Does anybody actually use standard little 8 oz mugs for your hot drinks around the house? I always, always reach for the big mugs. I can't tell if this is runaway American portion-sizes or common sense.
Jammies bought me this mug for our anniversary:
It is not tiny.
Ack. Explain to me why I shouldn't be terrified by this.
You know who's on twitter? I'll tell you: Christian Bök, of Eunoia fame, is on twitter. And, weirdly, his twit-o-feed is not super interesting. But he did recently link to something which is interesting, namely this essay on writing under erasure and related forms, with many examples discussed.
A president writes: So much crappy brain and behavioral science comes over the threshold here that it seems like it might be nice to talk about some research that's simultaneously exciting, informed by our evolutionary history, and conducted using MRI techniques. To wit: we can now organize our brains into maps, where different objects are represented in different places according to size and whether or not they're animate. Which is to say, on the surface of your cortex, right now, there's a place where you represent, say, the Eiffel Tower, and that has a characteristic physical relationship to the place where you represent a toaster (it's kind of above it), and both of THOSE have a characteristic relationship to the place where you represent a kitty. And, if we put you in an MRI, we could read out those maps to the millimeter. Neat, right?
-- I. Ra Flay-Toe.
Every semester, I do an exercise with my 100-level students in which I ask them to describe some paintings. Give empirical sensory information, I say. Describe it as if you were on the phone and needed the other person to recognize that painting in a lineup. Maybe one out of twenty is able to say that the painting is yellow, or that there are certain shapes in it.
I have a similar experience - I'm running a volunteer program, and the students are required to write a reflection piece each month in which they choose a critical incident and describe it, and then answer a few questions about it. For the life of me, I cannot get them to pick an actual incident. I'll get responses like this (ficticious) one:
A critical incident that happened is that I was very impressed how eager the students are to learn. They have very hard lives and jobs and families and they take their own time to come to the center, even though they don't have to. What I learned from this is how lucky I am.
So far this semester, I have not yet had a single student describe an actual event.
I found myself reading about the Mink Coat Mob Riot, which took place four days before the presidential election in 1960:
LBJ and Ladybird Johnson were attacked by a mob of Dallas' leading citizens during a campaign stop in downtown Dallas. In the lobbies of the two finest hotels in Dallas, it was a melee: people swinging signs at them, they were spitting at them, people were pulling hat pins out of their hats and trying to stab people. It became known as the Mink Coat Mob Riot.
Oddly enough, there's no wikipedia entry, nor much of anything else turned up by Google on the matter. (The link is an interview with the author of Dallas,1963.)
Reading about Dallas during Kennedy's administration, really drives home how the Tea Partiers are an unsurprising part of an angry, disgusting Southern legacy.
Josh and his lovely companion, Morgan Fairchild, will be in London from the 18th to the 28th.
K-sky writes: A couple of years ago, my friend Ryan had an outstanding run on Jeopardy -- he played five shows, had three runaway wins (where you have double your nearest opponent and don't need to bet on Final Jeopardy) where he bet $0 just to clinch it without seeming greedy, including answering "HOT PASTRAMI SANDWICHES" on one just because, and he had some hilarious Trebek moments. He also wrote this lovely reminiscence about how getting on Jeopardy was the culmination of a lifelong dream that started when he was a teenager playing the game at home with his dad.
Once you're on Jeopardy, you can never go back, with rare exceptions; it's a minor background sadness in my life. (I came in third on my only day.) Ryan got to go back once for Tournament of Champions, and now he has the chance to go back a second time -- as a decade fan favorite.
I'm asking for your help because not only is Ryan a hilarious, profane and great-hearted guy, he's also the star of this Silence of the Lambs parody, which has been linked here before by both myself and the Apostropher.
So please watch it, and then vote for Ryan -- on Twitter, on Facebook, and on the Jeopardy page, once each per day until it's over on October 21st.
1) go to http://www.jeopardy.com/minisites/battleofthedecades00s/ and click the "VOTE NOW" button beneath the photo of RYAN.
2) go to http://www.facebook.com/Jeopardy/app_546832075387269 and click the "VOTE NOW" button beneath the photo of RYAN.
3) go to http://twitter.com/ and tweet this: Ryan #JeopardyVote
Heebie's take: Seriously, the first link is incredibly stupid.
From the second, I like the criteria for judging entries:
Force of Science - how much "scientific" information was brought to bear (graphs, real citations, "research" etc.)
Artistry - how unexpected and clever the idea and presentation are, and how well the presentation is delivered.
Parsimony - the simplest theory that explains the most data is best.
Strength of Defense - how well did you defend your views to the judges. Please note - being funny is not a good defense. We want to see you actually defend your terrible terrible theory!
I finally got around to the BBC House of Cards, and while I feel idiotic worrying about spoilers for a twenty-three-year-old show, it is worth watching if you haven't seen it yet, and it's on Netflix, so don't click past the fold.
But having just finished watching the first season, I have a question for anyone who saw it:
In the final scene, the spunky girl reporter with horrifying daddy issues has figured everything out, finds Urquhart, and he ruthlessly saves himself by throwing her off the Houses of Parliament and telling everyone that she just ran past him and threw herself off the roof. He gets away with it clean.
How does that work? She was asking after him by name in a crowded room, his minion directed her to him; the idea that he just happened to be there is implausible. More than that, she told her lovesick journalist best friend that she was having an affair with Urquhart -- the idea that he wouldn't go to the police with the information given the circumstances seems absurd. Her apartment is full of mini-cassettes where she taped intimate conversations with him. She talked to the drug addict's assistant/girlfriend about where he was going that weekend; once the police are thinking about Urquhart, someone's going to notice that he died in a rest stop right near Urquhart's country house, and presumably someone should be able to tell the difference between rat poison and cocaine in an autopsy. I can't see any way Urquhart wouldn't be under arrest in a week -- he might not be convicted, convictions are hard, but it'd at least be a scandal.
If the answer is "Look, it's good TV, don't pick at it," that's fine. It really was good TV, and not everything has to make sense. But did I miss something that made it work better than I think it does? It wouldn't have been that hard to write around the things that make it perfectly obvious he was involved: if she just hadn't told her journalist friend about the affair, and if she hadn't asked Urquhart's minion where he was in front of dozens of people (whether or not they heard the conversation, they saw her, and then she ran right to Urquhart's location), his getting away with it wouldn't have been inconceivable. Did I misunderstand some major piece of plot machinery?
1.2 million non-Jews feel Jew-ish. OTOH, American Jews are secularizing in droves. Something something don't want to be a member of any club that would have me. I'll just continue feeling fraudulent and rootless but maybe also now with some embarrassment that I might appear trendy.
Apparently one of the big tech firms up in Austin is abandoning the assigned cubicle system, in favor for unassigned docking stations. The idea (apparently) is that 1000 people require 1000 assigned cubes, but perhaps only 800 docking stations at any given moment.
That just seems so depressing. You can't keep your coffee cup at work. You can't keep a couple outdated photos of the kids. You have to debate whether or not it's rude to keep your stuff spread out when you go to lunch. You have to scrounge for a spot if you hit a high-traffic time.
More or less unrelated, whoever came up with the phrase best practices can shove it up their ass.
Have we talked yet about the recent Scalia interview? It's something:
You've got grandkids. Do you feel like the Internet has coarsened our culture at all?
I'm nervous about our civic culture. I'm not sure the Internet is largely the cause of it. It's certainly the cause of careless writing. People who get used to blurbing things on the Internet are never going to be good writers. And some things I don't understand about it. For example, I don't know why anyone would like to be "friended" on the network. I mean, what kind of a narcissistic society is it that people want to put out there, This is my life, and this is what I did yesterday? I mean ... good grief. Doesn't that strike you as strange? I think it's strange.
One of the things that upsets me about modern society is the coarseness of manners. You can't go to a movie--or watch a television show for that matter--without hearing the constant use of the F-word--including, you know, ladies using it. People that I know don't talk like that! But if you portray it a lot, the society's going to become that way. It's very sad.
[Leans in, stage-whispers.] I even believe in the Devil.
I watched The Sopranos, I saw a couple of episodes of Mad Men. I loved Seinfeld. In fact, I got some CDs of Seinfeld. Seinfeld was hilarious. Oh, boy. The Nazi soup kitchen? No soup for you!
Fifty years from now, which decisions in your tenure do you think will be heroic?
Oh, my goodness. I have no idea. You know, for all I know, 50 years from now I may be the Justice Sutherland of the late-twentieth and early-21st century, who's regarded as: "He was on the losing side of everything, an old fogey, the old view." And I don't care.