Saturday, January 19, 2008
Now, let us take as a given that Joe Montana is my fourth-favorite football player of all time (after Jerry Rice, Ronnie Lott and Steve Young) and that I would have at least felt it rated adding Joe Montana into a "list of ten things I've done that you haven't." Mr. Montana's cost would have been to have been both initially disturbed by me and having had to suffer through a hello and handshake and 10 to 15 seconds of fanboy chat.
What's the efficient outcome of this event? Is this pareto efficient? I'm certainly better off; is Mr. Montana worse off, not worse off, or better off for my having said hello? Mind you, this event would have been in the entry way, not walking up to his table an interfering with his family event. If this would have made Mr. Montana worse off, would my having said hello be at least Kaldor-Hicks efficient?
Or should I simply accept that there is no way to internalize the externalities and that I should go ahead and shake him down for an autograph?
[By the way, all I did say "hey" as he walked past, as a way to break up and excuse my overly long staring. He said, "hey" back.]
As far as the "whose obit has been stale for the longest?" query, the Jeanine Basinger book now has me convinced that the answer may be Deanna Durbin, once among Hollywood's biggest musical stars, who left the industry for seclusion in France in 1948 at the age of 27 ... and never looked back.
Friday, January 18, 2008
Thursday, January 17, 2008
For better or for worse, from January 17, 1998 onwards, any piece of information or analysis that some citizen wanted others to hear could be voiced publicly, could potentially find some audience, and in due time force those gatekeepers to deal with that previously unwanted information. Credibility was no longer solely attached to institutions, but to individuals who could demonstrate their merit over time. My favorite example is from outside politics altogether: Bill Simmons. He honed his voice on his personal website, built his audience virally, and ESPN came calling because of the credentials he built on his own.
Or, you may just want to take this moment and say, "holy crap -- ten years already?" Up to you.
Wednesday, January 16, 2008
I want to make something clear. ... In my whole entire life of living 30 years, I've never put my hand on one woman, physically or in an angry manner.His hand -- accurate! The bumper of a moving car, well, that's another story.
Let's say I am a fat cat with a lot of juice among the party decisionmakers. When I get them all together in my cigar-smoke-filled back room and after plying them with scotch and slush funds, here's the pitch I make: There are states we're going to win no matter who we run, and there are states we're going to lose no matter who we run. Voters in those two states should have no say in who we nominate. The voters who should decide our nominee are the ones in Ohio and Florida and New Mexico, who could go either way and who will decide the general election, not the ones in Utah and California and Tennessee and Washington State and New York. So let's rig the process so that the battleground states pick our nominee.
In other words, democracy schmemocracy. We've got an election to win. What (apart from whining about fairness and donor-stroking, and also an annoying likelihood that this will result in more centrist candidates) is wrong with this?
WE-E-E-LL LA-DE-FREAKIN'-DA: With all the media attention on steroids and PEDs in the past few days, a friend of mine from high school and I took a trip down memory lane together. It’s a story that might not work as well in written form, but I’ll give it a try.
On my high school basketball team there were a couple of guys who were fairly serious druggies. Somehow the coach learned about that. One time he gathered all of us in the locker room before an away game to give us the “don’t do drugs” speech. Picture the typical high school “away” locker room, but even a little more depressing than usual – fluorescent lights, rough cement on the floor, ancient wood benches, a pervasive odor of mildew and sweat, and a trickle of water coming down one wall where there was a crack.
The coach’s heart was clearly in the right place, but he was out of his comfort zone on this subject and his oration skills … left a little to be desired. Picture Chris Farley as motivational speaker Matt Foley on Saturday Night Live.
Anyway, our coach got very fired up and lost his composure as he was yelling at us not to do drugs. The climax of his speech was supposed to be an exhortation that under no circumstances were we even to try hallucinogenics. But that word, admittedly difficult to pronounce in the heat of the moment, proved too much for the man. He ended up saying something like “Hah-Goose-Ah-La-Netics”.
There was dead silence in the locker room for a moment. Then a guard on the JV could not help himself and started to giggle. Within a moment, the entire team was laughing.
I crossed paths with a teammate from that team a few years ago and the word “Hah-Goose-Ah-La-Netics” had us in stitches years after the fact.
Tuesday, January 15, 2008
The Times' Ben Brantley raved after its 1996 workshop debut:
[O]n one level, "Rent" is about breaking through the self-protective detachment, here embodied by both Roger and Mark, of a generation weaned on the archness of David Letterman and the blankness of Andy Warhol. Like such other recent works as Mr. Sondheim's "Passion" and Nicky Silver's "Raised in Captivity," this show directly addresses the idea of being cut off from feelings by fear.Brantley concluded, "[T]his show restores spontaneity and depth of feeling to a discipline that sorely needs them. People who complain about the demise of the American musical have simply been looking in the wrong places. Well done, Mr. Larson."
This is definitely not a problem for Mr. Larson. Indeed, one forgives the show's intermittent lapses into awkwardness or cliche because of its overwhelming emotional sincerity. And when the whole ensemble stands at the edge of the stage, singing fervently about the ways of measuring borrowed time, the heart both breaks and soars.
(1) Walked into a drug deal in Belize in the back of a ranger station (involving the ranger).
(2) Conned NASA into giving me VIP tickets for a space shuttle launch.
(3) Sat next to the King and Queen of Tonga on an airplane.
(4) Set type and printed my own customized lunch bags on a vintage letter press at the age of 6 (yes, nominally supervised, but my grandfather and a goodly helping of Jack Daniels).
(5) At the Bellagio, received four aces in a row in blackjack, splitting them into four hands. I lost on three, pushed on the fourth.
(6) Told a United States Senator he was in my chair and had to move (he was quite apologetic).
(7) Sent mail-order barbecue ribs to Mrs. Earthling well before I ever sent her flowers (I'm sure you didn't send Mrs. Earthling anything; I'm pretty sure you haven't sent pork as a sign of affection).
(8) Been to the top of four biggest free-standing domes in the world (US Capitol, St. Paul's, St. Peter's, the Duomo).
(9) Saw a car (a Datsun B-210, no less) get hit by a freight train while I was first in line at the crossing gates. She lived.
(10) Seen two total solar eclipses.
Note your own in comments.
I, for one, want our readers to be prepared for the coming Zombie onslaught and who else but "The Studs Terkel of Zombie Journalism" can get us there?
Monday, January 14, 2008
Hat tip to a correspondent who pointed this out to us.
The 2008 ALA literary award winners were announced today, the most famous of which being the John Newbery Medal, followed closely by the Caldecott, Printz, and Coretta Scott King awards, among many others.
Last year, while the Printz broke new ground by giving the gold to a graphic novel for the first time, the Newbery list was arguably underwhelming in that it consisted solely of quiet books with passive female protatgonists. What about boy readers? This year, the buzz has been relatively low in the kidlit world overall, but when it comes to the books people have been talking about, it's definitely been The Year of the Boy. The National Book Award for Young People's Literature went to The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie back in November. Though that title was (as tends to be tradition) shut out of this morning's awards, we also saw recognition of The Wednesday Wars (my favorite this year) by Gary Schmidt, Elijah of Buxton by Christopher Paul Curtis, and The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick, all middle grade novels with boy protagonists. Taking everything into account, though, it was a bit of an oddball list this year. A few particulars (and forgive me the formality, but nothing I've written here reflects the opinion of my employer):
John Newbery Medal: Good Masters! Sweet Ladies! Voices from a Medieval Village by Laura Amy Schlitz, which was very popular among the librarian bloggers this year. It's both a very unusual choice--a mix of poetry and history and illustration which strives to teach and evoke the organization and feel of a medieval village--and a bit predictable, in that it's the kind of book that would appeal to librarians more than anyone. But it's cool to see this award go to a non-fiction title, especially an unconventional one.
Michael L. Printz Award: The White Darkness by Geraldine McCaughrean. Last year, all but one of the honorees of this award were male. This year, it's all female authors, with the possible exception of A. M. Jenkins, who seems to go out of their way to avoid revealing their gender. I must admit that none of the books on this list were on my radar. And I read a lot of YA last year.
Randolph Caldecott Medal: The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick. This unusual book, told partly in prose and partly in cinematic black and white illustrations, was probably the most talked-about kids' book of the year. Many bloggers worried that it wouldn't be considered quite right for either the Newbery (which doesn't take illustration into account) or the Caldecott (which traditionally goes to a picture book). So Hugo's fans breathed a sigh of relief when this committee also decided to do something a little different this year.
Coretta Scott King Award: Elijah of Buxton by Christopher Paul Curtis (author) and Let It Shine by Ashley Bryan (illustrator). Elijah of Buxton also got a Newbery Honor.
Theodore Seuss Geisel Award: There is a Bird on Your Head! by Mo Willems. An ALOTT5MA favorite, Mr. Willems also got his third Caldecott honor this morning for Knuffle Bunny Too. The relatively new Geisel award, for a distinguished book for beginning readers, is quickly becoming an interesting award that takes both text and illustration into account. Last year's winner, Not a Box by Antoinette Portis, is decidedly not a beginning reader, but is still a really interesting offering that wouldn't have been given a second look for Newbery or Caldecott awards.
I know we have many kids' book connoisseurs reading this, as well as parents of kids' book connoisseurs; thoughts on these choices? What were your favorites this year?
Sunday, January 13, 2008
Two questions about this leg: (1) Could you have purchased tickets for a later train and snuck onto an earlier one? (2) What was the purpose of that first task, anyway?
Still, one has to be rooting for The Ageless Gunslinger v. The Unstoppable Force as the Super Bowl matchup, even though two weeks of that hype should turn unendurable by about Wednesday of the first week. Thoughts?
- Invention of the "flow" system for note-taking/argument construction in competitive debate.
- 34 Supreme Court arguments, 27 Circuit arguments--memorable cases include Bowers v. Hardwick, Rust v. Sullivan, Bush v. Gore, and Times v. Tasini.
- His monumental treatise American Constitutional Law, important enough for Justice Breyer to inquire about when the next revision is coming out.
I'm sure all of us here join in wishing Prof. Tribe a speedy and full recovery.