The question came up last night: is Michael Jackson the best performer ever—singer, dancer, choreographer, song writer (er, producer? I'm not sure all he did music- and instrumentation-wise)?
Been feeling a bit on the Cthulu side lately. So many horrible dreams, in which I know they are dreams but can't wake up. Things have to get so bad before I can wake myself up, and just getting plain old raped isn't bad enough. I'm still always able to find weapons, but the guns have been misfiring, or I don't have ammo, or the bastards are invulnerable to machete wounds. Fuckers. A couple of good hits to the face and neck with a machete ought to give a man pause.
I got a chance to prove the Inception theory of dream time, in which things happen faster and faster in dreams within dreams. I was annoyed to have to "wake up" from a dream, and then had an argument with my mom about whether I needed to wake up from that next dream level or not, with her insisting that I did. Let's say 30 seconds of "waking up" followed by 60 seconds of argument. Then the phone rang, so I had to genuinely wake up and answer (iPhone with old-fashioned telephone ringer tone). I woke up the moment it started to ring; I know exactly how long the rings are. That means the "waking up" and the whole argument with my mom happened in the milliseconds at the start of the ring. Inception was an unsuccessful movie over all, but as a prolific dreamer who often has nested dreams, I found it interesting.
As I mentioned, I'll be in NYC without any kids the night of the 31st. Any takers for a meet-up? Let's say Fresh Salt at 8? I'm open to other locations, should anyone desire. I'll be on the Upper East Side but I don't care about taxi rides. Except no Alphabet City.
From Nick S:
I'm not a big Jazz person, but I enjoyed how casual, low-key, and good spirited it was. Good playing, and generally calming.
When I was learning to play the piano, my absolute favorite thing to play was Mozart's Twinkle Twinkle Little Star theme and variations:
By the way, Wry Cooter died*.
* didn't die.
Of course! It's all about teh gender:
Who sits around the negotiating table can make a big difference to how negotiations turn out. Psychologists have found that when groups are predominantly male, individuals tend to act in increasingly aggressive ways. They take bigger risks. They show off.
"Any place in which there are more men than women, the men are becoming more aggressive with each other and are competing with each other to attract women," says Vladas Griskevicius, a psychologist at the University of Minnesota.
Griskevicius has found that cities in which men outnumber women have the highest amount of consumer debt -- the result, he believes, of men buying expensive stuff to show off. Most of us don't think the same dynamics affect professional settings, but Griskevicius finds in experiments that when men are surrounded by other men, their behavior changes without their awareness. [links in the original]
It would be a fool's errand to search for monocausal explanations to the current logjam, but one wonders how things might look with something approaching gender parity at the negotiating table.
Workers at an IKEA manufactory have unionized. From the article:
(Via Sir Kraab.)
Also, while IKEA pays its Swedish workforce that does the same jobs about $19 an hour, along with five weeks of paid vacation, in Danville full-time workers start at $8 an hour. About one-third of the workers are from temp agencies and they make even less. While full-time workers receive 12 vacation days, management determines when eight of them must be taken. Says Street:
It's ironic that IKEA looks on the U.S. and Danville the way that most people in the U.S. look at Mexico. In this case, we've become Sweden's Mexico.
Star Wars may have been a cinematic blockbuster, but its costumes were never high art - a view now confirmed by the supreme court, which has ruled that an imperial stormtrooper's helmet from the movie is not a piece of "sculpture".
The decision opens the way for Andrew Ainsworth, an English prop designer, to carry on selling outfits for up to £1,800 each to customers in Britain but it exposes him - and other UK manufacturers - for the first time to claims of infringement of foreign copyrights in British courts.
Not being a work of art means that any enforceable UK design right in the helmets expired after 15 years.
Oh, snap! Or something.
The current debt ceiling crisis can, it seems be resolved if Obama orders Treasury to mint platinum coins in an amount sufficient to cover our operating needs, and deposit them in our account at the Fed. The government would then have money on hand to pay its obligations without further borrowing, and the debt ceiling would be an irrelevancy. (Silly though this sounds, it's a real, albeit unintentional, possibility. There's a law prohibiting the printing of paper money in amounts in excess of $300M, but we are (accidentally -- I'm certain that this sort of thing wasn't Congress's intent) permitted to coin as much platinum as we like, in denominations unrelated to the value of the metal in the coins. So a two-trillion dollar platinum coin would be real money, really increasing the US government's assets by that sum of money.)
Jack Balkin suggested putting Reagan on the coin, in a delicate tribute to the man who put the Republican party on their current path, and Katherine and JP Stormcrow came up with a suggested design, including a tribute to one of Reagan's oldest friends and political allies, and to the accomplishments of the Republican Party in the current crisis. What do you think?
Certainly it's not a particularly nice procedural way to solve the problem, but like a Republican would hesitate for a split second.
One bad habit that I picked up at some point is a loving embrace for the snooze button. Despite having heard the advice time and again that those extra ten or fifteen minutes are actually going to leave me groggier, I still do it and practically everyday.
This morning, however, I forced myself through the initial grog slog, and I'm feeling genuinely more alert. So I really ought to work on breaking the snoozing habit.
After all, who doesn't want to be alert? Everyone likes lerts.
Latest news from the bike path -- some irritating crime was committed around 160th St on the bike path, leaving it blocked by crime-scene tape and cops. This left me carrying my bike up five or six flights of stairs to get to Riverside Drive, and then riding on streets for a couple of miles until I could get back to the path.
Not all that bad going downtown, but coming home was a little scarier -- I took Riverside Drive all the way up to 180th, which allows me to substitute a very long slow upgrade for the abrupt hill I complain about. The upgrade was no problem, but Riverside Drive is almost a highway for parts of that -- traffic going up to 40 or so, and traffic coming on and leaving in an on/off ramp kind of way. Riding straight along the right edge of the road, at a point where a car going forty has the option to veer right onto another road by passing through the space you're occupying, is a bit nervewracking.
Something that would be incredibly useful for learning how to do anything dangerous would be the ability to accurately distinguish between moments that were genuinely close-calls from moments that made you nervous but weren't actually dangerous. I had a couple of moments of "That hurtling mass of metal was distinctly within my personal space," but can't really tell if I was just being jumpy or what.
I just turned down a request for a recommendation from a student that I thought was just plain to lousy to recommend. That's the first time I can remember doing that.
Have we discussed Slutwalk here yet? If not, Slutwalk is the multicity protest walks where women were supposed to dress like skanky hoes, to fight the idea that women that dress like skanky hoes are inviting sexual assault.
A lot of feminists took issue with this:
Scantily clad marching seems weirdly blind to the race, class and body-image issues that usually (rightly) obsess young feminists and seems inhospitable to scads of women who, for various reasons, might not feel it logical or comfortable to express their revulsion at victim-blaming by donning bustiers.
Via AWB comes a defense of Slutwalk:
Wait, but yes? Because the point is... people treat people who "look like sluts" badly! The point is to confront hostility at difference, not to use this occasion to enforce hostility at difference.
There are also a bunch of photos of Slutwalks showing the huge range of what people have worn to them, whereas most other articles seem to cherry-pick photos of PYTs in their skivvies.
On the one hand, I prefer an androgynous society where the importance of being sexy is diminished. (Which isn't to say anyone would actually have less sex. Have a lot of sex!) But people like looking sexy. But this is a slippery distinction: a society which encourages it's women to dress sexy is different from a society where women are free to dress sexy if they choose. These two contexts slip in and out, in and out, constantly thrusting and jockeying for position.
On the other hand - and this is the side that ultimately wins - not being assaulted is a much more basic human right than the sticky issue of whether sluttiness plays into existing problems. So the fighting the issue - women dressed sluttily ought not be assaulted - by forcing direct discussion of dressing slutty is ok by me.
But then! A third hand! IIRC, the vast majority of sexual assaults are committed by relatively few sexual predators who serially assault lots of people. And they are detectable because they believe all men have the same beliefs they do. (This was first discovered because there was a door being guarded by two men, one who always assaults, and one who never assaults, and this sweet little slut who could only get out of the labyrinth if she asked the right question.)
So nearly everyone is not sexually assaulting other people, no matter how they are dressed. The issue is not raising awareness that dressing sexy is ok; the issue is that we need strategies to identify and deal with these few monstrous rapists. I've never heard that anyone is doing much about that.
In a brazen move to unseat NYC as the meetuppiest city on earth, DC is poised for another gathering of the 'foggedteers. Sir Kraab's in town through next week, and she and Messily had an eye on tomorrow, the 22nd, as a possible date.
But, really, things are flexible, so organize yourselves in comments, and I'll do my best to check in and update the post accordingly.
Updated Update: Meetup is today, Monday, at
Saint-Ex Busboys & Poets at 7pm.
I really hate the new Coldplay song which has somehow been assaulting me from all over, over the past few weeks. It's so deep, like U2. I just can't stand it. The title alone manages to sound profound while being totally meaningless. Every sneeze is not an avalanche. If you must, but don't bother.
After we hired JRoth, we skyped a bit, and then he flew down for an on-site visit. He drew up a half dozen possible layouts, and we talked about what we liked and didn't like, and then he drew up a very promising layout based on our feedback.
The best reason to hire JRoth is that he communicates clearly and hears what you're saying, so we never went through a series of rude surprises of revealed miscommunications when it's super costly to fix them. Plus he designed a really cool space.
After a bit, he sent us cool pictures, which are under the jump.
As always! To hire this amazing architect for your next exciting project, email me at heebie dot geebie at gmail, and I'll give you his contact info.
The back half of the house is all new, although it contains some subsumed remodeled space.
This is the entry way, walking in from the old house. Just around the corner, and to your left, is a pit, which will be carpeted and contain the TV. To your right is the kids' room. Above the kids' room is a mezzanine, where you head after getting back from the library. You climb up the library ladder, then curl up on a bean bag and read your new books. You only go over the railing when I'm not home and I never find out about that.
To move American politics to the left, we need to develop left wing candidates in lower-level state and local offices, and then use them to primary conservative Democratic incumbents.
This does sound like excellent strategy to me -- not anything I haven't heard before, but still something that should be happening, and something that Republicans have done a wonderful job with over the last couple of decades. It's interesting: I've never really seen a primary election for a local office in which one candidate presented herself as ideologically leftwing in a way that stood out from the Democratic Party baseline. I'd vote for someone on that basis, but I just haven't seen it done, and I'm not really sure what it would look like in practice. For Republicans, they have all those cultural education issues, like creationism and homophobia, that can drive a hard-right run for schoolboard, but what would a hard-left run for City Council look like?
The NYT on playhouses:
Even in a troubled economy, it seems, some parents of means are willing to spend significant (if not eye-popping) sums on playhouses for their children that also function as a kind of backyard installation art.
Even in a troubled economy! How grand of them to spend this money when they are not suffering whatsoever.
"Childhood is a precious and finite thing," Ms. Butler said. "And a special playhouse is not the sort of thing you can put off until the economy gets better."
It is a priceless article. One of the playhouses in the slide show has a kitchen with running water, stocked fridge, begonias, working windows with screens, air conditioned, and upstairs sitting room with TV. At some point it's just a second house with stupid dimensions.
The end of the article probably kills me the most. We are reminded that childhood is all about imagination even if you don't have money and blah blah blah see:
But those who don't have that kind of space (or disposable income) should not despair. Parents don't have to spend a fortune to encourage the kind of unstructured, imaginative play that helps develop higher-level problem-solving skills and emotional acuity in children, child psychologists say. ... Earlier this year, Katie Lagana, 37, and Matthew Aubin, 36, a couple in Milford, Conn., bought a bright yellow playhouse for their 6-year-old daughter, Penny, and 5-year-old son, Oliver. They spent $3,400 on it -- nothing close to cost of the pirate ship, but still a considerable sum for Ms. Lagana, who works as a marketing director for a publishing company, and Mr. Aubin, a stay-at-home father.
But the fun the children have in it, Ms. Lagana said, is priceless.
At soccer tonight there was a sign hanging isolated on a wall:
Ignorance is no excuse!
¡La ignorancia no es una excusa!
I was perplexed but prepared to take responsibility.