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The Mind of Corey Robin

Posted by Ben
on 10.01.16

Somehow, he thinks "Neera Tanden is closely following me, Corey Robin, on Facebook at ten pm on a Friday night" is just obviously more plausible (because more worthy of the time of the head of a think tank, I suppose) than "Neera Tanden responded to someone tagging her on Facebook at ten pm on a Friday night".


 

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Ask The Mineshaft: Spread Your Wings, Little Bird!

Posted by LizardBreath
on 10.01.16

First Lady Lousia Adams [editoral note: must be married to JQA? I don't know her name] writes:

How can I encourage my boyfriend to take advantage of our ostensibly open relationship, either on his own or with me? Can I at all? He's into it, but also nervous because he doesn't have remotely recent experience with dating or casual sex . He's probably not that motivated since we have a good amount of good sex with each other, but I don't think the answer is "start witholding sex."

I want this to happen for the following reasons:
I find it hot;
He finds it hot and I think he should do things he finds hot;
I think conceptual hotness aside, he would actually have a lot of fun--the last time he was "out there" or whatever he was like 22 (then 20 year marriage-->a bunch of sulking--->me), and being a libertine as a real adult is just so much better;
It could abate his mild but not non-existent envy of my own past libertinage.
One approach is for me to make a profile, screen prospects, handle correspondence, whatever. I tried an OKC profile for him/us briefly (I think12 hours) and it almost killed me. Partly because humanity is an unending nightmare, but mostly because I realized how much energy was involved in the whole thing. It's actually a lot of work to get from "poking around the edges of an app" to "arranging for your boyfriend to go to another state to maybe fuck some postdoc."

Still, I would do this work cheerfully if I were confident about the outcome. I just don't want to end up in a situation where either (1) I do a lot of work and he freaks and backs out and I get resentful or (2) I do a lot of work and he freaks but doesn't back out because he feels bad that I did a lot of work and then we're in hell.

TLDR how do I convince someone "just get out there and it will be ok even if it's not ok" where someone=my boyfriend.

xoxo
Lousia Obvious Adams

Dear Louisa:

As someone who's half out of a nineteen year marriage with someone I met when I was twenty-three, and is still firmly in the 'bunch of sulking' stage, I feel a certain kinship with your boyfriend. To state the obvious, having sex is great, finding someone you want to have sex with is awful, and given that he's in a situation now where he's got the one without having to do the other, I'm unsurprised that he's unmotivated.

But so, this is a thing you want and you're pretty sure Quincy wants (oh, wow, he just turned into Jack Klugman in my head. Hopefully not an accurate mental image). Some options: (A) leave him alone and wait, maybe he'll find someone, or maybe not. Upsides: no work for you, no risk that you're talking him into something he doesn't want to do. Downsides: he might never get around to it. Also, I don't know what your boundaries about this are, but if you leave him alone to do it himself, he might end up finding someone who was more of a person he liked, and less some random postdoc in another state, which could have relationship repercussions for the two of you.

(B) You do the work, as you said you've already tried. Downsides: like you said, it's a lot of annoying work. And maybe he's not actually into it and freaks out either before or after going through with it, which would be bad in different ways. Um, geez -- is it possible for you to take the initiative, and be involved, but have him sorting through possibilities with you in a way that's hopefully fun for the both of you even if it's not immediately (or ever) successful? Replace an hour of watching TV with an hour of making fun of people's profiles and collaborating on drafting come-ons to women who seem appealing? That could be less of a laborious drag and more something that was fun in itself if you were doing it together, and that'd maybe give him more space with you to say that it's fun to think about, but he doesn't actually want to, without it turning into a big freakout. And maybe it'll work?

But honestly, I don't know why you'd ask me about relationships. Demonstrably, I don't know a darned thing. Anyone else have some useful thoughts?


 

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Sneaky Persians

Posted by Ben
on 09.30.16

This is wonderful:


 

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Guest Post - Academic Integrity

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 09.30.16

E. Messily writes: Belligerant Cheaters would be a good band name:

In Huft's class, a student pretended to faint, forcing instructors to call paramedics. When he hit the floor, proctors caught four other students bring out hidden smart phones. The student refused medical attention when the ambulance arrived, and the name he gave was not on the class attendance list.

Heebie's take: I'm sure in the archives I've told this story...

...In college, I was going to double-major in anthropology and math. I was in this Biological Anthropology course, and we had a final project, involving a huge database of genes. You were supposed to have a hypothesis, download a bunch of gene sequences, and run some program that would tell you how closely related the individuals were, and therefore support or dispute your hypothesis.

I was completely overwhelmed by the database and the program. I tried to download it and make it work, but it always froze my computer, and I never got around to going in office hours and the school computer lab and asking for help in a timely manner, and then I got embarrassed that it was no longer a timely manner.

I asked for an extension, and this was the only time in my entire schooling that I can remember doing so, and it was granted. I felt like this doubled the pressure - now it needed to be twice as good in order to justify the extension, and I still didn't know how to get the original program to work.

So I made up a hypothesis that I could model the populations by matrices, and I did some linear algebra. (I skipped the database and the computer program entirely.)

I knew that the professor would know that my math was nonsense, but I was betting that he'd think I believed it, and would be pleased that I'd tried to go above and beyond the assignment and try something that incorporated my math major. I made up entries for the matrices, based on some nonsensical explanation, did some matrix multiplication, and did not offer any mechanism why matrix multiplication would mean diddly-squat. The computation yielded a nonsensical matrix, and I concluded that this math-modeling stuff was gosh-darn hard, gosh-darn it, and I'd have to work even harder next semester if I wanted to pursue this.

He gave me an A. And then, on the last day of class, he asked me to present my work to the class, because he'd been so pleased with it. I was super embarrassed, which probably seemed legit.

After that class, I dropped the anthropology major all together. The end!


 

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ATM: Prank?

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 09.29.16

Vice President Aaron Burr writes: I had a really weird text exchange last night and I can't tell if I'm being pranked. Setup: It's from someone who also worked in [my large national organization]. We were both involved in a project over the course of a couple of years with about 20 other people. We had several multi-day meetings with the whole group, which included evening socializing -- i.e., sitting around b.s.'ing over a few beers. Zero flirting, zero chemistry.

(Having just typed out the text below it seems super obvious that it's not real. It was around 11 last night, so I was operating on only 3 cylinders.)

HAMILTON: Hey Aaron, it's Alexander Hamilton. I know I am no longer involved with [large national organization] work, but I have a question for you.

BURR: OK, shoot.

HAMILTON: Can we go on a date?

[BURR INTERNAL MONOLOGUE: Huh? This is a joke, right? Or someone else is using his phone. But what if it somehow isn't? I don't want to be mean. I also don't want to feel stupid.]

BURR: I don't think my boyfriend would be in favor of that.

HAMILTON: Well, I didn't realize you were in a relationship. I've always had feelings for you.

[BURR INTERNAL MONOLOGUE: Seriously, WTF? This so doesn't sound real but what if?]

BURR: That's really nice to hear, and unexpected. I very much enjoyed getting to know you but I wasn't aware you felt that way. I admire your bravery in taking the risk to tell me that.

[BURR INTERNAL MONOLOGUE: Why did I add that last sentence?]

-Fin-

P.S. He's 15-20 years younger than me and lives two time zones away. So this all makes me an idiot, right?

Heebie's take: Oh, Aaron, you're being a conehead. On our planet, this is how nice, regular people express interest in someone that they like, and would like to get to know better. Usually we date people locally, but if you like someone enough, you might initiate romantic contact even if that person is not local.

Take it as a compliment! And you both handled it exactly fine.


 

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Vroom

Posted by Ogged
on 09.29.16

This is probably the wrong crowd, but let's talk cars. I drive a 12-year-old hand-me-down minivan, and I haven't bought a car in sixteen years. The van is on its last legs, and my basic requirements for the next car are that it be roomy enough to road trip with the kids, not from an American company, and fast. No SUVs. I'm not looking as much for specific car recommendations (although those are fine) but to hear what features you've found useful, what you didn't think you need, but now can't live without, etc. I think cars have changed quite a bit since I last shopped for one, and maybe some of the doodads are really useful.


 

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Very Nice

Posted by Ogged
on 09.29.16

 

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Guest Post - [...] Hooray!

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 09.29.16

Nick S. writes: I just saw this which seems like an unfogged sort of thing -- nude photos, somewhat politic, but completely unrelated to the election [NSFW].

From her statement:

Illusions of the Body
This series was made to tackle the norms of what we think our bodies are supposed to look like. Most of us realize that the media displays only the prettiest photos of people, yet we compare ourselves to those images. We never get to see those photos juxtaposed against a picture of that same person looking unflattering. That contrast would help a lot of body image issues we as a culture have.
Imagery in the media is an illusion built upon lighting, angles & photoshop. People can look extremely attractive under the right circumstances & two seconds later transform into something completely different.
Within the series I tried to get a range of body types, ethnicities & genders to show how everyone is a different shape & size; there is no "normal". Each photo was taken with the same lighting & the same angle.

It's an interesting project. I don't know if it actually does work to undermine body image issue, but it's interesting to see a wide range of bodies (though it does seem disproportionately white (and to skew slender) -- I think she was sincere in wanting to have a wide range, and that just reflects the community of volunteers that she had.)

Heebie's take: you get to gawk at nekkid bodies, exhibiting good posture and looking awkward. Now don't slouch.


 

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The Best I Can Do

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 09.28.16

Okay: after Clinton wins, Trump will immediately start to fade as a news story, and the loss of attention will hurt more than anything else he can imagine. Therefore he will do anything to stay in the public eye. Surely he will either try to stay on TV, but that's still a step down from the treatment he's received for the past 15 months. He will get more and more desperate and do increasingly buffoonish things. When celebrities are hooked on attention and fall from grace, they fall hard. This trainwreck will become inextricably linked to his legacy. He won't be remembered as courting white supremecists or conducting shady business deals or a massive liar, he'll be remembered primarily by the implosion of embarrassments that followed his loss. Then the revisionists will hazily remember Clinton's win as more of a landslide than it really was.

I now believe that America - at this moment in time - is more susceptible to a charismatic fascist than I used to think we were. But I don't think Trump has the (heh) temperament to bounce back from an early loss and be that fascist.


 

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Guest Post: Voice Coach to the (female political) stars

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 09.27.16

Nick S quotes:

Jahnke teaches multiple skills that serve different purposes: a low pitch and slow rate of speech for moments when you want to be calm and composed; a high pitch, used sporadically, to show "excitement and enthusiasm."
"I can show you endless clips of men being . . . grrr," Jahnke says as she pulls her face into a grimace and wags her finger. "They just look authoritative. A woman does that and she is shrill, angry."
Remember during the Republican primaries when Donald Trump questioned whether anyone would vote for someone with Carly Fiorina's face? At the GOP debate that followed his comment, Fiorina was asked to respond. According to Jahnke, her delivery was textbook.
"She's calm; she's acutely aware of the split screen," Jahnke says. "Notice how slowly she spoke--if she's angry, she might speak more quickly and her pitch will rise. So she's very in control of her speaking tone. Donald can do whatever he wants, but she has to not show emotion. Because the moment she becomes wild or angry, she loses." (Frank Sadler, Fiorina's campaign manager, tells me she didn't train herself during the race, though as a former CEO of Hewlett Packard, she might have received prior training. "Working in tech, she's dealt with men like that her whole life," Sadler says.)

Heebie's take: I did wonder if Donald forgot or didn't know about the split screen last night.

Just for funsies, here's Clinton in a PSA from 1992 on health care:

She did fine, there, but of course that's not a live debate so this isn't a meaningful contrast. Just a fun one.


 

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Commuter Notes

Posted by Ogged
on 09.27.16

A few times a month, I drive to work, and with Waze, it's never the same route. Yes, save me that minute, and show me the city! Speaking of which, this amused me.

IMG_6953.JPG


 

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Guest Post - Chain Stores

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 09.26.16

Trivers writes: This, from Bloomberg, is an interesting and somewhat depressing look at commercial real estate -- specifically the factors that make it hard for cities to develop or retain any amount of culture. The gist of it is that landlords banks lending to developers are generally happier to have boring old mayonnaise corporate clients than local businesses as tenants because of the lower level of risk associated with the corporations. This translates into relatively lower rents for big businesses and smaller, local players getting priced out of the market.

Given the understandable forces at play, I wonder how some towns do manage to confront this stuff. It seems that a general drive in the community to support local businesses might not be enough, since an equivalent small business has to out-perform a larger one on profit margins to compete for the same space. Does it make sense for cities to resort to outright protectionism? It seems like if there's a strong sense of community and solidarity in a town, this might be possible to sell, but protectionism could too easily turn into favoritism for certain local players at the expense of others. This is the sort of thing people often hate about city governments. I wonder if it's the price that has to be paid for keeping small businesses around.

Heebie's take: (Unsurprisingly) I am intensely interested in this specific topic and would love any specific resources on what works. I understand that Austin offers tax breaks to business owners who reside inside the city, but I don't know if it works well or not.


 

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Monday

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 09.25.16

I'm so fucking nervous for this debate.


 

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Never Forget

Posted by Ogged
on 09.25.16

Middle-East in a nutshell right here.




 

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