Daily Archives: July 26, 2012


I think my “weblogue” series (here) is getting long enough (though it will get much longer) that it is worth listing out the posts thus far. These posts originally appeared on quichemorain.com or greg laden’s blog; I’ve rewritten or updated them and put them in a special order.

  • Thump is about a recurring nightmare and its origins. There might be Nazis. I hate those guys.
  • My Journey Through Race and Racism is a white guy expressing his liberal guilt by showing how he isn’t completely evil.
  • The Subtext is a Sandwich links the horrors of ordering a BLT at Subway with world starvation and personal trauma.
  • My career in music: The Early Years is a lively jaunt through the early days of stereo, before iTunes.
  • OK, I didn’t really have a career in music is about beer. Bluegrass Music Trigger Warning.
  • Viet Nam at Home is the story of how I ended up becoming an archaeologist.
  • The Columbia House Record Club is about feeling alright. Which is not what you think it is.
  • Next up: GJ’s Bar at State and Lark in Albany, New York.

    Huxley: It is possible that he is a sissy

    Huxley, imprisoned by Western heteronormative values.

    Huxley is barely able to say the word “shoe,” does not yet know the word “pink,” has no clue what “gender” is, but last weekend somebody called him a sissy. He is not yet two years old.

    This is interesting and it is a little complicated. And it involves multiple waves of offensive idiosity, so get ready for a longish story…
    Continue reading Huxley: It is possible that he is a sissy

    Evolution for Conservative Christians

    Lewis Black has a formula for addressing creationists. You carry around a fossil. Then, when someone starts talking about creationism, you pull it out and hold it up in plain view and say “Fossil!” Then, if they keep arguing, you throw it over their head. That makes me laugh.

    Despite the fact that I am a raging secularist and activist atheist, not all of my friends are. And, I have a friend for whom I have nothing but love and respect who happens to be a fundamentalist evangelical Christian. Personally, I’m sure that down inside she is also an atheist, and I know she knows I think that of her, and it is sometimes a matter of discussion. Here’s the thing: She’s very very smart, knows a lot of stuff, and is on my personal top ten list of Most Thoughtful People. (Thoughtfulness is actually a characteristic of the regular non-Troll readers of this blog, so you know what I mean.) Anyway, she totally gets science even though she is not a scientist nor does she have a lot of training or education in science. (Rather, she can read numerous dead languages and has all sorts of other smarts.) She understand that science is real, it is a process of thinking and discovery, that it is important, and that it should shape much of our policy as a society. And all that is by way of introduction for the following video, which she has recommended. I’d like to know what you think of it:

    So, if you don’t want to carry around a fossil, you can just carry around this video.

    Buckyball Magnets Banned

    UPDATE: The initial info I got clearly stated that this kind of magnet was being generally banned, but Nanodots, a brand name, and possibly some other brands are not being banned. “Buckyball” is the brand being banned. I wonder, can a company call themselves “buckyball” and trademark that name?

    Original story:

    I actually suggested this as a holiday gift NOT FOR KIDS a while back, so I want to tell you the latest news.

    Neodymium magnets are ver powerful magnets that use the rare earth neodynium element. They are very powerful. The toys consist of little round balls that stick to each other with quite a bit of force and they are fun to play with.

    The problem is that kids swallow them. Then, the magnets line up in the digestive intestines and stick parts of the intestines together forming a block, or perforating the intestines. As an added note, they also resemble the little silver balls you use to decorate cakes and cupcakes (a questionable practice as those candies are very hard; I don’t recommend using them!). The retailers of these magnets seem to have provided all sorts of warnings but people tend to either ignore the warnings or forget about them, or the magnets may be left around unattended long before a young child is on the scene, then they get discovered.

    For these reasons, the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) has ordered a stop to their sales.

    Interestingly, the main company that imports these has taken a very politicized stance, stating that they “…. will vigorously fight this action taken by President Obama’s handpicked agency.”

    As the owner of some nanomagnets of this type, with a toddler in the house, and a Democrat who supports our President, I find that obnoxious. I wonder if members of the Tea Party have stocked up on these dangerous little curios?

    The name of that company is Maxfield and Oberton. On their web site they say:

    You might have heard there’s a problem with our products…
    A government agency (the Consumer Product Safety Commission) is saying they should be recalled because children occasionally get ahold of them. This is unfair. We market exclusively to adults. We are vigorously defending our right to market these products you love. Let us know how you feel about this: Comment on Facebook; send a tweet; tell your friends; complain loudly; or just buy a set to stick it to the CPSC. Read more here.

    Well, I suppose they could always switch to making Jarts!

    Personally, I think it is paternalistic to ban them. But, I support the ban. Paternalism has its safe; the protection of children from unwary parents and corporate greed. Unfortunately.

    The Columbia House Record Club

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    [T]he reason that hanging out with a bunch of temporarily insane Viet Nam vets fresh back from combat was a new phase in my own musical experience, aside from the fact that I’m obviously using music as a ragged thread to tie together utterly unrelated themes, is the importance of music to some of those vets, and to the era that was just winding down in the early 1970s.

    Music was part of the Revolution, the anti-war protests, the hippie movement, all of it. One of my coworkers, the assistant director of the place I did archaeology, was a Rolling Stones fan. This big, scary guy all tough and shot up from the war, this thuggish guy from a tough neighborhood in New York where being Jewish meant you had to learn to fight, this guy who had the swagger walk down cold and carried a crowbar in the front seat of his car and knew how to use it, once told me that he “cried and screamed like a girl” when he saw The Stones at the ball park in New York.

    “You saw The Rolling Stones live?”

    Rolling Stones fans.

    “I cried like a girl, no kidding.” He was getting teary-eyed again as he sat behind the desk in his office, his head covered in most spots with randomly placed and pointy tufts of flaming red hair, and his smuggish face pointing nose first at the object held above the desk in his hand. He had used the intercom to call me into his office a moment earlier and was showing me an album he had just acquired…a Rolling Stones album…and was telling me about the concert and the album at the same time. I did not fully understand why we were having this conversation.

    “So take this and fill it out,” he suddenly said, thrusting a small square of paper in my general direction, a piece of paper that looked like a postcard on one side and a form to be filled in on the other. “As soon as you can. Do it right now.”

    So my boss had just forced me to join the Columbia House Record Club so he could get a free album by getting someone else to join. I had to pick five albums from this list of mostly totally stupid stuff. I was able to find one to give to my mother as a birthday present, and it was an album by Jim Neighbors, the enigmatic actor/singer. Another remains today as one of my favorite albums of all time, Joe Cocker’s Mad Dogs and Englishmen.

    One of the best albums ever produced. Ever.

    So, now that I had albums coming, I had to get…a record player. So I consulted with Carl, and we managed to dig up a tuner and a record player and set it up in my room. I scavenged my parents’ old speakers from The First Stereo. I dug deep into my pockets and searched for change in the couches and got enough to buy a new needle (that’s the device that reads data off the album on the record player). And the records came and it was good.

    The other benefit of the stereo was the built-in radio. Not very many months later, I moved from my parents’ house into my own place. My girlfriend at the time, Leslie, just recently told me that she thought it was SO cool that her boyfriend had his own place. Now that I think about it, that would have been pretty cool for a couple of 16-year-olds. She reminded me that we would get together and tune in the radio to listen to The Fourth Tower of Inverness…indeed, we did. Now that I think about it, holding hands with Leslie and listening to The Fourth Tower of Inverness was even better than Mad Dogs and Englishmen.

    Which brings me right up to the present. Since I mention my first girlfriend, I will also mention my last girlfriend, Amanda. There are a number of things that I’ve always liked but no one that I was “with” (as it were) also liked, or at least, such things were not important to them. For instance, I’ve always wanted to own a Subaru. No one I was “with” ever wanted a Subaru, so that never happened. Amanda strongly prefers Subaru. So now we have a couple of them. How cool is that?

    As I say, there are a number of things like that with Amanda and me. And it turns out that even though she did not really know Joe Cocker when we first met, one of her favorite songs is “Feelin’ Alright“…the version done by Joe Cocker.

    Amanda was somewhat ensaddened to learn that the song is not about feeling all right. It’s about how, “You are feeling all right because you’re an evil thoughtless person, and I’m distinctly not feeling all right at all. In fact, I feel trapped and I’m having nightmares and I dread the day you dump me for some guy with a different name, a different face” (I paraphrase).

    But who cares what the song says. It’s how it makes you feel that counts.