Architecture as date bait

We’ve already tackled this from one angle, the desirability (if any) of dating actual architects. Now famed human-relations expert Steve Sailer proposes that guys develop, or at least feign, an interest in the local buildings:

Architecture is aesthetic, yet manly. Not that many girls know much about architecture relative to their other aesthetic interests, but they are naggingly aware that they should know more. (Obviously, if you live in Chicago, you will have more to talk about than if you live in Palmdale, so your mileage may vary.) For example, the recent indie romantic-drama hit, 500 Days of Summer, uses architectural fandom, with LA’s rather spotty downtown carefully framed to look like downtown Chicago, as the basis for a rather nerdy young man’s appeal to Zooey Deschanel.

An interest in architecture also provides a high-minded excuse to talk about what every 20 or 30 something is actually fascinated by: real estate. What neighborhoods will go up in value, which ones down? Architecture appreciation provides an excuse to stroll around gentrifying but still slightly edgy neighborhoods on cheap dates.

In support of this premise, I note that one of the few social events to earn a permanent spot on my calendar is the local AIA’s annual Architecture Tour, and that Trini enjoys it greatly: between the two of us, we seem to ask the right questions and peer into the most interesting corners. Not that either of us think of it as a “cheap date,” necessarily.

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Pineapple Princess is pissed

And Tall Paul better watch his ass, too:

Annette with a gun

Bonus: Aaaand now: heeeeeeere’s Annette!

(Poster from Historic LOLs.)

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Toward a post-moral world

A question often posed to atheists: “In the absence of God, what is your basis for morality?” Joel Marks, having thought it over, has decided that he doesn’t need one:

I was struck by salient parallels between religion and morality, especially that both avail themselves of imperatives or commands, which are intended to apply universally. In the case of religion, and most obviously theism, these commands emanate from a Commander; “and this all people call God,” as Aquinas might have put it. The problem with theism is of course the shaky grounds for believing in God. But the problem with morality, I now maintain, is that it is in even worse shape than religion in this regard; for if there were a God, His issuing commands would make some kind of sense. But if there is no God, as of course atheists assert, then what sense could be made of there being commands of this sort? In sum, while theists take the obvious existence of moral commands to be a kind of proof of the existence of a Commander, i.e., God, I now take the non-existence of a Commander as a kind of proof that there are no Commands, i.e., morality.

Which is not to say that he can’t, or won’t, argue in favor of certain things and against others; but he has to rely on other factors to sell the deal:

[I]f I were conversing with another amoralist, how would I convince her of the rightness of my desires? Well, of course, I wouldn’t even try, since neither of us believes in right, or wrong. What I could do is take her through the same considerations that have moved me to my position and hope that her heartstrings were tuned in harmony with mine.

Dick Cleary at Viewpoint points out that Marks at least is being internally consistent:

[T]he atheists that Marks refers to as soft atheists live in an unsustainable tension. They want to hold on to moral judgment while also holding on to their atheism. As Marks has realized, it can’t be done. Unfortunately, of the two solutions available to him — reject atheism or reject morality — Marks has chosen the latter which, although consistent, strikes me as almost perverse.

As most of you know, I’m definitely — occasionally even defiantly — theist. On the other hand, I am not particularly disposed toward looking down my nose at atheists, who have presumably wrestled with the same questions as I have and yet have come to different conclusions.

This will get either no comments, or several dozen. (Consider that a matter of faith.)

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The inevitable Health Plan

A physician offers some non-medical medical advice to Bride of Rove, and by extension, to us all:

[T]here are going to be people who will not be able to get a doctor. If they can get a doctor the doctors hands will be tied as to what care he or she can provide. My advice to you is … don’t get sick. For the next thirty years or however many you have left, do.not.get.sick.

Easier said than done, perhaps. My brother, out of the hospital after three weeks of befuddling the experts, has apparently been diagnosed with an autosomal recessive genetic disorder which I, being a relative and all, get to add to my already-dizzying list of risk factors.

Samuel Butler, of course, anticipated this years ago:

“Prisoner at the bar, you have been accused of the great crime of labouring under pulmonary consumption, and after an impartial trial before a jury of your countrymen, you have been found guilty. Against the justice of the verdict I can say nothing: the evidence against you was conclusive, and it only remains for me to pass such a sentence upon you, as shall satisfy the ends of the law. That sentence must be a very severe one. It pains me much to see one who is yet so young, and whose prospects in life were otherwise so excellent, brought to this distressing condition by a constitution which I can only regard as radically vicious; but yours is no case for compassion: this is not your first offence: you have led a career of crime, and have only profited by the leniency shown you upon past occasions, to offend yet more seriously against the laws and institutions of your country. You were convicted of aggravated bronchitis last year: and I find that though you are now only twenty-three years old, you have been imprisoned on no less than fourteen occasions for illnesses of a more or less hateful character; in fact, it is not too much to say that you have spent the greater part of your life in a jail.

“It is all very well for you to say that you came of unhealthy parents, and had a severe accident in your childhood which permanently undermined your constitution; excuses such as these are the ordinary refuge of the criminal; but they cannot for one moment be listened to by the ear of justice.”

TB, or not TB: that is apparently no longer the question.

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Strange search-engine queries (241)

Once again, we sort through the server logs using the “Marginally Amusing” filter, and publish anything that’s caught. It’s a little like hunting for Asian carp, except we don’t need a czar.

my neighborhood is about:  Sixty-five years old, though it doesn’t look a day over 50.

naugahyde sentences:  Typically, the nauga is sentenced to be flayed until the hyde comes off in strips, which are then sewn onto recliners.

fits over peephole:  A really, really large eye.

you think therefore I am:  Um, I don’t think so.

explanation letter for general job disinterest or deliberate slowdown or decrease of efficiency:  “Dear Manager: Now do you understand why we didn’t want the TV in the break room tuned to C-Span?”

cheap canine dildo:  Oooh, a picky bitch.

am i losing my social skills:  We assumed you were under the banquet table because you’d lost a contact.

took 80 lorazepam and death didn’t happen:  This could be a sign of losing one’s social skills.

meeting date naked:  Unless you know each other to be naturists, this is generally a sign of losing one’s social skills.

vanishing clothes on women:  Did you check the floor on the opposite side of the bed?

you will wonder where the yellow went:  After a dye job, they resurfaced as Code Pink.

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Out of uniformity

Word came down yesterday that Skinbook, the social network for nudists which, like everything else involving naked people, had been purged from the sanitary servers at Ning, was not going to be revived, either on someone else’s facilities or on its own, in the form of an email from founder Karl Maddocks, which contained a rather startling confession:

As much as we have attempted over the past couple of years to bring together the naturist community and give the naturist lifestyle a positive public image, the treatment of my team here at Skinbook has finally made it clear (to myself at least) why this lifestyle is both fragmented from within and ostracized from without.

A perfunctory reading of the fora most days would have explained this quite nicely: different people want different things. Duh. The only thing the users — reportedly upwards of 8000 when the curtain came down — had in common was a willingness to go without clothing. There wasn’t even any agreement on whether it was appropriate to admit this in public.

The Nudiarist sums up the unwinding:

Just go back to why Skinbook was created in the first place, and you will see why it was doomed to failure. Maddocks explained, “We couldn’t communicate on MySpace and Facebook about nudism since we were all kind of embarrassed. So we said, ‘Let’s start our own forum and call it Skinbook.’ The rest is history.” People who are embarrassed by their own lifestyles have no business trying to become leaders.

This may be true: God knows our political class is utterly incapable of embarrassment.

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The Turks have weighed the options

Voters in Turkey today have been considering a package of twenty-six constitutional changes proposed by Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, the second such package in three years. The 2007 reforms, which passed two to one, mostly involved the office of President, which previously was filled by a vote of the Grand National Assembly every five years and now will be submitted for popular vote every four years.

The new proposals, however, are much more extensive. Some of them would bring Turkey in line with European Union practices, with an eye toward eventual membership in the EU. The original package contained 27 amendments, though one, which would have made it more difficult for a political party to be forcibly dissolved, did not make it to the ballot.

There seemed to be some concern that Erdoğan wanted to stack the country’s highest courts:

Mr Erdoğan’s plans to enlarge membership of two top judicial bodies — the Constitutional Court and the Higher Council that appoints judges and prosecutors — have aroused particular concern because the judiciary is seen by secular Turks as the most important bulwark against creeping “Islamisation”, now that the military has retreated from politics.

“These are just regulations brought in by the AKP [Erdoğan's Justice and Devlopment Party] to advance their own ideology,” argues Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, the new leader of the opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP).

“They want to seize control of the judiciary and end the separation of powers that Turkey learned from Western countries.”

With about 99 percent of the votes counted, the package is passing easily, 58 to 42 percent.

Turkey’s current constitution dates to 12 September 1980, when a military junta seized power in Ankara, deposed Prime Minister Süleyman Demirel, and dissolved the Assembly. General elections were held again in 1983.

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Transaction not permitted

Bill Peschel, having once had a credit-card number heisted by persons unknown, suggests that cardholders be given the option to toggle off some common card uses:

For example, I’m reasonably certain that I would never, over the span of 10 minutes, transfer eight thousand dollars to any company, never mind a (presumable) company overseas. Call me unaware, but I can’t imagine anything short of a bizarre ransom demand by kidnappers that make me do that.

I have had at least one card, maybe two, compromised. (The “maybe” comes from a reported security leak at the Web host I used to use; I called the issuer and had that card canceled. No dubious charges ever turned up.)

Best of all from the credit card company’s point of view, they wouldn’t have to do much more than set up the rules. They already allow you access to your account. The card’s owner would be responsible for going into the account and flicking the switches off and on.

There is precedent for this. Issuers of some institutional, government or corporate purchasing cards check for the Merchant Category Code when an authorization is requested, and compare it to a list of approved MCCs. If there’s no match, the transaction may be declined, irrespective of available credit.

Alternatively, see if the kidnapper takes American Express. Amex is usually pretty good about coming down hard on fraudsters.

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Why there will always be newspapers

(Via Paul McNamara’s Buzzblog.)

Update: The video has been killed, and here’s why.

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More mad cyclists

After my mild rant about a guy on a bike in Oklahoma City, Felix Salmon has a slightly-less-mild rant about bikers in New York, based on the premise that J. Random Cyclist tends to think of himself as a faster pedestrian:

Bikes can and should behave much more like cars than pedestrians. They should ride on the road, not the sidewalk. They should stop at lights, and pedestrians should be able to trust them to do so. They should use lights at night. And — of course, duh — they should ride in the right direction on one-way streets. None of this is a question of being polite; it’s the law. But in stark contrast to motorists, nearly all of whom follow nearly all the rules, most cyclists seem to treat the rules of the road as strictly optional. They’re still in the human-powered mindset of pedestrians, who feel pretty much completely unconstrained by rules.

The result is decidedly suboptimal for all concerned, but mostly for the bicyclists themselves. New York needs to make a collective quantum leap, from treating bicyclists like pedestrians to treating bicyclists like motorists. And unless and until it does, bike relations will continue to be marked by hostility and mistrust.

If it seems like less of an issue here in the flyover zone, it’s because we’re still well short of a critical mass of bicycles, except in places like Austin, and Austin cyclists seem to be comparatively well-behaved, perhaps because it’s gotten up to a hundred and three outside and they no longer have the strength to do anything stupid. Then again, I admittedly usually arrive in summer; in other seasons, your mileage may vary.


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And the day comes around again

Occasionally I fumble my way through the archives, just to see what I was thinking, and this is what I was thinking on the first anniversary of 9/11:

So far, things have been very quiet. The calm before the storm? Maybe, maybe not. But we’ve made it through storms before, and we’ll make it through this one.

In the meantime, this would be a fine time to turn away from the screen for a moment and turn toward someone you love.

And then say so.

Things haven’t been quite so quiet this year, but otherwise, I wouldn’t change a word of it.

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Where fanbois come from

Okay, it’s a fangirl this time, but the fundamental things apply:

Too loyal to the good ole days when each Tweet was followed by “via web” as opposed to “via some kind of new-fangled Steve Jobs application,” I never planned to posses any of these modern gadgets. Until my sister got a laptop, which came with a free iPod Touch, which went to me. I was immediately converted, and felt pride in the way I could slide the “unlock” button with such ease; the way my “To Do” lists suddenly looked so much more efficient. The pseudo-notebook paper on a screen gave them validity, while real life notebook paper was for people who were amateurs at, well, life. Suddenly, I didn’t just have to buy deodorant. I had to buy deodorant.

Based on these criteria, I have no future as a fanboi, since my tweets are generally via WordTwit or TweetDeck, neither of which is particularly platform-specific — TweetDeck runs on Adobe Air, which is odious only because it’s Adobe — and besides, I’m back to buying deodorant in bulk from the Avon Lady.

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The deed for speed

A few days ago, I brought up a scheme, proposed by a candidate for Governor of Nevada, to sell speeding permits; I didn’t sound too impressed with the idea as presented. By comparison, Ric Locke thinks it’s wholly inadequate, and suggests a limited-issue “Unlimited” license:

The driver and vehicle would be licensed to maintain a safe and reasonable speed according to road and traffic conditions. Yes, that means he or she could let the Countach out to its maximum on a lonely Western Interstate — but it also means dropping the heaviest hammer possible on a licensee who blows by traffic at 55 in the first misty rain for the last few months, because no combination of vehicle and driver can overcome the greasy combination of accumulated road oils and moisture, and DUI by a “U”-license holder should be a capital offense.

I need hardly point out that such licenses would be available only to superior drivers, trained by the best, operating superior vehicles, immaculately maintained.

Which will also be what keeps this idea from getting any traction, since it’s an American tradition that anyone over the age of consent (local laws may vary) is supposed to be able to get a driver’s license provided he promises to learn how to parallel-park some day. This situation is presumably exacerbated by circumstances described in a letter to Car and Driver this month: “Look at public schools: Uptight anti-car left-wingers teaching driver’s ed.” I suspect this is somewhat overgeneralized, but since I never took driver’s ed, I have no anecdotes to contribute in lieu of data.

Still, the idea ought to work, based on its most obvious antecedent:

[H]olders of concealed-carry licenses are overwhelmingly not involved in gun crime, because they know what they’re doing with the machine, including when and where using it is or is not appropriate. The same would be true of “Unlimited” driving licenses; they would overwhelmingly not be involved in accidents, high speed or otherwise, except where other drivers are either stupid or malicious.

There are times, alas, when I look at our Wobegon roads and conclude that all of our drivers — myself included, on occasion — are below average.

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Unwestern uncivilization

You’ve seen ‘em, I’ve seen ‘em, and Julie has seen more than enough of ‘em:

Few things are as excruciating as reading and suffering through an interview of an artist or writer or performer of some sort who has unwittingly come to believe he or she has something valuable to say about broad, abstract things, filling intellectual magazines printed on heavy paper stock with a matte finish and an over-abundance of solitary photos of urban blight. There are moments when I think such written interviews, or even interviews on public radio, are little more than tear sheets for grant applications.

Of course, “urban blight” is something to which they must point when they feel like denouncing Man’s Inhumanity to Man, though actual cases of inhumanity — for instance, crashing a hijacked aircraft into a skyscraper — tend to go unnoticed in such screeds.

But the grantsmanship angle, I think, is worth noting, since pretty much every one of those sacred-though-secular causes highlighted in those publications depends on prying money out of either foundations or government treasuries. (It’s also de rigueur to scoff at the profit motive, despite the fact that neither foundations nor government treasuries would have much in the way of disbursable funds were it not for people actually making some money.)

Still, I suppose these folks have to do something with their time, and this sort of activity presumably keeps them off the streets and/or patios.

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I blame Rodgers and Hammerstein

Well, Hammerstein anyway, since he was the lyricist. “Once you have found her, never let her go…”

So here’s the hypothetical for the moment:

The next time you meet a graceful, shapely, six-figure-siren who has a white shoe pedigree and lights up a room with her sparkly, charming wit, instead of running in the other direction to your man-cave of insecurities (or more likely, to your unemployed hook-up buddy in Astoria), take a deep breath and realize that this untouchable legal goddess probably has IBS, cries herself to sleep at least once a week and wonders how much of this year’s bonus she should use to freeze her eggs. In other words, go get her champ! Trust me, you have nothing to lose.

I don’t have a hook-up buddy, but I have enough insecurities, at least in matters of the heart and related organs, to fill the Albert Hall.

I mean, really, is it so impossible to believe that a cute, successful woman would be interested in a cute, not-as-successful man?

Not being cute, I don’t have any frame of reference. So when I see such a stranger across a crowded room, I shrug. (As a rule, I don’t burst into tears until I get home.)

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Kilobytes of Rahm

One of these days I’m going to have to come up with a “Why We Love E. M. Zanotti” category. This time, she cracks wise on a Next Mayor of Chicago poll in which Rahm Emanuel is the front-runner. Pointing to a Chicago Tribune reference to Emanuel’s days as a ballet dancer, she declares:

If you have a picture of him in tights, I’ll trade you a dozen cupcakes for it. It’s a good deal. I make f***ing awesome cupcakes.

Judging by the subsequent update to her post, I’m guessing she spent part of last night baking.

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