Friday, September 26, 2008

“I didn’t know you were Catholic”

This is some weird shit going down.
In the Roosevelt Room after the session, the Treasury secretary, Henry M. Paulson Jr., literally bent down on one knee as he pleaded with Nancy Pelosi, the House Speaker, not to “blow it up” by withdrawing her party’s support for the package over what Ms. Pelosi derided as a Republican betrayal.

“I didn’t know you were Catholic,” Ms. Pelosi said, a wry reference to Mr. Paulson’s kneeling, according to someone who observed the exchange. She went on: “It’s not me blowing this up, it’s the Republicans.”

Mr. Paulson sighed. “I know. I know.”

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Foreign Relations

(via BB)

Capitalism is The Worst Enemy of Humanity (Mostly)

On Wednesday, Evo Morales addressed the United Nations General Assembly. He denounced capitalism in no uncertain terms:
"What we are talking about is the fight between rich and poor, between socialism and capitalism," Bolivian President Evo Morales said late in the day. "This historic fight is being repeated now. There is an uprising against an economic model, a capitalistic system that is the worst enemy of humanity."

Meanwhile, perhaps his closest ally in South America (no, not Zapatero!), Hugo Chavez, "signed a series of energy co-operation deals with China." Chavez explained humbly, "While the world enters an energy crisis, we are investing." His next stop is Russia, with whom he "has signed arms contracts [...] worth more than $4bn."

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Much Clearer

Sasha Frere-Jones explains the credit crisis:
when I arrived at the bank this morning, I discovered that my account had been “compromised.” Apparently, someone at the bank who never had any business touching my money in the first place lent it to someone with no money of their own who promised to give my bank even more money that nobody ever really had. This process, surprisingly, made everyone involved nervous, so they closed down the banks—and “firms,” which are sort of like your company, I think?—and went out for Cinnabons, which I have to pay for. Nobody knows where my money is.

This also might be the explanation for something else, but it's all equally confusing, so why not just go with it?

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Dock Ellis

In 1970, Dock Ellis pitched a no-hitter for the Pittsburgh Pirates against the San Diego Padres. In 1984, he claimed that he was high on LSD during the game and hardly recalls it:
I can only remember bits and pieces of the game. I was psyched. I had a feeling of euphoria. I was zeroed in on the (catcher's) glove, but I didn't hit the glove too much. I remember hitting a couple of batters and the bases were loaded two or three times. The ball was small sometimes, the ball was large sometimes, sometimes I saw the catcher, sometimes I didn't. Sometimes I tried to stare the hitter down and throw while I was looking at him. I chewed my gum until it turned to powder. They say I had about three to four fielding chances. I remember diving out of the way of a ball I thought was a line drive. I jumped, but the ball wasn't hit hard and never reached me.

Barbara Manning and the SF Seals (awesome name, no?) wrote a song about the game, which, along with a cool drawing and some more information about Dock Ellis, can be found here.

(via a convoluted path too complicated to attribute, but here are the Wikipedia pages for Dock Ellis and Barbara Manning. Trippy picture via The Psychedelic Shakespeare Solution.)

what about a trunk?

The complete list of packaging options when sending an international package via FedEx:

Basket or Hamper
Shrink Wrapped
Tote Bin
Other Packaging

Ricky Gervais Inspires Scientists

No doubt inspired by repeated Ghost Town commercials, British scientists have decided to study near-death experiences. Rachel Stevenson of the Guardian reports:
Researchers are setting up shelves above patients' beds on which a number of pictures will be put that can only be seen from above the ground.

Patients will then be asked to recall any memories from the time of their cardiac arrest. If they can describe the pictures on the shelves, the scientists will have some proof of whether or not these out-of-body experiences are real, or just illusionary dreams.

The BBC has an article about the same story here.

Monday, September 22, 2008


In 1936 Walter Benjamin wrote the second version of what has become his most well-known essay, "The Work of Art in the Age of its Reproducibility" (some versions use "The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction"). In a footnote for a section considering how film alienates the actor from his own image by taking his image to another site "in front of the masses," Benjamin begins to apply this same idea to the politician. The "mode of exhibition" that film offers, he argues, affects politicians by replacing their traditional "public," the parliament, with the masses. The politician no longer knows exactly to whom he is speaking, and it could be an infinite number of people. He goes on:
This means that priority is given to presenting the politician before the recording equipment [...] Radio and film are changing not only the function of the professional actor, but, equally, the function of those who, like the politician, present themselves before the media. The direction of this change is the same for the film actor and the politician, regardless of their different tasks. It tends toward the exhibition of controllable, transferable skills under certain social conditions, just as sports first called for such exhibition under certain natural conditions. This results in a new form of selection--selection before an apparatus--from which the champion, the star, and the dictator emerge as victors.

(Walter Benjamin, "The Work of Art in the Age of its Reproducibility." p.128 Walter Benjamin: Selected Writings Vol. 3, 1935-1938. Cambridge, MA: Harvard UP, 2002.)