Free-Floating Hostility

Monday, October 31, 2005

Fun with Spam

My office instituted a spam filter last year on the e-mail system, on the theory that it should be slightly harder to reach us at the newspaper office. Actually, that's not fair. People were having to wade through about 100 fake messages to get to the 20 real ones. It's sort of the Assclown Theory of Relativity for e-mail.

Anyway, the spam filter had a bad weekend. I received mail from the following "people:"

Ophthalmology F. Gullible
Pertinacious C. Georgia
Horology P. Encircle
Frailties J. Amber

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Sunday, October 30, 2005

Truman Capote I am Not

This weekend FFH hosted 34 at our apartment, and also Scott. The boys were very good guests, which is all the more impressive when you take into account the fact that Scott has been highly flatulent even for him and Jeff's in the first flush of romance back in New York (pick your poison). Scott and I did actually come to blows over a game of Monopoly--specifically, over Mediterranean Avenue--but other than that I think it was a highly successful reunion and I wish we had more of them. The problem is, the kind of humor the four of us get into is extremely difficult to redact to a blog posting. Like, right before they left for the airport, they had me laughing to the point of tears by talking via inhalation: Jeff was reciting the opening of Tale of Two Cities, and Scott was repeating "frog ass" at appropriate intervals. That is not a good story.

Here's a dialogue that pretty much translates, but it's the very crudest example of our humor, misrepresenting a wide spectrum from the sophisticated to the scatalogical. It's all I got, though.

Mike: So does Sheryl have a Mac?
Jeff: She does at work.
Mike: Oooooooooo, a mixed marriage.
Scott and Anna: Marriage?
Mike: Shit, I mean, not marriage. I mean, relationship. I mean, maybe someday, I mean--
Anna: Keep talking, Mike, it only gets better.
Mike: What?
Anna: Nothing.
Mike (to the boys): What did she say?
Jeff: She said "keep talking, it only gets better."
Mike: Oh, I see. She was being sharp.
Scott: She is sharp. Sharp. Sharp. Sharp.
Anna: I am sharp. I am a very sharp cookie.
Jeff: You are the sharpest of cookies. You are biscotti.
Scott: You are the sharpest tool in my shed. Now get in my shed.
Anna: That's disgusting.
Mike: Hey!
Scott: You've been sharpening your tool. But it's okay to put it in her shed.
Jeff: Dude, make jokes about your own wife's shed.

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Thursday, October 27, 2005

Sandal Scandal

So my new friend and classmate Ada turns out to be getting married next summer. Her man, Jody, requested a beach wedding, which was great, except that it turns out he has a profound fear of sandals. It hadn't come up before--I mean, it's an unusual situation indeed in which a woman finds herself promoting the use of sandals--and Ada couldn't figure out why. He couldn't be planning to wear dress shoes in the sand, especially not when he was already sporting a barong to demonstrate his commitment to her culture (by which I mean successfully avoiding having to wear a jacket). Was he hoping to get married in Keds? But with some gentle questioning, the truth came to light. Jody can't wear sandals at his wedding because of Pet Semetary.


I have never actually seen this fine film, but Ada tells me there's a scene in which a back-from-the-dead toddler hides under someone's bed with a scalpel and takes out his achilles tendon. This scene made such an impression on Jody that he has refused to wear open-heeled shoes ever since, and his wedding day was not the day to start. She found some open-toed, closed heeled shoes, and the wedding is still on.

So many people were invited to our wedding we couldn't have promised anyone freedom from scalpel-wielding toddlers.

Anna: I'd really be more comfortable if we left Ned and Linda off the guest list.

Queenie: We were invited to their wedding.

Mike: But their baby is one of the undead. There are too many butter knives to keep track of.

Queenie: We'll pay for the surgery.

1 Comment(s):

  •   Posted by Anonymous Anonymous at September 28, 2006 5:09 PM | Permanent Link to this Comment
  • I have a fear of sandals too. Hate them.

    In the summer I won't ride on the tube because it's full of sandal wearers. Only commute to work by bicycle.

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Wednesday, October 26, 2005

White Sox, as in Vanilla

Despite my longstanding familial commitment to root against teams from Texas, I think my plan for this World Series was to root for whomever won Game 1 to win in a sweep. I tried, but in the end I had absolutely no interest in this series. I watched about 6 innings of Game 1 in a bar in Fargo, none of Game 2, an inning of Game 3 and ninth inning of Game 4.

So it's time to come clean:

I'm not a baseball fan, I'm a Tigers fan.

I also care about the Yankees, Red Sox and, to a lesser extent, the Mets. But when I read the sports page about baseball news, I'm thinking, how does this affect Detroit? And when I'm looking for something to watch on television, and the game offered doesn't include those four teams, I'm searching for That 70s Show re-runs before I settle on a channel. So, unless Fox could have gotten one of the teams to sign Fez for the World Series, I was destined to ignore it. I also feel this way about hockey, except my list of teams stops at one, the Red Wings.

Thanks for your attention.

3 Comment(s):

  •   Posted by Blogger BrooklynDodger at October 27, 2005 4:22 AM | Permanent Link to this Comment
  • Fritz hopes that "care about the Yankees" means hoping they will lose.

  •   Posted by Blogger Unknown at October 27, 2005 9:21 AM | Permanent Link to this Comment
  • That is the case, but, as I've said before, If the Tigers aren't going to be there, I'd be happy to watch the Yankees lose the World Series every year.

  •   Posted by Blogger Rich at October 27, 2005 1:01 PM | Permanent Link to this Comment
  • I root for teams based on what players I have as keepers in fantasy baseball now. Actually, I was kind of rooting against Houston because I had Oswalt and wanted him to save his arm for next year.

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Attacking the Terrorists Where they Live

And that's apparently at

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Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Fun with Campaigns

There's a proposal on the ballot in California that would change the way congressional boundaries are drawn. Instead of the state legislature doing the gerrymandering, a panel of retired judges would do it. This is designed to avoid a Texas-like fight over congressional boundaries. It makes sense to me, because everyone knows that all judges are non-partisan, non-ideological observers of American government.

But not every judge is happy. Tonight, as I watched Commander in Chief, Judge Wapner from The Peoples' Court appeared on my television telling me to vote no on that particular proposition. It was sort of jarring to see Judge Wapner again. He looks old and carries himself like a poor man's Steven Hill. So I'll probably vote against it. It's actually a good fit for Commander in Chief, which is morphing into a poor man's West Wing.

1 Comment(s):

  •   Posted by Blogger Jeff'y at October 26, 2005 6:42 AM | Permanent Link to this Comment
  • There's a lot wrong with elections in America, and gerrymandering ranks right up there with our repressive voting system. Did you read the Times Magazine article on redistricting this weekend? Beyond the fact that judges obviously can be as partisan as the rest of us, it raises interesting questions about whether creating impartial voting districts is even possible, or desirable.

    There's no doubt that anything would be better than gerrymandered districts, of course.

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Monday, October 24, 2005

In Memoriam

I met Rosa Parks in 1990.

It was the night that Nelson Mandela visited Detroit in his post-release tour of the country that year. He gave a speech at Tiger Stadium that evening, but before that there were a series of receptions at the Westin Hotel. One of them was a youth reception, and I scored a ticket through the National Lawyers Guild of which my mother it a member. Mandela was running late, and he never made the youth reception. The closest I got to him, was to stand on the other hand of a wall of photographers who were snapping pictures as he made his way out of the hotel and toward the stadium.

My memories of the night are a little fractured. I remember that I started to develop an ear infection, which colored much of my interactions with people like my sister who was also there. I also remember that we were instructed to shout, when Mandela walked into our ballroom, "Mandela, Mandela" instead of "Amandla Mandela," which actually means "Power" in Swahili. And I remember being shuttled into a room to meet Rosa Parks. She sat in a quiet corner of another ballroom greeting people. It was late and she seemed tired, but she was very kind and listened politely to the inane and nervous babblings of me, age 10. She then signed my guest badge. I never much went in for autographs at baseball games after that. I mean, once she's signed something for you, it seems silly to ask some guy who can throw a baseball 100 miles per hour for his autograph.

Parks' decision not to go to the back of the bus is one of those historical moments around which time divides itself into before and after (I love that phrase, although I know I didn't make it up.) The history of Montgomery's buses is such that she was not the first to be arrested for refusing to move when ordered by bus driver. But she was someone whose background was unimpeachable, who could become a rallying point for a movement that espoused the radical notion that blacks and whites weren't all that different in their aspirations and values. That the boycott was stage managed takes nothing away from the enormity of what she did. Systemic racism is generally a passive system. And it breaks down when oppressed peoples are finally united and brave enough to say "no more." It takes someone to be the first. To be the first person who challenges the system. And that was Parks, who is undeniably an American hero.

FFH mourns her passing.

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Sunday, October 23, 2005

Hostylefax: Fargo

My drinking companions this weekend were very concerned that I would come away from my weekend in North Dakota with the wrong idea. Sure they were drinking a lot, but this was Homecoming week at the major university. Also, my counterpart at the local paper was throwing his annual Garage Bash, a party that about 1/5 of the town attends. I also read in the newspaper that Fargo's police chief in town is interviewing for a job in Richmond, Calif (in the East Bay) and said that drunk driving was the biggest challenge he faced at his current job. Since Richmond has the highest murder rate per capita in the nation, I'd say he's not going to get the position.

For the most part, there's very little difference between Fargo and Sioux Falls. The restaurants are basically the same, although the latter seems to have more brew pubs. I didn't actually do much in the way of searching out good places to eat, but had a pretty good time nonetheless.

Here's the rundown:
  • Newspaper people, Judith Miller aside, are basicially the same everywhere and I like them a great deal. Basically I spent two hours talking staffing and coverage and egos with much of the sports staff. The company that owns the Fargo paper also owns a radio and TV station, which means that everyone who works in the sports section does some sort of a broadcast gig. I actually parlayed it into a radio appearance on Saturday morning.
  • The biggest sports story in Fargo is actually the Minnesota Vikings sex cruise scandal. Apparently, players have started to distinguish between who was on the "good boat" and the "bad boat." My discussion on the radio centered on the struggle the team I cover had in actually getting to Fargo. The team ended up arriving in two planes, one of which included me. I had planned to use the line, "I was on the good plane," but froze up.
  • Learned about the bar game of Babe Ruthing, where you walk in and select a person of the opposite (though I suppose it would work with the same) sex that you're going to take home at the end of the night. Then you spend the night trying achieve that goal. If you succeed, then you've called your shot. Just a little World Series reference.
  • There were some snowflakes blowing in the air on Saturday morning. I can't remembe seeing snow since Dec. 24, 2002 when I was in Hobbs. My memory was that it was too cold for snow on our wedding weekend. Maybe I'm wrong though.
  • I met up for dinner with Nick, a former Columbian, who is back in his home town. It was good to see him. It was also good when he hooked me up with free drinks at the bar in which he works.
  • There are some funny bar names in Fargo, including a place called Chubs.
  • I visited Nick at his place of employment, a country western bar near my hotel. Some girl sitting next to me with her arm in a sling started trying to play footsie, but she was hepped up on booze and painkillers and kept kicking me in the leg. After about five minutes, she said, "Honey, you're boring me," and walked away. Later, I saw her leave with someone else.
  • The song "Save a Horse, Ride a Cowboy," which was a punchline in Sioux Falls, was played multiple times at Nick's bar.
  • Took another pre-dawn flight, which makes Sunday really very long.

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What do you Think of our new Haircut?

Ok, kids. I moved the author line up toward the top of our post to see if that would make for easier reading. Perhaps our respective writing styles are so different that this makes no difference. Would you be good enough to let me know if you think that should be kept or changed back? If it's useful, I'll play around with the format to make it more attractive and aligned and whatnot. If not I'll scrap it. It was Jeff's idea that I stole anyway.

Just to be clear, this isn't like the time I posted a fake poll. I actually want to know what you think. If leaving comments intimidates you or it's important to preserve your anonymity, you probably know my email address.

6 Comment(s):

  •   Posted by Blogger Prof. Trixie at October 23, 2005 11:35 AM | Permanent Link to this Comment
  • Ithink it's just lovely.

  •   Posted by Blogger Jeff'y at October 24, 2005 6:05 AM | Permanent Link to this Comment
  • I'd forgo (Fargo?) the bullets before the the names and get rid of the | before the bullet and | before the comments. Otherwise, yeah, that's what it looks like when you put the name and date on top.

  •   Posted by Blogger Anna at October 24, 2005 9:38 PM | Permanent Link to this Comment
  • Thank you, Jeffrey, for your helpful suggestions. As you can see, I've taken them under advisement.

  •   Posted by Blogger Jeff'y at October 25, 2005 6:06 AM | Permanent Link to this Comment
  • Uhuh. You did ask us what we thought, you know.

    On an unrelated topic, my distorted word for posting a comment was just luvav, which is close enough to lulav to remind me that I've been meaning to blog about Sukkoth, and how I learned that an etrog is really a citron (and a lulav is a date palm frond). So that's a freebie for your comments section to make amends for pointing out errant bullets.

  •   Posted by Anonymous Anonymous at October 25, 2005 4:46 PM | Permanent Link to this Comment
  • This format is a winner!

  •   Posted by Anonymous Anonymous at October 30, 2005 9:39 AM | Permanent Link to this Comment
  • It works. (And this message is proof that I still exist.)

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Saturday, October 22, 2005

Mom and Dad do Long-Distance Romance

The following is a dialogue that took place between my parents by phone this morning:

Ricardo: Hello?

Trixie: Hello, dear. What are you up to?

Ricardo: I'm reading Horace Walpole on the crapper.

Trixie: For Christ's sake, why do you have to be such a cliché?

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Friday, October 21, 2005

Take Your Mother to School Day

Trixie is visiting, and she's doing real eco-tourism. This morning she bravely accepted my invitation to accompany me to class, and caught the 5:45 am train with me to Berkeley. She pronounced my Biostatistics professor "cute" and when I said I'd met his wife and that she was lovely Mom replied, "So?" then added as an afterthought, "What is he ethnically?" She was able to follow 80% of the lecture by her own reckoning, which sounds right to me cause Prof. Selvin is fantastic. She wanted me to introduce her afterwards, saying it would thrill her to meet one of her students' mothers, but we were going to be late for Epidemiology. Before Epi lecture started, Mom asked loudly (from the front row, mind you) "Are all your professors thin, athletic white men?" I answered, "You're killing me. You're actually taking years from my life." She found this professor's lecture on types of bias very interesting, too, although it apparently filled her with despair, which she allayed by opening a packet of gum while he was talking that sounded like a sonic boom. After class I offered to introduce her to this professor, but she said, "Nah, he's not cute." She's wrong on that count, but that's beside the point.

Mom found the morning's lectures so inspiring that she came away with a renewed desire to learn math. Apparently thirty years ago Phil was writing his master's thesis arguing that anyone could be taught to master math, and when Mom volunteered to be one of his test subjects the session ended with Phil throwing the workbook at her and saying "You've ruined my study; you're unteachable." Nonetheless, she said this morning that she thought she could get it if she started at the very beginning, so I offered to review the principles behind the use of a cartesian plane on the train home, and she accepted. I constructed an example relevant to her life, wherein three friends dear to her heart go to a gay bar and hold a competition to see who can get the most phone numbers in 24 minutes. She followed it all very well, calculated the slope of a few lines, and even said it was sort of fun like computer solitaire. "But," she added, "I still don't care. What's the point of it all?" I didn't throw anything at her, but I did modify Phil's assessment far enough to say that while she wasn't unteachable, she was a complete Philistine.

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Thursday, October 20, 2005

Trying to Stay off the Sex Offender List

I fly tomorrow for a football game.

Two weeks ago, I nearly had an embarrassing moment at the security checkpoint. I was wearing a belt and took it off to slide through the X-Ray machine. But then I caught myself, as if by reflex, starting to unzip my pants too. It was a frightening moment, and I don't actually know what mechanism in my brain made me do it. But you can bet I'll be thinking hard about that when I ride the escalator up tomorrow.

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Wednesday, October 19, 2005

In Which I Besmirch Mike's Reputation as a Caveman

Seven years plus into our acquaintance, Michael still has the capacity to surprise me. Last night, he made me a four course meal. A bloody fantastic one. It was literally one of the best meals I have ever tasted. I knew he was going to fix me supper, but I had no idea what he really had in mind. Imagine my surprise when I was finally allowed to peek, and there I saw a lovely plate of baked brie garnished with garlic and sundried tomatoes. The main course was a fusilli with caramelized onions--to die for, you truly have no idea, followed by a fine salad and a thoughtfully chosen dessert. I had been whining about my birthday and my displeasure with its arrival for months. The last thing I expected was to wake up this morning feeling a little sorry my birthday was over. He's a very nice boy, and it seems he has untapped depths of talent. If I may quote Alanis Morissette (and it's okay to say I may not but you're not really in a position to stop me) he treats me like a princess--I'm not used to liking it. I can't promise that I'll stop pissing and moaning about being a loser 25-year-old for the next half-decade or so, but 24 hours into the game, loserishness doesn't seem so bad.

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Monday, October 17, 2005

What Else is in Mike's Repertoire?

For those of you new to the blog, these are merely the latest additions to our lexicon of schtick. Earlier additions may be found here, here and here.

  • To crush. This verb has many, many applications in Mike's hands. The principals involve either eating (man, I just crushed that samosa) or schtupping (hey, remember when F took that girl to the office party and his roommate crushed her?), but also success (I'm sure you're gonna crush that midterm).
  • That's a shot. Helpfully used to point out other people's derogatory remarks after the fact. The accent is on "shot," to the point where it often becomes "sheeyot." Anna: The woman is a feebleminded whore with a face like Jason Giambi's asshole. Mike: That's a shot!
  • Aaawwww, that was nice, you didn't have to do that. Obviously, this sentence should not be taken at face value. It generally indicates that someone is finally doing his/her job. Sort of the Caucasian equivalent of "What do you want, a cookie?"
  • Massages and Hot Chocolate. Parallel to Fun and Games, as in "sportswriting isn't all massages and hot chocolate you know." Originally applied to Scientology, I am told.
  • Pregitos. var Pregs. This is how Mike responds when I say "grazie." It's just the transformation the Italian language goes through in his brain. Not to be confused with pregos, meaning "pregnant."
  • Suddenly everyone was run over by a truck. This is invariably Mike's suggestion for how to end a blog posting.

3 Comment(s):

  •   Posted by Blogger Unknown at October 17, 2005 10:15 PM | Permanent Link to this Comment
  • Some notes on this post:

    That's a shot: Anna is really good at insulting people, but in that case using the line would get lost. This is how I like to use it:

    Anna: Hmmm, Nelson Mandela is starting to look his age.
    Mike: That's a shot!

    Massages and Hot Chocolate: Anna only hinted at the etymology of this one. During the filming of War of the Worlds Tom "Well-Adjusted" Cruise had Scientologist volunteers on the set to give members of the crew massages and hot chocolate as they worked long days. And since everything about Scientology is hilarious, there you go.

  •   Posted by Blogger BrooklynDodger at October 18, 2005 4:46 AM | Permanent Link to this Comment
  • Where was the phrase "throw under the bus" come from? It's kind of a sports talk thing. Googling didn't help.

    [ps: the word verification is getting long, in this case ebhxsgsy]

  •   Posted by Blogger Jeff'y at October 19, 2005 9:56 PM | Permanent Link to this Comment
  • I don't think you're allowed to mention G--gle in the comments section. Or something. They always get pissed at that.

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Sunday, October 16, 2005

She Kidnapped Herself

I feel a little like the New York Times today, getting scooped on a major journalism story by 34, but I assure you it was only work and not an overwhelming fear of angering a special prosecutor that got in the way. Also, since we get home delivery of the Times (Anna checks out Arts and Leisure, I go straight for the Magazine) I tend not to read ahead on the website.

So there's this long Judy Miller story in today's paper, discussing why exactly she went to jail and what the issues were internally at the paper. And basically those issues were the entire newsroom hated her, but management wanted to be seen as protecting the principle of confidential sources. That's a good principle to protect, especially for a media organization. But I would imagine that everyone at the paper wished they had a better client.

After reading the story today, I remain convinced Miller decided to go to jail in order to rehabilitate her journalistic reputation, which was harmed when she was badly duped by her neo-con buddies during the run-up to the war in Iraq. I don't blame her specifically for the Iraq quagmire like Fritz does, but it's an embarrassing situation for a reporter. Miller's story is unconvincing because she seemed to have avoided any situation that would have let her get out of going to jail. She didn't contact her source, among other things. There is plausible deniability in all of her explanations, but saying that she "owed it to herself" to try to get out of jail after two months just smacks of someone getting tired of the game and wanting out. Standing up for principle isn't supposed to be easy. I know a guy who was jailed in a South African prison for 168 days in the early 60s for refusing to reveal names of other members of the African National Conference. That's standing up for fucking principle. This is an exercise in self congratulations.

Maybe I'm being unfair. Maybe you stand up for whatever you have to stand up for at the time. In fact, maybe I'm evincing the ethic that makes the crutch of pack journalism so easy to fall into. After all, I'm bashing the ambitious reporter who tried to report a story that no one else had. That's not acceptable behavior. But Miller was wrong. And not only was she wrong, other journalists revile her. Combine those two things, and she's going eat shit for months. And I don't feel bad for her. If you're going to have sharp elbows inside the newsroom, you get what you get.

1 Comment(s):

  •   Posted by Blogger BrooklynDodger at October 18, 2005 4:43 AM | Permanent Link to this Comment
  • Personally, Judith Miller is part of the problem, and is a guilty victim. She shilled the war, maybe for personal prestige, maybe for anti-islam reasons...She was really trying to cover up for Libby and the Administration. Libby's letter to her was almost a mash note. Her inability to remember how Plame's name got into her notes suggests incompetence as a reporter - her reputation traded on getting access to the administration spin meisters, not reporting.

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Saturday, October 15, 2005

In Which I Exhibit Culturally Inappropriate Behavior

We have a neighbor--and in my defense, let me explain that I don't know which neighbor it is--who gets very excited about football games. I don't mean excited in the sense of enthusiastic and eager. I mean that when his team is losing, he shouts, curses, screams, and then phones his friends so he can shout, curse and scream at them. Sometimes it's funny, like when Mike is watching the same game as him on mute, and we get a soundtrack anyway. But tonight I was trying to study for my Biostatistics midterm, and I found his antics unamusing. So somewhere around what I imagine may have been the second quarter, I snapped, and did a very New York thing. I stepped outside our apartment and spoke distinctly into the courtyard: "You know, some day you're going to be getting murdered in your apartment, and we're not going to know about it cause it sounds exactly like you watching a game." Then I went inside, and it's been quiet all evening.

Okay, so that was not a very Peace by Peace way of handling the situation. But it honestly seemed to me like saying, "Excuse me, would you mind keeping it down?" would have been way ruder. I don't know about my neighbor, but nothing makes me feel like escalating a conflict more than condescension. My way uses humor to make a cogent argument, and doesn't imply that I'm excluding him from social norms. If I were in his shoes I would truly prefer the indirect method of--um--diplomacy. But then again, I'm from New York.

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Friday, October 14, 2005

Italians: They All Look Alike to Me

One day in seventh-grade history class, a friend of mine was reading aloud from the textbook a section about Arabs. I don't remember what the section was about, but I remember him reading the word Arab, stopping, then correcting his pronunciation to A-rab. It was so absurd that I still remember it. And it was called to mind tonight.

We watched Crash, or rather, Anna showed me Crash given that she had seen it in a theaters and wanted a second opinion.

I was not as impressed with the movie as everyone else seemed to be. It's not that I didn't like it, because I thought it was very well done. There are some truly complex characters and situations, which is the hallmark of a movie worth thinking about. But the idea of pervasive racism loses some of its meaning once you have everyone waving guns around at each other. Outside of the police, I feel like it really doesn't work that way. That case is doubly hard to make when you're dealing with a closed loop of characters, although narrative form demands that (Slacker aside) everything in an ensemble piece gets tied together. Also, there are some badly written parts. I mean, what the hell was Jennifer Esposito doing there besides taking off her shirt? And I can't tell whether the DA part was bad writing or bad casting. Seriously, Brendan Fraser should donate his pay to the charity of Ludacris' choice.

But pinnacle of the bad writing concerns Terrence Howard's character, the TV director who suddenly goes Michael Douglas on Ludacris and three cops. I suggested in the real world all he would have had to do was to tell Scott Baio to go fuck himself.

"You mean Tony Danza," Anna said gently. "He could have told Scott Baio to fuck himself, but it's not clear what that would have accomplished, since he's not in the movie."

Anyway, Crash makes the effort to tackle racism and cultural misunderstanding in two hours and fails. But I'm not sure that anyone could actually succeed. Crash fails better than anything else I've seen. And that's worth a lot.

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Thursday, October 13, 2005

Epi Shack: You've got questions about Avian Flu. I have some answers.

I have had eight people ask me in the past week about Avian Influenza, so I figure I ought to address it. Let me say up front that this is not something I've studied extensively in the six weeks I've been an epidemilet, as Michael calls us epidemiology students. I will do my best to summarize the information as I understand it because I don't want you hearing it from your friends in the girls room, but take this with enough grains of salt to kosher a cow.

Let me skip to the trolls: I do think it is worth being concerned about an influenza pandemic, in part because it is possible to make a big difference by preparing for it. I do not, however, as Rich put it to me, think that it will wipe out our civilization the way lead poisoning did the Roman Empire.

Here is more detail:

What is Avian Influenza? Let me first say what it is not: the Stomach Flu. There is, in fact, no such thing as a Stomach Flu. There are certainly viruses that make you puke, but they are not Influenza. According to one of my professors who is much smarter than I am, most of the times you thought you had the Stomach Flu you actually had food poisoning. Influenza primarily attacks the respiratory system (nose, throat, lungs), and is accompanied by muscle pain and fatigue. It is endemic in the U.S. (and around the world), meaning that one expects to find it just about all the time at relatively constant levels--it is a seasonal disease, meaning infections increase in Winter, but they come back down each summer. People who are otherwise in good health will usually recover from a flu infection in a matter of days, but the very old and the very young are much more vulnerable to the disease, and for them it can be quite serious. The CDC reports that about 36,000 people die from Influenza in the U.S. each year. What's weird is how few people know that.

Like any other infection, once you have had one strain of the flu you are immune to it. The trick is that the Influenza virus mutates rapidly compared to other viruses. Every so often a random change in the virus' genetic material causes it to be copied a little differently. We call it a new strain of the virus when the mutation changes the part of the virus that our immune system is able to recognize without changing the parts that the virus uses to attack our cells and reproduce there. At any given time there are numerous strains of the flu circulating the globe, which is why we are able to get sick with it year after year. We are actually catching entirely new strains each time. When you get a flu vaccine, you are being vaccinated against a combination of strains that Epidemiologists and others predict will be most likely to run amok that year. It is not a guarantee of immunity to all types of flu.

The virus can live in other vertebrate species than humans. The usual suspects are pigs and birds--that's where the Avian part comes in--but one of the news items of recent concern is that strains are being detected in totally new species. Like leopards. Other species can be the source of a strain of virus new to humans. In a typical year, a virus is unlikely to be passed between humans if it is so deadly that it kills its host. Dead people are not as good at spreading viruses as live ones. That usually means that a kind of natural selection keeps milder viruses in circulation over more virulent strains. If, however, a mild virus has been circulating successfully in the bird population and is transferred to a human, it might prove to be far deadlier in humans than it was in birds. This happens every few years, but so far the international health community has managed to cooperate just far enough to contain each outbreak. A high proportion of the people infected with these strains died, but the infections were prevented from spreading to many people who had not gotten the virus directly from the birds.

The next obvious question is: what would happen if an outbreak of Avian flu were not discovered in time to contain it? This is where the worst case scenarios arise. A pandemic is an outbreak of a disease that spreads across the entire globe. AIDS, for instance, is a pandemic. The worst known Influenza Pandemic was in 1918-19. That is the doomsday scenario, except it clearly isn't farfetched since it already happened once.

There are some conditions that obtained in 1918 that won't be around to contribute to the problem if we have an outbreak soon. The most obvious was the First World War. On the one hand it crowded people together in cities, military barracks, trenches, brothels and other situations ideal for spreading a virus. On the other it interfered with the practice of prevention, because the countries involved were so desperate to get soldiers to the front that many people with the power to take preventive public health measures did not do so for fear of jeopardizing the war. For instance, at one point roughly half the soldiers being sent from the US across the atlantic would die of the flu on the ship before reaching Europe, but the Navy made the judgment call that those lives had to be sacrificed. Would that happen again today? I tend to think not, though it depends on what day you ask me.

Another obvious improvement since 1918 is in the quality of medical care and our understanding of the virus. In the early years of the pandemic it was not even known whether the disease was caused by a virus or a bacterium, and there was nothing close to a vaccine available. Furthermore, a great many people died not from the virus itself but from bacterial pneumonia which developed while the immune system was weak. Bacterial pneumonia is now highly treatable for those with access to antibiotics. Thirdly, we have better prevention tactics available. We now know that wearing gauze masks and breathing fresh air are useless, and we have nifty outfits like hazmat teams. That's the good news. The tradeoff is that with the advent of air travel and business connections proliferating between nations (legal and otherwise), the virus has many more opportunities to spread.

So what is to be done?

The most important interventions will be on the national and international level. It currently takes about six months to turn around a new flu vaccine. A lot of people could get sick in that amount of time. A second line of defense are anti-viral medications, and that might buy some time. But we don't currently have the infrastructure to produce a new vaccine on the fly and supply it to the majority of Americans--and forget developing countries. One of my classmates just wrote a paper arguing for stepping up the production of flu vaccines in non-pandemic years, and she let me read it. That's a win-win situation, given that as I have mentioned, 36,000 or so Americans currently die of it annually. It would also put us in a better position to distribute the vaccine in the event of a pandemic. Another important large-scale change would involve investing money in disease surveillance so that we can catch outbreaks quickly. There is some legislation to that effect going down soon thanks to Barack Obama and friends. But a lot of the underlying problems are tough to solve. The global nature of the disease means that no one country or small collection of countries can address prevention or containment alone. How can you insure cooperation between the countries where Influenza is most likely to jump from birds to humans (China, for instance) and the countries with the best resources to fight the disease (guess who that would be, and don't say Honduras)?

I'm in the process of investigating what Berkeley's pandemic preparedness plan is; I'm assuming they have one, but if not maybe I'll come up with one. If you're concerned, one thing you can do besides writing to your congressman etc., is to find out what kind of planning your company or school has in place. Couldn't hurt to ask.

I hope that was helpful. Feel free to post questions or requests for clarification. Please be polite.

5 Comment(s):

  •   Posted by Blogger Jeff'y at October 14, 2005 6:18 AM | Permanent Link to this Comment
  • Impolite question: In addition to regular leopards, can cameleopards get the flu?

    Followup question: If so, do they cease to be so darn cute?

    Thanks for the information, Bananaleopard.

  •   Posted by Blogger Rich at October 14, 2005 11:07 AM | Permanent Link to this Comment
  • I was trying to figure why cameleopards were so familar. I actually remembered that I just read about them in Gibbons' Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire. How coincidental.

  •   Posted by Blogger Anna at October 14, 2005 3:14 PM | Permanent Link to this Comment
  • I have turned up no evidence of caleopard flu. However, I have found a number of mentions of a flu outbreak in 1826 which came to be known as Giraffe Flu, due it seems to the popularity of a certain giraffe around Paris that year.

  •   Posted by Blogger Anna at October 14, 2005 3:15 PM | Permanent Link to this Comment
  • Obviously that was supposed to be cameleopard.

  •   Posted by Blogger Jeff'y at October 15, 2005 6:12 PM | Permanent Link to this Comment
  • Okay, that's still terribly cute then.

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Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Neophrasism for Sale

Today I came up with a phrase that my instructor and fellow classmates thought rather clever. Since I probably can't use it in my paper on Gulf War Syndrome, I'm going to post it here.

The phrase I coined was, "Reverse Ick Factor." Our instructor had raised the question of why infectious diseases are often prioritized over chronic ones, and we were all brainstorming. I made the suggestion that chronic diseases often have more political fallout (Sexually Transmitted Infections are a big exception, obviously). That's where the Reverse Ick Factor comes into play. Most people, I elaborated, are grossed out by diseases that force them to confront, say, excessive mucus. Allied health professionals, on the other hand, are grossed out by diseases that force them to confront issues beyond their control like racism, health disparities, poverty or the social and behavioral factors that contribute to chronic diseases. Ours is probably the only field in which someone who studies giardia might be rightfull accused of going after the sexy problem.

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Monday, October 10, 2005

My Powers of Suggestion are Unstoppable

I am weary from lack of sleep, which is about the only way I can explain how I got Avril Lavigne's song "Skater Boy" in my head. Maybe I heard it in the airport or something. I understand that this is an unacceptable state of affairs, so I've been preventing myself from singing the few bars of the song I know. I figured a good night's sleep would change things. I was wrong.

This morning, around 5:45 a.m., I confided my problem to Anna.

"Oh, no," she said. "You're not going to get that song in my head."

A few minutes later, without so much as humming a bar of it, she informed that I was a bad person for getting this song into her head.

So there you go.

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Sunday, October 09, 2005

Hostylefax: Sioux Falls

The funny thing about South Dakota --I decided as I drank a beer at a bar across from the baseball stadium on Friday night -- is that it exists at all. It's devoid of any distinguishing characteristics.

North Dakota has Fargo, which has been immortalized in a great movie. Some people might point out that Mt. Rushmore has been immortalized in another great movie, North by Northwest, but there's nothing really "South Dakota" about Mt. Rushmore. It just happens to be there. Slide it over 100 miles and it would be just as impressive, just as bizarre and in Montana. (If you were really feeling contrary, you could point out that Fargo was set entirely in Minnesota, and you'd be right, but then I would point out, you suck.) South Dakota's second biggest tourist attraction, I'm told, is a three-bar complex in Yankton, S.D. where you can pay $7 on a Tuesday and drink all you want at any combination of the sports bar, dance club and strip club, all of which are accessible without stepping outside.

The people are friendly though. The woman at the car rental counter introduced herself by name. The wait staff at the various places I ate at seemed eager to banter, though my warp-speed city talk was no match for their Great Plains back-and-forth. Then there was my counterpart at the local paper, who agreed to show me around town even though the sum total of our acquaintance was the four hours he spent here covering a game in 2004. But he is from suburban Detroit originally and went to Michigan State, so we did have some basic things in common. And we had a good time, staying up late and drinking too much. For purposes of this post, I will call him Ian, because he reminded me of the guy many of us knew freshman year by that name.

So here's my weekend, in bullet form:
  • There are a lot of brew pubs in Sioux Falls, which suits me just fine. For my traditional large Friday dinner, I picked one called Granite City because the name sounded tough. Also, if it's a chain, it's one that's new to me. Ian said it was the one of the best places in town. Pin a rose on me.
  • Supposedly, there are more pro baseball players per capita from South Dakota than any other state. Anna points out there are only three capitas in the state.
  • At our second stop Friday, we met up with guys from Ian's paper. I like newspaper people and we happily frittered some time away. Then two guys from one of the websites that covers my level of football showed up. They are fans with disposable income, and they travel around watching games, drinking and taking photos to post on the web site. They also treat the position of "beat writer" with far more respect than it actually deserves.
  • There are a ton of hole in the wall casinos in Sioux Falls. I'm told that they are deeply depressing places, where people just play the slots on auto pilot. This is a far cry from the healthy, life-affirming atmosphere I witnessed in Las Vegas last year.
  • Saturday morning was a perfect crisp fall day, the kind where can you feel the air warming in your nose as you breathe it in. It was low 40s early, and it reminded me of those mornings when I would get bundled up and jump in the leaves. We don't get many of those days in California.
  • During the football game, the home team's mascot was joined by some guy dressed up in a ringneck pheasant costume. It was a truly frightening get-up. In fact, I think it was designed to instill terror in kids, who will grow up hating the birds and wanting to kill them. Pheasant hunting season, which is the primary engine of the state's economy, starts next week. All around town, from the airport to the casinos, there were "welcome hunters" signs.
  • Saturday night Ian took me to a bar to hear a band called the Melismatics, who hail from the (Twin) Cities. They were good. Good bands rarely hit Sioux Falls, and between that and the near-perfect weather, everyone agreed that I lucked out this week. Later in the night some woman walked up to where Ian and I sat, looking for someone to dance with. "I haven't had enough to drink yet," I said. She got angry, muttering something that sounded like "Fucking Yankees," and walked away. Ian told me a story about one of his coworkers dancing with a random woman in a bar, and getting a punch in the nose for his troubles.
  • Early morning plane trips suck. I was up at 5:10 Central to catch a 6:45 flight to the Cities and then another out west. The good thing about a Minneapolis layover is that there are two newspapers to buy. It's about 4:30 Pacific Time as I write this, and I'm really starting to feel it.
All that said, I had a pretty good time this weekend. But it's good to be home.

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Saturday, October 08, 2005

How Marriage Works Part IV

Since Mike's not here and I'm having a fit of missing him I'm going to tell a story that illustrates the best way to survive living with me. I was having one of my characteristic fits of despair, in which Mike was wisely not participating. So I turned away, preparing to make a dramatic exit.

Mike: Where are you going?

Anna: To deliquesce into a pile of fat.

Mike: Where?

Anna: To deliqueeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeesce into a piiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiile ooooooooooooooooooooof faaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaat!!!!

Mike: Deliquesce? What does that mean? It sounds like the mayor of New Orleans.

3 Comment(s):

  •   Posted by Blogger Jeff'y at October 09, 2005 8:26 PM | Permanent Link to this Comment
  • Yeah, but what do you call the state change of solid directly to gas?

  •   Posted by Blogger Anna at October 09, 2005 9:25 PM | Permanent Link to this Comment
  • As you perfectly well know (and I know you know because you got 100 on the Chemistry regents in 1995, and I know that cause you told me), when a solid changes directly into a gas without stopping at the liquid phase, that is called sublimation. The relatively esoteric reverse process is known as either deposition or desublimation. And it's a phase change, not a state change. A state change is something you get after an election in Congo.

  •   Posted by Blogger Jeff'y at October 10, 2005 5:47 PM | Permanent Link to this Comment
  • You're sweet to humor me, though.

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Friday, October 07, 2005

All's Well that Ends Well. Twice.

More from the annals of public transportation: This morning I arrived at the Amtrak station at 5:44, with forty luxurious seconds to spare. Michael had heroically braved the chilly morning to see me off before leaving to catch his flight to Sioux Falls, SD (motto: We Are Too a Real City). When we rolled up, it was immediately apparent that the 4:45 train had not arrived on schedule to pick up its load of vampires and speed freaks. The problem was a truck on the railroad; the prognosis was that Mike would make it to Sioux Falls before I made it to Biostatistics.

Fortunately, I bethought me of Ada. Ada is the other MPH student mad enough to commute from Davis to Berkeley. Actually, she's madder, cause she has to drive 20 minutes to get to the train station. That meant she had a car, though, which was obviously clutch. I flagged her down, and she said we could drive in if we found a third passenger so we could use the carpool lane. I noticed a guy I'd met a few weeks ago, the one who told me about the karoake (henceforth to be known as Amtrak Dave unless I come up with something cleverer). Dave agreed to ride with us into Berkeley and catch BART from there to his office in Oakland. Road Trip!

After a detour to the gas station and a detour to Woodland to fetch Ada's driver's license, we were on our way. We had quite a good time, and to my secret annoyance, we arrived early. The three of us reassured each other that the drive would have been hellish in rain, and there was no denying that the car trip disrupted our morning. Ada had planned to use the train ride to write a paper. I had planed to take care of some grooming I forwent in the rush to the station. Dave had planned to pee. None of these goals were accomplished in the car.

On my way home this afternoon, however, the train was punctual to the second. Inevitably so, some would say, since I was stuck at a red light two blocks away watching it punctually leave without me. I crankily betook myself to a neearby Peet's, thus breaking a successful two week coffee house fast. This, too, proved good fun though. There were two collies and a gentle pit bull taking the sun by my table, and a handful of babies who were very excited to see them. One of them became so excited that his diaper fell off and came down his pant leg, much to his parents' embarrassment.

The pit had been lying quietly behind my chair the whole time, and eventually one of the mothers asked if it was my dog. When I said no, a general unease rippled through the assembled coffee drinkers as they realized we had an ownerless pit bull in our midst. A Peet's barista (I believe that is the respectful term) came out and the dog submitted to much petting and a thorough inspection of her tags. They told us nothing useful. The Barista circled the building, calling out for the dog's owner. The dog seemed to feel that she was alone again and begain to cry. We were about to give up and call the ASPCA when I noticed what seemed to be the doggie equivalent of a money belt on her collar. We unsnapped it and aha! there was the dog's name, Sidney, and the owner's phone number.

Just at that moment, a gentleman coming out of Peet's stopped and said, "Oh, is that Sidney?" "Do you know her?" asked the Barista. "Yeah," the gentleman replied, "She's Jeff's dog. I didn't recognize her at first because she's normally so lively. She must be scared without her daddy." It turns out that Tim (for such was the gentleman's name) works at a nearby homeless center, and knew Jeff and his two dogs quite well. The barista put him on the phone and he convinced Jeff that Sidney was here waiitng for him. Tim kept her company for a few moments, and sure enough, Jeff appeared to collect his dog, who waggled alll over in her relief and joy. Then I caught the next train home.

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Thursday, October 06, 2005

Yo, Mnemosene, what gives?

Sarah called me up last night because she had a song stuck in her head. To be specific, it was a song she'd heard exactly once, during a school assembly we attended in the 5th grade. A Brearley alum had brought her college a capella group to perform for us, and they sang a song of her own composing, titled "My Baby Loves Trash." Sarah thought it was really weird that she even remembered the song, much less had it stuck in her head, so she called me. "Ok, I know this is a long shot, but do you remember this song..." she explained to me the situation, and goddamn if I wasn't able to sing to her two lines, "My baby loves trash/my baby leaves his trash all over the house," and even added in the clapping. Once Sarah had reminded me of the line "I think it's time to trash my baby," I had it in my head too. Isn't that insane?

As a footnote, I looked it up and it turns out the song wasn't actually of the girl's composing. It's by some ex-group called The Bobs, and the lyrics are available to the curious.

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Wednesday, October 05, 2005

And a Happy Anniversary to You!

Yes, it began with one poorly-punctuated post some 365 days ago.

It's hard to believe that we've through a year, one that included Ayelet Waldman, Stringer Bell, my wife's hot friend searches and Anna-authored sports postings.

We hope you've enjoyed reading. We've enjoyed writing.

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Who the Fuck is Harriet Miers?

I don't want to say that President Bush's newest nominee for the Supreme Court is unqualified, but I hear his first choice -- a ham-and-cheese on white bread with the crusts cut off from Terry's Sandwich Shop -- turned him down cold

This is clearly a trick by the Republican Party, but I can't quite figure out what the angle is. Either they know she has a judicial philosophy straight out of the 1930s, or they expect that Scalia and the dread-Justice-Roberts will keep her in line when it comes time to overturn Roe v. Wade. Or, maybe they want the Democrats to reject her so there can be a open war over the next pick, since clearly the GOP has to energize Christian conservatives in time for mid-term elections.

Also, is anyone else noticing a pattern? Dick Cheney was asked to help vet Vice Presidential possibilities and then Bush chose him to be VP. Miers helped vet Roberts and now, suddenly, she's a nominee. So, I would like to hereby volunteer my services to help the President select a new ambassador to France.

2 Comment(s):

  •   Posted by Blogger Rich at October 05, 2005 2:41 PM | Permanent Link to this Comment
  • Because of her last name, I thought she might have been married to a general in the Imperial Army. Being so closely connected to the Empire, I knew for certain what her views are on abortion, gay rights, etc. However, I double-checked and realized that the general I was thinking of was named Veers, not Miers. Boy was I wrong! Still, if you check out his biography, I think most of their views should still be quite similar.

    Anyway, there was a rumor going around the dinner table last night that her life partner is Condi. Spread the word.

  •   Posted by Blogger Unknown at October 05, 2005 3:48 PM | Permanent Link to this Comment
  • That's cute. The next president dating a Supreme Court justice. So much for the separation of powers.

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Tuesday, October 04, 2005

In Which I Point out that I Suck at Networking

Three examples in support of the above assertion:

At temple this morning I ran into my recent former boss, of whom I am fond, and who Mike reports knew all the Hebrew in the songs. I made sure to tell him that I had a new boss, who knows him from his public health student days. Some might call this ass-backward networking, letting someone know when they could have been helpful to you two weeks ago.

Then during my Aging and Public Health class, we had a guest lecturer in to talk about cognitive functioning and dementia. This happens to be what I'm hoping to pursue in my own work; our regular professor (who is also my advisor) suggested I get with the guest lecturer a month ago just to introduce myself and whatnot. Somehow I never got around to it. Today's class would have been a great opportunity, but during the break I nervously played with my fingernails instead of approaching him and my only contribution the whole afternoon was to volunteer to take a frontal lobe test in front of the class (I did well, meaning I do not have dementia, or if I do it's probably Alzheimer's).

Then while waiting for my train home, I ran into someone who had recently been a guest lecturer in my other seminar. She has a background in public health and anthropology, and she's done a lot of work in Haiti. I mentioned to her that I and three of my colleagues were going to give a presentation on Maternal and Child Health in Haiti in the coming weeks and she said I could pick her brain in the train (not only a gruesome image, but one that rhymes). Only the thing is, none of us have started any of the reading on Maternal and Child Health in Haiti because we have midterms and our presentation isn't for another six weeks. So basically, we made small talk about balancing a marriage with an international career, and touched briefly on her kidnapping. After which, let me tell you, I felt like a moron telling her about how I snapped and insisted we move out of Hobbs the day the washing machine was jacked.

I am no good at networking.

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Monday, October 03, 2005

Shana Tovah!

So, it's Rosh Hashana, and we're not the sort of Jews* who suspend blogging on High Holy Days. We don't, for that matter, suspend anything except some comsumption of crap TV shows. Tonight we attended services at Bet Havarim, the local synagogue here in Davis. This time of year their congregation swells to something like four times its normal size, so they provide two separate services in order to fit everyone in. Last year we attended the traditional service and felt a little self-conscious about our lapsed (Mike) and fake (me) Hebrew. This year we attended the contemporary service, and while I felt a little more relaxed, Mike pointed out that the whole thing lacked gravitas. And although I had a good time, I do think it's important that we not relax our strict condemnation of the liturgical use of guitars.

*Apologies to those readers who don't consider me any sort of Jew at all**.

**An interesting aside; this summer someone asked me if I was Jewish in my brother's hearing and David answered that I was half Jewish and he was a quarter Jewish. That made a good amount of sense until a few hours later when it occurred to me that since we share 100% of heritage that was very meta indeed.

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Sunday, October 02, 2005

A Brief History of Wasted Time

I have spent the better part of the day cruising satellite pictures of Sioux Falls, S.D. on Google Earth, lamenting how lame the city looks from 1,000 feet up. I have to go there next week for a football game, and, because of the vagaries of airline scheduling, I'm going to have to stay over the Saturday night after game, even though it starts at 1 p.m. local time and I'll be done with all my writing by 6:30 (CT) or so. I'll report back as to whether there's anything to do on a Saturday in swinging Sioux Falls.

Anticipating my absence, Anna decided to do a city search for stuff to do in the Bay Area next weekend. Her search led her to a show with "Dr. Stephen W. Hawking."

"Are they serious?" she asked.
"Yeah," I said. "Isn't it Stephen F. Hawking?"
"Are you serious?" she asked.

Google searches yielded a similar biography for both Stephen W. and Stephen J. Anna slowly backed away from the computer. Her biggest fears are "confusion and infinity" and this particular episode happened to incorporate elements of both.

As it turns out Google takes you to the same biography of the noted scientist with just about any middle initial. My favorite was the full-throated defense of gun ownership alluded to by Stephen E. Hawking.

7 Comment(s):

  •   Posted by Blogger Jeff'y at October 02, 2005 3:06 PM | Permanent Link to this Comment
  • Are Anna's two biggest fears really confusion and infinity? I'm asking as a fan of both.

  •   Posted by Blogger Anna at October 02, 2005 4:26 PM | Permanent Link to this Comment
  • Really. I'm suprised you didn't know that already.

  •   Posted by Blogger Jeff'y at October 02, 2005 5:16 PM | Permanent Link to this Comment
  • And this is why you won't read Infinite Jest? (Which, I'll admit, is a pretty damn confusing book.)

  •   Posted by Blogger Rich at October 03, 2005 10:18 AM | Permanent Link to this Comment
  • I am kind of scared of the dark. Come to think of it, that fear is kind of like confusion and infinity wrapped up into a ball. I don't know if that is my greatest fear though. Clowns are pretty high up there.

  •   Posted by Blogger Anna at October 03, 2005 6:04 PM | Permanent Link to this Comment
  • I won't read Infinite Jest because whoever borrowed your copy never gave it back. That sounds like it has a clown in it, too, though.

  •   Posted by Anonymous Anonymous at October 03, 2005 7:34 PM | Permanent Link to this Comment
  • It's arguable whether it has clowns, but as it doesn't have much makeup I feel they're not so scary.
    - sol

  •   Posted by Blogger Jeff'y at October 04, 2005 7:12 PM | Permanent Link to this Comment
  • Infinite Jest does not have clowns. Ummm, I'm pretty sure that it doesn't. Scotter is the only one who would really know.

    I bought a new copy because with the White People in Boston, I didn't think I had much chance of getting it back from Ryan's friend. And I obviously couldn't be without a copy, as situations arise in which I need to skim it looking for clowns.

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