This would make me happy. Although eyeballing that legend, it looks like it would still take 20 hours to go from San Antonio to Chicago. Since the current train takes a day and a half, that's not transformative. (On the other hand, there is no train along the southeast route currently, so that would indeed be transformative.)
I'm not exactly sure why flying feels so stressful compared to a train. The logistics are nearly identical, and security is only miserable for 15 minutes or so. Is it just the scenery, ongoing vibrations, and slightly more available space make a train that much more pleasant? Is there extra negative psychology of airports that I'm not properly weighing?
Tell me more about epigenetics. Lamarckism is real?!
As long as we're already discussing suicide-by-train, here's a topic I've been (mildly) hesitant to post, lest I be judged insensitive: twice in the past week there've been mentions of death, without providing the backstory. I'M SO CURIOUS.
The first is from the mother of a girl in Hawaii's class, who mentioned in passing that she'd been widowed two years ago. I went to my one possible gossip source, and it turns out the mutual friend did indeed know, and said something (infuriating) like "Oh, I have my suspicions. But I don't know for sure, so I don't feel comfortable saying." I said "So it was unexpected? It wasn't, say, an illness?" and she confirmed that it was unexpected. So I'm guessing suicide? It seems like any sort of accident wouldn't have suspicions tied to it, and if it were something violent at the hands of someone else...it wouldn't be spreading rumors about the guy in that case.
The second is an ongoing VagueBooking, where a high school friend RIPs the loss of her brother (who I also knew) about this time of year. What? How? How'd he die? What happened? Please tell me.
Acid booze and ass
Needles guns and grass
Lots of laughs...
Lots of laughs.
Ok, so, I've only had two episodes of major depression since I got sober. And all through this 16 months of bone-cracking agony I haven't been depressed. It's better! Way better! I'd way rather be waiting in the ER because of anything else (for me) than to get admitted to the psych ward. I was having a nervous breakdown at the end of 2011, and then my brain decided, "fuck this. I'm going to drop an old school beat. Where you'll just be curled up in a ball listening to the blood throb in your arteries. And the side of your head with the migraine will hurt to breathe through because the nose hairs are sensible and moved slightly by airflow." But it's still better. A million times. Twenty-thousand times. Like, last night I decided I would kill 20,000 songs for Big Star's "Stroke It Noel." I would kill 20,000 albums for Joni Mitchell's "Blue." But should I listen to it? To "River"? Canonically I am not depressed about anything real, actually happening now. But the tooth--I don't know. The tooth got me. I'm not a life-long teeth-grinder; I've just been grinding them at night in pain. My sister's are like that, shattered with stress fractures you can see if you hold a flashlight up to them. Ha! I will scare you scarier than a ghost story! I will scare you with a narrowing future like a funnel, where you are too tired to make new friends, not capable of doing even the small things people try to expect of you, thoughtfully, thinking, "she can do that at least," too sick to do anything useful for anyone. Not useful to anyone. I'm glad that my husband will always take care of me and it's kind when he says that but it just makes me think, "of course, because I will not do any work of caring for you." How will I care for my mother when she's old? But that's even a stupid imaginary worry but I am sick of being in bed and eating on a tray. And I don't do my physical therapy properly. And I didn't think I could ever get sick of eating in bed on a tray. And sometimes I didn't do the thoughtful chore just like how I don't do the physical therapy; I haven't ditched a lifetime of flaking to suddenly do everything perfectly and spend all my energy right. I'm still just fucking up but I have no margin of error.
I had a conversation with Girl X just now (let it be known that Girl Y and I had an actual collapsing laughing fit last night about one of the dreams in Roald Dahl's The BFG, which the giant has had time to label only briefly, having caught so many good ones that day. The label reads "I dreamt I had a pet bee that could play rock-n-roll music when it flies." I then did an awesome imitation of a horrible tiny paper cone speaker that's blown, playing "Born to be Wild." We both had to excuse ourselves from reading to use the bathroom while Husband and Girl X waited in mild exasperation, but it was too late, and each of us had already actually peed on ourselves, just a little). In any case, Girl X was saying that J.K. Rowling was wrong about Harry, that he really wouldn't have turned out the way he did if he had really lived at the Dursleys in a closet under the stairs, with people only being cruel to him his whole life. She learned this from reading the (quite good, in its way) fanfic Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality, but I knew it already. She was saying he wouldn't challenge the teachers, like Snape, so I was explaining. "No, see, he would watch the teachers all the time to try and figure out what they were thinking and what they would do next. He would be incredibly good at it. But with Snape it would take a while to find out. Maybe he would never figure it out, maybe everything would be the wrong answer. And he would be afraid of Dumbledore. "Really?" "Of course! And furious! And afraid of Professor McGonnagall, Professor Flitwick--" "I don't think anyone would be afraid of Professor Flitwick," she objected. "But it could be a trick, to make him let down his guard and say something personal, or trusting, and then have it used against him cruelly, see?" "And would he care about the other students, like Draco Malfoy?" "If he thought Draco could actually order grownups around, sure, but not otherwise, except in a lame 6th grade way." "But he would never fight Voldemort." I was angry about that. "No, he would! Or, he might, he could do. It would be in his power. But only because he cares about his friends. Maybe he would want to get revenge for his parents' death very badly, also." "Harry never wants revenge in the books." "No." Then she said, "It's stupid. J.K. Rowling wanted it to be like Roald Dahl and the Trunchbull or something, but then she wanted it to be real also. You don't have to know someone like that to write about it. I've just learned about it from reading other books. But I've never met anyone like that, who got broken like that when they were a kid."
I. Sort of feel like I might be getting a tiny bit depressed.
Knecht sends along The Case for Using Drugs to Enhance Our Relationships (and Our Break-Ups).
I don't think they make a super compelling case that bonding-drugs would enhance our life. OTOH, a break-up drug sounds incredibly useful. Break-ups suck.
LW writes: Yves Smith on the DOJ's suit against S&P for a small number of misrated mortgage CDOs. Interesting both politically, economically, and maybe legally. I'm most interested in the economics-- beyond imprisoning individual people who make criminally bad decisions on a huge scale, suits like this one seem like the best bet for enforcing better US finance corporate behavior in the future. Well, maybe Senator Warren will come up with something down the line. But for now, this is nice to read about. Individual convictions are apparently basically impossible to get because distributed management means there's no way to meet the standard necessary to send people like Angelo Mozillo away.
Heebie asks: How badly are banks overleveraged at this point? To what extent are we in the same mess as 2007?
"Congratulations on the beej ol' chap."
Naw, seriously, I just wanted to mildly push back against the notion that an esteeméd commenter had gone and fucked up that bad. Because:
1) People really do overestimate their own probity, especially, I am led to believe, when unexpected blowjobs are on the line. (It's also the case that I'm kind of a bad person in some ways and maybe am just extrapolating wrongly, and y'all are more upright. Certainly some individual commenters whom I know in person are better people than me.)
2) It's very hard to know how to react to people who suddenly shift over and up 9 levels of human communication and order. In cases of sexual assault people often say "why didn't you scream"? and you just want to say--it was so unexpected! One minute we were having an ordinary conversation! Also, people in my hypothetical, your suggestions are exquisitely useless in a way that merely bad or even evil suggestions could never rise to. You have created a useless suggestion tesseract!
Thus also in the case of our commenter: what, you need help? Well, that's kind of hot actually. Um, the computer? Uh, OK, and? What the fuck? Also hot. Um. That was a freaky, totally unexpected situation, and she wasn't acting normally, but she wasn't acting abnormally in a way he was intimately familiar with. It would have gone way different if she had turned up drunk at 2 a.m., for example, or if he knew a bunch of meth freaks.
3) I have been at plenty of meetings where people were relating various problems. For many people, consensual, non-paid-for sex with a cute, clean guy is not going to be the worst thing. But people differ--sure, maybe this was the worst thing because he was a total stranger. But one cannot possibly be obliged to look at things from the future self's point of view. Also, when I was using and drinking, I got into heavy making out/BJ situations with guys who were married or in a relationship. Not to fuck with the girl! Sorry, ladies! No, to fuck with the guys. My reaction was evil triumph: I win. That's because I was fucking insane! I think a thoughtful person would have said, "Al is ten kinds of wasted on heroin and gimlets, and furthermore reënacting some unusually unpleasant Oedipal conflict, so I should stay the fuck away." But those guys that went for it were jerks because they had a girlfriend, not jerks because I was wasted. Um. Wait.
UPDATE: Also Frowner's right about class issues. Hi Frowner. And baa! I'm definitely sure I want to say hi to you guys. I've only had 40mg of oxy today so my thinking is pellucid as ever.
If you feel like talking about something else, you could talk about the DOJ memo about killing Al-Queda linked American citizens posing a toothless version of the word "imminent" threat. You could compare and contrast it with the Bush torture memo in terms of rolling back human rights.
I wouldn't do either of these things personally because of my glaring ignorance. But you could.
Swanson: I'm beginning to get some evidence from certain doctors and certain scientists that have done research on women's wombs after they've gone through the surgery, and they've compared the wombs of women who were on the birth control pill to those who were not on the birth control pill. And they have found that with women who are on the birth control pill, there are these little tiny fetuses, these little babies, that are embedded into the womb. They're just like dead babies. They're on the inside of the womb. And these wombs of women who have been on the birth control pill effectively have become graveyards for lots and lots of little babies.
I'm deeply ambivalent about our military, but I love our veterans, particularly when they come home and go to college and land in my class. They participate and try hard, even when the material doesn't come easily, and everything. Just a total pleasure.
Gerson asked her respondents what type of family they would like if, for whatever reason, they couldn't sustain an equal partnership. She discovered that, while men's and women's ideals are very similar, their fallback positions deviate dramatically.
Men's most common fallback position is to establish a neotraditional division of labor: 70% hope to convince their wives to de-prioritize their careers and focus on homemaking and raising children. Women? Faced with a husband who wants them to be a housewife or work part-time, almost three-quarters of women say they would choose divorce and raise their kids alone. In fact, despite men's insistence on being breadwinners, women are more likely than men to say they value success in a high-paying career.
The asymmetry of traditional roles makes this a weird thing to measure, though. It feels rigged to generate a heightened disparity, if that makes sense.
OTOH, I'd need a prescription of valium before I'd stay home with the kids.
Via Gabardine Bathyscaphe
Colleague was widowed last semester, and we've been having him over for brunch semi-regularly. I envisioned a regular pattern where he came over maybe once every month to two months.
In theory he is always on board. He seems to really enjoy coming over, and he stops by my office to chat regularly, and is a thoroughly deeply nice person.
In practice, he'll respond to an invitation by saying "Let me check my calendar" and then he'll never bring it up again. Last semester I'd suggest 2 dates, and after the first one passed, I'd re-inquire about the second.
I certainly wouldn't be persistent like this under normal circumstances, because I'd take their flakiness to be politely saying that they'd prefer it not become a habitual invitation. But there are a lot of signs here that the colleague does really enjoy actually coming over...and I'm just not sure how persistent I should be.
Blockbuster is closing more stores. (This must be the 10th such down-sizing, no?) This always fills me with delicious schadenfreude.
One time, in college, I went to rent a movie with a friend and found out the friend's account had something like a $100 outstanding balance. (I don't actually remember the amount, I'm just picking a number that matches the emotional shock we felt.) Apparently a movie had been overdue for months, and was still overdue. "No," my friend asserted, "we definitely returned it on time."
What happened was that the movie had been dropped off at the wrong Blockbuster's location. I forget how this was deduced, since pre-cellphones we couldn't have just called whichever friend returned the movie. (Maybe it was me.)
Blockbuster had a policy that two stores couldn't possibly talk to each other and return each other's movies. Nor could they possibly notify the customer and let them know that the movie, in their possession, was accumulating late fees. Nope, their hands were absolutely tied. Fuck you, Blockbuster! And your rotten policies.
When students occasionally wax nostalgiac for a time before internet and cell phones, when people had to actually connect meaningfully with each other, this is the kind of incident that springs to my mind. Time and money wasted over bullshit. Or trying to game out contingency plans with someone in order to meet at the movies, when one party wasn't going to be at home for a few hours leading up to the movie.
(I remember planning to meet up with a friend who was driving cross-country. The plan was something like "Establish a hierarchy of fastfood joints. Start at Exit 175. Stop at the highest ranked fast-food restaurant. If none of them are there, go to exit 176 and repeat. If you get to exit 180, (deemed extremely unlikely, but that's how contingency plans work), then do the closest gas station based on some criteria. If that fails, follow increasingly complicated rules which ended up not being necessary.")