben
on 06.15.11

The first thing I wrote that is definitely related to my dissertation was committed to a subversion repository on November 10, 2008.

Since that time, I have written, either as posts or comments, 284,396 words on unfogged (as counted by wc, and not excluding quotation).

The final draft of my dissertation contains 98,937 words (as counted by for x in $HOME/docs/school/diss/trunk/ch*.tex; do echo -n [`basename $x`: ] P ; detex < $x | wc -w ; echo p; done | dc -f - -e "[total: ] P [+ z 1 !=a] sa la x p"—so, counted more exactly than accurately).

Frankly, I'm surprised the ratio of the first number to the second isn't higher.


 

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Redistricting

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 06.15.11

Fucking sons of bitches. Last time, they split Austin in to three pieces to (unsuccessfully) unseat Lloyd Doggett. Now they're splitting it into five districts. If you look at the statewide map, there are three spots where the proposed congressional districts become fractal-like in detail, and I assume they're all targeting Democrats. It's pretty clear that it will pass, on Friday I think. Do all minority-party areas have this problem of being carved into nonexistence by the majority party? Or is it considered unsportsmanlike?


 

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Do you know what I mean?

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 06.14.11

I do love a terribly told joke:


 

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Time heals all wounds

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 06.14.11

1. Recently I read The Truth About Grief. The most interesting point to me was how there is a narrative in America that we suppress, rush, ignore, and hide our grief, when in fact there are endless public displays of grief, and we actually celebrate grief and play it up endlessly, and encourage others to display their grief publicly. (Megan O'Rourke, Joan Didion, every episode of Extreme Home Makeover.)

Konisberg goes through how Kubler-Ross's stages are largely bullshit, how they were founded on thin air, how very little anything in human development works in "stages" yet "stages" are convenient frameworks to impose for our understanding. And how a gigantic grief industry has sprung up to help people work through grief. (And this grief industry kind of promotes wallowing and discourages resilience.) (And apparently Konisberg has a blog with funny graphics.)

Basically grief is really poorly understood, and "working through it" is kind of nonsensical, since grief appears to magically resolve itself with time, in the majority of people. (There are certainly people who get stuck and depressed. But that's true with every aspect of life.) At about six months, most grieving people still miss the loved one a lot, but are back to life in a meaningful, healthy sense.

2. She does not address parents who lose kids. I kept wondering if that grief was fundamentally different.

3. Dan Savage got a call from a woman who recently identified as a lesbian. She'd been married with kids. She got a divorce. She was wracked with grief over the pain she'd caused everyone. She felt she'd been inexcusably selfish and just couldn't forgive herself.

Dan's answer was that she had incurred a whole lot of minuses associated with being gay, and she needed to be patient and give herself some time to incur some pluses. After some time has passed, and after there's some stability in life with her ex-husband and kids, and after she's dated some, had some sex, and generally acquired some positive experiences, then "being gay" won't seem so lopsidedly horrible.

This notion of "give yourself time to accumulate a bunch small pluses" has stuck with me. Enough that I wonder if that's the mechanism by which grief eventually resolves itself.

I lost a dear mentor, and one thing that put her death firmly in the past for me was having Hawaiian Punch. I could no longer what-if her death, because since she'd died, big things had happened. She would no longer know the world if she came back. This is obviously a big-plus, not a small-plus. But my point is that maybe it's the accumulation of inevitable positive events that somehow pushes people through grief.


 

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Back in France

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 06.13.11
The arrest of former IMF head Dominique Strauss-Kahn for sexually assaulting a hotel worker seems to have sparked a small revolution in France, where female politicians have started speaking out against the sexism they face on a daily basis, and women's support groups have registered a 600% increase in sexual harassment complaints.

600% increase! That's a lot of increase.


 

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Guest Post - Witt on YA

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 06.13.11

Sherman Alexie writes about what teenagers can handle:

Almost every day, my mailbox is filled with handwritten letters from students-teens and pre-teens-who have read my YA book and loved it. I have yet to receive a letter from a child somehow debilitated by the domestic violence, drug abuse, racism, poverty, sexuality, and murder contained in my book. To the contrary, kids as young as ten have sent me autobiographical letters written in crayon, complete with drawings inspired by my book, that are just as dark, terrifying, and redemptive as anything I've ever read. [...]
So when I read Meghan Cox Gurdon's complaints about the "depravity" and "hideously distorted portrayals" of contemporary young adult literature, I laughed at her condescension. [...]
When some cultural critics fret about the "ever-more-appalling" YA books, they aren't trying to protect African-American teens forced to walk through metal detectors on their way into school. Or Mexican-American teens enduring the culturally schizophrenic life of being American citizens and the children of illegal immigrants. Or Native American teens growing up on Third World reservations. Or poor white kids trying to survive the meth-hazed trailer parks. They aren't trying to protect the poor from poverty. Or victims from rapists.
No, they are simply trying to protect their privileged notions of what literature is and should be.

In 1967, it was S.E. Hinton's The Outsiders. Today, it's Alexie's books. What troublemaking book meant a lot to you as a teenager?

Heebie's take: Both sides - Alexie and Gurdon - are overstating things. YA fiction shamelessly peddles in trauma. Your dog will die by the end of the book, your uncle will molest you, and the object of your affection will be smitten with someone with less zest for life than you have. These book are meant to titillate teenagers. Good news: Relax, pops*. The kids are all right.

* Gurdon

(Whoops, I sort of de-emphasized Witt's question. Pay attention to Witt's question.)


 

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Second Generation Asian-American Self-Examination

Posted by LizardBreath
on 06.13.11

Interesting article in New York Magazine on what it's like being Asian-American. If there's a thesis to the article, it's that the cultural patterns that lead to academic success in children of Asian immigrants are socially and culturally counterproductive. I don't have much first or second-hand insight (although I thought the description of behaviors that hold Asian Americans back in professional workplaces -- overconscientiousness, modesty about their accomplishments, willingness to do lower-status work without complaining -- sound familiar from thinking about similar gender issues), but I found the article interesting.

Update:This link might work if the other doesn't.


 

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New Slang

Posted by Stanley
on 06.12.11

I found this article sort of trite, but I was interested in this bit:

She'd picked up the slang and was talking ProFros and RoHos.

I gather that "ProFro" means "prospective freshman" but what's a "RoHo"?

Or maybe this article, where the guy gets baked and walks around Disney World for several days with his kids, is more your cup o' tea.


 

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Totalitarian States

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 06.12.11

Nothing like reading a personal memoir of the Iranian Cultural Revolution period to make you grateful for what you've got.

Relatedly, a Syrian colleague of mine has family imprisoned with the ongoing protests. For him, the most heart-breaking detail is that people are attacking their own people, as opposed to wars or genocides divided along ethnicities. I'm abstaining on ranking tragedies, but thought that was interesting/sorrowful.


 

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I Do Know That A Cello Isn't A Bass

Posted by LizardBreath
on 06.12.11

But this video made me think of Labs anyway.


 

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