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Twenty monday-morning quarters back makes five dollars.

Posted by Stanley
on 11.19.11

We've talked previously about the slow-to-boil reaction thing. I think Megan expressed solidarity with the personality trait, or whatever it is.

I react this way. Very slowly. Especially to bad news.

For instance, in response to a recent friend's news of a breakup with his girlfriend, I realized I failed to offer immediate sympathy and comfort.

Rather, I reacted stiffly to the news, and, only several days later, having thought through the implications of it for both of them, I offered him a heartfelt, "Sorry, man. That just totally sucks. I'm an open ear if you have anything you want to vent about."

And I wish my reaction could be more immediate. I wish I could say that sort of thing right off the bat. But I don't.


 

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Boston meet-up

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 11.19.11

hey there's a boston meetup on saturday at 2:30PM at lord hobo (which, sure, is technically in cambridge). The lurkers should probably feel welcomed, if anybody feels like posting a post.

- Sifu Tweety

[Bumped up (and changed time to 2:30)—Stanley]


 

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PolitiChicks

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 11.18.11
It's no secret that Victoria Jackson is the worst, but I'm not sure we've ever seen her be the worst for so LONG, and without any EDITING. She won't even let the show's host open up the day's topic of "Gay Marriage" before launching into a song she wrote on her ukulele about THE ISLAMIZATION OF AMERICA. Good grief. (They do try to steer the conversation back to gay marriage, eventually, so don't worry. Except it immediately gets derailed again because of the incredible paradox of liberals loving gays and muslims even though muslims want to kill gays, and then a 10 minute discussion of this beautiful logic trap. So worry away.) I know that this show is not intended for me in any way whatsoever, but it is still hard to imagine someone wanting to watch 15 minutes of four women sitting in a circle having a hard time even finishing their own racist and homophobic comments. At one point, Victoria Jackson explains that the reason she is having trouble is because she is 52. Uh, no, my friend. It is because you are an idiot. A big old stupid dumb racist nightmare idiot.

Enjoy:

Via Jammies


 

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A paradigm for task lists

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 11.18.11

Tasks are loosely:
1. Urgent but not important
2. Urgent and important
3. Not urgent, but important
4. Neither urgent nor important

The idea, according to the consultants and cheeseball types, is that we ought to be spending our time in 2 and 3, but in fact we spend all our time in 1. But I quite like category 1! You get to check things off and feel productive!

In my opinion, graduate school (and research more generally) was almost all Category 3, with occasional bursts of Category 2. While that is the prime Unfogged commenting situation, I dislike the constant low-level anxiety of never being quite free.

When I got this (mostly teaching) job, I was struck by how my time was now almost all category 1, with a little of the rest. I basically really enjoy this balance, as long as it's within reason. I get anxious when I can't keep up with my urgent, unimportant tasks. (LIKE THE PAST FEW WEEKS.)

But also, occasionally things need to slow up enough that you can get to categories 3 and 4. Things like catching up on your filing, longterm planning, and keeping your desk tidy fall into 4, and can turn into trainwrecks if you never get around to them.


 

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The Thirteenth Chime

Posted by LizardBreath
on 11.18.11

I picked up Debt: The First 5000 Years, by David Graeber, after a couple of people here recommended it. And halfway through, it's a very interesting discussion of the origins of money and credit, non-market systems of exchange. But there are some things that make me wonder whether any fact in the book I don't know for certain to be true can be trusted. First, he repeats that "The Wizard of Oz" was an allegory of bimetallism. And while I've heard this before, as far as I know no one understood it that way at the time it was published. Still, it's a good story and I suppose it's not really an error; who can tell what Baum was really thinking.

But then he starts talking about how democratic methods of structuring organizations are often more efficient than rigid hierarchies, and so will often arise spontaneously when people really need to be get things done. And he uses Apple Computers as an example:

Apple Computers is a famous example: it was founded by (mostly Republican) computer engineers who broke from IBM in Silicon Valley in the 1980s, forming little democratic circles of twenty to forty people with their laptops in each other's garages.

I don't know all that much about the history of Apple or of the computer business generally, but I'm pretty sure that's as wrong as it could possibly be. Apple was founded by two guys, neither of whom (AFAIK) worked for IBM (maybe for a very short time? But certainly not extendedly). It was notoriously a rigid, top-down hierarchy, it was founded in the '70s, not the '80s, and who had a laptop until the very end of the '80s? That's a whole lot of wrong for one sentence.

Has anyone read the book with enough background knowledge to say if this is a fluke, or if the whole thing is like this?


 

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Speculative

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 11.17.11

Would you vote for an OWS presidential candidate in 2012? I suppose it depends which state you're in, or if you're not in any of them. How would you play it, support and action-wise, if it appeared an OWS was going to split the liberal vote and give Perryomneynain the presidency?


 

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Occupy All Streets

Posted by Stanley
on 11.17.11

It's odd to read the reports of the US plans to send Marines to Darwin, Australia, for strategic crocodile-hunting purposes and the confirmation of other American Stereotypes About the Place (ASAPs).

Odd because, sure, China's grumbling. But Australians are, if the press coverage I've seen is to be believed, welcoming us with open arms?

I can't help but figure I'd be somewhat annoyed were I an Australian.


 

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Moo

Posted by Stanley
on 11.17.11

"Kine" is a real word, and it's an archaic plural form of "cow"? Hot damn, I learned something today.


 

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Fuck It, I'm Stomping on My Own Post

Posted by Alameida
on 11.16.11

Inspired by Heebie's post below, I remembered when my little sister was finishing sixth grade, and she asked me and my brother what middle school would be like. We looked at each other, and decided to be honest. "These are going to be the worst two years of your entire life." Concerned about establishing a reputation, she dumpstered an 8th grade boy on the first day of school, thus becoming something of a legend. Then she joined a (mainly El Salvadorean) gang, which had kind of a ladies auxiliary named the CBF Crew (at my suggestion, since I was always singing to her that she couldn't be faded.) She was so funny, she got up like an hour and a half before school at 12 years old in order to wash, blow dry, and use a curling iron on her hair, and put on a full face of makeup, including the swoop of black liquid liner she wears to this very day. It was still the worst two years of her life.

OT: my older daughter learned what "trolling your own blog" means yesterday. Kids these days.


 

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Harriers in Drag

Posted by Alameida
on 11.16.11

This interesting NYT article explores the phenomenon of some male animals engaging in female mimicry, both to avoid competition/attacks from other males and to get close enough to the laydeez to get some sweet action. Plus the author mentions that Eddie Izzard is an "action transvestite," for which they win 100 points.

Among birds, only two species are known in which adult males may have permanent female plumage. The first one to be studied is the ruff, a shorebird that gathers in large groups during mating season. The ruff she-males sneak around, pretending to be female, avoiding competition with he-males and stealing kisses, or as scientists call them, extra-pair copulations. Humans do the same thing, at least in movies (Tony Curtis, "Some Like It Hot") and short-lived television sitcoms featuring future megastars (Tom Hanks, "Bosom Buddies"). [?!--ed.]

Dr. Sternalski, of the Institute for the Study of Hunting Resources in Ciudad Real, Spain, and her Spanish and French colleagues used decoys to see if the she-male hawks were attacked by other males as often as the he-males were. As they suspected, the she-males flew under the he-male radar. They were not attacked or challenged by the other males. They also behaved like real females, directing their aggression toward females, not males. One surprise was that when it came to outside threats they were more actively aggressive than the he-males. When predators (or predator decoys) threaten the winter roost, Dr. Sternalski said, the "typical males manipulate the others to defend the roost." The he-males recruit the she-males to attack the apparent intruder while they do the hawk equivalent of sitting on the stoop shouting encouragement: "Look out for the fox!"

For all this work, there has to be some payoff for the she-males other than simply avoiding challenges from other males. The best guess so far is that the she-males are going for those prized extra-pair copulations, and Dr. Sternalski is testing that idea now.

Our original shop location was next to a brothel whose chief attraction was a Thai "lady-boy" who was performing femininity, in my judgment, merely adequately. Not like some SE Asian MTF trans people who become heart-stopping beauties. However, ze was lovely once you got to know hir, just slow to warm up to people. I am unsure as to whether the pimps made hir act as a bouncer as well.


 

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8th grade is awkward

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 11.15.11

Over the weekend, I hired a colleague's son - an 8th grader - to watch the kids at my soccer game, on the sideline. The game is a 40 minute drive away. I picked him up, and he got into the car, wearing one ear bud, and listening to music, which was faintly audible. I couldn't get him to chat, but I didn't try that hard either.

But the music did kind of flummox me, which made me feel so old, and possibly neurotic, because I wasn't offended, but just baffled - it seemed super rude for me to turn on my car radio. Eventually I boldly turned on the radio, but I kept it low, so as not to compete unnecessarily, in case...I have no idea. The whole thing was awkward.

He took the kids to the playground there, and generally did great, although I think he fell asleep at the end, laying on the blanket. (That part isn't great at all, since Hokey Pokey eats everything he finds and climbs on precarious things and generally needs an awake baby-sitter.) The baby-sitter also fell asleep on the ride home (which was fine).

Also, this is the second time an 8th/9th grader has been unable to give me directions to their house, when in the car with me. It's the exit ramps off the highway that they find particularly confusing. I have no idea how to ask them if they really know how to get home, or only sort of know how to get home.


 

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From Chris Y:

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 11.15.11

Richard Dawkins - responsible parent or soulless shithead. You decide:

"Dawkins recalled driving through the countryside with his six-year-old daughter when she enthused over some "pretty" wildflowers. When Dawkins asked what she thought wildflowers are for, the innocent child replied, "To make the world pretty, and to help the bees make honey for us." Dawkins--bless his hyper-rational heart!--mused: "I was touched by this, and sorry I had to tell her it wasn't so."

 

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My Lawn. Let Me Show You It Being Stood Upon.

Posted by Stanley
on 11.14.11

A conspiracy of procreation has determined that most of my larger family gatherings feature a four-year-old human. (I guess she's sort of my step-niece. Is that a category of person? Let's go with it.)

Good lord, is it exhausting to spend time in the presence of a mobile, attention-seeking bundle of energy. And it's not like she's misbehaving or anything. Just, well, loud. And disruptive.

I end up leaving an afternoon of visiting my parents feeling like we never actually got to visit. And then I feel selfish and guilty for feeling that way.

I can only imagine what a delight I was at four.


 

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Things I Understand About the World Economy

Posted by Stanley
on 11.14.11

1. It's a really lousy idea to do austerity right now.

2. No, for real: spend money, governments. You're the only ones who can, and you're not in debt all that much.

3. Oh, it's politically unpopular to spend money right now? Well, that's terribly inconvenient. It would help.


 

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Bye bye Berlusconi

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 11.14.11

This morning, NPR basically asserted that the root of Italy's economic woes is that they were insufficiently libertarian. (I'm paraphrasing.) They blamed the lack of growth over the past decade to cumbersome regulations and protective guilds. To what degree is this accurate?


 

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Tomorrow's History's Greatest Monsters

Posted by Stanley
on 11.13.11

There's an idea: current or recent world leaders who are awful. GWB is obvious. Stephen Harper seems kind of dick-ish, but I don't know much about Canadian politics.

Who else?


 

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Also, Everything on the Internet Can Stop Being About Child Abuse Any Time Now, Thanks

Posted by Alameida
on 11.13.11

Catilin Flanagan has written an interesting and rather charming article about Oprah Winfrey and the magic window into another life that books and television can offer. Oh yes I did. (You were just saying, "oh no she didn't," admit it now.)

She got it from books, because she read the way many people who have been abused will read--in a deep, immersive way, impervious to the outside world, willing herself into the streets and bright living rooms and spirited discussions of the novels. Books are what got her though the sexual abuse: "I knew there was another kind of life," she has said of that time. "I knew it because I'd read about it." And she got her idea of herself--once she had moved into an apartment with electricity--from another source, the one that would make all the difference in her life.

Because into every household in America, no matter how low or mean or outright evil, into each squalid nest and decent place pours the great, pure light of television. And there, sitting on the linoleum floor of her mother's long-ago apartment, was Oprah Winfrey, her face tilted up to take it all in. She missed most of Diana Ross's first appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show, because she was on the phone calling everyone--"Colored person on the television! Colored person on the television!" She was in that same apartment (the one where she was first raped) when she turned on the Academy Awards and saw Sidney Poitier stepping out of a limousine, and she ran to the telephone again: "Colored person stepping out of a limousine!"

If you care to look at this photo essay in the New York Times you will learn that broke-ass white people from Kentucky can eventually gain limousines as well. (Guy at the far right here is one of the child molestingest dudes I've seen in a good while. He's all the way out in "it was your fault for being along with your Uncle Derrick when I done told you a hundred times" territory.)

UPDATE:

I am officially being an asshole in the last parenthetical to this point, because it's jerkoff behavior to say mean things about people whom you don't know, just because they have the misfortune to be poor, from Kentucky, and appear in a photo-essay in the NYT apparently intended to make them look bad. I probably wouldn't have said anything mean about a Brazilian guy who looked like Uncle Derrick in a photo-essay about Fome Zero or something, even if he looked just fucking like him, and was in a photo illustrating a group of men in a local bar who were mad because payments were directed to their wives on the assumption the husbands would spend badly. Because sometimes I'm just a dick to people on the internet. I'm not proud of it, but it happens to a lot of people. Please feel free to quote me on this in comments or if you want to remind me about a time I said something shitty, when we are having an argument; hypothetically I may accuse you of saying something shitty about some innocent party and you may want to come back with this one. It's likely to be a pretty good rebuttal. You may also wish to wrangle Rob Farley into it somehow, if you are at a loss as to where to find a genuine person from Kentucky who would take offense, but I don't think he counts, and you would be better off with Knecht. You could slam S.C. in a "who's laughing at Kentucky now" way, but that seems weak. I'd be the first to admit the Lowcountry is a festering marsh of inbred, meth-making, child-molestors-about-town, and it's my beloved home! I plan to finish my life there.

Now, I know you're thinking, it would be a dick move for Al to say this and then come out and tell us she got molested by her good old uncle D. I wouldn't do you like that, people of unfogged. He's said a lot of weird shit to me over the years, and part of the reason he never did anything funny during a certain period was because I avoided him studiously and completely, and I honestly for real don't leave my kids alone with him for 10 fucking seconds, and he did write me an entire book of poetry when I was 14 declaring his undying love for me, which I still have because, on the one hand it's SO INSANE AND AWFUL that it's almost asymptotically approaching funny, but then again maybe I should burn it because, well, v.s., but also, when I read poetry that bad, motivated by feelings so inappropriate, my brain seizes up in agony on behalf of the writer that he could ever have once, having written such a thing down, not only not immediately burnt it but shown it to another human, and then, that she be the Beatrice in question--Christ, it makes me want to eat a gun now thinking about it. On his behalf, if you see what I mean. And then I think it has historical value in its small way. When he was smoking crack all the time he drew cities all over the walls of his house up to waist height, future cities with floating cars and so on, drawn extraordinarily poorly. What would happen if a person who could more or less only draw stick figures spent hundreds of hours drawing a series of futuristic cities? This thing. I found it sort of inspirational at the time.

Ha, ha, now I have, by means of telling you a True Tale of the Olde South erased my assholish behavior from the OP! No, I haven't, that was still a shitty thing to say. You can go on about it if you want.


 

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