Archive for July, 2008

A Fishing Tale

July 28, 2008

Hey guys, check out A Fishing Tale at my personal blog, complete with pictures.

30 Is the New 20

July 28, 2008

From a 2005 Atlantic Monthly article on the perils of the longevity boom (h/t Sullivan):

When lifespans extend indefinitely, the effects are felt throughout the life cycle, but the biggest social impact may be on the young. According to Joshua Goldstein, a demographer at Princeton, adolescence will in the future evolve into a period of experimentation an education that will last from the teenage years into the mid-thirties. In a kind of wanderjahr prolonged for decades, young people will try out jobs on a temporary basis, float in and out of their parents’ homes, hit the Europass-and-hostel circuit, pick up extra courses and degrees, and live with different people in different places. In the past the transition from youth to adulthood usually followed an orderly sequence: education, entry into the labor force, marriage, and parenthood. For tomorrow’s thirtysomethings, suspended in what Goldstein calls “quasi-adulthood,” these steps may occur in any order.

Are we not there already?  This jumbling of lifescripts has been notably on the rise for at least 10 years, ISTM.  “Thirty is the new twenty,” the Sex & the City gals date men from “barely legal” to “distinguished,” and all that.  It all brings confusions and awkwardnesses, certainly, but it hardly seems like a “problem” that needs “fixing.”  Social institutions just need time to adjust to new expectations — or lack thereof — as previously bright lines fade and blur.

It’s not like we haven’t been here before.  I’m currently reading a novel written in the 1870s by William Dean Howells — a man so distinguished his name is on the American Academy of Arts & Sciences annual fiction award — that deals with much the same set of challenges in that era’s society.  Jane Austen, ISTM, trod some of the same ground in an English context.

Anyway, the article is an interesting read.


July 25, 2008

Michael Berube authors an open letter to America on behalf of the rest of the world.  Personally, this is my favorite bit:

On a related note, Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki asked the entire world why the U.S. media have failed to acknowledge his government’s endorsement of Obama’s plan for the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq. “I do not understand what is wrong with their Washington Post,” Maliki said in a prepared statement. “I recall that it used to be a pretty good newspaper. But now I fear that its editorial pages have been taken over by what the Qu’ran calls ‘a bunch of wankers.'”

Almost Famous

July 24, 2008 has discovered my bicycle, and loves it as much as I do. Do yourselves a favor and go get one. You’ll thank me.

Clouds and Whathaveyou

July 24, 2008

This morning I saw what I think might have possibly been a cloud. I’d forgotten those things existed anymore. I went and looked up pictures of the things just to make sure. Turns out, some places still have ’em. The pics made me all nostalgic about my favorites: The Noctilucent Cloud. Straight up cool, is what those clouds are.

Also on the way to school I thought I saw something that might have possibly been a penguin. Turns out it wasn’t (I stopped to make sure because I thought a penguin would be way cool as a pet). But that didn’t stop me from looking up pictures of penguins and wishing I had one. Cute little things. I like picture #9 the best. I’d teach my penguin to do that.

Girl Fight!

July 23, 2008

One often hears from certain quarters that the world would be much more peaceful if women ran it.  To which I say: oh, really?  I mean, seriously, if that doesn’t disprove their argument, I don’t know what does.

Also, is anybody — anybody at all — surprised to read Rick Mahorn’s name in this?

Sprechen sie Arab-talk?

July 21, 2008

As TPM noted, Arabic is a funny language: the greater the difference between what’s being said in it, and what the Bush White House would like to be said in it, the harder it is to translate into English.

So when the prime minister of Iraq and his spokesman explicitly endorse Obama’s plan for U.S. troop withdrawal over the next 16 months, Arabic becomes well nigh untranslatable. All sorts of difficulties and subtleties of expression have to be taken into account. But when you do take them into account, it turns out that what Maliki said was that he’d like to be prime minister of a real country someday, but, eh, what’s the hurry? A thousand years is but a day!

Somehow, I’m sure we’ll be told, this is all the work of the terrorists, who, naturally, support the “Death to American Infidels” plank in Obama’s platform. Right now, however, the best explanation the GOP can come up with is that Maliki didn’t really mean what he said; he was just appeasing the voters back home. It seems to escape them that if Iraqi politicians have to say they want the Americans gone in order to stay in the good graces of Iraqi voters, it rather strongly suggests that Iraqi voters want us gone, and that right soon. And since, as of the last conservative revision of history, the creation of such a creature as the “Iraqi voter” is the very reason we invaded Iraq in the first place, one would think the democratic will of said voters would be very nearly sacred to war supporters.

We’ll see how all this plays out, but thus far, the reaction that’s most revealing of the priorities of war supporters comes from an anonymous GOP operative: “We’re f**ked.”

Thursdays With Bruno

July 10, 2008

I wrote something about my friend, Bruno, on my blog today. Feel free to read it HERE, and if the mood to comment strikes you, feel free to do so in either place.

Miller Time

July 8, 2008

Whether you’re an Obama supporter, frustrated supporter, or opposer, you should read Laura Miller’s short essay on his intellectual influences. A name of particular interest on this blog: Reinhold Niebuhr.

As always: Laura Miller rawks.

The Fourth

July 4, 2008

Well…my big plans for the 4th — driving to Newport Beach (specifically to Balboa Island) to live the good life — were thwarted when I was halfway there and my friends called to tell me that they’d closed the streets on Balboa because of overcrowding. Or something. So I turn around and head back to Malibu except I can’t get to the beach in Malibu because of a fire in the canyon. Those things are scarey. So I’m roughing it like the rest of you.

Not all is lost, though.

It’s the 4th, which, of course, brings us the single greatest sporting event of the year. This year was even greatester, as there was an actual overtime period to the hotdog eating contest. Chestnutt, I think, was just toying with Kobayashi. 

I’m reading a couple of books that are just eat up with interesting. One is about water. Anyone name the three qualities water possesses that make it such an incredible molecule? Me either, although I remember my professors always talking about them. But the book, Water: The Fate of Our Most Precious Resource, by Marq De Villiers, kept me up last night. I couldn’t put it down. Quick summary: Water is both abundant and scarce; we need to think a bit more about how we use water; wars over water aren’t far-fetched.

Also reading: Underground America: Narratives of Undocumented Lives, edited by Peter Orner. A collection of stories told by undocumented people living in America. The stories are fascinating and heartbreaking. I’ll actually try to write something about this book later (honest). It’s amazing the things people put themselves through to live in America. I know immigration is a huge issue, and there is no simple solution to the problem of people illegally coming to America. I think understanding where some of these people come from and what they go through and why they go through it is important.

I know that JU has read Richard Price’s Lush Life. I finished it a week or so ago. It was way good. Mary Ann Gwinn (from the National Book Critics Circle) agrees. She has this to say: This is the first book of Price’s I’ve read, and the best novel I’ve had the pleasure to spend time with in many a while. It is utterly contemporary (about a murder on Manhattan’s Lower East Side), so it’s not really an escape; more like deep-diving into the social and psychological currents of our culture. Like other Price readers, I keep thinking of Dickens when I read him, for his grasp of character, dialogue and incredible feeling for textural detail. In a hundred years readers will go back to this book to fathom what Life Was Like in our age; I suspect they’ll find, as we do when we read Dickens, that the more things change, the more people remain the same – mucking things up, then reaching for redemption.

Also: We should hire a staff writer to write about architecture. That’s my idea for the month. If Al will make me editor of the architecture section, the first assignment for our expert would be to discuss what has to be hands-down the coolest skyscraper ever. The crazy building will rotate, move, and change shape. I’ve never wanted to live in Dubai more than right this very moment.