Rich Kids of Instagram is disappointing, as it makes being rich seem actually kind of boring. And expensive.
One thing that did catch my eye was the abundance of watch photos. People really like their watches.
I wear a watch pretty much every day (this one), but I can't imagine putting on one of those gaudy designer watches. They all look terrible to me.
Perhaps the Unfoggedtariat can guide me towards some not-ugly fancy watches, but for the moment I'm standing firm: fancy watches suck.
Remember the band Fun*? It turns out the lead singer Nate Ruess used to be in this other band called The Format. They were way better than Fun.
So the question is: does this information make you hate Fun: (a) less, (b) more, or (c) about the same amount you hated Fun before?
*I'm refusing to write the band name in the official way ("fun."), because the non-capitalization and extra punctuation make it look weird in the middle of a sentence.
I had a funny conversation with Buck the other day, where he pointed out that he never wins fights between us. We hardly ever fight, generally things are harmonious, but if there's open conflict, I win. I was going to disagree indignantly, but thought about it and he's pretty much right.
The way this works out is that I'm pretty easy-going about most things, and I really, really don't like fighting and losing. So if I'm unhappy about something, I'll talk about it and see if we can consensually get on the same page. If we can't, I wargame through the argument in my head, and decide (1) is this a fight I have to win regardless of cost (almost nothing goes in this category); (2) can I win cleanly without doing too much damage; or (3) is it likely to get unpleasant enough that we'll have the fight but end up doing it Buck's way, or end up doing it my way but with substantial bad feeling. I can't think of a fight in category (1) in recent memory; fights in category (2) are intense but short and I win all of them; and fights in category (3) don't happen because I fold pre-emptively without making a fuss about it. From my perspective, I fold on more issues than I fight on, so where we disagree Buck generally gets his way. But of course from Buck's perspective, any time there's conflict at all, I win.
None of this is leading to bad feeling -- I just hadn't thought through the process explicitly. I do the same sort of thing professionally; where I can stay collegial with opposing counsel, I do; where there are minor conflicts that I can give way on without prejudicing the case, I do; but if I need to win an argument, I go immediately scorched-earth in the interests of convincing the other side that they really don't want to mess with me again.
Do other people do this sort of planning around interpersonal conflict? Buck doesn't seem to, or we wouldn't have the pattern of fights we have (few, mild, but with consistent results). I suppose one possible downside is lowballing the percentage of fights you could have won, but looking at work, where I can see people in the same sorts of situations I'm in but handling them differently, I don't think I'm avoiding a lot of conflict I could have come out of with a profit.
Is it worth the political capital for Obama to fight the Keystone Pipeline? I had been thinking that it was not worth fighting, but then that means I'm agreeing with McMegan, which probably means I'm wrong.
(For the record, I don't think Obama plans on fighting it whatsoever. I'm just raising the question of whether or not he's making the right calculation.)
What do you do for a crick in your neck? What I do is spend the day massaging and futzing with it, and then the next day my neck is sore from being over-messed with. It's not a great strategy.
I remember thinking at some point that the line above had five different meanings. Now I can only come up with three:
1. I can't keep pretending [that I love you]. I don't love you anymore.
2. I can't keep pretending that I don't love you. I actually love you a lot.
3. (The word "anymore" is the pretense.) We both agree that I loved you and stopped. But I've been pretending. I never stopped loving you.
Are there others? Or was I miscounting before? Don't bother looking up the song unless you actually like sappy Travis Tritt songs from the mid-90s.
Update: I just looked up the lyrics. At one point, he sings "I'm tired of pretending I don't love you anymore." I bet that's where I got the extra meanings: 'tired' could modify different portions of the rest of the sentence.
Anyone here have strong opinions on Sriracha sauce?
I for one like it, but you're definitely getting a very specific flavor. I'm sure I'd like all those other hot sauces too, though. Also, I like to keep crushed red pepper flakes on the table so that I can spice something up without changing the flavor.
"Intelligence without ambition is a bird without wings."
- Salvador Dali
I hadn't realized that the tree on the masthead was meant to symbolize an unachievable destination, as a consequence of Unfogged's collective flightlessness.
Overheard recently on a college campus: "Little known fact: high heels are more comfortable than medium heels."
There are two claims here: (1) that high heels are superior to medium heels in terms of comfort; and (2) that the superiority of high heels to medium heels remains a secret, known only by a select few.
I'm skeptical of #1, but maybe if the wearer of high heels is accustomed to wearing them nearly all the time, then sure. I can imagine a well-acclimated wearer of high heels finding the higher shoes more comfortable.
But #2 is really intriguing. What hidden cabal is guarding this treasure trove of information regarding shoes and comfort, and what is the purpose of their secret keeping?
It occurs to me that naming your kid may be the most public decision you ever make. Not necessarily the decision with the most impact. But the decision that the most people are aware of, compared to any other decision you make.
(Also, I'm suffering mightily over a condition involving my private parts which is equal parts embarrassing and excruciating. It's really hard to keep up with work and family when you're in a lot of pain. When I'm not hurting, I start getting nervous and anxious about how the next few days will go, and how to juggle everything.)
Minivet writes: Are any commenters likely to seek out Medicaid or Exchange health coverage once it becomes available next year? It would be interesting to hear about their experiences as a weathervane of Obamacare - how difficult or expensive the process is, what the resulting coverage is like, etc.
The income threshold between eligibility for one or the other is the 133% listed in this Federal Poverty Level chart, varying by household size, with some wiggle room at the top (in practice I think it's 138%, plus the FPL will be adjusted for inflation).
Depending on the state, the Exchange might have an open-enrollment period, outside of which you can't enroll unless there's a life status change (like losing your job).
Ta-Nehisi Coates on Jews, whites, and blacks, during desegregation and white flight in major urban cities like Detroit. Redlining, etc.
The narrative that I'd always heard is that you got these mixed black-Jewish neighborhoods in Detroit because Orthodox communities walk to shul on Saturdays, and so individual families are not going to move to a new neighborhood unless there's a new synangogue, or they're becoming less religious, but either way it drags down the mass exodus for a long time.
Maybe I'm just not clear on his point, but this seems like a major omission.
I rode a bike on Saturday, for the first time in maybe five years. Jammies was about to bike the kids to the park when I got home, so we put air in the tires of my bike and I came along. (My balance was fine, but holy shit I was super uncomfortable.)(Afterwards I was really proud of myself. This whole post is just a humble brag.)
In a larger sense, I'm hoping to tackle my fear of cars around bikes. Maybe with more exposure I'll become less preoccupied with the death of everyone I hold dear.
McSweeney's #42 has the following format: for each of twelve stories, mostly not originally in English though some are, the operation of translation is repeatedly applied (so that, for example, originally in Dutch, appears first in an English translation, then in a French translation of the English translation, then in an English translation of the French translation of the English translation, then in a German translation of the English translation of the French translation of the English translation, then in an English translation of the German translation of the English translation of the French translation of the English translation, and then finally in an Icelandic translation of the English translation of the German translation of the English translation of the French translation of the English translation—in all cases, not just here, English is the constant intermediary). This is described as a "experiment" and a "project" spurred in some way by the concerns about translation on the part of the editor. The experiment is stated thus: "What would happen if a story were successively translated by a series of novelists, each one working only from the version immediately prior to their own—the aim being to preserve that story's style?".
That makes sense as an experiment, I guess, but the editor must never have communicated the part about the aim to the translators he chose, because (at least in the one case I've looked at) the translations are extremely shitty. (In particular, I looked at the first one I saw that included German; helpfully enough, it's also short. In another particular, in one case the title of a story changes from "Symfonie nr. 2" to "Tango". What?) Translators were invited to give commentaries on their method, if they wished; here are bits from the commentaries of the one chain I read:
- Heidi Julavits, translating from French to English, leads off by stating "I decided I was not allowed to Google the meaning of words I did not know. Given that I am not such a fabulous speaker of French, this meant that I did not know the meaning of many, many words in the piece I was given to translate", since apparently she doesn't own a French dictionary. One might wonder why, if the experiment was as it was stated to be, she was asked to participate.
- Peter Stamm, translating from English to German, notes that "the sentence structure was not complicated, and there was hardly a word I did not understand", yet somehow in the translation he produced long sentences are often broken down into several short sentences, and sometimes their meaning is altered for no discernible reason.
- A person called Sjón, translating from English to Icelandic, writes that "Flóki Sigurjónsson, my thirteen-year-old son and a native Icelandic speaker was given half an hour to memorize Jeffrey Eugenides's [sic] translation. I refrained from reading the source text. Three weeks after listening to Flóki's oral retelling of Jeffrey's "Happenstance", I wrote down from memory as "Atvik". I have not compared the two.".
Sjón's procedure strikes me as actually potentially interesting; the procedures of the other two just kind of dumb. It would be interesting to produce a chain of translations by competent translators who were actually trying to produce faithful translations and get something rather different—or not all that different—whether at each step or just at the end. And—as mentioned—things that are obviously not really translations, like Sjón's text (or the Dirty Projectors' Rise Above!) can be interesting in their own right. But just half-assing it is not that interesting.
As evidence of the crappiness of the translations, I've reproduced more or less the first half of each of "Chance", "Zufall", and "Happenstance" below. Now, you might, if you read them and note the many divergences, simply respond: this proves the point about translation. But I wouldn't buy that, because so many divergences are so easy to note and are entirely optional. For instance, the third sentence of of "Zufall" could be not entirely inaccurately rendered—at least as to time—something like "originally rich families had lived in this quarter, but after the war Russian and Polish mothers along with their daughters moved there too, students and poor musicians and poets, who lived hand to mouth." Eugenides makes of this "Rich people had been moving into the neighborhood around that time, but after the war it had been full of Russian and Polish mothers dragging their daughters with them, and with students, poor musicians and poets, who lived hand to mouth." Observe that Eugenides has fixed the time of the story—"at that time"—which is not fixed by the German. Indeed, from the German you'd guess that the time of the story was, in fact, after the war, since the rich people who lived there (not who had been moving in) are spoken of pluperfectly. Eugenides' temporal monkeying isn't a stylistic choice.
When I was young, I studied flute with Kees Otten, who lived in a big house in Koninginneweg. All of the big houses were lived in by rich families, but after the war they were also lived in by mothers and daughters from Russia or Poland, or poor musicians, or poets who worked for food and drink, or students. To get to Kees Otten's house, one had to climb a dozen steps. His classes took place under a grape arbor, where one could get a view over all of Vondelpark. Somteimes I'd walk with Simon Castaris; he studied alto flute and was in love with a girl who worked in a bar near Beethovenstraat. Simon had already kissed her in the fields. After that, he'd believed he'd won her over, but she was not so easy. He would watch her when the bar closed, when night was falling and he could see her distinctly in the light from the boutiques. She noticed his still presence in the street. His air of defenslessness softened her. Tenderness followed love, which, against her better judgment, revisted them in the fields of Vondelpark.
Als ich jung war, nahm ich Flötenunterricht bei Kees Otten. Er lebte in einer alten Villa am Koninginneweg. Ursprünglich hatten in diesem Viertel reich Familien gewohnt, aber nach dem Krieg quartierten sich dort auch russische und polnische Mutter mit ihre Töchtern ein, Studenten und arme Musiker und Dichter, die von der Hand in den Mund lebten. Um zum Haus von Kees Otten zu kommen, musste man ein Dutzend Stufen emporsteigen. Die Flötenstunden fanden im Garten statt in einer von Weinreben überwachsenen Laube. Von dort aus hatte man einen schönen Blick in den Vondelpark. Manchmal traf ich unterwegs zum Unterricht Simon Castaris, er studierte Altflöte und war in ein Mädchen vierliebt, das in einer Kneipe in der Nähe der Beethovenstraat arbeitete. Er hatte sie schon enmal im Park geküsst. Danach glaubte er, er habe sie gewonnen, aber sie war nicht so einfach zu erobern. Wenn die Kneipe schloss, beobachtete er sie von der Strasse aus. Obwohl es dämmerte, konnte er sie ganz deutlich erkennen im Licht der Geschäfte das von draussen ins Lokal drang. Sie schien seine stille Präsenz zu spüren, vielleicht nahm seine Hilflosigkeit sie für ihn ein und machte sie empfänglich für seine Liebe. Es kam zu Zärtlichkeiten und wider besseres Wissen gab sie sich ihm hin auf einer Weise im Vondelpark.
When I was young I took flute lesson [sic] with Kees Otten. He lived in a big old house on Koninginneweg. Rich people had been moving into the neighborhood around that time, but after the war it had been full of Russian and Polish mothers dragging their daughters with them, and with students, poor musicians and poets, who lived hand to mouth. To get to Kees Otten's you had to climb a dozen steps. The flute lessons took place in the garden directly in front of a leafy grape arbor. There was a decent view of the Vondelpark. Sometimes on the way to the lessons I ran into a guy I knew, Simon Castaris—he was studying classical flute and was in love with a girl who worked in a bar near Beethovenstraat. He'd already made out with her in the park once. After that, he thought he had her, but she was a little more slippery than he expected. If the bar was closed, he had to stand on the street, watching her. Although it would already be getting dark, he could see her clearly in the light from the shops falling into the restaurant from outside. She seemed to notice his quiet presence; maybe his helplessness made her more endearing to him [I'll just note that aside from any issues of translation, this doesn't make any sense in its own right owing to the inaccurate use of "endearing"] and made her more susceptible to his love. Anyway, she showed him tenderness and granted him other gifts—special knowledge about herself—on the grass of the Vondelpark.
An old and dear college friend who teaches poetry in New Orleans is spending a year in Egypt with her (Egyptian) husband and two children, teaching at American University in Cairo. As you'd expect, it's been quite eventful and her Facebook and emails have been variously fascinating, exhilarating, and frightening. Anyhow, I wanted to share an essay of hers published in today's Los Angeles Review of Books: "The Writing on the Wall: Graffiti, Poetry, and Protest in Egypt".
In early 2013, Egypt's graffiti is decidedly realistic, bloody, and brutal, reflecting the reality of a continuing struggle that has claimed, among other things, the lives of more than 2,000 people: Alaa Awad's murals draw inspiration from pharaonic murals in his native Luxor; Ammar Abo Bakr's sad-eyed mothers of martyrs hold the images of their departed to their breast; Omar Fahmy replicates Mubarak's face on the bodies of Central Security Forces.
Could you peel the paint back to the layers beneath, you'd see a palimpsest of the country's moods and reactions to the various guises of power. Graffiti is the expression of the revolution, its periodic whitewashing an attempt to erase memory or assign blame, its persistence a symbol of stubborn resistance.
If the walls are the book and graffiti the revolution's message, poetry is a visible part of that telling. "There is a martyr inside me" reads one image, the "me" being the writer/painter, or perhaps the reader. Lines from Tunisia's Abu al-Qasim al-Shabbi's poem "The Will to Live" are often scrawled here: "When the people demand freedom / Destiny must surely respond." As translator Elliott Colla points out in "The Poetry of Revolt," his article on Jadaliyya responding to the 2011 revolution: "The poetry of the streets is another form of writing, of redrafting the script of history in the here and now -- with no assurances of victory, and everything in the balance."
As an American poet, I often lament the lack of importance given to my vocation. Poetry is simply not part of the nation's discourse. Yet, when it is hard to find meaning in life's difficult moments, people sometimes turn to it, thumbing through a dusty anthology or asking for advice on a poem to read at a loved one's funeral, for example, or sharing a poem that can speak to a national tragedy. Standing with my family in Tahrir Square -- which, it must be said, is actually a circle -- where everything is at stake, I must admit to feeling a charge in observing that poetry is part of the dialogue.
It was difficult to pick an excerpt (plus, photos) so, y'know.
Nick S sends along: It just seems like the sort of story unfogged might be interested in combining, as it does, food and academia.
Heebie says: good, I didn't have anything else for a slow weekend.