I've never been particularly interested in spectator sports -- I've watched the occasional basketball game, and I've been in a lot of rooms with football or golf on TV, but not to actually have any personal interest beyond a minute or two of "Wonder what's going to happen next."
Watching Sally's rugby team, or Newt's soccer team, on the other hand, I'm fascinated and really excited about what's happening: it's not just watching my own kids, because neither of them's particularly likely to be doing anything dramatic (the Breath family isn't counting on athletic scholarship money). It's knowing the rest of the players -- I can't get involved unless I actually know the people on the field, at which point I start learning details of what skillful play involves, and yell myself hoarse when someone does something remarkable. (Sally's rugby team has a little plump girl who's apparently nuclear powered -- she runs straight through girls six inches taller than she is and forty pounds heavier without slowing down. I could watch her brush off tackle attempts all day.)
I kind of wonder if people who follow pro sports are interested for entirely different reasons than I am, or if they manage to put professional athletes into the emotional category of "People I care about personally" that I need to get interested at all.
Afterthought: Also, fuck the sun. I'm tomato colored with sunburn, which is completely unfair on a chilly April day. I have next thing to no melanin at all inbetween my freckles, and I don't even get to be attractively pale, just redfaced. I'm considering finding myself a nice cave and seeing if the Mole People are hiring litigators.
How old are you? They think I'm 30. I click like someone five years younger than me!
Also, "This test will also not work with Internet Explorer 8 or older." I assume that's because it gives their age away.
Meanwhile, in Ohio:
A popular southwest Ohio air show has canceled plans to stage a re-enactment of the devastating World War II atomic bomb attack on Japan after protests, officials said Thursday.
Dayton Air Show spokeswoman Brenda Kerfoot said the June 22-23 event at Dayton International Airport will keep a planned "Great Wall of Fire" pyrotechnic show but not as an event meant to re-enact the Aug. 6, 1945, bombing of Hiroshima. The B-29 plane "Fifi," similar to the Enola Gay B-29 bomber used to attack Japan, will remain in the show but in a separate role.
Air show officials said the re-enactment was meant to highlight a historic event that helped end the war and save lives that would have been lost if the war had been prolonged.
Well, at least they have a totally uncontroversial view of this historical event.
Elsewhere, Jesus, Snarkout and I have been engaged in a most worthy project: reducing great 20th century poems to their essence. How does one do that, you might ask. It's a good question! We read that "Queneau demonstrated that Mallarmé's sonnets were sufficiently redundant that one could remove all but the rhyming bit at the end of each line and obtain a "haikuized" version that was not only faithful to the original but … more elegant", but there is a verse form even more suited to displaying a single poetic thought than the haiku (or, for that matter, the list of end rhymes), and it is, in fact, a distinctively American form: the Burma-Shave ad. Below the fold are the contributions to the effort made so far. You are invited to contribute more.
They fuck you up
Your mum and pop
Please just stop
Bananas are for
Shrews in pinks
Your taste stinks
The hired man
Needs work, he said
Slept by the stove
And now he's dead
A song is words
The sea is not
This Key West babe
Is meaningfully hot
With toast and tea
This peach will make
A fool of me
And from yours truly humbly:
I ate the plums
That you were saving
Their sweetness was
What I was craving
I placed a jar
It made the hills
Around it be
Don't go gentle
Into the night
The dying light
I'd sooner kill
A man than hawk
Fed him six weeks
Undid the lock
It makes me feel better to share some of the terrible-ness here. The accompanying photo is of a young African mother, holding her baby, in traditional hair and jewelry for whatever tribe she's part of but that's not specified because who can really tell, amirite? And you can totally see her boobs.
A Child's Song
By Alan Dana Cohen
There is a tribe in Africa where the birth date of a child is counted not from when they were born, nor from when they are conceived but from the day that the child was a thought in its mother's mind. And when a woman decides that she will have a child, she goes off and sits under a tree, by herself, and she listens until she can hear the song of the child that wants to come. And after she's heard the song of this child, she comes back to the man who will be the child's father, and teaches it to him. And then, when they make love to physically conceive the child, some of that time they sing the song of the child, as a way to invite it.
And then, when the mother is pregnant, the mother teaches that child's song to the midwives and the old women of the village, so that when the child is born, the old women and the people around her sing the child's song to welcome it. And then, as the child grows up, the other villagers are taught the child's song. If the child falls, or hurts its knee, someone picks it up and sings its song to it. Or perhaps the child does something wonderful, or goes through the rites of puberty, then as a way of honoring this person, the people of the village sing his or her song.
In the African tribe there is one other occasion upon which the villagers sing to the child. If at any time during his or her life, the person commits a crime or aberrant social act, the individual is called to the center of the village and the people in the community form a circle around them. Then they sing their song to them.
The tribe recognizes that the correction for antisocial behavior is not punishment; it is love and the remembrance of identity. When you recognize your own song, you have no desire or need to do anything that would hurt another.
And it goes this way through their life. In marriage, the songs are sung, together. And finally, when this child is lying in bed, ready to die, all the villagers know his or her song, and they sing--for the last time--the song to that person.
You may not have grown up in an African tribe that sings your song to you at crucial life transitions, but life is always reminding you when you are in tune with yourself and when you are not. When you feel good, what you are doing matches your song, and when you feel awful, it doesn't. In the end, we shall all recognize our song and sing it well. You may feel a little warbly at the moment, but so have all the great singers. Just keep singing and you'll find your way home.
I got a new phone! An iPhone 5! It sure is awesome. I have internet on my phone!
(Actually we have to go to the Apple Store today and exchange it for a non-busted one.)
Snarkout writes: When it was going around Facebook and Krugman but if not...
Some economists at UMass replicated the results from the Reinhart-Rogoff paper (the one that says ZOMG WHEN THE DEBT GETS ABOVE 90% OF GDP CATS AND DOGS START SLEEPING TOGETHER AND DOOM), and were able to do so by:
1. Ignoring several high-growth years in New Zealand, Canada, and Australia immediately after WWII, which the original paper did without providing an explanation or theoretical justification (other countries used results from the same period).
2. Choosing to weigh all countries equally, regardless of how much data there was for each country.
3. The one that has everyone laughing/crying: Replicating an Excel coding error that removed the first five countries (Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, and Denmark) from the results. Quoth Rortybomb: "If this error turns out to be an actual mistake Reinhart-Rogoff made, well, all I can hope is that future historians note that one of the core empirical points providing the intellectual foundation for the global move to austerity in the early 2010s was based on someone accidentally not updating a row formula in Excel."
Heebie: I had, but I hadn't quite grasped the details of the story, and appreciate the breakdown.
As Katherine (late of Obsidian Wings) told us the other day, The Constitution Project has just released a report (there's a link from the NYT story -- I can't find the text of the report on TCP's website in ten seconds of looking) on US practices after 9-11. Shockingly, it turns out we were torturing people.
Not that this is news to anyone who reads here, but the report should get all the publicity there is.
New York's bike sharing program will be in operation shortly. Unfortunately, all of the stations are south of Central Park, which makes it mostly useless to me. Being able to use a bike one-way up to 125th (and particularly if there were stations on Randalls Island) would make Sally's rugby practices much, much, much easier and cheaper. (Well, if they let thirteen-year-olds use the bikes. The whole thing's useless to me.)
But great for people who live downtown and in Brooklyn, and really, who else matters?
Dear Mr. [my family name],
This past winter we launched a popular promotion featuring custom University of Chicago socks as a thank-you to College alumni who made their participation gift of $25 or more. The socks were designed and produced by an undergraduate-run company, Maroon Collegiate Sportswear, and were truly UChicago, boasting emblems from the earliest years of the University.
Unfortunately, we were unable to inform you of this sock promotion as it was communicated through e-mail  only, and we do not currently have your e-mail address. To this end, I am extending the same offer to you through this letter and enclosing your pair of socks as an advance thank-you for making your gift.*
*If you are unable to make your annual gift this year, please accept these socks as a thank-you for all the ways you support the University.
Enclosed in the package that enveloped this letter was indeed a pair of socks—maroon—with decorative "C"s and whatnot. I am not opposed to maroon socks. But come on. We all recognize the ol' sock gambit. Give me the socks first, make me feel as if I owe you something. I wouldn't be at all surprised to learn that there never was any such promotion as is mentioned in the letter at all! And how do you like the references to "their participation gift" and "your annual gift"? Honestly.
 Can you believe this is still Chicago style?
1. Tweety - who was personally offended by the perky breasted pseudo-science - sends along see-through brains. Better living through transparent brains!
2. Rare footage of Hellen Keller and Anne Sullivan:
A bomb went off at the finish line of the Boston marathon? Yikes.
1. I'm sure someone has already linked this in the comments, but it's so awesome. That Justin Bieber wrote the following in the guest book at the Anne Frank museum in Amsterdam:
Truly inspiring to be able to come here. Anne was a great girl. Hopefully she would have been a belieber.
What a great girl. We can only hope.
2. Yes, yes, none of us should be wearing bras. We'd have such muscular, well-supported perkies otherwise.
If anyone can articulate why exactly this study irritates the fuck out of me, I'd be much appreciative.
3. The video below the jump is probably not as funny as I find it to be:
Last month, on March 15, I was sick in the prison hospital and refused to be fed. A team from the E.R.F. (Extreme Reaction Force), a squad of eight military police officers in riot gear, burst in. They tied my hands and feet to the bed. They forcibly inserted an IV into my hand. I spent 26 hours in this state, tied to the bed. During this time I was not permitted to go to the toilet. They inserted a catheter, which was painful, degrading and unnecessary. I was not even permitted to pray.
I will never forget the first time they passed the feeding tube up my nose. I can't describe how painful it is to be force-fed this way. As it was thrust in, it made me feel like throwing up. I wanted to vomit, but I couldn't. There was agony in my chest, throat and stomach. I had never experienced such pain before. I would not wish this cruel punishment upon anyone.
It's not terribly rare to grow up and be distant with your siblings. You shared all this childhood and then turned out to be adults who don't have much in common. You also hear about grown children not being particularly close to their parents.
Does this happen the other way? That the parents don't like their grown up children, in the absence of anything unusual? What if we stipulate that the parents and grown children both be basically sane and in the normal range of well-adjusted? (
Could this happen to me? How do you protect against it? aaaah )