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San Francisco Meetup!

Posted by Ben
on 07.28.12

Hey San Francisco, let's meet up! We can celebrate decision of the lovely & talented jms to grace our city with her presence, and also my return to said city, hence "we" and "our" in the preceding parts of this very sentence.

Fresh Salt is likely to be inconvenient but I'm sure we can work something out.

Moved to top: Rosamunde in the Mission at 6 on Saturday, by acclamation.

Move up again to suppress LB.


 

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I Am Spitting With Rage

Posted by LizardBreath
on 07.28.12

There's a dry cleaner I walk past on the way to the subway every day, where the owner has an arrangement with a local graffiti artist (Alan Ket) to do murals on the side of the building. They change every month or so, they're bright and interesting, and it's a service to the neighborhood.

Last weekend, I noticed the new mural was political:

It's a row of tombstones with the names of various corporations and organizations including the NYPD, all over the word "Murderers".

And the police came and painted it over on Tuesday. The business owner didn't want them to, but she was afraid to stop them:

Officers visited the store on Monday, telling owners that the painting needed to come down and calling the message a "bad idea."

"I can't confront them, because I don't want problems," New Edition Cleaners owner Marina Curet, who has owned the business for five years, said in Spanish. "There is no freedom of expression."

The police commissioner is claiming that they painted over the mural at the behest of unidentified community leaders, as well as the owner of the building, but it seems really unlikely that the owner of the building had any problem with the mural at all until the cops did -- if the landlord, who had been fine with the past five years of rotating murals, had objected to this one, the natural response would have been to ask the business owner to have something different put up. Having policemen come and paint it over themselves makes the source of the censorship pretty clear.

I find it absolutely enraging that the police are implicitly threatening a small business owner who's performing a service for my community because they disapprove of the politics of the art she's sponsoring. "NYPD murderers" may have been an overstated message, but NYPD thugs, censors, and lawbreakers is self-evidently true after this incident. Disgusting.

Also: According to the artist, the landlord has told him that future murals have to be cleared by the NYPD, because the landlord doesn't want trouble with the police. This is doubly outrageous, and I don't see any solution other than a full public apology, making it clear that the NYPD has no role whatsoever in determining what sort of political art a business may display on its own property.


 

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Pants

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 07.27.12

I'm about ready for:
1. Women's jeans to be cut more loosely through the thigh*, and
2. Men's pants to sit at their waists.

Both things exist, but I was doing some back-to-school shopping at Goodwill this morning, and they certainly aren't the norm.

*Partially for body-specific reasons, but opposite of what you'd think.


 

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Head Games II

Posted by Stanley
on 07.27.12

Yesterday I spent the better part of the morning trying to track down a particular type of drum head, visiting all the local music shops. (It's a 14" Evans Genera HD Dry Snare head, and I never did find it, dammit.)

In one store, which to be fair is by and large a guitar-focused business with just a few percussion accoutrements, the proprietor thumbed through a stack of random heads and then handed one to me. "Here you go."

I examined it briefly and explained, "This is a snare-side head. The one that goes on the snare side. I'm looking for a batter head. The one you hit."

He chuckled and then said, "No, you don't change the head on the bottom. This is for the top."

Which it really very much wasn't, most notably because, like a lot of resonant heads (as they're called), it was extremely thin. The kind of thin where hitting it with a stick would be bad. Also, it said "resonant" on it.

But the guy was adamant that I was wrong and he was right and this head was what I needed. So I thanked him for his time and left. But the whole interaction was just really weird.

What about you Unfoggedtariat: got any stories where people tried to sell you something that was totally not the right thing?


 

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Head Games

Posted by Stanley
on 07.27.12

When I first heard that Mittford Wilmington Romneyshanks IV started off his world tour by insulting his host country, I had to wonder: is this another thing like the NAACP thing? There, he seemed to intentionally draw boos from the black audience solely for the purpose of bragging about it later at a fundraiser.

And it's kind of a compelling narrative: what better way to rally the base than to needle old Europe by going over there and telling it like it is (or whatever)?

Except what he actually said was really pretty milquetoast and dorky. So as much as I'd like to believe that it was kabuki political maneuvering, I think I'm back to square one: Mitt Romney's just fundamentally kind of a strange and awkward person.


 

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Austin Meet-up!

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 07.26.12

Rob Helpy-Chalk is coming to town this week, and he wants to meet you! And me. Available nights: Tuesday-Friday. What should we do?


 

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Writing

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 07.26.12

Getting your MFA sounds like the worst experience ever.

In my first workshop at Irvine, I was slapped to the ground so hard that I went into the bathroom and cried. Cried, people. It was humiliating, to say the least. And so it went.

But this is not always true:

I've been forced to come to grips with what all writers must face at some point: No one -- and I mean no one -- except for you, and maybe your mother, cares if you write. (And even your mother cares only in an abstract way, hoping that whatever you're doing is making you happy.) The number of words you manage to put on the page every day impacts exactly one person. You.

You know what's the absolute best? Posting on Unfogged. This place has the most amazing ratio of attention:word count. Have I mentioned lately how much I love you all?


 

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Evolving

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 07.26.12

When I change my mind, there's a lag between when I've intellectually changed my mind and when my emotions catch up. Intellectually, I'm ready to stop caring very much about gun control laws. Emotionally, I still care.


 

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Recommendation

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 07.26.12

I'm in the mood to read a really fantastic mystery. What should I read?


 

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With what intention, sir? … with what intention?

Posted by Ben
on 07.25.12

A version of chawanmushi, an egg custard topped with raw scallop, a little confetti of green apple and comma-sized basil seeds, was so quiet and defenseless I wanted to take it into another room and bolt the door.


 

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Oh, snap! Your hips.

Posted by Stanley
on 07.25.12

This story has Unfogged written all over it:

Australian chef de mission Nick Green says news reports questioning the racing condition of three-time gold medallist Leisel Jones are "disgraceful" and "extremely unfair".

Current and former team-mates of the 26-year-old breaststroker have also attacked Fairfax Media and News Limited newspapers for running stories and photographs alluding to weight and physical fitness problems.

Green says the four-time Olympian deserves more respect.

Swimming! Body issues! Um, Australians!

I do sort of wonder what the media treatment would be if it were a male swimmer.


 

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Rose-colored glasses

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 07.25.12

My first year of college, I had a friend (eternally sweet, feminine) who insisted there was something beautiful about every single person. We had an ongoing riff where we'd name the most repulsive people we could conceive of, and make her say what was attractive about them. "He has nice eyes!" she'd insist. Or "He has a really happy smile!" Etc.

I actually think it's a very wonderful superpower of hers, to ferret out the attractive in absolutely anybody. I've got a game I play with myself, which evolved out of her game, which is to test if I can see any person's life in a romantic cast. No matter how repulsive or drone-esque or marketing department or sad or shlubby, can I wrap all that up into a romantic vision of their life? It usually ends up feeling like an indie movie, but whatever. With a nice Arcade Fire soundtrack.

As a side-game, can you see your own life romantically? That's a nice trick for when you're feeling blue, because it makes your sadness seem poignant.


 

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America, Midwife From Hell

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 07.25.12

Via Helpy-Chalk, at the other place:

Glenn Greenwald on Thomas Friedman. Consider this astonishing sentence of Friedman's:

And, for me, the lesson of Iraq is quite simple: You can't go from Saddam to Switzerland without getting stuck in Hobbes -- a war of all against all -- unless you have a well-armed external midwife, whom everyone on the ground both fears and trusts to manage the transition. In Iraq, that was America.

I mean, what?


 

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Guest Post: Urple

Posted by Alameida
on 07.25.12

That is jnonsense. Financially the traditional Iraq and the Roth Iraq are identical. You pay more In taxes with a traditional it's bit you pay the taxes decades later, and are untaxed on the gains In the interim. It's literally an identical overall restrung with rest, if they are invested in the rye bums in theatre. The only arbitrage is current vs future tax rates, baseD both on variances in the rates themselves and in your persOnal income bracket at the time of contribution vs distribution.

Alameida: Solid, solid advice on those planning to invade either the traditional Iraq or the new Roth Iraq. Welcome Mineshaft OG NCProsecutor wonders about this whole "one spouse pays some of the bills, another spouse others" thing. I have to agree I think this sounds weird. Husband X and I divvy them, but only in terms of who wants to do the annoying actual task of paying them from our joint account. I paid the AmEx bill late for two months in a row last year so Husband X took it over. He is an anxious Norwegian, while I am--I'm not profligate, actually; I get excellent value for money, I just buy expensive things in a carefree fashion. Wait, is that what profligate means? Anyway, we have had a joint bank account for years, since before we were married. At one point he was contributing all the money and I was doing all the household management and bill paying. He never even knew how to write a Narnian cheque for years. We have ways to arrange secret gifts.

My mom used to give my step-father an allowance to augment his meagre salary and he would let "his" bills go unpaid, claiming on one memorable occasion that he spent the money on "bourbon and chips--everybody ate them!" Indeed, we had all eaten the potato chips. And yet. My mom had to pay the cable herself that month, as well as all the other bills.

We have to decide whether to move out of our house. I love my house. Goddamn I love it. My landlady wants to raise the rent by 50% (my rent is preposterously low for various reasons so this is fair on her part). Go search Narnia Craigslist for houses with 4 bedrooms in districts 9 and 10 and faint. I negotiated her down, and got her to agree to a 30% rise and a 2 year lease. Still too expensive. But still such a good deal!!! We should move. I don't want to move. It's crazy, it's like burning money. If my business makes enough, I can give myself a raise, and it'll be OK. If not...we'll be spending my husband's entire salary on rent and transportation. I feel sure even urple's theatre-based rye bum investment stratagem doesn't advocate that.

P.S. We can't buy anything in Narnia because it all costs millions of dollars, much more that New York, even, and the rent/buy ratio is ludicrous--I can rent something worth a zillion dollars from a PRC landlord who bought it all cash. No one will give me a zillion dollar mortgage, and if they did my monthly payments would be high five figures. Narnia is the #3 most expensive city in the world, after Tokyo and London.


 

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Voracious beast

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 07.24.12

Have you ever shifted your lifestyle so as to save not-trivial money? I think my lifestyle has only crept up incrementally more expensive, and never down-shifted.

The only major downshift I can think of is when we shifted to cooking nightly dinners, although we weren't eating out every night before that - we were just relying heavily on sandwiches and cereal. We definitely ate out more before having kids, but those savings were never really felt.

It's funny how every part of your budget can seem perfectly reasonable, and simultaneously you know rationally you should be able to live much more frugally. At least we're not the poor saps paying $2500/month per kid for daycare.


 

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Do You Really Want To Know?

Posted by Alameida
on 07.24.12

My beloved sister has many horrible health issues. So many. Too many. She has fifteen doctors, one of them whose sole job it is to ensure that none of her medications is fatally interfering with the other medications. Except now she's got a neurologist after that skull-cracking fall on the marble steps at Elizabeth Arden; spa day gone awry. But she met with a geneticist recently who became concerned she had a genetic disorder related to the whites of her eyes being bluish--which they are, but not because she takes life-extending, consciousness-expanding spice (unfortunately). It makes her already beautiful almond-shaped gray eyes even more beautiful; around the gray iris there is a rim of charcoal, and then the whites are ever white, perfect, like a child's. Her pearly teeth also, short and white. She is an extraordinarily beautiful woman.

This rare ailment causes blue-white sclera and also fatal aneurysms. My sister's dad had an aneurysm when he was quite young, and we all assumed it was the drinking. After some blood work it was determined that she didn't have this disorder (yay!!), but she had to come back to the geneticist. She can never have children, even using a surrogate. It has kind of broken her spirit, and I wanted to comfort her but she can't fly now with her skull the way it is. I think I'll go back in the fall, just a short while, clean out my grandfather's house in Wainscott which has finally sold and spend some time with her. I'm too old to donate eggs now, I think. Maybe I'll ask.

But she has a new genetic ailment which causes people to have sudden aneurysms! It's vanishingly rare, and the code for this defect is found in only two other animals: wallabies, and lamprey eels. I am so not even joking. I don't know if the geneticist works for the drug company or told them or how they found out but they have offered to pay for my sister's tests, and they want to test all of us (mom, my bro, etc.). The test usually costs $5000. I think it's a full genetic sequencing? Or only one area. Maybe my sister can get into a trial or something if we all give blood, is the idea. This is really pretty hilarious, except for the aneurysms. No, it's just hilarious. In principle it's a good way to go: one minute you're talking shit about some jerk who hit on you and the next you're dead. Dead--like a wallaby!! In practice, it can lead to you alive in your paralyzed body, my step-father's worst nightmare. It was his great-aunt's worst nightmare, and then it happened to her. He killed himself awhile after the aneurysm, after he was in a drunk driving accident as well; he was in a wheel chair and did not have the full mental capacity of an adult. I promised my sister I will never let that happen to her. Never. I never will.

So fine I'll get tested, sure. I was joking about it with my sister, and then I got off the phone, and I thought, they'll want to test my daughters. It was like someone laid a tombstone on my heart. I couldn't breathe. I thought, I'll pay those fuckers $5000 to stay the hell away from my babies. I just lay in the bed trembling for a while. By the time I could talk to my husband I had calmed down. He said, of course we do the test if it's free. Maybe there are some diet or other steps we could take that would help even if there's no drug now. There's no drug now. There's nothing. But if they develop something then we'd know they needed it, he said. He's right, of course. For myself, this little black worm inside might turn in on itself and strike me dumb, and everything would fail me, OK. 'Might have a fatal aneurysm' isn't hugely different from 'is going to die.' Everybody's going to die. But my children? They've only just gotten healthy after so many years of being ill, with their strong tan limbs and sudden heaviness in my arms. There's nothing devouring black inside of them. NO. PLEASE no.


 

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Aftermath

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 07.23.12

So, are the Penn State sanctions appropriate?


 

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Common Core Standards Movement

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 07.23.12

Passing along a link from RFTS, perspectives on standardized testing.

Research shows that increasing testing does not increase achievement. A better investment is protecting children from the effects of poverty, in feeding the animal, not just weighing it.

I tend to think that the solutions are obvious; it's just getting them funded and implemented that's impossible. But what do I really know.


 

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Dear Dr. Geebie, we value your input.

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 07.23.12

The scale below is on a continuum of 1 - 7, where a "1" indicates that compared to others in the workplace, [applicant] never uses the skill under any circumstances. A "4" indicates that [applicant] uses the skill to a moderate or average extent. A "7" indicates that compared to others in the workplace, [applicant] uses this skill at all times and under all circumstances.

Compared to others in the workplace, to what extent does [applicant]...
- Analyze data and information using appropriate statistical, scientific, and professional methodologies ?
- Display proficiency with MS Office software (Excel, PowerPoint, Word, etc.) ?
- Verbally communicate ideas, concepts, and research findings so that others can listen and understand?
- Take proper steps to collect necessary research data from all relevant sources ?


Yes, this former student of mine is nonstop analyzing, displaying proficiency, and verbally communicating. At all times and under all circumstances. As a common yardstick, let's agree to use the numbskull who wrote this recommendation form.


 

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Eye tumors and survival

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 07.23.12

The eye cancer story in the NYT - once you found out you had a gigantic tumor in your eyeball, would you want an additional highly accurate genetic test to predict if you were going to live or die?

Am I high, or who the hell would turn the test down? This is not a test for early dementia or Huntington's chorea. You've already got the disease. You are not currently healthy. The test would radically influence how I spent the next few years. I do not see how there is any debate about this whatsoever.

Furthermore, how on earth is this different from nearly every medical test already? "You've been having headaches. I've got a really big question - do you want an MRI to see if there's a softball-sized tumor in there, or do you want the diagnostic purity of not knowing?"


 

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Quoted without comment

Posted by Ben
on 07.22.12

"It's the difference between the songs that they're singing," Mrs Welch said. "Mitt Romney didn't exactly do a beautiful job on that song, but think about what he's singing, OK? I mean it's that patriotic song and he goes all the way through it. Then you've got the very cool Barack Obama singing Al Green. That is the two different Americas. Isn't it?"


 

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Listen to these

Posted by Ben
on 07.22.12

At the, you know, other place, rfts posted the video for Princess Chelsea's "Cigarette Duet", and I listened to and watched it and heard and saw that it was good. Later I listened to it again without realizing that I was still listening at the same time to Murcof's "Cuerpo Celeste"—but when cognizance had been attained I judged the combination to be good. And now you can judge similarly, or possibly dissimilarly:


(Youtube doubler embed code doesn't seem to be working so you will just have to click.)

Another nice trick is to listen to two instances of Nico's "Frozen Borderline" started about seven seconds apart, for a round-like effect.


 

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