What what what? How is it possible that slate.com has a french version?

I only have so much hate to give, vas te faire foutre slate.fr!

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Goodbye Iran we loved ye

by Gimpei | 08:43 in | comments (1)

I was wondering how long Iran could stay in the headlines... Looks like its fifteen minutes have passed. Oh well, I guess I'll go listen to human nature.

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I've heard a lot of terms in my time to describe the US government: bloated, constricting, fat, amoral, etc.

But I've never heard constipated, until now that is...

When will Posner shut up? You'd think such a free market enthusiast would feel just a tad bit chastened after the financial meltdown. But no, he's still yabbering on like a senile old man on the porch of a house in Maine who smokes from a pipe and says ayuh a lot.

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Over at Fusil of Yarn, samuelcanread takes on Krugman for tacitly approving of the inflation of a housing bubble back in 2002.

“Alan Greenspan needs to create a housing bubble to replace the Nasdaq bubble.”

True, he was quoting. But he was quoting somewhat approvingly.

In the comments, samuelcanread adds:
I read it as Krugman saying we can’t let the economy deflate — that would suck so massively that it’s worth considering doing anything to get consumer spending going. Escape the liquidity trap!
I don't see that in the article. It seems like Krugman's setting up a trade-off between the economy going back into recession and inflating another bubble. He implies that a housing bubble would be good for Bush and Greenspan, but I don't get a sense of how desirable this would be for the US economy. There's no mention of liquidity traps, deflation, or Japan in this article so I'm not sure where samuelcanread is getting that from.

Maybe the problem here is that we're employing an overly structuralist approach to the text. Perhaps we need to employ a more post-structuralist approach, where the text in fact has a plurality of meanings and reverse meanings that are created by the reader. Since Krugman wrote the text, he is ultimately responsible for these meanings. Get out the pitchforks!

P.S. Did I just write that? Maybe I am going insane, or even worse... becoming Deirdre McCloskey.

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Early Henson!

by Gimpei | 08:49 in | comments (0)

If you value your life, you better drink this. I don't care if it isn't being sold anymore, improvise. I've been using dirt from my garden along with an old Wilkins can that I got on ebay. I've been okay thus far...

Don't say you haven't been warned!

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A piece in the Times today by Timothy Egan paints a depressing picture of the trial against Amanda Knox in Italy. For the uninitiated, Amanda Knox is an American exchange student who has been accused of murdering her roommate as part of a satanic ritual.

This led me to two conclusion:
1) Italians living in small towns are crazy
2) Scratch that, maybe we're all crazy

As per the first point, at the time of the murder Amanda Knox was living in a small village in central Italy. I know a thing or two about small, insular villages in Italy: it just so happens that my mother, when she was twenty, lived in one as well.

She was young and naive at the time, having moved to Italy for a man, only to have him dump her once she arrived. With no money and nowhere to go, she ended up working for his family as an aupair. Initially, she rented her own room in the village, but this didn't go down too well. A man in the village used binoculars to watch my mother as she walked around her room in her pajamas. When the man's wife found out, she called the police accusing my mother of being a prostitute bent on luring the men of the village to her bordello--a sexual pied piper of hamlin as it were. My mother was almost thrown in jail, but the family of her ex-boyfriend intervened and let her stay with them.

A year later, when my mother had picked up some Italian, she went on a vacation around northern Italy for a few weeks. During this trip, she stayed in many similarly small and insular towns. On one occasion she ended up in a particularly remote village with no hostels or boarding houses. After asking around, a farming family offered to let her stay at their place for the night. Upon entering the gates of the farm, my mother was taken aback by the sheer number of cats wandering about the grounds. There must have been a hundred or more, and when she asked about it, they assured her it was because they just really loved cats. Being very gracious hosts, they prepared a feast for her that night featuring a rich, hearty stew made from "roof rabbits". My mother noticed that they all started looking at her peculiarly when the stew came out. Not wanting to be rude, she finished her bowl and complemented the wife on her cooking. To which she was answered by a roar of laughter. "We fooled you English girl", they said, "You just ate cat. This is a cat farm." My mother--who to this day maintains that the only thing she won't eat is creamed corn--shrugged and asked for a second helping.

So what's the point? The point is that rural Italians were crazy forty years ago and they're still crazy today.

As per my second conclusion, you'll have to wait until tomorrow...

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Literal music video

by Gimpei | 10:29 in | comments (1)

I was skeptical at first, but this is actually funny.

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Over at Fusil of Yarn, there seems to be a bit of inner conflict stirred up by the kind of things that people do to animals in the name of science. As usual we have my arch nemesis, Slate, to blame for this foolishness. From Fusil of Yarn:

Wanted: a neuroscientist who can bear to do this without skipping a beat to write up the same experiments. And I don’t want straight-forward argument of sadly hurting one animal to save one thousand humans. I’d like to hear from the people who do all this, look into the monkey’s apparently sad eyes, and see nothing there. Will they stand up?
When I was in high school I did the same sort of stuff with mice over the summer. Basically we injected them with fluoresecent cancer cells, and then gave them daily doses of an experimental cancer treatment.

At the end of six weeks we killed the mice. There were two techniques for this: either you stuck them in a little guillotine type device that broke their little mouse necks or you put them in a beaker and gassed them to death with CO2. The gassing turned out to be much more efficient as you could do several at a time.

After that, I spent about a week dissecting the dead mice, removing the brain, lungs, spleen, and femur. This was pretty cool at first, but got a bit tedious as time went by, although I have to say I did get pretty damn good at it. The hardest part was cracking open the skull without turning the mouse brain into goo.

The last thing I had to do was freeze each of these organs with liquid nitrogen and then mash them into a pulp so that they could be tested for cancer cell count.

Did I feel anything for the mice? I remember the gassing being mildly disturbing at first--I had pet mice as a child--but I soon became desensitized.

While I was working at the lab, I also saw someone else experimenting on a rabbit. That was harder to take because rabbits are really cute.,So I propose the following: maybe we should breed test animals that are ugly like cockroaches, H.R. Geiger's aliens, or the baby from Eraserhead.

P.S. This is not to say that I approve of using animals for, say, testing make-up. But when it comes to critical research that could save millions of human lives... too bad for the animals. Contrary to what some animal rights activists, you can't conduct all your research in a vial.

P.P.S. I don't think it's possible to separate animal testing by medical researchers from the greater good argument. Most people that I met went into this line of work precisely because it could save millions of lives. That was certainly my motivation: my father had died of lung cancer a year earlier. And I think at first almost all of them felt bad for the animals that they were using for tests. However, after spending years and years at the job the animal becomes just another tool in the lab, much in the same way that cows become nothing more than monetary assets to farmers.

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