Friday, July 29, 2005
I was just looking at a list of appealing offal in a taqueria yesterday -- beef intestines, brains, and other unusual parts -- and wondering about this. First, there's an empirical question to ask about the economics of the meat-packing industry. In the terms of my distinctions, does factory-farmed offal count as Fallen because it exerts no economic demand that can cause additional cow misery? I can see how this would be the case -- if 10% of the factory-farmed cow intestines in the world are eaten, and that number doubles to 20%, no more cows need be slaughtered to decrease the demand. So "Fallen parts" of factory farmed animals still would be fair game.
Thursday, July 28, 2005
I was wandering around the banks of the Charles River when I saw a man playing with his dog. He'd throw a ball, and the plump red dog would amble over to it, fetch it, and return it to him. At one point, a mother duck and her ducklings passed by on the river.
The man threw the ball into the river near them, and the dog jumped into the water to retrieve it. "Quack! Quack! Quack!" said the mother duck, and she continued in a forceful rhythm. The dog simply picked up the ball and took it back to the man, taking no interest in the mother duck or her progeny, and the duck stopped quacking as the dog went away.
Then the man threw the ball towards the mother duck again. The dog approached, the duck quacked at him, the dog dutifully fetched the ball, and the mother duck quieted down as the dog left. And again, the man threw the ball at the mother duck, and the scene repeated itself.
What struck me about the whole scene was the general reasonableness of the nonhuman animals -- the mother duck in protecting her offspring, and especially the dog in peacefully retrieving the ball -- compared with the wanton behavior of the human. Looking back, I feel that this whole scene must be an excellent metaphor for something fairly complicated, but I don't know what that something is.
Monday, July 25, 2005
“He’s Paul Hackett,” the local Democrats tell the crowd. “He’s just back from Iraq and he’s running for Congress.”
...On economic issues, Hackett is solidly progressive. The corporate-friendly bankruptcy bill, which passed the House with a fair number of Democratic votes, Hackett calls “garbage.” And he’s appalled that Democrats have let the GOP define the debate on the “death tax.” “We should call it the ‘anti-aristocracy tax,’” he insists.
On questions of values, Hackett’s libertarian tendencies take over. “When I elect someone to go to Washington, D.C.,” he says, “I don’t elect a spiritual leader. I get that from my minister on Sundays when I go to church. Congress isn’t invited into my personal life; they’re not invited into the decisions my wife makes with her doctor any more than they’re invited in to check out what guns I’ve got in my gun cabinet.”
Tasty! Hackett deftly positions himself as a multiple-gun-owning, churchgoing family man, and uses that as the background to express support for abortion rights and separation of church and state. If there's any way to win support from the people who vote against us on cultural identification, this looks like it. And can you imagine how awesome it'd be for Democrats to have the first Iraq War veteran in Congress? Paul Hackett would be uniquely positioned to express our views on national security issues.
Of course, this is a very hard district for Democrats. It's a district that Bush won 2-1 in the fall, so most likely the Republicans will still win the August 2 special election. But even if we don't win, we get a charismatic war veteran expressing the Democratic message in Ohio. So I am giving Paul Hackett money. Feel free to chip in if you like the guy too.
Sunday, July 24, 2005
Today's song is "Black Cab", by Jens Lekman. I like how it expresses the feeling of being tired and drunk, but unsatisfied with the progress of the night. You're sleepy enough to go home, but something else -- anything -- needs to happen so the story won't end there.
and I've heard all the stories
'bout the black cabs and the way they drive
but if you take a ride with them
you may not come back alive
they might be psycho killers
but tonight I really don't care
so I say turn up the music
take me home or take me anywhere
The melody is hard to express in blog format, so I won't try. I will, however, post the opening lyrics to Lekman's "You are the light (by which I travel into this and that)":
Yeah I got busted
So I used my one phone call
A song to you on the radio
Saturday, July 23, 2005
The total cost of malpractice is thus 6.5 billion -- 0.46% of health care costs, or less than one half of one percent. They're just not a significant factor in rising health prices
Ezra's guestblogger Nick Beaudrot has more on the issue.
I can see two motivations for insurance companies' attacks on public protection lawyers. First, there's the obvious fact that while lawsuits may not significantly raise health care costs, they're a cost that insurance companies have to deal with, and which they want to reduce as much as possible.
This probably isn't the biggest way that attacking trial lawyers helps the insurance industry, though. Many good proposals for health care reform would hit the insurance industry very hard. Unlike malpractice lawsuits, the huge load of redundant bureaucracy imposed by private insurers really is one of the major factors in driving up health care costs today. If people paid attention to what insurance corporations have done, there would be a lot more support for changes in the health care system that could really hurt the insurers. By framing the lawyers for their own misdeeds, the insurers deflect attention from the real problem.
Friday, July 22, 2005
Saccoccia and his wife Donna were eventually convicted of laundering more than a hundred million dollars for various Colombian drug kingpins. Stephen is currently serving a 660 year sentence. Their racket was laundering drug money through companies which traded in precious metals.
Saccoccia was convicted in 1993. And Luskin took up his case on appeal.
Eventually the Feds got the idea that the money Saccoccia had paid Luskin and his other attorneys for their services was itself part of the $137 million in drug money he was ordered to forfeit. Now, on the face of it this seems a bit unfair since under our system everyone is entitled to good representation and how was Luskin to know it was tainted money.
Well, the prosecutors thought he should have gotten some inkling when Saccoccia started paying Luskin's attorney's fees in gold bars.
Yep, you heard that right. Luskin got paid more than $500,000 of his attorney's fees in gold bars from his client who was trying to appeal his conviction on charges that he laundered drug money through precious metals dealers. Who woulda thought that was drug money?
Via Josh Marshall.
Thursday, July 21, 2005
I don't know what to say when asked about the John Roberts Supreme Court nomination. What should I say?
--Senator from somewhere (D-somewhere)
It's kind of hard to say, since we really don't know what to make of John Roberts. Under these circumstances, the best thing to do is probably to make it clear that we don't know what to make of John Roberts. You could say something like this:
"John Roberts has only spent two years as a judge. Before that, he was a lawyer for Republican administrations, special interest groups, and partisan causes. There's no doubt that he's a smart guy. But given that his actual views are a total mystery at this point, there's no telling whether he'd be a good Supreme Court justice. We'll hope to find that out in the hearings. It's possible that he'll be an excellent judge, so it's possible that I'll vote for him. But if he doesn't answer questions honestly, or if we find that he has a bunch of extreme views, I and other Democrats are going to do whatever we can to stop him."
Now, back to the Karl Rove scandal.
Wednesday, July 20, 2005
*note* - this post originally identified Jonathan Ichikawa as the Kantian extremist, despite the fact that I hadn't seen evidence of such views from him before. Goes to show you how bad I am at determining whether a particular nominee is actually worth a filibuster.
Tuesday, July 19, 2005
Update: So, I slapped a post up pretty early on. But who actually said useful things? At this point, not many people.
Ed Kilgore says that things may not be as bad as they seem.
Ezra Klein has a bunch of links to older articles that give you a sense of who Roberts is.
The Alliance for Justice has a fairly long list of Roberts' right-wing arguments and decisions.
If the pick is Edith Clement, and if Marshall is right that Clement sees Roe as "settled law", the theocrats will have been gypped again.
But if the pick is someone more conservative, Bush will have positioned his nominee outside the mainstream by dangling a more moderate option and yanking it away. That was probably not a good idea.
In three hours, this message will self-destruct.
"The vast majority of them had nothing to do with Al Qaeda before Sept. 11th and have nothing to do with Al Qaeda today," said Reuven Paz, author of the Israeli study. "I am not sure the American public is really aware of the enormous influence of the war in Iraq, not just on Islamists but the entire Arab world."
Case studies of foreign fighters indicated they considered the Iraq war an attack on the Muslim religion and Arab culture, Paz said.
For example, while the unprovoked attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, were largely condemned by clerics as violations of Muslim law, many religious leaders in Saudi Arabia and other Arab nations have promulgated fatwas, or religious edicts, saying that waging jihad in Iraq is justified by the Koran because it is defensive in nature. Last October, 26 clerics in Saudi Arabia said it was the duty of every Muslim to go and fight in Iraq.
"These are people who did not get training in Pakistan or Chechnya, [and they] ended up going to Iraq because they considered defending Iraq a must for every Muslim to go and fight," said Rita Katz, director of the Search for International Terrorist Entities Institute in Washington and an Iraq native.
The studies also explained something I'd been wondering about for a while. Why do foreign fighters commit so many terrorist acts to undermine the new Iraqi government, like blowing up police stations? One part of the explanation, at least, is the Sunni-Shiite divide. Seeing the new Iraqi government as a Shiite government allows Sunnis from other parts of the world to feel no compunction about undermining it.
Sunday, July 17, 2005
Saturday, July 16, 2005
Update: Actually, it's only appearing in address bars as far as I can tell. I guess that's okay.
When people are presented with the opportunity to enter the Experience Machine, they often don't, because they don't desire the experiences it offers with any great intensity. Their most intense desire is, perhaps, to write a great novel. This is different from a desire to have the experience of writing a great novel, or to have the pleasure of writing a great novel. The Experience Machine offers the second and third, but not the first. While pleasure shows up whenever our desires achieve satisfaction, this isn't because pleasure is the object of desire. The objects of our desires are many and varied. It's just a fact about desiring that when you attain the object of your desire, you feel some pleasure, but this is different from pleasure being the object of desire. What it's rational to do, on my view, is what maximizes expected desire-satisfaction. Since people don't desire what the Experience Machine offers, it's rational for them to not plug in to it. (It's possible to read Battlepanda's dialogue as making this point, but I doubt that's how she intended it.)
Well-being, or what's good for someone, is different from what it's rational for them to pursue. While expected desire-satisfaction is at the core of my views about rationality, I think pleasure is the currency of well-being. Suppose you met a person who felt intensely guilty about what he'd done in the past, and wanted to kill himself in some painful way as a punishment. Assuming that this was his most powerful desire, and that the sum of his other desires didn't go against it, it'd be rational for him to buy implements of torture for use against himself. But if you wanted to do what was good for him, you might kidnap him on the way to the torture store and inject him full of a euphoria-inducing drug that would also eliminate the memory of his past bad deeds.
When designing public policy, our goal isn't to give people what it'd be rational for them to pursue. It's to set things up in the way that maximizes overall well-being. (Of course, keeping in mind that a pretty large amount of freedom is useful in generating well-being.)
Friday, July 15, 2005
Prado Optimality: People pushing Ed Prado for the Supreme Court have the right idea.
Dilemma of the Nice Guy: I explain why nice guys can't get laid, ask for feminist advice on how to behave appropriately, and get 70+ comments!
Who is Alberto Gonzales?: What will he do when he has no Bush to shill for? Nobody knows.
Wheel of Regime Change: There are big problems that can occur when you go around invading countries.
Lambert!: I make more people aware of the awesomeness of our favorite Aussie computer scientist.
Pronunciation: How do you pronounce "Iraq"? And what explains the changes in pronunciation over the years?
Good Work Harry: A smart move by the Senate Democrats.
Returning Islam to Greatness: Viewing our relations with Islam as a war between civilizations only helps Osama. There's a better way.
Monday, July 11, 2005
Big thanks to brother Robin and sister Supriya for blogging in my absence.
Sunday, July 10, 2005
Friday, July 08, 2005
Lately I’ve been entertaining the notion that I could design and make my own shirts. I know this is the youthful optimism talking, and I’ll probably end up phoning Neighborhoodies at , covered in melted bits of iron-on transfer sheet, begging them to do it for me. OH WELL. I know this is the youthful pigheadedness speaking now, but I’m going to try this, looming life lesson or no. I will have something cheap and somewhat hip to wear to concerts, dammit!
I saw the following (graphic-less) slogan on some overpriced hipster clothing website, and I finally got around to dressing it up a bit. If all goes as planned, I will be at Philly’s next good indie rock show with this on my chest:
And for my big fuzzy brother:
Tuesday, July 05, 2005
Today I am attempting to do my sacred Asian duty of starting the college application process ahead of time. I thought I’d get UChicago’s uncommon application out of the way first, since it’s probably going to be the most agonizing and time-consuming. Here’s the essay, if you don’t believe me: “Write an essay somehow inspired by super-huge mustard.” Now, normally, I fancy myself to be a creative sort, but I’m having no shortage of trouble with this particular prompt. After throwing out clichés like “make sandwiches for the homeless” and “sell it on eBay", I got nothin’. The problem is, I don’t know what I, personally, would do with a sizable amount of spicy spread. So for brainstorming purposes, and because I really like making lists, I’m trying to approach this as if I’ve already declared my major and am writing my essay based on that. So without further ado, I give you some condiment for thought:
Journalism – Do a human interest story on the mustard doing something like blocking traffic, or rescuing a cat from a tree. Snap pictures for The Sun, maybe end up in the “strange stories” section of a stuffier, more respectable news source.
Education – Have student teachers practice their lesson plans in front of mustard, since most inanimate objects probably have larger attention spans than the average high schooler. Also, you have to be a little insane to want to be a teacher, and talking to mustard would probably get you there.
Advertising – Go a couple miles off an exit ramp, unload the mustard, put some velvet ropes around it, and stick about a million billboards on the interstate promoting your new tourist trap. Don’t forget the “My ex-wife saw The Mustard and all I got was this shirt” shirts.
Pre-med – Make some kind of balm.
International Relations – Make some kind of bomb.
Religious Studies – Look to the scriptures. If there’s a parable on the seed, there must be one on the bottle too. Right?
Visual Arts – Photoshop it to create amusing pictures, a la Fafblog.
Ok, this list was supposed to be a lot longer, but I’ve been at it for a few hours and this is all I can come up with. ARGH. As always, audience participation is greatly appreciated.
Monday, July 04, 2005
My good friend James just moved to the middle of nowhere last month. Nobody there knows him except the people at Dairy Queen. So I’m attempting to throw together some kind of a care package for him, which has been interesting because, as the title of this post suggests, he puts the “ervative” in strict Christian conservative. I just finished candying some endangered species, and the fabric paint on the “Everyone loves an Aryan boy!” t-shirt I made him is still drying. So I figure this is a good time to crash in front of the computer and put together the king of adolescent gift items: the mix tape. Most of the mixes I’ve made before could have been titled “The best of ‘80s post-punk accessible enough for kids who like Good Charlotte”. Unfortunately, even the most dilute punk formula may not fly this time. Still, I gotta be me. So I’m trying to come up with songs that will expand James’ horizons a little to the left, without finding myself in Gitmo tomorrow morning. Here goes: Sonic Youth – “Chapel Hill” Consonant – “That Boston Life” Public Enemy – “911 is a joke” The Kinks – “Lola” Modest Mouse – “Ocean Breathes Salty” Fiery Furnaces – “Blueberry Boat” Pavement – “We Dance” They Might Be Giants – “Your Racist Friend” Ben Folds – “Rockin’ the Suburbs” Feel free to make song suggestions, left-leaning or otherwise. Unless you answer to the name “Borda” or “Chorda”, in which case you should be calling home to wish Mom and Dad a happy anniversary >:o(
I should probably call this song “Greensboro” in the liners just so he won’t immediately push skip when the track comes up. Only after at least 20 listens, or over an hour and a half of spastic dancing, did lyrics like “Ameri-k-k-kan” and “Jesse H. come into our pit, all ages show” sink in for me. Here’s hoping James is as slow as I am.
This is just a nice song. Regular doses might get him to stop pointing his rifle at anyone who mentions Massachusetts.
Believe it or not, James actually enjoys rap. Poetic devices in action, he calls it. He also wants to be a doctor, so Flavor Flav explaining the inequality and discrimination in health seems appropriate.
James’ attitude toward gays is also surprising—he hates them, sure, but no more than he hates straight people. We all give in to temptation, he says, so we’re all equally damned. Oh well. Maybe cute, low-talking Lola can get us all back in his plus column.
“Good luck, for your sake, I hope heaven and hell are really there, but I wouldn’t hold my breath.” This verse sums up the guns I stuck to in a 6-hour theological debate we once had, in which our heroine narrowly escaped conversion.
I’m hoping the cheerful synth-pop and pleasant female vocalist reel him in before he realizes that said female is captain of the ship.
This one is just because James refuses to say the word “castration” in front of anyone without a Y chromosome. Someday, I intend to catch him singing this in the car. Muhahahaha.
I’m pretty sure he won’t become one, but a pre-emptive song can’t hurt.
Origin of the infamous line, “Let me tell y’all what it’s like, being male, middle class, and white.” It doesn’t really fit the theme, but it’s the last song, so I’ll give him a break.
Sonic Youth – “Chapel Hill”
Consonant – “That Boston Life”
Public Enemy – “911 is a joke”
The Kinks – “Lola”
Modest Mouse – “Ocean Breathes Salty”
Fiery Furnaces – “Blueberry Boat”
Pavement – “We Dance”
They Might Be Giants – “Your Racist Friend”
Ben Folds – “Rockin’ the Suburbs”
Feel free to make song suggestions, left-leaning or otherwise. Unless you answer to the name “Borda” or “Chorda”, in which case you should be calling home to wish Mom and Dad a happy anniversary >:o(
Sunday, July 03, 2005
I’m attached to the 1 or 2 blog’s structure. Though the comments pages have elaborated on the ratings and discussed 1 or 2 a few times, the front pages are clean and skeletal. So I’m more comfortable editorializing on 1 or 2 here, where it is less relevant.
The 1 or 2 system originated as a fast way to get someone’s opinion on a difficult subject. Movies and people were commonly 1 or 2ed. It was and is most useful, I think, when asking someone their opinion of a mutual acquaintance. Giving someone a 1 might be harsh, but then, if the evaluator’s opinion of the person isn’t glowing, it’s hard for him to give a 2, too. If you just asked for an open-ended opinion, you would too often hear “he’s interesting, I guess” or “she’s nice.” Similarly, a request for a rating on the 10-point scale would often get you a 5. Though 1 or 2 is, due to the huge ground each rating covers, inherently vague and crude, it can provide a richer assessment than an open-ended or finer-scaled answer.
Before long, other, sillier binary systems developed around 1 or 2. We could ask whether someone or something was a lover or fighter, a man’s man or ladies’ man, or, my favorite, a steer or a queer. My friend Chase (right) would reinvent the quintessential public policy approach of “carrot or stick” as a binary system, posing questions like “You’re hungry. Carrot or stick?” or “You’re trying to start a fire. Carrot or stick?” or “Your pen pal is in the hospital. Carrot or stick?” and so on.
I’m not sure that 1 or 2 has the same entertainment value online as it has in real life. On a blog, the most exciting entries tend to be the controversial ones, those likely falling between the 40th and 60th percentiles. When people are hanging out and merrily 1 or 2ing the night away (we don’t do this anymore, but we used to), those close ones are tense and exciting, but the most fun ones are the most obvious ones: those that would get a 1 or 10 on a 10-point scale, but with 1 or 2, just get a loud or enunciated 1 or 2 to emphasize their deficit or abundance of merit.
So 1 or 2 the blog might be near or at its end. It might be more sustainable if tied to my personal goings-on, as I tried on March 18, but then I’ve always tried to keep it random. It may have simply run its course. C’est la blogs.
Saturday, July 02, 2005
I went to Live 8 in Philly today, so I had planned to spare you my writing and just upload a bunch of pictures for this post. Unfortunately, even though I got there two hours early and was standing 100 feet in front of the stage, the only thing I had a clear view of was the balloon over the
The coolest thing about the whole day was walking to and from the show without having to worry about traffic. The entire
The top of the
From Live 8 I received a few bits of wisdom, in addition to leg cramps and secondhand smoke. Here’s what I learned: (1) Absolutely nothing about the African debt crisis. (2) Everyone loves Jon Bon Jovi. Although the twentysomething-year old guys screaming his name 45 minutes after his set ended were probably mocking him. (3) Everyone in
After about three and a half hours of 15-minute sets and 15-minute breaks between sets, my friend Alice’s headache served as a good official reason to get out of there. Boredom and standing up for a total of five and a half hours were the real reasons. But eh, it builds character son. We feasted on a lunch of small slushies and visited the
Tim is partial to Def Leppard and Jars of Clay, so we left after their sets. It wasn’t worth it to barely hear a bunch of mediocre artists play three hit songs, or maybe two hits and one obscure song if they really wished to rock dangerously. We passed trash heaps, busted hydrants, and 400 Port-a-Potties on the way back to Suburban Station, and managed to get there an hour and a half before the concert’s official end time. Still, the crowd was enormous. Each arriving train got more applause than Toby Keith had earlier in the afternoon. After a few rousing chants of “E-A-G-L-E-S EAGLES!” and “Let’s go SEPTA! (clap, clap, clapclapclap)” we somehow got on the right train, and home in one piece. Well, three pieces total. But you know, one piece for each of us.
So, I apologize, but I can’t really think of a simple, suitable answer to the question “How was Live 8?” I’ll let you know after I watch the MTV reruns.
Friday, July 01, 2005
I can’t promise you’ll like my writing, since it lacks all the qualities you’ve come to expect from this blog. I can assure you, however, that although I am a 16 year-old girl in brain and body, I will do my best not to post like one. Having observed the things some of my otherwise sane friends have coughed up in “El-jay”-form, I give you my solemn promise to refrain from posting any hazardous adolescent material, including, but not limited to the following:
-intentionally incorrect spelling or grammar
-the following abbreviations: jk, ttyl, omg, lol, rofl, roflwtime, roflwtixzcviq (one of those is made-up)
-the words “nobody understands me”
-AIM conversations/away messages
-provocative rants that I don’t really believe in to start flame wars for my own amusement
-quiz results from COSMOgirl.com
-shout-outs to my peeps, bitches, homeys, hos, playas, pimps, gangstas, pranksters, skanksters, etc.
-cryptic one-sentence posts
-pictures of my feet
-pictures of my shadow
-pictures of other people taking pictures
-any of my poetry
-anything resembling poetry
I think that about covers it. Now I’d better get to work uploading a