Saturday, August 30, 2008

Car Travel Oddities

South Dakotans do not know how to use scare quotes. Extreme examples of misuse included '"Tourist Information"' and '"Photograph Taken in 1902".' My quoting scare quotes is highly irregular, and most likely will confuse you; sorry! Also, if there is misuse, is their mismention?

I do not have the moral fortitude to turn down heavily subsidized ethanol-laced gasoline.

Moose are shockingly scary creatures, when they catch you by surprise. As are cows.

Bow hunting is a more visually disconcerting pastime than hunting with a shotgun.

I have a new-found respect for the camper, while at the same time having a more fully realized contempt for car-camping, and a concomitant desire to see more roadside hostels in the USA.

The longest any two unmarried people can spend at leisure happily is 9 days.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Proust Update

So Marcel just ejaculated by accident in the presence of Albertine. But it's OK -- apparently, she's cool with it.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Nihil Humanum

From now on, I think I'm just going to cannibalize various emails I've sent, and present them as non sequitur blog posts. To that end, here's something I wrote in response to being presented with a link to an article attempting to work out the juristic puzzles raised by the prospect of an extraterrestrial encounter. The article was ridiculous, heavy on Agamben and Schmitt, that kind of thing.

What would we do in the event of extraterrestrial contact? Not so much jurisprudentially, but culturally, politically, and even militarily?

I consider myself relatively broad-minded, but to be honest, I can't help but regard the prospect of extraterrestrial contact with some trepidation as a kind of "existential threat." It seems to me that everything human would diminish overnight and be drained of its significance. Every cathedral would sink ten feet into the ground. What are Proust and Plato next to the unimaginable crystal-palaces of Alpha Centauri and the endless slug-swamps of Betelgeuse-Prime?

Terence's epigram, that he regards nothing that is human devoid of interest, would be turned on its head -- nothing human would be interesting precisely because it's only human. The moment of our initiation into the wider cosmos would mark the extinction of our own.

Also, here's another question: what if aliens arrived, and they were Mormon? How insane would that be? Would we all convert?

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Two Thoughts II

  1. There is no feeling comparable to the one that washes over me when I walk by myself in the autumn and remember the past.
  2. According to Kant, the concept of freedom can never be explained, but rather it can only be defended.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Jesus Christ

Today, I woke up to find a dead mouse on the floor. It was lying in a congealed pool of its own blood. The trap must have malfunctioned. It sprang without immobilizing the mouse, dealing it a fatal glancing blow instead. Then, like Thor in Ragnarok, the mouse took eight steps before dropping down dead.

His flopping tail, his feeble limbs jerking in that slowly hardening pool of blood -- they wrote the incarnadine chronicle of his own demise.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Movie Idea

Title: "Rent Control"

Plot: An elderly landlord in a once-ethnic (Polish), now-hip neighborhood needs money to pay his rising health bills. However, his building brings in little income because his tenants, who are also his friends, pay almost nothing due to rent-control.

He decides to poison them off one-by-one in order to re-rent their apartments to fashionable yet soulless youngsters, who will pay significantly elevated rates merely because the neighborhood is a hive of vacuous mimicry and extended childhood. By the end of the movie, the landlord has succeeded in his plan.

However, in a twist ending, he himself is poisoned by his hipster grandson, hitherto viewed as nothing more than a punch line by the audience. The film ends with the nephew talking on the sidewalk with some people; the discussion turns to some movie -- perhaps they see a poster -- the nephew says in passing, "Yeah, It's an allegory for something."

FIN. Wolf Parade to soundtrack.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008


One day I was working in the Brooklyn Public Library, and I noticed a book on the shelf, translated from the Dutch, called Rats by Martin Hart. Seeing as I have recently had some experience of my own with the mouse menace I decided to take a look. I quickly found myself repelled, and a little weirded out, by the author's pro-rat bias.

Here, the author takes umbrage at the "strange belief" in rats stripping animals (or people) "to the bone:"
"Those who do not defend themselves may lose their noses, a few fingers and toes, but will never be eaten down to the bone by rats. Moreover when rats do consume corpses (of conspecifics or other animals) they eat the bones as well. All that is left behind of other rats is the tip of the tail."
After complaining for many pages about the poor treatment rats receive in literature, the author singles out The Wind in the Willows, of all things, as constituting a notable exception to the trend:
"There can be no objection to his portrait of the brown rat -- the calm, hardworking animal Grahame describes would be welcome as a pet by anyone. The black rat, too, is magnificently described."
Here's the author on the subject of rats as pets:
"Children, too, are usually very fond of rats. Not weighed down with all sorts of prejudices, they generally need no more than ten minutes before the pick up a rat and stroke it, as I have seen my nephews and nieces do time and again. Children like to push rats along in a doll's pram, covered with a little blanket. There is, however, one fairly strong objection to keeping rats as family pets: they are highly susceptible to pulmonary infections which can be communicated to children."
It's just a weird book, man:
"There are many people who keep rats as snake food. On a Sunday afternoon the whole family gathers round the cage of their pet boa or python and watches while a live rat is thrown to, and devoured by, the hungry snake. No one to whom I have ever told this has shown any sign of indignation. But when I tell them that hamsters are used for the same purpose they usually protest. I am glad to say that I have heard of cases where the rat bit large chunks out of the skin of the snake."
And it only gets weirder...:
"I know cases of elderly people who used to feed wild rats by hand in their gardens every day. This may sometimes be the only daily encounter such lonely old people still have. I shall probably end my days in the same way."
It's an ostensibly scientific book which describes the anatomy and habits of rats, and yet every couple pages the author chooses to share some creepy rats-related reminiscence from his childhood:
"On many an afternoon and evening in the early summer I used to lie in the long grass round refuse tips and the banks of stagnant pools watching the incessant toing and froing of brown rats. Provided I did not move, they paid hardly any attention to me. Sometimes they would even sniff at me."
Why are you so weird, Rat Man?

Monday, August 11, 2008

In my on-going quests to waste time at night

I have added a favicon to our blog! Woo!

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Facebook Ad Rating

So I found out today at TechCrunch about Facebook ad ratings, little up/down thumbs below FB ads. FB ads are awful, all of the ones that I notice are "21 and still single?" or "Meet hot girls!" So I gave one a bad rating, and it turns out that when you do this, Facebook serves you a new ad! So I got an ad for Palladium rings. Um... thumbs down. Then I got an ad for dating, again. One of the options (it asks you why you thumbed-down when you do so) is "Repetitive." Yessir. But THEN I got an ad for urban adventure racing in Chicago. Now, I'm moving away in 7 days, but still, AWESOME.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

So I discovered Blogger in Draft

And now leaving a comment is less painful! Hooray! Now, if anyone were reading this thing...

A series of thoughts from tonight

So I was reading an entertaining and, it proved, thought-provoking blog entry by my friend Andy which, as it inspired in me a feeling of general malaise and hopelessness, led me to start writing a post here about how futile all decisions and knowledge were. This, somehow, got me to use the word "logorrhea." It occurred to me that there is probably an entertaining Wikipedia entry on that word; in fact, it's an astonishingly long entry! It led me to that happy old chestnut, the Sokal Affair, which reminded me of the most unpleasant conversation I suffered through at Princeton (I elide describing that conversation because it would be extraordinarily insulting towards someone I doubt ever reads this blog, and therefore cowardly). It also caused me to read some of Google's book preview of Higher Superstition: The Academic Left and Its Quarrels with Science. This seems to be a worthwhile book to read. The end result is that I am satisfied that human knowledge and progress exists, although only at a cultural/societal level, whereas for an individual all progress is ephemeral, except for interpersonal relationships, which are so easily neglected, but so enjoyably and rewardingly kept up. A happy ending on which to go to sleep!