Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Clearly, He's Never Had a Pet

When asked if he'd prefer a cat or a fish as a pet, my 5-year-old brother: Cat. No, fish because you can eat them, too. You can't eat a cat.

Monday, June 28, 2010

On Inarticulation

"And so each venture
is a new beginning, a raid on the inarticulate
with shabby equipment always deteriorating
in the general mess of imprecision of feeling"

I've been feeling inarticulate lately, unable to express—in writing or speaking—exactly how I've been feeling or what I need. Feel free to interpret this as an excuse for the dearth of blogging, but I will hopefully find my voice soon and until then, I'll try to do a better job entertaining you with inane thoughts on shoes and coffee.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

And That's Nothing Compared to Kosher Restaurants

Where you're sometimes lucky if you can decipher the typos so that you can order. I once had a policy of not eating at places with egregious typos on their menus or with wince-inducing puns as names (there's a place in L.A. called "The Meating Place"), but then I realized I could never eat at a kosher restaurant, so in the interest of occasionally eating out, I had to let go of my copy editor principles. Sad, I know.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Adventures in Facebook Recommendations

You know what I really don't like? How all these sites now have Facebook plug-ins, so if you accidentally click on the wrong spot, you just told all your friends that you "like" the WB's awful TV player. (I do, however, actually like the episodes of Gilmore Girls on said awful player, but I probably wouldn't inform all my Facebook friends of that either.) But, anyhow, these were two Facebook recommendations to me that caught my eye and since I've been pretty delinquent about blogging (and have no excuse as I'm sort of on summer vacation), here you go:

This one made me sad.

This one, I imagine, is accurate.

Monday, June 14, 2010

If It's Tourist Season, Why Can't You Shoot Them?

On the mean streets of New York, tourists are a big pain in the butt. They have perfected that stride that is just barely fast enough that it's pretty much impossible to sidestep and pass them but slow enough that you are pretty sure it will be time to go home by the time you get to work. (And, dude, if I can walk faster than you while I am wearing boots with painful 3.5-inch heels and you are wearing sneakers and a fanny pack, there is something wrong.) They stop to point out, in awe, parts of the landscape you take for granted. In D.C., they get even more underfoot by standing on the wrong side of the escalator and eating on the metro (D.C.-ers are ridiculously anal about these things).

All of which is to say, tourists are annoying. Which makes the video below pretty awesome and an amazing idea. But for all my complaining about L.A., I will give it this: A driving culture combined with the fact that my haunting grounds do not so much involve tourist attractions as libraries and coffee mean that I pretty much never have to see tourists.

NYC, 5,762; L.A., 1.

Friday, June 11, 2010

If I Cared About USC Sports...

Well, then, I'd be a different person altogether, but I'd also be really upset by current happenings, which essentially involve USC sports teams being penalized for wrongdoing involving benefits given to players. I don't really care about sports and it does seem like there was wrongdoing, but I do find the obsession with sports here sort of charming, and I'll miss it (because judging from Columbia's lack of sports culture, it's really hard to maintain that level of dedication when your teams just don't win).

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Voting Machines: Another Reason NYC Is Better Than L.A.

Today, I, like all good citizens (in states with primaries today), performed my civic duty and voted. (Also, I really like getting an "I voted" sticker.) Do you know how the county of L.A. votes? With punch-cards that have chads. Chads!

Apparently, this has at least something to do with election rules that require paper trails and so make electronic voting complicated. But aside from the fact that pulling a lever (the non-electronic method employed by The City on the better coast from which I hail) feels that much more dramatic than punching a bunch of holes, doesn't anyone in California remember the 2000 elections?

Chads? Seriously?

(Though, New York seems to be getting rid of those levers, which also do not keep a paper trail. Tragic.)

Monday, June 07, 2010

These Are a Few of My Favorite Things

The Colbert ReportMon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Vampire Weekend
Colbert Report Full EpisodesPolitical HumorFox News

Oxford commas, The Elements of Style, and Columbia alumni. It doesn't get better than that.

[Here's a long-in-coming hat-tip to Written Pyramids and to the blog-less other who sent me this awesome video.]

להיות עם חופשי בארצנו

I have, alas, been crazy busy and have not had enough time to adequately follow the news of late. (I also have not done any of my research yet for the primaries tomorrow—my first time voting in California, for what it's worth.) So, I do not have a good grasp on the whole Israel flotilla incident. And while I don't think it's ideal that I haven't followed the incident, I think it's OK.

So long as I don't make uninformed pronouncements of who was right and wrong and, more specifically, how Israel is without blame without knowing the story.

I am not saying Israel isn't blameless in this context—I just don't know. I'm saying that it drives me crazy when the Orthodox Jewish community goes all up in arms and calls everyone else in the world anti-Semitic for condemning Israel without knowing the facts, and I think the vast majority doesn't bother to learn the facts.

I can wholeheartedly support the state of Israel and its right to exist—and I do—without thinking every single action Israel does is correct. Or at least without assuming that.It's great to be part of the dialogue and to defend Israel if you know that Israel deserves to be defended and, of course, on the whole I support the state of Israel, but Israel should not be blindly defended just because it's the Jewish state. It's run by people, not by God.

"Now is the moment to acknowledge that the 62-year history of Israel, like the history of the Jewish people and of the human race, has been from the beginning a record of glory and fiasco, triumph and error, greatness and meanness, charity and crime," says Michael Chabon's op-ed in The Times.

(Also interesting was the fact that the info about Chabon under the article reads, "Michael Chabon is the author of 'The Yiddish Policemen's Union.' " It's true; he did write that book, which, like the article, is about Jews. But he also won a Pulitzer for another novel, The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay, which you'd think would also be mentioned.)

Though I found Chabon's insistence on Israel's blockheadedness and Jews' stupidity harsh, and I don't agree with everything he says at all, I think he has a point. We don't become a lesser religion if we admit we're not all geniuses and Israel doesn't become less of a country if we admit it's not flawless.

Friday, June 04, 2010

Hasidic Drug-Smuggling and Adventures in the Thoughts of a Ph.D. Student

I saw the movie Holy Rollers this week. It's based on the true story of Hasidic Jews involved in drug smuggling. I thought it was ... interesting. Firstly, I didn't think there was any demonizing of Judaism involved (not that there's necessarily anything wrong with telling a true if not amazing story about Jews; I am not one who believes in pretending Orthodox Jews of any stripe are problem-free). But it was pretty clear that the evil in the movie was drug smuggling, not Judaism.

I did find the depiction of Judaism interesting, though, mostly because the movie got lots of stuff right about that world (some of the lingo, the garb, some of the attitudes), so I found the things it got wrong (like lighting the menorah on Chanukah during the day) interesting and sometimes surprising.

I don't know where the information about Hasidic Jews was coming from for the movie, and obviously they got some stuff wrong—it's a whole different world with its own norms and rules and customs. How could a movie writer and director get it all right? Maybe we can't ever truly understand other worlds.

Which worries me because it says disturbing things about the validity and accuracy of the academic research to which I have essentially sold my soul or at least my sanity and my sleep. The exciting thoughts in the life of a Ph.D. student.

Thursday, June 03, 2010

Roommate Rant, Part 571 (Or Something)

Dear Roommate,

You have gall to tell me that I have not tried very hard to get along when you can't manage to pay rent on time or take care of talking to the landlady when you say you will (which results in my getting yelled at by the landlady); and when your coffeepot is growing mold on the kitchen counter and you recently cranked the heat up to 88 over night to dry your sweater; and when I have repeatedly peeled your used contact lenses off the floor and thrown out your used earplugs that I found on the dining room table; and when I have scrubbed the paint from your arts and crafts projects off the counter, the table, the floor, the fridge, the trash can, and pretty much every other possible surface in the apartment.

But I am the one who has not tried hard enough to get along?


P.S. Also, I like using serial semicolons.

P.P.S. I really needed to get that off my chest, though part of me wants to send this as is to said roommate. I'll be back to regular blogging (though blogging about my awful roommates, alas, has become relatively normal blogging for me) soon.