Sunday, June 18, 2006

My World Cup Biases

This will be promptly ignored by anyone with a bit of sense, but considering how much of my time it has been taking up lately; I need to talk about the World Cup.

To paraphrase John Hodgman on the Daily Show, the World Cup gives the world a way to revisit old nationalistic rivalries, a metaphor for war. He then pointed out that the United States doesn’t need a metaphor for war because we actually have wars without bothering with the metaphor.

Indeed, a lot of print and effort by all sorts has gone into discussing why the United States doesn’t care that much about soccer or even the World Cup, including an interesting piece by Dave Eggers. Whether or not the majority of America cares, I am hooked, and like Hodgman and Simon Black, author of a socialist analysis of the World Cup, I’m hooked on the geo-political rivalries.

So, what follows is an analysis of the groups, the schedule, who I want to win, and why.

Group A
Ecuador and Germany are already going to advance with two wins each. I would have preferred Poland or Costa Rica to Germany, but it is the German’s home turf. Interesting fact: Poland has never beaten Germany in World Cup Soccer. That’s fucked up.

Group B
England’s already got it sewn up, but I want Trinidad and Tobago to advance. Why? I like for former colonies to win, and when possible, to beat there former colonial rulers. At various times, the islands were controlled by the Spanish, Dutch, and French before obtaining independence from the English in 1962. There is nothing more enjoyable for me than seeing the arrogance of Imperial European soccer punctured by the post-colonial world. Now, Trinidad and Tobago lost to England, but that’s OK, because they still have a chance to advance to the next round. Here is what has to happen: They have to beat Paraguay and England has to beat Sweden. The way the point system works, this will force a tie for second place between Sweden and T&T, which will be determined by point differential. Currently Sweden leads with 1 while T&T has -2. So, for T&T to advance, their win and Sweden’s loss must be more than marginal.

Group C
Argentina and the Netherlands are already set for this, and it’s heartbreaking. The Ivory Coast was in this group, and you’ve seen the commercials: This was their first appearance in the World Cup ever, and it brought peace to the civil war. This was the perfect story, and it’s a damn shame to have to bow so early. At least Argentina is moving on, but that’s barely consolation.

Group D
This group tears me up. Portugal is a lock and the other tree teams are Mexico, Iran, and Angola. North American loyalties make me want Mexico to win, and any non-religious influence in Iran, especially one as gloriously populist as soccer is something worth cheering about. Angola of course, got to face their colonial rulers, Portugal in a match that ended with Portugal winning 1-0. However, the chance for a rematch remains. Angola can advance if they beat Iran and Portugal beats Mexico, and Angola manages to make up the three goal differential that separates them from Mexico.

Group E
This is the United States group. Italy leads, and the Czech Republic and Ghana are tied, with the U.S. in dead last. I could say that I’m a secret patriot, that the United States is the first post-colonial nation (as odd as that seems, it has a grain of truth), that it’s a good team that doesn’t get respect, or any other reason. None of it matters or would be believed: I am an American, and I want America to advance. Here’s what needs to happen: We need to beat Ghana. If Italy wins against the Czech Republic, we advance. If the Czechs win, we need to beat Ghana by a lot, or Italy needs to lose by a lot. There is a five goal differential, and so to ensure a win (because I don’t know what happens when there is merely a tie in goal differentials) we would need to win by three and the Czechs need to win by three (or any other combination that adds up to six). So basically, what I am saying is that we need Italy to win.

Group F
This group has Australia, Croatia, Japan, and Brazil. I want Brazil to advance (and eventually play Portugal?), but I have a feeling they will. For years and years, Brazil has been the best thing in the World Cup. Not just because they win, but because they always win with the coolest looking moves. As for the other team, with spots up for grabs, I’m thinking Croatia. Maybe I’m spending too much time in the Russian department, but I’m sympathetic towards the Slavs. So yeah, Brazil and Croatia.

Group G
Togo and South Korea. Togo is one of those colonies that got traded around by all the big boys in Europe, so naturally I am cheering for them. Also, they are in the same group in France, and now they have the opportunity to pull off the first defeat of a European power by a former colony in the tournament on June 23 when play against them. I picked South Korea because the World Cup should include East Asia and I already voted against Japan. Also Switzerland? No interesting geo-political rivalries can be explored by a team from a country so devoted to neutrality. That’ll teach ‘em to not take sides!

Group H
So I’m obviously going to pick Tunisia because they were colonized, but for the second pick I have to go with Ukraine. First, there’s the Slav thing. Now, obviously, I’m not going to support Spain after all my whining about Europe, so that leaves the Ukraine and Saudi Arabia. A case could be made for Saudi Arabia, but I just can’t make myself cheer for them. Sorry. So I will be cheering for Ukraine, who is technically the last place team in the tournament after their 0-4 loss to Spain. Go underdogs.

So there it is. In excruciating detail. I know no one else cares, but I just needed to get this out of my system.
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Monday, June 12, 2006

Fucking Hipsters and More About Boobs

Previously I have ever-so-subtly implied that media critics (particularly those writing about music) seem to be locked in a death grip of mutual masturbation with the most loathsome of creatures, the hipster. Too often hipsterdom is painted as a magical utopia smart, friendly, well-dressed, ultra-rad people are always helping each other out; recommending music, books, and movies with good-natured pluck.

Enter Rob Horning, PopMatters columnist, and author of a brilliant piece, which humbly attempts to call bullshit on this fantasy. It’s refreshing, humorous, and really goddamn resonant.

Excerpt: “In other words, the underground empire is designed to produce cliquish hipsters who finance the entire quasi-countercultural enterprise not from a sense of patronage or taste, but from insecurity over being just like everyone else.”

Right fucking on.

This is of course, just another example of the generally great coverage on PopMatters. First, they cover comics, videogames, and television, which means automatic points. It tends to be smart and earnest. Sometimes it tends toward the pretentious, like Friday’s column: Variations on a Theme: The Devil's Music: Franz Liszt's Musical Representation of Mephistopheles. However, I think we can give a pass on this: Is there any way to talk about a Liszt composition adapted from the Faust legend that isn’t pretentious?

PopMatters covers the full spectrum though. One of the strangest things that I have ever read recently is an in-depth re-examination of the place of Chesty Morgan in the history of cinema. Chesty Morgan, as I learned was an actress in a number of exploitation flicks whose fame seems to be solely derived from having breasts that measure 77FF. Yeah, I know. Anyway, the article goes over her entire body of work and is just as bizarre and surreal as anything Borges ever wrote. Also, for fun you can count the synonyms that the author uses for tits.
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Sunday, June 11, 2006

Updates in Television

I should probably preface this by trying to convince you that I do things other than watch television and surf the Internet. I honestly read. I promise, I know you don’t believe me, but I have a big stack of books that I’m reading. Some of them even have literary merit (whatever that is). I know you don’t believe me, but it’s true.

Now on to television.

Okay, so we need to talk, Girls Gone Wild. No, I don’t think you are morally reprehensible or even that tasteless. Drunk girls showing their tits: Okay, whatever, fine. Your new commercials really concern me though. Why? Because it seems that we have run out of places where girls can flash their goodies. The latest commercials feature girls revealing their boobage while skydiving and also on one of those high-altitude planes that they use to simulate no gravity environments. If you are not aware of the phrase “jumping the shark,” Girls Gone Wild, than perhaps you should look it up. Have we really run out of places for chicks to lift their tops? Is your audience really just getting bored of bars? Was there a meeting? Were there memos? “I tell you what, Phil, bars are the past. We are talking jugs in the upper atmosphere! The future, baby! Picture a fetching young broad showing her bazoombas. Now picture her in freefall several thousand feet above the earth. Even hotter, am I right?” I sincerely fear that there are meetings, taking place right now, with Eastern European space agencies (maybe in Kazakhstan) where they are trying to arrange to send girls to outer space for the express purpose of taking of their clothes. What is the world of ultra-soft exhibitionist reality skin DVDs coming to?

In other commercial news: Messing With Bigfoot is great. It’s a series of beefjerky ads. Simple, ridiculous, elegant. Maybe someone has them up on YouTube. Check ‘em out.

In terms of what’s definitely on YouTube, check out some of the latest Daily Show clips. My personal favorite is the clip that they made for the death of al-Zarqawi. Some people feel that the crowing over his death by the administration and the media has been tacky and tasteless. I’m going to have to disagree: If he repeatedly made videos of beheading innocents (a practice that even the rest of al-Qaeda thought was over the top (al-Qaeda thought it was over the top?!)), it’s only fair the he gets sent up by the Daily Show in the style of that which is most American: a goodbye montage set to Daniel Powter’s “Bad Day” ala American Idol.

Also recommended: Jon Stewart’s interview with Bill Bennett.

Also, Rescue Me is still fucking good. Second episode as good or better than the first. FX at 10 on Tuesdays, be there or Uma Thurman will draw a rectangle in the air to complete the phrase in a strangely inaccurate matter.

Oh, one more thing I love: Gnarls Barkley at the MTV Movie Awards. Say what you will about Gnarls Barkley and MTV, but a performance in full Star Wars attire is top notch. If you disagree, I might have to fight you.
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Thursday, June 08, 2006

Admittedly, A Bit of A Hodge-Podge

I don’t know if people like it better or worse when I just list a bunch of interesting things with links to other places rather than a lengthier, focused, and unified entry. For some reason, I feel like these are cheating, but my hunch is no-one really wants me to go in length about anything (Especially pseudo-statistics or “fuck”), and that the shorter entries are actually probably better.

In any event, today we have special trees, bloop, sci-fi/sf, and, of course “fuck”.

BoingBoing had a post on this originally, but the goods on this really come from the source of all things cool, Wikipedia. What am I talking about? The list of famous trees. For the most heart-breaking tree-based narrative in the world, you can read about Arbre du Ténéré. For a big tree with an unexpected former name, I would recommend General Sherman Tree. And for sheer oddity, I recommend the Tree That Owns Itself.

Bloop: What is it? A strange deep unidentified sound recorded by the Navy in 1997. What is it from? Something big and mysterious that lives in the deep.

There’s a Language Log post about replacement words for “fuck” in science fiction. However, the article touches on two things aside from this main topic which are worth mentioning. Apparently lots of sci-fi fans prefer for science fiction to be referred to as “sf.” The summary of the argument is encapsulated at the relevant Wikipedia page, however, I can’t let this pass without comment. One of the reasons listed in aforementioned Wikipedia entry is that sci-fi fans hate how the term has come to be used by the mainstream as a blanket including fantasy, horror, and other elements of nerdy fringe culture. This is ridiculous: is the complaint really that the damn trekkies are afraid the Dungeons and Dragon set is making “sci-fi” look dweebie?

Fuck that.

As a devoted D&D player throughout middle and high school and a present connoisseur of the rare delights of contemporary fantasy pulp fiction, I would like to point out that my friends and I would never have called ourselves sci-fi fans. Fantasy fans, by and large, look down upon sci-fi fiction as overblown, pseudo-scientific babble with the prose cleverly written in style of an average VCR instruction manual. I could try to explain our superior way of thought by laying out a finely articulated argument in which I compare sci-fi to modernism and contemporary fantasy to post-modernism, but I have a feeling that such an analogy would fizzle out somewhere around the obvious connections and contrasts with Tolkien, Derrida, and Borges. The sci-fi/fantasy rift aside, let me instead just say this: If even sci-fi fans don’t want to be called sci-fi fans, what does that reflect about the genre?


The other thing about the article is it mention Elliott using the word “frak” on Scrubs. It just made me suddenly realize how much of its own vocabulary the show has. I wonder if there is a list of Scrubsisms somewhere. Kelly Ripa, anyone?

And finally, on to the word I can’t write enough about: “fuck.” A law has just passed increasing the maximum fine for broadcasting indecency to $325,000 per incident. If the Internet were susceptible to such stringent guidelines, and if we were to only consider the word “fuck” and ignore variants and other indecency, my recent googling indicates that the FCC could potentially collect a cool $45,175,000,000,000 dollars from that single category of indecent speech. Okay, so that’s a ridiculous and far-fetched scenario. But, how about this: A network wants to show the classic film, Scarface. The FCC would be in its rights to collect $59,150,000 in fines for uses of the word “fuck” and variants alone. Counting all the examples of indecency in Scarface could results in fines in the hundreds of millions of dollars range. Am I wrong to say that hundreds of millions of dollars in fines is not a reasonable response to broadcasting Scarface?

Oh right, we have to protect the children. Well, fuck.
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Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Fuck, Mom, and Baseball: Wherein the Comma is Important

Brittany posted a comment to my entry concerning the recent legal article on fuck jurisprudence that cited a section of the article with an intriguing fact:

“One recent Internet search revealed that fuck "is a more commonly used word than mom, baseball, hot dogs, apple pie, and Chevrolet."”

The internal quotation bears a footnote directing the reader to “See Eric Vanatta, The F-Motion, 21 CONST. COMMENT. 285, 288-289 (2004) (noting fuck had 24.9 million hits compared to baseball, its closest competitor, with only 13.6 million hits)”

This is an interesting tidbit and claim, and I thought it might be fun to look into it. My guess is that if we look at the originating document we could probably find specifics about when this search took place, using what search engine, and the other details that were used to come up with this fact. Then, for kicks we could replicate it and see what’s changed, if anything. So here we go.

A small amount of research reveals that this apparently comes from a relatively famous (won 2003 Legal Document of the Year at Smoking Gun) motion to dismiss charges against a teenager who called his principal a “fucker” and a “fucking fag.” The basic gist of the motion is that “fuck” ain’t no big thang, and Eric Vanatta, the student’s public defender, goes about proving this in as many ways as possible. One of the ways he does this is by citing the number of hits he gets when he did an Internet search. The relevant part of the document reads like this:

“8. A search of internet web sites suggests Fuck is a more commonly used word than mom, baseball, hot dogs, apple pie, and Chevrolet. Google Search Engine at on June 25th, 2003.

9. Mr. [blacked out] is alleged to have spoken two different variations of the root word Fuck. The following table depicts the number of internet search engine hits for [blacked out] alleged “Fucker” and “Fucking” statements as compared to fuck itself and other commonly heard words or phrases. All results are approximate.

Word (Approximate number of hits)
Fuck (24,900,000)
Fucking (24,700,000)
Fucker (735,000)
Mom (9,040,000)
Baseball (13,600,000)
Hot Dogs (607,000)
Apple Pie (308,000)
Chevrolet (4,090,000)
Freedom of Speech (542,000)
First Amendment (933,000)
Unconstitutional (691,000)
Sticks and Stones May Break My Bones (7,360)”

You got to love how he sneaks these last four examples in there. The last entry in particular, the first part of a saying that ends “… but words may never hurt me,” is simply one of the most clever jabs I have ever seen in a legal document. But that’s, not my point, I want to focus on the Google hits.

I think that it is safe to assume that the hits results for the table in #9 were arrived at by doing a Google search on June 25th, 2003 as noted in #8. Also, although, nothing is specified I am going to assume that the searches were conducted by searching Google for the listed item as a phrase (in quotation marks). So now that we have a method, let’s run the phrases and see what happens when we search using Google, three years later.

Word (Approximate number of hits)
Fuck (139,000,000)
Fucking (109,000,000)
Fucker (18,400,000)
Mom (260,000,000)
Baseball (419,000,000)
Hot Dogs (14,200,000)
Apple Pie (8,270,000)
Chevrolet (81,400,000)
Freedom of Speech (24,100,000)
First Amendment (35,900,000)
Unconstitutional (23,000,000)
Sticks and Stones May Break My Bones (178,000)

Ok, so we have two big changes from the data collected in 2003. The first big change is that the original argument and quotation doesn’t stand. “Baseball” and “Mom” occur with much greater frequency than “Fuck.” “Baseball,” the most popular, has nearly 300 million more hits than “Fuck.”

Which brings us to the second big change, and perhaps the more interesting: there are a lot more hits for everything. Every single phrase got several times over the number of hits that they received in 2003. “Baseball,” on the high end, gets around thirty times as many hits as it did in 2003, while “fuck,” on the low end, gets around five times as many hits.

What caused this? Well, I know that the Internet is growing, but I didn’t really expect that it was growing so rapidly. Has Google gotten better at rounding up every site? Probably, but we still have a hard time accounting for the vast discrepancy in growth between hits for “fuck” and “baseball.” Has there been a massive boom in interest for baseball in the past three years (at least on the internet) while the interest in fuck has remained constant? I have no idea.

One idea for solving this, involves calculating a sort of base growth of Google’s reach by examining records for hits to functional words like “the,” “of,” and “an.” By comparing past and present hits for a number of these words we could come up with a base rate of increase for Google (since the functional nature of these words ensures that they only track an increase in general relative scope of Google), then zero that out from the increase we detected in other phrases to note abnormal or extra growth of a phrases occurrence within the tendrils of Google.

So if someone wants to do that, get on it. In the meantime, be content to know that “mom” and “baseball” have risen above the menace of “fuck” and its so-called progressive kin.
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Things About Which You Should Know Or That I Otherwise Recommend

I’m not feeling up to focusing on one thing for any set amount of time right now, so I refer to you the following array of items in various categories:

Television: I finally watched “Rescue Me.” I think it was the third season premiere. And I really dropped the ball on this one. It’s fucking great. I love Dennis Leary, but I thought that he would suck in a drama and that his comedy wouldn’t work within a narrative. The show works. It’s funny, interesting, and the drama is killer. I will be watching it this summer. It's on FX, tommorrow at ten (new episode).

Advertisements: The best ads on TV are the G4 ads for Midnight Spank. They mix cute, arbitrary, and terrifying while featuring a deer, a guinea pig, and a butterfly. You can see them here.

Books and Writing: I came upon this lengthy treatise the other day and it is worth a read. It is wholeheartedly depressing and soul crushing but should probably be required reading for aspiring writers or anyone who wants to work in publishing.

Music: In the category of things you should already be reading/listening to, WFMU’s excellent blog has a great article that does the liberty of compiling the best satanic music and video all in one place. Seriously. I, in particular, recommend Anton LaVey’s “Satan Takes a Holiday.” Yes that’s right, the founder of the Church of Satan has cut a couple albums… and they all sound like really lame circus music. If you want a particular kick, tune in to WXYC, contact the on-air DJ and ask them to play another track from that album, or, if they are feeling particularly generous, to read the liner notes to you: It turns out Anton LaVey has a great sense of humor or is otherwise more insane than I could have anticipated.

Nature: I got this little bit straight from Wikipedia and I couldn’t really explain it if I tried, so I will entice you with a direct quotation:

Mautam (a Mizo language term), is the name given to the mysterious cyclic ecological phenomenon that occurs every 48 years, in the Northeastern Indian state of Mizoram, which is thirty percent covered by wild bamboo forests. During this period, the Melocanna baccifera species of bamboo in the state flowers, which is invariably followed by a subsequent plague of giant bandicoot rats whose actions cause devastating famine.[1]. The most recent flowering began in May 2006, and efforts are underway to prevent a famine, by the state government and the Indian Army. In the past, famines caused by this phenomenon have played a significant part in shaping the region's political history.”

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Sunday, June 04, 2006


We all got it eventually. Whether we thought it was cool, were pressured by our friends, wanted to see who was in classes, or otherwise justified it, we all eventually did it. We sat down and logged on: We made Facebook profiles.

Everyone expects you to be interested in it initially, but what happens when the interest doesn’t fade? Facebook has a pull to it, and the best of us only get distracted, the worst of us get addicted.

I am no Facebook saint, and I freely admit this. My conscience is burdened with a number of Facebook-related sins. I am not proud of these. I beg that you not judge me too harshly for how awful I am.

1. I have read your Facebook profile. I’ve read it. If you listed a livejournal or a blog, I read it. Like for several months back. I know that that’s how most of you started reading this, so don’t even think about hating.

2. I am so bad at conversation that sometimes, in an effort to get people to like me, I will read your facebook or blog and then talk about something you love and pretend like I didn’t know you liked it and isn’t it cool that we have such common interests?

3. I have looked at all your pictures. I know what everyone was for Halloween and that stupid thing you did when you were drunk. What goes for blogs also goes for flickr and webshots.

4. I have avoided friending people or accepting friendship requests for the following, shallow “problems” in their profile:
a. Favorite books: “I don’t read.”
b. Favorite books: The Notebook, DaVinci Code, Angels and Demons
c. Favorite music: obscenely long list (Who are you trying to impress?).
d. Any Field: “and many more” or “etc” (see above)
e. Favorite music: “Everything but Rap, Metal, and Country” (This tag indicates white, middle to upper class people who suck almost without fail.)
f. Favorite music: “DMB!!!!” (see above)
g. Favorite movies: The Notebook, DaVinci Code,
h. Favorite music: Mars Volta, Coheed and Cambria
i. Wall: The Beautiful Truck.
j. Anywhere: “If you want to know then ask!” (If I wanted to ask I wouldn’t be stalking you over Facebook)
k. Favorite Music: No pop music included. (Liar or boring.)
l. Groups: “We Hate Facebook” or similar. (Liar or pretentious. Probably hates television and pop music)
m. Anywhere: Lists are alphabetized.
n. Favorite Books: No fiction.

5. Sometimes I delete a comma in a random section of my profile so that people who check my profile for changes get confused and frustrated because they can’t find out what I changed.

6. I really miss the Visualize Network feature that made the cool web-like graphic.

7. I get really defensive and angry at people who think MySpace is better than Facebook.

8. I get déjà vu all the time because I will recognize someone in the flesh and not know why until I remember that I had pored over their Facebook just the other night.

9. I check your Favorite Music against your page for discrepancies.

10. I think you look whore-y in your picture.

I feel cleansed. Feel free to share your Facebook confessions below. Make use of the “anonymous” tag as needed.
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Facebook Status Messages Continued

This is a dead blog. If you want to see what I'm doing these days, check out Esquivaliant!

For some freakishly inexplicable reason, my post on Facebook status messages is the number one Google hit for people searching for “facebook status” or similar variants. In fact, people looking for these things make up the vast majority of traffic that visits this little corner of the Internet. So I have decided to cater to this demand by revisiting the magic of Facebook Status Messages.

I’m not good at building suspense so here is the punch line: people are using the feature very differently than they were when the feature debuted.

In the first post, I noted that only half of all messages actually detailed the person’s actual status, while the others were either jokes or comments about the advent of the new feature.

Now, out of seventeen “Recent Status Updates,” sixteen actually detail status, while only one is a clear joke. There are no references within these status messages about the status feature, itself. It seems that people are actually using the feature.

Interesting to note, is that while clearly the example features tend to indicate that status means “what one is doing at this instant,” many people don’t use it that way. Seven of the seventeen updates detail living location as opposed to activity or activity location (i.e. “at the store”), which is perhaps used more since it requires less updating to be useful or accurate.

So what happened to people being funny and making fun of the new feature? I’m not sure, but have some ideas. First thing: I think Facebook automatically clears your status if it’s been a while. I’m not sure about this, but I feel like my status (admittedly, lame jokes most of the time) has vanished a couple times. The fixed reset after a given time seems to do a good job of clearing out the lame jokes.

As for the feature resentment issue, my guess is that people got over it. While the “A Status Box? Hey Facebook, CALM THE FUCK DOWN!” Facebook group at UNC has over forty members, and the more general “Mark Zuckerberg Needs To Calm The Fuck Down” group at UNC has over thirty, neither has had any message board postings in a month. Diagnosis: they got over it and learned to ignore it.

It seems that the backlash associated with the feature when it launched has pretty much evaporated. Personally, I don’t find the actual messages all that useful, but I do appreciate knowing if a person is currently logged in or if they are accessible via their phones. It seems a logical move to keep offering any new features for a service with such a broad base where the vast majority checks Facebook once a day and a significant minority spends an amount of time on Facebook that most statisticians refer to as “an assload”.

If you are curious here is my raw “data.”

Elizabeth is watching law and order, so good! (and ridiculous, she'll admit.).
Karthik is chillin.
Julianna is trying to catch a lizard.
Janna is at the apple store!
Rebecca is makin that money in Charlotte this weekend.
Sarah is FREE! And wandering around Oxford wondering what to do with life...
Karyn is back in Raleigh!
Jon is dreaming about cock.
Maleah is at home.
Amanda is listening to drunk Jed!
Tanner is at home, now, but much more tan.
Monica is playing with chemicals.
Queenie is in class.
Chuck is finally moved into his house.
Katie is Milwaukified.
Samantha is stuck in/doing phySUCKS.

Christina is in a box.
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Friday, June 02, 2006

Update on Various Things

What do you do when you feel like writing even less than usual?

Make a random list of links, connect them to something I've previously mentioned and call it a day!

Fuck is always of interest. Here is a Language Log guestpost about unsual Chinglish translations that use the word fuck in weirdly inappropriate situations.

Music writing is pretentious as noted here. Go here to see dead-on satire from the only music columnist worth reading on the Internet, Dr. David Thorpe.

Pulp Fiction week is over, but Slate still has the goods on cultural detritus. Here you can read about where to get some genuine, rare, brillant unreleased in the US DVD action. You want an all sign language vampire movie (it's called Deafula)? Tarantino's unreleased, unfinished first film? Shaw Studios genius? Slate has the goods.

Oh also, on the trendspotting, Blogpulse front: Language Log's Mark Liberman points out some really cool cyclical patterns in Internet posting.

And what IS the correct adjective for Foucault?

Will I ever post any original content anymore? The world may never know.
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Thursday, June 01, 2006

What Must Be Set Free?

I love me some “dirty” words and “filthy” language, so I am pleased to present you this seventy eight page scholarly treatise by Christopher M. Fairman of the Ohio State University - Michael E. Moritz College of Law (brought to you via BoingBoing) .

The Center for Interdisciplinary Law and Policy Studies Working Paper Series No. 39 brings you Ohio State Public Law Working Paper No. 59 with one of the most compelling titles and subjects in the whole of jurisprudence.

The works name?


It’s a thorough overview of the word, with background on history, etymology, and social context. The paper is of course focused on the legal aspects and treatment of fuck. I am of course unqualified to say this, but it seems to me that he does a good job of seizing upon a linguistic understanding of the word (specifically the idea that there are two different words, each pronounced “fuck”) and using it to illuminate the legal predicaments in a new light. He does a great job of pointing out the history and inconsistency of “fuck jurisprudence” and ends on an exciting note with a beautiful closing line. If you still don’t want to read it (and you should (I enjoyed the footnotes, in particular), here is the abstract:

“This Article is as simple and provocative as its title suggests: it explores the legal implications of the word fuck. The intersection of the word fuck and the law is examined in four major areas: First Amendment, broadcast regulation, sexual harassment, and education. The legal implications from the use of fuck vary greatly with the context. To fully understand the legal power of fuck, the nonlegal sources of its power are tapped. Drawing upon the research of etymologists, linguists, lexicographers, psychoanalysts, and other social scientists, the visceral reaction to fuck can be explained by cultural taboo. Fuck is a taboo word. The taboo is so strong that it compels many to engage in self-censorship. This process of silence then enables small segments of the population to manipulate our rights under the guise of reflecting a greater community. Taboo is then institutionalized through law, yet at the same time is in tension with other identifiable legal rights. Understanding this relationship between law and taboo ultimately yields fuck jurisprudence.”
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