7/31/2004 02:26:00 PM|W|P|PJ|W|P|Guardian Unlimited | Guardian daily comment | Anybody but Bush - and then let's get back to work I don't agree with everything Ms. Klein has to say here--for example, I think that thoughtful-type people of a left-wing persuasion really do have more in common with the Democrats than the Republicans. But there's a lot of truth in the charge that one of the worst side effects of the present state of political affairs is that it has made many of the President's opponents feel compelled to stamp their feet in impotent (and horribly undignified) rage. I would like to bring to your attention a throwaway line near the end of the op-ed, because I think it's an important way to get at what this election is really about:
The other day, I was ranting to a friend about Kerry's vicious support for the apartheid wall in Israel, his gratuitous attacks on Hugo Chavez in Venezuela and his abysmal record on free trade. "Yeah," he agreed sadly. "But at least he believes in evolution."
Klein's friend, I think, has nailed it. If anything he understates the importance of the belief-in-evolution gap between the candidates. And I say this not because I'm a single issue pro-paleontology voter. It's because the present election is not so much a clash of ideologies as it is a duel of mindsets. Think about what it means to not "believe" in evolution: to genuinely pitch overboard a mountain of scientific evidence, to dismiss the word (and professional reputation) of thousands of people who have devoted their lives to the subject, to denigrate science itself as being without value if its conclusions clash with your intuitive personal faith in what is Really True. It's an American political commonplace that there is something inherently virtuous about faith. We're not a really sectarian nation--one of the cliches of the cartoon image of old-timey Norman Rockwell America has been the call to Worship At The Church Of Your Choice. (And one of the remarkable social movements of the last thirty years has been the abandonment of a lot of the really vicious anti-Catholic and anti-Jew prejudice of the American Protestant Evangelical movement.) But you can't really get anywhere in American public life unless you think there's something importantly good about the belief in things unseen--that is to say, the public is uncomfortable with men and women of knowledge and power unless their bedrock beliefs are the same as those of the masses--viz., that the Utimate Truth is out there, and anyone, without any need for any hard-won tricks of knowledge or language, can achieve it. No wonder it's been a winning (though divisive) strategy in the battle for hearts and minds to cast the evolution debate as a choice between two things you can "believe in." As soon as science is presented an alternative belief system, it becomes a massively unappealing choice: its conclusions are (by design) tentative and its methods and language require patience and intellectual effort to learn. Better, perhaps, to just stick with what you know in your gut. Consider, now, the sad case of Mr. George W. Bush, evolutionary agnostic, a man for whom the words "patience" and "intellectual effort" are cues to reach for his revolver. When the belief in things unseen translates into a belief (despite all contradictory evidence) that the world was created in a flash of divine light 6,000 years ago, that's a gut-punch to everyone who has struggled through the turgid prose of Darwin or the stilted technicalities of a hundred scientific monographs in order to understand why the world of life is the way it is, but we'll get over it. When the faith in things unseen translates into a rock-solid faith in nuclear warheads unseen, then the grand old American tradition of simple piety and evangelical certitude starts to ring up a body count. The importance of the next election is not that John Kerry will be revolutionizing policy--he won't, even if people on the left have made a sport of exaggerating the similarities between the two parties--but he will be approaching policy decisions with a mind that is open to ideas beyond those which he knows that he knows. We minimize the importance of that difference at our peril.|W|P|109130200429789718|W|P|belief|W|P|10/14/2005 05:08:00 AM|W|P|Anonymous Anonymous|W|P|I was searching for chicago cubs screensaver and found your site.

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Dave7/29/2004 08:49:00 PM|W|P|PJ|W|P|"How do you ask a man to be the last man to die for a mistake?" If John Kerry makes it into Bartlett's Familiar Quotations, it will be for that line. And yet it doesn't make it into the biographical filmlet shown at the Democratic convention. Hmm.|W|P|109115216961882873|W|P|hmm|W|P|7/25/2004 06:40:00 PM|W|P|PJ|W|P|"Certainly, being First Lady was not on [Theresa Heinz Kerry's] radar screen when she married John Kerry." Certainly? Like it never occurred to her?|W|P|109079883776468716|W|P|randomly flipped to cnn and i hear this:|W|P|7/25/2004 01:37:00 AM|W|P|PJ|W|P|There exists a Flash adaptation of Punch Out! Why was I not notified?|W|P|10907374754680971|W|P|damn!|W|P|7/25/2004 01:03:00 AM|W|P|PJ|W|P|Pandagon: Plans Just because I average fewer than 20 daily visitors? Is that any reason to deny me a ticket to the convention?|W|P|109073538074645742|W|P|righteous indignation cafe, pt. 2|W|P|7/24/2004 08:02:00 PM|W|P|PJ|W|P|If everyone who's ever honked away on one of those infernal droning plastic horns was immediately bodily assumed into heaven, I would be a happy happy man. If you replaced the word "heaven" in that last sentence with "hell," I would be at least equally happy and probably more so. Either way they're out of my hair.|W|P|109071806698727763|W|P|this is going to mean nothing to the 99% of you who don't watch televised american soccer, but|W|P|7/24/2004 06:24:00 PM|W|P|PJ|W|P|A reader raises a good point in a comment on this post:
"Well, tenure's a real problem. On the one hand, lots and lots of stupid, incompetent, and lazy people get tenure. On the other hand, anybody who doesn't have tenure risks getting d*cked over at any minute, take it from me. The tenure system does suck, but it may very well beat the only available alternative..."
For my part, I don't have a major problem with the tenure system, for much the same reason. Any system that offers de facto lifetime job security is going to produce its share of goldbrickers, but I don't think that really is a fair description of most of the teachers I've met. But I think that these days, tenure is a hard sell politically. I would guess that a sizeable majority of the public is employed at will and are thus constantly under the threat of being dicked over at any minute and thus don't see what's so special about teachers being in the same position as everyone else. That may be true or not in reality, but I think that coupling a proposed raise in teacher pay with the need for some sort of giveback by the unions will make it more politically palatable for would-be voters riding the fence. The conservative approach to education has gotten some political traction, in part because "running schools like a business" is a good sound bite answer to a problem that some voters think liberals aren't addressing at all. Obviously, there's a lot wrong with the bottom-line approach to education reform, but until there's a valid-sounding counter-proposal, no one's going to listen to the criticisms.|W|P|109071145096919118|W|P|a good point|W|P|7/24/2004 03:58:00 PM|W|P|PJ|W|P|All this jibba jabba about the wisdom of crowds can go take a hike. You see, I am of the opinion that our present President is not a bright man. I do not say this just because he seems to lack any extraordinary degree of knowledgability or worldliness, or even because he seems spectacularly uncurious about anything outside of the tiny sphere of personal interests he's had for years. What alarms and disturbs me about the intellect of the President is that he seems to respond to provocations by forming an immediate gut reaction to which he clings without a moment's thought devoted to any other possibilities, and this devotion to the one signal idea leads to a full-bore commitment to find a solution, no matter how contrived, to something that may or may not have been the problem in the first place. e.g.: Terrorists blow up the World Trade Center and a chunk of the Pentagon. The immediate gut reaction, the signal idea that has illuminated the last two-plus years is: This is the new Pearl Harbor. The problem with that line of thought is, when the Japanese sink your fleet, you hit them back as hard as you can, and thus you win. (Or so I'm led to believe, having watched the fine documentary film Pearl Harbor, directed by Michael Bay.) The geopolitics of the post-9/11 world have been devoted to a naive belief: that terrorism is an ideology as opposed to a warfighting technology, and furthermore, it's an ideology that, like Nazism or Japanese militarism, has a capital city. Thus, war. In Iraq. Now, you can talk all you like about the more machiavellian motivations of the President's underlings and the crude racism and blood-lust that seems (at a deep level) to motivate some of our hawkish bretheren to cheer on the war, and that's all well and good. But those underlings presumably serve at the pleasure of their boss, and he, for one, seems genuinely wedded, intellectually speaking, to the stated reasons behind our post-9/11 actions. So. My point is that one man, armed with a good-faith belief in ideas that stem from a genuine idealism, can produce really shitty results, if said man's ideas were not really adequately thought through. So. If you're like me, you're probably wondering at this point what all this has to do with college football. I'll tell you. I was reading about the new BCS formula and it occured to me: this is the seedbed for this sort of knee-jerk reaction. No one--no one--seems to have devoted a moment's thought to any more fundamental response to the flaws in the system than to gin up a contrived solution to something which wasn't really the problem in the first place. Dozens of people at the BCS and NCAA are working on the new formula, hundreds of sportswriters are commenting on the new formula, and thousands, if not millions, of football fans are in some way affected by these decisions, and no one that I have read has been moved to make the obvious point: there is simply no way to design a system that will, year in and year out, produce exactly two teams who are the only bona fide national championship contenders. What happened last year was this: LSU and USC both lost one game at midseason to good but not great opponents, while Oklahoma merrily whomped the hell out of all of their opponents until the Big 12 championship game, when they were upset by Kansas State. What we had, then, was three very good teams from major conferences which each sported exactly one loss. One might reasonably assume from this that there were three teams of quality, and it would be difficult to determine which of the three was the best in the land. But attitudes like that don't get you a gig as a sportswriter. By the peculiar logic that underlies college football poll voting, Oklahoma's late-season (as opposed to mid-season) loss meant that Oklahoma was clearly a worse team than either LSU or USC, and so both of the rankings determined by voting (the AP poll and the coaches' poll) ranked USC first and Oklahoma third. But the computer rankings that are another component of the BCS ranking formula still had Oklahoma ranked first, and when all the numbers were crunched, the national championship game featured LSU and Oklahoma. Much gnashing of teeth and rending of garments followed. It was obvious to everyone involved that USC was getting robbed, and that the only thing holding back the true clash of the nation's two best teams was a buncha pointy-headed nerds and their computers, and needless to say, computers don't know nothing 'bout no football. (The possibility that groupthink, regional prejudice, limited information, hype and self-interest may have unduly influenced poll voters was not, to the best of my knowledge, ever considered.) But nothing could be done. Oklahoma lost to LSU in the "national championship" game, USC won its bowl game, the two polls split on who was the national champion, and everyone took home half a baby. Anyway, after this debacle, the braniacs at the BCS decided that they would tweak the formula in the hopes of finding a "true champion." And so the slide-rule brigade retired to their offices and emerged blinking into the sunlight earlier this month with a system that--wonder of wonders--would have produced a USC-LSU national title game, had it been in place last year. And so you see the same bent reasoning we've come to know and love from the White House employed in a context that doesn't end up with a lot of people getting killed: a reasonable belief that the present system is producing a less-than-ideal result becomes quickly transformed into an unshakeable belief that USC is obviously the best team in the country, and all subsequent actions are animated by that belief. The comparison may seem silly, but I really believe there's something to it, and it's this: powerless people are on the lookout for something to hit back against. When they hit back against a target that doesn't really personify the actual problem, it's not scapegoating, per se. Oftentimes the real villain is so big or so slippery as to be unassailable, and so some minor and vulnerable aspect of the real problem comes to symbolize the whole thing in the minds of the public. 9/11 exposed a very real national vulnerability to a method of war-fighting that is highly unlikely to go away any time soon, and that vulnerability leads us to crave a simple solution.|W|P|109066670327021021|W|P|failures of the war on terror can all be explained via a close reading of the new bcs formula|W|P|7/24/2004 02:30:00 PM|W|P|PJ|W|P|I was pleased to discover that Stand By Me is, unlike many of the iconic films of my childhood, actually pretty decent. But damn. That voiceover narration is an ongoing insult to my intelligence. You know how they say "show, don't tell?" They tell. A lot.|W|P|109069771782812207|W|P|misty watercolor|W|P|5/21/2006 06:45:00 PM|W|P|Blogger Drivin' in my car|W|P|Yeah Baby!7/23/2004 12:45:00 AM|W|P|PJ|W|P|I would like to begin with a note of thanks for having bankrolled Lost In Translation, which is a fine motion picture that I was glad to have purchased on DVD. Now, Universal Studios, you may chomp the royal prong for putting five minutes and twenty two seconds of previews which must be watched or fast-forwarded past before I (who, as I mentioned earlier, have purchased this DVD, using cash money and everything) may go to the attractive and understated main menu or otherwise watch the film. You may gag yourself on the aformentioned royal prong for your positively loathsome decision to disable the immediately obvious ways (viz., the main menu button or the chapter-skip button) of skipping the aforementioned five minutes and twenty two seconds of preview material. Only a frantic search of the menus on this particular laptop's DVD player program finally revealed an option of fast forwarding at 32x speed. You may pose smilingly for a hitherto-concealed digital camera with the effluvia of the royal prong festooning your face for having the gall to helpfully tell me at the beginning of the five minutes and twenty two seconds of preview material that "[I] may fast forward to the main menu." Oh, may I? Thank you so very very for the permission to do what I damn well feel like with the DVD which I paid for with my own personal private money, earned with the sweat of my manly brow, etc. Thank you for making what I previously regarded as a fairly obvious part of my rights as a consumer of your products seem like an unimaginably remote privilege while you tear a labrum from the force of patting yourselves on the back for willfully and intentionally offering a less attractive alternative as a favor to those who don't feel like sitting through five minutes and twenty two seconds of previews for the high-quality offerings from Focus Features. If I awoke tomorrow to discover that vandals had broken into my house and installed a PA system in my bedroom that was programmed to play five minutes and twenty two seconds worth of the Michael Jackson/Paul McCartney duets "Say Say Say" and "The Girl Is Mine" every morning at 6:30 AM, would I be mollified in the least if the vandals had also left a note that read "you may wear earplugs?" Hells no. I was fine before hypothetical vandals started piping wretched-ass music into my house at ungodly hours, but now I'm unhappy, and the key to making me happy again is to not do it in the first place. Furthermore, Universal Studios, I invite the images of you getting freaky with the royal prong to be incorporated into a video called "Major Hollywood Studios Gone Wild 7: Too Hot For TV!" (the makers of which will at least have the goddamned sense to know that their customers don't want to sit through five minutes and twenty two seconds of previews before they see gratuitous shots of major Hollywood studios yanking their tits out of their tube tops, dammit.) I extend this invitation because your five minutes and twenty two seconds of previews are absolutely thrilled with how incredibly forward-thinking and groundbreaking the work underwritten Focus Features really is. If you're so damn great, how come you don't have enough sense to spare your customers the agony of sitting through five minutes and twenty two seconds of self-congratulation? So, in conclusion: you may go to hell. And I may Own My Copy of Swimming Pool Today on DVD. But I won't. Even if, as I am led to believe, Ludivine Sagnier spends significantly more than five minutes and twenty two seconds of the movie naked. So neeyah.|W|P|109056449563128058|W|P|universal studios: from hell's heart i stab at thee|W|P|7/23/2004 10:28:00 AM|W|P|Anonymous Anonymous|W|P|dearest p.j.,

neeyah?

sincerely,
e.r.7/23/2004 08:36:00 PM|W|P|Blogger PJ|W|P|neeyah.

as in the sound you make when you contemptuously stick out your tongue.10/09/2005 09:26:00 AM|W|P|Blogger Jim Naka|W|P|Your blog is excellent - keep it up! Don't miss visiting this site about toy hobby7/22/2004 12:50:00 PM|W|P|PJ|W|P|A question: How did the Amish know when to stop? By which I mean: What yardstick can you come up with that says that horse-drawn buggies are decent and godly, and pickup trucks are sinful and decadent? (Or whatever; I'm not so much interested in Amish theology except as a symbol of what I'm talking about.) And that is: The dilemma of the "moderate" social conservative is perfectly symbolized by the horse and buggy vs. pickup question: of course, the gains made by, say, the civil rights movement are good and fine, they say, but they've just gone too darn far these days. I.e., this much progress (that has already happened) is swell but more progress is a threat to the Republic. (And if you put your ear to the right part of the Georgia soil, you can hear echos of the same line of thinking spoken forty-odd years ago in a car on the way to Lester's place for a five-piece chicken dinner and an axe handle.) The place where the Amish and the social conservatives diverge is on the question of consistency over time: in order to properly conform to the model of the Amish, the conservative response to past social revolutions would have to be a hell of a lot more stubborn. In truth, you don't really see anyone worked up over repeal of the poll tax or women's suffrage these days. (Well, almost no one.) No one serious is agitating for the re-establishment of the slave trade or of religious tests for voting. The Amish, for the most part, seem to have stuck to their guns with regard to modern technology, whereas conservatives over the years seem to be constantly superimposing a decline-and-fall story on whatever time period they find themselves in: everything was OK x years in the past, but everything will go to hell pretty soon if something is not done to halt Scary Social Movement y. What brought this on: Daniel Radosh was nice enough to shoot a link my way, and he brings up a good point in the comments to the post in question:
peddlers of the Red/Blue theory usually imply (and sometimes openly state) not just that Blues have different interests than Reds, but that Blues are out of touch with Red (i.e., mainstream) America.
I answer the accusation of the theory-peddlers with a hearty guilty as charged. What did contemporary Red America's intellectual ancestors say about gays 30 years ago? About women's rights 35 years ago? About a Catholic president 45 years ago? About integration 50 years ago? How incredibly foolish do those positions seem in retrospect? And yet, the American "mainstream" had to be dragged kicking and screaming into a long and painful process of acclimating to social changes that, despite dire predictions, did not, in fact, pull down the structure of American society. So, insofar as being out of touch with the mainstream means being ahead of the curve and not looking like a cranky asshole in hindsight (and the historical record seems to indicate exactly that), color me deep blue.|W|P|109052275445117770|W|P|the amish-republican dilemma|W|P|7/20/2004 11:35:00 PM|W|P|PJ|W|P|"Hot For Teachers" by Jonathan Schorr It's an idea that's been kicked around before, and I'm not sure how "quietly radical" it is, but I like the idea of exchanging an end to tenure for a raise in teacher pay with performance bonuses. I think it's both good politics and good policy for the Democrats to shiv the teacher's unions a little, especially if it's in the context of a larger plan that will strengthen the public school system, and increasing pay to attract better teachers can and should be a cornerstone of that plan. My pet hypothesis is that the women's movement destroyed public education as we know it. In the olden days, all women (save the most extaordinary among them) were shut out of most professional and academic careers. Women with the brains and capabilities to become doctors were steered into becoming nurses instead, and academically-inclined women squeezed out of academia became elementary and secondary teachers instead. Also, the expectation was that one would marry early to a man that would then become the family's primary breadwinner--any income the wife earned is a windfall. Thus you have two ingredients for a good educational system at a low price: a large number of talented workers with limited alternative options, and a relatively carefree attitude towards pay. As the social revolution of the last 40 years has taken shape, those talented professional-minded women have quite sensibly looked towards those fields that pay them commensurate with their worth, with no one immedately stepping forward to fill the gap. Something has to give, because it's neither desirable nor possible to turn back the clock on the economic mobility of American women, and you can't offer would-be professionals in the Naughty Aughties a payscale more appropriate to the Fabulous Fifties and expect to attract the best. Reforming education is a Nixon-to-China task--that is to say, only a Democrat has the politcal capital to do it, in the same way that only a conservative Republican who had spent his life wallowing in Red-baiting could recognize China and survive. Will John Kerry actually do it?|W|P|109038454755235476|W|P|waldo|W|P|7/23/2004 02:49:00 PM|W|P|Blogger Winston Smith|W|P|Well, tenure's a real problem. On the one hand, lots and lots of stupid, incompetent, and lazy people get tenure. On the other hand, anybody who doesn't have tenure risks getting d*cked over at any minute, take it from me. The tenure system does suck, but it may very well beat the only available alternative...7/20/2004 09:18:00 PM|W|P|PJ|W|P|I've been thinking a lot about the strengths and weaknesses of democracy lately. Which is why I am moved to speak to you today about dildos. The AP is reporting that Johnson County, Texas is dropping the charges against a woman who was arrested for selling what the wire service is rather vaguely calling "sex toys" to undercover police officers. The concern is that such a prosecution would be a waste of county resources. (Quite rightly a concern, I might add.) I will spare my audience the ringing Churchillian defense of dildos and the righetous condemnation of laws banning same. I'm pretty sure I'm on the same page as all y'all on this question. My bigger point is this: one of the major weaknesses of Democracy As We Know It is that it's slow to respond to obvious silliness like this. Texas quite clearly doesn't need a law to protect its citizens from the threat of former schoolteachers hawking sex toys to suburban housewives. And if you thought that the little things like rapes and murders would engender a somewhat lassiez-faire attitude towards dildo-law enforcement, apparently you'd be wrong in at least one case. Right-wingers have been complaining about "activist judges" usurping the law-making authority of legislatures ever since...err...well, ever since at least the Brown vs. Board of Education decision. (But they don't like to talk about that.) And a reasonable case can be made for the proposition that they have a point, at least in some cases. But if you ask me, the very existence of a dildo law makes a strong case for an activist judiciary. Legislators, especially state legislators, are, as a rule, creatures of inertia, cowardice and greed. If there's no one with power advocating a needed change, it is rare to find them taking a stand of their own volition in order to make that change happen. So transparently silly laws remain on the books, because no one is pushing to have them removed. One of the assumptions which underlies democracy is that the remedy for bad lawmaking is to elect better legislators. This assumption, unfortunately, only seems to be true insofar as the bad legislation is as easy to repeal as it is to pass. But it's pretty legitimately difficult to be the guy who stands up in the well of the Texas Lege and demands the repeal of the dildo law, never mind being the guy who spends two weeks convincing the other guys to go along with you, and the rewards for doing so are pretty slight, there being very few single-issue dildo voters. [It's not just picayune bad ideas like dildo laws that's the problem. Think of how much easier it is to pass a tax cut than a tax increase, and you've discovered a cornerstone of the long-term Bush strategy.] In cases such as this, the judiciary acts as a sort of a safety valve for idiot legislation: judges strike down worthless laws so that legislators don't have to, and legislators can claim with a straight face that they tried their best. There's plenty wrong with this process, not the least of which is that it feeds the cycle of phony outrage over activist judges scuttling ill-concieved God, guns 'n gays legislation and thus works to strengthen the Right in the long run. But better a system with a poor check on bad ideas than one with no check whatsoever.|W|P|109020349953511082|W|P|hooray for activist judges!|W|P|10/03/2005 01:46:00 AM|W|P|Blogger Julian Silvain|W|P|This blog is awesome! 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Advanced Big 45 Personality Test Results
Gregariousness ||||||||| 30%
Sociability ||||||||| 22%
Assertiveness |||||||||||| 38%
Poise ||||||||||||||| 42%
Leadership ||||||||| 30%
Provocativeness ||||||||||||||| 46%
Self-Disclosure ||||||||||||||| 50%
Talkativeness ||||||||||||||||||||| 66%
Group Attachment ||||||||| 26%
Extroversion |||||||||||| 38%
Understanding |||||||||||||||||||||||| 74%
Warmth ||||||||||||||||||||| 62%
Morality ||||||||||||||||||||| 62%
Pleasantness ||||||||||||||||||||| 70%
Empathy |||||||||||||||||| 54%
Cooperation |||||||||||||||||||||||| 74%
Sympathy |||||||||||||||||||||||||||| 82%
Tenderness |||||||||||||||||| 54%
Nurturance ||||||||||||||||||||| 66%
Friendliness ||||||||||||||||||||| 66%
Conscientiousness ||||||||| 22%
Efficiency ||||||||| 22%
Dutifulness ||||||||||||||| 50%
Purposefulness ||||||||| 22%
Organization |||||||||||| 34%
Cautiousness ||||||||| 22%
Rationality |||||||||||| 38%
Perfectionism ||||||||| 22%
Orderliness |||||| 14%
Orderliness ||||||||| 27%
Stability |||||||||||||||||| 54%
Happiness ||||||||||||||| 50%
Calmness ||||||||||||||||||||| 70%
Moderation ||||||||||||||||||||| 62%
Toughness |||||||||||||||||| 58%
Impulse Control ||||||||||||||| 46%
Imperturbability ||||||||||||||| 46%
Cool-headedness ||||||||||||||||||||| 70%
Tranquility |||||||||||| 38%
Emotional Stability |||||||||||||||||| 54%
Intellect |||||||||||||||||||||||||||| 90%
Ingenuity |||||||||||||||||||||||| 74%
Reflection |||||||||||||||||| 58%
Competence |||||||||||||||||| 58%
Quickness ||||||||||||||||||||| 66%
Introspection |||||||||||||||||||||||||||| 86%
Creativity |||||||||||||||||||||||||||| 86%
Imagination |||||||||||||||||| 58%
Depth |||||||||||||||||||||||||||| 82%
Openmindedness |||||||||||||||||||||||| 73%
Take Free Advanced Big 45 Personality Test
personality tests by similarminds.com|W|P|109021599346077719|W|P|more fun with personality tests.|W|P|7/21/2004 12:48:00 AM|W|P|Anonymous Anonymous|W|P|is "nurturance" even a word?7/21/2004 01:04:00 AM|W|P|Blogger PJ|W|P|Well, dictionary.com says it is, but it is one butt-ugly word, ain't it?7/22/2004 12:50:00 AM|W|P|Anonymous Anonymous|W|P|it's no "convivial" or "atumnual", that's for sure!7/22/2004 12:51:00 AM|W|P|Anonymous Anonymous|W|P|and i just spelled "autumnal" wrong, what a jackass.7/18/2004 01:11:00 PM|W|P|PJ|W|P|Thomas Frank drops the knowledge in the New York Times. I have, for years, played footsy with the theory that important people in the Republican party are toying with the Christian right--feeding them a nonstop series of meaningless gestures to keep the mouthbreathers pacified while the grownups get down to the serious work of dismantling the capital-gains tax, weakening environmental regulations, etc. Of course, as Frank notes, an actual victory for the culture warriors on school prayer or abortion or gay marriage or whatever is one less shiny object they can use to distract the hoi polloi. So it is not only important that such initiatives be proposed, it is just as important that they be rejected. There's a danger in taking this line of reasoning too far--it's easy to hear that and not fear for the future of the Republic, because, hey, the worst excesses of the Republican elite are just window-dressing. But consider: these symbolic defeats are not just in the service of distracting the simpleminded from the substantive issues of the day. The greater purpose is to create an ongoing meta-story of American politics. This story, in Frank's words, tells us "that the country is run by liberals; that the world is unfair; that the majority is persecuted by a sinister elite." These meta-stories have consequences down the line--consequenes that the initial tellers cannot always forsee. The conservative meta-story of Vietnam--that we would have won but for the weak-kneed politicians and nosy reporters and pinko intellectual snot kids--has had a profound effect not only on contemporary political narrative but also on honest-to-God policy decisions in, say, Iraq: viz., rampant paranoia about the press, a high-handed disdain for legislative or judicial inquiry into the warmaking process, a total rejection of the opinions of countless experts and academics, etc. Perhaps these attitudes are a result of our nation's leaders genuinely believing their own press releases. Perhaps one generation's myths have become another generation's facts. Perhaps they do know better but can't afford to rock the boat, politically speaking. Regardless of the motives of the people who put them there, when soldiers start coming home in boxes, it's hard to continue to think of the process as merely absurdist political theater.|W|P|109017737343471795|W|P|gay marriage and political narrative|W|P|7/18/2004 03:27:00 AM|W|P|PJ|W|P|Let us set aside the question of whether it's morally defensible to kick felons (who have served their time) off the voting rolls in the first place.   Let us set aside the question of whether it's practically prudent for county boards to use a purported list of felons, the construction of which a bipartisan commission calls negligent at best.   I have a more nitty-gritty-type question in mind. Why (he asked sweetly and innocently) are the same people who four years ago were so upset by the danger to equal protection inherent in different Florida counties having different ballot-counting standards so seemingly OK with some counties using an obviously flawed and incomplete list to purge their voter rolls? |W|P|109013996023523271|W|P|a disingenuous question that's still worth asking|W|P|7/18/2004 02:39:00 AM|W|P|PJ|W|P|number of different beds the author has slept in during the last week: 6 number of days this week that the author has slept in the bed that most accurately can be called "his": 1 number of times the author has been in a non-standard sleeping arrangement due to the suggestion of or invitation to same by an authentic and presentable-looking human female: 4 number of different authentic and presentable-looking human females in question: 4 number of times said sleeping arrangements have involved sharing a room with said females: 3 number of times said sleeping arrangements have involved sharing a bed with said females: 2 number of instances of actual romantic and/or erotic activity on the author's part during the course of this week: 0 |W|P|109013703781061459|W|P|not a complaint. merely an observation.|W|P|7/15/2004 04:59:00 PM|W|P|PJ|W|P||W|P|108992878359496415|W|P|bleh|W|P|7/14/2004 04:08:00 PM|W|P|PJ|W|P|Red or Blue�Which Are You? - Take the Slate quiz. By Anne E. Kornblut I'm pretty much smack dab in the middle, which leads me to think that the quiz is failing in its stated goal, because my correct red answers (e.g., I know who Lee Greenwood is, I could tell you off the top of my head which schools are in the Big 12, etc.) are not at all reflective of the background noise of my surrounding community, which is one of the "bluest" towns in all of Flyover Country. Some strangeness: why does knowing where Door County is make you a red-stater? [Door County is a Wisconsin vacation destination, and I would reckon that 90-95% of the people who visit it are from Wisconsin, Illinois, Michigan, Minnesota, and Iowa, all of which are "blue states," even if many of their residents are not "blue-state" people.] Likewise, is it incriminatingly "red" to know the names of the Quad Cities? (Gore, incidentally, carried all of the Quad Cities' counties in 2000, which are located between blue-state Illinois and blue-state Iowa.) Maybe I'm overthinking what is, after all, intended to be a bit of fun. But what frustrates me about the more glib and simplistic varieties of the red America-blue America hypothesis is that it lacks predictive power: your cultural touchstones are, at best, a rough guideline to how you'll vote or even as to where you live. (I'm not the only blue person living in a blue place who knows this stuff; anyone from hippy-dippy Austin, TX knows damn well that the 'Horns never play Indiana State.) This is especially frustrating because, beneath all the cutesy anecdotes, there's an interesting question to be pondered: why is it that a significant voting block in the left-of-center Democratic Party are well-to-do professionals, and why is it that a significant voting block in the right-of-center Republican party are working class folks?|W|P|108983928135602280|W|P|cool toy|W|P|10/08/2005 08:27:00 PM|W|P|Blogger Jim Naka|W|P|Hi i am totally blown away with the blogs people have created its so much fun to read alot of good info and you have also one of the best blogs !! Have some time check my link of kid toy.7/13/2004 03:11:00 PM|W|P|PJ|W|P|SI.com - Writers - Verducci: Handicapping the second half - Tuesday July 13, 2004 12:56PM This article is pitched as "Fearless Predictions" on the front page of SI.com, but the predictions themselves are almost comically timorous. Though the first half of the article talks about how many current playoff-race leaders could possibly end up on the outside looking in, when the writer actually commits himself, he predicts no imminent demise of the Yankees or Cardinals, picks the division-leading White Sox to win the AL Central, picks the A's to overcome their mammoth two-game lead in the AL West, and makes no predictions whatsoever in the NL East and West. Hey, Tom, it won't kill ya to go out on a little tiny limb. Promise.|W|P|108974946379759074|W|P|fear|W|P|7/13/2004 02:38:00 PM|W|P|PJ|W|P|Chicago Tribune | Ditka tells GOP he's game In a way, because I love political theater, I'm kind of rooting for this to happen. But that's counterbalanced by my terror at the mere possibility that he might, you know, win. For my part, I was just going on ten years old when the Bears won the Super Bowl, so I was at the perfect age to worship all things '85 Bears, and I drank deep from the well. [For people who aren't from Chicago or are Chicagoans of recent vintage, it's hard to remember how epochal the Bears Super Bowl win really was. The Cubs and White Sox are, of course, legendary in their historical mediocrity, the Bulls were pretty much a civic joke, and the Blackhawks hadn't lifted a Cup since the Sixties. The baseball teams teased us in '83 and '84, but actual major sport championships? The last was in 1963. This town was so starved for a winner that there was a downtown ticker-tape parade for the Sting--who, bless their souls, were a soccer team. Additionally, the '85 Bears had an abundance of "personalities," including Ditka himself, whose penchant for obnoxious bluster was a lot more palatable in the service of a trophy-winning team. It also didn't hurt--and I hesitate to bring this up but candor compels me--that many of those personalities were of a distinctly pale hue, which I think helped a lot of people wholeheartedly embrace the team. Chicago, in its way, was (and to a lesser extent is) as racist as any place in America, and Ditka played the image of the team as a bunch of hard-working "Grabowskis" for all it was worth, an image the public was eager to embrace in the Washington-Vyrdoliak-Byrne years of outright racial warfare in government. ("Hard-working" being often deployed by sportswriters and fans as a racial codeword, embracing the myth-story that white athletes are get where they are through pluck, hard work and the American way while black athletes are merely touched by God.) Even to this day, civic adulation and media mini-stardom has been suspiciously more forthcoming for the white '85 Bears than for the black ones--who, with the excepion of Payton, the Fridge, and maybe Singletary, were commonly regarded as interchangeable parts.] The years, however, have not been kind to Mike Ditka, who went on to win another two (2) playoff games in his remaining seven (7) years with the team, and he is not the secular Chicago saint he once was, which is part of why I'm skeptical of his ability to actually win a Senate seat. There is the aforementioned penchant for bluster, the subneanderthal political views, and the fact that--how shall I say this?--Mr. Ditka is not the brightest candle in the menorah. So I'm still confident of an Obama win. But Ditka seems like a more viable Republican candidate than many of the names being bandied around.|W|P|108974753184912989|W|P|ditka! consternation! uproar!|W|P|7/13/2004 06:00:00 AM|W|P|PJ|W|P|A Blind Date Of The Damned, courtesy of Write On, Megs, via Unfogged. Every time I get to feeling crappy about my mediocre writing skillz and my dim future economic prospects, I take a side trip to Cover Letters From Hell and I get to feeling so much better. Likewise, whenever I start to thinking I shall never find True Love again, it's heartening stories like this that remind me that I am not at the absolute bottom of the barrel. In fact, it would seem that I am capable of achieving almost Rickjamesian levels of superfreakery compared to someone who apparently opens his conversations with quotes from the Monster Manual. Though I bade a hearty farewell to my little velvet sack of dice at age, err, 11 or 12, I know several reasonably well-adjusted adults who are into role-playing games, so it's foolish to regard that as an automatic deal-breaker. But day-umn. Thirty seconds into the conversation with a unknown human female is not the time to breach the subject. It's early in the hand--lead a good card, dude. But that's small beer compared to the next complaint on the list: 3) He proceeded to complain about getting kicked off his gaming internet site for the next 20 minutes. Jeebus. I'm doing a little creative visualization work trying to imagine myself on a date with someone who is discoursing on a topic of an analagous level of dullness to "disputes with internet website moderators." Assuming the 20 min. figure is not merely comic exaggeration, I can easily see myself scanning the restaurant walls for fire boxes I could surreptitously pull to end that topic of conversation after...mmmm...five or ten minutes, tops.|W|P|108971641637892529|W|P|wookin pa nub|W|P|7/08/2004 10:20:00 AM|W|P|PJ|W|P|Lighter than usual blogging for the next few days because of vacation to sunny southern Cali. Blogging density will be dependent on availability of spare time. Spare time will be dependent on how much my charming host chooses to be a slug-a-bed. It's all, like, interconnected, maaan.|W|P|108930001268938999|W|P|liteblogging|W|P|7/10/2004 12:25:00 PM|W|P|Anonymous Anonymous|W|P|more like HIM being a slug-a-bed. don't let him fool you folks, he's one lazy sum'bitch.7/13/2004 04:55:00 AM|W|P|Blogger PJ|W|P|silence, woman.7/06/2004 09:23:00 PM|W|P|PJ|W|P|Here's the test. Below are my answers. My convergence score is a respectable 54%. 1. Fred Astaire or Gene Kelly? Astaire. 2. The Great Gatsby or The Sun Also Rises? Tragically, I have not read TSAR. 3. Count Basie or Duke Ellington? Ellington. 4. Cats or dogs? Dogs, though I'm not overfond of either. 5. Matisse or Picasso? Picasso. 6. Yeats or Eliot? Yeats. 7. Buster Keaton or Charlie Chaplin? Chaplin. Never understood the Keaton hype. 8. Flannery O�Connor or John Updike? Updike. 9. To Have and Have Not or Casablanca? Casablanca. 10. Jackson Pollock or Willem de Kooning? de Kooning. 11. The Who or the Stones? Tricky. Give it to the Who by an eyelash. The Stones have the better body of work, but the Who's highlights are more trancendently wonderful. 12. Philip Larkin or Sylvia Plath? Larkin, bitches! 13. Trollope or Dickens? Haven't read enough Trollope to make a call. 14. Billie Holiday or Ella Fitzgerald? Billie. 15. Dostoyevsky or Tolstoy? Dostoyevsky. 16. The Moviegoer or The End of the Affair? Pass. 17. George Balanchine or Martha Graham? Pass. 18. Hot dogs or hamburgers? Hamburgers. 19. Letterman or Leno? Letterman, mostly because I merely dislike him as opposed to hating Leno. 20. Wilco or Cat Power? Wilco. 21. Verdi or Wagner? Verdi. 22. Grace Kelly or Marilyn Monroe? Kelly. 23. Bill Monroe or Johnny Cash? Cash. 24. Kingsley or Martin Amis? Pass. 25. Robert Mitchum or Marlon Brando? Brando. 26. Mark Morris or Twyla Tharp? Pass. 27. Vermeer or Rembrandt? Rembrandt. 28. Tchaikovsky or Chopin? Chopin. 29. Red wine or white? I hate wine. 30. No�l Coward or Oscar Wilde? Wilde. 31. Grosse Pointe Blank or High Fidelity? High Fidelity. 32. Shostakovich or Prokofiev? Pass. 33. Mikhail Baryshnikov or Rudolf Nureyev? Pass. 34. Constable or Turner? Turner. 35. The Searchers or Rio Bravo? Pass. 36. Comedy or tragedy? Comedy. Even if you're talking Shakespeare. 37. Fall or spring? Spring. 38. Manet or Monet? Manet. 39. The Sopranos or The Simpsons? The Simpsons. 40. Rodgers and Hart or Gershwin and Gershwin? Pass. 41. Joseph Conrad or Henry James? Conrad. 42. Sunset or sunrise? Sunset. 43. Johnny Mercer or Cole Porter? Pass. 44. Mac or PC? Mac. 45. New York or Los Angeles? Never really visited either, have no desire to live in either place, but my gut tells me that I'd prefer Enwye. 46. Partisan Review or Horizon? Pass. 47. Stax or Motown? Motown. (Stax is the prestige choice but Motown has gotten to the point where it's so overrated it's become underrated, if you follow me.) 48. Van Gogh or Gauguin? Van Gogh. 49. Steely Dan or Elvis Costello? Not even close--Elvis Costello. 50. Reading a blog or reading a magazine? All things being equal, blog. 51. John Gielgud or Laurence Olivier? Pass. 52. Only the Lonely or Songs for Swingin� Lovers? Pass. 53. Chinatown or Bonnie and Clyde? Ernm....Chinatown. 54. Ghost World or Election? Wow. Election, by a nose. 55. Minimalism or conceptual art? Minimalism. 56. Daffy Duck or Bugs Bunny? Bugs. 57. Modernism or postmodernism? Postmodernism. 58. Batman or Spider-Man? Batman. 59. Emmylou Harris or Lucinda Williams? Emmylou. 60. Johnson or Boswell? Pass. 61. Jane Austen or Virginia Woolf? Pass. 62. The Honeymooners or The Dick Van Dyke Show? Pass. 63. An Eames chair or a Noguchi table? Pass. 64. Out of the Past or Double Indemnity? Pass. 65. The Marriage of Figaro or Don Giovanni? Figaro. 66. Blue or green? Blue. 67. A Midsummer Night�s Dream or As You Like It? Midsummer Night's Dream. 68. Ballet or opera? Definitely opera. 69. Film or live theater? Film. 70. Acoustic or electric? Electric. 71. North by Northwest or Vertigo? Pass. 72. Sargent or Whistler? Whistler. 73. V.S. Naipaul or Milan Kundera? Pass. 74. The Music Man or Oklahoma? Pass. 75. Sushi, yes or no? Yes. 76. The New Yorker under Ross or Shawn? Pass. 77. Tennessee Williams or Edward Albee? Albee. 78. The Portrait of a Lady or The Wings of the Dove? Pass. 79. Paul Taylor or Merce Cunningham? Pass. 80. Frank Lloyd Wright or Mies van der Rohe? Wright. 81. Diana Krall or Norah Jones? If death is not an option, then Krall. 82. Watercolor or pastel? Watercolour. 83. Bus or subway? Subway. 84. Stravinsky or Schoenberg? Stravinsky. 85. Crunchy or smooth peanut butter? Smooth. 86. Willa Cather or Theodore Dreiser? Pass. 87. Schubert or Mozart? Mozart. 88. The Fifties or the Twenties? The Fifties. 89. Huckleberry Finn or Moby-Dick? Moby-Dick. 90. Thomas Mann or James Joyce? Pass. 91. Lester Young or Coleman Hawkins? Pass. 92. Emily Dickinson or Walt Whitman? Dickinson. 93. Abraham Lincoln or Winston Churchill? Lincoln. 94. Liz Phair or Aimee Mann? Even given her latest stumbles, Phair. 95. Italian or French cooking? Italian. 96. Bach on piano or harpsichord? Harpsichord. 97. Anchovies, yes or no? No. 98. Short novels or long ones? Short. (Though one of my all-time faves is Infinite Jest--go fig.) 99. Swing or bebop? Bebop. 100. �The Last Judgment� or �The Last Supper�? Pass|W|P|108916872945192310|W|P|death is not an option|W|P|7/06/2004 06:11:00 PM|W|P|PJ|W|P|The hacks on CNN this morning were trying to think back to the last time a Presidential ticket featured someone as inexperienced in government as John Edwards. (They eventually settled on Spiro Agnew.) I'm going to assume that it's politeness that caused them to forget about how much experience the current President had when he was elected at the head of the ticket.|W|P|108915610669593522|W|P|politeness|W|P|7/06/2004 04:31:00 PM|W|P|PJ|W|P|John Kerry made himself a little announcement today. Thoughts: 1. Me likee. Edwards was my second choice in the Democratic presidential field, after Dean, and he was the one whose rep got the biggest boost in my eyes during the primary campaign--a lot of us libs thought of him as this sort of lightweight centrist prettyboy and then came away impressed by, among other things, his "Two Americas" spiel: in part because it's good political rhetoric and in part because it's a degree of attention to poor people that is unusual for the modern Democratic party. 2. Why that matters: for one thing, getting poor people to vote wouldn't hurt. Second, I suspect this will help solidify some of the more sane Nader 2000 voters. (Part of the appeal of Ralph Nader four years ago, for me anyway, was not so much a belief that he or the Green Party had superior answers to the Democrats but rather a belief that he was asking questions that the major parties weren't interested in--and a lot of the most powerful questions had to do with poor people.) Third, and potentially more importantly, I think that this announcement will help with white evangelical Christians, a group which broke pretty heavily for Bush in the last election. Many of them will not be dissuaded this time around, but there's a significant number of swing voters who, despite their cultural conservatism, also have a sense of the social Gospel. (What's more, many of them are themselves members of the working poor.) A man who can use their language to make a case for the Bush administration's failure to help the people at the bottom of the pyramid has the potential to peel off enough of these evangelical swing voters to win some races. 3. Everyone's looking forward to the vice-presidential debate. I'm not. Everyone already expects Edwards to wipe the floor with Cheaney. By the time the actual debate rolls around, the expectations are going to be so low for him that the VP/Prince of Darkness will "win" if he fails to emit a five-foot-long stream of drool the first time he opens his mouth. Remember, it was similar low expectations (and the pathetic weakness of Joe Lieberman) that gave him the win in the VP debate of 2000.|W|P|108915510951380576|W|P|obligatory john edwards post|W|P|7/06/2004 03:28:00 AM|W|P|PJ|W|P|quoth the man:
I don't want to sell anything, buy anything, or process anything as a career. I don't want to sell anything bought or processed, or buy anything sold or processed, or process anything sold, bought, or processed, or repair anything sold, bought, or processed. You know, as a career, I don't want to do that.
|W|P|108910252342882097|W|P|job hunt blues|W|P|7/06/2004 08:58:00 AM|W|P|Anonymous Anonymous|W|P|are you going to join the pro-am kick boxing circut?7/06/2004 09:18:00 AM|W|P|Blogger PJ|W|P|I'm going to follow in the footsteps of some of the champions of the sport...Don "The Dragon" Wilson, Benny "The Jet" Arcadia...have you heard of them?

I can see by your face that the answer's no.7/01/2004 04:19:00 AM|W|P|PJ|W|P|I've got a Gmail invite to burn. Send an e-mail or comment on this post if you want it.|W|P|108867356628746105|W|P|are gmail accounts something people still want?|W|P|