Coffee Break: Remains of the Day

Is this really Crayola’s latest product?
Volokh says it best: “I think such a set of markers could be quite useful — but “multicultural” and “ethnic-sensitive” are ridiculous circumlocutions.”

States Ask Apple, Google to Ban DUI Checkpoint Apps
“Google said it removes apps from its Android Market that violate its content policies, but that DUI checkpoint apps in general ‘do not appear to violate those policies.’” Apple couldn’t be reached for comment.

Now you can write emails with interpretive dance😉

Image courtesy Rude Cactus

Very amusing hypothetical letters.

“…if employers ban the internet they should make it unavailable. If this is not possible or impractical then employees should be allowed a certain amount of time on the internet for personal use each day, much like regular coffee breaks.”

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Posted in Humor | Tagged , , , , ,

On Writing, Form, Dave Eggers, and David Foster Wallace

There’s comfort in a crowd, an easy ennui and unthinking urge, a lazy Brownian motion that one could easily mistake for purpose. Waking up from this cozy haze can be as bracing as a cold shower, as electric as a dancable guitar line.  I started this blog a year(ish) ago because I missed writing. A dedicated forum, it seemed, with the public shame of not writing, would help. In many ways it has, but I underestimated how the form affects the style of the actual work. My long prose has always been diffuse, wandering, and in many ways indirectly soft. This blog is necessarily faster, pointed. This has helped my longer fiction, and I’m constantly looking for ways to get better.

Take, for example, this exchange from 2003 between Dave Eggers and David Foster Wallace. The two Davids cover a lot of ground relevant to our focus here, like the role of ideas, ideology, and writing in politics:

DFW: The reason why doing political writing is so hard right now is probably also the reason why more young (am I included in the range of this predicate anymore?) fiction writers ought to be doing it. As of 2003, the rhetoric of the enterprise is fucked. 95 percent of political commentary, whether spoken or written, is now polluted by the very politics it’s supposed to be about. Meaning it’s become totally ideological and reductive: The writer/speaker has certain political convictions or affiliations, and proceeds to filter all reality and spin all assertion according to those convictions and loyalties. Everybody’s pissed off and exasperated and impervious to argument from any other side. Opposing viewpoints are not just incorrect but contemptible, corrupt, evil. […] (Editor: Much more after the jump. Watch me nerd out of writing forms.) Continue reading

Posted in Writing | Tagged , ,

FMM: Mike Doughty In Arlington, Y’all

Every Friday morning, we kick off your weekend with a series of music videos, loosely gathered around a theme. This week, one of Aaron’s favorite artists comes to town!

Mike Doughty rose to minor fame in the nineties with two Soul Coughing hits. He had a little fun, got hooked on heroin, and won high praise from Dave Matthews. Eventually he branched out on his own, doing a little trance music, releasing a string of elegant, funny, soulful albums and crisscrossing the country alone in his car. A distinct raspy voice, quirky humor, and funky off-beat white-boy funk served him well, building a cult following. And tonight (TIMELY BLOGGING!), he brings all that to the stage at Clarendon’s own Iota. To celebrate, and whet our musical appetites, here’s a sampling of what he’s all about. Enjoy.

Looking At The World From The Bottom Of A Well This song was featured on Bones, Grey’s Anatomy, and What About Brian?

Madeline and Nine This show should be solo, maybe with an accompanist, and the rest of these give a good idea of what should be in store.

Sunken-eyed Girl Maybe my favorite of all his songs.

Tremendous Brunettes A song uniquely suited to the Clarendon area. Aw, yeah ladies.

If you liked any of these, you can also check out more of his audio here. Come out and see the show, starts at 9pm. Doors are earlier, and I’ll certainly be there, with a glass of Troegs.

Posted in Friday Morning Music | Tagged , , ,

Best Drunk Dial Ever

To the girl who left this voicemail, congratulations. I loved it. That’s L, as in …. shoot!

Posted in Dating | Tagged

Chipotle Alert: Test Kitchen In NYC

For those that remember our epic trek to every Chipotle inside the beltway, here’s an interesting article on how the NYC Chipotle in Chelsea is home to an awesome secret menu.

And the feather in Chipotle’s crown these days is Nate Appleman, the 2007 James Beard Rising Star Chef award-winner and Chopped star who until a few months ago was the chef at Keith McNally’s Pulino’s, where he was putting out some awesomepizzas and a legendary late-night burger.

For the past three months, the chef has been working the line at the 8th Avenue Chelsea location of the chain: constructing burritos, testing recipes, and brainstorming on ideas to help the company move forward while maintaining its “food with integrity” slogan. It’s their test kitchen, see, and it’s designed to help figure out how every other Chipotle location can be more effectively run and produce tastier food.

Oh man, what’s he got in store? My mouth is already watering.

“The carnitas at Chipotle are made with pork shoulder, but pigs only have two shoulders—what happens with the rest of that pig? We’re trying to develop more recipes that utilize whole animals or alternative cuts,” explained Nate. When I pressed him on what cuts of pork were going into the chorizo, I got a one word answer: pork.Yes, but what kind of pork? “Uh… it’s… it’s pork,” he responded cagily. Apparently Chipotle holds their cards very close to the chest when it comes to their recipes.

The chorizo, by the way, is fantastic. Mildly hot with chilis with a nice hit of warm spices and a rich, crisp, fatty texture like the kind of good Italian sausage you’d want to crumble over your pizza. Cooked on a hot plancha, it develops a nice crisp browned crust. According to Nate, Chipotle is planning on replacing all of their grills with these high output flat-tops. About half of the locations in New York currently use them.

YUM. More good news, and Chipotle-porn, in the full article.

Posted in Food and Drink | Tagged

Sarah Palin Benefits From Subsidy Enacted By Sarah Palin

Yesterday, our friends at the non-profit Tax Foundation noted that Sarah Palin’s show, the inventively titled “Sarah Palin’s Alaska”, received $1.2 million in subsidies from the state. Mark Robyn opined:

The show spent $3.6 million on production in the state, meaning that Alaskan taxpayers covered a third of the cost of the show. The show will apparently not have a second season. We would be curious to know how government subsidies for reality TV fit into Palin’s broader view on the proper role of government. Alaska’s film tax credit was signed into law in 2008 by then governor, Sarah Palin.

Palin, for those of you who don’t have quaint folksy nightmares because of her, likes to position herself as a small-government conservative. Grizzly Mama roared Palin issued a biting response to the media chatter about her seemingly self-serving hypocrisy. She told the Daily Caller’s Chris Moody:

“Any suggestion that I somehow did something wrong by signing this legislation is ludicrous. The accusation hinges on the notion that I signed the legislation into law knowing that it would personally benefit me. That’s absurd,” Palin said. “Obviously I had no intention of benefiting from it when I signed it into law in 2008 because I had no idea I would be involved in a documentary series years later.”

That seems to be wildly and willfully misleading. The accusation isn’t that she nefariously planned to benefit herself in the future; it’s that as governor she signed a law which doesn’t make economic sense, grows the scope and influence of government, and needlessly injects government into private markets. That’s inconsistent with her image. She goes on:

It’s also a false accusation to suggest that signing this bipartisan bill somehow goes against my position on the proper role of government,” she said. “I’ve said many times that government can play an appropriate role in incentivizing business, creating infrastructure, and leveling the playing field to foster competition so the market picks winners and losers, instead of bureaucrats burdening businesses and picking winners and losers.

If picking winners and losers isn’t the role of government (and I would agree it is not), how is government toying with the type and availability of cable-tv shows different? The Tax Foundation has much more on the screwy, and screwed-up economics of film credits.

Please, can we wake up from the nightmare of Palin’s fame and political viability?

Thanks to Warming Glow for the great Palin GIF.

Posted in Corporatism, Economics, Government | Tagged , , , ,

We Can Get It For Your Wholesale: Smarmy TV Wonks

As if we didn’t already have enough noxious, unintended side-effects from the growth of government, now we can add the epidemic of cable news commentators to the list.

It seems that Media Matters, that little shop of horrors liberal imagineers, has an intensive training program for would-be leftist pundits. I thought professional talking-heads spawned on damp piles of Roll Call, but there are really people who looked at the shrieking, baboon-like cacophony of cable news, and said “MORE! A THOUSAND TIMES MORE!

The brick carriage house is usually the headquarters of the Mathematical Association of America, but for a few days in the middle of March, the left-wing organization Media Matters for America converted it into a partisan boot camp where rebel forces were trained for combat on Fox News. Over four grueling days, Harvard-honed instructors drilled a dozen softie policy wonks, molding them into an elite unit of smiling, succinct and well-coiffed talking heads.

Since its inception in August 2009, the Progressive Talent Initiative, or PTI, has trained nearly 100 pundits who have appeared 800 times on television and radio. Media Matters uses that metric to pitch donors for more contributions, but its leadership believes that the surge of camera-ready liberals has recaptured lost ground in the media wars against conservatives. […]

Media Matters selected the coterie of attractive, articulate participants from 100 applicants, the largest pool so far. All in mid-career, the class included liberal think tank directors, former Capitol Hill staffers and presidential campaign aides, a pollster, a university professor, a combat veteran and contestants from both “American Idol” and “The Apprentice.” […]

The problem for the soldiers of the left, according to Media Matters instructors, is that they are just too smart for their own good. The traditional dependence on facts and figures, on being right, is no longer germane. Too often these wonks disappear into the policy weeds or fall through the cracks of nuance.

Eager to offer a conversion parable, the instructors showed a Fox News appearance by PTI graduate Taylor West, now a communications director for National Journal, in which her good-natured teasing bested a conservative expert on Web security. She knew virtually nothing about the issue and crammed for the interview in the makeup chair. […]

That’s right folks, Media Matters is publicly advocating the intentional and ideologically driven dumbing-down of news. THAT’S DAMN GOOD WATCH-DOGGIN’, BOYS! The rest of the article descends into tone-deaf liberal self-parody, about the food participants eat, and their clueless references to theater and Myspace. If you have chronically low blood pressure, it’s well worth a read.

And hey there, media-hatin’ conservatives, don’t worry. You aren’t losing the unqualified, blindly partisan, cable pundit arms-race; Leadership Institute Studios does much of the same work. Overall, I tend to agree with Reason’s Matt Welch:

I don’t see anything wrong with the concept (aside from the lack-of-disclosure bit). Cable punditizing is pretty weird, and takes getting used to. I’m mostly interested in how liberal, D.C.-based pundits in the Year of Our Lord 2011 can still be nursing the creation mythology that the cable television deck (to say nothing of the power that runs the country) is stacked against them, and that they are just too dang factual, dang it!

Posted in Government, Journalism | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

Failure Is A Feature

I have another guest post up at Rooted In Prosperity, still examining the idea of failure.

In my first post, we examined the results and challenge of making success more than simply random. The last postexplored the idea that human ignorance is far more pervasive, or radical, than we tend to admit. Ignorance is fundamental. It’s the basic building block of all of our knowledge. If that’s true, what does it imply for our conception of failure?

Consider restaurants. The industry is known for high failure rates, sometimes (erroneously) reported at 90% (it’s actually closer to two-thirds). Even the most optimistic estimates put business failure at 61% within three years.  Consider baseball, once the American pastime. In Ted Williams’ best season, he still failed six out of ten times. That was 1941, and no one has come close to his success in seven decades.

Failure is a necessary part of a functioning market, and of a functioning society. As Isreal Kirzner explained, markets exist to facilitate discovery:

The “process” view suggests that the appropriate criterion should be sought in the capacity attributed to the market process, of serving as a “discovery procedure” (the phrase is Hayek’s). What occurs during the market process of interacting individual decisions, Hayek argues, is that participants tend to discover relevant aspects of each other’s abilities and desires. Here, then, we have a relevant conceptual yardstick by which to assess both the operation of a market economy and policy recommendations made to modify its operation. Our question need never be: Are the results of the market process such that there is nothing remaining yet to be discovered, or even reasonably close to such a state? Rather, we must ask: Can the institutional structure (or proposed modifications to it) stimulate a reasonably steady and significant flow of (correct) mutual discoveries?

If we buy the Austrian view of knowledge, in which learning is inescapably imperfect, divorced from perfection or a priori direction, it becomes clear that failure is a feature, not a bug. What does that mean for our view of organizations or risk-taking ventures? A firm, or a team within a firm, acts (or could act) as hyper-specialized market; a discreet discovery process. And yet this market is hardly efficient. We have emotional attachment to our ideas, and an aversion to failure. Could any society operate otherwise?

But individuals, teams, and firms which can master this aversion to failure, and divorce their ideas from their personalities and brands have a distinct advantage. Tyler Durden said “you are not your job”; maybe Hayek agreed? No matter your role, how do you separate your personality and ideas from your role? Isn’t the most damming critique of capitalism that it turns free workers into drones? Is there a difference between ‘divorcing’ and ‘subsuming’ one’s personality?

Posted in Economics | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

Found Film Update: Now With Found Author!

A couple months back, I wrote about an interesting little video about a Brooklynite skiing in the park after a blizzard. He found a roll of film and had it developed, hoping for some clues about the photographer. I thought the video was snarky and hipsterific (‘oh, they look European, just like my sensibilities, we’re bffs’), but also undeniably beautiful.

Today NPR reports that this story now has a happy, if hipsterific, ending:

Two months later, he got an email from a young woman named Camille Roche with a subject line reading, “Author of Film.”

It turned out the men weren’t alone. Roche was their sister. As proof, she sent other pictures she’d taken that day on a different camera.

“I saw her family, I saw the snow, and I thought, ‘This is real,'” Bieber says.

Roche suggested he mail the photos, but Bieber wasn’t satisfied with that. Within a few hours, he and his girlfriend booked a trip to Paris. He met Roche at a cafe and found out that she wasn’t a professional photographer, like he previously thought, but rather a student who studied abroad in New York City.

The story seems like it’s from a movie — more specifically, the French film, Amelie. The title character finds and returns pictures and other keepsakes to their owners. In the process, she falls in love with the owner of the photos — which didn’t happen to Bieber and Roche.

But that movie did inspire a different ending. During his trip, Bieber took his own pictures. He took a few final shots with Roche and one of her brothers, and then they put the film canister outside the Café des Deux Moulins in Montmartre, the restaurant where Amelie works in the movie.

In the canister, they left a note that read, “It happened once, it can happen again. If you find me, I can buy you coffee and we’ll become friends. It’s the beginning of an adventure.”

Oh hipsters, you can’t even do something nice and humane without turning it into a grandly self-important, intentionally quirky, pop-culture-referencing gesture.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , ,

Scott Tenorman Goes To Kansas, Wears Silly Hat

For our very own Kansas State Wildcat, Christina. Enjoy.

Posted in Humor | Tagged