Archives 2009

Happy new decade

Last update on Nov. 11, 2014.

Almost ten years ago, some of my friends were discussing what we should call this decade: the Oughts? the Naughts? “The Zeroes”, my wife said. As it turned out, she was prescient.

Good-bye, Decade of Zeroes. Don’t let the door hit your Sylvester on the way out.

“I never drink... soda.”

Last update on Nov. 11, 2014.

According to the NYT, Scholastic is reissuing its Baby-Sitters Club series, a line of novels for tween girls that ran for 213 titles and sold 176 million copies. Girls who devoured these books during the 1980s and 1990s now have children of their own and, as one bookseller put it, the rebooted series would sell ...

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Comrade Vladimir Ilyich has left the building

Last update on Nov. 11, 2014.

Like most liberals, I’m disappointed by all the compromises that the Democrats had to make to get their 60th Senate vote1 for health care reform. But make no mistake: even without single-payer, public option, or Medicare buy-in, this law is A Very Good Thing. Kevin Drum summarizes what we are getting:

  • Insurers have ...

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Re-re-reconsidering nuclear power

Last update on Nov. 11, 2014.

I generally have a “meh” attitude towards nuclear power. I’m not one of those folks who thinks that anything with the word “nuclear” in it must automatically be Evil. But as a practical matter, nuclear plants have proven so capital-intensive and so dependent on government subsidy that their value as carbon-free power investments has ...

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Annals of cultural transmission

Last update on Nov. 11, 2014.

Scene: The dinner table.

Father: What did you do in school today?

Five-year-old: It was too cold to go out for recess, so we saw a movie.

Father: What was it about?

Five-year-old: It was about a snowman who came to life.

Father: So you saw Frosty the Snowman?

Seven-year-old: How did it work? And ...

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Laws are like sausages; sometimes they contain traces of lead

Last update on Nov. 11, 2014.

The “Manager’s Amendment” that gave Senator Reid his sixtieth vote for cloture on health care reform includes a new subsection, 2717(c), headlined “Protection of Second Amendment Gun Rights”. Agencies or activities empowered by this law may not collect information on the lawful ownership, possession, or use of firearms, and insurers may not charge ...

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I would like to register a meta-complaint

Last update on Nov. 11, 2014.

Even before the news hit the New York Times, you may have heard about “complaints choirs”, Finland’s incomparable gift to world culture. Here you can see videos of choirs that have gathered all over the world to sing their particular grievances: ninety-one singers in Helsinki, twenty-three in Hamburg, fifty-four in St. Petersburg, eighty in ...

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The Internet interprets a cherem as damage and routes around it

Last update on Nov. 11, 2014.

It’s too bad there aren’t more Orthodox Jews working for Agence France-Presse, because this article, headlined “Ultra-Orthodox rabbis decry Internet’s ‘terrible impurity’”, buries the lede.

The reporter and editor don’t seem to realize that “haredi leaders denounce Internet”, in and of itself, is about as newsworthy as “evangelical Christian leaders denounce premarital ...

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Thank God we are free, unlike this poor sod

Last update on Nov. 11, 2014.

Twice in my life, I have attended Passover Seders1 in people’s homes in which we, as we celebrated our freedom, were attended by Black servants. Perhaps if I had been raised in a social class where “the help” was a constant presence in my life, I would not have considered this unusual, but ...

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Dubious taxonomical choice of the day

Last update on Nov. 11, 2014.

My wife and I just got back from a romantic date at Brookline Booksmith, and I noticed that their staff has shelved Cecilia Tan’s anthology Women of the Bite: Lesbian Vampire Erotica, not under “Fantasy” or “Gay & Lesbian”, but under “Love & Relationships”.

I can’t quite figure that one out. I’m not quite ...

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