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Wally

Posted by Stanley
on 01.07.12

Remember Gotye? Blume (I think it was Blume) said he sounded like Peter Cetera, and I agree.

I have his full album now. It's beyond excellent, and I can't recommend it highly enough. So many genres on a single record.

And this video is just straight-up dope.


 

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Frothy

Posted by Alameida
on 01.07.12

Wouldn't it be great if the Republicans somehow accidentally nominated Rick Santorum as their candidate? He opposes the pill, for goodness sake! What, is it 1962 now? God, Obama would beat him like a red-headed stepchild.


 

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Could I Ask You Guys a Huge Favor?

Posted by Alameida
on 01.06.12

So, I left the computer open on the bed and my husband watched the "Shit Girls Say" video. Which he thought was hilarious (I agree). He said it was just that the guy was a good actor so he made it funny (ditto with the second video in the OP). That this is right can be seen by looking at other "Shit X Says" videos on youtube, all of which suck, although the "Shit Southern Gay Guys Say" does have a promising opening when he looks in his fridge and says, "I've got vodka, diet coke, and sweet tea." The problem is, I absolutely say some of those things in the video, exactly like that. No, but exactly. "He really nailed you a couple of times," was the diagnosis. I think I'm never going to be able to say the words "can I ask you a huge favor" to my husband again or he will laugh at me.

"But it's only because women use that questioning tone all the time to be self-deprecating and less assertive!" I complained. "It's just prefatory to even being so presumptive as to say 'please do x for me.' This happens to such a degree in Japan that the words of lower-status women are sometimes almost incomprehensible over the phone, since they are talking at such a high pitch. You would say, 'can you read this and see if it makes any sense.'" "Yes, but as it happens I would say it like this:" [and now you may just imagine some guy with a neutral, educated accent saying that. At a lower pitch, and more slowly.] Ditto "would you get me a glass of water," and most of the others. "That dog needs water." Who among us wouldn't say "is that hummus?" were it the case that we were in doubt about the nature of an apparently edible light-brown paste before us?

The thing the actor is good at is getting the intonation right. And it's true that my husband would never say, "that is so not OK." Whereas I have cause to say it like every day. Because I have AA sponsees who do fucked up shit/allow guys to treat them badly. Oops, also: "like." Yes, I say like a lot. Set up a meeting with my fucking lawyer (I have LB on retainer and she will cut you). I grumpily informed him I blamed the patriarchy. "Exactly!" said husband x brightly. "The patriarchy makes women talk in this insecure, non threatening way, and now this guy is making fun of you about it." Then I told him that my favorite stuffed animal (an exceptionally goofy toy) actually espoused the political views of Twisty Faster and would he please turn off the lights when he left the room.

NB I'm going to give him a pass on the "can you find this thing in my purse," because, Jesus, I have to call my own phone to find it in there. There's also the additional question of "which purse?," which he asks with a somewhat excessively world-weary tone in my opinion.


 

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Among the spawns of SWPL

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 01.04.12

Shit Girls Say - not funny at all. Let's mock women for the female-inflected version of regular human moments. But the actor is kind of funny, which irritates me for making me laugh at women for being women.

Shit White Girls Say...To Black Girls. Also full of a bunch of cliches, but funny! Mostly because the actress is funny, but also because it's completely different to mock white girls that act like assholes to black girls. (I'm not being sarcastic.)


 

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Evaluations of instruction

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 01.04.12

I just read my teaching evaluations. I did very well, thank you. For the first time, they included school-wide averages for each item, next to your own rating on that item.

It turns out all the schoolwide averages hover around 4.5 out of 5. I mean, what? On every item, the entire college instructor average is nearly perfect.

Generally it feels like all you hear from instructors is endless complaints about how incompetent students are when it comes time to assess quality teaching. Presumably instructors aren't bitching that their crappy half-assed class was judged as high quality.

Is Heebie U atypical? Are professors over-focusing on their one negative evaluation? (Yes, definitely. The one negative review gets under your skin.) Does this mean that student evaluations are virtually worthless? Or exceedingly reliable at ferreting out the occasional deadbeat instructor? I'm totally surprised to find out that nearly everyone is given such outstanding marks.


 

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Guest Post - Shearer

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 01.04.12

I reviewed George R. R. Martin's fantasy series, "A Song of Ice and Fire", (aka "A Game of Thrones" after the first book in the series) which has come up in comments on my blog. I found it entertaining but with serious flaws.

Heebie's take: People sure do love the TV show, though. I just do not love sci-fi or fantasy or endlessly long plots which fractal into subplots, and sub-subplots, and sub-sub-subplots. But if you can recommend the right book, I'll review it here afterwards. Stanley suggested Ender's Game and then I forget why it didn't stick.


 

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More Like Kreayshawn or More Like Rebecca Black?

Posted by Alameida
on 01.03.12

I incline to the former view. Though I wouldn't go so far as to say that I like it. Just doing my part to continue to shock Flippanter's refined sensibilities in the New Year.

It is probably significant that a) no muffins are depicted in the video, only cupcakes of various kinds, and b) they had to borrow their Camaro from that older white guy; I don't even like to think about that.


 

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More On Graeber

Posted by LizardBreath
on 01.03.12

A lurker pointed me at this review of Debt by Gabriel Rossman, a PrincetonUCLA sociologist. It links back to my earlier griping about the Apple-was-founded-by-ex-IBMers weirdness, and also critiques Graeber's argument that US borrowing from other countries is a form of military tribute:

The thing that really bothers me though (because it's more than an isolated sentence) is the last few chapters, which argue that America's current account deficit constitutes military tribute. He means this literally. For instance, he suggests that the Iraq War was punishment for Iraq switching to the euro -- meanwhile back in reality the euro area itself overlaps pretty closely with NATO and several eurozone countries invaded Iraq together with the United States. I guess we've just been too busy punishing Iraq for using euros to get around to dropping a few bombs on the European Central Bank which actually issues those euros. (This is pretty strange since the ECB is just a few minutes of flight time from a massive USAF base, so bombing it would be a very convenient way to ensure the continued flow of tribute).

When I first read this military tribute argument in the early 1990s (in Chomsky's Deterring Democracy) it made a lot of sense to me, but two things were different then:

1. I was a lot younger, less informed about economics, and more paranoid in my political thinking.

2. In the early 1990s the US government's major foreign debt holders were countries that could plausibly be described as military protectorates (Japan, South Korea, Saudi Arabia, etc.). Now the single largest holder of US government debt is the People's Republic of China. For those of you following at home, China is most certainly not a US military protectorate but our major geostrategic rival against whom a post-GWOT DOD is orienting its strategic doctrine.

Graeber addresses problem #2 head on and tries to explain this away by some convoluted argument that I can't even reproduce but I find his argument much less plausible than the more parsimonious explanation that the Chinese are buying t-bills (a) as a store of value (b) as a medium of exchange and (c) as a tacit export subsidy that suits their domestic politics. That is, they buy t-bills for basically the same reasons as everybody else, including those countries where we have Air Force or Navy bases.

The review is still generally positive in the sense that it describes the book as worth reading even if unreliable in specifics, which is mostly how I felt about it.

(Also, the same lurker informs me that Graeber, on Twitter, sourced the Apple claim to his memory of a lecture by Richard Wolff. So that's where that came from.)


 

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Primary Time!

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 01.03.12

Is it wrong that I'm terribly excited for the Iowa Republican primary? Whoever will they choose of this batty group of fuck-you clowns?

In honor of Santorum's recent gains in the Iowa polls, let's let this be the thread that increases the number of links to this website. Go go google ranking!


 

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Impunity

Posted by Alameida
on 01.03.12

"Do you know, Watson," said he, "that it is one of the curses of a mind with a turn like mine that I must look at everything with reference to my own special subject. You look at these scattered houses, and you are impressed by their beauty. I look at them, and the only thought which comes to me is a feeling of their isolation and of the impunity with which crime may be committed there.....
The pressure of public opinion can do in the town what the law cannot accomplish. There is no lane so vile that the scream of a tortured child, or the thud of a drunkard's blow, does not beget sympathy and indignation among the neighbors, and then the whole machinery of justice is ever so close that a word of complaint can set it going, and there is but a step between the crime and the dock. But look at these lonely houses, each in its own fields, filled for the most part with poor ignorant folk who know little of the law. Think of the deeds of hellish cruelty, the hidden wickedness which may go on, year in, year out, in such places, and none the wiser. Had this lady who appeals to us for help gone to live in Winchester, I should never have had a fear for her. It is the five miles of country which makes the danger."


 

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Food Capital of the World!

Posted by Stanley
on 01.02.12

Stephen G. Bloom's "Observations From 20 Years of Iowa Life" has apparently been controversial. (I heard he even got death threats.)

It's odd. He doesn't actually say anything that's not true.


 

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Inertia

Posted by Stanley
on 01.02.12

Why does the CFL continue to house the goal posts at the front of the end zone? This sort of thing seems inevitable.


 

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<3

Posted by Stanley
on 01.01.12

According to Wikipedia, "She also did the Swedish voice of Anne-Marie in All Dogs Go to Heaven."

What's not to love about Robyn?


 

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Happy New Year. Have a mess.

Posted by Stanley
on 01.01.12

I called my mom today for clarification on the details of the ritual of my father on New Year's Day. When he still lived in Chicago, he would go around to all the relatives' houses early (like 7am, when people had likely been up late). Once inside, he would reach into a can of oats and pennies and toss a handful up in the air while shouting "Happy New Year!" (I went along several times as a kid. It was great fun for everyone.)

It turns out the tradition dates to his Polish grandfather (who's named something kind of badass-yet-evil), who had passed it on to my father, including the original chicory coffee can that houses the oats and pennies.

Oats are for good, uh, something in the new year, and the pennies wish you wealth.


 

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Guest Post - Nick S.

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 01.01.12

I was recently thumbing through Political Fictions, the collection of Joan Didion's political reporting for the NYRB, and I was struck by how dated the following anecdote, from 1988, sounded.

I recall having dinner, the weekend before the California primary, at the Pebble Beach house of the chairman of a large American corporation. There were all white, all well off, all well dressed, all well educated, all socially conservative. Over the course of the evening it came to my attention that six of the sixteen, or every one of the registered Democrats present intended to vote for Jesse Jackson. The reasons were unspecific but definite. "I heard him, he doesn't sound like a politician," one said. "He's talking about right now," another said. "You get outside the gate here, take a look around, you have to know we have some problems, and he's talking about them."

It's unspecified, but I understand the "some problems" as referring, in large part, to economic and class disparities. It struck me that the, Occupy Wall Street aside, that discussion has really changed in the last 20 years.

Obviously there are probably many reasons but I wondered how much the dot com bubble, specifically, shifted the stereotypes about class and wealth in this county, and whether the rise of "the age of the geek" has served to blunt some of the class resentment and sense of class conflict.

The explosion of internet wealth seems like it's unusual in two important ways. First of all, compared to somebody who made their money in a manufacturing or service-sector company the dot com companies had no visible group of exploited workers. The return to the founders (and to capital) was not obviously an accumulation and capturing of surplus value from labor, but looked more like just being in the right place at the right time. Like striking oil, except without an physical commodity underlying the windfall. Secondly there was a sense that people could be participate in this explosion of money without having to commit to toadying up to power or being "socially acceptable" to the traditional gatekeepers of wealth and privilege. For those reasons it was wealth that could seem "harmless" in some ways -- even as inequality grew you might say that the dot com money seemed to do less to social inequality.

I just wonder if the fact that, for a period of year, the internet bubble was the face of American wealth creation and opportunity, along with general economic prosperity, helped suppress awareness/salience of class conflict s a social force. If true I'm not sure that's a bad thing. I think it's been a challenge politically, but it's also easy to remember why there was so much that was likable about the early internet boom.


 

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