My local postal carrier doesn't deliver packages to my apartment. Instead, I'll find an orange post-card in my mailbox telling me to go to the Winter Hill Post Office branch to pick up whatever it is I've received that's too large to fit in either a) my mailbox or b) the carrier's mail-pouch. The post-card gives no information about the possible contents of the package.
The Post Office branch is two or three blocks away -- about a five minute walk. While I'm walking to pick up the package, I play a game with myself. I call the game "Guess What's in the Package." This game consists of me attempting to guess what's in the package.
For me, five minutes is the perfect length of time to reach internal concensus. It's enough time to weigh all the possible package options, to discard the unlikely choices, to decide finally on that one perfectly-imagined package at which the neon-probability-arrow is pointing.
I don't like to brag, but I'm very good at "Guess What's in the Package." My record so far this year: 11-1 (how the hell was I supposed to know that the previous occupant's Spiegel catalog was waiting for me?)
More Robert Frost, but only briefly. I'm reading Jay Parini's excellent Frost biography, Robert Frost: A Life
. Last night, I came across this Frost quotation:
"A liberal is a man too broadminded to take his own side in a quarrel."
The heat in my apartment does not work. Normally, you would assume that this means my apartment is cold. That, however, is not the case here. No. Oh no. My apartment is 80 degrees with the windows open. The heat is stuck on. This has been happening intermittently for the last couple of months -- a couple of weeks of normal heat, then boom, Equatorial Guinea.
I wouldn't mention this, except today I got home and turned on the cold water and got hot water instead. This is in addition to the 80 degree rooms. Let me repeat: no cold water, apartment 80 degrees.
I'm not real religious, so can someone tell me if I am in hell?
has a blurb this month about left-handedness (full disclosure: I am left-handed):
"At the age of ten, 15 percent of the United States population is left-handed. At twenty, 13 percent is left-handed. By the age of fifty, the proportion drops to 5 percent, and beyond the age of eighty, it is less than 1 percent." (source)
There are, as I see it, three possible explanations for this:
1) People switch from being left-handed to right-handed over the course of their lifetime, but not the other way around.
2) Left-handed people die earlier: either the left-handed are, by nature, accident-prone or living in a right-handed world exerts coronary-inducing stress on them.
3) There is increasingly less and less pressure put on kids to become right-handed if their natural inclination is to use their left hand.
I'm pretty sure that #3 is the right explanation, but wouldn't it be interesting if it turned out to be #1 or #2? Curse you, Occam's Razor!
I think I can quantify how lazy I am.
The raw data:
- I left my apartment last night to go and play squash at the local YMCA. As I stepped out the door of my apartment, I realized that I had forgotted my Y medical plan discount card. With the card, squash costs $5. Without the card, squash costs $10. I went back and got the card. The total distance from the front steps of my apartment to my apartment and back is 100 feet. (See figure B -- why do these always have to be in order, anyway?)
- Two days ago, I had to return a movie to the local video store. The video store is within walking distance of my apartment. In the morning, I brought the video down to my car -- intending to return it in the afternoon after I returned home from work. When I got home from work, I forgot all about the video and, insteading of returning it, went to my apartment and opened my mail. After twenty minutes or so of lounging around, I realized that I had forgotten to return the movie. Instead of returning it then, however, I decided to do it the next afternoon after work. The cost of a 1-day late-fee at my video store is $3.50. The total distance from my apartment to my car and back is 700 feet, give or take. (See figure A.)
If we were to express my laziness in terms of money divided by distance, we can then say that my laziness tipping point is somewhere between .5 and 5 cents per foot.
I just went to run an errand and while I was in the car I listened to part of the Red Sox-Yankees spring-training baseball game.
I have this feeling (and I don't think I'm alone here) that spring-training baseball is, in some sense, not real: the players only play a couple of innings each, nobody wants to get hurt so they don't try to make amazing plays, etc.
Trot Nixon was batting for the Red Sox and he got hit by a pitch. The announcers said that he was hopping around in pain. Then the manager took Trot out of the game. I thought: "Why is he in pain after getting hit by a spring-training pitch?"
Apparently, I don't think they use real baseballs in spring-training.
I've been having a good week. An excellent week. The last six or seven days nothing has gone wrong. Seriously. Nothing. I'm having a week that's shining with the glow of human possiblity. My message: It has been a good week.
The kicker: It's starting to make me feel bad.
A note to prospective employers:
I am a lousy employee.
Today we found out that we were losing our DSL service (Verio decided they didn't want small business customers -- it's either a T1 or the highway). My first thought: It's going to be nice and quiet around here for a couple of days.
This weekend felt like the end of winter. It’s still cold when the wind blows, but in between those gusts you feel as if you can take your jacket off.
On Saturday, I went with my father for a walk at the Silvio O. Conte National Fish and Wildlife Refuge. (There are a bunch of bald eagles up there. They have a camera pointed at the nest. Very cool.)
On Sunday, I went with a couple of friends to walk around Mt. Auburn Cemetery in Cambridge. Mt. Auburn is a beautifully landscaped cemetery. It has two ponds, a hill with a tower (closed still) that affords you a great view of the city, and all of the many, many different types of trees are labeled.
As we were coming down the hill and about to go home, a couple stopped us. "Check this out," the man said.
In amongst a bunch of tall headstones, all bearing the name "Fuller," was a small stone, which read:R. Buckminster Fuller
'Call Me Trimtab'
July 12, 1895 - July 1, 1983
married July 12, 1917
Anne Hewlett Fuller
January 9, 1896 - July 3, 1983
Carved into the stone were pictures of a geodesic dome and a rose. We stood around for a while and talked to the couple about all of the remarkable things about this gravestone (the fact that husband and wife died within three days of each other, the curious "Call Me Trimtab" inscription, the small size of the stone).
I don't know much about Buckminster Fuller -- I know about buckyballs and that's about it. When I got home, I looked up the story of "Call Me Trimtab." Here's how Fuller himself describes the expression (excerpted from the tape transcript of a Playboy interview):
"Something hit me very hard once, thinking about what one little man could do. Think of the Queen Mary-the whole ship goes by and then comes the rudder. And there's a tiny thing on the edge of the rudder called a trim-tab. It's a miniature rudder. Just moving that little trim-tab builds a low pressure that pulls the rudder around. Takes almost no effort at all. So I said that the little individual can be a trim-tab. Society thinks it's going right by you, that it's left you altogether. But if you're doing dynamic things mentally, the fact is that you can just put your foot out like that and the whole big ship of state is going to go. So I said, 'Call me Trimtab.'"
I really like this idea -- that change can happen almost-retroactively through small actions. Fuller goes into more detail on this in a 1963 work "New Forms vs. Reforms":
"Philosophically it is clear that trim-tabs occur in trailing edges of trailing devices—in the tail-end of tail-end events—at the stern of the ship as the last event and not at the bow as the first event. The bow is important to keep the ship on a chosen course but the stern rudder puts and holds it on chosen courses. The real steering takes place when the non-scientifically-informed observer thinks everything is “all over.” But that final steering has to be done from “on board.” Just “having the last word” from away back in the wake of the ship is futile. Scientists have often said that the most important part of their greater discoveries occurred at the outset, in the proper formulation of the project’s objectives, forgetting that those enlightened formulations were really the after-image inducements of tail-end events of earlier and seeming failures of experimentation."
On Friday, I went to a bar with a friend of mine who is doing graduate work in generative linguistics at MIT (in increasing order of specificity, he's studying: generative linguistics, semantics, pronouns). When he tries to explain to me what exactly he is working on, the conversation goes something like this:
Him: I'll try to make it as simple as possible. People in generative linguistics currently think there are two ways in which pronouns are used. Here's an example of the first: "Every boy thinks he is smart." In this sentence, the "he" refers to "every boy." This is the common contruction, where the pronoun refers back to the subject of the sentence. You with me so far?
Me (what I say): Yes.
Me (what I think): No.
Him: OK, here's the second type of pronoun usage: "Every man who has a donkey beats it." This is more complicated. The "it" here doesn't have the subject as its antecedent, but rather the donkey, an object. Get the general idea?
Me (what I say): I think so.
Me (what I think): There was an episode of Friends where Ross says "donkey." "Donkey" is a funny word. He should study that. Donkey, donkey, donkey.
Him: So, what I'm trying to do is come up with a theory that reconciles these two different types of pronoun usage.
Me (what I say): Wow, that's cool.
Me (what I think): Donkeys are funny.
Him: Why are you smiling?
Me: Oh, no reason, go on.
A statement, followed by a question and answer, which prompts two follow-up questions and answers. Imagine that the person asking the questions is someone other than myself:
Statement: I think William H. Macy is a great actor.
Question: Mark, have you seen the new Microsoft commercials where William H. Macy supplies the dialogue?
Answer: Yes, I have.
Question: Does your liking William H. Macy make you like Microsoft more than you had previously?
Question: Does this make you a corporate shill?
Answer: Almost certainly.
To quote Greg Knauss, my commute home this evening was "hellish ... an evil commute."
It has rained for the last two days, more or less straight. If the biblical, world-covering rain = x, then this week's rain is x/20. It feels like we're 5% of the way to washing away.
What this four inches of rain means practically is that all the lakes and rivers (the blue areas on the map) are now over-flowing. The road I take home was closed today because the two blue blobs on either side of the yellow road became, inexplicably, one BIG blue blob. All the traffic was diverted onto side roads.
I knew the commute home would be bad. The point, however, where I knew it would be "hellish" was when I saw a caravan of 15 cars make a u-turn over a median to go the wrong way up an exit ramp. That's never a good sign. I was glad that I didn't have a sun-roof, because I suspect that I would have seen the sky open and the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse descend on Arlington, Massachusetts.
This is a little frightening.
The NASDAQ composite index is, I think, trying to send us a signal about who's at fault for the collapse of the economy. There's a big "W" hanging out right there in the middle of the graph. It's the newest type of stichomancy.
As I was driving home today, I listened to sports talk radio. (Did you know that Frank Castillo had a subpar outing for the Red Sox today?) These gems were uttered in successive sentences:
- "If a wheel ain't broken, don't fix it."
- "It's like a needle in the ocean."
My CD player is refusing to play my Gordon Lightfoot CD. Insert sarcastic comment here.
The International Necronautical Society
has a manifesto
, part of which reads:
...we shall take it upon us, as our task, to bring death out into the world. We will chart all its forms and media: in literature and art, where it is most apparent; also in science and culture, where it lurks submerged but no less potent for the obfuscation. We shall attempt to tap into its frequencies - by radio, the internet and all sites where its processes and avatars are active. In the quotidian, to no smaller a degree, death moves: in traffic accidents both realised and narrowly avoided; in hearses and undertakers' shops, in florists' wreaths, in butchers' fridges and in dustbins of decaying produce. Death moves in our appartments, through our television screens, the wires and plumbing in our walls, our dreams. Our very bodies are no more than vehicles carrying us ineluctably towards death. We are all necronauts, always, already.
I can't tell if this is creepy or not. I cannot make heads or tails out of that site -- very inscrutable. There's an interview conducted by the INA with two members of the Association of Autonomous Astronauts
(the only apparent correlation between these groups is that they both want to sail places where people shouldn't sail). Here's a part of the interview:
TMcC (INA spokesman): Finally, aliens. Do you have any position with relation to?
JS (Astronaut wannabe): My own position's always been: the only way to find out is to build your own spaceship and get up there. If there is extra-terrestrial intelligence, they may well be waiting for us to develop beyond the need for government and state and corporate space agencies.
TMcC: It's definitely something worth thinking about. If four hundred years ago the Europeans had worked out what they were going to do when they got to the Americas if there happened to be someone else there first. Maybe there should be a bill of rights for aliens, to avoid a second era of slavery.
JS: Well, NASA have discussed the need to convert aliens to Christianity. For our part, we've talked about the need to make a good first impression if we meet aliens. There's been an ongoing discussion about what type of clothes we need to wear. There's a hardcore element that calls itself the 'sharps', and they think we have to dress smart.
TMcC: Armani suits.
JS: Well, no: they're actually skinheads. They want to dress in a skinhead style and continue the kind of moonstomping concept. On the other extreme.
Err, umm, meh, gah. What's going on?
Last night I was watching some MTV show about living like a rock star. It was the typical fawning-over-rock-star pablum MTV tends to produce. (Don't get me wrong here, I love MTV -- I know more about 'n sync that the typical thirteen-year-old girl. Please don't judge me.)
The best part of the show:
Toomy Lee was getting interviewed and just as he was about to say something shocking, he turns around to make sure no-one is listening. Tommy Lee is, apparently, not the sharpest knife in the drawer. He wants to be careful that the five people lounging around his pool don't hear what he has to say, but those ten million people watching on TV? Not so much.
I think that all men believe towels are possessed of a preternatural ability to clean, regardless of how dirty the towels themselves are.
Clifford Irving has fashioned himself into a semi-legitimate writer. He now writes true-crime and mystery novels, a sort of poor-man's Truman Capote. Irving is, of course, famous for perpetrating on the publishing industry the Howard Hughes biography hoax
Two years ago, I did a web search for Clifford Irving and came up with a site that claimed to be selling Irving's famously-never-published Hughes biography, complete with Iriving's signature, for $25. I immediately ordered a copy -- I entered my billing information, my credit card number, etc.
The $25 charge appeared on my credit card a month or two later, but I never received the book. Should this surprise me?
After this post, I'm finished with the Robert Frost marathon. I promise. Next week: Joyce Kilmer. Why? Because trees are "lovely." That's some unimpeachable logic, no? (I'm joking. There will be no, I repeat, no, Joyce Kilmer.)
The New York Times, on its web site, has archived a piece which originally appeared June 11, 1972. The piece, "Robert Frost's Last Adventure," written by Stewart Udall, the Secretary of the Interior in the Kennedy Administration, is about a trip Frost took to Russia in the summer of 1962. Frost met with Khrushchev (then caused a minor political crisis upon returning to the U.S. when he misquoted what Khrushchev said). My favorite part of the piece is this exchange between Frost and Andre Malraux:
Frost: The Government can use a poet to serve its purpose -- but when he is no longer useful, the Government has a right to cast him off.
Malraux: Yes, but that is not the ultimate truth. Think of Caesar Augustus. The poet Virgil was used by him, was part of his circle of advisers. But today Virgil is the one we remember.
Frost: But that was a long time coming.
Malraux: But isn't that what we're for?
Now, it's off to some bar to drink green beer and listen to people grouse about Boston College's basketball team. Do people outside of Boston understand what a big deal people make out of St. Patrick's Day here?
1. Boldness of enterprise; initiative or aggressiveness.
2. Guts; spunk.
3. Common sense.
Gumption, for me, is a word that stops sounding like a word the more you say it. Gumption, gumption, gumption. Another: snack. Snack, snack, snack.
My grandparents (on my father's side) knew Robert Frost. My grandfather, George Anderson, was an English professor at Brown and taught summers at Breadloaf School of English in Vermont. Breadloaf is just up the road from Frost's long-time residence (the Homer Noble Farm) in Ripton, Vermont. Frost was around Breadloaf quite a bit, sometimes in an official capacity, but most of the time just for the conversation. (Frost was something of a talker, according to my grandmother. My grandmother once told Frost near the end of a very, very long dinner party that he had to leave her house so that she could go to sleep. This, apparently, took some gumption.)
My grandmother, over the course of the last ten years, has given me the Anderson collection of Frost poetry books. The books are all signed by Frost with nice, personal notes to my grandmother or grandfather. My father's standard joke about this is, "If you find one without his signature, it's worth something."
I've been re-reading them. Here's a poem I really like. (I'm sorry. Not only is it poetry, but it's pastoral. Not only is it pastoral, but it rhymes.)
BY June our brook’s run out of song and speed.
Sought for much after that, it will be found
Either to have gone groping underground
(And taken with it all the Hyla breed
That shouted in the mist a month ago,
Like ghost of sleigh-bells in a ghost of snow)—
Or flourished and come up in jewel-weed,
Weak foliage that is blown upon and bent
Even against the way its waters went.
Its bed is left a faded paper sheet
Of dead leaves stuck together by the heat—
A brook to none but who remember long.
This as it will be seen is other far
Than with brooks taken otherwhere in song.
We love the things we love for what they are.
From Mountain Interval
(Prepare for shameless self-promotion)
Beware the Ides of March!
I was poking around the web and I came across something that is, for me, almost unbearably sad. This is a letter from Helen Thomas to Robert Frost (the poet, you know) after her husband and Frost's friend, Edward, was killed by a shell in WWI:
My dear Elinor and Robert
It is now almost a month since I had the letter telling me that I should never see my beloved again. All that time I have had it in my mind to write to you again knowing well the sorrow you would be feeling, and yet I've been unable to. I have been unable to think at all. My heart and my mind have been disunited, all I knew was despair and terror and pain so terrible that I lost my hold on life for a bit. Now I am in a beautiful part of Sussex called Billingshurst, not very far from Petersfield, and in the cosiest little cottage and lovely garden and orchard with Eleanor a great peace has come to me, and amongst all the things that he loved I am feeling his nearness. Sometimes panic takes hold of me and I seem to see the years like a long road stretching away and away and me on it stumbling along all alone without him who is my very life and my all, but then it is as if he took my hand in his great strong tender one and held it and gave me courage again. Then the children fatherless having lost such a father. Then I feel a strong resolution to live as he would have me live for them, happy and careless and true. I try to forget my poverty in wanting his voice, his arms about me, his beautiful face and his wise talk, and remember how rich I am in his love and his spirit and all that is eternal, and all that was and is between us that he said again and again "Remember whatever happens all is well between us forever."
He has awakened from the dream of life, that is what I say over and over again, and yet this wonderful late Spring of which he only saw the first tiny promise is almost more than I can bear because he is not seeing it and feeling it and hearing it as I am. And yet in a more perfect way he is, he is part of it, he is indeed made one with Nature, such a better step for him that.
Terrible things are happening, and every day men come home blind and maimed and insane or mortally injured. Suppose one had been he, with all his pride and super sensitiveness. The thought is unendurable. So I glean comfort where I can, and soon I shall again be able to face life, knowing and realizing more and more clearly that all is well with him, and so for me all is well too.
(Here's the rest
There is evidence of a correlation between the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision and the drop in crime rates in the 1990s
Looking at state-by-state and year-by-year figures, the two professors found a remarkable correlation between abortion rates and crime rates 15 to 18 years later. And that's not all. They also determined that in the states that legalized abortion prior to the Roe v. Wade ruling, crime rates began falling earlier than in other parts of the country (see box). Moreover, while the rate of arrests did drop in other age groups, among young people (those whose mothers had the option of a legal abortion) it dropped far more. The authors factored in a host of other possible explanations, and the correlation between crime rates and abortion remained powerful. "According to our estimates," they boldly asserted, "legalized abortion is a primary explanation, accounting for at least one-half of the overall crime reduction... . The social benefit to reduced crime as a result of abortion may be on the order of $30 billion annually."
(from The American Prospect
I thought I had some measure of control over my body. I really did. I've always considered myself co-ordinated -- I can juggle, I can hit a golf ball 250 yards, I can make a lay-up, I can play pool. After today's drive home, I'm suddenly not sure if I'm really at the controls all the time. Here's what happened:
I'm waiting at a red light surrounded by traffic (it's a busy intersection and usually takes a couple of lights to get through). I'm listening to some sort of talk radio. Then, without warning, I find that my head is thrashing back and forth with enough force to knock my hat off. The guy in the car behind me thought I was rocking out to Styx. He even gave me the "kick it, white boy" Slayer hand motion. Maybe I should see a doctor.
Why did the gods of language make hirsute and hair-suit sound so much alike? Blecch!
Swallowing pills with coffee is like sucking on a talc lollipop.
Weird Phobia of the Day:
Siderodromophobia - A morbid, irrational fear of or aversion to trains, train travel or railroads.
(Comes from the Greek - sidereos = "iron", dromos = "running, race, race-course." Initially, I thought that this had something to do with stars. Latin sidus, sideris = "stars, constellations" and, in fact, the Greek word for iron and the Latin word for stars are probably related:
"sidus is "stars united in a figure, a group of stars, hence a constellation." It was associated with the Sanscrit word svid which meant "to sweat or melt"; the Greek sideros (molten) iron and then the Latin sudo, which had the same meaning as the Sanscrit svid. It was contrasted with stella, which could be used in the singular to denote a single star. So it had the image of stars melting together to form the constellations.")
Most people aren't scared of trains these days. I can only imagine, though, what it must have been like to live in the nineteenth century and see your first train. Probably pretty frightening, at least awe-inspiring. I was having a conversation yesterday with a friend and we were trying to figure out what in our memory has had that kind of effect on us. And, nothing really has. What can you even put on the list? VCRs, cell phones, personal computers. These don't really seem to change the way you view the world... What was the last technological accomplishment that made you gasp?
Names From the Boston Red Sox Spring Training Roster (Including Coaches) Odysseus Could Have Called Himself Which Would Not Have Worked As Well As "No Man":
- Nomar Garciaparra
- Hideo Nomo
- Nelson Norman
- Rolando Arrojo
- Joe Kerrigan
- Derek Lowe
- Trot Nixon
- Rich (El Guapo) Garces
So what freaking marketing genius came up with chocolate yogurt? Does Stonyfield Farm "Chocolate Underground" yogurt
look like a good idea? No. Is chocolate a flavor you'd think would transition smoothly to yogurt? No. So, you may be thinking, why on earth did you buy chocolate yogurt? I haven't the foggiest idea. But I did. My stomach is now on permanent strike, and my spleen and gall bladder have joined in sympathy. (If there's an upside to this whole sorry lunch debacle, it's that I now know what chocolate-flavored chalk tastes like.)
Litotes (from Mighty Girl
): A figure of speech consisting of an understatement in which an affirmative is expressed by negating its opposite, as in This is no small problem
A real-world example of litotes from my past:
I had a Latin/Roman History professor in college who had very high standards. He had gone to Oxford; he was very smart; he expected a lot from his students. When we passed in work that was below his standards, he would write nasty remarks on the last page, telling us to do better. At the end of one particularly bad paper, he called me a "caitiff churl" (I still don't know what this means and, frankly, am afraid to look it up). His favorite end-page remark, though, was "not unbad." I think he liked it because he enjoyed watching the look of perplexity on my face while I tried to figure out if I had been insulted or complimented. (I am, and he was, aware that "unbad" is not a word. I guess that technically this is a negative expressed by negating its opposite. Is that the same thing, or is there a different word for this?)
Two stories of conversations I've had in the last 30 days that will haunt me forever:
1. A couple of weeks ago, I had some friends over for dinner. We were shooting the shit after dinner and they asked me if I'd seen any good movies recently. I said, "Oh, I saw a pretty good John Huston movie yesterday -- The African Queen. It was on AMC. That John Huston really has had quite a directing career. He must have started directing movies really young to have worked for so long. Either that, or he was really, really old when he directed 'Say Anything'." Of course, now I know that John Huston and John Hughes are different people with similar-sounding names. What I really regret about the exchange was the part where I kept insisting I was right. I'm a bad person.
2. I was driving a friend home last weekend and we were listening to NPR on the radio -- specifically, the BBC world service. There was a piece about something which sounded suspicially like "Foot in Mouth Disease," which, it seemed, was afflicting cows. The BBC reported that the disease was rarely life-threatening. I went on and on to my friend about what a great parody piece this was. I tried to explain to him the obvious nuances of the piece: how it related to mad-cow disease, how embarrassed all the cows were after they said just the wrong thing to their friends/partners. I was having such a good time. It was about this time that my friend explained to me that there was a disease called "Foot and Mouth Disease." Would that I had "Foot and Mouth Disease" instead of "Foot in Mouth Disease," they say it isn't fatal in cattle.
Adam Gopnik on Puff Daddy's trial in this week's New Yorker
In the classic American patttern, after all, children instruct their parents to love what they once shunned: transported to America, Miranda, surprise, prefers Caliban's grunts to Ariel's songs and then, even greater surprise, Prospero comes to prefer them, too, and Ariel is left as a lounge act, or trying to get on "MTV Unplugged." In the case of hip-hop, the normal twenty-year cycle of shock and acceptance has been broken: Caliban raps, Miranda swoons, but Prospero remains unmoved and keeps playing his old Ariel CDs. (How many possible ways can you hear the same Beatles records? An endless number, apparently.) Marvin Gaye, a cocaine addict shot with his own gun by his own father, was, almost immediately, a saint of pop humanism, a man you played at weddings. The Notorious B.I.G., dead four years, remains largely notorious.
Theories exist to explain this, and all of them have been aired in the corridors during the recesses of the Puffy trial. The first theory, beloved of criminal-defense attorneys and the pop-music critics of the Times, is that rap and its artists just can't get a break from the watchdogs of the white middle classes: the cops and critics both take them too literally. What are essentially signs and symbols in "distanced narratives" are treated as threats. Yet highbrow resistance to rap long ago crumbled -- the Times is much kinder to Eminem than it ever was to Billy Joel -- and, as for the police, well, it is hard to miss guns going off in people's faces, automatics flying out of car windows onto the street. The second theory, fondly held by middle-class parents, is that rap remains undigested because it is indigestible. Yet this, in turn, involves a little back-page revision of the parents' own music -- suicide and cocaine, the rock vices, being judged more obviously wholesome than homicide and Dom Perignon, the rapper's.
Gopnik goes on to say that Puffy has become as Frank Sinatra was, that he's always "boasting or moaning, but never threatening."
Have you heard someone say something like "world population is so out of control that there are now more people living on earth than have died in the entire span of history"? I've heard people say this. After hearing it a couple of times, I started repeating it.
It turns out that it's probably not true (world population is out of control -- hey you, I see you, stop it with the sex and the babies -- but we've probably underestimated the number of people who came before us). In fact, it's probably off by a factor of ten:
As I noted below, we're having a snow storm here. It's not bad yet, but it's supposed to get bad.
I'm documenting it for posterity with pictures and descriptions (exclusively what I see out my window). Click here to see.
I've been tele-commuting the last couple of days (it just sounds so 1998). On Friday, I was exhausted after two straight 15-hour work days and I wanted an excuse to sleep in. Today, I didn't really want to drive to work as there's a rumor about a BIG snowstorm (mostly, I just don't want to drive home this afternoon, the roads look fine now...) Tomorrow, I may be tele-commuting because of the after-effects of said snowstorm.
Here's what I've discovered in my 1+ day of tele-commuting: I really don't have enough going on in my life to work all by myself. This weekend I was so desparate for attention that I accepted an invitation to go clubbing. Me. Yikes. I'll like going to back to work on Tuesday/Wednesday.
A conversation with a friend (a lawyer) in which he discovers I am an idiot and I respond with profanity:
(We'll pick it up already in progress. I'm trying to define what a "term of art" is.)
Me: It's when a phrase is used one way for so long that it becomes that thing, even if it's not literally that thing. That's a "term of art."
Lawyer Friend: You have no idea what you're talking about.
Me: YOU don't know what YOU'RE talking about. (Note: this reversal approach works in sitcoms, but I don't think I'd recommend trying it.)
LF: You are such a moron. Let me explain to you what a "term of art" is. I'll use little words so you might understand.
Me: Fuck you, bitch.
Do you want to know what I forgot to do last month? I knew you did. I forgot to pay my rent.
Do you want to know how I remembered? I can't tell you exactly, but I think it has something to do with the shooting pain in my temple.
Curse you, February. Curse you for your shortness and your unpronounced "r" and your stupid, nonsensical derivation*. February, I loathe thee.
*Derived from Latin februa, signifying festivals of purification celebrated in Rome this month. Legend holds that King Numa Pompilus added this month in 425 BC. It was originally 29 days but one of those days was transferred to August. (That last part answers all of you who are saying, "Why must you post something about February when it is March?" I am no pawn of Augustus. Today is February 29th and my rent is not late. Curse you, Caesar.)