Cultutregen Club

"La France est blessée. Et, pour nombre de Français, humiliée." --Jean-Marie Colombani

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Tuesday, April 23, 2002


I hate when my e-mail is down


All alone all
alone all by myself

Why can't I make friends? I'm not opposed to the idea of having friends. I never want to talk to anyone, but that's not the same thing.

Lately I haven't even wanted to be around people to the extent involved in going to school. Today I went home between classes, and on the way back was strongly tempted to take the subway past Atlantic Avenue1 to Times Square, and go to Columbia and roust Meredith out of the library2 and go back to her room and . . . something. Cuddle, probably.
I didn't largely because I was worried I wouldn't be able to make myself leave again to get my haircut.
It wasn't even worth it, when I got here we did fucking instructor evaluations.

Even interacting with other people to the extent of, er, journalling3 is a chore; I just got distracted from this by a crossword puzzle.

Before my haircut I bought a book of allegedly humorous flight attendant anecdotes published under the name "A. Frank Steward" (ha ha ha). At Strand. For $1. That means it didn't sell at full price, it didn't sell at half price, so they put it outside for a buck to at least get the shelf space back. Really sad, since the copyright date was 2002. I suspect it was a victim of (not unforseeable) poor timing.

1Where I change for the Lex line to go to school.
2Even at the height of not wanting to be with people, I always want to be with her.
3Good God, is that what I'm doing?

Saturday, April 20, 2002

At the beach

Meredith and I blew off everything this afternoon and visited the site of a famous contributory negligence /assumed risk case, Murphy v. Steeplechase Amusement Co., 250 N.Y. 479, 166 N.E. 173 (1929).
Or, looked at another way, we went to the beach at Coney Island.

We also did other things there; we lunched at the original Nathan's, we went to the aquarium, we went on the Wonder Wheel (which they ran just for us) and kissed at the top, I rode the Cyclone for the first time, and I played Skee-Ball. I had my best Skee-Ball games ever, although sadly I didn't record my scores, much less my shots. I know I got the second-highest hole (50 pts) a bunch of times, and the highest (100 pts) once.
I won Meredith a pair of sunglasses and some stickers.

Then we came home, just beating the storm. Actually, we were around the corner from my house when the wind started, and walked through a dust storm of pollen Meredith is allergic to. But we did beat the rain. After Meredith got out of the shower we went to the front porch and watched.

Wednesday, April 17, 2002

Moot Court

My moot court oral argument went rather well. I was prepared, I knew my argument, everything was good. Unfortunately, I forgot that the panel asks questions during my argument, and it threw off my rhythm. But the payoff was at the end -- there was no decision, only comments; and I got "you're not a good public speaker"1 and my adversary2 got "you don't know what you're talking about."

Just from the timing and nature of the questions I suspect I would have won if there were a decision. He got a question on an essential part of his argument,3 and gave a bizarre answer. Mine clearly wasn't the only jaw to drop, because they asked him again, and he gave the same answer.

1Which I already knew, although I can't really understand why the fear of this is, depending on whom you ask, either ahead of or second only to death.4 I guess the trick is to not care what people think of you.
2I debated "adversary" versus "opponent." In the end I decided that "adversary" is situational whereas "opponent" is status, plus I can't spell "opponent."
3If you really want to know, they asked him if symbolic speech merits First Amendment protection, and he said "no," in utter disregard of, off the top of my head, Texas v Johnson, and undoubtedly other cases I can't think of.
4For that matter, I'm not entirely clear on the fear of death.



We seem to be getting fewer and fewer calls -- I just answered one -- from people mispronouncing our last name. Maybe when I say "I'm sorry, there's no one here by that name" and hang up, they cross us off the list.


Bored bored bored

I'm in Civil Procedure1, which is boring and insanely abstruse and an unneccesary class -- my mother's cousin says procedure stuff is what practicing lawyers have clerks and similar people around for. A friend of my father went to NYU Law School with the professor and said she's an uninteresting speaker, so it's not just me. Fortunately, the class moves so slowly I don't feel the need to pay close attention more than once every three or four classes.

I'm glad no one says the US Supreme Court's decision on drawings of naked children -- what the media is2 calling "virtual child porn," which sounds misleadingly like photos of naked kids distributed by e-mail and the Web (but I digress) -- is bad because the creation of the drawings (and text descriptions and pictures of young-looking adults) entails harm to children. Reasonable people can disagree (I suppose) on whether the existance of the stuff threatens children, but that's a different argument.
The biggest problem with child porn the state can do anything about is child abuse -- you can't take pictures of children in sexual situations without putting children in sexual situations. Depictions of children in sexual situations created without children being involved are beyond the reach of the state. There is no constitutional basis for dividing pictures of grown-ups3 into categories based on how old the subjects look. There is no especial governmental interest in protecting adults from exploitation when they look like children.
In fairness, a law prohibiting dirty pictures of people who look like children is easier to enforce than one prohibiting dirty pictures of children; you can tell definitively if a picture is illegal4 by looking at it. I don't think ease of enforcement should be a significant factor in evaluating legislation, although a law that is close to impossible of enforcement is clearly a bad idea. We can't say "sure, it's overbroad, but if we only outlaw the things we're really going after, it'll never work."
I don't even see why it's harder to bring child pornographers to justice if portrayals made without involving children are permitted. The ones that do involve children involve children, and that's the evil we want to remedy, and that's illegal. All is right with the world.

Apropos of the above, I'm having trouble remembering the difference between Type I and Type II errors.

1This was written on my organizer, which I usually use to take notes, and posted after I got home.
2That's right, is. You wouldn't say "A swarm of bees are attacking me," would you?
3I'm only talking about photographs because drawings and writing needn't have actual people as subjects at all.
4Although you can't definitively tell a picture is OK; presumably the law as passed went after stuff depicting children no matter how old they looked as well as people of any age who looked like kids. If you looked at a picture of someone who looks 15 you'd be able to class it as forbidden, but if you looked at a picture of someone who looked 20 and said it was fine, the person could turn out to be five years younger.

Tuesday, April 16, 2002

Musings on
the news

Is anyone else disturbed by the prospect of getting a plaque made from metal from the WTC? It seems kind of ghoulish and vaguely disrespectful, although I suppose if getting tickets at a strip mall to gawk at the recovery is OK, anything goes.

This man has the ugliest toupee I can imagine a person acquiring on purpose. Of course, Trafficant has a reputation for being a tad unstable

By the way: Google returns 624 hits for the phrase "disturbed by the prospect."



Googling for a friend1 from high school, I came across her college's alumni Sept. 11 check-in page, where not only was she listed, but so was someone I'd gone to elementary school with (and never liked all that much, but that's another story). The page reminded me once again what my girlfriend noticed in the immediate aftermath -- New York is a big city, and many people elsewhere don't seem to entirely grasp that. A number of people listed were in Queens, in Harlem/Morningside Heights, and other places far from Ground Zero. My girlfriend got a call from her uncle near Pittsburgh (in the opposite direction from the "Let's Roll" plane)2 and she was at Columbia, six miles away. I was closer than she was3, and in no danger. (Meredith has asked me to clarify that her uncle called not out of fear that she was harmed from six miles off but to let her know her mother was OK.)

Anyway, I think I found her. I saw her name on a piece in Ms. Magazine, but her first name and her last name are common enough withought being so common that the combination sets off triggers (not that there are no John Smiths walking around). Anyway, she may not be the Ms. writer, but it's certainly plausible.

Someone else I know had a piece in AlterNet's Wiretap Magazine and was mentioned in a zine I won't disclose without being asked to.

It was embarassing that I had to look at the alumni association website to find names from my graduating class.

I am humiliated that I inserted random spaces into two links yesterday, breaking them.

1Although not a close friend
2See, I'm guilty of the same thing.
3Sure, but I was at school when the towers collapsed, and closer than she was.

Monday, April 15, 2002


Today I finished some freelance work for North American Précis Syndicate, or, looked at another way, for my mother1, the head writer. At the risk of coming off like a snob2 or something, I have a slight difficulty writing these stories because almost everyone I interact with regularly -- Meredith, friends, family, other people at school -- is smarter than average, but I don't know by how much. So when I try to write for the average person, I don't know how much to limit myself. People like Meredith3? People like my parents? People like my sister when she grows up? My sister now?
I don't talk to many average people, unless all those "stupid" people I see are actually average. But that would make me a great deal smarter than I think I am. People who write letters to the New York Times? The Daily News? I'm not sure there's much of a difference, and what there is can be traced more to the leters than the writers. The News doesn't seem to be intended for or read by stupid people, just tabloid readers; sometimes concise looks like dumbed down. A friend of mine had a letter published in the News.

1Who, sadly, is home sick.
2Not that I'm not one.
3There's no one like Meredith, of course, but there may be other people approaching her intellectual level.

Sunday, April 14, 2002

How embarrassing!

For some reason, when I e-mailed Meredith, my brain slipped and I put her username and my domain (well, not mine, but the one I use).

Could have been worse; I thought I'd misspelled "embarrassing."


This makes my life
so much easier

I discovered I can record the digital audio at work onto tape. A pointless exercise, I know, but my anchor, Bob Gibson, prefers it. Speaking of preferences, my boss told me that most desk assistants don't like working with Bob. I can't see why. He's mentally stable, he doesn't give unreasonable instructions -- what more could a DA ask for?

Friday, April 12, 2002

My boring day

Today I went to the gym for the second time in about three or four months, and I started on some freelance work I got yesterday. If I didn't feel the need to post something every day, I wouldn't have made this astoundingly boring entry.

Thursday, April 11, 2002

From the Land of
the Midnight Sun

Because I mentioned it in an earlier entry, I was looking for mentions online of the AP Stylebook (one of a number of reference works I wish were available on the Web1, even for money2), and I discovered a special edition just for Alaska. Apparantly no other state is unique enough to deserve one. I mean, sure, there's an alt.cultutre.alaska, but there's also an alt.culture.hawaii (not to mention soc.culture.hawaii), an alt.culture.oregon, and even an alt.culture.upstate-ny.

And while I have your attention, I wanted to praise the Official U.S. Time site -- real-time if you have Java. It's great for me, because my watch keeps stopping.
It's hardy Seiko's fault, I kept putting it near a degaussing machine.

1Others include Fowler's Modern English Usage and Brewer's Dictionary of Phrase and Fable.
2You can pay to use the Encyclopædia Brittanica or the Oxford English Dictionary.


Some political thoughts

"Politically correct" and the concept of deserving praise for not being it1, I've recently discovered, is one of my pet peeves. From now on, whenever I see "politically correct" I'm going to regard it as the antonym of "bigot." And not in the sense of "someone who wins an argument with a liberal."

Much as I like Opera, and much as I find Netscape irritating, I do prefer the way Netscape renders style elements2 I've added to this page to Opera's ignoring them.

And lastly, the other day CNN's TalkBack Live discussed whether women should change their names when they get married, and yesterday they had a whole bunch of e-mails from viewers weighing in on the issue. All the e-mails from men they chose to read on the air were opposed, often in surprisingly strong terms.
If there were no tradition about this3, and someone came up to me and said "when you get married, your wife should start using 'Lieberman' as her last name," I'd think they were nuts. It's bizarre. I realize it's tradition; well, it's a bizarre tradition.
Now, don't get me wrong. My mother changed her name. Most of the married women among my parents' friends changed their names. Because it's the tradition I don't find it actively objectionable. In certain circumstances4 it may even be the best course. But it's generally a strange thing to do.

1Considered as a single meme.
2Which on Netscape place the headlines within the text.
3As I believe there is not in Ireland, among other places in the Western world.
4The governor of New Hampshire, Jeanne Shaheen (neé Bowers), made the wrong decision about her name when she got married.

Wednesday, April 10, 2002

OK, there's no band-
wagon for this

I looked -- with Opera's automated Google search for pages which link to a page -- for pages linking to Manhattan Special. Not nearly as fruitful as my search yesterday for Trading Spaces fans. I only found food-related sites and Joe Ganley's journal, and he's not a fan of the stuff

I realize this is pretty well disseminated at this point, but Randy Cassingham mentioned it in his April 8 mailing, so there may be someone who doesn't know yet. If you have an account at Yahoo! Groups, go and reset your marketing preferences so they won't spam you (if that's what you want; I told Bigfoot to go ahead and send me stuff, to support them forwarding my e-mail for free).

Tuesday, April 09, 2002

Colleagues, cohorts, and competitors

That's how God intended the serial comma to be used. Are you going to slavishly follow the AP Stylebook, even though it means you'll be against God?

Anyhow, looking for sites that link to the Trading Spaces website, I found a bunch of other people who are putting their lives (with varying degrees of fascinatingness) on the Web. A piece in the Boston Globe said that Web journals exist largely for the purpose of linking to and praising other Web journals.

So, in that spirit, I recommend1 Daydreamy, Sunil Doshi's Widepipe.Org, Jason Levine's Q Daily News, Josh Schubkegel's February 7, and Mena G. Trott's DollarShort.Org with corresponding degrees of wholehartedness.

1Every way I try to spell this looks wrong


I like the word "flummy"

It's a Sweedish word (flummig, actually) that perfectly describes the type of person who reads The Utne Reader.

So, yesterday I was watching Trading Spaces and my sister was watching Blind Date and my mother (home due to a bomb scare) said "Who raised you two?" My sister said "Television."
Well, I thought it was cute.



Sure, they have celebrities on now, and victims are guests on Rosie, but I was watching the show last year, before it was the phenomenon it is now. I saw Alex McLeod (which is not to say I spelled her name right)!
For that matter, I was reading Television Without Pity back when it was MightyBigTV and the only show they had that I watched was The West Wing.

I was going to link to the Rosie O'Donnell Show, but the page won't work on Opera, claiming Netscape is better on the grounds that Opera didn't give Time-Warner any money. Actually, I think the problem is that Netscape is a huge megacorporation with celebrity executives and sports arenas and everything, and Opera is a small company and thus an Enemy of Capitalism.

Monday, April 08, 2002

I used the new computer!

It's really cool. I think I figured out how to do stuff I wasn't even trained to do, but even if not it makes things loads easier. I only wish my anchor wasn't reluctant (hah!) to use it.

While seeking information on the "refreshes the parts . . ." slogan, I stumbled across The Art and Science of the Advertising Slogan, which I find disturbingly fascinating. There's also a weekly slogan quiz I'm surprisingly good at considering I'm from the wrong country.

I don't know how Meredith manages to do one of these every day when I can't manage to do one at work where I have nothing to do half the time.

Friday, April 05, 2002

I'd like to thank Meredith for pointing out an error and apologize for maligning her earlier


This is Meredith

This isn't necessarily the best of the pictures she took, but it's the one that I think shows her to best advantage.

is me.

Thursday, April 04, 2002

Ess, mein leibling!

Meredith is making me keep a food diary. I'm not going to put that up here every day (although I may give updates on my weight, now 147 lbs.), but right now I want to see how tables look on this.

chocolate450 calories
Manhattan Special espresso soda160 calories
potato chips460 calories
soda227 calories
5th Avenue280 calories
iced coffee215 calories
chocolate300 calories
matzoh with butter137 calories
Stouffer's French Bread pizza (2)740 calories
Total:2969 calories
Basal metabolic rate:1752.9 cal/day
Active metabolic rate:2278 cal/day

Bear in mind I'm trying to gain weight.


. . . and I'm eating pizza

It's the end of Passover!
This morning I went to the station to get trained on the new computer system and while I was there I picked up the Girl Scout cookies I ordered in January and which came in a month ago -- I think I was the last one. Picking them up today I was safe that they'd all make it home.

The new system does what I thought was my job; I thought I was being replaced. Having actually seen it in action, I can see why the anchors -- even the ones willing and able to learn it -- would want desk assistants around to operate the damn thing. It just means I walk around less, no longer having to deliver tapes to the anchor desk or erase them in the editing room.

I am delighted to learn that Stouffer's still makes French Bread Pizza. Now if only Meredith would let me drink coffee soda in her house.


The Finest

Police work is so much more exciting in Chandler, Ariz.

I made a change to something Meredith complained was detracting from the coolness of my . . . I like "online endeavor" Sadly, it lessens the Heineken ad slogan connection, but, hey, shit happens.

Wednesday, April 03, 2002

Meredith showed me this

Now we know how Google works


Watchin' CNN

Thus far, I have heard three times from two different people on CNN that the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem is "where Jesus was born." Bill Hemmer said it on tape!
Presumably they mean it's on the site where Jesus was born (or, more ecumenically, where tradition holds that Jesus was born).
Christiane Amanpour just said "where it's believed Jesus Christ was born." She included that the site is fixed by tradition -- I'd have accepted a little less dubiousness, even -- but left in the implication that he was born in the church, which no one believes, except, apparently, CNN reporters.

Speaking of CNN, on TalkBack Live there was a segment on Americans supposedly becoming ruder in which one person complained of cellphones. This reminds me a little bit of the Ditech mortgage agency commercials which shows a frustrated person seeking a loan conversing with his computer, which suggests he seek out Ditech.com1, to which he responds "I need a loan, not a Web site!" Now, I and (presumably) you know what a Web site is and why this is an asinine comment2. A cell phone is a device. If people shout into theirs, it's the shouting that's rude. If people take calls during the play, it's people talking in the audience who are rude. In none of these cases are cell phones more than a facilitating factor. I'm not neutral, I admit, but I'm sick of people pausing in their loud stupid irritating conversations to glare at me when my phone rings on the subway.

I agree, however, with the person who complained about people walking on the wrong (i.e., left) side on stairways. I see this all the time, and I don't always get out of the way.

People also seemed to be saying New Yorkers are particularly rude. Now, I admit I am one, but I think it's more that New Yorkers are not usually as concerned with other people as they are with themselves. The only truly rude New Yorker I can recall encountering (other than personal acquaintences): On the morning of September 11th I was in the Cortlandt Street subway station3, and one old fat bald guy yelled at the people evacuating in front of him to hurry up.

1No link because they irritate me.
2If not: a Web site is (hopefully) a tool. It's not like someone offered him a torte or something. It's like they said "maybe you should call Washington Mutual" and he said "I need a loan, not a phone number!"
3Now there's a star that's fading fast.



I solved the problem; or, rather, the problem is solved -- I don't know if my actions immediately prior are responsible, but it makes sense.

A big vanity blog thanks to the kind folks at who helpfully provided me with some insight as to the nature of1 and possible solutions to the problem.

1If you meet the bug on the road, kill it.

Tuesday, April 02, 2002

Driving me nuts

I just made the change I think will fix the problem. Tripod has been no help whatsoever in any way; I'm going to ask a bunch of random strangers, and then I'm going to see if the folks here at Blogger.Com know what might work.