Wednesday, October 31, 2007
(10:43 AM) | Adam R:
Small Press RoundupAt Publishing Genius there's a new "monthly" series called "This PDF Chapbook." The inaugural edition came out today; called "As Day Same That the the Was Year," it's an experimental story by Andy Devine, submitted (and contextualized at the end) by novelist Michael Kimball.
Devine's story is neat because all the words are in alphabetical order. But after reading it for just a few minutes I was able to fetch out some details of the plot, the characters, the setting. After about ten minutes I started to think it should be a primer for comp writing classes. After half an hour I was practically in tears, touched by its sentimentality and sadness. I don't think I'm spoiling anything to say the grandmother dies.
Biographically I don't know anything about Andy Devine except what's in the appendix to this story, but I met Michael Kimball a few weeks ago and like him a lot. His novels are new and fantastic. You can read a portion from The Way the Family Got Away here, but it's in Italian.
(10:42 AM) | Adam Kotsko:
Zizek and Theology (forthcoming)As Scott McLemee notes, I recently submitted a manuscript entitled Zizek and Theology to Continuum/T&T Clark, as part of their series "Philosophy and Theology." I received the contract early this year after being put in contact with them by Ted Jennings, who had been approached about doing the Derrida volume in the series. I reviewed Zizek's works throughout the spring semester and wrote full time this summer, finishing two-thirds of it by the time the school year started. It seems likely that it will be appearing some time in the middle of next year.
In the meantime, I will be finishing my coursework and required exams (to be completed by early December), then working on my four self-selected exams and my dissertation proposal. My hope is to reach the coveted ABD level before the book comes out.
Tuesday, October 30, 2007
(6:59 AM) | Adam Kotsko:
Tuesday Hatred: The Short EditionI hate waking up early.
Monday, October 29, 2007
(9:58 AM) | Adam Kotsko:
Recalling BlagojevichThe Tribune has one of the best ideas I've ever read in an editorial:
Should Rod Blagojevich remain as governor of Illinois?I saw him in person, doing a photo op at my L stop, and I really wanted to punch him. Thankfully for him, I am a man of peace.
He shows no inclination to resign from office. And while the state constitution does allow for his impeachment by the Illinois House and trial by the Senate, it's doubtful legislators could bring themselves to such drastic action. So the realistic question becomes this: Given the multiple ineptitudes of Rod Blagojevich -- his reckless financial stewardship, his dictatorial antics, his penchant for creating political enemies -- should citizens create a new way to terminate a chief executive who won't, or can't, do his job?
(9:02 AM) | Adam Kotsko:
New Spam SpeciesApparently spammers have now decided to impersonate the IRS and claim that I have a refund coming to me. They also apparently don't realize that tax season was 6 months ago.
Sunday, October 28, 2007
(1:42 AM) | Brad:
Football Blogging: On the Road Again EditionIt's a Newport, Oregon edition of this week's football post. I've been hauling the in-laws up the 101, en route (slowly) to Portland. Outside of the nearly twenty hours its taken to drive a little over 600 miles, and the nearly-constant Flemish chatter, it's not been so bad. [One of the really good things about the trip is that I got to listen to the 4th quarter of the USC-Oregon game while enjoying a delicious lunch at the Crazy Norwegian's Fish & Chips in Port Orford, Oregon. I like this Oregon team, but I like seeing USC get beat even more.] What I've yet to come to terms with is that I won't be able to watch Sunday football. I'm not sure how or if I'll be able to deal with this.
I may not be able to watch the games, but I can still embarass myself at picking their winners. Last week, I couldn't even rival the previous week's pedestrian showing, and ended up posting a 1-4 record [6-8 for all the games, but I don't want to bore you with more than five picks]. The Saints won, but failed to cover; the Bengals completely dispelled the myth that the Jets are better than their record; and Pittsburgh continues to show that they are a completely different team when they play away from home. So, what about this week? Can I possibly go 0-5? Let's see.
1) Detroit's getting five points in their game at Chicago. What's the weather like up there? If I were really committed I'd open a Google tab and find out. As it is, I'm tired and tonight's one of the few opportunities for me have sex -- so I'm kind of in a rush. Taking taking the points, and going with Detroit here. But, if for some reason the Bears headset peeters out and Griese is on his own with playcalling, oh yeah, look out.
2) Carolina is also getting five points at home against Tennessee. I just don't know how anybody could put money on this Titans team, w/ or w/out Young. So goes the cliche, they just win. Plus, who doesn't want to see Vinny get another win?
3) One of the toughest games to call this week has got to be Minnesota at home against Philly. The last time I picked a Minnesota game it was when they played the Bears two weeks ago. I flipped a coin then and I got it right. So, why not. Flipping. Okay. It's Minnesota again. Sure, why not. This is kind of out of nowhere, but I'm one of those people really doubtful of Peterson's long-term durability. Did he ever complete a college season without a major injury? Is his rookie break-out season setting him up to be another one of those Bo Jackson-calibre players that end up the focus of everybody's "How good would he have been if he hadn't gotten hurt" conversations? I think so.
4) When was the last time you could be reasonably confident that the Cleveland Browns could go on the road and cover a three-point spread? Has it ever happened, or is tomorrow's game in St. Louis unprecedented. More importantly, what would happen if Miami and St. Louis played this year? Would time stop, reverse, somehow take on matter and bend inward? If this game was on during next week's Pats-Indy game, I would on sheer principle wander to the back corner of the bar and watch it alone.
5) Speaking of the Patriots, I'm going out on a limb here. New England is NOT going to cover the 16.5 points they're giving up to Washington. I'm not completely sold on Campbell, and wondering whether Portis is hurt is on par with thinking about the thought-process that brought us a third season of Prison Break, but I do rather like Washington's defense, and think this will be the Pats biggest challenge so far. Plus, doesn't Brady at some point have to have an ordinary game? It's got to happen, even with those weapons. What's worse, and this could just be residual hatred for the city of Boston, as their Red Sox humiliate the Rockies (again) tonight, at this point I'm inclined to pick against them next week against Indy, too. Disclaimer: this kind of irrational thinking is indicative of a man who also went $100K in the hole for a series of worthless degrees in theology. He does not know how to manage risk or weigh options.
EXTRA: For some reason Vegas likes Denver on Monday at home against Green Bay. Last week's game againt Pittsburgh ... maybe it means something. I dunno. Me, I'm taking Favre. He has the All-Time Interception Record Monkey off his back, and the bye week has surely allowed him to shake off his hangover from the celebration. He's good for a pick and two TDs, though. I still don't like Denver.
Friday, October 26, 2007
(12:00 AM) | Adam Kotsko:
Friday Afternoon Confessional: YglesiotomyI confess that I feel a little bit stupider after reading this article about the often tense relationship between George W. Bush and Arnold Schwarzenegger. I confess that I'm beginning to think that Giuliani is actually insane in the strict clinical sense. I confess that I'm glad the federal government has enough resources to so thoroughly document the life of the president's dog (via Chapati Mystery).
I confess that I got proofs on an article and was a little disappointed in my prose style in certain places. I need to impose a new rule -- no cascading subordinate clauses. If a subordinate clause is grammatically dependent on another subordinate clause, that's a sign that I need to rewrite.
I confess that I'm really enjoying the new season of House, though the decision to keep the old team around is making me a little nervous. On the other hand, a bigger cast does result in less face-time for Wilson, which is all for the good -- for instance, in the most recent episode, Wilson only got a token visit from House, which seemed to be little more than a way of reminding the audience that he still exists.
I confess that our DVR is still set up to record Prison Break, even though I have not been watching it. I have tentatively blocked out the day after I get back from AAR to catch up on it -- I know I'll be useless anyway, so if I'm going to waste my time, I might as well be really rigorous about it.
I confess that Halloween is my least-favorite holiday. Something deep within me rebels against the idea of having to wear a costume.
I confess that every semester, I experience "commute creep" -- at first it seems like I've perfectly scheduled everything so that I only need to go to Hyde Park once a week, but over the course of the semester it gradually becomes clear that I'm routinely going down there four and even five days a week. I confess that my commute from within the city officially takes longer than my commute from Kankakee did.
I confess that I saw a monster truck parked on Lincoln Ave. that had been retrofitted with testicles: a plastic scrotum dangled from its rear bumper. Not only did this guy specifically buy a plastic scrotum appropriate for vehicular mounting -- and presumably attached it to his truck himself, a process that must have required some degree of labor -- but apparently there are places where you can buy them and at least one company mass-producing them.
Wednesday, October 24, 2007
(11:51 AM) | Adam Kotsko:
A PredictionIf Amhedinejad is replaced by a more moderate president, conservatives will all of a sudden be totally clear on the fact that in Iran, the president is mainly a figurehead and that it's the religious leaders who really run things.
(Note: According to Google, at least, I spelled Amhedinejad's name correctly on the first try. I must hate America even more than I thought.)
Tuesday, October 23, 2007
(12:14 AM) | Olivia Leigh:
Tuesday Hatred: Too-Tired-to-Write-a-Meaningful-Hatred HatredHello, weblog readers! The Girl is back! After a long hiatus and many, many weeks of telling Mr Kotsko I would write Hatred, only to fail to do so time after time, I am here to share my warm, fuzzy, feelings of hatred.
Without further adieu, the things I am hating on this, the 23rd day of October in year 2007:
I hate Chicago's weather. I imagine that is one of the most universal, widely-shared hatreds, and therefore, not even worth stating, but my, do I hate it. I hate that the pashmina my friend loaned me today ended up looking rather cute, as I might start wearing one, and I hate the idea of being a girl that wears pashminas. I hate that the pashmina my friend loaned me apparently retails for $279. I hate that many of my recent acquaintances are so insanely rich that they make me, a fairly "well off" person, feel somewhat insecure about my finances. I hate money.
I hate that my Halloween costume might involve my wearing any number of these pieces. (Pause: Game time! Guess my costume! Hint: Pieces are gold.)
I hate how busy I am. I hate that I actually enjoy all of the things that I am overwhelmed with, making it harder to cut one out of my life. I hate that I have a list full of 10 different activities -- woodworking! Portuguese! kickball! sewing class! volunteering! -- that I will most likely never be able to do before the age of 34.
I hate even thinking about what would happen to Chicago if the CTA's so-called "Doomsday" cuts aren't prevented.
I hate olives. And sour cream. And Campari.
Monday, October 22, 2007
(9:29 AM) | Adam Kotsko:
Writing About PoliticsLately I've been wondering why no political posts are occurring to me, and I have arrived at an answer: nothing seems to be happening, or at least nothing new is happening. For instance, what is there to write about the primaries? On the Democratic side, we're being asked to parse subtle nuances, whereas on the Republican side, we're treated to a mob of angry white men trying to outdo each other with insane statements. The Democrats are still useless on national security and constitutional issues due to their abject fear of being thought "soft on terror," and their majority is small enough that the Republicans are easily able to block any domestic initiative.
Closer to home for me, Illinois continues to be badly governed by cowards who are trying to squeeze out one more year of jerry-rigging the budget before having to do what is apparently absolutely unthinkable: raise taxes by a trivial amount. This behavior is nearly universal across the country, as everyone seems to have bought into the idea that public goods that can't be had cheaply aren't worth having at all. I fear that such an attitude may interfere with attempts to provide universal healthcare and do anything else that might be even moderately good. (For wars, of course, we can apparently just print money by selling bonds to the Chinese.)
It's really depressing to me that the Democrats really are significantly better than the Republicans. These are our options. It's a miracle that the US hasn't yet wiped out all life on earth.
Sunday, October 21, 2007
(12:59 AM) | Brad:
NFL Mediocrity .... It's FaaaaantasticI'm kind of phoning in this week's football post. Sorry. The in-laws arrived this week, and I've been (or at least felt) kind of distracted since Wednesday. Hopefully I'll find some kind of rhythm in the midst of the football madness tomorrow. I didn't even feel all that into tonight's college games -- except for the tremendous Auburn-LSU game. Really looking forward to a Florida-LSU rematch in the SEC championship.
Yes, for those keeping track of my love for the University of Kentucky's football program, it was painful to see them fall by eight to Florida. But the worst part of the ordeal was that they couldn't cover the spread. Sadness reigned in the hearts of betting Wildcat fans everywhere who played the gambling homer.
(Interesting anecdote about the merits of betting for & against your own team. I went to a really gritty and urban sports bar in Oakland last week for the Pats-Cowboys game, and was treated to the following conversation while at the toilet: "Man ... I need the Raiders to let LT score another TD?" "Yeah ... wait, you're a Raider fan, aren't you?" "Yeah, but I gotta get paid." "Yeah, but you ain't gonna call your daughter a slut just 'cause she's a ho. You gotta stick w/ your team!" The wisdom of urinal trough talk.]
Also, for the two of you who read this post, you may have already noted that I'm absolutely horrible at picking games. Two weeks ago, I was 1-4; last week, I was 2-3. I'm pretty happy I wasn't picking games the first five weeks of the season, otherwise Vegas would be bankrupt from people just taking the opposite pick as me. But, hey, like my marriage, I'm committed to failure. So, I'm going to stick with this for the season. So, in the nick of time before the Sunday afternoon kickoffs ....
1) I'm taking New Orleans (-9) at home to cover the spread against Atlanta. I see the rationale for calling this a "return to reality" game for the Bubba Gump Shrimps, coming on the heels of the spanking they put on Seattle in one of Bill Gates' perfectly manicured back yards. But, hey, maybe it's time for the Saints' WRs to start catching and their offensive line to give Brees more time in the pocket. If not now, against the Falcons, New Orleans will not be favored by more than 2.5 all year.
2) I would never put any money on this, but I'm really looking for San Francisco (+9) to pull the upset on the Giants. It just seems one of those inexplicable NFC losses. The only thing that keeps me from putting money on this is Plaxico Burress, who is showing a level of consistency rivaled only by the frequency of my Sunday football conversations that at some point bring up Eli Manning's resemblance to a feminine hygiene product.
3) How the hell are the Bengals a 6.5 favorite over the Jets? This just seems absolutely insane. J-E-T-S. JETS JETS JETS.
4) Speaking of batshit insane lines, Pittsburgh only a 2.5-point favorite over Denver? Okay, sure, it's in Denver. But I seem to remember the Steelers beating Denver IN DENVER a couple of years ago in a game whose implications were slightly larger (not least because the Ravens will continue to play their schedule that consists of junior high female football teams, and they will still finish the AFC North in second) -- and that Denver team was actually pretty good. This one sucks so bad even Adam won't call them for a second date.
5) This Minnesota-Dallas game is killing me. Dallas is going in a 9.5-point favorite, which screams "take the underdog," esp. coming on the heels of Adrian Peterson proving definitively, for the legion of naysayers, that he is a better RB than Cedric Benson. And yet, I really think Dallas will come out wanting to prove something. That something being, "Hey, we can barely beat mediocre AFC teams, and cannot hold a great AFC team below 40-points, but we can sure as hell beat up on the NFC!" I think this one is going to be like the great unaired episode of Malcolm in the Middle, where Hal, after getting fired again from his job and unable to perform sexually, and decides to beat Dewey into protective custody.
Oh... and yes, I cannot go w/out some comment on the Indy-Jags game. In my heart, I know that Manning & co. will come out and win by 17 -- it being Monday Night Football and all. But, I couldn't watch the game if I actually picked this to happen. So, screw it, I say: the Jags are taking advantage of the three points they're being given. A far more interesting side-bet, I think, is whether M. Jones-Drew follow up last week's performance with a similar/better performance, or does he fade back into his Season Two doldrums?
Saturday, October 20, 2007
(5:49 PM) | Adam Kotsko:
MidwifeMy post on maleness has generated a thread of massive proportions, of which I have not read a single word. Nevertheless, I regard this as one of my greatest achievements as a blogger.
Friday, October 19, 2007
(9:31 AM) | Adam Kotsko:
Friday Afternoon Confessional: Soft on TerrorI confess that last night I went bowling at 10 Pin, which promised -- and delivered -- a "combination of [a] sophisticated atmosphere and the fun of bowling." I confess that my bowling was wildly erratic. For instance, I followed up my peak performance of three strikes in a row with a gutter ball -- and it wasn't one of those where it heartbreakingly swerves off at the last second. No, it was firmly in the gutter by about a third of the way down the lane.
I confess that when we left, a homeless guy asked for my leftovers, but I went into my automatic pilot response of "No, sorry" even though I was in fact perfectly willing to give up my leftovers. Feeling bad, I decided that I would actively look for another homeless guy to give my leftovers to, and it somehow took three tries to finally give them away. One of them started mildly ranting about how sick of pizza he was -- I think we've all been there.
I confess that I have not gotten as much done this week as I planned, probably because my planned workload was nearly impossible. I confess that I need to firm up a dissertation topic. I confess that I've been drinking too much coffee. I confess that I sat down and watched The Office Special immediately after getting the mail, and I almost teared up when Dawn came back to the party to find Tim. I confess that I was less enthusiastic about David Brent finding love, but it does seem to have turned him into a minimally good person.
Thursday, October 18, 2007
(11:38 AM) | Adam Kotsko:
Information RequestDear Internet,
Are there any scholarship programs for summer language intensive programs in France?
Chicago Theological Seminary
(8:30 AM) | Adam Kotsko:
Defining MalenessI propose the following traits as defining males:
- The wandering eye -- constantly scanning one's range of vision in the hopes of finding someone sexually attractive
- Outbursts of rage -- especially rage directed against inanimate objects (lawnmowers that won't start, computers, etc.)
- Fascination with the size of one's shit -- this was inspired by a recent episode of South Park
Wednesday, October 17, 2007
(9:46 AM) | Adam Kotsko:
Dating MyselfYou can tell that I first started following world events during the heyday of neoliberalism, because I'm looking at my checkbook right now and wondering if it might be necessary to implement "fiscal austerity measures."
Tuesday, October 16, 2007
(12:23 PM) | Ben W:
At long last, Tuesday HatredI hate that on Sunday I told Adam that I was now (then) much better prepared to do a Tuesday Hatred than I was last week, when it was rather lackluster, receiving his invitation to do it this week, ie, today, and then I completely forgot about it. I hate that I let Adam down so much that he was incapable of even explaining to me how great was my transgression: he merely sent me an email with the subject line "Hatred......" (I think I've got the number of periods right) but nothing in the contents. We both understood that there was nothing more to say: our relationship has forever been altered, and all through my own fault.
I hate that on Sunday I got cold hit by a car and lacked the presence of mind to get the driver's info even though I was superficially fine. I am actually fine through and through, but my bike is not—both wheels need replacing. It didn't occur to me that it, too, might have been damaged. I hate that the only big supermarket near me is a Safeway and that all the Trader Joe's are two (2) different bus rides away, or one inconvenient bike ride. I hate that I can't even remember the other thing that I thought would be a good subject for hating, but I also hate biking in the rain and the fact that the only way to mitigate its hateful aspects at least in part is to wear kind of ugly but, apparently, functional rain gear from REI. Finally, I hate my commute. Boo to that.
Sunday, October 14, 2007
(10:19 AM) | Adam Kotsko:
Our Country's Good NameI normally enjoy Frank Rich's columns, but this week's column is problematic -- despite the fact that he is not afraid of the word "torture." Like all too many arguments against torture, Rich's is based on the fantasy that Americans have somehow been blameless in the past, until Bush came along and corrupted us.
The current systematic use of torture does seem to be a new development, but it's not as though America has ever been anything but a violent and abusive nation, particularly toward the vulnerable. We are the only major developed country that still has the death penalty. We imprison a huge number of our fellow citizens, cramming them into overcrowded jails where they are subject to arbitrary violence -- including rape, to such an extent that "prison rape" is a common topic for jokes -- and often disenfranchising them once they get out. Of course all of this state violence falls disproportionately heavily on black men, who our society essentially views as criminals "by default," so that even clean-cut black professionals report that whites react to them with fear. This system is the successor of slavery, of the extra-legal terrorism to which blacks were subject after emancipation, of the violent suppression of the peaceful protests of the civil rights era, etc.
Blacks aren't the only minority group to be subject to violence: there's also the internment of the Japanese during WWII (which some conservative leading lights positively defend), as well as the wholesale ethnic cleansing of Native Americans. And it doesn't say much to me that interrogators were locked in a "battle of wits" with German POWs in WWII -- it's a little too convenient that the war that is looked upon as indicative of the way we really fight wars is one in which we were fighting against other white people. (And even then, we still firebombed an entire city indiscriminately, for example.) Try asking the Vietnamese about the supposedly upright American national character. Ask the Koreans how good a deal they got from America. Ask the Latin Americans tortured by military rulers we trained.
It doesn't even have to be foreigners or minorities, though. Just walk into any public school and note how the vulnerable and the outcasts are treated by their peers. Take a look around at the petty cruelty that infects nearly every aspect of our public life -- for instance, the nickle-and-diming of the poor, motivated by a deep horror that they will somehow abuse their pittance. Look at how many recent elections have featured the scapegoating of homosexuals or immigrants as major themes.
The American national character is violent and cruel, and it always has been. It's the myth of the upstanding American national character that has allowed the Bush administration to get away with so much -- just think of Sen. Durbin's abject, tearful apology for comparing Americans to Soviet torturers, even though we were directly modeling our practices on the Soviets. We have to fight against the current practices of torture, but if we do so in the name of some preexisting innocence, we'll just leave the door open for more of the same.
Saturday, October 13, 2007
(3:06 PM) | Adam Kotsko:
The Holbo FactorThe panel went well this morning, as did various related social activities with John Holbo and Scott Eric Kaufman. Turns out Holbo is a pretty good guy, and though agreeing with him on matters related to philosophy and literary theory is still out of the question, I'm finding it hard to envision our future interactions being quite so hostile.
I would say more, but a "cone of silence" surrounded all the tables we sat around.
Friday, October 12, 2007
(4:56 PM) | Brad:
Football Blogging: The Week That Was & Is To ComeLast week, my football-loving heart was ripped out repeatedly. It started on Thursday, when Steve "I Can't Help But Love the Motherfucker" Spurrier put a hurting on my beloved UK Wildcats in the rain. Things got a little better when Stanford knocked off USC down in L.A., until I realized that would put Ohio State at number three in the country. And then I got depressed all over again. Please, Big 10 ... somebody, please beat this team. Knock them back to the den of mediocrity that the rest of you inhabit. (Oh, and who the hell are the two coaches who put OSU at #1 on their USA Today poll sheet? Over LSU, really? I had no idea they let meth addicts coach these days.)
There was nothing remarkable any of Sunday's games -- except for the fact that I was spectacularly wrong in all but one of last week's five picks. I can live with that. What I've yet to come to terms with is the Dallas-Buffalo game on Monday night. I have a very good friend who is a Bills fan, and over the years have developed a certain affection for the team (or, at the very least, their long-suffering fans). With each Romo interception, I felt a little more hope. And yet, the Bills simply could not score a touchdown and create any kind of lead that seemed at all safe. As the clock ticked, my sphincter tightened all the more. I became increasingly incoherent. Stammering to my wife, bellowing at the dog, typing in all caps to friends online. And then ... the moment I knew that Dallas would win. Buffalo was leading and driving, and they tried and failed running an inexplicable reverse .... on 3rd & 1. I shrieked, I cried, I spilled my cereal. It was like when you're playing Madden Football, and you unknowingly hit the button for the wrong play. At that point, I'd lost all faith in the Buffalo coaching staff actually to win the game. This lack of faith was confirmed when they had their rookie QB pass on 3rd & 8 just outside Dallas' 10-yard-line. Six minutes left ... a field goal puts you up eleven ... and you're throwing into the teeth of a jam-packed defense? Take the points, I blubbered, near the point of mental, physical, and spiritual exhaustion. And then, during the final play just before the game-winning fieldgoal as time expired: no pressure on Romo (in spite of the fact he'd been knocked around like Tina Turner all game), and their DBs playing so far away from line that you'd think they were parolled sexual predators playing a local peewee football team? If you're going to lose, lose playing defense! When all was over, I was a drunken mess -- bottles of beer collapsed at my feet, alongside my dignity and self-respect. My wife and dog, staring at me in a mixture of pity and indifference.
A friend asked me if the excitement of that game redeemed ESPN's coverage of Monday Night Football. My response: an unqualified absolutely not.
Considering I did so badly in my picks last week, I should at least try to redeem myself this week. Once again, I'll pick five games, and see how much worse I can get:
Cincinnati (-3) @ Kansas City: This Cincy team is bad. I know it. You know it. And, this is important, I think even they're starting to finally accept it. That's crucial for them to get any better. They've carried this whole embattled "we're better than everybody else on paper" line two seasons too long. It's done. They're bad. But ... I think Kansas City is worse.
Minnesota (+5) at Chicago: With most NFC games you can just flip a coin. I did here, and don't at all bad about the potential for an upset. No matter that Chicago will stack eleven people on the line and likely kill Adrian Peterson.
Philadelphia at NY Jets (+3.5): The Jets aren't a very good football team, but I still don't think they're as bad as their record indicates. They had the Giants beaten, were it not for Pennington doing his best Brett Favre impression. Anyway, when in doubt, until further notice, when it's two bad teams, I'm going to take the AFC team at home.
Tennessee (+2.5) at Tampa Bay: Nope. I'm not getting roped into picking a NFC South team at home. Not even against a Tennessee team that was one Albert Haynesworth smashed skull away from losing to Atlanta.
New England (-5.5) at Dallas: Two reasons for this. One, I've seen no reason to bet against New England. Two, I've seen no reason to have more faith in Romo than I do in Brady when it comes to a game as big as this. And three, I watched Buffalo dance through Dallas' linebackers for extra yards all game on Monday. If I saw that, so did NE's cameras.
(Extra pick: if Seattle can't beat New Orleans at home by more than a TD, they should be relegated to the CFL. I'm still pissed at this team for letting me down last week in Pittsburgh.)
(12:00 AM) | Adam Kotsko:
Friday Afternoon Confessional: Don't Blog AngryI confess that I am participating in a panel with blogging mega-stars John Holbo and Scott Eric Kaufman. I confess that in order to have this lofty privilege, I must wake up unrealistically early on a Saturday morning. I confess that waking up early hurts my soul -- there's a suffering involved for me that goes beyond the lost sleep.
I confess that I'm tempted to say something especially pissy about academic blogs in that panel presentation. This is because things at AUFS have reached such a degree of ridiculosity that I'm thinking of turning off comments for all my posts by default.
I confess that I have been a social butterfly the past couple weeks, and it's becoming exhausting. I confess that last night, I fell asleep on the 6 bus and then on the Brown Line as well, and in both cases I woke up at precisely the right time. I confess that one of my old reliable pairs of jeans now has a full-on hole in the ass. I confess that I lectured Tuesday morning because the prof was gone, and it seemed to go well.
I confess that I'm looking forward to reading Irigaray. I confess that I'm also looking forward to next week, when the theme will be "wrapping things up" on a couple projects.
Thursday, October 11, 2007
(12:02 PM) | Adam Kotsko:
Radiohead Open ThreadWhat do you think of the new album?
Wednesday, October 10, 2007
(12:14 PM) | Brad:
Midweek Jazz: The Herbie Nichols EditionAt long last, I have in my greedy little hands the three-disc boxset of Herbie Nichols' magnificent Complete Blue Note Recordings. It was all I was hoping for, and more. They've been on repeat since Sunday, and I've yet to come to grips with most of it.
Nichols is, without a doubt, in the pantheon of jazz pianists -- and the one that most people have never heard. What's more, and this is absolutely what is crucial, he is unlike ANY of his peers and contemporaries. None of the jagged edges that you find in Monk; not as explosive as Powell can be; nor as intellectual as Evans. Nichols lays out a welcome mat, pulls out a chair, and serves you dinner and dessert. He is the master of ceremonies & centerpiece to my next "I want to get high" night. He makes you feel as though you met him years ago, and can talk or be quiet with him as long as you like. And the stories he tells, you re-tell to friends as your own.
It's unfortunate he didn't live to see fame, and even now is mired mostly in just a cult following -- which I'm trying to perpetuate here. The compositions are absolutely original; the interplay between the drums [Blakey & Roach switch off duties] and the piano is nearly unparalleled. It is, for me, an admitted 1950's-era jazz fan, perfection.
"The Third World"
"It Didn't Happen"
"Nick at T's"
(11:36 AM) | Adam Kotsko:
The Office, series twoThis season is much better, on every level. The joke about playing 20 questions with the Queen? Leaving the handicapped woman in the stairwell? Priceless. I think it's much better now that David Brent actually faces some obstacles. Plus the love triangle element is nice. Overall: a triumph.
Tuesday, October 09, 2007
(12:01 PM) | Ben W:
Tuesday Hatred: UnunbiumI hate people who disagree with me about the difference between wit and jokes. I hate Locke. I hate that I lost a notebook in which I had IMPORANT INFOS written down. I hate tarnish. I hate knowing that people are right that I should learn how to dance and then commence to do so, and I knowing that, in spite of that knowledge, I will not do so. I hate that I left my phone charger in New York, and that I am poooor. I hate that I eat fairly unhealthily, and that I recently found myself thinking quite straightforwardly about brains in vats. (It was justified, I swear!) I hate how shitty this hatred is.
Monday, October 08, 2007
(10:59 AM) | Adam Kotsko:
Columbus DayToday is the day that we celebrate the first step in the process that led to mass death that depopulated an entire continent, as well as the infamous "Triangular Trade" that gave birth to the cruelest and most large-scale form of slavery the world has ever seen. Special credit goes to the abject filth of the European continent in the early modern period, which allowed our brave forebears to breed diseases the likes of which had never been seen, and to Spain, which inadvertantly shot itself in the foot by flooding the European market with cheap gold and thereby became a perpetual also-ran in world politics. Seldom have the vagaries of the human immune system, a virulently expansionist form of Christianity, and a misunderstanding of basic economic principles combined to create such uniformly destructive results for all involved.
Happy Columbus Day, everyone!
Sunday, October 07, 2007
(10:22 PM) | Adam Kotsko:
Stupid SpammersWhen Paypal "phishing," why don't they go out on a limb and just copy an authentic PayPal message, then replace the link with an address of their choosing? Would that not be more effective than their apparent strategy of hiring non-native English speakers to compose new messages from scratch?
(I suppose it's possible that they used to do that and spam filters caught on.)
(12:16 PM) | Adam Kotsko:
Book Recommendation, with Paranoid Reflections on EducationIf I had to pick one book to recommend to every English-speaking person who needs to write, it would be Understanding English Grammar, by Martha Kolln and Robert Funk. They have the novel approach of basing their description on the English language rather than imposing categories designed to describe Latin. It is my belief that working through this book would go a long way toward resolving the problems with punctuation and usage that plague the writing of, say, 90% of the educated population, because it allows the reader to understand how things actually fit together and how punctuation serves to (partially) map out those connections.
The fact that I am posting this has absolutely nothing to do with the fact that I just got through commenting on some writing assignments. But in all seriousness, I am considering recommending this book to every entry-level class I teach, for all of eternity -- and I am this close to saying that the "freshman comp" sequence should be structured around something like it in the first semester, followed by rhetoric in the second semester. Sadly (or actually: thankfully), I have abandoned the field of English and so will never have any say over such matters.
Paranoid Reflections: It really seems to me that after 16 years of education, one should be able to write competently and clearly. Hell, 12 years seems like an adequate amount of time to achieve such a basic goal. My mom often says that I should be more empathetic with people who have a hard time, thinking of my own difficulties in gym class and imagining if I felt that way about every other class -- but I daresay that if a primary goal of the curiculum were for me to be a competent baseball player, I could've managed such a feat after 12 years of concentrated labor. The fact that the school system is not consistently achieving the goal of producing competent writers indicates not so much that "our nation's schools are in crisis" as that their real goals lie elsewhere. For example, the goal of elementary school isn't primarily to teach the rudiments of the "three R's," but rather to teach children to sit still for an extended period of time.
Saturday, October 06, 2007
(4:23 PM) | Adam Kotsko:
The Office, series oneSince this is now a blog about TV, I must note that I find the original Office to be almost too harsh -- David Brent isn't so much "humorously oblivious" as "sociopathic." Even though the US version is essentially the same, the quiet despair Steve Carrell necessarily brings to all his roles makes the experience more bearable for me.
Friday, October 05, 2007
(8:25 AM) | Adam Kotsko:
Friday Afternoon Confessional: Stupid GoogleI confess that Google has been increasingly unreliable the past few days, leading me to question my strategy of relying on a single provider for basically everything I do on the internet.
I confess that I finished House season 1 last night and that I would probably go for his ex-girlfriend over Cameron, too.
I confess that I am embarrassed to have a (rather uninspiring) review in the same issue of Reviews in Religion and Theology that contains one of the single stupidest articles on Darwinism I have ever read.
Thursday, October 04, 2007
(3:04 PM) | Adam Kotsko:
Rooting for DobsonDr. Dobson's recent editorial is encouraging. Perhaps he will wind up being the world-historical counterbalance to Ralph Nader.
I wonder if the Republicans are starting to question the wisdom of basing so much of their electoral strategy on a constituency made up of crazy people. Obviously, the religious right's insanity has been their greatest asset thus far, but it's the kind of thing that could really backfire. I'll bet that a lot of billionaires are in a panic looking for tax shelters right now -- if the religious right sticks to its guns like Dobson predicts, we might end up with a regime that views taxes as a potential source of revenue for funding social programs and maintaining our nation's infrastructure, rather than as the genocide-level injustice they really are.
(11:17 AM) | Adam Kotsko:
Tantamount to TortureTo follow up on m. leblanc's post on the matter, I'd like to point out a common turn of phrase in stories about torture -- "tough interrogation techniques" that might "amount to" (or "be tantamount to") "illegal torture." Individual acts, innocent and wholesome in themselves, somehow incrementally build up to a level where, unfortunately, one might be tempted to use the word "torture" to describe what is going on. This has been a pervasive way of presenting the issue in virtually all the press coverage of torture -- I can't recall ever reading a story that didn't use this rhetoric.
A new twist is this news story, which reveals that our good old American torturers actually conceive of the situation exactly like that: they're using permitted techniques, and they're trying to clarify that combining them doesn't "amount to torture." The media coverage exactly mimics the torturers' own rationalizations.
Wednesday, October 03, 2007
(1:32 PM) | Brad:
Football BloggingAnother week of football has come and gone, and we're just days removed from the start of a new one, so I guess it is time for a new sports-related post.
Actually, we're only one day away from the epic UK-South Carolina game. I grew up in Lexington, Kentucky, and my dad works at the University of Kentucky, so go ahead and color me nostalgic if I have a soft spot for their historically inept football program. Sure, they've been to a few bowls in my lifetime, but really only deserved to be there in the two they won (in 1984 & 2007) and Bill Curry's team in '93 that barely lost to Clemson in the Peach Bowl. [I was around for their 1976 Peach Bowl win over North Carolina, as well as their 10-1 season in 1977, but was too young to care.] The two in the late-90s, the infamous Hal Mumme era, were smoke-and-mirror affairs that all but killed my affection for the team in a way that watching the great Freddie Maggard throw up a lame-duck 20-yard hail mary never could. So, yeah, I'm pretty excited about this year's team. I don't at all believe they're one of the ten best teams in the country, but I certainly welcome being proven wrong. Beating the gloriously smarmy Steve Spurrier in Columbia would be a positive first step to doing so.
Ah, but this space isn't for the amateur ranks of college football. (Though, really, it's been a great season so far. Did you see that Cal-Oregon game? One of the best second halfs of football I've seen in a while.) No, we reserve this space for the egomaniacal ranks of the NFL. I've not yet established a format for these posts. Maybe by Week 10 I will have hit on something that works. Anyway. This week, some thoughts on a few of the key games ... and, as always, we welcome your comments decrying my idiocy.
Carolina @ New Orleans (-3): The Saints are going to get their first win here, and might even cover the spread in the process. I supported David Carr during his disastrous tenure in Houston. I kept insisting it was the team and personnel, not him alone. We'll figure it out this year for sure. With Delhomme's career in jeopardy, Carolina has the unfortunate position of being the team that hosts the dying days of two QBs. If New Orleans can't get their act together, after a buy, and while facing a John Fox team that has never figured out how to use a backup QB (see, as evidence, his attempt to turn Wenke into a gunslinger last year), then they may want to tear down the levee and start over again.
Seattle (+6) @Pittsburgh: I said as recently as Monday that I think that Pittsburgh destroys Seattle in this game. But the more I think about it, the more I'm not sure. This isn't due to my dislike of Pittsburgh, although I know it's going to look that way to Cynic Librarian. In fact, my dirty secret while living in Cincinnati was that I kind of like them. Great defense. Pounding running game. Wonderful fans. What's was their to dislike? I just have a feeling about this Seattle team. I watched them last week against the 49ers, and they have the tools to get their shit together. The defense isn't bad. The offense's timing seems to be coming together. Engram is healthy this year, and I think he & Branch should put the fear of god in most NFC teams. They won't completely overwhelm teams. But, I see them quietly generating a 11-5 record, walking away with the NFC West, and meeting Dallas in January. All this is to say, I think they match up pretty favorably with Pittsburgh. I don't think they'll win it, but it's going to be a dogfight. (Too bad Joey Porter isn't around anymore.) Six points is just too much for Pittsburgh to be giving here.
Detroit (+3.5) @ Washington: How incredible is it that Detroit is 0-20 in road games against Washington? This dates back to 1939! It comes to an end this week. Washington's most quality win is against a bad Philly team, which, admittedly, spanked Detroit. But, nothing about Detroit's season will make sense when all is said and done. Washington's defense is good, but I've more faith in God curing Kitna of another concussion than I do in this Redskin offense.
Tampa Bay @ Indianapolis (-10.5): Is Marvin playing in this game? Does it matter? The Colts know they have to keep winning if they have any shot at homefield advantage. They won't look past the Bucs. The only thing I'm a little leery about is the thought of the Colts giving up this many points to a team with a halfway decent pass defense. But, it's at home, and the Bucs haven't faced a quality team since they got pounded by two TDs in Week One against a Seattle team that looked in disarray. Pittman doesn't inspire me at all, no matter what all the fantasy gurus are saying this week. I dropped Indy's defense in my fantasy league, out of a desperate need to fill in the holes caused by the bye, and I'm kind of regretting it right now. I think they could come up big. Jeff Garcia won't be able to scramble around for first downs and TDs against an Indy defense that's sure to smell blood now that Petitgout is out. I smell a fumble or TD returned for a TD. What was I thinking in keeping Chicago's defense?
Chicago @ Green Bay (-3): Here's why I kept the Bears. They're banged up on defense, yes. Their offense has continually, and will continue, to put the defense in binds. I know all this. And yet, it's Favre. I have to think he is due for an interception meltdown game. And, as shown in last week's game against Detroit, the Bears defense can give up points, and I can still come out a winner. I'm hoping this will happen this week. I'm going to be watching baseball, though. The man-love of Madden for Favre and Brady is gayer than four guys blowing three guys. It's too much love in one booth. I can't deal with it.
Tuesday, October 02, 2007
(8:18 PM) | Adam Kotsko:
Traffic BoostingAs many of you know, this blog is no longer in its prime. Traffic has remained stagnant for the last few years, barely keeping pace with inflation. For those still doing that one blog stock market thing that was big a couple years ago and whose workings I never fully understood, The Weblog is truly the US Savings Bond of blogs.
Thankfully, I have developed a solution: a gimmick so inventive, so compelling, and ultimately, so deeply true that it speaks to the most profound facets of the human condition.
I am speaking, of course, of using this blog as an ad hoc online dating profile. That's right -- I am trying to find a "partner in crime." Being, at this late date, "tired of the drama," I want someone who shares my deep passion for "music and travel." Never one to fail to "carpere diem," I hope for a woman who has come to terms with the fact that "well-behaved women seldom make history."
So, my many female Chicago readers, e-mail me and we shall "explore the city together." If you just moved to the city and want to "take advantage of what the city has to offer," I'm your man! Lurker, regular commenter, visitor following the inevitable Unfogged link -- no reasonable offers will be refused.
We can go to a "dive bar," though I assure you -- I also know how to be classy when the occasion demands. I promise that I "don't take myself too seriously." I have "passion," but I also "know how to have fun." All of the paradoxical qualities you seek are united in one man: me.
That's right: me, Adam Kotsko, well-known blogger and burgeoning sex symbol. You could get in on the ground floor. Think of it! What do you have to lose? As a reader of this blog, you already know a lot about me, and going on a date would give you access to Exclusive Non-Blog Content. What does my voice sound like? What are my nervous tics? Do I ever wear anything other than plaid button-down shirts? What brand of cologne do I wear? What do I look like live and in 3-D?!
This is one of those rare occasions when the planets align just right, allowing the blogosphere and the biosphere -- all too fleetingly -- to touch. Don't let it pass you by.
(6:58 AM) | Anthony Paul Smith:
Tuesday Hatred: FattiesSo, I don't have a lot of hate this week, but I do hate that I gained 10 lbs. due to inactivity during my dissertation (MA thesis) write-up. I hate that a friend of mine told me that a gay bar he went to recently played the entire The Who catalogue and that I wanted to go, but decided against it because I couldn't take to be not hit on at a gay bar. I hate that getting back into shape is never fun. I hate how socially uncomfortable gyms are and that I can only really go if another nerdy type goes along with me. I hate excercise clothes.
You can go love too, but, eh.... why get off the couch.
Monday, October 01, 2007
(5:49 PM) | Adam Kotsko:
Reflections on NetflixThis morning I watched Fellini's classic meta-movie 8 1/2. Saturday evening it was Children of Men. Of course, House remains an ongoing project -- when I have a disc at home, which is nearly always, I'll watch episodes at odd hours when I believe I "deserve a break," or else when I feel like I need to ease into what I have to do.
In the weeks since I started getting Netflix, I have decisively broken a rule that I didn't even realize I had made: no TV before 6pm. Who is this person putting in a movie at 8:30 in the morning? I wasn't even a "movie guy" before, really. Now I am faced with an imposing list of foreign and independent films. Also The Office (UK) and Freaks and Geeks. I'm considering The Sopranos as well.
Netflix has become a potential "task," alongside taking out the garbage or running the dishwasher. I must watch them and get them out the door! Think of the scorn we all instinctively reserve for those poor souls who hold onto the same DVD for months at a time. What failures they are, going out with friends, etc., when they should be watching movies! Or telling themselves, "okay, one more episode."
They must be making a ton of money. It's clear that the percentage of those who are "getting their money's worth" on Netflix comes out to be roughly equivalent to the percentage of New Yorker subscribers who are reading more than one article per issue. There is a handful of long-term enthusiasts, a steady influx of first-timers who are initially entranced, and then a much larger group whose fees amount to a tribute to a really good idea.
Or maybe I'm wrong. You walk down the street and see a whole lot of blue-tinted windows. How better to spend an evening than by looking at a screen? They must be watching something, and I certainly hope, for their sakes, that it's not the cable news.
I sometimes accidentally watch a few minutes of the local news, and it's almost never helpful to my personal development. But the experience of Netflix itself, on the formal level, is a kind of moral homily: an introduction to the concept of responsibility. You open up the mailbox, and no matter what, you have to say: I did this. Yet from another angle, Netflix is the "cunning of reason," the inherent undermining of teleology. It's entirely planned out, entirely self-selected -- but there's only so far planning can take you, only so much that can be scheduled, even -- were we to risk extending this principle -- in those rare situations in which the post office plays no role.