Sunday, April 29, 2007


For future reference: when given the choice between two essentially equivalent products, one made by a giant multinational corporation that invented the product in question and one made by a company that makes ceiling fans, pick the former. Otherwise you may end up spending the weekend crabby and sweltering due to a malfunctioning thermostat.

(I ended up reinstalling the old thermostat and it works fine, so it's not like I can't wire things together.)

Book Review: Fun Home

This graphic novel is best appreciated for its allusive structure.

UPDATE: It's better than Blankets, but the art is more conventional. The book brings home how much the author was inculcated by her striving but ultimately provincial parents (both were English teachers, and Bechdel hangs the chapters on greatest hits from the Lit 101 syllabus). How she managed this is interesting. I would have liked to have seen more explanation of her mother's psychology.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Polyester = Dealbreaker?

I want this so much (with a cardigan it would make a cute summer work outfit) but it's polyester.

Book Review: His Majesty's Dragon, Throne of Jade, & Black Powder War

For once, Steve could justly mock me for reading books with dragons on the cover. I blew through all three of these novels in short order; they are the literary equivalent of potato chips in that once you have a taste, you have to finish the entire bag. They are also like chips in that they are not "good for you." I don't feel like I've learned anything about history or the human experience from these books. Nevertheless, they are quite fun.

The premise is summed up well here:
"Aerial dragons fighting with British ships in the Napoleonic Wars! ...[T]hat woman is sitting on a limitless heap of gold which she can shovel out just as fast as she can write!"
Essentially, this is alternate-history fantasy: it assumes that most world events have played out roughly as in our world and adds the historical presence of dragons (and thus pre-1900s air power). Novik's dragons speak in human tongues from birth (they "learn in the shell," which is a little too convenient), bond to a handler immediately after hatching, and are large and strong enough to carry crews numbering between a few and a few dozen. A few breeds have scary powers, like fire-breathing or acid-spitting, but most rely on claws and the rifle squads they bear to wreak havoc in battle.

The setting is the Napoleonic Wars, and the British dragon corps, a clannish and secretive group that keeps to its own codes of behavior (much to the dismay of our more conventional protagonist), must defend the isles from invasion while Nelson pits the fleet against the French. We are introduced to the corps through its newest member, Will Laurence, a former naval captain who captures a French ship carrying a valuable dragon egg to Napoleon and who inadvertently bonds with the dragonet when it hatches before they reach shore. This bonding, which violates the corps' strict rules, produces much consternation in Laurence himself (his naval career is abruptly ended and marriage to his childhood sweetheart is no longer an option), the navy, and the corps. The need to quickly train Laurence to combat standards allows Novik to drop in a hefty infodump without losing the thread of the story.

The book does a good job of convincing us that such a reluctant dragonrider could grow to love both his new companion and his new career. Part of this is due to the extremely winning personality displayed by Laurence's dragon, Temeraire, who is different from other dragons. The plotting is a tad predictable (a twist and a betrayal are both easily seen coming, but the details of both are well done) and there are certain occurences that seem inconsistent with prior characterization or exposition (Laurence's sexual mores change rather abruptly, and Hollin's good fortune at the end seems at odds with what we were told of the rigorous order of precedence), but overall the book is worthwhile for someone open to light, fun fantasy that smacks a bit of Horatio Hornblower crossed with Anne McCaffrey.

The second and third books follow Laurence and Temeraire on their travels to China (Temeraire's ancestral home) and back again via Turkey. Although it is interesting to see how different countries interact with their dragons and how Temeraire's burgeoning liberalism prods his conservative rider into reconsidering English society, the road-movie nature of these books can get stale. Throne of Jade takes place almost entirely on board a ship, and the narrative is held hostage for chapters and chapters as they make their way to China; shipboard intrigue can only hold my attention so far. Black Powder War treks across Asia, but it lacks the rollicking nature of a picaresque despite some superficial similarities and glosses over some interesting philosophical points on the ownership of dragon eggs, the advantages of dragon-human bonding compared with unbonded feral dragons, and whether adherence to gentlemanly codes of conduct, if it results in thousands of innocent deaths, is really a good thing. Scalzi often explores these types of issues as they arise in the narrative; Novik rushes past to get us further along in the story. (Maybe that's just the difference between a philosophy major and a former fan fiction writer.)

Novik's roots in fan fiction serve her well in that the books are mostly plot, and this keeps them tight (they are quite short, comparable to a Hornblower novel). However, the failure to meander or engage in much world-building for world-building's sake means that the true nature of any "mysterious" personages is fairly plain; each character is like Chekov's gun and it's not hard to figure out where they'll be aimed. Also, it's obvious that our heroes will not be killed or separated, which takes away some of the suspense. But these are page-turners first and foremost, and on that axis they are an unqualified success.

Novik is churning out more books as we speak, and Peter Jackson has optioned the books to boot, so the heap-of-gold prophesy is likely to come true. Despite my qualms about another road-book (Temeraire in Africa!), I'll be elbowing my way through the library to get the next novel. Recommended.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Question Time

If there were two spaces in a parking garage, one on the fourth floor 10 yards from the elevator and one on the third floor 30-50 yards from the elevator, which would you pick? Please indicate your gender in your answer.

UPDATE/Bonus: Why?

Dog rental

This is the best idea ever. Please let it come to DC!

Thursday, April 26, 2007

What it's like

- To be shot. (Scroll down to 2:36)

- To decide about an abortion (male edition).

- To lose faith in mankind. (Edit: I had intended to link to this post, which is a longer meditation on the same topic.)

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Boots on the ground

CMC/Rose Institute alum Adam Kokesh has strong opinions about the AG and the war in Iraq. Nice sign, Adam!

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Book Review: Ilium & Olympos

As someone who has fond, if hazy, memories of Dan Simmons's Hyperion (and the residue of a crush on his cloned John Keats), and who enjoys most things ancient Greek, I was anticipating much pleasure from his Greek mythology and science fiction mashup novels, Ilium and Olympos. Alas, the pleasure was limited. Let me explain:

Ilium is by far the better of the two books. It has quick-moving narratives and introduces us to interesting worlds (the moons of Jupiter, a future Earth inhabited by feckless, post-literate humans living out Nabokov's Ada, Mars, and an alternate Earth in which the Trojan War is monitored by reconstituted classicists for the entertainment of post-human entities who have modeled themselves after the Greek pantheon). The characters are thin and some of them are not really Simmons's, but this is mostly forgivable; it's gripping, even if it's not hitting on all cylinders. And there are several serious weaknesses: the aforementioned thin, borrowed characters, continuity errors (one character hikes the Mediterranean Basin, then a few chapters later has never heard of the place. ???), a tendency to throw in substantial fragments of poetry and prose by other authors (the robots of Jupiter's moon spend their time analyzing Shakespeare and Proust), and a lack of clarity when it comes to which Earth is which.

All of these weaknesses are magnified in Olympos, and the narrative loses its tautness to boot, making the resolution of the many loose threads from Ilium rough on the reader. Continuity errors abound, as do misidentified characters; the digitized souls of the inhabitants of one Earth somehow end up on another Earth with no explanation. Simmons begins to vomit up ever-larger chunks of other authors' poesy and prose and tries to tie them to his story, but it only comes off as attempts to overcompensate for the genre's social position. Toward the end, he ham-handedly throws in a nuclear submarine full of black holes, which distracts us from the alleged threat posed by quantum energy usage that we have spent the better part of two books focused on. The sub was dispatched to destroy the Earth by evil Muslims, natch, in a gross culture war shout-out that will only serve to date the book.

I'd recommend Ilium, but it has little in the way of a dramatic climax; this is really a two-part 1,500 page novel. If you're looking for resolution, Olympos does technically provide it, although the ending is a less than a whimper. Read these if you have a high tolerance for Proust-quoting robots, unexplained interplanetary deity battles, Shakespeare-in-space fanfic and clumsy attempts to make fiction set in the future "contemporary" by invoking present-day political issues.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Random Roundup #whatever

Some especially good posts today:

Em rips the NYT a new one for their ignorant article on birth control pills and periods.

Hugo Schwyzer has firsthand experience of one way we can do right by people who meet a few items on the shooter checklist. Not that this would apply to everyone, of course.

Megan sounds like a really sweet person but sometimes I think she is from Mars, like when she champions judgment-less listening. But wait, there's more. And more. I'm INTJ, which means these posts make me recoil like Dracula from the cross.

A White Bear found some letters on the ground. They are the most appalling love letters you will ever read. My judgey opinion is that someone should do wrong by the author. (This is older, but it got reposted on Unfogged and I remembered I hadn't blogged it the first time I saw it.)

Who needs soap operas when this stuff is online?

Sunday, April 22, 2007

This seemed like a no-brainer to me.

Would you rather live in Sweden or Mississippi?

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Uncovered Meat Update

All women should wear a veil because 5-10% of men cannot control themselves when they see an uncovered woman? Somehow I'd missed the fact that one out of every ten men in this country is a rapist. Anyway, I can think of plenty of alternatives to veiling women:
  1. Blindfolds for the nasty men.
  2. Tepperize the gene pool.
  3. Teaching men some modicum of self-control.
#3 is most civilized and respectful of both sexes' dignity.

(previously) (h/t Karl)

Friday, April 20, 2007

Another messed-up high school story

Along these lines:

I knew a guy in high school who showed a lot of the signs of being a potential shooter. T was a half-Japanese dude: tall, skinny, liked leather jackets and hurting people. He was in NJROTC with me and led the armed drill team. He loved weapons of all kinds (guns, knives, and swords especially), enjoyed beating on people, and took pride in his ability to take a punch. But although he was a leader in our organization, he always seemed innately solitary, and had all the stereotypical preoccupations, like darkly-themed music and first-person shooter games. He could make you laugh, but he was just as likely to throw a desk as he was to crack a joke. He drove a truck and swerved at small animals crossing the road. He took pleasure in physically and emotionally abusing people around him. T was usually nice to me, and to my friend J, but we were always afraid of him, underneath, because he could have turned on us at any time. He had access to guns and knew how to use them. He talked about how much he wanted to kill people on a daily basis, in a casual way meant to convey how meaningless others' lives were to him.

T was, in many ways, a deeply frightening person. I could imagine him killing, but not out of feelings of persecution, but for the joy of hurting others. And maybe that joy would have been motivated by pain, because I think he was a person in pain, and that he wished other people to hurt like he hurt. But in the end, all that anger ended up being directed inward. One afternoon, during lunch, T started talking to me and J and mentioned, not for the first time, suicide. We didn't think much of it; morbid teenagers weren't out of the ordinary, and morbid talk from this guy was par for the course. And then T took out a largish bottle of Advil, dumped a large handful down his throat, and swallowed convulsively.

We were paralyzed at first, and then had to balance our concern with our fear. We suggested that he make himself vomit; he refused. We asked him to please go to the nurse: ditto. Increasingly frantic, we said we were going to tell.

"If you tell anyone, I'll cut my throat," he said. And he had a knife. We knew he carried one.

All this somehow managed to happen in a crowded cafeteria full of students and teachers. He wouldn't let us leave, because he was convinced that we would tell someone and they'd pump his stomach. Neither of us wanted to be the one who stayed to make sure he didn't cut himself, because who wants to be alone with the armed suicidal guy? We decided, between ourselves, that we would both stick by him until he passed out and then call for help. We said we'd stay and took him to the library, because that was the only place you could safely skip fourth period due to the staggered lunch schedule. Fifth period we had ROTC together, and sixth we could skip somehow if we needed to. That was our (stupid, stupid) plan.

And it worked. Sort of. T didn't die. He also didn't pass out, although by fifth period (in which we had PT, which would have been comical if it didn't almost end up killing him), he was woozy and staggering. Normally at the front of the pack, he stumbled along in the rear, and the colonel shouted at J and I, who were usually slow runners, for keeping alongside our obviously ill classmate. He probably figured T was drunk. But J and I got him to agree that he wouldn't hurt himself if he went to his sixth period class with J, on the condition that I would keep silent. He seemed to be getting better. He still had the suicide note that he had carefully written at the library pinned to his jacket, but he seemed to be over the hump, as it were. And I guess he nearly was; he somehow managed to drive himself almost all the way home before running off the road and totaling a brick-encased mailbox.

T was okay. Advil is fairly difficult to kill yourself with, and his truck won the fight with the mailbox. I went home and spent the afternoon crying in my room, and then my mom got out of me what had happened and called the school, and they pulled him out of classes for a little while. And of course in our little ROTC peer group, who was the bad guy? Not the psychopath who tried to run over dogs and attempted suicide at school. Nope, it was Amber the narc. Nobody loves a snitch.

Coda: after T came back to school, I asked to read the note. At first he didn't want to show it to me, but I told him that I had only said anything because I was worried about him and wanted him to be okay. He grudgingly passed me the note while the rest of our class watched a filmstrip. Half of it was apologies to his parents and brother. The other half was about me: how I would never love him back, and that the pain of this knowledge was just too much for him. I think he expected me to realize the depth of his affections and fall into his arms.

And what can I say? When my eyes first passed over those sentences, I let loose an utterly involuntary, shocked burst of laughter. It was too much. The guy that terrified me with his careless violence, who frightened me into sitting with him for hours so I wouldn't have his blood on my conscience, this person was in love with me? It was absurd.

As I put the note away, he drew himself inward, and after that I was the focus of much of his anger. My mother's tires were slashed. I quit ROTC in part so I could avoid him. When Columbine came around a year after we graduated, my first thought was how much those boys seemed like him. I can still remember driving with T to the armory to plan one of our chapter's events before all this, my legs tucked up on the seat and my dress taut against my thighs. Something seemed off, but I wasn't frightened, for once. In hindsight it seems obvious both why I felt safe then and why I should have been more afraid.

T has a kid now, and to my knowledge has never killed anyone. Does that mean that there could have been a happy ending for those who fell over the edge of madness? I don't know. Maybe he had a piece the others were missing. Maybe he just never got that extra nudge that spun others toward murderous violence. Maybe I'm just easier to get over than some girls. But for every homicidal rampage that happens, there are a dozen more people on the verge. I hope we can do right by those people, even if it's hard.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Douthat on Birth Control

What is Ross Douthat's point here?
[T]he European "let's stop at one" approach to childbearing really is well-calculated to maximize a certain kind of parental well-being, narrowly defined. Of course, it's also calculated to seriously diminish the "subjective well-being" of all the second and third children who don't get conceived because their parents decided it wasn't worth the trouble. And while the theory that parents have children "either for the benefit of the firstborn or because they reason that if the first child made them happy, the second one will, too" may be true in many or even most cases, it also reflects a certain degree of deplorable solipsism. The chief reason parents should take on the trouble of conceiving and raising a child is that the child is a good in and of itself - one of the greatest goods there is, in fact, in any moral scheme worth considering - not because they think that it will make them or their already-existing offspring happier.
Okay, so when does birth control stop being solipsistic? If each additional child is a good in and of itself and failing to reproduce further is a serious (infinite) reduction in the subjective well-being of unconceived, yet somehow morally relevant, children, doesn't his argument in fact imply that we should go back to the old days of birthing until you dropped? If the happiness of the parents and of any currently-extant children is irrelevant, then you should never stop having children. I know in some faith traditions this is indeed the position, but his argument as presented invokes philosophy, not faith. In any event, deprioritization of the happiness of real, living humans and advocacy of unlimited childbearing is exactly the kind of thinking that can lead to horrible tragedy for some and a drastically degraded standard of living for others.

If Mr. Douthat's wife doesn't have at least one child every two years from their marriage to the onset of menopause, I call shenanigans.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Batsignal for Bio Majors: On.

Can someone with biology chops explain how female-female mating wouldn't result in nasty genetic diseases caused by imprinting?

On an unrelated note, this database creeps me out. And it creeps me out even more that it's been apparently been used to determine whether a dead person was on antidepressants.

Hot Authors

Books probably sell better if they have hot author photos. So who's the hottest author working now? I have been to exactly one reading in my life, and that was for China Mieville, because he's gobsmackingly hot.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Too sexy for your shirt?

These custom shirts might be useful for the bosomy.

Death Proof: Spoilery Discussion on Morality

I confess that I was internally cheering all the way through the second half of Death Proof, even at the primitive and cathartic ending. But this conversation and its accompanying comments gave me pause. Were other viewers really identifying with Stuntman Mike toward the end? Although the civilized response would have been for the girls to get Mike's license plate number and call 911, are we really morally deficient if we enjoy watching them take the law into their own hands (especially when we have seen, in the hospital sequence, that the law is unable to stop Mike)?

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Sunday Bake: Gâteau de Sirop

gateaudesiropThis yummy, tender cake is made from cane syrup, which is a thick, golden sugar cane product. Do not use corn syrup! (And if you buy Lyle's Golden Syrup, note that the glass jar contains only 11 ounces and the recipe calls for 16.) Serve in slices or squares, with a dollop of whipped cream, a sprinkling of chopped nuts and a drizzle of cane syrup on top.

1 stick (4 ounces) butter, slightly softened at room temperature, more for buttering pan
2 cups flour, more for pan
½ cup sugar
2 cups cane syrup, more for serving
2 eggs
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ cup buttermilk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract, optional
½ cup coarsely chopped toasted pecans, for serving
Whipped cream, for serving.

1. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Thickly butter and flour a tube pan, large loaf pan or 13-by-9-inch baking pan. In a mixer, cream butter and sugar together until fluffy. Mix in syrup and eggs.

2. In a bowl, combine flour, salt and baking soda. Add half of this mixture and half the buttermilk to syrup mixture and mix. Repeat, then mix in vanilla, if using.

3. Pour batter into prepared pan and bake 45 to 60 minutes, until springy to the touch. Cool in pan on rack.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Stardust Movie

I think this movie looks like a parade of sexist storytelling stereotypes.
  • Woman as prize to be won/lost/fetched
  • Women care more about their looks than anything else.
  • Positive female characters look passive and simpering.
  • Evil seductive witches
Steve thinks it looks awesome. Verdict?

Uh oh

Scandal within HLS FedSoc?

UPDATED: I am informed that there is no scandal and that the incoming FedSoc president is innocent of any wrongdoing. I regret having raised the issue without corroboration.

Pattis-free C&F Feed: UPDATE II

As you people might have noticed from my recent posts, I have a pretty high tolerance for offensive internet speech. But I've had it with NormPattis's self-righteous use of the term "lynching" to describe Don Imus's firing (I've never been a big fan of Pattis's posts, and this made me realize that they are almost never worth reading). If you'd like to read only Mike's posts at C&F, you can subscribe to this feed.

UPDATE: To further display his worthlessness, Pattis has seen fit to attack my post by making nasty comments about my appearance. No sexism in the blogosphere, nosiree.

Anyone can make a Yahoo Pipes feed. I've posted about the service before.

And it's N-A-P-O-L-E-O-N.

UPDATE II: For the slow learners:

Amber at "Prettier than Napoleon" does not enjoy reading blog posts by Norm Pattis, especially those that compare a radio star's being fired after his speech was no longer something people wanted to pay for with the brutal extrajudicial murder of African-Americans!

Amber Taylor, as you may know, is a lawyer and blogger. She also owns two x chromosomes and hates sexism. Amber thinks Pattis is a sexist because he chose to respond to Amber's expression of dislike for the content of his blog posts by attacking how she looked in a photo (typical sexist behavior). So, using the new "magical science of the interweb," she posted an update to her original post, pointing out Pattis's compounded offensiveness and inability to spell. Amber has never said that Pattis has no right to say what he said, but she does assert that his statements are offensive and that we have no obligation to listen to speech that offends us. If you wish to avoid Pattis's speech, the above-linked feed can provide access to the more interesting commentary at Crime & Federalism.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Yes, I've read Gavin de Becker.

I've been thinking for several days about internet threats and how we analogize them to more conventional ones. For example, say I publish an op-ed in the paper that a lot of people disagree with. They want to silence me. (If it makes you feel better, substitute Ann Coulter for me in these examples, since that might actually happen.)

Someone Photoshops a picture of me wearing a ball gag and mails it to my home. Threatening? Sure. The person is a creep who has just demonstrated that he knows where I live.

What if the same person put up a billboard with that picture in my town (assuming for the sake of argument that you could)? Threatening? What if it's across the street from my place of business, so I can't help but see it? What if it's on the other side of town, where wouldn't normally see it but could drive to look at it if I wanted?

Now let's move this to cyberspace. E-mailing me the Photoshopped picture would be creepy and threatening, but less so than mailing it to my home. Trying to post it to my blog would be another close analogue. But what about posting it to other sites? If a dozen haters are having a conversation/Photoshop contest to bash me and make clear how much they want me to shut up, are they threatening me if they don't direct me to the site and I find it on my own?

Just like it seems different for someone to say to your face, "I'd like to cut off your head with a chainsaw," versus saying the same thing in a conversation with fellow haters that I happen to overhear, it seems less threatening for people to direct violent comments on their own websites than via your blog or e-mail.

I know there are psychos on the internet. One of them killed an ex-boyfriend of mine. But I'm not sure that we ought to treat all threatening internet speech as equally serious.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Hanging onto middleclassness by your fingernails

Do you have bizarre class biases about certain behaviors? By this, I mean are there things about which you have a learned revulsion based on their association in your mind with a social class of which you are not (or do not wish to be) a part? I sometimes find myself struggling with a tiny voice, no doubt created by a sense of financial insecurity during my developing years, that screeches, "don't do that! Only poor people do that!" Things my brain was trained to think middle-class people do not do (many of which are Houston-specific and/or wrong):

  • Put beans in chili
  • Make sandwiches from bread heels
  • Ride the bus
  • Live in an apartment
Am I alone in this?

UPDATE: Jacob Levy gets it: "it's not about not *looking* poor, but about not *feeling* poor to myself." Nobody may see you make your bread-heel sandwich, but you know.

UPDATE II: If you came away from this post thinking that I hate poor people, you need to read this follow-up.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Blog Civility

I was going to dissect this stupid blog code of conduct idea, but this guy already did a pretty decent job.

FYI, this blog's comment policy:

I reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason, up to and including "it had too many spelling errors," "included smack-talk about my boyfriend," and "WTF?!?" However, I can probably count the number of non-spam comments I have deleted over this blog's three years of operation on one hand, so your freedom of expression is pretty safe. Haloscan eating your comment is more likely than an Amber-imposed deletion.

Cutting remarks, sarcasm, and insults are all fair game, as are over-the-top and obviously unserious threats ("All people who dislike The Wire should be wrapped in barbed wire!" etc.), clearly parodic impersonations (see, e.g.), and anonymous comments (especially anonymous comments revealing juicy legal gossip). But all comments should be useful, in the sense of moving the conversational ball forward, or at least amusing.

Monday, April 09, 2007

Blog Book Club, Informal Edition

Karl has a good idea:
Amber seems (or seemed, anyway) to read a lot of books. More than one a month.

Instead of a formal Book Club, she could simply note which books she is reading when she starts them, with the idea of not posting a review until a month later. That way people could join in on any of her current selections.
I think this will be better than another online book club. I will read The Night Gardener, a crime novel set in D.C. that allegedly "transcends the genre," by the end of April and post a review on the last day of the month. We can then fight about it in the comments.

Postscript: If I am reading more than one book in a given month, I will post reviews of additional books during the the last week of the month so we can have multiple days' worth of snarking material. What I am reading will be noted in the sidebar.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Random Rec

Yahoo Pipes is a great way to get only the content you like from your favorite blogs.

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Bar Fights About Literature?

I realized today that I haven't finished a book that was not a comic compilation in a few weeks (I've been reading bits and pieces of a history of Rome, Y: The Last Man, and Alan Moore's latest, as well as watching an unhealthy amount of television). This is seriously depressing.

In an effort to make this blog more of a place to have bar fights about literature, is anyone interested in restarting the book club? In the alternative, does anyone have recommendations for fiction that I might enjoy or that you'd like to see reviewed? This sounds interesting, as does this.

Friday, April 06, 2007

Still an obsession

Someone really ought to do a video mashup of Ann Althouse's vlogs and Lady Sovereign's Love Me or Hate Me.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Nesson et. al on Net Insults

HLS had a panel discussion on internet speech. I haven't listened to it yet because I hate podcasts and am waiting for the transcript.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Random Questions

- It seems like this is a fairly common attitude among men, although the comment itself is unserious, but even men who keep to nonfiction don't seem to extend their loathing of fiction to the film medium and stick to documentaries. Why is that?

- Tenure-track humanities professor : adjunct humanities professor :: Associate : contract attorney?

- Is Ryan Gosling the new Edward Norton?

And one random interjection: my previously-unconfirmed gay ex-boyfriend is now confirmed. Thank you, MySpace. That brings my tally to 2 confirmed and two unconfirmed.

15 years, 5 kids v. Rose McGowan

I wanted to see Grindhouse, but this puts me off.

Art Bleg No More

These are purty.

Monday, April 02, 2007

Rhinoceros Hide 2.0

Without making reference to any particular controversy: what is the big deal with talking smack on the internet? I guess I am just thick-skinned, but there are significant differences between being obnoxious online and breaking the law and it seems like they are getting more blurred by the day.

It's one thing if the nasty comments are on your own website; then it's more like telephone harassment because they're intruding into your virtual home. (Of course, then you have the power to delete them, which could mitigate the harm somewhat.) But if someone is bashing you on another site and a reasonable person wouldn't think that the comments evince a serious intent to do bodily harm (which is admittedly a subjective endeavor, but it would seem safe to say that the more over-the-top the imagery, the less likely it is to be actualized), then what's the big deal? Someone's posting all the reasons why you deserve to be boiled in oil: don't read them. People Photoshop your face with underwear on it: don't look at it. I'm sure there are people saying nasty things about me somewhere right now, but I can't hear it and so I don't care.

The internet is full of vile individuals who take pleasure from insulting others in colorful ways. Most of them are not serious or dangerous. How can anyone who has spent significant time online not have realized this by now?

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Art Bleg

So: for those of you who think people should buy the work of contemporary artists instead of reproductions of dead artists' stuff, what do you suggest we buy? Links with prices are mandatory.