Poetry and Scotch

Education by non-contextual shock.

Food Norms

"But I’m not going to complain about Britain’s “lack of a service culture”—it’s one of the things I cherish about the place. I don’t think any nation should elevate service to the status of culture. At best, it’s a practicality, to be enacted politely and decently by both parties, but no one should be asked to pretend that the intimate satisfaction of her existence is servicing you, the “guest,” with a shrimp sandwich wrapped in plastic."

The New Yorker defending British indifference to service re: food norms. I feel like there’s plenty of room to land in the middle on this.


"MEDIEVAL LAND FUN-TIME WORLD" TRAILER — A Bad Lip Reading of Game of Thrones

This is awesome.

Grantland on Peyton Manning

At this stage in his late career, really for the whole season-plus he’s been with Denver, Manning makes being a midlevel IT manager look like a form of ruthless conquest. It’s as if he wrote a script to install automatic PC updates, and somehow it made him the god-emperor of hell.4 This is how he plays football: He goes out every week with a graphing calculator and a stack of forms, and he just audits teams to death.


The Suicide Caucus

The members of the suicide caucus live in a different America from the one that most political commentators describe when talking about how the country is transforming. The average suicide-caucus district is seventy-five per cent white, while the average House district is sixty-three per cent white. Latinos make up an average of nine per cent of suicide-district residents, while the over-all average is seventeen per cent. The districts also have slightly lower levels of education (twenty-five per cent of the population in suicide districts have college degrees, while that number is twenty-nine per cent for the average district).

The members themselves represent this lack of diversity. Seventy-six of the members who signed the Meadows letter are male. Seventy-nine of them are white.

As with Meadows, the other suicide-caucus members live in places where the national election results seem like an anomaly. Obama defeated Romney by four points nationally. But in the eighty suicide-caucus districts, Obama lost to Romney by an average of twenty-three points. The Republican members themselves did even better. In these eighty districts, the average margin of victory for the Republican candidate was thirty-four points.

In short, these eighty members represent an America where the population is getting whiter, where there are few major cities, where Obama lost the last election in a landslide, and where the Republican Party is becoming more dominant and more popular. Meanwhile, in national politics, each of these trends is actually reversed.

(via The New Yorker)

Thought experiment. Let’s suppose it’s the fall of 2005. Suppose George W. Bush has been reelected, as he was in real life. Let’s suppose, also as in reality, the Senate remained in Republican hands. But then suppose that Nancy Pelosi and her Democrats had already won control of the House, rather than doing so two years later. So suppose that the lineup as of 2005 had been:

  • Reelected Republican president;
  • The president’s Republican party retaining control of the Senate; and
  • Democrats controlling only one chamber, the House.

Then suppose further that Pelosi’s newly empowered House Democrats announced that unless George W. Bush agreed to reverse the sweeping tax cuts that had been the signature legislative achievement of his first term, they would refuse to pass a budget so that the federal government could operate, and would threaten a default on U.S. sovereign debt. Alternatively, that unless Bush immediately withdrew from Iraq, federal government funding would cease and the debt ceiling would be frozen.

In this imagined world, I contend:

  • "respectable" opinion would be all over Pelosi and the Democrats for their "shrill," "extreme" demands, especially given their lack of broad electoral mandate;
  • hand-wringing editorials would point out that if you want to change policy, there’s an established route to do so, which involves passing new bills and getting them signed into law, rather than issuing “otherwise we blow up the government” ultimatums;
  • no one would be saying that the “grownups in the room” had to resolve the crisis by giving away, say, half of the president’s tax cuts. (Even though, to my taste, that would have been a positive step.)

The circumstances are the mirror image now. A party that within the past year has:

  • lost the presidency by 5 million votes;
  • lost the Senate by a total of 10 million votes;
  • held onto control of the House through favorable districting, while losing the overall House vote by 1.7 million nationwide

… is nonetheless dictating terms to the rest of the government. This would have been called extreme and unreasonable under an imagined Nancy Pelosi House in 2005. It is extreme and unreasonable now.

(via The Atlantic)

Living in bombed-out Hamburg really sucks if you had a nice house, because you’re probably never going to see that house again. But it’s really not so bad if you’re 19-years-old and selling black market stockings in an alley somewhere. That wasn’t going to lead much of anything in pre-war Hamburg, but in the new post-war Hamburg you could end up as the Black Market Stocking King and before you know it, be the mayor of the city.

David Samuels quoted in “Freelance Writing Online: What Are You Worth?

I’d watch that movie.

(via nickdouglas)

The economics of internet writing.

(via nickdouglas)

The Madness of Paolo Di Canio

A lot of the time, maybe most of the time, we treat athletes as fictional characters.3 Mario Balotelli is a person who is alive and who is currently registering sense perceptions and who has his own conception of himself and the universe. But he was a goof job at Manchester City, so we don’t talk about him with hesitation or sensitivity. We don’t, I’m sorry, worry about his feelings. We just spray exclamation points on Twitter and laugh about the latest thing he’s done, as though someone were scripting him for our entertainment.4 We turn his personality into an extension of the game itself — it becomes a consumer product we feel entitled to enjoy. Which is weird, morally, even if we’ve been tacitly encouraged to reach this point by years of marketing efforts to sell sports by selling a fantastically constructed and mediated emotional engagement with sports stars.


Really cool projection mapping video. 


Riding a bicycle quickly is a function of the power you apply to the pedals divided by the weight you are carrying, and it’s easier to reduce the weight than to increase the power. Hamilton says he would come home from a workout, after burning thousands of calories, drink a large bottle of seltzer water, take two or three sleeping pills—and hope to sleep through dinner and, ideally, breakfast the following morning. At dinner with friends, Hamilton would take a large bite, fake a sneeze, spit the food into a napkin, and then run off to the bathroom to dispose of it. He knew that he was getting into shape, he says, when his skin got thin and papery, when it hurt to sit down on a wooden chair because his buttocks had disappeared, and when his jersey sleeve was so loose around his biceps that it flapped in the wind. 

Reason #752 that endurance sports are fairly stupid. 


One upside of not playing professional soccer is that ESPN can’t use pictures like this of me in their loading screens. 

One upside of not playing professional soccer is that ESPN can’t use pictures like this of me in their loading screens. 

The United States, for our entire history, has stood up for democracy and freedom for people around the world…only the United States has the capability and the capacity to—to stop Assad and to warn others around the world that this type of behavior is not going to be tolerated.” —House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio.


Today there are many Western politicians, but very few statesmen.  Some of these politicians do not read history or even learn from it, whilst others do not even remember recent events.  Have these politicians learned any lessons from the past 50 years at least?  Have they not realised that since the Vietnam War, all the wars their predecessors have waged have failed?  Have they not learned that they have gained nothing from these wars but the destruction of the countries they fought, which has had a destabilising effect on the Middle East and other parts of the world?  Have they not comprehended that all of these wars have not made people in the region appreciate them or believe in their policies?

From another perspective, these politicians should know that terrorism is not a winning card you play when it suits you and keep it in your pocket when it doesn’t.  Terrorism is like a scorpion; it can unexpectedly sting you at any time.  Therefore, you cannot support terrorism in Syria whilst fighting it in Mali; you cannot support terrorism in Chechnya and fight it in Afghanistan.” -Bashar al-Assad 

Children of Dune

Good government never depends on laws, but upon the personal qualities of those who govern. The machinery of government is always subordinate to the will of those who administer that machinery. The most important elements of government, therefore, is the method of choosing leaders. (Law and Governance, The Spacing Guild Manual)

Governments, if they endure, always tend increasingly toward aristocratic forms. No government in history has been known to evade this pattern. And as the aristocracy develops, government tends more and more to act exclusively in the interests of the ruling class- whether that class be hereditary royalty, oligarchs of financial empires, or entrenched bureaucracy. (Politics as Repeat Phenomenon: Bene Gesserit Training Manual)

John Oliver on Stop-and-Frisk

"You know what, I actually think I get it now," Oliver said. "For a moment, let me just address the white people. You know how we feel at the airport, when the TSA is patting us down, unnecessarily delaying us, looking for weapons we obviously don’t have? Well imagine your entire neighborhood is terminal B at LaGuardia, and the TSA agents sometimes talk to you like this: ‘Um, boarding pass please and what the f*** are you looking at?’”