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Joys of City Life

Posted by LizardBreath
on 01.05.13

I just spent the day removing literally every movable object from my kitchen, cleaning all the exposed surfaces including tops of cabinets, all shelves, backs of drawers, and so on, and putting boric acid down in all the corners, and then returning everything to its proper place, after the biannual sighting of the roach in the silverware drawer. It takes a surprisingly long time, and has surprisingly little visible effect (if you don't count the dead roaches we'll be finding on the kitchen floor for a week or two. After that, there shouldn't be any for at least a year.)

Decent housekeepers probably do this more than every two years, but I would not be one such.


 

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Boston meet-up!

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 01.05.13

Mcmc writes:

It looks like Saturday Jan 5 is optimal, since Cecily and AWB can make it (right AWB?), and Mr. Blandings and JM might be able to come as well. We're thinking Backbar, so we seem to need to make a reservation? So we need to get a rough idea of who plans to come. As always, lurkers welcome: time to speak up.

Bumped: Oh look at us, with our fancy meet-ups on fancy Saturdays.

Update: Meadhall (near Kendall on the red line) at 8.


 

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Guest Post - Kanye and Kim!

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 01.04.13

Lw writes: The offspring of shameful, pointless celebrities have existed for a pretty long time now, but I would guess that kid's not getting an ipad at 6 years old. I looked briefly for kids with similarly situated parents a few generations ago-- Jayne Mansfield raised one of her daughters herself before Jayne's dying young, but that daughter doesn't have much of a media profile, besides having appeared in Playboy.

Heebie's take: Kim Kardashian's fame is indeed unusually pointless (although Kanye's is pretty well grounded).

I'm not sure Jayne Mansfield is an apt comparison, though - wasn't she actually in movies and stuff? I can't think of the right comparison - by the time Nicole Ritchie had kids, she was no longer such an absurdly shameless, pointless celebrity. Kim's sister is absurd, pointless, and has a a kid, but is less famous. Anna Nicole Smith was such a roller coaster ride that her fame seems hard-earned and justified, and then her kid was not raised in the spotlight. I don't know when "famous for zilch" became a tenable category.

(Also ipad apps for kids are amazing and wonderful and weren't 6 year olds getting $200 gaming systems on occasion when I was growing up?)


 

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Kevin Drum Isn't A Lawyer

Posted by LizardBreath
on 01.04.13

He's badmouthing my beloved platinum coin option:

There is, apparently, a widespread belief that courts will uphold a literal, hypertechnical reading of legislative language regardless of its obvious intent, but I'm quite certain this isn't true. Courts are expected to rule based on the most sensible interpretation of a law, not its most tortured possible construction.

First, of course, he's perfectly right that the platinum coin option is ridiculous and isn't going to happen, much as I wish it would. But if it were attempted, I don't think a court would stop it, and I'm sure that a court that did stop it would be acting unusually and for politically motivated reasons. Courts are expected to do what legislatures say, not what they mean: "legislative intent" can only be considered where there's an ambiguity in the law. Even if what the legislature said is obviously not what they meant, courts are still expected to follow the letter of the statute. And the platinum coin statute isn't ambiguous (unless there's something in the wording I'm missing): the treasury can mint platinum coins, and they're real money.

There are political reasons not to do it, and I suppose the dignity of the government (if you think it has any) would be damaged by it. But courts aren't, and shouldn't be, in the business of secondguessing legislatures when they unambiguously (even if unintentionally) do things that are within their powers (like allowing the Treasury to mint money), and expecting them to is a mistake, and one that I think would be likely to lead to more politicization of the courts than we have now, which is already way too much.

Afterthought: For a more authoritative statement of what I'm talking about here, try the following statement of the 'plain meaning' canon of construction, from Caminetti v. U S, 242 U.S. 470 (1917)

It is elementary that the meaning of a statute must, in the first instance, be sought in the language in which the act is framed, and if that is plain, and if the law is within the constitutional authority of the lawmaking body which passed it, the sole function of the courts is to enforce it according to its terms....

Where the language is plain and admits of no more than one meaning, the duty of interpretation does not arise, and the rules which are to aid doubtful meanings need no discussion.

I think it's very dangerous to think of the courts as the sensible grownups who will keep Congress from doing anything silly. If they're allowed to disregard the plain meaning of a statute because it's idiotic and unintentional (as the platinum coin statute obviously is), it's a very plausible slippery slope to disregarding the plain meaning of a statute because the judge on the case thinks it's a bad idea. Obviously, that happens sometimes, but it's not the job of the courts and it really shouldn't be.


 

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Pb(CH2CH3)4

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 01.03.13

Kevin Drum's article on the causal link between lead and violent crime is making the rounds, and with good reason. It is a pretty amazing article.


 

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Various

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 01.03.13

Via Becks, longform article on micro-preemies, from the POV of the mother who is well-aware that that she is racking up monstrous medical costs for a slim chance at her baby's survival.

In other news, I bought a forged Old Navy sweater off eBay. Who would forge an Old Navy sweater?! I paid like $3 for it, and it has an Old Navy tag that looks like it's sewn in by hand. Why not sell it for $10 and sew in an upscale label?


 

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How to make hot chocolate

Posted by Ben
on 01.02.13

Warming and most delicious mugs of hot chocolate are easy and rewarding to prepare, yet cafes to sell and serve them are but few. Therefore, should you indeed wish to taste and learn how to prepare on your own account this decadent beverage that all year long brings forth from its drinker a smile and happy song, then follow diligently all such as is set out below, which has been tried and tested by generation and generation of gluttonous men, all of whom found consummate satisfaction.

Choose whatever appropriate cooking vessel you wish, whether double boiler or a simple bowl set over a pot is of no consequence. Put into the bottom a quantity of water and into the top a quantity of bittersweet chocolate, either in chip form or shaved from a large block, and set the lower chamber to simmering.

When, anon, the chocolate has all melted, yet still retains its form in outline, pour into the melted chocolate a small amount of milk. Thereupon it will lose all its smoothness and seem as if it is on the verge of seizing. Then take out your balloon whisk (the same that every man keeps carefully concealed within his drawers) and incorporate the milk, and all the radiance will return to the chocolate and its separated fragments (it being supposedly about to seize) will disappear, and the whole will begin to shine with a satiny sheen. Once more add a small quantity of milk and continue doing so until the chocolate mixture becomes liquid and free flowing, all the while humming either the song of the scorned or the hymn to the unjustly slain, at which point you may add as much milk as you estimate will be necessary to satisfy you.

Now you may enjoy a reprieve and rest, idle and languorous, for several minutes of the clock while the simmering water heats the milk from coolness to tepidity to the desired warmth. When such has transpired, remove the bowl or upper chamber from the heat and pour its contents with assurance into a mug, and allow it to reveal its richness to you. And assume a place at a table with your mug and with an unquenchable thirst succumb to it, and gulp and guzzle it genuinely and deeply, until the mug is empty, no less than seven swallows.


 

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More money, more problems

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 01.02.13

I remember we had some investment threads years ago - to what degree to people try to invest ethically, how do you even untangle such a question - but it was definitely pre-crash. What about now? If you have money to invest, how closely do you monitor it? Where should people put their money in 2013?


 

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Poker Face

Posted by LizardBreath
on 01.01.13

Do you ever wonder how transparent you are? I spend a fair amount of time intending not to express what's going on in my head (dealing with other lawyers on work stuff, mostly, but personal issues sometimes) and I have the vague belief that it works fairly well. On the other hand, I've got a couple of tells that I know show through, because people consistently react to them, although usually by misinterpreting them. If what I'm thinking is "I'm not sure I understand what you're saying, or at least you're going to have to talk me through it before I agree", it apparently comes through my eyebrows as "You are the stupidest person I've ever met and I hate you." I've spent a fair amount of time talking friends and loved ones down from that one. And there's a particular sort of bombastic bully, fairly easy to find in the legal profession, that makes me think "Jesus, you're an asshole" in a way that leaves me grinning at them. Generally, they then decide we're best friends, which depending on the circumstances can be useful.

But outside of those specific contexts, I do wonder how much of what I'm thinking shows through on my face. I'd prefer it to be none, but I'm probably kidding myself.


 

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Reduce, reuse, revisit, revile, reblog

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 01.01.13

I did not use the glass plates that came with a couple picture frames. Is there any use for two 8"x11" sheets of glass? I can't think of any but it seems wasteful to throw them out.


 

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Two months extension! That's practically forever!

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 01.01.13

Here, have a fiscal cliff thread only fifteen hours after you started discussing it.


 

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Austin meet-up!

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 12.31.12

Let's have another Austin meet-up! Minivet is coming to town, 12/22-1/4. Since Jammies and I get back to town on the 30th, I vote for sometime in the latter half.

Bumped even though it's only four days old for those entitled Texans.


 

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We're all going to die!

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 12.31.12
Before starting the test, [subjects] were told: "Without worrying about the speed of movement, try to sit and then to rise from the floor, using the minimum support that you believe is needed."
Each of the two basic movements were assessed and scored out of 5, with one point being subtracted from 5 for each support used (hand or knee, for example). Subjects were thus assessed by a composite score of 0 to 10, which, for the sake of the analysis, was ranked as four categories (C1, 0-3; C2, 3.5-5.5; C3, 6-7.5; and C4, 8-10).
Over the study period 159 subjects died, a mortality rate of 7.9%. The majority of these deaths occurred in people with low test scores - indeed, only two of the deaths were in subjects who gained a composite score of 10. Analysis found that survival in each of the four categories differed with high statistical significance. These differences persisted when results were controlled for age, gender and body mass index, suggesting that the sitting-rising test score is a significant predictor of all-cause mortality; indeed, subjects in the lower score range (C1) had a 5-6 times higher risk of death than those in the reference group (C4).

I currently get up off the floor by mewing pathetically and holding out my hands until someone hoists me up, so I may not make it until this baby comes.


 

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Hindsight and new predictions

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 12.30.12

I think that Unimaginative decisively won last year's prediction thread. Of the earnest predictions, clear losers include jim, urple, x. trapnel. Sports predictions not evaluated because those are so subjective.

Who will throw their hat in the rink for 2013?


 

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Shall We Hate Everyone? Do Let's!

Posted by Alameida
on 12.30.12

The New York Times Style section. How often have I shaken my head in exasperation, or disgust, or comforting superiority, or pleased distaste, or confusion, or beneficent loathing, or perfect agreement mulcted from me, which ruined my day. Well, at least half an hour, which amounts to the same thing. So here we have the tough but in the end I love you restaurant guys who will teach your children table manners, once a week, in six easy sessions, because you are "too busy" and do not "have time" to teach them yourselves. Or the women with the fake starched-dickey names, whoever.

"Kids have stopped making eye contact at one another," Ms. Neitlich [??!!!--ed] said. "They bring their technology to the table. She added that it is true of parents, too: "Everyone is in a hurry. Things are clipped, clipped, clipped."

It all makes teaching manners at home challenging, said Faye de Muyshondt, the founder of Socialsklz, which teaches workshops in New York City on etiquette and social skills. Modern children seem to want no part of the conversation, she said.

"Say the words 'manners' or 'etiquette' to kids these days, and they run the other direction," she said. She prefers teaching the children that they are "building the brand called 'you.' "

OK, now I really will have to do the thing with the icepick and not just pretend like my head keeps pretending to me on the different sides, to keep me nervous and interested. Like, what if it was always into the inner corner of the left eye and down, reaching a point about 1 and 1/2 inches behind the eye, like right now? I'd get complacent, right? It's got to change-up, keep dancing, left eye, right eye, up into your brain, then one day BAM: fucking piece of rebar straight through both temples. You didn't see that coming, right? Me neither, and that's why god made powerful painkillers. And nerve medicine. But they don't really work, exactly. Unfortunately.

But the manners thing is a real problem. The thing of it is, my husband has terrible table manners. It's not all his fault: he has a weird jaw that would have needed to be broken to be re-set properly, to which extreme of orthodonty he never wished to progress. So he has to tear great gnawing hunks off sandwiches using the side of his mouth. This, however, has no impact on whether a person, say, keeps his napkin in his lap, or chews with his mouth closed, or keeps his elbows off the table, or has good posture, or puts some butter on his plate with the serving knife and continues with his own butter knife to carry out the will of the Lord on a fan-tan dinner roll, etc.* I have explained to my daughters that it doesn't matter what Daddy is doing, and that they need to practice "White House manners" just as I did as a child. The principle is, what if an invitation to the White House for some State Dinner should arrive? It would be too late to try and acquire manners now, wouldn't it?

In what is, now that I reflect on't, perhaps but a variation on the theme of teaching children that they are building the brand called "you," I have also explained to my children that people will form unconscious judgments of them based on their table manners and other etiquette, and that even though this set of manners is, in fact, completely contingent and conventional, someone will at some point think they seem "more professional" than someone else based on how they ate lunch.

*My husband is a much better and kinder person than I am, and a better parent, and funnier, and smarter. He just has a foible; everyone has foibles. My grandfather took me aside for a serious talking-to after Husband X came to my family's Thanksgiving for the first time to explain that everyone in the family was talking about his table manners and that if we were going to be married then something would have to be done about it. What, like etiquette lessons? I'm not going to correct a grown man in his own house, that's just rude.


 

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