The Week’s Tweets (2010-02-28)

  • These terrible earthquakes are almost enough to make me believe that the earth's surface consists of shifting tectonic plates. #
  • Slightly more than two hours until the tsunami gets to Hawaii (1619 ET). #
  • Starting my 35th project for my favorite client. (You can see why they're my favorite.) #
  • On Avatar: "I can’t name a single other instance of someone arguing, “Look, it’s stupid, it’s lame, but you hafta." #
  • "[Y]oung black adults ages 18 to 25 years old were less likely to use illicit drugs than the national average." #
  • "Recent data do not support the ubiquity of black crack-mom characters in [Tyler Perry] movies." #
  • Cut the COAST GUARD'S budget? Yeah, lot of fat to trim there. #
  • Do babies ever blink? Hard to win staring contests with Coen. #
  • Man the sun is annoying when you are pushing a stroller with a sleeping baby inside. #
  • Gold standard plus no central banks = two of the worst depressions in American history. #
  • Hey, now you can carry guns in Nation Parks (in states that allow it in their state parks). Who cares? #
  • Went West may be moving east, but at least it's to a state with "west" in the name. #wtcomm @wtcommunities #
  • Went West may be moving east, but at least it's to a state with "west" in the name. #
  • Note to stroller makers: if you aren't going to include a steering wheel, it doesn't do much good to put the swiveling wheels on the front. #
  • Is it really accurate to call this guy "a Corvallis man"? Hint: I'm not talking about the "Corvallis" part. #
  • "This is new for us, dealing with someone stealing houses." #
  • "The officers followed a trail of stolen M&Ms to her door." #
  • Is it my imagination, or do Montanans do a lot of baby shaking? Also, FYI, "spanking" a one month old: = 911. #
  • Loving the SmartCart massage chair in concourse B of Cincinnati airport. #
  • Even from catching just a few minutes of cable news in an airport waiting area it is easy to understand what a negative force it is. #
  • Who actually throws a newspaper away in an airport waiting area? #
  • Biscuit World! #
  • Where can I find a photo gallery of the men's cross country race? I'm looking for different angles on Kriukov's photo finish. #
  • If you're looking for a house in Missoula, please check out our ad. Open house today 12-2 p.m. #

The Week’s Tweets (2010-02-21)

  • Amazed by how little vomit I have on me after three flights with a 5 month old. #
  • Surprised Delta actually let Coen land the plane. That pilot must have really needed that nap! #
  • Olympics cursed by Canada's long-ago pact with a minor demon named Lenny. #
  • I'd probably get out cross-country skiing more often if it were more like biathlon. #
  • Maritime peeps: anyone need a used (actually, opened but never used) handheld VHF radio? #
  • Distinct impression that the Break clerk was miffed when I didn't tip her for ringing up a pre-made sandwich. #

The Week’s Tweets (2010-02-14)

  • Reading some of my own sentences in an interview transcript makes me more sympathetic to politicians who get mocked for clumsy locutions. #
  • Ominous IM quote for the day: "they died already. that was fast!" #
  • Aspiring to the lifestyle of the dogs in P.D. Eastman's Go, Dog, Go. Except for being awakened by someone using a megaphone. #
  • Tenn. teacher/shooter was losing job for yelling at students? In Balt. school, they said I didn't scream enough. #
  • Is healthy eating a disorder? Some docs are pushing for a new DSM entry on "orthorexia": #
  • Getting our stories straight for tomorrow's meeting with the accountant. #
  • RT @aaronwatkins: Google Buzz was created just to keep people from bitching about the latest Facebook redesign. #
  • "We should be [able] to keep the space we shovel but should also clear the other spaces in front of our property." #
  • Kind of enjoying Google Buzz. Related: getting even less done than usual. #
  • Google Buzz is now at the stage where everyone announces how much they hate it/how little use it is. Massive uptake is impending! #
  • An "aha" moment at physical therapy is making my back feel a LOT better. #
  • "Fur children"? #
  • My lower back and I sometimes wish Coen were one of those babies you can occasionally put down. #
  • Does Brian Kahn's interviewing style (Home Ground, on MT public radio) drive anyone else up the wall? #
  • East coast blizzards "an early warning sign of global warming." #
  • Coen's Fisher Price Laugh & Learnâ„¢ Learning Puppyâ„¢ says it loves him. I think this relationship is moving a little fast. #
  • What's this new Google thing? Facebuzz or something? #
  • Lots of people are "angry at Washington." Are you? What for? #
  • As an Andrew Sullivan fan, I enjoyed this reality check on AS from Jonathan Chait: #
  • Robert Gibbs may be a good advisor/strategist, but it's difficult to understand why anyone thinks he is the best public face for the WH. #
  • Lord how I hate digital TV. #
  • Call me crazy, but I would buy another Toyota tomorrow. #
  • Iran announced today that it would like everyone to talk about it on the news tonight. The world complied. #
  • People are already saying this house is "pretty spiffy": #
  • My latest Went West column: from now on, I will be the most humble person IN THE WORLD. #
  • House available in Missoula (corrected link): #
  • I hate how many open windows I end up with in Safari. Why isn't there a way to have blind links open in tabs, like in Firefox? #
  • If you know anyone looking for a house in Missoula, MT: #

It’s Not Very Original To Say There Is Nothing Original

But here I go anyway: As I look forward to sharing books with Coen, I’m reminding myself of some of my favorites from my childhood. Glancing at an Amazon reader review of John Bellairs’s 1969 fantasy novel Face in the Frost, I was struck by this quote from the book:

“In her slowly rising head were two black holes. Prospero saw in his mind a doll that had terrified him when he was a child. The eyes had rattled in the china skull. Now the woman’s voice, mechanical and heavy: “Why don’t you sleep? Go to sleep.” Her mouth opened wide, impossibly wide, and then the whole face stretched and writhed and yawned in the faint light.”

I’m reminded of nothing so much as the distorted, creepily out-of-proportion mouths so popular in modern horror movies. Click here to view an example from The Ring, but only if you want to see something creepy. There must be some others: I feel like I’ve seen a lot of horror movies recently where significant scare or at least startle value arises from the way someone’s mouth just… keeps… opening. The Ring example isn’t quite what I was picturing. Maybe someone can suggest some more titles.

Perhaps needless to say, I will be waiting to suggest this book to Coen until at least fifth grade.

Why Are They Called “Paultards” Again?

When last we checked in on Ravalli County, just south of Missoula, citizens were circulating a petition asking county officials to-among other things-forbid federal employees from talking to them without permission from the sheriff.

One county resident, who also happens to work for the federal government, recently wrote to the Missoulian: “Do I need a daily letter from the sheriff to enter my home and talk to my wife, or will there be provision for some sort of blanket authorization?”

Now, another Ravalli County resident wants to change the Montana constitution.

“Cathy Hackett of Stevensville this week launched a proposed constitutional initiative campaign to put the boundaries from Montana’s original 1889 constitution into the state’s 1972 constitution. These boundaries spell out, in latitudes and longitudes, where Montana is situated.

“I really think that places our state sovereignty in jeopardy if we don’t have official boundaries in our constitution,” Hackett said Tuesday.”

Hackett, who describes herself as “a bit of a rebel,” is worried that-without the state’s boundaries spelled out in the state constitution-“if you get charged with breaking a Montana law, you could very well use that as a defense and get off.”

I don’t know if this is correct or not, but then, neither does Hackett. Stating the obvious, the reporter advises us that Hackett “is not a lawyer.”

Then there’s this:

“Qualifying a constitutional initiative for the November 2010 ballot is no easy task. To do so requires the signatures of nearly 49,000 registered Montana voters, including 10 percent of the voters in 40 of the 100 state House districts. The signatures must be turned by June 18.

“There’s people all over the state I believe can help me,” Hackett said. “I was part of the Ron Paul thing when he was running for president. We still e-mail each other. I’m counting on those people. I’m confident that they’ll agree with me.”

In other words, Hackett finds it safe to assume that a Ron Paul supporter can be engaged in a quixotic and time-consuming effort to rectify a problem that no state legislator, legal scholar, defense attorney, or jailhouse lawyer has yet noticed and that mainly sounds problematic only if one has just recently begun learning about the subject in a relative vacuum.

I’m not saying this doesn’t sound possible, but-if I were among these Ron Paul supporters-I wouldn’t take the nature of Hackett’s faith in them as a compliment.

Did you know you can subscribe to Margin Notes by email? No more than one email per day (and then only if there is anything new to report). What’s not to like?

Are You As Much Of A Truthseeker As You Like to Think You Are?

I’ve noticed I get really worked up when challenged on issues like, say, global warming, vaccinations, and health care reform. I always assumed it was because I had good reason, but maybe (in the immortal words of Marcellus Wallace) “that’s just pride, f***ing with [me].”

From an interview with Robin Hanson of Overcoming Bias, a thinker I really admire one of my favorite bloggers (even if I find him just a tad smug self-satisfied at times):

“When our pride isn’t on the line or we’re working together on a project and we need to achieve something – maybe our job is at stake – we’re much more likely to be reasonable. But when we talk about politics or religion or whatever we talk about on these radio shows, that’s when we’re much more likely to not be reasonable and to find it more enjoyable to speak than to listen.”

Damn! Zing!

I liked this, too:

“It’s a common point in almost every person’s life when they see people around them who have beliefs they don’t quite understand and they decide for themselves that, “Well, I must just be more honest than those other people. I must be trying harder.” That’s the easiest way to explain your disagreement with other people. We do disagree, and it does bother us; we know, at some level, that something’s not right about that, and we’re eager to find explanations. The easiest explanation that usually comes to mind is just our own superior sincerity or honesty. It’s just quick and easy. We’re not very honest about considering that explanation.”

I definitely agree that people who disagree with me need to be more honest with themselves about how wrong they are.

Read the rest.

Did you know you can subscribe to Margin Notes by email? No more than one email per day (and then only if there is anything new to report). What’s not to like?

The Week’s Tweets (2010-02-07)

  • Coen rejects the individualistic model of environmentalism and argues that we will solve our problems at the policy level or not at all. #
  • The Pea-Green Boat makes me ready my torpedo tubes. #
  • Disappointed that I missed Dr. Phil. What is happening to me? #
  • Coen slept all night on a stationary surface! ("Slept all night" = woke up at 2 and 5, but that's normal.) #
  • No daycare. #
  • Shot fired at kitten abuser's house, "but not by police." #
  • RT @SherryDevlin: Police standoff in progress at home of abused kitten: #
  • Name the poet: "Those wild screaming beaches…" #
  • Trying to do less so I can get more done. #
  • Inspiring to see even Toyota doing its part to help out the U.S. car industry! #
  • I thought The Hurt Locker was supposed to be good. #
  • The great Scott McLemee on Haiti and the role of the Caribbean: #
  • Important difference between "the unemployment rate" and "people who don't have a job." #
  • Can they really call it a "retweet" when they change "love" to "luv," "to" to "2," and so forth? #
  • I love how the internet is at the point where you don't even have to wonder if you'll be able to find a photo of a biker holding a kitten. #
  • Now I have something in common with Danny Torrance. #
  • Loving USAA. (Good thing I was smart enough to marry into an officer's family.) #
  • So, daycare. #
  • Quote from an interview transcript I am reading: "Can you put some words back in my mouth again?" #
  • How can I make an alarm go off every 30 minutes (or customizable) while my computer's on? Browser based is okay. Simpler the better. #
  • Oops, never mind, Firefox add-on "Simple Timer" crashes my browser. #
  • Experimenting with Firefox add-on "Simple Timer" to remind me to stretch every half hour. #

At Last, A Role Model

Lillian Ross’s remembrance of J.D. Salinger in the February 8th New Yorker makes me think I might have liked the man quite a bit, if I’d known him. (Now is when you will be tempted to notify me of some horrible sexual or other predilection of his. Aside from the fact that this wouldn’t disqualify him for me quite the way you think it might, I would ask that you do so only if you have nothing of your own you’d rather keep secret-glass houses, stones, etc.)

Anyway, while in the midst of ruminating on my family’s near-term future and how best to raise my son, I liked reading Ross quoting Salinger quoting Emerson (” a touchstone” for Salinger, who “often quoted him in letters”):

“A man must have aunts and cousins, must buy carrots and turnips, must have barn and woodshed, must go to the market and to the blacksmith’s shop, must saunter and sleep and be inferior and silly.”

Sounds like a philosophy I could live with.


“After he bought a Maytag washer and dryer, he was tickled that the salesman quoted Ruskin to him-something about where quality counts, price doesn’t. He was sure that the line wasn’t part of the man’s spiel. “God, how I still love private readers,” he wrote. “It’s what we all used to be.”

Margin Notes is a Blog. This is a Blog Post.

In a recent edition of the Missoulian, the syndicated columnist Connie Schultz had this to say:

“Most men, it seems, still determine their worth as human beings by the number of zeros in their take-home pay. Some women buy into this; others don’t. Hence the latest flurry of stories and blogs about high-earning women insisting their husbands must make more than they do or lamenting that they can’t find men who make less and don’t care.”

Point taken but are there really “blogs” about “high-earning women insisting their husbands must make more than they do or lamenting that they can’t find men who make less and don’t care”? That is, there are entire websites consisting of reverse-chronological-order posts devoted to this subject?

Or are there posts along these lines on such web sites?

As the title says, Margin Notes is a blog, and this portion of the blog that you are reading right now is a blog post. Calling this article or entry or whatever other term you want to use a “blog” is like calling Connie Schultz’s column a “newspaper.”

But it’s happening more and more. Aside from being an imprecise term, I think there is also some faint derision in this usage, or at least a sort of encapsulated refusal to understand what a blog really is.

It’s like the mainstream, non-online media has finally accepted that they are going to sometimes have to talk about these things called “blogs,” and while they’ve finally gotten to the point where they can say the word without gagging on it, they’re sure not going to waste any time trying to understand any fine points about the medium.

After all, they’re counting on people realizing in another year or two how much of a waste of time blogs are, switching off the internet, and going back to reading stuff that really matters, like newspapers and magazines, and maybe even watching the five o’clock news.

Maybe they’re right. In the meantime, however, join me in making a stand for precision in language.

Repeat after me: The website thingy is a blog. The things on it are blog posts.

(Also, the past tense of “lead” is “led,” not “lead.”)

Pity the Poor Paranoid

For he does not know how much he does not know. Hofstadter:

“L.B. Namier once said that “the crowning attainment of historical study” is to achieve “an intuitive sense of how things do not happen.” It is precisely this kind of awareness that the paranoid fails to develop. He has a special resistance of his own, of course, to such awareness, but circumstances often deprive him of exposure to events that might enlighten him.

We are all sufferers from history, but the paranoid is a double sufferer, since he is afflicted not only in the real world, with the rest of us, but by his fantasies as well.”

Hey, I found the essay on-line, supposedly the version that was originally published in Harper’s in 1964. (I suppose it’s possible that there might be differences between that version and the version published in the reissued book I’m reading, so my apologies for any discrepancies.)