Vice President Levi Morton writes: My office has an annual holiday party with gift exchange. The first year I went, the rules were simple:
* Everyone rolls two dice in turn, going around the table.
* If you roll doubles, take and unwrap a gift from the pile, or steal someone else's.
I felt the ruleset was badly thought out, because it allowed for indefinite stealing back and forth, it kept dragging on with the last few people when most everyone else was done, and it meant some people went away with multiple gifts and others with none (few, but still).
Last year, I told a relative about this problem, and she gave me a better set of "Yankee gift swap" rules from her childhood. It goes as follows:
* Everyone takes a number; turns go by numerical order.
* In order, everyone either takes and unwraps a new gift, or steals one from someone else.
* Anyone who has their gift stolen replaces it either from the pile or by stealing from someone else, and so on down the chain until a new one is drawn from the pile and numerical play resumes.
* Nobody can steal back a gift if they had it just before the current holder.
* No gift can change hands more than 3 times.
* No gifts can be hidden.
I suggested an overhaul along these lines last year, and the office were fine with it. I explained and oversaw at the party, and think people had a much better time; everyone came away with something, there was amusing drama, but it didn't get tedious. However, our fearless leader really wants dice-rolling to be involved in some way. How can I incorporate them into this ruleset while retaining its gameplay advantages?
Heebie's take: As luck would have it, I attended a Yankee gift swap just last night! Only we just call it a white elephant exchange. The convention with our friends is to bring desirable gifts, though. I brought a bottle of Pimms, which I wanted for myself. Jammies brought some craft beer.
The hostess, next to me, was egging me on to steal a gift, since nothing had been stolen yet. So I stole my bottle of Pimms back from the person who'd opened it. Later, Jammies' gift was stolen, and so he and I were sneaky: he stole my Pimms, thus locking it down for the rest of the game, and I picked what he recommended, which turned out to be some fancy chocolates. Great!
The general population has a slightly higher rape incidence than college campuses, for 18-24 year olds. Is it too cynical of me to assume that college campuses have a worse reputation for rape because it's set against a background of wealth and privilege? Put more gently, if you account for socio-economic status of the victims, would the comparison reverse itself?
Texas keeps a list of everyone it has executed, and their final statements. Some refuse to make a statement, and you can imagine that they were unrepentant sinners to the end. Others, not so much. And everything old is new again.
I want to thank Father Walsh for his spiritual help. I want to thank Bob Ray (Sanders) and Steve Blow for their friendship. What I want people to know is that they call me a cold-blooded killer when I shot a man that shot me first. The only thing that convicted me was that I am a Mexican and that he was a police officer. People hollered for my life, and they are to have my life tonight. The people never hollered for the life of the policeman that killed a thirteen-year-old boy who was handcuffed in the back seat of a police car. The people never hollered for the life of a Houston police officer who beat up and drowned Jose Campo Torres and threw his body in the river. You call that equal justice. This is your equal justice. This is America's equal justice. A Mexican's life is worth nothing. When a policeman kills someone he gets a suspended sentence or probation. When a Mexican kills a police officer this is what you get. From there you call me a cold-blooded murderer. I didn't tie anyone to a stretcher. I didn't pump any poison into anybody's veins from behind a locked door. You call this justice. I call this and your society a bunch of cold-blooded murderers. I don't say this with any bitterness or anger. I just say this with truthfulness. I hope God forgives me for all my sins. I hope that God will be as merciful to society as he has been to me. I'm ready, Warden.
Of course, when you just read the final statement, it's easy to think about the little seed of humanity that could have blossomed into a decent person leading a decent life. You can always look up the crime and think, "I'm sorry it all went wrong, but they did have it coming after that." Just like with Cameron Todd Willingham.
Walmart claims they'll pay everyone more than the federal minimum wage in 2015. I'll believe it when I see it. Also when I see exactly what they mean by "more". And "everyone".
Last year I bought this calendar, which I totally love. It's not particularly useful, but I just like looking at it. I went to buy it again, but the 2015 version is all mucked up. So instead I bought this Hieronymous Bosch calendar; I think I might enjoy looking at that for a year.
Also, Obama on Colbert made me laugh.
More on the Rolling Stone story. Too many weird things to excerpt.
E. Messily writes: I want more rich people to sponsor food trucks at protests. All over the world! This is a good start.
Heebie: I agree!
I outsource to Sullivan, and whatever y'all find.
It is called "The Modern Litany" and is sub-headed "(this positive-edited digest of Great Books is to be chanted with solemn pause at end of each line)".
Polls, charm schools, toilet trainers, lend us your deafness
To prejudice and make us nonconformists
LIke everybody else. Tell Sparta
These truths we hold to be semantic blurs.
For we are alone among mankind
In combining individualism (that is, personalized stationery)
With sense of community (our folk-dance classes).
Lead us not into deviation, but
Make us feel guilty near No Trespass signs
As we make guilt-ridden those who trespass against us.
Give us this day our daily treadmill
Of keeping up with those who keep more up.
But deliver us from psychosomatic heart-attacks
By granting free parking to customers. For thine is
The working-hypothesis that moves the sun and the other stars.
It is by noted theorist of conservatism Rock Square.
Genuine good news.
Global efforts have halved the number of people dying from malaria - a tremendous achievement, the World Health Organization says. It says between 2001 and 2013, 4.3 million deaths were averted, 3.9 million of which were children under the age of five in sub-Saharan Africa.
I don't have much to say about it, but Slate had an article last week from a gay man about his reaction to the marketing of Truvada (a wildly expensive drug that, when taken by an uninfected person daily, fairly reliably prevents HIV transmission), that seemed very worth reading to me. Lowder, the writer, touches on the meaning of condom use in the gay community as creating an ethic of mutual care; the disturbing nature of a prophylactic treatment that's economically out of reach for many of the people who need the protection, and a number of other issues:
Thoughts in the cab home: People are rude. Gonorrhea trutherism is apparently happening. This Truvada thing is way bigger than a pill.
Enjoy these little triangles and squares as they segregate and desegregate themselves. You get to play with them. (It's not rocket science, but it's still a nice introductory explanation.)
Steampunk luxury condos! Only, as a commenter points out, there's nothing remotely steampunk about the design or decor (it's too of the moment, and in an extremely boring way, too), and the clothes and general styling of the persons, in addition to being remarkably short on gears-n-goggles, is also not steampunk, being far too old. (With the possible exception of the punching bag pic, and the tattoos on that guy generally.)
One wonders whether people who say things like the following are aware how idiotic they sound (and if so, how they live with themselves), or if they truly are idiotic enough to be ingenuous:
"Our target market is people who are creative, different," 15 Renwick developer Eldad Blaustein told the Observer when the project first launched. "We always joke that it might be a Wall Street trader, but he's writing songs, he's writing poems at night."
You know, your modern Ives or Stevens. They'd love this building and they'd love the way it's marketed.
Let's face it, we all need a 90,000 square foot house, but some of us have to do without. After you stop s[y]h, tell me, seriously, since nothing lasts forever, perhaps least of all late imperial decadence, how do you imagine the denouement?
Heroin use over time. Nothing is breaking news, just an article about how the rise in prescription painkillers has spawned a generation of heroin addicts that are white, middle class, and equally split between men and women.
It would be nice to read an article critiquing how public policy response differs when the demographics of the drug-users change so dramatically, but this is not that article.
This, by an African-American ex-St. Louis Cop, is simply put, and devastating. None of this "vast majority of cops are good guys," stuff. Quite the opposite.
I knew police weren't all bad. One of my father's closest friends was a cop. He became a mentor to me and encouraged me to join the force. He told me that I could use the police's power and resources to help my community...
I won't say all, but many of my peers were deeply racist...
The number of people in uniform who will knowingly and maliciously violate your human rights is huge. At the Ferguson protests, people are chanting, "The whole damn system is guilty as hell." I agree, and we have a lot of work to do.
When I was in the Bay Area, I was friends with an African-American cop, and he'd quit the Oakland police force because it was too racist. It's a national problem that needs a national solution.
More: Here's another very good article on how even demonstrably bad cops are often reinstated. Here's one for you.
Hector Jimenez is one Oakland policeman who was fired and reinstated. In 2007, he shot and killed an unarmed 20-year-old man. Just seven months later, he killed another unarmed man, shooting him three times in the back as he ran away. Oakland paid a $650,000 settlement to the dead man's family in a lawsuit and fired Jimenez, who appealed through his police union. Despite killing two unarmed men and costing taxpayers all that money, he was reinstated and given back pay.
Lots more at the link.
I just wrote my first email to Hawaii's kindergarten teacher. We have had virtually zero contact with the teacher so far this year. What drove me to it was this line from the Holiday Book Exchange letter to parents: "Girls should bring in a girl book, and boys should bring in a boy book."
In the grand scheme of things, this line matters very little, but it totally got under my skin and started to drive me nuts.