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More Children's Book Discussion

Posted by LizardBreath
on 01.24.15

I was trying to think of suggestions from my own childhood that didn't sound hopelessly worthy of me, because I knew I read endless amounts of dopey stuff at that age (and all ages since. Have I mentioned that I bought the complete works of H. Rider Haggard for $1.99 a month or two ago, and there are a whole lot of complete works there. And I am, embarrassingly, enjoying them quite a lot. There's something about my taste for dumb entertainment, popular fiction from a couple decades either way of the turn of the last century hits it right in the sweet spot. A lot of racism and dead elephants though. Although, interestingly, the racism, while the books are set in Africa, reads more like Orientalism to me than what I think of as straightforward racism, which for some reason makes it more possible for me to read for enjoyment despite it.)

Anyway, you know what kid's genre seems to have kind of disappeared? Sentimental animal books. The Black Stallion (and all of his relatives); Lad A Dog; Misty of Whatever Island I Can't Spell Without Looking It Up; and so on (there was a series of maybe Appalachian books about an Irish Setter? Can't remember exactly). I read truckloads of those -- not particularly on purpose, but they seemed to be what was around when I was in grade school. I don't think I ever saw either of my kids with one of them. Was I unusually steeped in 'realistic' (that is, not fantasy settings) noble dog/horse books as a kid? Have they really disappeared from children's lit as much as I think they have?


 

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Ballghazi

Posted by Ogged
on 01.23.15

First:

Also, let us obsess. The Pats fumble way, way less than you'd expect them to. Unless you expect them to be playing with perfect balls.


 

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Noncompositionality

Posted by Ben
on 01.23.15

Brownies are, per the sidebar in that article, related to faeries.

However, Radical Brownies are not related to Radical Faeries.


 

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Charisma

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 01.23.15

I honestly think that HRC's biggest Achilles' heel is that she is so goddamn uncharismatic. Her militarism, her gender, her past - all that pales besides her utter lack of ability to charm a crowd during a speech. (In person, she may be better. I can't remember any particular interviews.)

(She's got plenty of weaknesses in terms of policy, but policy barely matters in campaigns. I'm speaking strictly about her campaign.)


 

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Back On The Veldt, People Who Didn't Attribute Innate Personality Differences To Gender Were All Eaten By Wolves. What Were Wolves Doing On The Veldt? Who Can Tell.

Posted by LizardBreath
on 01.23.15

The Atlantic had an article a week or so ago headlined The Secret To Smart Groups: It's Women. Researchers developed some way of quantifying the 'intelligence' of small groups of people working together to accomplish a task, and found that it was less strongly related to the individual intelligence of the group members than the average social sensitivity (that is, capacity to understand what other people are feeling. One test that is supposed to measure it is a test of your ability to look at a set of pictures and accurately identify the emotion being expressed.) Women are on average better at social sensitivity, so groups with more women in them are more 'intelligent'.

And look. I completely believe that social sensitivity is terribly useful in making a group accomplish anything successfully. And I'm also perfectly ready to believe that women are on average much better at it. But come on, hasn't everyone had the conversation about how "Group A is on average better at something than Group B" does not mean that any given member of Group A is better than any given member of Group B? If you want a smarter group, you want more socially sensitive members, not more women. Looking for more socially sensitive members, in today's American society, is probably going to get you more women, but just choosing women blindly isn't -- I know some deeply socially insensitive women, and some very sensitive men.

And second, the researchers themselves say this kind of sensitivity is a learned skill (not clear from the article what they're basing it on, but it accords with my prejudices, so I'll go with it.). Could the headline of the article maybe be about how this is a skill people should be focusing on improving, rather than about how one gender is just better at it than the other? Feh.

(It is kind of relaxing, for once, to come up with a stereotypical gender difference where I personally come up feminine, though. While I'm deeply socially awkward in general, I kick ass at the "what emotion is this set of eyes expressing" tests, and I do spend a fair amount of time at work massaging other people's states of mind so as to keep the work progressing, and internally bitching to myself about how my coworkers are not doing the same.)


 

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Bleg

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 01.22.15

I enjoy reading chapter books to the HPs, but I'm not as able to pick ones that Pokey will love as I am Hawaii. Recommendation for a four year old boy who is currently obsessed with ninjas, and turtles who are ninjas, and things that can fight, and the vehicles they use to get around town? Bonus points for things that won't bore me to tears. For some reason Ralph S. Mouse didn't grab us.


 

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Fiber-optic networks

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 01.22.15

Argh:

[Quoting Edward Wyatt]
San Antonio's power company has a largely unused fiber-optic network that local government offices have been using for high-speed Internet service for years, but a Texas law prevents the city from using the network to give low-cost service to consumers.
To clarify something Wyatt leaves out here, the power company in question is CPS Energy, which is wholly owned by the city of San Antonio. CPS provides service to Bexar County outside the city limits and to portions of the seven counties that surround the city...And CPS Energy already has the fiber. So it's not a question of should a municipally owned utility spend money on building a fiber-optic network. It's a question of given that the municipally owned utility already has a fiber-optic network, shouldn't it do something with it? The Texas state Legislature, doing the bidding of local telecom firms, says no. It can't.

 

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Tom Brady Likes Balls Just So

Posted by Ogged
on 01.21.15

It should be a forfeit.


 

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Guest Post - Alternate Reality

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 01.21.15

SP writes: Nothing really new here, which popped up in my feed because I haven't learned my lesson about blocking right wingers I know from high school. But to have it all it one place is just... I need the secret decoder ring to even understand what half of these are talking about.

Heebie's take: Wow. This is worth clicking through. As in, it's a quick read on a non-flashy website that makes its point loud and clear.


 

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Password protection

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 01.21.15

Okay, the Math Association of America officially has the strictest password requirements of any account I've signed up for thus far:

Your password should contain at least one digit, one lowercase letter, one special character (only these special characters are allowed !@#$%), and must be at least 7 characters long.

My usual special character is "&" - I've never seen restrictions on special characters. Fuck you, MAA, for making me broaden YET AGAIN what I keep track of. Thank god my MAA membership information will stay super safe. (They didn't use to be so strict, I just forgot my login info.)


 

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Obama

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 01.20.15

In 2008, I thought there was a non-trivial chance that Obama would be assassinated. Non-trivial enough to be frightening. Now, I imagine his lame-duckness has pretty much defused most of the rhetoric that would drive a wingnut to try it, so he's much safer for the last two years.

I wonder if, had he governed more from the left, would that have heightened the risk of assassination? I'm not trying to claim that he governed from the center with an eye on his own safety; I think he's just plain centrist. My point is mostly the combination of tonight's speech and MLK day yesterday reminded me that I'd feared for his safety back in the run-up and first few years of his presidency.


 

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Neurotic Trends

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 01.20.15

Has germophobia waned, as a trend? I saw a woman at Target leave the bathroom by using a paper towel to touch the door handle, and it struck me that it'd been a long time since I'd seen that sort of nonsense. I wonder if the trendiness of the gut fauna and microbiome articles have taken some of the teeth out of the hyper-germ-fearing crowd.

I then had a passing thought that germophobia has been replaced by a frenzy of organization-energy. This was because Target seems to be dedicating more and more aisles to organization, and Pinterest and Mommy-bloggers seem to be eternally heightening their dedication to being organized. But this may be the hammer seeing the world as a nail - I keep hoping that once I reach a plateau of organization, life will be organized and relaxed.


 

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Nisman

Posted by Ogged
on 01.19.15

This story is something else. A special prosecutor who has accused Argentina's president of conspiring to cover up responsibility for a terrorist bombing is found dead, the day before he's due to testify, of an "apparent" suicide.


 

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DC Meet-up!

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 01.19.15

Ydnew writes: Wednesday, Jan. 21st, we'll meet at 7:30 at Zaytinya at Gallery Place. Lurkers are welcome, and the restaurant is generally quite nice about adding on chairs and tables for unexpexpanding groups.


 

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Guest Post - "Looking Good Today"

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 01.19.15

Nick S. writes: I recommend Wesley Morris's article about Neneh Cherry at Grantland.

Here's there (very good) movie reviewer and he writes as much about he cultural impact as her music. I like this paragraph.

"In the U.S., the persona Cherry cultivated was one of both insider and outsider. Visually, this made her striking. Her bomber jackets and spandex pants and door-knocker earrings were kind of ghetto before "ghetto" was fabulous. The fabulous began to arise from performers like her. She was all over MTV and obviously "of color," but mysteriously so. What was with that British accent in her biggest hit, "Buffalo Stance"? Was it a shtick like Dana Dane's or real like Slick Rick's? (Her mother is a white Swede, her biological father a West African drummer, and her stepfather, the trumpeter Don Cherry, is African American, and she grew up all over the planet but settled in London.) The music was urban in a way that combined the club and the streets -- full of chicas and sistas, songs for and about them.
. . . If a song is going to define your career, that's not a bad one to have do it. Cherry told the New York Times pop music reporter Joe Coscarelli that "Buffalo Stance" still pays her rent. And if you're the Spice Girls or Nicki Minaj or any number of "fun" artists, some of that song and some of Cherry's music in general has paid a little bit of yours."

Watching the video for "Buffalo Stance" it is an interesting mix of very dated elements and others that are clearly ahead of its time.

Heebie's take: Dana Dane's accent was fake? My life is a lie.

Also, free associating from Buffalo Stance, the xfit dimwits insist there is a correct unnatural-feeling gait one should use in a Bear Crawl, and I'm debating being the confrontational asshole who calls them out on it, because it drives me fucking nuts to have my gait corrected when we're doing Bear Crawls.


 

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Double The Patriot Act

Posted by Ogged
on 01.18.15

I'm surprised this is legal.

In November, a Toronto-based man took to Reddit to ask "Are you named Elizabeth Gallagher?" Jordan Axani had purchased a non-refundable round-the-world trip with ex-girlfriend of the same name, and was looking for a travel companion.

I thought that an airline ticket entitled a particular person, not just any person with that name, to fly. In fact, most bookings require a birthdate along with a name, presumably for exactly this reason. When they don't, then I suppose enforcement would be nearly impossible, but not, presumably, when there's a global news story about someone trying to pull this off.

That aside, I also doubt very much that I would advertise or accept such an offer, but I'm sure I'm missing something about "fun."

On second thought, I just bought a ticket for a "Charlize Theron." I know it's a long shot, but if you happen to know someone by that name...


 

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Guest Post - Damage

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 01.18.15

E. Messily writes: This is good, and hard to read. (via the Hairpin)

Heebie supplies:

The first and only time I had sex it did not go well. I was twenty-two, a late bloomer by most of popular culture's standards, and for the year my boyfriend and I had been dating, we'd skirted around the issue. He'd repeated that he was willing to wait, however long it might take me to be ready, and I'd chafed at his understanding.

Amazing essay. I didn't find it too hard to read - the topic is intense, but the author is skilled at being direct and eliciting empathy rather than horror, for the most part.


 

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