Ben A.
Ben H.
This Industry Probably Won't Survive Imposition of Sharia

Denmark and Norway one-up Amsterdam with "animal bordellos." Act now, before the Islamic tipping point is reached, at which point the only animal-sex available will be with camels, and then only within marriage.

But seriously, it's a sick idea. I mean, I'd much prefer to have some goat in me than to have me in a goat*. Frankly, I'd prefer to suffer koro than to have healthy private parts dedicated to animal "husbandry".

*I shamefully rip off a half-remembered Clive James line, from a poem about a notorious gourmand:

True measure for the man of parts
Is tarts in him, not him in tarts.
[Ben H.: 10/5/06 08:20]
Interesting Word

Currently in Athens as accompanying spouse while Dao is at a mini-conference; another attendee (from Spain) happens to be named Koro; here is the first link from a Google search for "koro". Recommended. (The link, not what it describes.) [Doug: 10/4/06 17:07]

5-for-5. OK, David Ortiz could match Jeter there. Turning the crucial double play? Not from the dugout, papi! Mr. Part-Timer will have to wait another year for his MVP. This year's is claimed! [Ben H.: 10/4/06 12:50]
Color Me Surprised

We are all familiar with Islamofascist hijackings. But today we witnessed the world's first Islamophobic (literally) hijacking! Another wonderful Turkish Airlines experience. It's name in Turkish, Turk Hava Yollari, is the source of the acronym you see on its planes, gates, etc, "THY." My Turkish colleague says that it stands for "They Hate You." [Ben H.: 10/3/06 21:42]
Pen-Spinning Dojo

That about sums it up for this site, except that it's in French so caveat lector. [Doug: 10/3/06 15:59]
No Bookmarks: We Like Our Pages Bent Over!

Do you remember that old joke? Do you remember whence it came? Back in the 80s, there was another page scandal, involving, if i recall correctly, one Dem and one Republican. The Democrat was Rep. Gerry Studds. He banged a 17-year old boy page. He never apologized; in fairness, the page never complained. I guess Gerry was just more of a hottie than Foley, or perhaps he had more accurate gaydar! [Ben H.: 10/3/06 14:34]
Rough Week For The Grand Old Pederasts

First the report verifying that the Iraq war is pumping up the terrorist threat (who knew?), then Foley, now further evidence that the axis of evil was hiding its nukes under the shell that Bush didn't choose to obliterate. The Foley thing may be the clincher for the mid-terms, because it defangs any last-minute fag-bashing "pro-marriage" push, which seems to have become the GOP's main base-energizing play. Perhaps they can start another war? [Doug: 10/3/06 11:15]
My denial is still strong [Ben A.: 10/2/06 22:41]
Technical Analysis: The Borat Effect

Kazakhstan's currency enjoyed a robust rally for the first half of this year. Quite abruptly, in July, the tenge reversed course and has been weakening ever since. What happened? Some market observers claim that the National Bank of Kazakhstan began a program of intervention to limit currency strength. But, is it a coincidence that KZT went from winner to loser exactly when Borat: The Movie's trailer became available online?

[Ben H.: 10/2/06 14:06]
Do You Need Growth Hormone to Throw 86 MPH?

Andy Pettitte also implicated. Andy Pettitte?! [Ben A.: 10/2/06 01:21]
Say it ain't so, Roger! [Ben H.: 10/1/06 12:14]

A good issue of the New Yorker can offset a month's worth of Times blather. Yes their staff writers hate George Bush Jr. too, but they don't act like they deserve a gold star for it; they simply enumerate, when the topic of politics comes up, the ways Bush's administration is ruining the country. And when they turn to other topics they tend to have an amazingly firm grasp of them. This is the best overview of the state of particle physics that I've read. (Sample detail: some string theorists invoke an "anthropic principle" to "explain" why one version of their equations holds in our universe, and when the objection is voiced that this principle is not falsifiable, they deride those who voice it as "Popperazzi".) [Doug: 9/30/06 17:46]
Outrage of the Day

You know, a friend forwarded that Victoria-Amin comparison the other day, and it sent me fuming for hours. [Ben A.: 9/30/06 14:04]
Times' Pious Mudslinging (To Go With Its Whitewashing)

I unwisely unblocked the Times website on my computer after months of blissful ignorance. What did I learn? That movie critic Manohla Dargis is the most perfect representative of undeserved ivy-league-style moral/intellectual smugness since, well, Frank Rich or Maureen Dowd or that LifeAtHarvard eager-beaver. I suppose I already knew this -- but how not to launch into a blog-post of despair upon reading that "[Idi] Amin was an amateur merchant of death compared with the historic British monarchy", or that the "thousands of bouquets [placed] before Buckingham Palace [after Diana's death were] a veritable barricade as overt in menace and purpose as the upturned paving stones of the French Revolution"? Dolt. I will re-block the site from my computer after I finish making this pumpkin risotto recipe.

[Doug: 9/30/06 12:25]
Synthesis of Last Two Posts

Maybe Ortega and Foley should get together and start a cross-ideological political movement dedicated to the promotion of pedophilia in politics! [Ben H.: 9/30/06 11:25]
They Forget Nothing and They Learn Nothing

Twenty-five years later, the NYT is still trying to white-wash Danny Ortega. My personal favorite part of the article tries to establish El Commandante's "pragmatic" credentials by pointing out his "cooperation" with former (rightist) president Aleman. It makes it sound like Ortega recognized the wisdom of some Aleman policy prescriptions and lent his support. In point of fact, the cooperation between Ortega and Aleman involved an agreement (known as "El Pacto") to immunize ALeman and Ortega from corruption charges, to change the electoral system to freeze out smaller parties, and to cut the legs out from under then-President Bolanos, who was working to clean up Nicaraguan politics.

Also, no mention at all of the scandal that erupted when, a few years back, Ortega's step-daughter accused him of sexual abuse. [Ben H.: 9/30/06 11:23]
Election Advice

Democrats failed to realize, last time around, that a majority of Americans will side with whoever looks more macho and succeeds most in painting his opponents as pacifist fairies. Should they have a stronger desire to win this time (for my part, prolonged absence has weakened my emotions about US politics), their message from now until November should be short and unvarying: Republicans are all creepy pedophile f----ts. [Doug: 9/30/06 10:44]
Yarn-Spinning Politicians

I believe that the only true novel written by a U.S. President is this one. I can't say whether it is good or bad, but seeing as Jimmuh Peanuthead wrote it, one can probably count on it being sanctimonious.

Newt Gingrich has co-written a series of Civil War novels. I've never read any of his work, but I have little reason to believe he is any more the succesful belletrist than Jimmuh.

Upton Sinclair came very close to winning the governorship of California in the 1930s, but of course he was a novelist who got into politics rather than the other way around.

It's not a novel, but Grant's Autobiography is a nicely crafted piece of work. Apparently, though, he had a good deal of help from Mark Twain. And, Ben A, you've let down your fellow MA citizens in failing to cite Profiles in Courage. Or are you suggesting -- blasphemer! -- that Saint John Fitzgerald Kennedy didn't write it all by himself? [Ben H.: 9/28/06 06:21]
The Candidate as Novelist

England has a history of belletristic politicians. Disraeli wrote some quite passable novels, and of course there's Churchill. America far less so. It's quite rare to find an American politician of any note who has "written" anything other than transparently self-serving schlock. My mother had a grand time passing the juicy cat-stealing, fiance-droppping bits from Bill Frist's Transplant around the office, but it's actually not so bad -- a fairly honest and self-reflective account of what it is like to be an ambitious young surgeon (which is to say, a borderline sociopath). Likely it is among the top ten books written by 20th century American Senators.

Should James Webb beat George Allen, however, a real contender will join that list. Webb's Fields of Fire is superb, and earned a special place in my heart for featuring one of the most despicable Harvard men in the history of fiction.


p.s. Here's a question for the Bandalog readership: Can anyone think of passabnovel written by a significant American politician?

p.p.s. Although not an author exactly, we always have Lincoln. I recently learned, however, that his Handbill Replying to Charges of Infidelity is less salacious than one might hope. [Ben A.: 9/28/06 03:00]
Remind Me To Tie A Full Windsor Tomorrow

Reason never wholly overcomes imagination, while the contrary is quite common.

Our magistrates have shown themselves well aware of this mystery. Their red robes, the ermine in which they swaddle themselves like furry cats, the law courts where they sit in judgment, the fleurs de lys, all this august panoply was very necessary. If physicians did not have long gowns and mules, if learned doctors did not wear square caps and robes four times too large, they would never have deceived the world, which finds such an authentic display irresistible. If they possessed true justice, and if physicians possessed the true art of healing, they would not need square caps; the majesty of such sciences would command respect in itself. But as they only possess imaginary science, they have to resort to these vain devices in order to strike the imagination, which is their real concern; and this, in fact, is how they win respect.


[Ben A.: 9/28/06 02:03]
A Quick Thought On Amsterdam

If a Phish concert were to congeal into a permanent settlement: Amsterdam. [Ben H.: 9/26/06 19:36]
If I May Bring Some Artistic Unity To Ben A's Last Two Posts

... I hereby nominate the keeper of LifeAtHarvard for the Montgomery Burns Award for Outstanding Achievement in the Field of Excellence. You go, girl! [Doug: 9/26/06 11:36]
Born Too Late

How awesome is this? When the jacquerie comes, it won't be pretty. [Ben A.: 9/26/06 03:02]
Copyright Violation to End All Copyright Violation

This can't possibly last long. Enjoy it while you can. [Ben A.: 9/26/06 02:10]
Home Stretch

Just finished my meeting in Amsterdam; finally headed back home. Hopefully the place hasn't been burned down or bulglarized in the last two weeks! [Ben H.: 9/25/06 09:43]
He Gives the Best Blurb in the Publishing Business

Old news, but I laughed out loud when I saw this picture [Ben A.: 9/24/06 02:01]
What the Web is For

Even those who have followed the twists of the Valerie Plame scandal wtih only half an eye* will appreciate the direct conversation/confrontation between the National Review’s Byron York and the Nation’s David Corn here. Corn has been one of the major journalistic actors (and is with co-author, with Michael Isikoff, of Hubris, a book anatomizing the scandal). York has been covering from the right with some close attention to detail. For all the Cross-Fire and talking head shows on television, one almost never sees highly informed people at the edge of a particular policy debate. It’s great.

*I count myself among this number. For these inside baseball washington scandals, I follow a rule of data sufficiency: until there has been a lot time for thr dust to settle, I try not to engage. [Ben A.: 9/23/06 22:51]
And People Wonder Why SARS Started in Southern China

Spent the morning in Shenzhen meeting with potential business partners. On the way back to the border, my colleague and I stopped at one of the city's biggest malls. As we came down an escalator, we saw a women picking up her 4-ish-year-old daughter by the arms. Said daughter was naked from the waist down. Abruptly the mother thrust the daughter out in front of her, holding her above a garbage can, into which the daughter let loose a vigorous stream of piss. Not 50 feet away: a functional bathroom. [Ben H.: 9/21/06 05:54]
Interesting Iraq Datum from IMF Meetings

Ran into lawyer who has represented sovereigns in most of the default cases of the past decade, including working on the reapportionment of Yugoslav defaulted debt to the successor countries. He mentioned that recently US Treasury officials working on Iraq contacted him. They were curious to know what the legal process would be for converting Iraqi debt into debt of new entities. Is Washington thinking Iraqi breakup? [Ben H.: 9/21/06 05:50]
Coup in Thailand

Coming across the wires now. Spurs following commentary on the trading desk:
Thai coup? What is that? A bunch of men with breasts throwing pillows at each other? [Ben H.: 9/19/06 11:40]
The Danger of BCRA

Title II of the BCRA is what concerns me the most. That's the section that bars "corporations" (and unions) from "electioneering communications" (broadcast ads, basically) that mention a candidate by name within 30 days of a primary or 60 days of a general election. I put "corporation" in quotes because "corporation" under BCRA includes non-profit advocacy groups -- think Sierra Club or NRA*. To me, this is a much more direct assault on the First Amendment than hard-money contribution limits (which I also oppose, but with less passion). How did we come to this pass? The successive application of broader regulatory coverage in the name of "non-circumvention." Now, if the law now bars certain kinds of "electioneering communications" -- that is, speech -- think about where non-circumvention could take us. Perhaps McCain will say that evil lobbyist types are hiding behind the "media exemption" to Title II. Is the AARP cable channel a bona fide media outlet or really a campaign ad. How about web ads? Are these "broadcast media" or publications? What if you send an email from work denouncing a candidate? Does the fact your company's servers were used mean that the company has provided a contribution (something of value) to that candidate? Is an email a broadcast and therefore electioneering communication? In the name of non-circumvention, I fear these questions will be asked and, under a McCain administration, answered quickly, sternly, and without much concern for respect for the foundational principles of our republic.

McCain's problem is that he really believes he has the monopoly of virtue, a characteristic he shares with another guy I hate -- Elliot Spitzer -- and Robespierre, among other invidious figures. Some people hate Bush, I suppose, because they believe he, too, embodies this attitude, though I disagree. As such, McCain lives with the shame of having counted among the Keating Five, a brand that traduces his self-conception as a holder of the monopoly of virtue. To reconcile this conflict, he must assert that the entire campaign finance system is inherently corrupt. By railing against the system, he attempts to erase the moral stain of his lapse, to make it a mere product of a corrupt system rather than a blameworthy act by a less-than-perfect human being.

*Supreme Court precedent rendered it ill-advised for the sponsors of BCRA to try to extend the ban to individual's purchase of ads. Buckley v Valeo protects the right of a candidate to spend freely on his own campaign, and it would be difficult in light of this holding to argue that a non-candidate individual could not also make an (uncoordinated) ad and pay to broadcast it. The strange consequence is that the BCRA makes broadcast electioneering communication impossible for everyone except those few people with enough money to afford the large quantum required to buy an advertisement or series of advertisements. [Ben H.: 9/19/06 04:34]
The First Amendment

Surely you know, Ben H, that the entire point of the first amendment was to protect nude dancing, not political speech meant to change the political process...

It's hard for me to see how campaign finance reform, constitutionally noxious though it is, warrants much concern. Attempts to prevent the attempted alchemy of money to political influence seem doomed. McCain-Feingold was supposed to gut big money donors, and behold, 527s immediately formed to convert (overwhelmingly democratic) dollars into crummy political adverts. When George Soros can pump $10M into pro-Dem communications wherein lies the danger to the market-based political communication? [Ben A.: 9/18/06 23:41]

It's campaign finace reform, or at least what he calls "campaign finance reform", which goes well beyond regulating finance and deep into regulating free expression. Can I coutenance voting for a man who said: "Given the choice between The First Amendment and clean government, I'll choose clean government"? Did it ever occur to him that the First Amendment is the best guarantor of clean government?

Here's the way I see it. What I dislike about Hillary! or John Edwards is that I feel they will make some poor policy choices. However, our political system at present is such that very bad choices will engender opposition, perhaps turn them out of office, and usher in new officials who will reverse the bad policies. McCain, though, will disturb the very system. The protection of free speech and the right of petition are not policy choices but foundational aspects of our constitutional arrangement. Four years of too-high taxes or byzantine health-care rules. I'm not going to say I'll like it. But I can wait it out. But errors that interfere with the means of their own correction -- I can't accept those. And therefore, let all take note: I hereby declare that I will vote for Hillary! if she faces McCain in the general. [Ben H.: 9/18/06 21:33]
McCain Nightmare?

What gets you Ben H? Is it the campaign finance reform? The tobacco bill? Or what promises to be a dreadful immigration compromise?

Plenty of people I know find McCain scary on foreign policy grounds, of course, but I doubt you fall in that camp...

[Ben A.: 9/18/06 20:15]
Dare I Say It: A Germ of a Good Idea from Al Gore

Revenue-neutral pollution tax. Personally, I don't know if carbon emissions ought be the exact quantity at the base of the tax, and I think lowering both ,arginal income and payroll tax rates would make more sense than just targeting the latter. But the right direction nonetheless.

The problem I see, incidentally, with making carbon dioxide emissions the taxable quantity, is that it would create a very strong incentive to switch out of coal and into natural gas and oil derivatives in power generation. This effect would vitiate a key benefit of taxing fossil fuel use (though not the one that is Gore's concern), namely that it would reduce our purchases of and dependence on Arab, Venezuelan, and Russian exports. Global warming -- to the extent it is even anthropogenic -- is a heck of a lot more gradual and easy to adjust to than global jihad and rogue anti-American regimes.

On the note, I recently attended a "prospecting" (i.e. pre-fundraising) meeting with Mark Warner (at the insistence of a partner; don't worry, I'm still Republican, just considering any way I can help block the nightmare of McCain victory). He mentioned that he will emphasize energy policy as one of his major electoral issues. However, he will focus on the geostrategic aspect more than the environmental aspect of the issue, as he feels it is a more politically winning argument. [Ben H.: 9/18/06 19:50]
In Singapore

Somebody once described it thus: "Disneyland, but with the death penalty." For me it is Irvine, CA writ large; including having a very similar ethnic composition.

Spending time here is a good corrective to the misconception that liberty dominates all other political arrangements. Don't get me wrong, I believe it is Pareto optimal -- and it is the point on the indifference curve I choose --but let's not pretend there aren't tradeoffs along certain dimensions. This place works astoundingly well. Just after disembarking at the airport, I identified myself to a waiting representative as a participant in the IMF/WB meetings. He whisked me off to a special immigration line (not that the regular lines were at all slow), handed me off to a woman on the other side, who gave me a welcome bag (with map of the city, list of special events, and a folded-up rain poncho) and put me in a free Mercedes cab to take me to my hotel. Along the traffic-free, straight, smooth road to downtown, the few gaps in the foliage lining the road had been filled up with potted flowers. Now, contrast this with IMF/WB meetings in other places; my welcome to Prague was a riot at the convention center and nearly getting beaten up by anti-IMF protestors in the subway. THe flip side to this is that Singapore stopped would-be protestors at immigration. They let in a grand total of 25 "official protestors", minded by several times as many police officers. [Ben H.: 9/18/06 11:08]
In fact I had initially put "fabulous" but, due to the etymological specter of "fable", thought it might be dangerous. [Doug: 9/18/06 02:45]
My Father, the Perfect Philosopher

"Don't give up on being quiet"

said, with cause, to all of us. [Ben A.: 9/17/06 22:17]
I thought we had settled on fabulous [Ben A.: 9/17/06 19:39]
"Crock" or not, the current spasm of hateful indignation in the Muslim world makes it seem prudent to me to reiterate the Bandarlog's official stance toward Muhammand and Allah: They're wonderful!

[Doug: 9/17/06 16:47]
Grow the Hell Up Already

Gee whiz, what do you know, another Muslim temper tantrum! If religions were members of a typical family, Islam would be the cranky two year old who unleashes petulant howls and throws his toys out of the pram at regular intervals.

Here's a weird aspect of this whole controversy: have you seen, in any major media report, the context -- word for word -- in which the Pope quoted Paleologus? I sure haven't. The press generally coyly mentions that the Pope was merely quoting a historical figure without endorsing it and balances that with Muslim claims of his insensitivity. Wouldn't it make sense to consider the speech as evidence in support of one side or the other? Well, since the press for some reason won't do it, thebandarlog grudgily fired up google and found it for you, dear reader.

The speech has virtually nothing to do with Islam. The Pope is talking about the history of attempts to reconcile faith and reason and what they portend for a "genuine dialog between cultures and religions", by which he seems to mean a dialog between scientific rationalism and religion more that between particular religions. The quote is merely used to allude to the question -- important to his thesis -- of whether it is the case that if God is the source of reason then acting unreasonably is against God's nature. Or something. Really, i care little for theology. Point is, you don't need to be a theologian, just an honest person with 10th grade level reading comprehension, to conclude this whole controversy is a crock. Muslim leaders -- well, let's just say I suspect they do have 10th grade reading comprehension. [Ben H.: 9/15/06 20:23]
Osama's Plans: Delays Likely

Before Whitney can become the bride of al-Frankenstein, she'll need to complete her divorce. That could take a while. Do you know how knotty a custody battle over a mountain of crack rock can become? [Ben H.: 9/14/06 12:26]

"If I were told I might write a book in which I should demonstrate beyond any doubt the correctness of my opinions on every social problem, I should not waste two hours at it; but if I were told that what I wrote would be read twenty years from now by people who are children today, and that they would weep and laugh over my book, and love life more because of it, I would devote all my life and strength to such a work"
-- Tolstoy, 1865
[Ben A.: 9/13/06 22:54]
Are Osama's Plans Still Advancing, Despite Everything?

It's worse than you know. [Doug: 9/13/06 16:21]
Permit Me A Thomas Friedman Moment...

...of goofy, gee-whiz enthusiasm about The Globalization-Flattened-Earth. My day: working on a loan from a Dutch N.V., owned by a Luxembourg holding company, in turn funded by a Cayman LLC to a Georgian bank looking to list on the London Stock Exchange; which involved a conference call with our lead counsel (based in Romania) who is drafting the loan under New York law. [Ben H.: 9/12/06 21:10]
That this story finds it's way on to the front page of the NYT* really crystalizes the outlook of the readership. That is: wealthy metropolitans who fetishize college admissions and buy into the elite cachet of Harvard**; but who must ever prove their liberal bona fides by relating every damn thing to race and class.

Seriously... it seems to me that if Bush wants people to "put aside [their] differences" to fight the War on Terror, the way he should go about it (at least to the extent he needs to get the NYT and its readership on board) is to somehow prove that terrorism has a disparate impact on blacks, Hispanics and the poor!

*It's also on the front page of the WSJ, if only, however, as a few sentences in the middle of the News & Views column

**As someone who once aspired to a career in journalism, I felt a lot of bitterness about the blunt and obvious affirmative action programs at work in the industry. But when I see that a change in admission deadline for Harvard -- something that just barely qualifies for the banner head of the Crimson -- splashes across the front page (C1 no less!) of The Newspaper of Record, I have to concede that perhaps newsrooms do need more diversity. Maybe suffering the occasional infiltration of a cokehead, black fabulist/plagiarist like Jayson Blair is a risk worth taking to dilute the overconcentration of effete, center-left, Jewish Ivy League wanksters... [Ben H.: 9/12/06 06:49]
Verdict: Not Ready!

...But then again, based on my dealings in most of the non-developed world, I ask you, who is ready? Pretty much the Anglo-Saxons and a few Asian countries, best I can tell. Heck, Doug, sounds like you don't think America has done such a hot job of self-rule!! [Ben H.: 9/12/06 06:17]
A People Ripe For Self-Rule? You Make The Call

[...] The Shi-ite Mohammedans venerate Ali, the Prophet's son-in-law, instead of Abu-bekr, his brother-in-law. Vambery describes a dervish whom he met in Persia, "who had solemnly vowed, thirty years before, that he would never employ his organs of speech otherwise but in uttering, everlastingly, the name of his favorite, Ali, Ali. He thus wished to signify to the world that he was the most devoted partisan of that Ali who had been dead a thousand years. In his own home, speaking with his wife, children, and friends, no other word but 'Ali!' ever passed his lips. If he wanted food or drink or anything else, he expressed his wants still by repeating 'Ali!' Begging or buying at the bazaar, it was always 'Ali!' Treated ill or generously, he would still harp on his monotonous 'Ali!' Latterly his zeal assumed such tremendous proportions that, like a madman, he would race, the whole day, up and down the streets of the town, throwing his stick high up into the air, and shriek out, all the while, at the top of his voice, 'Ali!' This dervish was venerated by everybody as a saint, and received everywhere with the greatest distinction." ARMINIUS VAMBERY, his Life and Adventures, written by Himself, London, 1889, p. 69. On the anniversary of the death of Hussein, Ali's son, the Shi-ite Moslems still make the air resound with cries of his name and Ali's.

(from The Varieties of Religious Experience, footnote from lecture XIV) [Doug: 9/12/06 02:37]

When he, or at any rate his team of writers, asks me to "put aside our differences" in an Iraq morale-boost speech, I have to respond: although you would certainly have been a good man within your natural horizon -- which, as has been remarked, is that of a hardware-store owner -- as a president you are a hateful fool, and I wish your party the worst until it outgrows the hatefulness and foolishness that have ruled it since your father's defeat.

P.S. it's easy for Bush to tell me to "put aside" what separates me from him, but a frontal lobectomy is actually a tricky operation. [Doug: 9/12/06 02:14]
Personal Favorite Personal

Romance is dead. So is my mother. Man, 42, inherited wealth. Box no. 18/11.

As miniature British vessels for understated genius go, the LRB personals are the bee's knee (cryptic crosswords being its other knee).

Some more good ones here; the current ones here. [Doug: 9/9/06 16:02]
Personal Ad Nirvana

I am not as high maintenance as my highly polished and impeccably arranged collection of porcelain cats suggests, but if you touch them I will kill you. F, 36. Likes porcelain cats. Seeks man not unused to the sound of sobbing coming from a bedroom from which he is strictly prohibited. Tell me how attractive I am at box no. 16/08

From the London Review of Books, and, more proximately, from this charming person. [Ben A.: 9/9/06 04:22]
Putting A Soundtrack To One's Life

I once thought it would be fun, if I worked in an office setting, to install hidden surround-sound speakers and a spotlight in, say, a conference room. Then I would practice a few ballads/torch songs for special occasions, and cue up instrumental tracks. When the situation arose, I would surreptitiously hit a remote, the lights would dim, music would swirl up seemingly out of nowhere, and I would belt out Broadway-style my thoughts on, say, a colleague's powerpoint presentation. One example I can think of is this: if you get up to leave a meeting and somebody asks where you're going, you play the track from West Side Story: "Ur - eeeeeee - a, I must now expel my ur-e-a ... ". Tritone-a-licious! Needless to say, I never got around to this when I actually worked in an office. Maybe next time. [Doug: 9/7/06 16:53]
OK I Will Be The Killjoy Who Explains The Joke

I enjoyed the poem but those who are confused may look here. [Doug: 9/7/06 11:27]
A Good Blog is Just Two Good Posts in a Row

history of pie

a poem [Ben A.: 9/7/06 04:56]
The Ice Tart Taste of Sprite

I would make this the soundtrack to my life, if I could.

(the video is irrelevant, except for its decisive role in the Betty Boop child neglect case of 1928)

Return to SoCal

I think it has been at least a month since someone here noted how great Southern California is. That's a damn shame. I was back in the Southland this weekend for the wedding of good friend (and Ben H's Crimson colleague) David B, the last of my eligible male college friends to get paired up.* Naturally, the wedding party prowled Redondo and Manhattan Beach. And you know, it's just a paradise with strip malls. The sky is always clear, the sun is always bright, the air dry, the pacific a balmy 65. Ben H, when are you moving back?

*By eligible, I mean someone of whom Deb asks "why isn't he married." I do have a few single friends, who remains so for a variety of good reasons.
[Ben A.: 9/7/06 02:57]
Dauphin Words

Imperial newborn will reportedly " ... face years of rigorous preparation for the throne, including special schooling to learn an imperial form of the Japanese language ... ". Crikey! Who would have thought Japanese could get any more difficult? [Doug: 9/6/06 06:50]
Weasel Words

"Many Panamanians Say No to Canal Upgrade" is the title of that story.

In related news, many Americans believe world is flat. [Doug: 9/3/06 11:53]
Everything You Read in The New York Times Is True, Except That Occasional Story of Which You Have First-Hand Knowledge: Part 342

The New York Times today runs a story about the proposed widening of the Panama Canal. The hook of the story, like many Times stories about big projects, is that the scheme is "raising doubts" among ordinary folks and that as a result the project is in danger of failure. For the scheme to go forward, Panamanians must vote in favor of it in a referendum this coming October.

Rather strangely, though, for a story about public opinion, the Times does not cite a single poll. One might be tempted to assume this is because Panama exists in too primitive a state to have polling infrastructure? Well, in reality, Panama has at least one excellent public opinion research firm, whose polls most banks cite when Panama faces elections: Dichter & Neira.

Dichter & Neira conducted a poll of 1200 Panamanian voters at the beginning of August, to measure voting intentions for the referendum. Here are the results, which carry margin of error of +/- 2.9%:

Yes: 54.4%
No: 17.1%
Undecided: 28.5%

In danger of losing? The only thing in danger of loss as far as I can see is the Times few remaining shreds of credibility!
[Ben H.: 9/3/06 09:15]



Ben A.
Ben H.