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Contentious

Posted by Alameida
on 10.08.11

Husband X contends that I am, in fact a Manic Pixie Dream Girl, having random quirks such as "cuts her own hair all the time" and "can diagram various Ancient Greek battles" and "restores teak furniture by decoupaging foxes all over it." And that if he hadn't, in fact, married me, he would be unhappy in the precisely the mopey but not extravagant way characteristic of the most tedious of screenplay-writer-stand-ins. A fashion true to his Norwegian heritage.

I am annoyed by this version of our lives in which I am the princess, and he the knight of faith. Elucidating this parable was the entire content of my best man's speech, so, think about it. (Truly, all his friends said, why are you making yourself miserable over this girl for three fucking years already, Jesus, just move on.*) But I recognize it is not a totally implausible rendering of the story. Nonetheless, I am a real person, with an interior life and everything. Scout's honor.

*When he did take their advice, and got a girlfriend, I was really jealous of her. WTF?, I thought. I guess I want to fuck him a lot more than I thought. Maybe I should do so. And it turned out to be a great summer after all.


 

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Begun this drone war has.

Posted by Apostropher
on 10.07.11

Hmm. This is interesting.

A computer virus has infected the cockpits of America's Predator and Reaper drones, logging pilots' every keystroke as they remotely fly missions over Afghanistan and other warzones.

The virus, first detected nearly two weeks ago by the military's Host-Based Security System, has not prevented pilots at Creech Air Force Base in Nevada from flying their missions overseas. Nor have there been any confirmed incidents of classified information being lost or sent to an outside source. But the virus has resisted multiple efforts to remove it from Creech's computers, network security specialists say. And the infection underscores the ongoing security risks in what has become the U.S. military's most important weapons system.

"We keep wiping it off, and it keeps coming back," says a source familiar with the network infection, one of three that told Danger Room about the virus. "We think it's benign. But we just don't know."


 

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Geezers

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 10.07.11

It is completely absurd that any fulltime professor is still claiming to be not on e-mail, in 2011. At the moment, such a dinosaur is making one small aspect of my life a royal pain in the ass. He signed up to be part of a group that meets with students. Guess how every part of this is being organized? What a fuckwit.


 

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Florida embarrasses itself.

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 10.07.11

Thoughtful legislation, thoughtful people:

So Rep. Ritch Workman, R-Melbourne, filed a bill this week to bring back "dwarf tossing," the barbaric and dangerous barroom spectacle that was imported from Australia and thrived briefly in Florida before it was outlawed in 1989.
"I'm on a quest to seek and destroy unnecessary burdens on the freedom and liberties of people," Workman said. "This is an example of Big Brother government.
"All that it does is prevent some dwarfs from getting jobs they would be happy to get," Workman said. "In this economy, or any economy, why would we want to prevent people from getting gainful employment?"

Other people have pointed out:

"The possibility of getting paralyzed is high," Dodge said, "and then to be used as an object for people's amusement is very degrading."

So the answer is probably somewhere in the middle.


 

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Running A Good Seminar Is Hard

Posted by LizardBreath
on 10.07.11

Derrick Bell died yesterday. His life and body of work speak for themselves, but I haven't seen much elsewhere on what a wonderful teacher he was. I took his Current Constitutional Issues seminar in fall 1998 (taught, IIRC, in alternate semesters by Kenneth Starr), and it was probably the best and most influential class I had in all of my higher education.

It was structured as an analysis of a set of cases due to come up before the Supreme Court that term -- students were assigned to present each case, moot an argument, and then the seminar as a whole would discuss the issues. Bell ran it like clockwork -- where the presenters had a strong grasp of the relevant points, he faded into the background and let them lead. Where (as happens even in the finest law schools) they'd missed something important, or were just floundering, he gently took over, got the issues aired, and made sure the rest of the class wasn't wasting their time. Everyone got heard, no one had a chance to take over (and I say this as one of the law students who was allowed to take over too many other classes), The class he ran managed to be both one of the kindest, most supportive environments I ever encountered academically, and where I got to do about the most rigorous thinking and writing I did in law school.

At 80, he didn't die young, and he accomplished as much as anyone could expect in a long, full life. But I'm sad that he's gone, and he will be missed.


 

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On Steve Jobs

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 10.06.11

"Steve...Jobs died. He's the guy...it turns out that the same guy is behind Apple and all those i- and e- products. I guess he kept a low profile. He was a billionaire, but he didn't have any furniture, because he was such a perfectionist."

- Older staff worker at Heebie U.


 

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A day's worth of posts

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 10.06.11

Either:

1. OWS! It's so nice to hear about them on the news. Let's consolidate interesting links and thoughts here.

Or:

2. In an ideal world with an ideal government, what role would charities play? I often get annoyed that government ought to be doing a lot of things that charities are currently covering, or failing to cover, or scrambling to cover.

Or:

3. If you could have satisfying sequential careers, what would they be? I sometimes wish I'd gone into applied statistics. Other times I think I should have become a dermatologists assistant.

Or:

4. I'm teaching three 1 1/2 hour classes today, with meetings where my breaks should be. Feel pity for me but not excessive pity.


 

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What Is Up In Sullivan's Mailroom?

Posted by LizardBreath
on 10.05.11

The Supreme Court just heard argument on a death row case; the basic argument is that defendant's trial lawyers completely screwed up the penalty phase of the trial, but a threshold issue is that he waived his right to appeal by missing a deadline to respond to a court ruling. I don't have any strong sense of how it's likely to turn out: any sane, humane decisionmaker would waive the deadline, but all the law I'm aware of comes down as saying if you miss a deadline to appeal, you're SOL, regardless of how sympathetic the circumstances.

But look at how it happened:

When an Alabama court sent two copies of a ruling in Mr. Maples's case to the New York offices of the law firm, Sullivan & Cromwell, its mailroom sent them back unopened and marked "Return to Sender." A court clerk in Alabama filed the returned envelopes and did nothing more....

...The ruling came in response to a filing by two lawyers from Sullivan & Cromwell, both associates, who argued that Mr. Maples's trial lawyers had been ineffective. But the associates had left the firm by the time the state court ruled, and neither they nor the firm had informed the court or, seemingly, the firm's own mailroom.

The case was being handled by a couple of junior Sullivan associates pro-bono, clearly, and junior BigLaw associates don't last long, so they were gone by the time that the ruling came in. That's not strange at all, and the fact that they didn't notify the Alabama court that they were leaving the firm was sloppy but not surprisingly so.

But Cory Maples, the defendant, should have been a client of the firm, not solely of the departed associates. [Update: Charley points out in comments that Sullivan's position is that Maples was never a client of the firm; the firm doesn't do pro bono, it just allows its associates to do pro bono in their individual capacities. I have a hard time believing that Sullivan doesn't have any responsibility to Maples, but that's their claim.] The idea that the mailroom, rather than some attorney, would have taken mail from a court, stamped it Return to Sender, and returned it unopened because the lawyer whose name was on the envelope had left the firm seems freakish to me -- if that were standard procedure, they'd be losing time-sensitive mail all the time. I wouldn't expect anyone but an attorney to have the authority to send mail back as misaddressed without opening it, reading it, and figuring out what's going on with it. I wonder if Sullivan's blaming their mailroom for a ghastly mistake by their pro-bono coordinator or something.


 

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The Way To Go

Posted by Alameida
on 10.05.11

I want to be cremated and have my ashes poured into the lovely May River in Bluffton, S.C. But now I think they should be fired into the lovely May River. Taking care not to hurt any dolphins.

MOBILE, Ala (Reuters) - There's something to be said for going out with a bang.

Two Alabama game wardens have devised a smoking send-off for avid hunters and gun enthusiasts. For a small fee, they will turn cremated ashes into ammunition that the deceased's loved ones can fire at will.

Since it launched in Jyly Holy Smoke LLC has had only two clients, but founders Thad Holmes and Clem Parnell said they have seen an uptick in prearrangements thanks to word-of-mouth and a recent flurry of international press.

"It's about celebrating life," Holmes, a 16-year state conservation officer, said on Friday. "We know how strange it sounds to people who aren't comfortable around guns, but for those who are, it's not weird at all."


Four years in the making, Holy Smoke was born during a late-night stakeout to thwart illegal hunting. Parnell had recently lost a family member, and the conversation shifted to their own reservations about traditional methods for disposing of the departed.

Parnell and Holmes dreamed up a company that would fill shotgun shells and rifle or pistol cartridges with ashes, allowing gun enthusiasts to spend eternity the way they lived their lives.

"People take ashes and spread them across lakes or forests or throw them in rivers, and nobody thinks twice about that. This is no different," said Holmes, who noted that a pound of ash fills about 250 shotgun shells.

Costs start at $850. In addition to handling the ashes of two clients, the Alabama-based company has received inquiries from members of law enforcement, fire departments and the military.

Other clients have requested the service be carried out for their pets, particularly bird dogs who have remained faithful companions throughout the years, Holmes said.

Joyce Harrison of Spanish Fort, Alabama, said she understood why some people might recoil at the concept. But she wishes the option had been available seven years ago when her husband of 42 years died of cancer.


 

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I'm Fine

Posted by Alameida
on 10.04.11

Totally fine. Merely feeling less risk-taking than usual for mumble mumble signature Flippanter mumble unmentionable mumble reasons.


 

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Semester grades

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 10.04.11

On the one hand, if a student has demonstrated mastery of the material, then they should get an A in the class.

On the other hand, most teachers diversify the weights of assignments, because most students need some help and structure to master the material.

On the next hand, if you give the students the following choice - "Either weight your final exam with 100%, or split your grade among tests and homework assignments" - some students will be lured into the first option, neglect the second option, and end up failing the class.

On the next hand, if you don't give the students any choice, but secretly do so - "Any student who gets an A on the final will get an A in the course, but they'll be pleasantly surprised because it's a secret" - then students are less likely to sabotage themselves.

On the next hand, word gets out and your secret won't stay a secret, but anxious students won't feel like it's truly an option.

This last option is practiced by my colleague. I practice the mandatory-diversifying approach. I don't have a strong opinion either way, but I'm generally annoyed when students deliberately take a class that's too easy, and I don't feel like pandering to that.


 

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Sugru

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 10.04.11

This is pretty cool. Sound optional.

(Sufficient to watch the first 10 seconds and last 10 seconds.)

via


 

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Citizenship Doesn't Actually Seem To Me To Be The Problem

Posted by LizardBreath
on 10.04.11

The coverage of our assassination of Anwar Al-Awlaki focuses on whether there's some obscure legal issue with assassinating American citizens, particularly. I could have sworn that the text of the Fifth Amendment said "nor shall any person... be deprived of life, liberty, or property without due process of law..." Citizenship doesn't seem to me to enter into it.

Killing Bin Laden was one thing -- we had something concrete to try him for if he'd been arrested (under the obviously not terribly strong assumption that we were trying to arrest him rather than kill him, and just couldn't manage it.) What exactly was this guy supposed to have done other than being a visible leader of Al Qaeda? There may have been something particular, but it hasn't been obvious from the coverage. Killing people for saying bad things on the internet somehow makes me jumpier than lots of other things our government does; I'll have to think about why.


 

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Mandom!

Posted by Stanley
on 10.03.11

So this is kinda dumb:

According to the third annual study by none other than Combos -- the company behind oh-so-manly snacks like the cheddar cheese cracker and cheddar cheese pretzel -- D.C. is the nation's 42nd manliest city out of 50, down 33 spots after coming in 9th last year.

The reason for the drop? The Combos study shows that the D.C. area had relatively high rankings in terms of sports (14th), "manly occupations" (13th), and "salty snack sales" (19th).

But the District lagged in the all-important but ambiguously named areas of "manly lifestyle" and "concentration of manly retail stores" (45th for both).

The study considered a number of key criteria, including the number of professional sports teams, chicken wing restaurants and Western/cowboy apparel stores.

I think we can all agree that chicken wings and cupcakes are equally overrated.


 

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Ow

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 10.03.11

I started to write a post about the kids today, and their inconsistent beliefs, and then I had some really awful acid reflux and now I'm whimpering and clawing at my throat, and feeling nauseated. This happened a few weeks ago, too. The original post was contrasting how fervently the kids will stand up for the right to have your own personal opinion, but not anything else. By The Kids, I mean the kids who really just have half-baked ideas and use "it's my OPINION!" to justify the half-bakedness. I was stalling out on the post, because who cares, yes, there are thoughtful and thoughtless people at any age. The end. The acid reflux is burning and I already ate a bunch of tums, which helped somewhat.


 

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Pejorative

Posted by Stanley
on 10.03.11

I'm not even sure what to make of the Rick Perry hunting camp story. I'll just excerpt:

"It wasn't the same issues here you were dealing with," said Don Ballard, the superintendent of the Paint Creek school district. "Certainly were no picketing signs. Blacks were perfectly satisfied with what was happening."

It is within that context that many people explained the name of the hunting camp.

"It's just a name," said Haskell County Judge David Davis, sitting in his courtroom and looking at a window. "Like those are vertical blinds. It's just what it was called. There was no significance other than as a hunting deal."

The name "Niggerhead" has a long and wide history. It was once applied to products such as soap and chewing tobacco, but most often to geographic features such as hills and rocks.

In 1962, the U.S. Board on Geographic Names changed more than a hundred such names, substituting "Negro."

Um.


 

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Spend/Lend or Mend?

Posted by Stanley
on 10.02.11

I have a chair that I rather like, but it's kind of ratty. The thing I like about it: it's a lovely shape, and good (not MDF) wood, and comfortable-to-sit-in, and a hand-me-down from my parents (and I do think of hypothetical misty-eyed moments in the future where I hand off things like a lovely chair, of notable provenance, to my progeny, assuming there are progeny at some point).

I could just buy a new chair and donate the ratty chair to a thrift shop or friend. Or I could see about refinishing it, but I'm not sure what refinishing a chair might cost.

I should probably ask the internet.


 

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BFFs

Posted by Stanley
on 10.02.11

I've recently determined that "Kate" is my favorite Ben Folds song. I simply love that he wrote a chorus with a refrain on the "and of four" (dork-musician jargon).


 

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In which I am unclear on the concept

Posted by Ben
on 10.02.11

"Vegetarians", I thought to myself this morning, "or at least certainly vegans, probably can't use products containing mink oil to care for their leather goods."

In other news concerning my thoughts and doings, I looked up the word "cock" in the OED last night, because I have no idea what one is, and discovered the following illuminating quotations:

"And if they be both disposed to cock it throughly, yet when they both be made Bankrupts, then they must needs conclude a Peace."

"He who should have been mild to men, is now cocking with God."

Think about it.


 

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