more listing

Why? Why not? Via RW...feel free to run with it...

...a strange combination of food you like to snack on.
2 fried eggs (over easy), cruchy peanut butter, and Srirahca on whole wheat toast.

...something you do that other bloggers who read you might find odd if they saw you doing it. Pretty much anything in my actual job.

...when you were 7, what you wanted to be when you grew up - that you never told anyone about. A professional wrestler.

...the thing you don't tell people at work about yourself.
I played drums in a Christian rock band when I was a teenager.

...what you like to do when no one else is going to be home for a stretch of time. Watch football, during the season, or movies I know my wife would hate (generally old stuff and/or war movies).

...the thing you believe - politically - that you don't admit to people who think you think like they do.
Depends on who I'm hanging out with, b/c my politics are sufficiently eclectic that a lot of different people assume that I think like they do. Among lefties, that I think everyone has a God-given right to be armed to the teeth; among righties, that I think the military should be gutted down to our own version of the Swiss milita; and among libertarians, that I think the NIH and NSF budgets should be quadrupled (which would be easily managed with the savings from gutting the military). Sorry, I know that's 3 things. So sue me.

...that one thing from your childhood, outside of your parents, that you try to maintain some kind of connection with, and how. I honestly can't think fo a thing. My childhood was great, but so is my adulthood.

...a song or group or singer you secretly like that everyone else groans about. Pick any Scandanavian metal band

...do you close the bathroom door when you're the only one home? I don't always close it when I'm not.


sentimental, but i'm on vacation now

Via my lovely wife comes the simplest of memes: list what you love.

We're off for some serious R&R today, and this gets me in the right frame of mind...see you next week.

the first mouthful of coffee - rain in the desert - Rodin - pork falling off the bones - football - a cozy pub - the end of a workout - the beginning of a weekend - Radiohead - data that doesn't make sense yet - hops - Atlanta in the spring - Paris in the fall - Tucson in the winter - Coltrane - my Jeep - new socks - old friends - Achewood - discovering a new author - inappropriate laughter - knowing something no one else does - bar trivia - Mahler - sleeping the whole way there - Murakami - remembering how to say something in another language when I actually need it - perfect scrambled eggs - falling asleep with my dog - the smell of the back of [m]'s neck - getting away - coming home - Bartok - walking around a new city - Rembrandt - hot fudge brownie a la mode - heavy metal - Japanese architecture - black leather - sitting in the kitchen with my family - porches - the perfect pint - a new perspective


i thought were all god's children anyway

Looks like someone else wants to cash in on The Da Vinci Code. This strikes me as a bit tardy, but Simon and Schuster are betting on it.

An author is about to claim that she is the living embodiment of the Holy Grail, a direct descendant of the physical union between Mary Magdalene and Jesus Christ. She's American, she's 43, and she means it - every word.

Even though it seems her claim comes straight from the world of fictional make-believe, Kathleen McGowan, a married mother of three, is about to tell her story in a "partly autobiographical" novel that hopes to trade directly on the vast worldwide audience captured by Dan Brown. It promises to light almost as many fires of controversy as Brown's novel itself.

I've got no dog in this fight. However, I do find it amusing that so many people insist that Jesus was the human incarnation of the divine, lived a perfect, sinless life, rose from the dead, and ascended into heaven--BUT, the notion that he got married and had kids is simply preposterous.

Anyway, it occurs to me that if Jesus did have descendants, then there are probably thousands of his progeny running around today. I mean, I've got over a hundred second cousins myself. So being one of Jesus' many-great-grandkids isn't really all that special.

Besides, wouldn't they be Jewish?


today i did something i haven't done in at least 2 years

I bought CDs. I actually went to a store, picked them up off the racks, and paid for them.

Seems rather quaint, doesn't it? Almost like dialing a rotary phone. Or balancing a checkbook.

99% of my music consumption these days takes place via Rhapsody, most of that at my desk (either at work at home) with headphones. Occasionally I pipe it into my stereo at home. There's just so much that it seems I never listen to an album from begining to end anymore. For that matter, if a song doesn't grab me in the first minute or two, I just grab another of the million or so at my fingertips.

Which is to say, I've become exactly the kind of consumer the recording industry has been so afraid of.

...or maybe not. After all, I did by CDs today. Four of them, to be exact.

One was the new Tool album. Which I probably would have bought in any case, but especially since it isn't available on Rhapsody. The other three are what's interesting. I got two by Arch Enemy and one by Apocalyptica...both of which have only a few tracks available on Rhapsody. Both of which I probably never would have heard of without the ability to surf from artist to artist at a whim.

The plural of anecdote isn't data, but still, I can't help but think the recording industry is going to be OK...


I suppose it was inevitable that Tina Fey would leave SNL--the good ones always do--but I'm still sad to see it happen. She has pretty much single-handedly kept that show from completely sucking over the past few years.

I realize that may sound like damning with faint praise, but let's be real: sketch comedy is a hard way to entertain people, week after week. Not sucking is pretty awesome. Even when an episode was lousy, Update was always good with Fey behind the desk.

Tina, I will miss you. I'd like to say I'm a loyal enough fan to follow you to 30 Rock, but to be honest, I haven't consistently enjoyed a sitcom on network TV since Seinfeld. So write some movies...or better yet, go work at FX.


israel starting to look like "that guy"

Like everyone with the unfortunate habit of following current events, I am left trying to form an opinion on the current violence between Israel and (nominally) Hezbollah.

I think I have always been inclined to be sympathetic to Israel, but these days I find myself questioning that inclination--more specifically, questioning why I had it in the first place. Is it because of my protestant upbringing, in which the idea of the Jews as "God's chosen people" was a theological cornerstone? Is it because I feel some sort of vague collective Western guilt about the Inquisition, the Holocaust, and laughing every time Cartman cracks on Kyle? Is it because I admire the culture and values of the Jewish friends I've made over the years? Is it because I respect the tenacity it took the Zionists to build a modern state in a stateless and hostile land?

Is it becuase I just don't find much to admire in those that who proclaim the destruction of Israel as their goal?

Perhaps it is all of these. The thing is, the existance of Israel as a Jewish state--indeed, as the Jewish state--I think has served to conflate and confuse the identity of the Jewish people with the State of Israel. This point ought to be obvious: opposition to Israeli policy is no more hostility to the Jewish people than opposition to American policy is hostility to Americans.

The news coming out of the Middle East these days is difficult for me to interpret as anything other than a callous disregard for innocents (on both sides of the border) on the part of the Israeli government. That Hezbollah is no better is irrelevant. If Israel wishes to be a modern, liberal state alongside the great nations of the world--you know, the ones that value life and liberty, albeit to varying degrees and through ideologically diverse mechanisms--then it simply has to aspire to be better.

(And so--by the way--does the United States.)

Alliances are dangerous things. Right now the U.S. ought to be feeling like the guy at the redneck bar with his friend who's just had too much to drink, and is itching for a fight with the motorcycle gang over by the pool table. The prudent thing to do is to get him out of there, if you can manage it, because you know there's no reasoning with the bikers.

The next best thing, of course, is to get the hell out and let him take his licks. Because if he knows you don't have his back unconditionally, maybe he'll think twice about picking the fight next time.


ben roethlisberger is my new favorite qb

"I don't think that that's my place," he said. "You know, I think that some people feel that, you know, I probably should be doing that and being a big advocate for that. But for me, you know, I'm going to let people make their own decision 'cause I think that's what it's about."

--Big Ben, on why he WON'T become an advocate for motorcycle helmets


the smartest political observation i've seen in months

"And, there is a growing consumer-driven ”green” movement that is a libertarian wet dream. It achives a social good (protecing the environment) by free market choice.

If anything, libertarians should embrace and encourage this to use it as exhibit A for their ideology."

--commenter "Hesiod" at Unqualified Offerings

bush finally finds his veto pen...

...sticks it up his ass, and writes:

H.R. 810 would overturn my Administration's balanced policy on embryonic stem cell research. If this bill were to become law, American taxpayers for the first time in our history would be compelled to fund the deliberate destruction of human embryos.

I'm willing to set aside for a moment that he and I just don't see eye-to-eye on what constitutes "human life". We don't. We won't. And he's the one holding the pen. Fine.

But please, please don't insult me and every other taxpayer by framing this as concern for taxpayers having to fund something that they might find morally objectionable, because that is just bullshit. I find non-defensive wars morally objectionable. I find putting people in cages for what they choose to put into their bodies morally reprehensible. But nobody--and especially nobody in the GOP--is expressing concern for my having to foot the bill for such things.


everything is not going to be ok

Go see A Scanner Darkly at the first possible opportunity. The rotoscoping is a feast for the eyes. Keanu Reeves is at his best when animated. It's the best film adaptation of Phillip K. Dick's work to screen to date--and yes, I am including Blade Runner.

It's also the most faithful adaptation, at least as well as I can judge having read the book some years ago. All the other adaptations of his work have either captured the ideas and unsettling atmosphere pretty well, but changed the story to fit it into a movie (Blade Runner), or have taken only the slightest hint of the idea and made it into an action movie--including the good (Total Recall), the bad (Minority Report), and the ugly (Paycheck).

Scanner is pure PKD, though. Paranoid, unsettling, unfailingly pessimistic, suspicious of power, and darkly funny. It manages to transcend the story of a bunch of drug-addled losers and delve into deep questions of identity, power, and isolation. And it does so without dragging, lingering unnecessarily, or beating you over the head with just how insightful it is (which is to say, Linklater has matured a great deal since making Waking Life).

It casts a critical eye towards drugs, drug users, and drug cops in pretty equal measure. The users are pathetic. The cops are deluded thugs. And the industry that springs up in the name of "treatment" is the most insidious and contemptible player of all. It ought to leave you wondering what a society should be willing to give up in the name of fighting drugs, regardless of how dangerous the drugs themselves may be.

(Admittedly--on this point, they're preaching to the converted with me.)


mission creep, defined

From Stars and Stripes, via Hit and Run:

U.S. soldiers from Troop C, 4th Battalion, 14th Cavalry Regiment and Iraqi police discovered and seized a bumper crop of marijuana plants being cultivated in fields in northern Iraq, U.S. officials said Friday...

The plants were cut down, put into piles and burned, officials said.

With any luck, the prevailing winds were blowing toward Northern Israel/Southern Lebanon at the time.


What do I have to do to get the Messiah to comment on my blog?

(Do read Jennifer's actual post--it includes a heart-warming tale for anyone who grew up among or at least uncomfortably close to fundamentalists).

like sanding with fine grain paper

In my inbox this morning:

Dear Dr. [B],

The [journal] Editorial Office has examined your submission entitled [boring paper you don't need to know about] and found it to be incomplete.

* Your submission exceeds our 5,000-word limit. After factoring in 250 words for each of your tables and figures, we have determined that your manuscript is 263 words too long.

Curses. They counted the references and title page.

While I applaud their commitment to brevity (anyone who's ever handed a paper to me to edit can attest that I hack away at technical writing until you can see the bones), this is a real pain. Becuase it's already pretty tight.

Say farewell to adverbs, "as previously reported" and the word "the".

new slogan for montana, wyoming, north dakota, iowa, vermont, and maine

"Where you are much less likely to be killed by the police"

Radley Balko has been researching paramillitary-style police raids for over a year now. He's covered so many that I'll admit my eyes just dart over those posts when he puts them up at his blog.

He has now published a paper through the Cato Institute detailing his findings. Even if you aren't inclined to read that sort of thing (I haven't read it yet myself), the interactive map (entitled "An Epidemic of 'Isolated Incidents'") is worth a look.

The word "fascist" is one that gets thrown around a lot. It's abused to the point that no one really knows what it means anymore.

Which is a real shame for the times when it's so apt.


how long...

...until we get dragged into this shit?

tricks of the trade--first impressions

In Adler's schema, those who harbor substantial "feelings of superiority" towards others, who lack social interest, are those most likely to suffer psychological difficulties (typically experiencing "feelings of inferiority," a phrase first used by Adler).

Toying with "the underclasses" for sport is, of course, one of the key indicators of those with this personality make up. I've worked with companies who take candidates to dinner in order to, among other things, see how they treat the waitstaff.

--Tom Guarriello, commenting at Grant McCracken's blog

Man, I hope I was nice to the waitstaff when I got taken to dinner. I'm pretty sure I was--that's kind of thing with me. The only time I can remember overtly pissing off a server with something I said was when I asked a waitress if anyone had ever told her she looked like Belinda Carlisle. I'm damned if I know why she found that insulting. (Perhaps she was just too young to appreciate that I definitely meant that as a compliment. Which is to say, too young to know who Belinda Carlisle is.)

Anyway, I have since refrained from comparing the waitstaff with 80's pop stars.

The strategy Mr. Guarriello mentions is so obvious in its brilliance and simplicity, I can't believe I didn't think of it. Maybe it's because I've never had to hire anyone.

Interviews are strange things. I have interviewed people in a sort of "advise and consent" role for my bosses, and I have come to realize what a valuable experience that is to have. This is especially true for me for two reasons: 1--I will be in a position to be hiring people in the not-too-distant future, and 2--something I've realized about myself over the past few years is that I'm really not very good with first impressions.

Surely, much of this is innate skill. Some people just read others really well, really fast. They make good politicians and managers, and in extreme cases can make a great living off of people's grief.

Clearly, I am not one of these people. I misread people all the time. I'm a sucker for simple charisma and charm, at least intitally. People I tend to think of as "interesting" when I first meet them later turn out to be "bipolar". Conversely (and no, I will not give examples, so don't even ask) a few people I have found really off-putting when I've first met them have later become great and valued friends.

In the arena of personal relationships, this shortcoming is hardly cripling. Keep an open mind, pay attention, and when you realize that person you thought was "creative and vibrant" is actually "borderline schizophrenic", stop talking to them. (Change your cell number, if necessary.)

In professional life, though, the stakes are--if not higher, certainly more tangible. Hire the wrong person, and the cost of getting rid of and replacing them can be considerable. Take the wrong job, and getting away from your crazy boss can be even more expensive (to you, at least).

My point here is that getting better at first impressions is a worthwhile goal.

OK, so I've got the dinner trick. If he/she's a jerk to their waiter, you don't want them supervising your people. Another good one is that if they don't have the common sense to stay a drink behind you at dinner, they're probably not too bright, either.

What else? Eye contact--doesn't seem to mean much (sociopaths can hold a gaze like no one else). I think if someone owns a dog, they're probably good people, but there are always exceptions. If you could listen in on a conversation with a significant other, and see how they speak to him/her, that would probably reveal volumes--but that would be unethical.

I would be very interested to know how people go about reading people. If you have any stories, thoughts, or strategies you're willing to share, I would be grateful.


it'll be like lord of the rings for self-absorbed assholes

The Atlas Shrugged trilogy, that is, which is moving forward. Starring Angelina Jolie as Dagny Taggart. (Seriously).

Actually, I think these could be really, really good in the right hands, and it sounds like that is what the producers are committed to. A lot of what makes Rand's story bad reading could actually make for good filming.

Full disclosure--I devoured AS about 10 years ago, and thought at the time it was the single greatest piece of literature every produced. (Did I mention I was 18 at the time?) In the intervening years, my admiration for Rand and her philosphy has been tempered, in large part because it seems the more devoted to objectivism a person is, the bigger a prick they are. (I could draw a diagram to illustrate this, but I can't be bothered right now.) Like all religions (I think objectivism really is a religion) it's best taken in moderation.

As to the book itself--by going back and reading sections over the years it has become apparent to me that she was a much better advocate for her ideas than a writer per se. I do credit the book with shaping my general outlook on life in a pretty profound way, though, and would certainly recommend that anyone read it.




Jacob Sullum:

In the new study, conducted by researchers at Johns Hopkins, 30 "hallucinogen-naive adults reporting regular participation in religious or spiritual activities" were randomly assigned to a group given psilocybin or a group given Ritalin. The subjects "were encouraged to close their eyes and direct their attention inward." Two months later, the two groups were switched; another control group of six subjects received Ritalin in both sessions. In questionnaires two months after the psilocybin sessions, "the volunteers rated the psilocybin experience as having substantial personal meaning and spiritual significance and attributed to the experience sustained positive changes in attitudes and behavior consistent with changes rated by community observers."

To which non-hallucinogen-naive adults may respond, "Duh."

You can get the actual paper here. For those of you that don't spend a significant portion of your time reading the pharmacology literature, Psychopharmacology is what those of us that do fondly refer to as a "real" journal. (Peer review and all that. This ain't High Times is what I'm saying.)

The spin being put on the story is instructive--not so much on the issues of scientific interest raised by the study as much as how the underlying premises of U.S. drug policy ultimately stifle real inquiry. NIDA director Nora Volkow is already in ass-covering mode (and considering who's in charge in DC these days, I can hardly blame her):

Although there is no evidence that psilocybin is addictive, its adverse effects are well known...Psilocybin can trigger psychosis in susceptible individuals and cause other deleterious psychological effects, such as paranoia and extreme anxiety.

Meh. So can church.

She goes on to imply that NIDA didn't know they were funding psilocybin research, which may be true (to use controlled substances, you have to be licensed by the FDA, not NIDA), but I'm not buying it. Giving human subjects a Schedule I substance is kind of hard to keep under the radar.

The default position of U.S. drug policy is that molecules (drugs) are either "good" (which is to say, FDA-approved--or in the case of nicotine and ethanol, lucrative tax generators) or "bad" (which is to say, not officially approved and/or prohibited). The sheer lunacy of assigning what amounts to moral values to particular arrangements of carbon atoms ought to be obvious on on its face, but perhaps not...

My point here is that the ability of certain classes of drugs to induce profound feelings of introspection, empathy, and insight is hardly news. In the western world, people have been talking about it for decades. (Naturally, other cultures have been aware of this for centuries.) That serious scientists have finally gotten around to replicating a study done in 1962--and are making news by doing so--is something I find more sad than anything else.

There is bottomless potential here to understand ourselves better. While so many neuroscientists toil away pretending that our brains are just like computers, we have ignored for nearly half a century the possibility that some simple little molecules can replicate such a fundamentally human experience as transcendence.

Some of the reluctance to go down this road may stem from a fear of reducing life's experiences to a series of chemical reactions. Perhaps. But my thought is...

So what?

So what if falling in love or religious ecstasy can be understood on a neurochemical level? Does that actually diminish the value of the subjective experience? I'd venture to say that people with firsthand knowledge that their experience has been manipulated would say that it doesn't matter much.

Actually, I don't have to venture. From the report:

Thirty-three percent of the volunteers rated the psilocybin experience as being the single most spiritually significant experience of his or her life, with an additional 38% rating it to be among the top five...

noted without (much) comment

The Senate Judiciary Committee yesterday heard testimony from Steven Bradbury, head of the Justice Department’s office of legal counsel. When questioned by Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) on whether the President’s interpretation of the Hamdan case was right or wrong, Bradbury replied, “The President is always right.”

Sweet Jesus on a pogo stick.

Video and transcript here. (via)


great news everybody!

This year, we're only $296 billion in the hole. I say "only", because apparently we were projected to be closer to $423 billion in the hole for this year.

Does this mean anything to anyone?

I can't even fathom what these figures mean, and I don't trust anyone who claims that they do. I'm just trying to wrap my brain around what it will take to "purchase" (i.e., go into great debt to a bank for the privilege of living in) a modest home in the near future--and I do mean modest--and that blows my mind.

I was recently having one of those wonderful, wide-ranging and marginally sober conversations of the sort you can only have with complete strangers in airport bars, in which we (my companions de jour and I) concluded that when easy money flows freely--be it in the form of 99-year mortgages or having a permanent monopoly on collecting tribute by force--you end up with a situation in which everybody has lots of stuff, but nobody actually owns anything.

Is all this really connected? I don't know. Like I said, I don't understand it one bit.


while i'm being all politically correct...

--The electric car didn't die because the oil companies conspired against it, it died becuase it sucked.

--Whales aren't just highly intelligent, they're also nutritious and delicious.

--Here are the 10 least politically correct movies ever...I haven't yet had the pleasure of seeing Sarah Silverman: Jesus is Magic yet, but I imagine it will be a contender to knock one of them out of the top 10. Which is refreshing, considering how old most of the movies on that list are.

again with the massages

There's a quicky massage place at our local mall called "Oriental Chi".

WTF? Oriental Chi? No one says "oriental" anymore. I guess nobody told the Orientals that are running the place.

Anyway, it's around the corner from Jewy Savings and Loan, just across the food court from Negro Fried Chicken.


in other news, rabbit cages are safe from terrorist attacks

I'm generally in agreement with Chris Mooney that Republicans are to science what Michael Jackson is to daycare, but it's worth pointing out that people of all affiliations are more than capable of abusing the scientific method in the process of grinding their particular ideological ax.



gimme an emmy

Television is our most important medium. Accept it.

Ergo, the Emmys are the only awards show that matters. Two things about this year's nominations:

1. South Park's "Trapped in the Closet" episode has been nominated for best animated program. This is the one which implied that Tom Cruise is gay and Scientology is batshit crazy. Which tells you that even people in Hollywood can tell that Tom Cruise is gay and Scientology is batshit crazy. (An aside re the same category: apparently The Simpsons is still on the air. Who knew?)

Personally, I would have liked to see an episode of Moral Orel get a nod.

2. Rescue Me--completely robbed. It should be up for best drama. It should WIN best drama. Definitely over House, which sucks, and over that obscene paean to power that is (gag) The West Wing. Of the actual nominees, I like 24 the best, but Grey's Anatomy is the better show. (I like The Sopranos fine, but I haven't seen the most recent season because I watch those when they come out on DVD.)

Anyway, I will devote a post in the very near future to why Rescue Me is awesome, and why if you think otherwise you lack a soul.

can u kick it?

I guess this really isn't all that funny, but...

...oh never mind. It's hillarious. Moral of the story: don't go kicking strange soccer balls if you haven't yet confirmed whether or not they're made of concrete.




superman returns

Saw it today. Seemed appropriate for the 4th of July, I suppose.

It was a fun a movie, and it looked really great. But hardly the best movie--or for that matter, the best movie based on a comic book--I've seen this summer.

I recently picked up a copy of Robert Heinlein's long-lost first novel at a bookstore, and after reading the forward in the store, decided to leave it alone. The forward stated that the book, in a way, contained all of Heinlein's subsequent novels in their nascent forms...that it read almost like a sketchpad. Perhaps this sort of thing is useful from a scholarly perspective, but as someone who literally grew up on Heinlein's books as he intended them to be seen (it is likely no accident that Heinlein himself saw to it that For Us, The Living was never published in his lifetime), I didn't want to sully the experience by peeking behind the curtain, so to speak.

The analogy isn't perfect, but Superman Returns, for all its stunning imagery (the point-blank bullet bouncing off of Superman's eye in Matrix-style slo-mo was pretty cool), plays like a sketchbook of the big themes in the Superman world. Unfortunately, none of them ever really pay off. Allusions are made to Lois Lane's Pulitzer-winning editorial "Why the World Doesn't Need Superman", but that's pretty much all we get. Lex Luthor sneers about Superman's selfishness in not sharing his power with the world (and when we get a look at everything in the Fortress of Solitude, he kind of has a point)--but by the time Luthor confronts Superman, he seems merely intent on avenging his 5 years in prison. The complexities of Superman's relationship with humans (and especially Lois) is touched on only briefly--and this is where the movie actually does attempt to break some new ground, so it's a shame they didn't do more with it.

I'd like to think that they're setting up thematic material for the inevitable sequels, but that's probably too much to hope for...

Anyway, Spacey's Luthor is worth the price of admission, if you prefer a plausible (and vaguely sympathetic) supervillian to the typical scenery-chewers (see also, Sir Ian's Magneto) and Brandon Routh does goofy Clark Kent as good as Reeve ever did. Kate Bosworth does nothing for me. Parker Posey makes a great evil sidekick.

Final word...if you were going to see it anyway, you should. If you weren't inclined to begin with, you should probably go with that...unlike Batman Begins, which I think managed to transcend its fanboy base in terms of appeal, this one is pretty much for the in crowd.


massage therapist, heal thyself

Virginia Postrel has started writing for the Atlantic, and her first piece (available in part here--I read it in the print edition) is on the expanding massage industry. Among the points she makes is that the notion of "massage therapy" may have developed in part as a way to distinguish legitimate practicioners from the less-than-savory associations people have made with "massage parlors". Which is--not to put too fine a point on it--pretty obvious. Nobody goes to school to learn how to give handjobs, after all, but getting certified as a massage therapist takes a considerable investment of time and money.

But the point I really enjoyed in the article is that why does massage need to be deemed "therapy" in order to justify it? Isn't the fact that it feels good and is relaxing more than enough?

At any rate, despite the article being clearly and unapologetically pro-massage, Ms. Postrel seems to have aroused the ire of the American Massage Therapy Association president Mary Beth Braun, who writes:

On behalf of the 56,000 members of the American Massage Therapy Association (AMTA), I want you and your readers to know how insulted massage therapists were by the article “The Next Starbucks?” (July/August) Ms. Postrel mistakenly implies that massage developed because of prostitution and states that it is only for making people feel good [...]

To suggest that our profession has used the word therapy so people wouldn’t feel guilty about getting massage is ridiculous and insulting to both massage therapists and the people they massage.

You know, for being the president of the American Massage Therapy Assoication, Ms. Braun seems really...uptight. Not to mention sorely lacking in reading comprehension skills.


foodblogging (and parenthesis abuse)

It occurs to me that the casual reader may come by this blog thinking it is culinarily (please pardon the gratuitous adverbification...and the verbification...and the...oh, never mind) oriented, because of the address, and leave disappointed. (The origin of the address, and I suppose de facto title of this blog is here, BTW).

I live to please, so before you run off, here's a little something I whipped up this weekend. My wife is away in Montreal at the moment, and being a southern expat I am perpetually missing real barbeque, and the only thing that these two things have to do with each other is that they converged into:

Pulled Pork Poutine

(All measurements, including time, are approximations. This is basically glorified bar food, so lighten up!)

First, the pork:

-one 4-lb pork shoulder
-one onion, ideally a Vidalia, failing that any sweet/mild onion will do
-one jalepeno (I used a red one, mainly b/c that's what I had)
-1 cup of BBQ sauce (use what you like)
-1/2 cup of bourbon (more, if you'd like to drink some)
-one 12-oz beer (I used a porter, but...well, you get the idea)
-a dry rub mix consisting of salt, pepper, cayenne, paprika, dry mustard, garlic powder, and brown sugar to taste.
-1 Tbs vegetable oil

1. Grease a slow cooker (i.e., a crockpot or comparable) with the oil.

2. Slice the onion. No need to be precise...it will liquify during the cooking process anyway. De-vein and de-seed the jalepeno, and chop. Throw it all in the bottom of the cooker, along with the sauce, bourbon, and beer.

3. Rub the seasonings all over the pork, and place the cooker. Set it to 190° F (or the lowest possible setting above that, if not available) and cover. Go about your day. You may want to periodically turn the pork, and you may need to add water to keep a sludgy caramelized mess from forming on the bottom of your cooker. (This may not be an issue if you have a better quality cooker than I do--mine tends to heat a lot and then coast, rather than maintaining a constant, even heat).

4. The pork is done when you can't turn it anymore because it just falls apart (6 hours or so). Shred it by dragging a couple of forks through it in opposite directions.

For the rest:

-1 russet baking potato per serving (as I mentioned, I'm cooking for one)
-enough corn oil to cover the ammount of potato you intend to cook in a fryer
-the gravy and shredded cheese of your liking (for me, this was a simple storebought pork gravy from a mix and some Jarlsberg, respectively)
-some chopped parsely, to assuage you conscience about the lack of green on your plate

1. Prepare the gravy and cheese first.

2. Pre-heat the oil to 375° F before cutting up the potato(s) into 1-cm x 1-cm x the length of the potato pieces.

3. Fry the potatos until they look like something you'd like to eat. Drain (carefully) and plate. Salt liberally. Pour the gravy over them, then about half the cheese. Top with a fistful of the pork (heat it up in the microwave if you prepared it ahead of time), then the rest of the cheese. Sprinkle the parsely on top, if you can be bothered.

4. Enjoy! (Bon appetit!)

Addendum--I have since learned that the secret of perfect pommes frites is to blanch them first in oil at 325° F, then finish them immediately before serving at 375° F. Also, if you have duck fat to augment your vegetable oil, even better.

memo to fox: your people should stick to bleaching their hair and making their mouths look like vaginas

To borrow a phrase from Radley Balko, making fun of Fox News anchors is like standing next to a barrel.

But I'm going to do it anyway. It's the weekend and I don't feel like working hard.

You do realize that the hosts of Fox and Friends are retarded, right? I don't mean "retarded" in that I don't agree with them, but genuinely, completely, DSM-IV certifiably Forrest Gump-Radio-Corky-retarded. I mean, how else do you explain this?

On the June 29 broadcast of Fox News Radio's Brian & The Judge, co-host Brian Kilmeade, who also co-hosts Fox News' Fox & Friends, suggested that the U.S. government should "put up the Office of Censorship," in the wake of reports in The New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and The Wall Street Journal detailing a Treasury Department program designed to monitor international financial transactions for terrorist activity. Similarly, during the June 29 edition of Fox & Friends, co-host E.D. Hill wondered if it would be appropriate for the U.S. government to create an "Office of Censorship." During an interview with Rep. J.D. Hayworth (R-AZ) about The New York Times report, Hill asserted that such an office, previously established during World War II by the Franklin D. Roosevelt administration, could screen news reports to determine whether they "hurt the country" or are of "news value."

Seriously, I defy you to watch 5 minutes of Fox and Friends tomorrow morning and not feel an impulse to go on a killing spree.

Anyway, I must apologize if anyone is offended by my use of the term "retarded". I did not mean to disparage the mentally handicapped by comparing them to Fox News personalities.