Thursday, September 30, 2010

Q and A

That's Q and A, mind you, not T and A. (Sorry to get your hopes up, dudes (and open-minded ladies).)

Purple Cow's recent post has eight questions I have to answer. It's like a homework assignment, but without the math.

  1. Why do you blog? Have the reasons changed as you've been doing it?
  2. I've written before about how I ended up with a blog by accident. I had to decide whether or not to use it. At the time (early 2006), I was a full-time employee with stalled education plans. I had written a novel and was stalled in the middle of a second. I thought having a blog would force me to write at least a little something somewhat regularly, so I started using it.

    I only had two readers (my wife and her best friend, Angela). I posted a few times a month for four or five months, and then took three months off. That was when it would have naturally died, but my job had become infuriating and my blog became a place to legally release my frustrations.

    Now I use my blog as a place to flesh out column ideas, and I harbor irrational dreams that it will turn out to be the cyber equivalent of Lana Turner's drug store.

  3. Why do they ask "What animal are you most like?" at job interviews? And what could they possibly learn about the person being interviewed when they ask this question? (Also feel free to share any other stupid questions you've been asked at job interviews).
  4. I say it's because most interviewers are idiots. How do I know this? Because most interviewers are bosses. Review your work history. You know what I'm implying is true.

    A vacancy comes up and suddenly a paper-pusher wants to be a psychologist. "I'm going to find out something about their psyche not even they know!" he says to himself. What he's really revealing is his own asshattery.

    I've written before about the feces question I was asked on a job interview (also on another Purple Cow assignment, actually). That one was pretty weird. The question that bugs me the most is "Where do you see yourself in five years?" That's just dumb. I can show no ambition by saying, "In the position I hope you'll give me," I can show arrogance by saying, "In your job," or I can show a lack of commitment by saying, "Not with this train wreck, I'll tell you THAT much!" The fact is, five years isn't what it used to be. In five years I will have run my course with the company and the hiring manager asking the question will be three-years' departed, anyway.

  5. If you were to arrange a rendezvous with your 18-year-old self what would you say to yourself? How much would you have in common? Would you accuse yourself of something?
  6. "Keep it zipped up." And then 18-year-old me would say, "Whatever, old man." And life will have played its way out exactly as it has.

  7. Imagine me? What do I look like?
  8. I should recuse myself for this one, since I know your real name and have looked you up on Facebook. You told me I could befriend you there, but I thought, "She probably doesn't really mean it," and I haven't done it yet. But I'll say this: you didn't look like I imagined. I imagined more "Australian" and less "in Athens," you know what I mean? At the time I didn't know you were of Greek heritage; I thought you were a regular my-ancestors-are-criminals Australian who ended up in Greece.

  9. Have you ever surprised yourself with your own wickedness?
  10. When I finally get to the point where I say, "Ah, screw it," I can do some crazy stuff. I know this, so it's not really a surprise, other than the fact that point sneaks up on me. I do something totally ill-advised and I say, "Huh, I guess I'm being destructive now. Who knew?"

  11. What makes you special and different from this blob called humanity?
  12. Not much. There's always somebody who can do everything I can do, and better. But I'm probably a unique combination of all my skills and traits, and my family likes me better than they'd like a replacement me that can do all the same stuff.

  13. Do you ever wonder if you are wrong about everything you currently believe and hold to be true? And if it turns out that none of it is as it seems would you wish to be told the TRUTH a minute before you die or die not knowing at all?
  14. I'm certain of my religious convictions. I'm nearly certain of my political first principles, but I am just guessing as to their policy implications. I could be completely wrong about what laws or proposals I think are correct, if I'm misreading the first principles. I don't think I am, but then my views are not identical to those I held five years ago, which is evidence that me now thinks me then was misreading the implications. If I could do it then, I could be doing it now.

  15. So how come it's 8 questions? Why not 5, 7 or 10? Why 8? Do you want more or do you wish you'd had less?
  16. Eight questions sets the list apart, makes it more memorable and less daunting than a 10-question list.


I'll come up with my eight questions to ask all of YOU over the next couple days.

What Congress Does When It's At Work

The recess couldn't come fast enough, if you ask me. In the last day before calling it quits for the election, The House passed a bill to raise the price of Chinese goods by 67%, and the Senate passed a bill to regulate the volume of television commercials.

Meanwhile, members of the chattering class are in a tizzy over the prospect of a government shutdown. Would that really be a bad thing?

Lyric Interpretation

Today's ambiguous lyric comes from The Killers' song "Daddy's Eyes":

There's something I wanted to say
I love her too
And all of this has got nothing to do with you

So is the narrator saying to a man, "I am an additional person who loves that woman," or is he saying to a woman, "I love you and an additional woman"?

If it helps you out, the next two lines are, "I'd like to stay but I can't because / I've been foolin' around".

News In Review

Three different news stories caught my eye this evening. Here they are in smörgåsbord fashion.

LeBron James says race played role in backlash to his decision. I thought we were past this. I thought all the news commentators said the Obama presidency was ushering in a new post-racial era. Unless being black somehow made him a prick (which some British teens might argue), James is completely wrong. After all, he's just as black as he was when he was one of sport's most celebrated players. Now he's among its most vilified, and his race is the same as it was. Typically causal effects don't come from an unchanged variable. Keep looking, LeBron, and maybe you'll find what people dislike about you now.

Oh, and by the way: saying it was worth pissing people off because you raised money for charity, when you could have just not pissed people off and given that amount of money yourself, is stupid. And that has nothing to do with your race.

India will use monkey security force for Commonwealth Games. I was hoping the monkeys would be used to control people, like in Planet of the Apes. Instead, they're going to be used to control wild animals, like in, well, India. But still, this could be the first step towards a Dr. Zaius-type monkey. Someday. [wistful sigh].

Finally, New York school forced to be road warriors by 80-yard field. Building an 80-yard football field might seem pretty stupid, but I am willing to grant there could be legitimate reasons. Maybe the land wasn't available for an entire field, and at least an 80-yard field allows the team to practice at school, even if they can't play their games there. But what is inexcusable (stage cough, public schools, stage cough) is spending nearly $3 mil. revamping the field without fixing the problem, especially when the revamping will include a SCOREBOARD. No game can ever be played on the field, so no score will ever need to be kept. Additionally, instead of pausing the renovation while they try to buy surrounding land, the school is having to rush with the purchases before work begins in November. Because if there's one thing we learned from TARP, Stimulus I, and Stimulus II: The Wrath of Stimulus, it's that nothing gets finer results than a government agency spending money in a hurry.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Celebrate Good Times (In a Trainer's Room)

I only personally, actually know one professional athlete (and even at that, I don't "know" him like I can call him up and start talking without a very long introduction that would have to somewhere answer the question, "How did you get this number?"), so all my opinions about athletes are a result of their artificially-crafted public image. Even so, though, I admire Texas Rangers player Josh Hamilton.

Hamilton, a recovering substance addict, avoided the locker room celebration when the Rangers clinched the AL West because a staple of baseball locker room celebrations is squirting champaign on everything.

Maybe I'm just hyper-sensitive to the needs of the teetotaler, being one myself, but how selfish are the other Texas Rangers that they can't possibly alter the celebration to accommodate a teammate? It's not like this is a part of the game invented by Abner Doubleday himself; it has only been since I became an adult that the winning locker room gets covered in plastic sheeting like the front two rows at a Gallagher show. Because that's exactly what the incredibly rich need to show their connection to the common man: wasting thousands of dollars of alcohol.

Actually, I'm not enough of an alcohol connoisseur, and the resolution of my TV is not high enough, to allow me to tell if they are using Grey Goose or Night Train, but I'd suspect it's not Night Train.

In addition, Hamilton isn't the only recovering addict in the Rangers clubhouse. But it seems as if the majority of Texas Rangers can't even contemplate how they would celebrate if it didn't involve alcohol. That's more a condemnation of their immaturity than a testimonial of alcohol's celebratory properties.

Baseball has a grown-up problem. It's the only one of the major sports that ends with a team congratulating themselves, not the opposition. Its celebrations are wasteful and as mature as a food fight. Assuming the Rangers can win a playoff series (something they alone among baseball franchises have never done), they should opt for a drug-free locker room celebration.

Partay!

This article makes me wish I could go back in time, to my own beer-fueled three-year-old birthday party cum brawl.

Passing thoughts:

  • Jennifer Baker will never write a better opening line in her career than, "A large, beer-soaked melee broke out at a toddler’s birthday party early Tuesday." She should just retire right now, and make sure her will includes instructions to carve the line on her tombstone.
  • Police from several agencies were required. Those Ohio toddlers know how to party RIGHT!
  • Everybody involved in this story got to say or write the craziest thing of their lives. Elmwood Place Police Chief William Peskin got to describe a child's birthday party by saying, "It was an unbelievable scene, the amount of blood and broken glass.”
  • Okay, now with deeper analysis than just noting the awesomeness. What kid birthday party is still going at 1 AM? A sleepover, you say? But this wasn't a sleepover at a house, this was a rented hall.
  • Which begs the question, Who rents a hall for a three-year-old party?
  • Maybe the party started out for kids, but took on a life of its own after the kids were asleep. I was invited to a Halloween party in 1st grade with "BYOB" on the invitation. Sadly, my parents didn't let me attend, but the point is, in these crazy recessionary times, families economize, and I could see parents saying, "Well, we've already rented the hall. Let's put the kids in bed and have some friends over."
  • Except there were still 30 kids there to witness the melee at 1 AM. So that's not what happened.
  • Aside: this was a Monday night party, during the school year. Just sayin'.
  • The proximate cause of the fight: a dispute between a woman's boyfriend and ex-husband. Those are always fun to watch. I can't believe they had so many people there fighting and there's no footage on YouTube.
  • "Countless beer bottles" are an indication that the party was truly age-appropriate.
  • One guy is getting checked out for possible brain damage. It's unclear if they are checking for brain damage that was caused by the brawl, or if they were using the brawl as an excuse to check a previously-brain-damaged guy.
  • More arrests are expected. The full scope of this party's awesomeness might not be known for some time.
  • Summoning a Spanish-speaking police officer from Wyoming is funnier if you don't know there's a Wyoming, OH.

When I showed this article to Super-Hot 111, she said, "They're not getting their deposit back."

Whatchu Talkin' 'Bout?


Is this the truck entrance, or are trucks not allowed?

Economists Being Hilarious

How's this for phoning it in at one in the morning? I'm just going to pass along some of the funnier things I've written down from my professors over the past year. Of course, they may not want me attributing their quotes to them, so I'll just cite the class.

Microeconomics I

  • "Theory based on human stupidity is bad theory."
  • "He's dead now. I'm glad he's dead."
  • "Who cares about whales, anyway? I got through my day today without a whale."
  • "You might not know the answer, but as an economist you know that Congressman and his legislative aide is a jackass."
  • [explaining the substitute to Penicillin] "You just go to meet God earlier."
  • "The minister read to us St. Paul's letter to the Ephesians, I think 5th chapter and 20th verse. I loved it. 'A woman is unto her husband as her husband is unto Christ.' That's the ratio."
  • "We're either Constitutionally ignorant or have contempt for the Constitution. I think it's contempt."
  • "It won't go down the tubes while I'm still alive, and then plus, I have enough money to get out. Get out and start over someplace else, like maybe New Zealand."
  • "What have future generations ever done for me?"
  • "I think it's somewhere in the Bible, or maybe it's Plato."
  • "If you're still writing the exam at nine o'clock, you should be crying."

Microeconomics II

  • [explaining the rational expectations of remembering important stuff] "Did I forget to see Hot Tub Time Machine today? No, I didn't forget that."
  • [suggested response to drama-attracting friends] "Maybe you constantly court disaster with your improvident lifestyle."
  • "Live fast, die young, have no insurance."
  • [arguing against Prospect Theory] "If you're looking at this and you're thinking, 'This doesn't make sense at all,' you've come to the right place."
  • [labeling people who argue for better probability estimates for low-probability events] "Relaxation-mongers."
  • [introducing the theories of another economist] "If you don't know, he's my nemesis."
  • [explaining why no amount of money can get him to do one day in jail] "How do I know they won't kill me as soon as I'm there? Oh, that doesn't happen anymore. What about the other stuff? Well, the other stuff...."

Economic History

  • [citing experimental findings] "Babies are willing to pay 3%-interest per day. Children and kings are willing to pay extremely high interest rates."

Industrial Organization

  • "To be a macro consultant is not that lucrative. You're just a witch-doctor and everyone knows it."
  • "When you get non-profits, it's not quite clear what they maximize, especially universities. Do any of you know what [Graduate U.] maximizes? I don't, and I've been here a long time."
  • [explaining why antitrust penalties are ineffective] "For a decent-sized business, how big is $10 million? It's like nothing. It's like rounding error. I mean, not for a candy store, but for a regular business."
  • "What does Google charge you? Zero. They can't lower the price. They're not going to pay you to search. It would put a lot of people to work, but it won't happen. You could make them make their search results worse so people use Bing. Not even a bad regulator would try that."
  • "Whenever you hear 'synergy,' worry."
  • "Coke ads are the least informative ads you'll see. Maybe the people are good-looking, there's a song, there's a snowman or Santa Claus, there's some CGI."

Monetary Theory

  • [explaining the "invisible hand"] "It's not that there is a hand and you can't see it; that's conspiracy theory."
  • "If you have a chance, I recommend going to a country in the middle of a hyperinflation."
  • [explaining the advantages of selling off Fort Knox gold] "Rappers could be wearing 24-karat gold instead of 10-karat gold."
  • "Dead horses have a way of coming back to life if you don't keep beating them."

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Modern Youngsters

While in Harpers Ferry, I had two twenty-something girls ask me to take their picture (but they said "photo," like they were either incredibly old or foreign, yet they were neither; is "photo" making a comeback in hipster circles?). When they handed the camera to me I said, "This is the nicest camera I've ever stolen." Only one of them laughed (presumably not the camera owner).

Here's where the generational divide comes in: they back up to stand in front of John Brown's Fort, and when I raise the camera to my eye, they both do Charlie's Angels guns with their hands.

I'm a stranger. Shouldn't they be embarrassed of having me see them like this, let alone taking their picture of them doing it?

If you want to see the finished product, just look around on Facebook. I'm sure that's the inevitable destination of such a picture, not a college paper on abolitionism one of them is writing.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Wrong in So Many Ways

The latest thing that has clueless parents worked up: erectile dysfunction ads.

I was going to just refute the article's general premise, but seemingly every paragraph has a wrong statement.

Aubin Parrish cringes and then grabs for the remote every time an ad of that ilk pops onto the screen as she watches primetime TV with her kids. “The commercials give the impression that the only thing adults do is think about their sexual function,” says the mother of two from Cool, Calif. “And on some shows it seems like every other commercial break has an ED ad.”

She's watching primetime with her kids, so how vigilant about what her kids see can she really be? Additionally, she has no understanding of the nature of advertising. Ads aren't an indication of what adults think about, they indicate what products have elastic demands among the show's target audience. If Parrish wants her kids to stop seeing ED ads, she should stop letting them watch shows enjoyed by 50-year-old men.

“The underlying message in these [ED] ads is confusing to children and teenagers,” says Dr. Vic Strasburger, a professor of pediatrics at the University of New Mexico School of Medicine. “It seems like everybody is having sex and there’s no risk to it and that you should enhance it and be ready for it whenever possible. But then what do you do? There’s no talk about birth control.”

So now ads have to give an exhaustive listing of the ways people use the product? Van ads are going to have to show molesters and suicide bombers and homeless people living down by the river?

The people in the ads are shown to be in committed relationships. As such, they don't worry about STDs and might not actually mind pregnancy. What's "confusing" to children and teenagers is that they have never been told that unprotected sex is not always a bad thing. According to Strasburger, teenagers are left scratching their heads and wondering, "But aren't they worried about getting pregnant?" but he claims it's the ads, not the educators, who are failing the children.

There are plenty of studies showing that kids under 8 don’t really see a difference between the TV program and the ads.

I cannot believe this article is serious. At this point, I scrolled back up to the top to see if maybe it was from The Onion. Inexplicably, it's not. There are seriously "kids under 8" who are watching primetime TV, and the problem here isn't their worthless parents; it's the ED ads.

Enter the ED ads with their skewed view of adult sexuality.

No, no, a thousand times no! The ED ads show sex for what it actually is. It's educators and parents who present a skewed view of sexuality: you always want to make sure your germ-ridden partner is on the other side of some plastic, and you never want to have a baby. This is not true.

These ads suggest that if you aren’t having sex there is something wrong with you since you can call a doctor to write a prescription to fix it, [Douglas Gentile, an associate professor of psychology and director of the Media Research Lab at Iowa State University] says.

These ads aren't targeting kids. They aren't telling 14-year-olds "if you aren't having sex there is something wrong with you," as evidenced by the fact that no 14-year-old needs an ED pill. (If there was an anti-Viagra, then 14-year-olds would be paying attention. "You mean I don't have to have a dozen boners a day? I will see your ad in 'Better Homes and Gardens'!")

For the ads target demographic--middle-aged adults in committed relationships--there is something wrong with you if you aren't having sex.

What do these "concerned" parents think is the point of advertising? To scatter money to the wind? The drug companies spend a lot of time and money selecting the TV shows that reach their potential customers. Then parents let their kids watch inappropriate TV shows and obviously the problem is evil drug companies with their "skewed" view of human sexuality.

I defy these parents to demonstrate that the programs their children are watching present a less-skewed view of sexuality than the drug ads they're complaining about. I would rather my eight-year-old learn about sex from a Cialis ad than from "American Idol" or "Modern Family". At least I would have less wrong information to correct. Everything Cialis has to tell her is true, even if it is slightly beyond her maturity. But I can correct for that by not allowing my eight-year-old to watch primetime TV.

“National sex surveys show that whether we’re married or single, we’re not having sex all the time,” [Gentile] explains.

Yes, Dr. Gentile had to cite a national survey as evidence that you are not currently having intercourse. I don't know about you, but having that evidence to back up my intuition is a load off my mind.

“But these ads make us think we should be. The whole point of most ads is to make us feel inadequate. Without that as a motivation why would we buy something?”

Just like how McDonald's ads make us think we should be constantly eating. Yes, the point of advertising is to make you feel inadequate without their product. Adults are supposed to know how to disregard that tactic, and they're supposed to be teaching that to their children. You don't have to obey every ad you see, and that doesn't make you inadequate. The worst part of kids seeing these ads isn't that kids might learn the real reason to have sex, it's that we're seeing just how bad their parents are. And unfortunately, there's no pill kids can take for that.

Sociability

Since moving to Virginia 14 months ago (I find I'm counting my way through it like how I imagine I'd manage a prison sentence), I've complained quite a bit about socializing issues. Suddenly I can't make friends at school, at church, anywhere. I know me, and I've made friends fairly easily in every other stage of my life, so I'm given to blame the Virginians.

However, I'm willing to concede I'm not quite Dale Carnegie: I have a long-held dream to hike the Appalachian Trail. That's not really a pursuit for Miss Congeniality winners.

Of course, I'm married and have kids. I don't think I should have life goals that require me to abandon my family for six months. I tell them regularly, in the words of Homer Simpson, "I've really come to like you guys."

That means I have to convince them to go with me. Super-Hot 111 likes the idea of driving a support RV. I bet I could get Articulate Joe (age: 6.5) to go with me (since he's now wrapped up in my summiting every state's high point). But Crazy Jane (age: 8) is adamant she will never, not once, not ever, set foot on the Appalachian Trail.

This past weekend we went to Harpers Ferry, West Virginia, because that's where all the cool kids are going these days, isn't it? On the way, Crazy Jane and I had this conversation (or, if you're an office douche, "convo"):

A RANDOM STRANGER: The Appalachian Trail goes through Harpers Ferry, so we'll come through this town again when we hike the trail.
CRAZY JANE: I'm not hiking it.
ARS: Sure you are.
CJ: No, I'm not.
ARS: We're all going to do it.
CJ: I won't.
ARS: I'll just drive there one day without warning you that's where we're going.
CJ: I'll run away to my friend's house.
ARS: I'll pay that friend's parents to pretend they aren't home.
CJ: Then I'll go to a different friend's house.
ARS: I'll kill that friend's parents.
CJ: Then I'll go to a different friend's house.
ARS: I'll call the cops and tell them that friend's parents are drug dealers.
CJ: Then I'll go to a different friend's house.
ARS: I'll just tie you up and carry you in my backpack.

I never said I was a good father. But while in Harpers Ferry, I asked our kids if they wanted to walk across a bridge to Maryland. (My kids are suckers for walking across bridges to other states. That was what they loved most about Theodore Roosevelt Island.) They all readily agreed.

It wasn't until we were on the bridge that I announced they were hiking on the Appalachian Trail! Ha ha, fools!

It makes me feel like a big man to outsmart little kids. The sadness on their faces makes it all worthwhile.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Mr. Shoop, You're In This Class, Too?

Part of having a wife who thinks she's dying and no job to take me away from home means substitute teaching in our homeschool.

Yesterday our first-grader, Articulate Joe, was filling in blanks on a 1-100 worksheet. He sometimes gets messed up when he gets to a number that isn't blank; he'll write that number in the next blank, thus getting off by one. So it went yesterday, where he wrote "76" in the box for "77" and didn't discover his error until he got to a pre-supplied "84" that didn't jive with his calculations. He yelled to me in the other room, "This worksheet is wroten wrong!"

It's amazing to me how he responded to it. His gut instinct isn't, "I screwed up somewhere," it's, "These worksheet editors are morons!" I'm actually sort of proud of him for it; I don't want him growing up thinking just because some guy has access to a printer and a contract to sell his workbooks at a store, the guy's an infallible mathematician. And I'm not really surprised that he's learned this reaction, since he spends all day listening to my wife and I disagree with printed works all over the place.

Today for science we watched a bit of a video series called Rock 'N Learn. I paused it every few minutes to make sure they understood and to give them examples or thoughts to ponder. During the gravity segment, I asked them, "Suppose there was a way we could take large pieces of the earth out into space and get rid of them. What would you expect would start to happen?"

Articulate Joe said, "Everyone would die?" Crazy Jane said, "The ocean would cover everything up?" I said, "Well, both of those things are probably true, but I mean, what would happen to gravity?" Crazy Jane said, "We'd weight less and could float more!" Then they both said, "We should do that!" I said, "Well, you already acknowledged that it might kill us, so I don't think we should do it."

So they still need work on some things. Their simultaneous answer to the question, "How did astronauts move around on the moon?" was, "Moon buggy." But at least Articulate Joe has flattery down pat: he thinks a baseball could achieve escape velocity if it was thrown by me.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Prosperity: You're Creating It Wrong

Just in time for "Recovery Summer," the House Ways and Means Committee wants to raise the price of everything Americans buy from China (or, in other words, raise the price of everything).

Here's how it works: the yuan currently (I mean as of RIGHT NOW!) costs 15 cents. People in the know contend this price is too low; it should really cost us something like a quarter. So that 100-yuan piece of crap toy you bought your kid should cost $5, not $3. Nothing helps boost an economy like 67-percent-price-increases, right?

As an aside, the yuan is the unit of account of the renminbi, like the dollar is the unit of account of the Federal Reserve Note. Just so we're clear.

We can debate the reasons China has an official policy to give American consumers such a huge discount, but are we really in an economic position to shut it off right now? Maybe the idea is that, when Chinese stuff costs its "real" price, Americans will buy American again. Is that how we create prosperity, overpaying for everything? If so, why don't we all just add nine zeros on the end of every transaction? Ta-da, we're now all billionaires!

Imagine China undervalued its currency by even more--say, infinity percent. They are just giving yuan away for free like illegals distributing porno fliers on the Strip. This must be the worst possible thing for us, right? Free crap. Oh, the horror, the horror!

Spot the Omissions

I see two glaring omissions in this speech clip.

So let me close by saying this: long before America was even an ideal, this land of plenty was home to many peoples. The British and French to Dutch and Spanish, to Mexican [racist cheering], to countless Indian tribes. We all shared the same land. We didn't always get along, but over the centuries, what eventually bound us together, what made us all Americans, it wasn't a matter of blood, it wasn't a matter of birth, it was faith and fidelity in the shared values we all hold so dear. "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.... Endowed ... with certain inalienable rights,... life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness." That's what makes us unique. That's what makes us strong.

Why didn't he say "Africans" when listing the groups that made America? And why didn't he say "endowed by their Creator"? Any ideas?

Monday, September 20, 2010

Economics Simplified (Maybe A Little Too Much)

Lots of people have made a handsome living these past three years trying to explain what went wrong with the economy, but these folks went and gave us the answer for free: our money doesn't look cool enough.

"Our great 'rival', the Euro, looks so spanky in comparison it seems the only clear way to revive this global recession is to rebrand and redesign," the project notes on its website.
That's right: you're not spending money because it looks lame.

Of course, that means you're hoarding it, which would suggest you take pleasure from its current design. Maybe we need to make money UGLIER, by replacing all the presidents' pictures with photos of Jocelyn Wildenstein*.

I appreciate that lots of the proposals on the contest's website include replacing George Washington on the dollar bill with Barack Obama. I think there could be no greater commemoration of the coming inflation than placing his picture on the unit of account he will make obsolete. Sort of like the bit coin.


*: this lady's face is so frightening to me that I won't place her picture on my blog. You'll have to Google her yourself. Just don't come blaming me afterwards; you've been warned.

That's Some Fine Police Work There, Lou

Time was being in the FBI meant having to respond to criminals. That was probably hard. Luckily, times have changed. Now the FBI just tells potential victims, "You'd better hide, dude."

Let's imagine I decided to issue fatwas against the enemies of my religion. The response from my religious leaders would be overwhelming. There would be no mistaking my fatwas for official policy.

I understand Islam is all libertarian with thousands of little leaders and no real Head Leader, but even if my religion was like that, wouldn't 99% of my coreligionists make it clear I didn't speak for them? Look at the Christian response to the Florida pastor with Koran-burning plans: there was no chance anyone watching that controversy would think, "I wonder if Christianity as a whole supports this plan."

But Islam doesn't have a response to al-Awlaki. He says this cartoonist needs to die and disagreeing Muslim opinion says...well, it says nothing. And American Muslims wonder why the American public thinks maybe there is no disagreeing Muslim opinion. If you're going to run to news organizations and cry on the anniversary of September 11th that you're so misunderstood, and then the next week you have a chance to counter what you think is the prevailing hostility towards you and you sit silently, maybe you're not so "misunderstood" at all. Maybe we understand you perfectly.

Samuelson on Causality

From here:

When Obama took office in early 2009, the economy and financial markets were in virtual free fall. By summer, they were not. Only a rabid partisan can think that Obama's policies had nothing to do with the reversal.
What if instead I wrote this equally-factual timeline followed by an equally-specious conclusion:
In the winter of early 2009, the economy and financial markets were in virtual free fall. By summer, they were not. Only a rabid thermophobe can think that warm weather had nothing to do with the reversal.
When did the economy and financial markets enter their free fall? During May and June of 2008, the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell from the low 13,000s to the high 10,000s, a loss of over 15 percent. However, it stabilized in the high 11,000s for the rest of the summer. Last week I read an article that tried to say the failure of Lehman Brothers on Sept. 15, 2008 was responsible for the market tanking, which was responsible for Obama's victory. The DJIA did fall 500 points that day, but within a week it had regained that lost ground. The big fall came in the first weeks of October: from opening at 11,139.62 on September 29th to closing at 8,451.19 on October 10th. September 29th was the day the House rejected TARP for the first time, but four days later, the proposal was law, yet the market continued to fall for a week more.

If Samuelson can make up a story about Obama obviously saving the economy, I can make an equally-plausible one regarding his destroying it. A man doesn't need to be president for the market to react to him. A foreseen event is priced in to the market at the time it's foreseen. The market held up under Lehman and AIG and the rejection of TARP fairly well. It didn't enter "free fall," to use Samuelson's technical term, until Obama opened a sizable polling lead on McCain. Then the DJIA went from stabilized in the low 11,000s to stabilized in the high 8,000s. This tells me that the market considered an Obama victory as bringing with it a 25-percent loss of value. Hardly the stuff of an economic savior.

Markets price in electoral victories all the time. Why was the "bottom" of the Great Depression in March, 1933? The thing had been going on for three and a half years by then. It was because of uncertainty over Roosevelt's agenda (uncertainty he stoked, preferring the imagery of pulling America up from its worst to the alleviation of economic hardship through cooperation with the departing administration.)

Sure, I could be wrong, but so could Samuelson. He, however, is convinced that only a "rabid partisan" could disagree with his conclusion. I magnanimously allow for those who disagree with me to be "ignorant rubes," which is much kinder.

Mailbag - Concerned Parent Edition

Erin writes, in response to this post of mine:

That is one of the most compelling reasons for home schooling that I have read. I think it explains why Ethan hates school so much. But sadly, it seems like a lesson that needs to be learned. Is that terrible of me??
I don't know. I just had to pause in the writing of this post to have a spirited debate with Super-Hot 111. She says it is one of her concerns, that our kids need to learn how classroom environments work before they get to college. I just don't see what the fuss is. I can't sign on with a proposition that boils down to "I need to break my kids' spirits."

The biggest objections we face as homeschoolers are what I would describe as the Myth of the Classroom and the Myth of Socializing. The first objection says something like, "There's something absolutely necessary about gaining exposure to an artificial environment that a graduated student never again faces." The second says something like, "Kids somehow learn socializing tools by sitting in rows and only talking when they are allowed to."

I don't see what the classroom provides that they don't get elsewhere. They participate in church classes and book clubs, in Family Home Evenings and playgroups and sports teams. They know how to listen when someone else is talking, how to contribute to a group conversation, how to respond to an authority figure. As for socializing, I see my children make friends in the neighborhood, at church, and at parks.

I think the social adjustment bogeyman is an instance of availability bias: when asked to think of a weird homeschooled kid, people know of at least one, but when asked to think of a weird public school kid, they might be hard pressed. This isn't because homeschoolers are weirder than normal, but it's because the sample is skewed. They don't know the thousands of weird public school kids in their town, and they don't know the thousands of normal homeschooled kids in their town. They remember the schooling status of a kid when they have a reason to, when it reinforces their existing perception: homeschoolers aren't socially adjusted.

Finally, I want to know just what is so wrong about my children NOT growing up like everyone else? Is that supposed to be my life's ambition, to have my children become the average teenager, because that would not be what I would consider a parenting success story.

Another explanation is that homeschoolers ARE less well-adjusted, but I would argue you might have the causality backwards. Who is more likely to find fault with public schools? Parents who had a poor public school experience themselves, and parents whose kids are having poor experiences. If the parents were weird, they are more likely to have weird kids, and weird kids have poor public school experiences. Thus being weird makes you homeschool, but homeschooling doesn't make you weird.

This doesn't mean Erin is terrible for not homeschooling. It also doesn't mean all teachers are horrible. After all, I'm married to a teacher. It just means I refuse to wax hagiographical for an education system that I see as not much more than a privilege protection racket.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Awful House

My wife and I used to be intrigued by the idea of eating at a Waffle House. I mean, we both like IHOP, so we figured we'd like Waffle House. Jim Gaffigan's routine frightened us off a bit, though, so we haven't been yet.

It turns out it may be just as awful as Gaffigan led us to believe. Evidence?

  1. Kid Rock goes there.
  2. When there, Kid Rock allegedly commits battery.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Great Moments in TV Writing

As much as I hated the "snappy" dialogue of Gilmore Girls, which didn't even try to hide the fact that it wasn't how any real people actually talked, let's give the show's writers credit for the gutsy move of making Rory a homewrecker.

How many other shows would take their loveable main character and make them do something so obviously wrong? It would be like the writers on Dick Van Dyke making Mary a drug dealer.

In other words: it's rare, and they should be celebrated for it. For the smarmy winking dialogue, however, they should be lit on fire.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Strong Work Ethic

CO-WORKER: She's gonna s**t. I don't even want to call her back.

SUPERVISOR: Then don't.

Naked Tyranny

Rep. Andrew Weiner (of House floor freak-out fame) wants new legislation to regulate gold selling companies.

This is a man who is widely recognized for returning respectful discourse and decorum to the halls of Congress, as exhibited in this video.

As I told you several months ago, you always have to outlaw the ownership of gold before you can really get your inflate on. That's not the problem. Everyone knew this was coming. But in his press release, Weiner (or his apostrophe-challenged press release writer) doesn't shy away from including another reason:

Goldline employs several conservative pundits to act as shills for its' precious metal business, including Glenn Beck, Mike Huckabee, Laura Ingraham, and Fred Thompson. By drumming up public fears during financially uncertain times, conservative pundits are able to drive a false narrative. Glenn Beck for example has dedicated entire segments of his program to explaining why the U.S. money supply is destined for hyperinflation with Barack Obama as president.
Politics has always been about using your authority for tyranny, but the general rule is to not acknowledge it. Rep. Weiner is explicitly saying he seeks to financially hurt Glenn Beck and his sponsors for Beck's criticisms of the president.

I shouldn't have to tell you which amendment to the Constitution this violates. Something about "Congress shall make no law." But of course, this bill isn't about speech, right? It's about "unscrupulous" gold sellers (how dare they execute a voluntary contract with another party!) and "obscene" profits.

A government with the power to punish its critics will use that power to punish its critics.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

You're All Getting One!

Last month I wrote about the consuming frenzie that is Oprah Winfrey Show. Oprah has decided to make it abundantly clear that I've brought a gun to a knife fight.

She took her audience to Australia. Just 'cause.

Our culture is washed up.

There's No Crying in Baseball (But There Is Cheating)

Henry Thierry lost fan respect for his brazen cheating. Will Derek Jeter do the same?

Jeter was awarded first base for being "hit" by a pitch that didn't hit him. His team trailing by a run, they took the lead when a following batter hit a home run.

Said Jeter afterwards, "He told me to go to first base. I'm not going to tell him I'm not going to first, you know." Why not? Like Derek Jeter has never expressed a differing opinion with an umpire? He knew he wasn't hit, and he doubled over in "pain" to make sure he got the call.

He continued: "It's part of the game. My job is to get on base. Fortunately for us it paid off at the time, but I'm sure it would have been a bigger story if we would have won that game."

This was a game for first place in the division, with enormous post-season implications. Jeter glibly claims it's his job to cheat, and even claims he's fortunate it worked, without bothering to think about the serious welfare distribution associated with possibly altering the World Series winner.

What is with sports stars acting like they play in the Hobbesian jungle? We can reasonably assume that Derek Jeter would slit the throats of all umpires if he could be fairly certain of escaping prosecution. After all, his job is to get on base, right?

Meanwhile, I'm supposed to spend hundreds of dollars for the experience of letting my children watch an amoral prick do his job. I can see that for free at my temporary job, Derek.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Unbelievable Stat of the Day

Unbelievable in the sense of "Dinner was unbelievable!" not "Dragons are unbelievable!"

From here:

40 percent of likely voters call themselves tea party supporters
If incumbent politicians didn't design congressional districts to first protect incumbent politicians, this stat would probably produce a 300-seat Republican congressional delegation in November.

How Many Have You Done?

A British teen sent President Obama an e-mail calling him a "prick," and for his efforts he's received a lifetime ban from the United States.

Several points here.

  1. The British teen was right. The president is a prick.
  2. Who knew the United States was like the Android's Dungeon?
  3. According to a TSA spokeshole in the article, there are "about 60" things that can merit such a ban.

Where do I find this list, and how many would you guess I've done in my life? Probably only a few, since most of them are going to be serious security issues, right? I'm hoping TSA doesn't waste their time on trivial matters (although this article proves that hope is misguided). I'd put my official estimate at five.

Protect It and Keep It Dry

Maybe the guys at the National Institutes of Health were remembering their early teen years, when washing their genitals was stimulating. For whatever reason, they spent over $800,000 in stimulus money on a research project intended to teach uncircumcised African men to wash their genitals.

Most Constitutionality questions quickly turn into bouts of anxious hand-wringing with the moaned mantra, "Oh, if only we had a way of knowing what the intent of the Founders would have been had they foreseen this issue!" But on this particular question, there's no anxiety required. James Madison, the Father of the Constitution, said in 1794, "I cannot undertake to lay my finger on that article of the Constitution which granted a right to Congress of expending, on objects of benevolence, the money of their constituents." But of course James Madison was a freaking cave man. He had no way of knowing there was going to come a time in the world's history when African men would have dirty penises.

But what he did foresee was that there would be stuff he didn't foresee (like dirty African penises, perhaps, but more genteel), and the Constitution has provisions for its amending.

If we need to spend money on benevolence, then change the Constitution to allow for it. But this idea isn't even taken seriously. When House Speaker Nancy Pelosi was asked where in the Constitution Congress received its supposed authority to enact its health care bill, all she could bother to say in response was, "Are you serious?"

James Madison thought it was a serious question, but Nancy Pelosi thinks it's the set-up to announcing she's being punked. As a reminder: this woman is third in line to the presidency.

Just out of curiosity, I wonder if you can guess how much government money it took to teach me to wash my penis? In these days of government largess, you might need me to define a range, so here's your hint: less than a half-million dollars.

How patronizing are we to assume Africans can't learn to clean their penises without an American professor teaching them to do it? How indifferent is a population that can't be bothered to give themselves a possibly-life-saving once-over with a washcloth? And why should I have money taken from me under threat of violence to subsidize that indifference?

If I asked these questions of Speaker Pelosi, I suspect she'd want to know if I am serious. I wonder if she asked that question when she read the provision for the study spending in the 1,588-page stimulus bill during her careful fulfillment of her official responsibilities. (Now who's not being serious?)

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Corn: It's Not Just For Tax Breaks Anymore

Corn producers, celebrating nearly 90 years of suckling the public teat, are concerned the public is wary of their goal to put high-fructose corn syrup in everything we buy. The solution is simple, really: change the name of high-fructose corn syrup.

“Clearly the name is confusing consumers,” said Audrae Erickson, president of the [Corn Refiners Association], in an interview.

Clearly!

Later we read: "Some scientists over the years have speculated that high-fructose corn syrup may contribute to obesity." Of course, their research would be completely repudiated (or, if you're Sarah Palin, refutiated) by this name change. Just another step towards lessening confustion.

Corn has two basic natural uses: slopping hogs, and reminding you of what you ate the day before when it comes out of you identical to how it went in. (I knew a guy who used to say, "You don't HAVE corn, you just borrow it.") Any other use of corn, including soda and fuel, is a result of agribusiness fleecing the American public. Ending all federal subsidies to corn producers would result in high-fructose corn syrup being pulled from probably 90 percent of its uses.

But maybe I'm just confused by the name.

The Best School Assembly Ever

I sat through an inordinate number of school assemblies as a kid. My junior high school principal thought there wasn't a problem facing pre-teens in the early 1990s that couldn't be ironed out by a good old school assembly. So imagine how slighted I felt when I read about the Mother of All School Assemblies in Pennsylvania.

I mean, seriously, what the hell?!

The offending images in question were made even more offensive by being of dudes. (Isn't that always the way?) Rest assured, concerned parents have already hired an attorney, who had this to say:

"They tell me it lasted about 30 seconds, which is a long time," attorney Peter J. Payne, who has been hired by parents of several students who attended the presentation, told Channel 4. "Every parent that I've talked to is very concerned. We're still talking about the senior class, but these kids are 17, 18 years old at the most."
Seriously, how out of touch are these parents? They have 17- and 18-year-old kids, and they think they've never seen some gay porn before? Hell, they've probably made their own gay porn. But of course, the snowflakes must be defended, especially when there's money to be made in that defense.

I'M GOING TO BE A DOCTOR

Passed both qualifying exams.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Turn the Other--BEHEADING!

I wrote last week about the ridiculousness of a guy planning to burn a book getting the attention of national and international leaders. To give you an idea of how ridiculous it is, I would compare it to wanting to kill people over cartoons. Oh, wait a minute....

Yes, when it comes to threatening (and not just threatening!) the lives of people for petty things, nobody brings the heat like the Religion of Peace.

Today Nolan Finley of the Detroit News tries to talk some sense into the stab-happy peaceniks, but I think he might have committed an unpardonable insult (is there any other kind to these guys?) when he writes in conclusion:

Peaceful religions aren't so easily provoked to violence. Religions of peace turn the other cheek.
Turn the other cheek? Isn't that from a particular religion? Is he intentionally confronting Muslims with Christianity's laid-backness? They already know about it; it's what makes them say Christians don't have the plums to conquer the world.

If I cared enough to read the letters to the editor of the Detroit News for the next few days, I'm sure I'd see a very angry retort by an offended Muslim. But then, I don't care very much. After all, I'm Christian.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Not Back to School

Tomorrow my wife and I will plan out the year's curriculum for our kids. In celebration of the fact that my kids are mine and not the commonwealth's, I give you this provocative thought from the so-weird-he's-actually-brilliant-but-yet-somehow-still-weird Robin Hanson:

School isn’t about learning “material,” school is about learning to accept workplace domination and ranking, and tolerating long hours of doing boring stuff exactly when and how you are told.

I hope your kids have more fun being dominated, ranked, and bored this year than I did when I was their age.

Single Payer Means Single Target

Fraud like this wouldn't be possible without a large payer to bilk. In a self-pay system, how can your doctor defraud you for services he doesn't provide you? But when a third party is introduced, and that third party has not just deep pockets but bottomless pockets, you get fraud like this. I know it's 14 minutes long, but I think the entire thing is worth watching. (You will have to push play again to restart it after the commercial break at the beginning.)



"Only heartless bastards and Republicans (but I already mentioned them, didn't I?) can dislike single-payer health care." Oh, and people who think health care shouldn't include $60b in fraud, but where's the demagoguery in that?

Incidentally, this video introduced a new candidate for Stupidest Functioning Adult. For years I've given that title to a man from my church in California (a man now in prison for fraud, actually). Now he's getting a run for his money from Attorney General Eric Holder.

And then I think people I don't think necessarily thought that something as well intentioned as Medicare and Medicaid would necessarily attract fraudsters.
Are you freaking KIDDING me? The nation's TOP law enforcement official thinks a $430b/yr. government program isn't going to attract fraud because the program's INTENTIONS are so good? No amount of alternating exclamation points and question marks can adequately express my incredulity, but let me give it a shot: ?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!

I remember when Obama nominated Holder a lot of people saying he was unqualified, but back then we were all in the new era of post-partisan politics, where only a Klansman could hate the administration (and only while actually wearing his sheet, at that). Since then, Holder has:

  • Announced a criminal investigation of BP and then declared that he never actually mention BP by name.
  • Refused to acknowledge that Islamic terrorists are, in fact, Islamic.
  • Dismissed a won case against members of the New Black Panther Party who broke federal election law, reportedly with his deputy assistant saying prosecution decisions would be based on defendants' race.
  • Signaled his intention to challenge Arizona's immigration law before having actually read the law.
  • And finally, here he is on "60 Minutes" saying the good intentions of Medicaid and Medicare lead some to believe they are exempt from fraud attempts.

I know Janet Reno set the bar pretty high (or was it low?) when it comes to being named Worst Attorney General Ever, but Holder seems to be doing his best to eclipse that mark.

I eagerly await your invective replies that either charge me with racism because Obama and Holder are black, or that dismiss the list of his shortcomings because they are ignored by non-Fox News media. Bear in mind, however, that most of these videos are Holder in his own words, a couple minutes at a time, not in dishonestly edited sound bites, and the one Fox News video (if you bother to watch it) is of O'Reilly interviewing a Kennedy-era civil rights lawyer. But of course, we all know the major role played by Kennedy-era civil rights lawyers in the Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy.

Blogging Is Dead

We're six months past blogging's peak. My blogging friends don't post anymore, and nobody comments on my posts. The number of my followers was climbing steadily for a few months, but it peaked at 45, and then one follower thought better of it and I've been stable at 44 for several weeks.

It's not just blogging that's dead. Facebook is dead, too. I was never one to spend a lot of time on Facebook, but I could understand those who did. Now if someone came to me and told me I had to spend 60 straight minutes on Facebook, I really wouldn't know what to do with the last half-hour.

The rise of social media was heralded as a sign of our collective vapidness. So is its demise an indication that we're less vapid, or have we just found new methods of expressing it?

All I know is, I'm online in 10-minute intervals now. It used to be I was guaranteed to never be bored at work as long as I had an Internet connection. Now I stave off boredom by working. And that's probably the saddest consequence of all.

Thursday, September 09, 2010

Intellectually Stable, Or Just Lazy

When someone burns my scriptures, I get sad, but not stabby. Does this mean I am well adjusted, or am I not taking scriptures seriously enough? I suspect the former.

History Meets Vampire-Lit

Kids these days are spending too much time learning historically-inaccurate material about vampires, like their supposed sparkley properties. Our local Wal-Mart seized an opportunity to use Twilight action figures (?!?) to teach about the historic slave trade.

Lest we forget.

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Pampered Pets

On a recent grocery store trip, I saw these wipes for dogs. I thought, "That's going a little overboard."

Super-Hot 111 thought it was ridiculous of me to think these were for dogs. Evidently it's just an advertising campaign for human wipes. However, in my defense they DO sell dog ice cream in the freezer section.

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Self-Medication

I am a depressive person. This has never been professionally diagnosed (mostly because I dislike the idea of a paper trail of my mental illnesses), but I have taken online depression quizzes that ended by recommending that I "seek help now."

But the help I've sought has been self-administered. I've tried to learn more about myself and honestly evaluate what works and what doesn't. Two things seem to always work: sex, and P.G. Wodehouse. (This leads to the tantalizing conclusion that the ultimate depression-beater would be sex with P.G. Wodehouse, but unfortunately he died before I ever had a chance to test the hypothesis.)

The problem with using sex as a medication is that it's dependent on my wife's schedule, and when I feel most depressed is when I'm least likely to feel like getting naked and making ridiculous faces at her.

Wodehouse, however, is available all the time. I was reminded of this recently. In the middle of a pretty bad week, I took Summer Lightning to my favorite reading spot. (I don't want to share too much, but let me just say it's quite commodious, if you know what I mean.) I opened to the first page and began reading the preface:

A certain critic--for such men, I regret to say, do exist--made the nasty remark about my last novel that it contained 'all the old Wodehouse characters under different names'. He has probably by now been eaten by bears, like the children who made mock of the prophet Elisha; but if he still survives he will not be able to make a similar charge against Summer Lightning. With my superior intelligence, I have outgeneralled the man this time by putting in all the old Wodehouse characters under the same names. Pretty silly it will make him feel, I rather fancy.

Now, maybe you read that and think, "Yeah, so?" but I found it so hilarious I was fortunate to be sitting where I was, or there'd have been an accident.

If you need some cheering up, and you, too, have a spouse with unreasonable rules about "no more than three times a day," I recommend reading P.G. Wodehouse.

A Day at the Amusement Park

Our kids loved this orange couch. We even scared off a potential buyer so we could take a picture.

Monday, September 06, 2010

For the Alcoholic on the Go

Want to get your drink on, but always find yourself with somewhere you have to be? My local grocery store has you covered, with the travel corkscrew.

Saturday, September 04, 2010

The Most Expensive Thing We Own

Want to see the most expensive thing we own? Here it is.



Holy feng shui, that's a cluttered desk! Here, let me zoom in.



Still don't see it yet? I'll give you a hint: it's on the middle shelf.



You might guess Greene's Econometric Analysis (retail price: $180, number of pages read: about one and a half), or you might guess Wooldridge's Introductory Econometrics (retail price: $193.95, and actually nearly worth the price), and be tempted to guess one of them. I'll do you a favor by telling you it's on the left-hand-side of the middle shelf.



Could it be Heijdra's Foundations of Modern Macroeconomics (retail price: $65, and an excellent deal, too)? Maybe you noticed the 1TB hard drive (current replacement cost: about $100). But what you probably didn't notice was the tall, white piece of paper to the left of the econ book.



And that's just the potatoes. Here comes the gravy: the cost of my graduate degree is going to make this thing look like a fart in the windstorm.

All this book-learnin' is changing the way I think about things. For instance, when shady characters at my temporary job get fired for falsifying insurance certificates, I imagine how I will try to survive if they come back later in the day to shoot the place up. (My brain has always done this; maybe it's left over from seeing Die Hard in my formative years.) Anyway, now when I'm having this kind of daydream, I think, "I'd better survive, because I would be incredibly pissed if I spent all this time and money on school and then I got killed." I feel like yelling at poor drivers, "Be careful! My brain is valuable!" Evidently before I went to graduate school, I didn't feel this way about my brain at all.

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

These Are My Peeps

Now that I'm completely poor, there are some things I need to get used to. At my temporary job, the following things have happened this week:

  • My two main coworkers (hereby dubbed The Boy and The Girl) engaged in a lengthy recounting of last weekend's UFC broadcast. The Boy hadn't seen it, but had recorded it to watch later. The Girl had watched the entire thing and filled him in immediately, so he wouldn't have to bear the suspense.
  • The Boy has bedbugs in his HOME BED, and The Girl turned out to be the office's resident bedbug expert, having lived through her own infestation two years ago (before bedbugs were chic). The Boy took off his shoes to better scratch the bites on his feet and ankles.
  • The Supervisor (yeah, I'm really phoning it in on coworker blog nicknames these days; what are you going to do, sue me?) had a dental appointment to have a tooth extracted. A rule of thumb I developed as a missionary is that tooth extraction as a serious dental hygiene procedure is an excellent marker of poverty. This rule has stood up to over 10 years of evidence, and has enough predictive power that Milton Friedman himself said, "Damn, that's a fine model." (Full disclosure: Friedman said this in my head.) The Supervisor said, honestly said, "I'm going to be eating less meat as I get older, anyway." This made me think she was having an incisor yanked, but it turned out to be a molar, which is a little less shocking. But still.

Of course, I should have seen this all coming when, during my first week there, The Boy and The Supervisor's Jerk Supervisor compared notes on which court-mandated car Breathalyzer was better.

"And Now, Deep Thoughts"

Overheard today on campus:

Boy 1: With who?

Boy 2: Kirsten. Kristen. You don't know her.

Girl: You apparently don't know her, either.


If Dan Brown had written 400 years ago, he'd be facing a lot of libel suits.


A skinny girl with large breasts can get away with A LOT of problems.


Walking with your arm around someone is needlessly awkward. Just remember to yourself that you're in love and swing your arms naturally at your side. And walking with your arm around someone ON STAIRS is guaranteed to infuriate the person trying to use the stairs behind you. Stop risking paralysis and move like a normal biped.