Thursday, June 27, 2002

Are you doing it right? - Peeling bananas, that is. Apparently the latest studies show that peeling from the bud end (as opposed to the stem end) is easier and results in fewer of those annoying string thingies. Unfortunately, the latest studies consisted of about a half-dozen people, so, as always, more study is needed. I was disappointed to hear that my personal favorite method for eating bananas is not listed. Granted, it's a bit labor intensive, but it's one of the best campfire recipes out there. Take a banana and peel back the segment of the peel on the inside of the curve, but do not remove the peel. You're unbuttoning the banana, not undressing it. Cut a V-shaped groove in the exposed flesh of the banana, and eat the piece you cut out. Fill the groove with marshmallows and chocolate chips, then replace the peel. Wrap the whole thing in foil and put it in the coals of the fire for 15 minutes or so. Remove, cool slightly, unwrap and dig in. It's a good thing.


Here's where I fit on the Cartesian graph of politics, in case you were wondering. Click the graphic to take the quiz.
Read this before you freak out about the whole pledge of allegiance is unconstitutional thing.

Monday, June 24, 2002

Lileks bitches about being asked for his phone number - He's at one of those mega chain stores trying to give them his money, and before they'll take his money, they also want his phone number. He very politely declines to give it, and gets a blank look in response. Now, maybe it's me. Maybe I've been incredibly lucky in my shopping habits. But I've had this happen dozens of times, and here's how the dialogue generally runs:

Clerk: "Can I have your area code and phone number?"
Me: "I'm sorry, I don't give it out."
Clerk: "Oh, no problem." (hits the "1" key ten times, or puts in the store's phone number, or something)

Exactly one time there has been confusion over my refusal to give out my number, and that was at a store that had been open for exactly two days, the clerk was new, and I was the first privacy freak she'd dealt with. Every other time, there's been no problem. Is it just me?
Another Bitter, Single Woman Vents Her Frustration at the Institution of Marriage - Oh, wait. I'm divorced now. Right. In that case, Heather Havrilesky pens yet another brilliant article for Salon, in which she dissects the misconceptions and miscommunications of the marriage mavens who are out to tell us that it don't mean a thing if you ain't got that ring. I was particularly struck by her quoting of James Q. Wilson's description of two nations, a Stepford wonderland of two-parent families and white bigot fences vs. a crackhead heaven of single moms and sexually predacious young men.

Well, I just got back from a canoe trip in very, very southern Missouri. My canoe partner has a daughter, his step-child from a previous marriage. She's nine, and she's got a motley assortment of parents that definitely doesn't fit the "standard model" and I'm confident she's going to turn out just fine, largely because the people who are raising her are raising her with love and intelligence. I have another friend who's going to become a single dad in a couple of months. Another who is raising the daughter she conceived by artificial insemination. I am confident that every single one of those kids is going to turn out fine. I'm not so confident about some of the kids I saw hanging out at the take out point on the Eleven Point River this weekend. For instance, there was the couple who might have been out of high school who took their 11 month old daughter on the river with no PFD.

It's just a marriage license, guys. It won't make you smarter, stronger, more faithful, more compassionate, or a better parent. And why are these people in such a rush for single moms to get married, but freak out if my friends David and Chester want to?

Oh, and there are pictures from this weekend.

Friday, June 21, 2002

Fucking MO GOP - You've gotta love the Missouri Republican Party. Now they're attacking Jean Carnahan for receiving worker's comp death benefits for her husband's death while he was campaigning. Here's the issue: Missouri law has pretty well established that the Governor is always the Governor, and the Governor is always on the job. So, the fact that Mel Carnahan died in a plane crash on the way to a campaign appearance does not mean that he didn't die on the job.

But if you want something a little lighter, try this story on a local opera company. Apparently there's something of a feud brewing between the artistic director and the board. The artistic director got abusive in a meeting and had to be removed by police. So, he dressed up as a bum, came back and started berating them all over again. Jesus, what planet is this guy from?
There aren't many people to whom this will make any sense, but what the hell, sometimes that's just the way the Jell-O judicates.

Thursday, June 20, 2002

Restoring the imperial presidency - Bruce Shapiro on the Bush White House undoing (or trying to undo) post-Watergate reforms. It's a nice reminder that the restraints on the FBI and CIA that Ashcroft is blaming for their not seeing Sept. 11th coming were put in place for very, very good reasons. Shapiro argues, quite successfully, I think, that rather than being an outgrowth of Nixon's paranoia, the abuses surrounding Watergate were the result of a power overdose.

If the pre-9/11 intelligence failures point to anything, it's that our intelligence agencies need to take a step forward, toward more openness and transparency, not a step backward into more unexamined power. The pieces were all there, but we couldn't put them all together because nobody ever put all the pieces of paper on one table for somebody to look at. But I haven't heard Ashcroft propose anything that would solve that problem. Instead, he wants to be able to know what buttons I press on my phone.

I swear, if I'd known this was going to happen, I would have just voted for him back in November. At least in the Senate, he'd be just another windbag. Talk about unforeseen consequences...

Wednesday, June 19, 2002

My New Neighbor - I don't know her, haven't met her, and can only make judgements based on her personal appearance, her car, and her friends. Her friends say things very loudly that I wouldn't even say quietly, peel out when they drive away, and even managed to leave tire marks in my front yard, which is a hell of a trick considering that the first 4-5 feet of my yard goes up from the street at about a 60 degree angle. As far as her car goes, well, she has kickers. Kickers are like plaid pants. People that have them think they look cool, but they're really just a way of inflicting your bad taste on the world.

I'm not saying she's a bad person, but based on what I've seen so far, I'm hoping she's renting month to month until her trailer gets delivered.

Tuesday, June 18, 2002

More Error Poetry - There's been a new entry to the Limerick Error Message page, but it's not a limerick. But when someone comes to you with a three word haiku 404 not found message, you can't ignore it. For those of you too lazy to click, here it is:

Hypertextual
Inaccessibility
Notification.

Thanks, Lisa.

Monday, June 10, 2002

This is what evolution looks like - We all know the music industry is changing. Clear Channel owns most of the radio stations and promotes most of the shows, with the result that you very rarely hear anything new and interesting on the radio. Meanwhile, the prices of concert tickets keep going up, while promoters do interviews saying, "Sure, tickets to the Rolling Stones cost $2,500. But we're only charging that because people are willing to pay it. If they weren't willing to pay, then the tickets would be cheaper. It's not our fault; blame capitalism." Michael Wolff argues that these are all symptoms of the evolution of the music industry into irrelevance.

Monday, June 03, 2002

It's all about the brain... - David Barash reviews two books on the brain and the mind, Calvin's A Brain for All Seasons and Miller's The Mating Mind. Calvin suggests that the mind provides fitness because of rapid climate change, which gives an advantage to the creature which can most quickly adapt to changing circumstances. Miller suggests that we're barking up the wrong tree by looking for fitness in the brain; that the mind is, essentially, a sexual ornament, like the peacock's tail. Well, I don't know about you, but that's certainly how I use my brain.