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This song is terrible yet fascinating

Posted by Ben
on 03.16.12

It's really disjointed, as you will see about fifty seconds in, when it changes not merely abruptly but also comically twice in rapid succession (the second change being the more comical). Perhaps it seems to stand out so much because it switches from being bad one way (awful earnest acousticish rock—the beginning reminds me of that Mumford & Sons tune) to being bad another way (awful piano-based singer-songerwritery stuff) to being bad a third way (awful, and badly done, overly dramatic orchestral-swooping balladeering). (And then there's the singer's bizarre prosody on lines like "by the time the bar closes".) But really, I think this tune is oddly more fractured and disjointed than even such notable examples as the products of Naked City or that one Höyry-Kone song.


 

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Whoopsy Daisey

Posted by Stanley
on 03.16.12

Because I live in a bubble, I assume everyone's heard the TAL episode where the guy visits a factory in China that makes Apple products. So this retraction is a bit of a shock:

The China correspondent for the public radio show Marketplace tracked down the interpreter that Daisey hired when he visited Shenzhen China. The interpreter disputed much of what Daisey has been saying on stage and on our show. On this week's episode of This American Life, we will devote the entire hour to detailing the errors in "Mr. Daisey Goes to the Apple Factory."

Daisey lied to me and to This American Life producer Brian Reed during the fact checking we did on the story, before it was broadcast. That doesn't excuse the fact that we never should've put this on the air. In the end, this was our mistake.

On a vaguely related note, my grandfather's reaction to the original story has been to steadfastly forswear all Apple products, opting for...other products probably made at similar factories. Which is a curious reaction.


 

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Dependence

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 03.16.12

Here, have a really unappealing portrayal of the average middle class American family.


 

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Frolicking

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 03.16.12

The impression that I'm getting is that being kinky is incredibly wholesome. This is from Dan Savage, but also from reading various bloggers who talk semi-openly about their sex lives. That kinky people tend to be 1. trustworthy, since they're willing to make themselves vulnerable and say the embarrassing stuff they'd like to do, and 2. imaginative, and willing to go whole-hog into the realm of imagination. What nerds.

I'm pretty close to asserting that you all must be a bunch of kinky bed-monsters.


 

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They're Trying To Drive Me Mad

Posted by LizardBreath
on 03.16.12

I spent the last two days in a CLE mediation class. I'm not sure when I'm going to use it, but I now feel competent to reflect the living shit out of anything anyone says to me. ("I'm hearing that you feel injured by last year's tax assessment. How does that make you feel?") Some low points of the training were being informed that the Chinese character for conflict was made up of the characters for danger and opportunity: first, it's not conflict, it's crisis; and second it's not really true. Also, repeated use of 'honing in on' by the trainer.

The other thing that bugged me was the classroom management: it was a class of thirty people alternating between roleplaying mediation and talking about it. And as is usual in a class that size, fifteen people hardly said anything, and five jerks took up all the airtime: four men and me. This is vaguely annoying, but you figure it's probably okay because the people who don't want to talk really don't want to, and if the people running the class wanted to hear from them, they'd make them talk. What bothered me more, though, was that after the pattern established itself, the trainers shut me down a bit: stopped seeing me with a raised hand and so forth. Which would have been fine, except that the same policy did not apply to the other four jerks: the second day was largely the voluble male jerk show, rather than the voluble at least somewhat gender integrated jerk show.

It feels weird getting indignant about this: I do fully support moderation that gives everyone room to speak, and so shutting my kind up is, in the abstract, a good thing. But man, do I get cranky if my perception is that the people in charge are just fine with letting a few people own the floor, so long as none of them are women being overly aggressive. (Obviously, this is the most minor of possible gripes. I probably wouldn't even have been all that pissed if I hadn't been primed to be enraged by all the "honing in" abuse.)


 

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If the balance of evidence should ever weigh heavily on one side...

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 03.15.12

Jay Rosen reports that NPR has issued a new version of their handbook. In it, they make some crucial changes from their old handbook. The new handbook states:

So our primary consideration when presenting the news is that we are fair to the truth. If our sources try to mislead us or put a false spin on the information they give us, we tell our audience. If the balance of evidence in a matter of controversy weighs heavily on one side, we acknowledge it in our reports.

Rosen's thoughts:

With these words, NPR commits itself as an organization to avoid the worst excesses of "he said, she said" journalism. It says to itself that a report characterized by false balance is a false report. It introduces a new and potentially powerful concept of fairness: being "fair to the truth," which as we know is not always evenly distributed among the sides in a public dispute.
Maintaining the "appearance of balance" isn't good enough, NPR says. "If the balance of evidence in a matter of controversy weighs heavily on one side..." we have to say so. When we are spun, we don't just report it. "We tell our audience..." This is spin!

Rosen says this is a really big deal, and a distinct change from all other news entities in this country. He then interviews them about it.

I would like to take this opportunity to fantasize about a trend where the media outlets try to one-up each other by how well they research the reality of a story and claims made by people involved.

Via Tedra and TPM


 

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I'm Doin It Rong

Posted by Alameida
on 03.15.12

OK, OK I'm cheating, but I just rocked some Hillbilly H and a triple-shot latte (brought to me in bed on a tray, remember, because I have a live-in maid and am thus 2,785th against the wall when the revolution comes. There's an online calculator, I checked it out). I promise I haven't been reading the blog or any comment threads.

In happy news, I have woken up without a headache for the past three days. W00t! Giving me more of every conceivable medicine was a great idea! In even happier news I have not taken this as a mandate to read the internet all day and trample the tiny, pale-green shoot of my recovery into the frozen mud, as if it were a sad crocus. I have been doing crafts. These will never be remunerative but will make my store look good and something is better than nothing, and so forth.

This doesn't mean I can't swoop in and troll the blog and then disappear into the night, like when Commissioner Gordon is still talking to Batman and then swoosh. Should you pierce babies' ears when they are born, or at 6 months--way before even proto-informed consent? Indian babies here in Narnia--particularly the boys, I think, but both sexes, have their ears and noses pierced so they can be adorned with the most fantastic array of 22 carat gold one can imagine. Chubby little hands and feet adorned with henna designs; eyelashes so long that Hollywood starlets are weeping and locking themselves into their trailers right now and refusing to come out--these babies are so cute memebon is feeling threatened. During the discussion, please don't make analogies to male circumcision. Where by "please don't" I mean "y'all go on about your business."


 

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Homeless people

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 03.15.12

Do you give money to pan-handlers? If so, how much? How often do you encounter homeless people? My number dropped drastically when I finished grad school and gained a country roads commute. But now I pass a lot more cows and goats and rusted cars, so it's a trade-off.

Everyone who sees homeless people regularly must have some philosophy to get through the moment, because seeing a person who is suffering so horribly is a Peter Singer-esque situation. The narrative I grew up with was "We donate to organizations who can distribute food and resources more equitably." At one point Mimi Smartypants said "I start each week with $10 in singles. The first ten homeless people I see each get one dollar, and then I'm out for the week." Right now I don't actually have a coherent philosophy. (Which means I usually hide out in the "LOOK AWAY! LOOK AWAY!" thing.)

I'm being sort of light-hearted here, because how on earth do you speak otherwise about how sadistic our society is?


 

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The Riverton Rifle

Posted by Stanley
on 03.14.12

So, the the lead singer of the Weakerthans, a great band in my estimation, recently released a solo album, Provincial, including a song/petition advocating the inclusion of Reggie Leach in the Hockey Hall of Fame. (You can listen to the song here.)

You guys could, say, sign the petition. Or talk about hockey. Or the taxonomy of Canadian bears. Or whatever.


 

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Guest post - Sir Kraab

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 03.14.12

Apparently, the seekrit Muslim and fake birth certificate conspiracies aren't the stupidest ones out there:

"[P]ersonally I don't think he qualifies to be president under the 'natural born citizen.' In the Constitution it states that you have to have two parents that were born in the United States, so that there's no alternative allegiance by any member of the family."

(NPR) Personally, I don't think you should be allowed to vote until you read the Constitution. It is not fucking complicated.

I am semi-serious about the idea of bringing back a literacy test for voting. Well, not bringing back a racist fake literacy test designed to steal people's voting rights so much as instituting a completely different political literacy test that isn't really a test and cannot bar anyone from registering or voting but provides an opportunity to educate people before they vote. Hear me out.

1. An independent, non-partisan, yadda yadda commission comes up with five true/false questions related to the Constitution.
2. Anyone can make suggestions to the commission and there is a public comment period on the questions chosen by the commission.
3. Through some iterative process, we get to broad agreement about 5 reasonable questions -- and, importantly, their answers. (Thus, no questions on the 1st or 2nd Amendments.)
4. The questions and their answers are made public and included on voter registration forms, IRS refund checks, subway and bus ads, TV PSAs, the back of cereal boxes, and dozens and dozens of other places.
5. The questions are part of official ballots, whether paper or electronic.
6. Every ballot uses the same questions written in exactly the same way.
7. All the standard assistance for translation and reading assistance applies as needed.
8. Failure to answer the questions or incorrect answers have no effect on a ballot's validity.

I have 4 questions to propose:

True or false? The U.S. Constitution, as written by our mother fucking Founding Fathers (TM), says that to be elected president, a person must have been a U.S. citizen from birth. (Hint: True)

True or false? Any person born in the U.S. is a citizen. (Hint: True)

True or false? The U.S. Constitution refers to God. (HInt: False)

True or false? The U.S. Constitution explicitly gives the federal government the right to impose an income tax. (Hint: True)

Bonus question for Rick Perry only: True or false? A person must be 21 before he or she can vote.


 

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Assorted backwards gazing

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 03.14.12

1. Do you have any Unfogged threads bookmarked? Do you have any that you actually reference on occasion? Maybe we can make a list of lists. And then a list of lists which don't contain themselves.

2. When I first delurked, it was to humorlessly chastise Neb about plagiarizing the line "At night, the ice weasels come." It's safe to say I didn't fully get the dynamic of Unfogged at that point. Also I have heard that Smearcase feels embarrassment over getting on my case about Texas in one of his early threads, although I should say that my memory is that he was accurately calling me out on making glib over-generalizations.

Consider this a prompt to share your early misstep in a commenting cow patty, back when you were a timid lurker. (Lurkers, consider making your mark here. Welcome!)


 

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Inane in the Membrane

Posted by Stanley
on 03.13.12

Via a rebroadcast of today's Diane Rehm Show, I just heard the panel discussing whether the US should apologize for the recent (alleged) attack by a US soldier on innocent civilians in Kandahar. And the panelists agreed that it would be politically problematic for the president to apologize, since the GOP loves to get all hot-'n'-bothered over the issue of presidential apologies. (This recent article detailing past "Sorries!" is relevant.)

Is there anything more asinine than the insistence that America never, ever, be sorry? I suppose there must be, but it's still quite exceptionally stupid.


 

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Personal responsibility makes a terrible group message

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 03.13.12

Penelope Trunk is such a surefire way to piss Unfogged off. It's shooting fish in a barrel. Anyway, she is not leaving her marriage on account of the domestic abuse. In her usual overstatement-by-half manner, she makes the case that families are a system, and that she has a role in the dysfunctional dynamic, and that when one person works on themselves in therapy, the entire family system will change, and therefore it's worth trying. (I'm generously paraphrasing her words.)

It is true that if one person starts to change, from within the system, everyone else will respond. Only, they will respond by doubling-down extra hard on their old entrenched behaviors, thereby saying "CHANGE BACK!" But they do respond! With extra mess! (Not that it's impossible to improve a situation, but that it's an incredibly long and difficult process. Like Apostropher has said, "Couples counseling makes the inevitable divorce much more amicable." I'm paraphrasing again, but it illustrates that while therapy is worthwhile, actually improving your family dynamic is another thing entirely.) (Penelope Trunk's second point (in a different post) is that she hates divorce and thinks you're doomed to marry into an equally bad second marriage.)

She's missing an unspoken longer piece of advice behind "Zero tolerance for abuse!" which is "Get out of the relationship now!...and then work on yourself, so that you don't get into another relationship with another abusive partner." (I don't understand why this isn't stated explicitly, more often.)

Overall, Trunk is infatuated with the notion of individual responsibility. She sees the "Zero tolerance for abuse!" message as disempowering women:

"It's not your fault" completely limits a woman's choices, because you are saying that she is powerless to control the situation. And if you tell every woman "it's not your fault" then they can't improve. How do women get better at not creating a violent household? Probably by changing their behavior.

Why I'm posting this is that I'm fascinated by our society's obsession with individual responsibility, and how it makes for such awful public policy. It leads to public policy like "If you don't like your landlord, move to a better home!" "If you don't want to live in poverty, get a great job and pull yourself up by your bootstraps!" And on and on. It's insane to design a society where an average shmuck living an average life is either in poverty, or at risk of poverty.

At the same, individual responsibility is the ideal advice for any one person, in a competitive situation. Be resourceful. Exhaust all your options. Call up people who hold power and be friendly and ask them for advice. Send thank you notes. Etc. We would all give this advice to our friends or our children, or anyone on the individual level.

Personal responsibility makes a terrible group message, yet it's also unfair if only part of the group is getting told these little personal responsibility tips. I don't understand how you get a culture that thinks about the entire group, when individuals make personal decisions. How do you spread that?

(Let's just get this over with: the stupidest part of her post:

But the truth is that we do not believe that men who leave two, visible marks on their wife should lose their kids.
You know how I know we don'€™t believe this? Because if Child Protective Services sees two bruises on a kid at two different times, the kid is not removed from the home. Think about it: Is that kid better off with parents who might be able to stop, or in the Foster Care System for the rest of their life?

Ok. So dumb that let's not derail the thread on the dummy dumbness of this part.)

(Here's an interesting part:

You don't know what I did leading up to the bruise in the photo.
I'll tell you what my mom used to do leading up to my dad hitting her:
One night they were wallpapering. They had been wallpapering the living room after work for a week. My mom got mad at my dad and threw red paint all over the wallpaper. Ruined all their work. He didn't respond. He was stunned. Then she knocked over the table with the wallpaper and the glue. It ruined the newly varnished floors. He held her arms so she couldn't do anything else. He held tighter and tighter. She kicked him to get loose. She left no mark. He hit her in the face.
If she blogged about it, and showed the hand print on her face, she might get 500 commenters telling her it's not her fault.

Then she talks about how poorly her mom handled it, and how her mom failed to use any of the opportunities she might have had for personal growth.)


 

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Guest Post - lw

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 03.13.12

From lw:

Two links from something I've been reading lately that might suit. This is from a blog that translates selections from Chinese-language blogs. Occasionally interesting Chinese local news, sometimes interesting viewpoints.

Chinese migrant workers apparently need their own Rosa Parks.
Tiger Mom as discussed by overseas Chinese students.

From Heebie: Both interesting!


 

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Random shirts!

Posted by Ben
on 03.12.12

Today expensively educated graphic artists sit at expensive designer tables in expensive offices, solely in order to put "Ithaca is gorges", rainbows, and band names on t-shirts all day ... but even this quasi-preindustrial situation has now come to an end. Riesenmaschine's collaborators have succeeded in automating the production of modern t-shirt designs. The random shirt machine mechanically produces, from a random combination of a random picture and random text, in a random font and random colors, a random design existing only once … only for wearing the shirt is the involvement of a person necessary.

Be warned, however:


 

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The East Side Greenway Is Bullshit

Posted by LizardBreath
on 03.12.12

Riding home from the bike shop, I figured I'd be adventurous and go home up the East Side. If you look at the map, there are some bits that put you back on the streets, but lots of it is a waterfront bike path.

Hah. The parts on the streets were the good bits. There was one decent stretch of path, 155th to Dyckman St; everything else was a post-apocalyptic hellscape of irregular paving, bits of masonry in the way, and poodles on really long retractable leashes. If I was going more than 10 mph at any moment, I'd be surprised.

It took me three years to try the East Side route home, and if I have any sense it'll be at leas that long before I try it again.


 

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What is the last name of the protagonist of the video game Silent Hill 3?

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 03.12.12

(3,095 edits.) From Wikipedia's lamest edit wars.

Limp Bizkit: Are the band "rapcore/nu metal" or "nu metal/rapcore"? 6,732 edits.
Anus: Should article use an image of a human anus? If so, male or female? Hairless or "moderately hairy"? 2,136 edits.
2006 Atlantic Hurricane Season: Tropical storm Zeta formed on December 30, 2005 and lasted until January 6, 2006. Which hurricane season does this count as? 3,254 edits.

"Lamest" is unnecessarily judgmental for these very, very passionate people.


 

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It's Hard Not To Be A Sucker

Posted by LizardBreath
on 03.12.12

Minivet sent me this NPR story claiming that the recession and the new health care law with its cost control provisions are encouraging businesses to develop cost-saving health-care innovations rather than exploring the exciting new frontiers of improving care with new technologies.

Something that struck me, though, is that a couple of examples of what the story refers to as cost-saving technologies are unambiguously improvements in patient care: a catheter that reduces the chance of infections, generally "businesses that do things like help hospitals keep patients from returning to the hospital with complications soon after treatment". You can frame those as cost-saving, but they're also things that a patient who was completely insensitive to cost would want on their own merits: patients actively want to consume less health care resources, because if they're consuming health care resources, that means they're sick, and they'd prefer not to be sick.

The kinds of medical advances that get blamed for ever-increasing health-care costs are often the sorts of things that patients aren't clamoring for, because patients don't have the expertise to evaluate them: "You can have this type of surgery, or this vastly more expensive type of surgery that might possibly have better outcomes." The problem in health care cost control doesn't seem to me to so much about an infinite demand for health care, as about a market where people making the purchasing decisions don't have the expertise to evaluate what they're buying.


 

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Maybe She Went to Buy a Stripéd Shirt

Posted by Alameida
on 03.12.12

One might reasonably wonder, where is Alameida? With migraines unabated, I realized that looking at words on the lighted screen was a trigger and stopped reading the internet altogether. That's right. That's what I did. The whole internet. But for real.

My kindly but somewhat baffled pain doctor has, in the absence of any obvious organic cause for the headaches, gone back to treating the symptoms real proper-like, with half-again as much OxyContin, Lyrica, and Topamax. Naturally this is in addition to the amytriptaline (old tricyclic anti-depressant taken for pain suppression), eletriptan (for breakthrough migraine pain), normal anti-depressant (Wellbutrin), and small amount of Valium which I take normally. So, yeah, medicine. If any of you notes that this is a lot of medicine and maybe I should think about whether "all that medicine might not be bad for me?" as if that had never occurred to me I will personally find you, drag you to an open, bloody sluice, and put you down with a bolt gun like a lame horse in a cat food factory. Additionally, I invite you all to do me the courtesy of assuming that my doctor knows I'm in AA/NA and is adjusting my medication accordingly.

If this doesn't really work well enough to break the cycle of pain and give me a certain number of pain-free days after which we can start tapering all the drugs down (which is the ultimate goal, obviously), then they will have to inject medicine directly into my intra-cranial nerve, the wisdom of which treatment can be demonstrated by the doctor's pulling my head gently to one side or the other. At a certain angle a ribbon of molten agony stretches from the center of the back of my skull down into my neck. And if that doesn't work they will put me into hospital so they can infuse things into these nerves and others in a controlled process. If that doesn't work I guess my brother will have to wield the friend's sword, since I promised to be my sister's kaishakunin already.

Bob: please call me racist and explain stuff you learned about Japanese ritual suicide from movies that makes you OG.
The rest of you: I will only sort of be able to read this, fleetingly, in a cheating spirit, 45 minutes after I take my pain meds, when I am briefly invulnerable, so imagine that I said "fuck you, clown" to a bunch of people. Also, you will be pleased to know that I composed this longhand and then typed it (where by "you" I mean neb and possibly Flip). Finally, Jesus Christ on a Jarlsburg-covered Wheatable this Topamax is making me a moron. I can't remember what I'm saying from one moment to the next, I can't do mental math, I forget words. Once I get to the clinically effective dose I have an 80% chance of returning to normal after 4 weeks. If I fail to do so, I can nix the drug. God, it's so weird to be stupid. At least now that I know it's attributable to the drug I am not as worried that part of my brain has been eaten by tropical fevers.


 

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On the White Savior Industrial Complex

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 03.11.12

Seven thoughts on the banality of sentimentality, by Teju Cole.

7 - I deeply respect American sentimentality, the way one respects a wounded hippo. You must keep an eye on it, for you know it is deadly.

Via k-sky


 

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