Once in college, my friend's brother came to visit. My friend and his brother hugged, then my friend held him at arm's length and exclaimed "I missed you! It's so good to see you!"
I was struck by what a nice thing that is to hear, if you're on the receiving end, and what a wonderful thing it is to say, if you're on the giving end. And how it can sometimes be very hard to say, especially to someone you're not romantically involved with. It's a very intimate proclamation.
Yglesias had a post yesterday linking to an abstract of a paper by Matthew Weinzierl which I don't get at all. The idea is basically that a young person making $100K is in a different economic position than a near-retirement person making $100K. And I get that bit -- the young person with a high income is likely to make more as they get older, while the older person has probably peaked, so the young person is, in a life-cycle sense, richer than the older person.
But then this somehow turns into an argument for lowering marginal tax rates on high-income young workers, and I don't get that at all. The full paper is linked, but I haven't had time to puzzle through it properly, and the argument isn't clear to me from skimming it. Any thoughts on how this could possibly make sense?
Recently, I encountered a severe case of Unconventional Progeny Name. There's really not much to be done in cases of UPN, even when, as was the case in my encounter, the offspring in question remains for the moment enwombed.
Intervention, for instance, is completely out of the question. One may think (quietly to oneself) terribly judgmental thoughts regarding the motivations behind the UPN. However, those thoughts must absolutely go unexpressed, for doing otherwise demonstrates a profound lack of tact.
In pondering this most recent case of UPN, I hit upon, by chance, an even more delightful strategy for handling one's reaction to the phenomenon. And that strategy, my friends, is to think, quietly to myself, "Well, at least it's not Anomaly Harmonica. Because that would be a silly name."
Chatting with friends about the recent crackdowns on the OWS group in Oakland and elsewhere, it's clear: the lack of a stated goal is a weakness that's annoying people who are otherwise sympathetic.
Tax the rich? We're all down; pick that.
Regulate the banks better? Also good; pick that instead.
And there's probably a thousand other goals that are equally as laudable. Just pick one, because we're all fascinated but stuck on what to do next.
Crime is down in this recession. Here's criminologist James Wilson musing about it, intelligently but without conclusion:
As the national unemployment rate doubled from around 5 percent to nearly 10 percent, the property-crime rate, far from spiking, fell significantly. For 2009, the FBI reported an 8 percent drop in the nationwide robbery rate and a 17 percent reduction in the auto-theft rate from the previous year. Big-city reports show the same thing. Between 2008 and 2010, New York City experienced a 4 percent decline in the robbery rate and a 10 percent fall in the burglary rate. Boston, Chicago, and Los Angeles witnessed similar declines.
He says not a word about hispanic gangs and nothing about the declining resale value of physical objects found in a typical home, both omissions which surprised me. Pawnshops don't even sell stereos anymore, and nice jewelry seems less popular than nice telephones anymore.
It's been over a decade since anyone tried to mug me.
Oh, hey, the USA PATRIOT Act turns ten today. That's really something. What kind of cake should we get it?
Post-apocalyptic scenarios largely assume that we'll be able to siphon gas from abandoned cars in order to power vehicles. But what if the zombie apocalypse or nuclear winter comes after we've all adopted electric cars? Will we be screwed because we won't be able to scavenge for fuel? Or will we be better off because the forms of transport might be chargeable from solar stations? I guess that depends both on the electric car infrastructure and if the form of devastation blocks out the sunlight. I suppose we could also use oil-fueled generators, but without the need for gas to fuel automobiles the gasoline infrastructure might have fallen apart and it could be hard to come by. And is gas (for generators or scavenging) really a sustainable solution? I thought that gasoline breaks down and becomes unusable after a number of months anyway. So maybe we do want electric cars with a solar powered infrastructure when the shit goes down after all.
I thought of unfogged while reading this post when I got to the penultimate paragraph:
[It's] probably time to come to grips with that fact that men like looking at really fit men doing really incredible things with their bodies. It's not all about the battle, the fight, or the war. The enjoyment that comes from physical beauty is integral. . . . Now take a look at Blake Griffin's quads.
Reflecting on it I thought about the ways in which the sports blogosphere allows for a wider range of voices. There was a while, five years ago, or so, when I listened to quite a bit of sports radio. I didn't have any great affection for it, but it was an easy thing to have on in the background while I was around the house. I stopped listening after the Sonics left, and started following basketball exclusively online. It was an easy switch to make, I was already a blog reader, and a sports blog reader, but it strikes me that it allows for a different cultural tone in the discussion of sports.
I'd guess that, overall, sports blogs are more popular, more long-running, and more successful that political blogs. There's a large population that wants to discuss sports and, as a rule, the conversation is actively apolitical. However, compared to broadcast sports journalism there are more people willing to push back against (or at least mention) the aggressively hetero-normative nature of most sports discourse (though, of course, there are even more sports blogs that have a sidebar of cheerleader pictures). The post linked above is light in tone, but not written in a vacuum -- it's clearly poking fun at the degree of homophobia that still exists in sports fandom.
It isn't going to change the world but it's nice to occasionally run across stories like a openly gay sports journalist writing about Rick Welts coming out of the closet, or the occasional heartfelt post about domestic violence. It is, I think, a way in which blogs can have a subtle but significant impact on the culture.
Updated (by Nick): It's funny, when I wrote that originally I really was just thinking that Blake Griffin's quads were worth posting.
But this article today about Rick Welts is amazing. Even before reading the interview (which is good) there's something fantastic just in seeing an executive from a major sports team standing behind a podium labeled GLSEN.
Halloween is just around the corner and Sir Kraab and I are trying to finalize our costumes. We have a high reputation to live up to and we've gotten a bit stuck and so thought we'd turn to the collective wisdom of the Mindshaft. It's worked in the past.
Basically, we probably want to wear these fancy 1930s era clothes and concomitant hairstyles that we wore to a Thin Man costume party several years ago (see the deggofnU photo pool, search for "Steppin' out with my baby"). But we want some sort of reason or current event or something to connect them to, for fear of it just being kind of random and pointless. One obvious thing would be the Occupy Wall Street protests, and we could go as the 1%, but that seems perhaps mocking and lame (although something along the lines of the cover of the latest New Yorker might work).
Another idea we had, which would probably entail ditching the 1930s era costumes, would be "Occupy Elm Street". Maybe signs that say things like "Wake Up America!" and "Save the American Dream". But we can't quite figure out the angle. Are we serial killers protesting the 1% of monsters that get all the movie contracts? Are we potential victims? What's our motivation here?
Thoughts and suggestions, not limited to the two above ideas, are most welcome. Alternatively, or in addition, report on your own costume plans this year, or cool costumes you've seen in the past, or any other costume-related program activities.
One of the all male groups on campus celebrates Women's Week each semester by handing out yellow roses to all the female staff and faculty and at least some of the students. In the spring, it coincides with Women's Week campus-wide, and prompts aggravated facebook statuses from the Women's Studies professors. (Also, The Yellow Rose is a strip club in Austin, so that association further undermines their seemingly well-intentioned gift.)
Anyway, I got mine, is all I'm saying.
There was an explicit comment during a presentation at the conference, that students are expected to put in three hours of studying, per week, per credit hour. I've heard this before, but never knew exactly what people consider realistic. The people in the audience and the presenter definitely considered this to be a realistic expectation.
I think they are insane. That's 45 hours of studying, on top of a normal 15 hours of class meeting time. You can't use your brain in a quality way for 60 hours a week. Jobs that require 60 hours/week have to have some mindless tasks built in, because you just can't think well that much. Plus, we have all these lofty ideals about Service Learning and extra-curricular activities and students being SUPER INVOLVED! on campus. (The whole presentation was dumb, so.)
I expect this sort of thing is likely to increase, both in frequency and severity.
Portland police are looking for the person who threw a chemical bomb at the Occupy Maine encampment in Portland during the early morning hours on Sunday. Sgt. Glen McGary said police responded around 4 a.m. Sunday to an explosion in Lincoln Park at Congress and Pearl streets. Though no one was injured, McGary said the homemade bomb, which consisted of chemicals poured into a plastic Gatorade container could have caused serious injury.
Since the beginning of the OWS protests, I've been reminded of the quote often attributed to Gandhi, but actually from a 1918 US trade union address by Nicholas Klein: "First they ignore you. Then they ridicule you. And then they attack you and want to burn you. And then they build monuments to you." Apparently we're moving from stage 2 to stage 3. Also, Keith Olbermann's interview with USMC Sgt. Shamar Thomas is worth your time.
Doing my lame woo-woo Oprah homework I have to make various lists of people whom I love, trust with various things, would speak to about some painful subject, etc. It has come to my attention that the list of men I trust runs as follows:
The end. And Lord love him, by brother is not 100% reliable. Even my favorite cousin has tried to have sex with me when I fucking wasted on dope. He was annoyingly persistent but in the end OK with me turning him down. Not a dick about it, afterward, I mean. And he's still my favorite!
I have two male friends with whom I was very close in the past, but whom I've drifted away from since moving so far from California. If I had them properly in my life right now I might put them in. Still, that's a pretty short list. All of y'all guys? Possibly dangerous. My mercenary friend is merely at the tail end of risk in my opinion. He said recently he thought my business partner didn't like him, and I said she just didn't trust him. His response: "she's right."
Now, he's crazy, and untrustworthy, but honest! The truth is, don't I regard all of you as untrustworthy? Taken as a whole, threatening? I can spin some kind of reasonable tale as to why I should grow up thinking this, but it just can't be right as an adult to go around dividing the world in half and saying half are prone to violence, deeply fucked up about sex, and can't be trusted to do the right thing all the time. Because there was that one time when they were drunk and...?
Fuck, that just reminds me that a woman credibly accused one of my two good friends mentioned above of rape, and though I chose to believe his side of the story, I could actually imagine how certain weaknesses in his ability to communicate and understand people could accidentally lead to a very bad result. So, three men, maybe. If I had a son would I trust him? I know this has to be wrong. School me on how you don't suck and I'm just crazy on this one, guys.
UPDATE: It's not like I'm some kind of nut who objects to my child being taken care of by her friends' dads or something. So perhaps this apparent viewpoint is not deeply held.
(Also, "My Sharona" has a surprisingly weird structure for a pop song.)