There Goes The Neighborhood
Superficially, my neighborhood seems to be gentrifying like gangbusters. In practice, I'd never had any real crime-related problems in almost two years living here until this week. But tonight for the second time in seven days someone has walked right up to my door and tried to get in while I was sitting right there in the living room. It's a kind of freaky experience. It also makes you wonder what they're teaching in burglary school these days. At a minimum, the criminal penalty for robbing a live person inside a house is way higher than that for burglarizing an unoccupied residence. Never commit a violent crime when a property crime would suffice!
Good News For Giant Apes
It’s Kong, furthermore not the wimpy humans in the movie (epitomized by the fey Adrien Brody playing sensitive-writer Jack Driscoll and supposedly Watts’s love interest), who saves his lady from being eaten by dinosaurs. I loved the scene in which Kong first rips a stegosaurus’s jaw in half with his bare hands, then beats his chest with pride. Brody, as ever in this movie, arrives on the scene too late. No wonder he’s no match for King Kong in Watts’s heart.
So I took away my own message from the movie: Whom would I rather have around when the going got tough: a jaw-jaw chattering class intellectual like Brody or a primitive red-state brute along the lines of King Kong? I think the answer’s pretty clear.
In the real world, I take it that the average woman's odds of needing rescuing from a pack of dinosaurs is rather low and I imagine dating an enormous gorrilla would have some important downsides. Nor does it seem to me that comparing the men of red America to said giant ape is necessarily the most intuitive way to defend the honor of the red zone. I take it that if even the liberal Matt Yglesias had drawn a red state / non-human primate analogy I would be attacked as an elitist.
We've had a couple of discussions here about how old/young the Pistons are. Mark Cuban's posted some interesting numbers on that subject by taking each time and calculating the weighted average of its age by multiplying player age by the number of minutes the player is actually on the floor. Looked at thusly, Detroit is an old team, with a weighted average age of 28.62 years, sixth-oldest in the league. On the other hand, the Heat and the Spurs -- the two teams with the best chance of stopping them -- are older 29.39 and 30.50 respectively.
David Gelertner, in the course of being silly about all kinds of other stuff, remarks:
History has (predictably) been much harder hit. In the early 1970s, many good students took a year--long college--level ("Advanced Placement") survey course in modern European history, and another in American history. Since then, modern educational techniques have worked an outright miracle. Today most incoming college students don't seem to know any history at all. (Except what they've learned by themselves, or their parents have taught them.) The high school history textbooks favored by public schools here in southern Connecticut are pathetic. Their left--wing bias is blatant; the authors don't even try to hide it. Maybe they don't even see it. Recently, a graduate student at a major research university told me that she knew doctoral candidates in humanities departments who had never heard of (for example) Devil's Island and the Dreyfus Affair. They will soon be turned loose on the world as aspiring young scholars.
This strikes me as evidence of a serious absence of left-wing bias in our curricula. Or maybe Gelertner thinks Dreyfus was guilty? But seriously, the Dreyfus Affair would fall pretty low on my list of "need to know" historical events. As it happens, my historical learning leans very heavily toward France, Russia, and the 1789-1918 "long nineteenth century" in which context this appears as a fairly significant event. But it makes perfect sense for lots of people's historical knowledge to not be oriented to these things. There's only so much you can expect a given person to be well-informed about and the sort of thing that I (and, apparently, Gelertner) happen to think is interesting isn't obviously the most important part of the human saga.
Blister on the Court
Combining this blog's new topics of music and basketball, let me observe in re: the Nuggets-Sonics team that "Blister in the Sun," while kind of awesome, is not a very good basketball song. By contrast, Amerie's "One Thing" -- the previous tune in the Pepsi Center -- is an excellent choice for these purposes.
Pistons: All That
So I'd developed this notion that the Pistons weren't really all that. I can't even recall what the evidence for that notion was, but I'd been clinging to it. This was probably related to my failure to watch any actual Pistons games except the one where the Wizards beat them. But now I watched the San Antonio game and the Miami game and it's pretty clear that I was, um, wrong about that. I still don't quite understand why they didn't try harder to challenge Wade's defense when he stayed in with five fouls and four minutes to go, but obviously it worked.
No College, No Date
On Catherine's list of kinds of men she wouldn't date:
6. those without a college degree. does this make me evil? i'm not quite sure. anyway i'm sure there are exceptions.
I wonder if a lot of people feel that way. If they do, it's going to create issues, because not that many men go to college:
At colleges across the country, 58 women will enroll as freshmen for every 42 men. And as the class of 2010 proceeds toward graduation, the male numbers will dwindle. Because more men than women drop out, the ratio after four years will be 60--40, according to projections by the Department of Education.
The problem isn't new-women bachelor's degree--earners first outstripped men in 1982. But the gap, which remained modest for some time, is widening. More and more girls are graduating from high school and following through on their college ambitions, while boys are failing to keep pace and, by some measures, losing ground.
Underperformance in education is no longer a problem confined to black males, Hispanic males, or even poor whites. In 2004, the nation's middle--income, white undergraduate population was 57 percent female. Even among white undergraduates with family incomes of $70,000 and higher, the balance tipped in 2000 to 52 percent female. And white boys are the only demographic group whose high school dropout rate has risen since 2000. Maine, a predominantly white state, is at 60--40 in college enrollment and is quickly reaching beyond it. There are now more female master's degree--earners than male, and in 10 years there will be more new female Ph.D.s, according to government projections. American colleges from Brown to Berkeley face a man shortage, and there's no end in sight.
(I should say I don't necessarily endorse what that article says, but the statistics are right). More chicks for me, I suppose, if everyone agrees with Catherine. Meanwhile, Harvard was a serious laggard in the trend toward the feminization of higher education -- the Class of 2008 is the first in history to be mostly women.
Jesus Christ that was a long movie. I'd been told it was long -- had heard stuff like "they probably could have edited it down a bit" -- but it was long, long, long. I'm honestly baffled that the studio let them do that. You easily could have lopped an hour or more off the thing. Or padded it out just a tiny bit and split it into two movies. Well made, etc., etc. but I think there's an actual reason movies don't normally get made at that length.
"Did You Go To Dalton?"
Angela Robinson's D.E.B.S. aims for a mix of Heathers wit and Batman TV-show camp. Buried in the SAT is a secret personality test measuring aptitude for espionage; top scorers are outfitted with the Uzis and Catholic-schoolgirl uniforms of an elite assassin squad called D.E.B.S. When D.E.B. Amy (Sara Foster) confronts notorious criminal Lucy Diamond (Jordana Brewster) her triumphant handcuffing morphs into girl-girl crushing. The racy preppy humor starts to pill up quick, but Stillman-starved haute bourgeois will chuckle when Lucy's sidekick (Jimmi Simpson) asks a Pollyanna D.E.B., "Did you go to Dalton?" If you did, and played Buffy beer shots at your safety school, this one's for you. For everybody else, its distributor hopes, there's Miss Congeniality 2.
Since I did, in fact, go to Dalton, I guess I'm not objective, but I thought the movie was at least semi-funny. At any rate, I was interested because that exact same line of dialogue occurs in the movie version of American Psycho:
You look really familiar. Did you go to Dalton ?
I think I met you at Surf Bar, didn't I ? With Spicey ?
Well, maybe not with Spicey, but definitely at SurfBar. You know, SurfBar.
Anyway, Surf Bar sucks now. It's terrible.
That scene occurs in the novel, but Dalton isn't mentioned there; instead it comes up in some other context. As far as I know, it's not a question with any broader cultural resonance and, indeed, I don't think anyone has ever asked me if I went there.
The Long Tail
The Internet -- good for indie record labels. Speaking of which, thanks to Last.FM repeatedly telling me I'd like them, I finally checked out Pretty Girls Make Graves last week. They'd been hovering around my horizon for forever now, but I kept ignoring them. And wrongly so! Great stuff. Bought both albums.