A New Hope
So...as you may have noticed I write a bunch of blogs. Well, those days are coming to an end. When I'm done guest-hosting for Josh at Talking Points Memo this week, I won't be rejoining TPM Café (no hard feelings, it's just what I thought would be the best situation for me). Similarly, at the end of this week I'm going on leave from The American Prospect to work on another project. I'll keep writing my weekly column for TAP Online and depending on how things shake out I may do some pieces for the print magazine, but I won't be contributing to Tapped for a while.
Simultaneously, this blog is shutting down as of now. No more posts here. Instead, I'm relaunching MatthewYglesias.com (new design by Tom Lee) and come Labor Day Weekend that will be, for the immediate future at least, the sole blogospheric outlet of yours truly. You'll see the political content of my "professional" blogs plus the sports, culture, and miscellany you find here. Hopefully, some posts will combine those interests. Dividing the blogs up had a kind of professional and business rationale, but I think it hurts the quality of the editorial product which is best served up as a unified entity. It'll also make the work more manageable for me. The new site's RSS feed is here. If, for some reason, you only come for the basketblogging (soon to be joined by some footballblogging) you can find the sports-only feed here. If, more plausibly, you find the sport stuff annoying, you can find a non-sports feed here.
Time to Reconsider
I'm not sure if you guys know who Richard Quest is, but suffice it to say that based on my rather small level of watching CNN International while traveling he's far and away the most annoying television news personality on the planet. Or else, if you're Catherine, he's "totally and completely adorable and hilarious."
I don't think we can be friends anymore.
Staying OverA letter-writer to Slate explains that her teenage son has his first girlfriend and that they've forbidden him from having the girl spend the night at their house. Only problem -- the girl's parents let him stay over at their house. What to do?
Some parents feel that as long as behavior they don't entirely approve of is taking place under their roof—underage drinking, taping sessions of Girls Gone Wild—they are in control of it. But these two teenagers are minors, and you have an obligation to set the standards for your son's behavior. He makes quite a case for his maturity: He throws a tantrum, then pouts. As for you, what's the point of having old-fashioned values if you're not going to enforce them? You need to have a talk with the girl's parents. Don't be either defensive or self-righteous; just say your son is not allowed to sleep at their house. Yes, your son will be angry, but what you are doing is not just for now, but for when he is a parent and can draw on the lessons you taught him about standing firm.But what about the parents' substantive views here? I understand that there position is fairly widespread, though it certainly wasn't current among the parents at the den of immorality where I went to high school. And what's the logic of the anti-sleepover position? Teen sex is fine, but seen post-coital cuddling must be stopped! Or, at a minimum, curtailed. Why would you think that? What, exactly, is the problem here?
Is this for real? Survivor to segregate teams by race. This reminds me of my longstanding awesome-but-never-gonna-happen plan to eliminate the lame Eastern Conference versus Western Conference concept in the NBA All-Star Game. Instead, you field the Black Team and the Other Team. Sure, it sounds a little absurd, but Yao Ming, Dirk Nowitzki, Andrei Kirlenko, Manu Ginobili, and Steve Nash is a solid starting squad for Team Other.
Sadly, this is a kind of offensive concept and probably can't be brought off the ground. But since there are no Americans on my proposed non-black starting lineup, and I don't think any foreigners would crack the all-black starting five you could reconfigure this around the less-inflammatory USA versus World concept. Does the switch make a big difference? I think it only matters at point guard where white American Kirk Hinrich is a backup on a non-black team but not an all-American team, and black Frenchman Tony Parker is a backup on an all-foreign team but not an all-black team.
Why, Yes, I am An Asshole
Over at Tapped, Ben Adler misses the point about this Washington Post article. The whole concept that there's some kind of "big three" universities in the United States -- Harvard, Yale, and Princeton is a foolish Tiger construct. There's Harvard, there's an Ivy League, and there's a Harvard-Yale rivalry. Number one US News ranking or not, Princeton simply has nothing to do with it and these efforts to pull away from the Brown-Columbia-Dartmouth-Cornell-Penn pack are, frankly, unseemly.
Yes, yes, it's rude but that's the way it is. Copious research indicate that college choice is, in fact, unimportant for life outcomes leads to the conclusion that the only relevant considerations are (a) cost, (b) weather, (c) snob factor and that New Jersey school just can't compare to Harvard and Yale in category (c).
What's Not Wrong With Deadwood
This post starts out as some wrongheaded Deadwood-bashing and then veers off into total madness:
Part of the problem for me, I'm sure, is just the setting. In fact, I think setting accounts for a lot of the differences in taste in TV shows that we've been talking about lately. No matter how awesome Buffy might be, the hocus-pocus and fight scenes just bore me. Ditto Battlestar Galactica, which I've watched enough to know is really well done, but which bores me because spaceships and laser guns bore me.For one thing, there are no laser guns in Battlestar. What's more, spaceships are a great setting for a show because they're just like submarines (especially when not equipped with lasers) and submarines are the best setting imaginable. Plus, who finds fighting boring? In comments we learn that this would be the very same person who says Deadwood's "dialogue seems unremarkable to me." I can imagine someone who doesn't enjoy the dialogue, but unremarkable? Was he watching?
I should say that, personally, I'm growing increasingly disgruntled with Deadwood. I love the (obviously remarkable) dialogue. The setting is interesting. There's good themes, good characters, solid acting, all to the good. But at the end of the day the lowbrow consideration of story is important. Season Three seems to be running with a decent one, but it suffers from egregious pacing problems and lots and lots of disconnected stuff. I know from experience debating the relative merits of the later Sopranos seasons that not everyone agrees with me about this, but I think the sort of lassitude we're seeing in Deadwood 3 is the characteristic flaw of the better (i.e., HBO-style, if not literally on HBO) programs. The shows get made, at least in part, because the writers will able to pitch a coherent, well-done story arc along with various other good qualities. Once that initial arc is done, the show's other merits are still with it, but the deployment of a solid story arc needs to be done all over again. And it's hard to do. The temptation becomes to slow down the action and basically stretch your plotting out as far as it will go and just lean on well-executed more-or-less random scenes to fill out your screen time. This generates decent results when done by good writers and actors, but it's still unsatisfying in a way that tighter stuff isn't.
Away We Go...
Jacqueline Massey Paisley Passey suggests:
I realize that some of you will find this post depressing because you’ll realize that you don’t qualify as a high quality man and thus won’t be able to get a high quality woman. You have a few options: [...]Cryptic Ned observes:
2. Look in the developing world. If you’re literate with a home computer and an internet connection you are very wealthy compared to the rest of the world. Citizenship or legal permanent residency in a rich country makes you more attractive to women in poorer countries. Your value on the dating market is thus much higher there.
I thought her second suggestion was a good reminder. It's amazing that virtually anyone who's struggling in America could move to a town in the developing world and instantly have wealth and power w.r.t. everyone around him, and yet nobody does. Where's our conquering, settler spirit?Some people, however, actually do do this:
Years ago there was a series of long posts on the Thorn Tree by an ex-pat in Alma Ata. He was amazing because he was completely upfront about being a despicable person. He was entirely aware that he was living up to the worst of himself; he’d resigned himself to the trap of living well in a third world country. He hated Alma Ata, thought it was an ugly soviet concrete city. He hated Russians and Kazakhs alike for being racist peasant gangsters. He was bored shitless at his do-nothing job for some aid agency. He despised himself for whoring, couldn’t remember the last time he’d fucked a girl who liked him or could have refused his relative wealth and power.Food for thought? Sounds like a bad dude. Surely this is the main theme of one of the many well-known vaguely contemporary novels I haven't read. If so, let me know, I think I'd like to read that one.
And yet, he knew he would stay as long as he could. He couldn’t resist the advantage he got just for being American; it was all too easy. In Alma Ata, he was important enough to include in the nightly drinking with the big boys. He was fucking more and more beautiful women than he thought he could even approach at home. He could live cheap and have a maid and a driver and eat well (except that he hated Kazakh food). He had no demands on him, no civic life in a land where he was an irrelevant stranger, no family to demand his attention, not even the daily chores of living.
A friend's in vising from out of town this weekend and he, rather thoughtfully, brought me some proper New York-style bagels with the hard crusts like you can't get here in DC. Naturally enough, I decided to cut and toast one this morning for breakfast. Less naturally, I totally forgot how to operate on a bagel of that consistency and sliced one of the fingers on my left hand pretty nicely. Apparently you can take the NYC out of the boy.
Snakes On a Plane
It was surprisingly warm-hearted, you know? Saw it in a sold-out theater with a pretty giant crew as outlined here. Everyone was having a good time. The dude who played Eddie Kim struck me as turning in a notably worse performance than everyone else in the film which was a little curious since it's not like the standards were notably high to begin with.