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I Need To Close Some Tabs

Posted by Ogged
on 09.13.14

--How creepy is it to shoehorn the announcement of your imminent death into the chipper morning show format? Pretty creepy!

--Good poem. Good poet.

--As good as a Muslim can do on Fox News.

--Somewhat amusing reply to a somewhat amusing job posting.

--Mothers waiting for their sons to return from war--for thirty years. (Believe it or not, it's depressing.)

--How the funeral home industry will rip you off.

--Anyone read this novel?


 

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Nuh Uh

Posted by Ogged
on 09.12.14

You know what? "When I was a kid..." stories aren't really apposite. After the headline and before the story, my thought was "Jesus, another parenting-while-black arrest?" But no, this is child abuse.


 

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Data!

Posted by Ogged
on 09.12.14

The fact that the Derb has gone full "race-realist" makes it a lot less fun to note that you all owe the man an apology.


 

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Guest Post - folk porn avenger!

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 09.12.14

President Sweden writes: The Stockholm papers are reporting a facebook page has picked up 56k likes for the following story:

Four little fuckers (around 16 years old) on the train. Looking at porn pictures and videos on their telephones. Saying things like "Just spit on your knuckles first then you shove it right up her" and showing each other pictures "Look! this slag has spunk all over her face hahahahah" that was the least vulgar thing they said and everyone around, including a girl of about fourteen, heard and saw what they were talking about. The young girl looked pleadingly at me. No one said anything. It was so fucking disgusting and humiliating. My head exploded and moments before I got off at Zinkendamm station I grabbed the phone from the hand of the one laughing loudest and said "I'm going to ring your mum and tell her where she can collect the phone, after I have told her what a twisted little shitbucket you are!" Mum has been phoned, the pictures and links sent to her via her son's telephone and as well as that she has collected the phone.

Now, I don't know whether the story is in fact true. The facebook account (johanna sthlm) from which it supposedly originates has no publicly visible postings except some photographs of a woman in her thirties. I have tried to get in touch with her -- I can hardly be the first journalist to have done so -- but in the meantime googling brings up an earnest blogger (female) wondering whether this isn't damaging to the poor boys involved, who need to learn that there is nothing shameful about sex (!).

All the source material is in enlightened topless Swedish but I don't see why that should hinder discussion; and it makes a fascinating kind of folk heroine: the porn avenger.

Heebie's take: The right response, should you ever find yourself in such a situation, is "ASSHOLE, YOU COULDN'T RAPE A WAFFLE."


 

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Record Lack of Satirical Indicators

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 09.12.14

Is it still satire if it's just a straight up made-up story, which other news outlets must inform you is satire? I mean, huh?

In other news, there's a chicken in the tree in our front yard, squawking up a storm. I assume chickens can get down by themselves. She lives across the street; canonically I don't know why she came over here.


 

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Are You My Mother?

Posted by Ogged
on 09.11.14

I haven't taken this yet, but a few of you have mentioned that you can't remember faces, so what better than a test to torture yourselves with? Let's separate the prosopagnosiacs from the casino greeters.


 

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Oscar not grouchy

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 09.11.14

Oscar Pistorius is found not guilty? Did not see that coming. I hadn't followed the details of it, except to get the impression that he was a guilty jerk.


 

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Guest Post - Not gloomy

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 09.11.14

Lw writes: So here's good news about fracking in PA:

One of the biggest, most deep-pocketed operators in the country just tried to test forced pooling against a handful of property owners, and it failed.

Governors can be completely insane-- Hickenlooper in CO explained that the composition of fracking fluid was a trade secret, dammit!

Heebie's take: I get muddled on the environmental impact of fracking. On the one hand, it is clearly the reason why carbon emissions have improved for the first time ever, at least in the US. On the other hand, I've read that that's an artifact of the poor job we do measuring greenhouse gases, and that the methane emissions from all the fissures are a problem - but I don't know on what scale.

I recently saw some link where scientists were basically asked "What's the liberal* equivalent of denying climate change?" A lot of the scientists answered "Liberal obsession with the dangers of GMOs. They just won't believe that they're safe." I feel like there's a similar kneejerk fear of fracking - I'm positive that fracking has some unintended consequences that are bad for the environment, but it also seems to be clearly much less bad than coal, and the most expedient improvement of carbon emissions on the table.

The link above is about personal property, though, which is slightly different than global carbon emissions. I've got a friend who spent decades as a safety engineer in the oil biz, who impressed upon me that fracking in Pennsylvania is very, very different from fracking in Texas - the drilling is very shallow there, the rock crumbles easily, and the residents used to occasionally be able to set their faucets on fire from the ambient methane before fracking even existed. In Texas, apparently, the rock is much harder, and they have to drill miles deeper to get to the gas. These local concerns are not monolithic.

* I know, somehow in the last few days we're having a snit about whether or not liberal is being used as a pejorative to describe straw-lefties and I just don't know what other word to use.

Finally: Hawaii's school invited everyone to wear red, white and blue in honor of 9/11. Is that a thing? Do we have to? (No, we don't. And she didn't. She did overthink it and try on twelve different outfits, and eventually decided that all of them were terrible and she was just going to wear the next outfit in the queue of her surprisingly highly-planned-by-a-5-year-old closet.)


 

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One Of Us

Posted by LizardBreath
on 09.10.14

Kevin Drum announces his intention to use singular they and them as the gender-neutral pronoun:

What other options are there? None. You can write around the problem, but that usually produces a mess. There have been a few feeble attempts to invent new pronouns, but they've gone nowhere and never will. So we're stuck. The easiest thing is just to use they and them. Everyone knows what you mean, and except for us grammar pedants, nobody cares. I don't think I have the will to resist anymore. I have been assimilated.

As Drum goes, so goes the liberal internet.


 

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Severe abnormalities in utero

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 09.10.14

Parents-to-be are pregnant with a baby with severe defects, who won't be able to live outside the womb. So they're spending the pregnancy doing a bucket-list of kiddie activities of things that are meaningful for them to do with their unborn son.

I absolutely can't fault the parents for handling their grief however they want to. I can see how they might find comfort in creating memories. But something about the reporting of it makes me recoil - maybe that it has a subtext of virtuousness, as opposed to a late-term abortion? Somehow the story reads as pro-life to me, in a way that grates.


 

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Procrastination

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 09.10.14

Week Three of sabbatical: it's striking how context-dependent procrastination is. At school, I've got constant little tasks on a very strict schedule, and the consequence is generally some sort of social (mild) reprobation - "Sorry, I'll get your homeworks back next class" or "Shit, I have to improvise and class won't run as smoothly as I like" or "I haven't yet read the stuff you emailed out ahead of this meeting". None of the tasks have a particularly high "dread" barrier to entry. There is always 20% too much to get done, too.

After eight years, I started to think that I, fundamentally, was not the kind of person who procrastinated. HA HA.

So, sabbatical so far is full of tasks that: no one will ever give a shit whether or not I get them done. No one has a calendar on any of this. It's all made up, and the only driving force is anxiety or guilt. Wow, there sure are a lot of open tabs in my browser of interesting things to read. Also I'm cooking all sorts of new dinners with my new knife skills. Sure is lovely to be in the front of the house, and gaze out these windows at the dappled light.

Mostly sabbatical is glorious, and I am totally grateful and appreciative of it. But in terms of happy productive mental headspace, there is a sweet spot, and sabbatical ain't it.


 

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A big downer for your Wednesday morning

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 09.10.14

Military sexual trauma is often perpetrated on other men, which is a wildly underreported phenomenon.

The moment a man enlists in the United States armed forces, his chances of being sexually assaulted increase by a factor of ten. Women, of course, are much more likely to be victims of military sexual trauma (MST), but far fewer of them enlist. In fact, more military men are assaulted than women--nearly 14,000 in 2012 alone. Prior to the repeal of "Don't ask, don't tell" in 2011, male-on-male-rape victims could actually be discharged for having engaged in homosexual conduct. That's no longer the case--but the numbers show that men are still afraid to report being sexually assaulted.

The linked article is pretty horrifying. I remember hearing about how rape as a war crime is perpetrated against other men about 30% of the time. Again in that context, wildly unreported and the victims feel incredibly complex, shameful feelings about their assault.


 

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The Most Economically Diverse Colleges

Posted by Ogged
on 09.09.14

Good data. Interesting results. There's a related article at the link.

Heebie: I am boldly inserting myself in this post, because I had a similar post planned and the two play well together. The Collegiate Learning Assessment (C.L.A.) is a test given to first years and seniors, so that you can see how much they gained over their four years. (Heebie U administers this test periodically.) Gains are correlated with hours spent studying alone, and most college students do not gain very much. But this is interesting:

Even after statistically controlling for students' sociodemographic characteristics, college majors and college selectivity, those who finished school with high C.L.A. scores were significantly less likely to be unemployed than those who had low C.L.A. scores. The difference was even larger when it came to success in the workplace. Low-C.L.A. graduates were twice as likely as high-C.L.A. graduates to lose their jobs between 2010 and 2011, suggesting that employers can tell who got a good college education and who didn't. Low-C.L.A. graduates were also 50 percent more likely to end up in an unskilled occupation, and were less likely to be satisfied with their jobs.
Remarkably, the students had almost no awareness of this dynamic. When asked during their senior year in 2009, three-quarters reported gaining high levels of critical thinking skills in college, despite strong C.L.A. evidence to the contrary. When asked again two years later, nearly half reported even higher levels of learning in college. This was true across the spectrum of students, including those who had struggled to find and keep good jobs.

Of course, having students with strong CLA scores and having a college that raises students' CLA scores are two different measures. But I do think it's interesting that the CLA measures something that employers actually value in their employee performance.


 

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Living quarters

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 09.09.14

How many square feet of living space do you (specifically) want, to feel comfortable? When I lived alone, in grad school, my apartment was the basement of a house, so it was about 800 square feet, which felt luxurious. It would have been an adjustment to live in less than 500 square feet, though. (Actually, it depends how the 500 square feet were laid out, I suppose. In college, I was fine in a well-laid out efficiency, but I chafed in a super poorly-laid-out efficiency. I have no idea what their square footages were.)

Maybe focusing on square footage or square-footage-per-person is the wrong question, because it depends so dearly on whether the layout makes sense or not.

We were basically fine during renovations, living in 1200 square feet, but not having a kitchen or anywhere to escape to did grate. I'm pretty content in our 1900+ square feet, but I wouldn't complain if someone gave us more closets.


 

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iWatch

Posted by Ogged
on 09.08.14

A thread for discussion. I find myself thinking that I have no interest in wearable technology, but also a little bit excited to see what they've come up with.


 

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Ray Rice

Posted by Ogged
on 09.08.14

NFL execs might be some craven, indifferent-to-sexism fucknuts, but if you give them a do-over on a public relations debacle, they can pretend to care.

But here's something that I disagree with my lefty brothers and sisters about: it seems appropriate to criticize his then-girlfriend, now wife, for staying with him. Even as we recognize how horrible and mind-warping an abusive relationship can be, and how powerfully comforting the familiar, no matter how bad, can be, we have to treat people as if they have agency in their lives, and, as a public matter, we have to affirm that no one should tolerate abuse. I hate to play "what message are we sending," but I'm going to do it anyway: what message are we sending to young women when we solicitously explain all the reasons someone abused might stay, and "respect" her "choices," instead of saying, have enough self-respect to never tolerate abuse?

I understand that no one wants to criticize a victim, but I'm not criticizing her for her own victimization, just her reaction to it, and this seems like an important standard to uphold.

(Just a note: some of the criticism of her is along the lines of "She stayed with him for his money," which is straight-up sexism, and not at all what I'm suggesting here.)


 

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Just like Columbine all over again.

Posted by Apostropher
on 09.08.14

Last Thursday, while I was toiling away to meet a Friday deadline on a study report, I got a call from my kids' school to come pick up my 4th grader because he'd brought a weapon to school. WTF? I arrived at the school ready to rain hellfire down on him, as much for disrupting what had been a fabulously productive day up to that point as for the poor decision itself. The principal came out to meet me and we walked all serious-like to his office where Noah was sitting, looking at the floor.

The whole story? He and a group of six or seven other boys had discovered they could dislodge a sewer grate and decided that during recess, they were going to escape through the sewers. To South Africa. They were, of course, discovered after successfully removing the grate but before anybody descended into the fabled North Carolina Trans-Atlantic Sewer Labyrinth. In his backpack, Noah had a scuba mask, a snorkel, and a corkscrew. The corkscrew, he explained, was to sell for "African money" once they got there so they could buy food. Chosen because that was what was in the kitchen drawer that most easily fit in his pocket.

At this point, the principal and I were both working very hard to keep our serious faces on, because, yes, removing a sewer grate is a serious safety concern as well as a property issue and the corkscrew does indeed have a blade on the end of it for cutting foil yadda yadda yadda but still: sort of adorably and innocently imaginative. I asked Noah whether he knew what was in sewers.

"Alligators."

This is when maintaining my serious face turned physically painful. Also, not shouting "Not alligators, you fool! C.H.U.D.!" Really, I may have pulled a muscle.

"No. Rats, snakes, spiders, and everything that everybody in Durham flushes down the toilet. Does snorkeling through an entire city's worth of poop seem like a good idea?"

"No."

"Also, the sewers don't go to Africa. There are several thousand miles of ocean between here and South Africa. Best case scenario, you'd end up at the water treatment plant on Club Boulevard. But only if you had a map."

So he had to go home for the rest of the day which, I have to say, didn't really register with him as any sort of punishment. But I did get a good story out of it and still got the report in on time. Oh, and the sewer to South Africa idea apparently had something to do with Finding Nemo, but that part never really got explained fully.


 

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Shall we talk about the weather?

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 09.08.14

So many two Americas! The summer was an odd one, temperature-wise. (I can actually appreciate that we had it milder than usual, even if I personally was (am) super uncomfortable.)


 

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Tell Us, How Has This Worked Out?

Posted by Ogged
on 09.08.14

I don't really care if the course is good, and I don't care if Gates's heart is in the right place. What I do care about is that the rich already control politics, and now we're going to give them control of the curriculum?


 

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The Yelp of Invisible Cities

Posted by Ben
on 09.07.14

Tables for One, featuring an uncannily good reproduction of restaurant-journalism tone and style. Chancery and Frito Be You And Me are good.


 

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DC Meet-up

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 09.07.14

Charleycarp writes: I'm in DC next week, and ydnew and I are planning a live'blogging and drinking interlude, in which imaginary people, known and unknown, are encouraged to join and participate. Wednesday Sep 10. 6ish, Dupontish.


 

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Howard Johnson's again, hooray hooray!

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 09.07.14

Ask Polly: Why don't men love me?
Polly basically says "Holy shit you are demanding emotional perfection from yourself, and for externally-driven reasons. You need to let that shit go, and become someone that you yourself are wildly in love with. Stop trying to be what other people are supposed to wildly love."

It's possible that Polly is spot on - that is certainly advice that I needed to hear at a certain place in my life, and I think it's a pretty common trap for competent women to fall in. But as I was reading it, part of me thought "Isn't it also possible that this perfectly nice, well-adjusted woman has just had a string of bad luck with relationships?" (I suppose the point of an advice columnist is to read into the tea leaves. If your answer to every question took the reader at face value, your column would be rather dull.)

A final thought I had was for the men in her life, which was "Get over this rom-com driven notion of SPARKY LOVE that transcends the basics. If you've got someone you enjoy, make a good team with, find attractive, and so on, maybe hang on to the basics." I, personally, have never stayed up all night talking to someone I just met, so maybe I myself am not rom-com-compatible.

Also, Viking warriors were often women.

First via elsewhere.


 

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