31 October 2002

Speaking of British ignorance of US geography, everyone here thinks the US has 52 states. Probably ten to twelve people I've asked have given that number, and no one has given any other. They even make jokes about how the Americans don't even know how many states their country has.
I saw a BBC news report on the Wellstone service last night. They didn't bother showing where Minnesota is, which is rather a shame, since no one here knows. But the thing that struck me was that when they showed Clinton, I thought to myself, "That's our president."

29 October 2002

This is the first Googlism return for good old bubba, i kid you not:

bill clinton is no anna nicole smith

And for the current occupant of the oval office:

george w bush is the antichrist
Heh heh, we've warped Noah. After spending some time in Florida, I have a question to ask about liberalism and the pursuit of happiness. What might this Dan Savage fellow say about someone who collects welfare checks so they can spend all day hunting? (Actually I don't think this is possible anymore because of welfare reform, but the redneck stereotype of people who don't care about working and just spend their time fishing, hunting, and drinking beer persists.) Just the first thing that popped into my head when I read the words "liberal" and "pursuit of happiness."
Good Googlisms:

Ben Webster is no longer our breeding male.
Dennis Clark is 7 pages long and availiable on request.
Bessie Dewar is a ball of positive energy

28 October 2002

So someone pointed out to me Googlism, which magically extracts from the web one sentence about any person you'd like. For "Noah Snyder" there are 4 returns about 4 different people, the one that refers to me:

"Noah Snyder is still right about this."

Thank you Matt Yglesias.
Oh, and saturday we drafted for a fantasy basketball league that my brother jesse is running. I had the first pick, which meant that i had to pick last in one round and first in the next and you only have 1.5 minutes per pick, and when someone takes the person you want right before you, sometimes you screw up. So i picked okay, but not very well, until halfway through the 9th round (you can only have 8 players active at a time) I suddenly realized that no one had taken Grant Hill because he very far towards the bottom of their player rankings and every one had forgotten him. I had to wait all the way till the end of the 10th round for my next pick, and it was rather nervous, but i ended up with Grant Hill as my 10th team and a pretty darn good lineup:

C Juwan Howard
PF Tim Duncan
SF Glenn Robinson
F Karl Malone
SG Michael Finley
PG Gary Payton
G Bobby Jackson/Chris Whitney/Emmanuel Genobili (I'll start Jackson until Bibby returns and then switch to Whitney and then when Genobili breaks into the starting lineup and is on his way to rookie of the year I'll switch to him)
U(tility) Grant Hill

I also have on the bench:
Richard Jefferson
Derek Fisher
Corliss Williamson

I'm thinking of trying to make a trade to upgrade my third guard.
Pet Shop Boys/Blogosphere news for Alec.
I went to a book reading tonite for Dan Savage's new book: Skipping Towards Gomorrah: The Seven Deadly Sins and the Pursuit of Happiness in America. He was really amazingly funny and a great speaker and question answerer, i think he's actually much better in person than he is in writing. Furthermore he managed to restore my faith in liberalism.

I suppose that comment takes a bit of explaining. Basically, although my politics nowadays are more liberal than conservative I am still more often annoyed by liberals than i am by conservatives. Things like wearing little ribons on ones lapel for some cause, or camping out in tents for a living wage, just rub me the wrong way. I often find liberalism so childish, and so obsessed with symbolism over outcomes. I think being un-PC is a good thing, and i often find liberals sadly lacking in humor when it comes to politics. Dan Savage on the other hand makes jokes to a liberal audience in berkeley about how his book not being nominated for Lambda book award is like going to the special olympics and not getting a medal. More importantly he made it very clear why his politics were worth fighting for and actually made a difference other than just making one feel good that you're trying to do good for other people. (I guess that's what annoys me about liberalism the whole "well we're trying to do our best and if it doesn't actually accomplish anything you can't blame us" thing.) But Dan Savage very eloquently and humorously showed that the pursuit of happiness is a pretty damn important thing, and that its worth fighting for, and that we're winning that war. And he didn't pull punches. His anger towards Bill Bennet was also directed towards those in the Gay community who tried to stop him from being able to adopt because he strayed too far from the "rainbow reservation", when someone asked about decriminalizing marijuana he pointed out with genuine outrage the hypocrasy of decriminalizing possesion but not dealing: "[loosely quoted] these people are risking their necks for your happiness and when they get caught we run the other way. If smoking pot isn't so bad, than why is it bad to sell it? There should be an organization out there of people who smoke pot who pay the legal fees of their dealers if they get caught, we shouldn't just leave them out to dry."

If there were more people out there like him then I could proudly say I was a liberal.
Great Salon article on manhood, fatherhood, and a way in which Barry Bonds is a role model.
Real headline: Nations Urge North Korea to Drop Nukes.
Bessie complains that we haven't been posting enough, so i'll try to do a little more in the near future... Why haven't I been posting:

1. two words: "war" and "peace" (i'm nearly done, and i now know that if i'm ever depressed i can just find a very large book and give my life direction)

2. a very long frisbee game yesterday (harvard beat waterloo (this canadian university) 13-2, and then the algebraists beat the geometers 15-13, i was on the winning side both times)

3. a haloween party where I went as james bond, with a tux and a small gun i made from a whiteboard marker, cardboard, a safety pin, and a lot of black duct tape. (there's a picture floating around somewhere of the hostess who stole a russian hat from someone so she could pose as my bond girl)

4. Sarah Hatter is moving to south carolina which means i won't be able to take meg's advice and marry Sarah Hatter, and blogging reminds me of this intense disapointment.

5. None of you guys give me anything to respond to.

23 October 2002

How dare my fine state by calumnied?! At least one professional observer has questioned these rankings. I've got to say that I don't think we can possibly be worse than the deep south; How we beat Florida escapes me. In one of the counties in our district, the starting salary for teachers is $18,000 a year. I don't think our teachers are in as dire straits as that. I'll also plead testing bias against hispanics for our low test scores. (That sounds convincing, doesn't it?) Alright, I'm going back to work. Florida is either going to get stupider or smarter after the next election, and we have to work to make sure that it gets smarter.
How come everything written in German looks like it's expressing a great deal of angst?
So we're finally learning the past tense in German, and its oddly similar to french in that there's a compound past tense used for speaking and a simple one for writing, and that the compound uses to be or to have according to the same weird rules... However, in German there is no wonderful little poem which every class uses to teach this tense... So, I got to translating...

--Früstück vom Morgen

Er hat Kaffee
In die Schale gesetzt
Er hat die Milch
In die Schale Kaffee gesetzt
Er hat der Zucker
In die Kaffee mit Milch gesetzt
Mit der Kleine Löffel
Er hat ihr gerührt
Er hat die Kaffee mit milch getrunken
Und er hat die Schale aufgezeichnet
Ohne mit mir zu sprechen

Er hat
Eine Zigarette beleuchtet
Er hat Kreise
Mit geraucht gebildet
Er hat die Asche
In Aschenbecher gesetzt
Ohne mit mir zu sprechen
Ohne mich zu betracten

Er ist gestanden
Er hat sein Hut
Auf seinem Kopft gesetzt
Er hat sein Regenmantel angesetzt
Weil es regnete
Und er ist gelassen
Unter dem Regen
Ohne ein Wort
Ohne mich zu betrachten

Und mich habe ich
Mein Kopf in meiner Hand gesetzt
Und ich habe geweint

Corrections of my german are more than welcome.

"Ich brauche ein Regenmantel..."
"J'ai besoin d'un manteau de pluie..."
"I need a raincoat..."

22 October 2002

This weekend an epic milestone was reached, for the first time in 622 games, the New York Times predicted a correct score of a football game: Detroit 23, Chicago 20. (See TMQ for more)
Further proof that every field has its own nerdy inside jokes:

Yesterday a colleague at the investment firm where I work was telling me about how she'd set up one our co-workers with a friend of hers, and how they were going to have their first date that night. We then had the following exchange:

She: I'd say I did a pretty good job of brokering that trade.
Me: Yeah, well, these days I'm still trading as a principal for my own account.

We both found this quite amusing.
So mathematics is (are?) not exactly a glamorous trade, but I bet a decent number of educated people (though not a majority) have heard of Andrew Wiles, and I bet most can name at least one great mathematician of the past. But can any of you name a single musicologist, living or dead? (Current Harvard faculty don't count. Nor do Google searches.)
I didn't vote for him. And though he persists in making a fool of himself in the press, he's been a competent governor. But today I get to vote for his replacement. I hope they don't throw out my ballot -- the package they sent me got wet and now the "secrecy envelope" is stuck shut, so it's going to look kind of suspicious.

Twelfth is not bad, but being behind Iowa is inexcusable.

I don't know about books, but my kids are going to start violin at age two. And piano. Then they'll spend their whole adult lives in therapy.

21 October 2002

Great commercial idea from Salon.
Ouch, dave, what do you have to say in defense of your state?
Ouch, nat what do you have to say in defense of your state?
So i guess the reason i asked the question was because of the following two observations:

1. I wish i'd known "Into the Woods" as a child. I think every child should have the opportunity to watch that with their parents many times, and i hope my kids will. It just says so much about being parents and kids and growing up and moving on into the world and all these sorts of things... Anyway i can't really describe what i mean because i'm not very eloquent, but somehow the point of having kids listen to these things is that you can't say it as well yourself.

2. Its very weird to me that not everyone knows "Treasures of the Snow" from their childhood. Its this novel by Patricia St. John about three children living in the swiss alps. To me its like Cinderella or the Hobbit or something that everyone just grows up knowing. Its the best treatment of forgiveness ever written. I sometimes wonder how one raises moral kids without christianity (not because i abstractly think its difficult, but just because i have no experience with it) and the more i think about it the more reading this book might just have everything i'd want to take from christianity.

Also i've been realizing how important it is to me that if i have kids that i read them "the Lord of the Rings" before they get a chance to see the movie (despite the movie being good).

Hard to disagree with Roald Dahl and Deep thoughts... I'd have music suggestions but i'm not sure to what extent i'd want to curse my children with my music ("do i listen to pop music because i'm unhappy, or am i unhappy because i listen to pop music").

I'll also throw "Toy Story 2" and "Shrek" into the mix.

20 October 2002

This may sound strange coming from someone who took the Western canon so seriously for so long, but at this point, I don't really believe that works of literature can teach any virtues beyond a love of ideas and language, and a certain amount of compassion for human life outside one's own experience. Which is more than enough, of course. But any other attempt to teach morals or virtues through stories is bound to fail, I think, because a moral or philosophical concept, no matter how beautifully presented, is a dead thing until you relearn it through your own life experience. The only thing art or literature can do in the meantime is prepare you for that moment of recognition. Which, again, is more than enough.

In other words, the books I'll choose for my kids are the ones that charged my imagination the most when I was young, which usually means books where a moral compass is notably absent. I guess my five-foot shelf of children's books would include: D'Aulaires' Greek Myths; The Annotated Sherlock Holmes; Through the Looking-Glass; The Chronicles of Narnia; a representative selection of Peanuts comic strips; World Tales; the complete works of Roald Dahl and Lloyd Alexander; the Mahabharata; and the Bible, more for its literary qualities than anything else. But if I had to choose one work of art to provide something of a moral compass for my kids, it would be Antigone, or maybe "Hey Jude."
The stories I'd raise my kids with... I would say that Uncle Shelby's A to Z book and Jack Handey's Deep Thoughts are books that every impressionable child should read. Seriously, I like The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein (and everything else by him, though that book is arguably the most valuable). The Little Engine That Could is of course a necessity. And children's biographies of Jackie Robinson, Martin Luther King are on my list too. When my kid got a little older, I'd give him Wooden by John Wooden (not to be confused with Cash by Johnnie Cash). I'd also like a good story about gender discrimination, but I can't think of one.
In response to Noah's point about the split on the left between those who think american liberalism is superior and those who are moral relativists, I think that split will continue to exist 25 years from now. There are a lot of people out there on the left who just don't like what they see in America today and I don't see that changing. Incidentally, I think that our society is better than Islamic fundamentalism, but I'd like to think that we don't need a war in Iraq to destroy fundamentalism.

18 October 2002

Apparently the new Katie Holmes movie is based on the book Adam's Fall, which if i remember correctly is set in our harvard dorm (this according to a cnn review).
The nice thing about everything closing early here is that you have time to sleep and not much of a hangover during your 9 am Saturday lecture.

17 October 2002

So i had this weird moment a couple minutes ago, where, as is often the case, i was having an imaginary conversation with someone in my head. I was trying to form some sentence about how you don't regret this yet, but i know soon you will, and i remembered there's a quote i always use to express that and thought to myself "you'll regret it. Maybe not today, maybe not tommorow, but soon, and for the rest of your life." A moment later it hit me that that actually is the line. I had completely forgotten that regret was what that quote was refering to.
I guess my question of the day can be rephrased a little bit. I dunno if any of you are at all familiar with Bennet's infamous book of virtues or whatever its called. The idea is that these are a hundred or so short stories which will teach children to be virtuous. Well i don't want my kids growing up like Bennet's, and i don't want 100 stories, and i don't want them all to be necessarily short stories, however the question is what say 10 stories or similar things would you want your kids to know to learn the virtues you want them to know.

And Alec, even if you plan on teaching your kids Greek, everything on the list must have be available in english translation.
Dan Savage argues for war in Iraq... Thinking about Pym Fotrune has made me really start to wonder whather there is a split coming in the left between those who believe modern liberal culture to be superior and those who stick to the claim that we shouldn't impose our ideas on anyone else. Dan Savage in this article makes it very clear that he thinks that Islamo-Fascism (his phrasing) is something that needs to be stamped out, and why shouldn't he think that? he's very clear that he thinks the freedom to have fun and do whatever you want in private between concenting adults is crucially important, the radical islamics don't. Pym Fortune didn't want more muslim immigrants because he didn't want to lose the modern tolerance for homosexuality, the dutch liberal drug laws, and a zillion other progressive changes in culture. So what do you guys think? 25 years from now will liberals have generally decided that modern liberalism is superior? Will they stick to "anti-imperialism"? Or will there be a split?
Question of the Day:

What stories/books/films/etc. do you think kids most need to know growing up. You know, the stories that are just completely engrained into you. This can either be things you grew up knowing, or things you wish you had, or things you're making your kids know about, etc.

15 October 2002

So Sports Illustrated has an article on whether NBA teams should take problem players or not... The person arguing that they shouldn't is guilty of about as rediculous a blindspot ever:

Teams that win NBA championships -- the Lakers of today and the 1980s, the Bulls of the '90s, the Celtics of the '60s and the '80s -- are almost invariably peopled with players who act like professionals. Yet no sport keeps its bad boys, head cases and out-and-out reprobates in play as persistently as pro hoops.

HELLO, Dennis Rodman anyone?? The nuttiest nut of them all? I mean, one can certainly argue that Dennis Rodman was a goofball off the court but played hard on it and that's what matters, but that isn't the argument this guy makes. Furthermore, he never mentions Rodman anywhere. Arguing by conveniently ignoring obvious things is not generally a convincing strategy.
With Jerry Rice as a raider, Hakeen retiring in toronto and Ewing in Orlando, you being to wonder when this stuff is going to stop... All i have to say is Green Bay better make darn sure Brett Favre retires as a Packer. I trust they will...
Those of you who took Mark Kishlansky's class on the English Revolution may recall that according to baptismal records from the 17th and 18th century, people in British countries stopped naming their sons "Oliver" after the Restoration...until around the time of the American Revolution, anyway, when "Oliver" became one of the most popular names in the American colonies. Trends in naming newborns can serve as an interesting index of popular sentiment, it seems.

Why do I bring this up? Well, according to Nicholas D. Kristof's latest column in the New York Times, guess what's the most popular name for newborns in Pakistan's Northwest Frontier Province?
I was trying to figure out how to get a transcript mailed out, when i found that the harvard site has changed...

13 October 2002

Ten Years ago this week, Peter Gabriel's album Us debuted at number 2 on the charts. I was blissfully unaware of it at the time, but over the years it has become an album i need. Especially "Secret World." Its fun to check the ten years ago charts, because you really never know when something like this suddenly pops up. It can't be too much longer before "Automatic for the People" hits the charts.
Poor Dave...
Forbes Fictional Fifteen (link via Fark).
Going back to the very early days of the blog, you may remember Alec's dating advice for non-autistics, where he said that when you break up with someone make a list of why because in a few months you will have broken up. (See the original post for Alec's much better prose.) Anyway I thought i'd chip in on my similar relationship advice which also involves making a list.

When you're beginning a relationship, make a list of deal breakers, things which would mean the relationship would have to end. Make sure a few of them aren't too painful. Write it down. Accidentally leave it out. Stick to it.
Paul Pollack's away message tonite is "if its worth doing, its worth doing badly." I think that's the quote that has the most different variants. I've heard just about every way of putting "not"s and "badly"s and "well"s into that sentence. I think if i were making a personality test it would include a question like:

Which of the following do you most agree with:
a) if its worth doing, its worth doing badly
b) if its not worth doing well, its not worth doing
c) if its worth doing, its worth doing well
d) there is no well, only do or not do

12 October 2002

I love living in a country where we write 80-page decisions on the consitutionality of sex toys, discussing for dozens of pages the social and legal history of sex toys. Its wonderful. Here's the decision. I think the best part i've found is:
"In effect, doctors inherited the task of producing orgasms in women because it was a job nobody else wanted."
--p. 43

11 October 2002

Matt Yglesias' expresses bafflement on how "that depends what the definition of is is" came to be a definitive moment of Clinton slipperiness. Although he makes a very good point, if my memory serves me right there's another point he missed. The statement "there is no sexual relation" wasn't even said by Clinton, it was said by one of his lawyers. The reason i remember this is that Clinton's next sentence after "that depends what the definition of is is" was the much more brilliant "usually lawyers are asked to explain their clients statements and not vice-versa" (roughly, i haven't tracked down the original quotes). So the slipperiness of the original claim wasn't directly Clinton's fault.
Some more weird google hits:

6th hit for fun sex snowball missionary
9th hit (yahoo) for buy an appartment in new york
11th hit (yahoo) for aaron carter armpit hair
184th(!!??!!) hit for Kansas City Call Girls Prostitutes photo

184th means looking through 19 full pages of links...

More importantly, someone from alltel.net googled me. This site is now the first hit, beating out the surfer guy. Anyway, to any young women in berkeley who's secretly in love with me and e-stalking me, i'm single and my email address is on the left of the page.

10 October 2002

Classes started today. 9 am six days a week through Dec. 8. Ugh.

I've only been here a week, and already I'm sneaking over to a girl's room late at night. Granted, it was Bessie's room, and I went there to watch the Twins game on her computer Tuesday night (she has ethernet and I don't). I think they lost last night because I wasn't watching. (My dad called me at 5 am to tell me the score.)

Despite giving a purported advantage, the Metrodome is still a terrible place to watch baseball. I think baseball would be a good deal more popular in Minnesota if we had a real stadium to go to, so on a gorgeous July night you could say to the kids, "Let's go to the ballgame" and it would feel like real baseball. And I think the Twins would give up a win or two to have more fans in the stands on a regular basis. The advantage in the playoffs comes from having 56,000 screaming hanky-waving fans in that enclosed space. If they got to the playoffs in a new stadium, there would be just as many fans waving hankies. And for a game in Minnesota in October, the roof would certainly be closed, so the noise would probably be just as bad. The white roof and the lights and the turf would be gone, but the Twins would give up these October advantages to gain more revenue so they could make it to more Octobers.

That said, I don't think the public should have to pay more than a small amount for a new stadium. The one we have now, though out of date, is perfectly serviceable, and there are much better things to do with public money. What they really need is a new owner who was willing to spend more money (easier under the new agreement) to make the franchise a perennial winner, which would increase both popular and corporate interest in a new stadium.

08 October 2002

Since when did Browns fans start acting like Philly fans? In Cleveland we throw batteries at the opposing team, threaten to kill a coach for cutting Kosar, and litterally kill Modell if we got the chance, we do NOT chear when our starting quarterback whose having a bad day gets injured. That's just rediculous. I'm embarassed to be a Browns fan.
TMQ is brilliant as usual this week. Nat, I highly recomend the first half of the article which he spends poking fun at psychologists. But what really caught my eye is the following remarkable factoid:

Stats of the week No. 5: It has been 12 years since the Bengals won a road game against a team with a winning record.
Although this trailer leaves me with absolutely no wish to see the movie it advertises, it has completely convinced me that i need to buy the new peter gabriel album.
Dave, congrats on yet another Twins victory, but i have a question for you Twins fans... If the Metrodome is such an amazing homefield advantage and one of the best playoff venues ever, why do you want to get rid of it so badly?
Matt Yglesias (have i mentioned, we're the 15th google hit for "Matt Yglesias"?) thinks that people usually do bad things believing them to be right. Although he may have a point for his dictator examples, i completely disagree with this claim when it comes to ordinary people. I think that most people do bad things knowing deep down that they're bad, but refusing to think about it enough to realize this. This includes simple rationalizations, complete denial, and a million other dodges.
So here's my first "We're not in Kansas anymore" observation: this morning I met the woman who cleans our house (she even vacuums our rooms...what am I going to with all the extra time?). I had a perfectly ordinary conversation with her, but something seemed amiss. And then I realized: in the US, it seems that almost everyone in low-wage jobs (janitors, security guards, cab drivers, etc.) speaks English as a second language. I didn't even realize I'd formed this sterotype, but every time one of those people over here opens his or her mouth and starts speaking the Queen's English, I find myself a little bit surprised. I guess we really are a nation of immigrants.

On the other hand, people here seem to hate Blair as much as people at Harvard hate Bush. So we can bond over that.

07 October 2002

Speaking of trying to describe the indescribable:If you haven't seen Spirited Away, the new movie by Japanese animation master Hayao Miyazaki, you must. I tried to explain it to a friend recently. There are movies that I saw when I was very young, that I haven't seen since and barely remember, but the few images and scenes that I still recall are charged with an almost terrible beauty and power, because they're my earliest memories of art. Spirited Away is filled with moments like that, except they're even more mysterious because you're seeing them for the first time. (Only one other film has ever stirred those earliest memories of movies in me like that, and that's Charles Laughton's Night of the Hunter. Even there, it's only one scene, and it lasts for less than a minute.) Spirited Away is like a movie glimpsed in a dream that you wish you could return to. The amazing thing is, you can.
I'd call it recognition. But that isn't quite the right word. Maybe the movie affects us the way it does because there isn't a word for that moment, for one man's realization of his own folly and loss.

For me, the ultimate cinematic example of an emotional moment beyond words is still the last shot of The Third Man.
So i've decided i disagree with the old saying "history repeats itself, the first time as tragedy, the second time as farce", but i can't manage to come up with a good replacement saying. So, my question for all of you is, how would you describe in one word the mood of the end of vertigo? In that movie history repeats itself, the first time is tragedy, what is the second?
Things you shouldn't say to a crowd of Brits:

1. "I was planning on not eating beef over here."
2. "I have a friend studying at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, or as I like to call it, the London School of Cleansing the Dirty Peoples of the World."

I don't think I'm helping people's image of Americans.

06 October 2002

Who needs U.S. News's college ranking when you could just ask google.
Twins win!!! Twins win!!! Twins win!!!

A.J. Pierzynski is my hero!!!!!

I watched via espn.com and cnnsi.com from the third inning on. It was a real nailbiter. I'm going to try to find a TV for the next series; if that fails I'll at least be able to listen on internet in my room, which should be working by then. I just hope that none of the games start at 7:30 Pacific Time...
Friedman has a real zinger to open his op-ed in todays times:

Ever since President Bush took office I've had this feeling that the only serious opposition party in America, at least in foreign policy, was made up of three people, and none of them were Democrats. The only three people Mr. Bush really worries about — the only three people who could take big constituencies with them if they openly parted company with the president on an issue like Iraq — are Colin Powell, Tony Blair and John McCain.
So the other week i overheard the first conversation which could have been on in passing. Today i participated in my first conversation weird enough to be quoted on in passing.

So Lionel and i are on are way to german class, after not having had breakfast because there was no milk. I say:

"Wow, we're so on time its rediculous. There are actually people here. You know, its just because we had no milk."
"By losing, the four-time defending AL champions were the first team eliminated from the playoffs this October."

You gotta love it!

05 October 2002

Auwww. We missed the 2002 Ig® Nobel Prizes. The award that has received the most attention by the media, by the way, is "the comprehensive survey of human belly button lint," presumably because editors wanted to use the phrase "navel-gazing" in their headlines.

(See, I do know something about journalism.)

04 October 2002

By the way, Red Dragon is a surprisingly good movie, not especially scary but intelligent and considerably satisfying nonetheless. In retrospect, Brett (Rush Hour) Ratner seems like an ideal choice to direct. Unlike Ridley Scott, who is a much more singular director, Ratner has no visible style of his own to interfere with the story, which makes him all the more qualified to deliver what we really want: a decent pastiche of The Silence of the Lambs, rather than Hannibal, which was off in its own inexplicable universe. Red Dragon won't haunt anyone the way The Silence of the Lambs does, but as a well-crafted revisit to that famous underground cell, it's well worth seeing.

03 October 2002

Maybe someone who knows more about journalism can answer a question for me:

Why to journalists (or their editors) feel the need to change the actual phrasing of pop phrases?

This comes up a lot in blogging, for example, see my "blog-o-sphere" post. However i just ran accross another egregious one. In this NYTimes article on campus sex advice columns someone at the "paper of record" decided that "sexile" needed to be changed to "sexual exile". However, rather than quoting the students actual words and explaining the origin of the term or something honest like that, the article says:

Mr. Stromquist was telling Ms. Krinsky about his life as a sexual exile, with his roommate banishing him from his dorm room whenever his girlfriend spends the night.

"That's rude," said Ms. Krinsky, adding that sexual exiles would make a good column.

Come on people, if you want to present some new hip trend you should actually use their lingo instead of manipulating it and somehow trying to show you're better than the people you're writing on...
Hello from England. I haven't slept yet and I have no idea what's going on with this university. I live in the quad and there's no ethernet. I'll keep you posted.

02 October 2002

Haven't bought the new Beck yet, but I probably will; Dale loves it, and the song "Beautiful Way" from Midnite Vultures has been living on my iPod just about nonstop for the past month or so.

Incidentally, my most recent CD purchases include: The Beach Boys, Pet Sounds, which is as amazing as its reputation suggests; The Royal Tenenbaums soundtrack, for that wonderful Mutato Muzika Orchestra cover of "Hey Jude"; Jeff Buckley, Grace; Closer to Heaven, the new musical by the Pet Shop Boys; and finally, by far the best album I've heard all year, I kid you not: The Eminem Show. I know I'm a bit late on this particular bandwagon, but trust me: this is one hell of an album, confessional, angry, dense, inventive, funny, finally awe-inspiring. Do these suburban kids even know what they're buying here?

01 October 2002

After reading about the blonds (follow the last link) we started talking here about redheads and how rare they are. Lionel claimed that all redheads have some Irish or Jewish roots. I doubted this, and so we tried to see if google would answer our question. Our first attempt was "red hair" ethnicity. I suppose i shouldn't have been shocked that it returned mostly personals and free sex webcams. On the other hand after a bit more poking we did discover a website dedicated to the mysterious RHCP or Red Hair Cluster Phenomenon.
Memes win.
Alec, have you by any chance bought the new Beck album? Heard anything about it? The descriptions make me think i might want to get it, since his mustic is on my "things i don't like but should"-list.
If there's one thing that drives me crazy its the replacement of "apologies" with "statements of regrets." Salon's article about Leni Riefenstahl discusses a recent controversy in which she claimed not to know that the extras for one of her films had come from a concentration camp. The article says,
Riefenstahl issued a statement through Kettner that her remarks were a "misunderstanding" and that she "regretted" the persecution of Gypsies.

Good grief, if you need to make a statement to prove that you "regret" that tens of thousands of people were murdered, then there's something wrong with you. Why is no one willing to take responsibility? Of course you "regret" that something bad happened, or at least that you got caught. Apologizing is about standing up and taking some responsibility. Its enough to drive me crazy.

"i regret the unhappy circumstances of the last seven days..."
"unhappy circumstances? you padlocked our doors!"
You've gotta love tuesdays on the internet. A new onion, a new installment of the only interesting part of the berkeley student newspaper, sex on tuesday, and Tuesday Morning Quarterback, the best column this side of Dahlia Lithwick's Supreme Court Dispatches.