There are two types of people I like getting haircuts from. The first, and most preferable, is the grizzled old curmudgeon that's been giving haircuts since I was in grade school whose movements are a study in efficiency and who can do a proper flattop from a ragged mane of unkept hair in mere minutes. Regrettably, these sorts of barbers are getting more and more difficult to find. And sometimes if you do find a grizzled old curmudgeon, he's hung on just a bit two long and ends up giving you a flattop that looks like small cove of joshua trees sticking up out of the desert.
But failing that, I'm more than happy to my hair cut by a skillful woman with a soft touch. There's something about the cold metal of the scissors on the back of my neck that I find comforting.
I seem to have found the latter at the barber shop just downstairs and around the corner from the apartment. There is a slight communication barrier. Most of the stylists seem to be from southeast Asia. My first guess is Cambodia. But my ear isn't all that great at placing Asian accents. Regardless, there was something of a disconnect between the haircut I asked for and the haircut I received. It's not a bad haircut at all, just not the one I thought I was going to get. next time, I'll take a picture.
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Art history suggests mild revisions to the conventional view of womanhood in Ancient Greece in The Glory That Was Greece From a Female Perspective. Though, as usual, they take the Athenian experience and extrapolate it to all of Greece. I understand why so many in the field do that, but it's problematic. Athens was probably not the norm any more than Sparta was. Most of ancient Greece was small to medium sized city-states.
Wonderful? Sorry, George, It's a Pitiful, Dreadful Life contrasts the the traditional view of It's a Wonderful Life with both reality (in hindsight, Pottersville would have been much more viable over the long term as a resort town rather than a suburban manufacturing center) and from a suburbs as dystopic sensibility.
The Atlantic has a great interview with a Chinese financial wiz who offers some rather obvious advice, Be Nice to the Countries that Lend You Money. The interview has some really great insights, like the brain drain that's been happening in the finance sector:
Many of the brightest youngsters come to me and say, ``Okay, I want to go to the U.S. and get into business school, or law school.'' I say, ``Why? Why not science and engineering?'' They say, ``Look at some of my primary-school classmates. Their IQ is half of mine, but they’re in finance and now they’re making all this money.'' So you have all these clever people going into financial engineering, where they come up with all these complicated products to sell to people.Such a brain drain not only takes the best and the brightest away from other sectors but it also leads to the kind of abstract and complicated investment vehicles that no one really understands. When brain power is put to making money for the sake of making money, it shifts the basis of the economy from the real to the abstract. The whole interview really is chock full of pragmatic analysis of the current situation. Another good bit is, ``it’s not relevant to discuss how Americans `should' think. We should discuss how Americans might think.''
The NY Times explores the continuing influence of Thomas Merton in Trappist Monk's Mass Appeal. Merton was an interesting writer and certainly influential. A side of his influence not covered in the article is that I met an Eastern Orthodox monk that had at one point been Trappist. Certain of Merton's writing (and the way they were received) was part of the 1-2 punch that drove him away from the Church of Rome.
John Anderson argues that The only good Nazi on film is one that is ridiculous. After all, there was no heroism on the part of any the Nazi-era Germans.
The NYT magazine re-examines the literature that lead to the phrase A Culture of Poverty.
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``The Left'' is starting to chew Obama a new one over the issue of Rick Warren speaking at the inaugaration in Obama's Choice of Pastor Creates Furor. That article doesn't really capture the passion I've seen online. The dKos has an electric, visceral response, concluding with the assertion that everyone that disagrees is a bigot:
You call yourself a progressive and swear you're not a bigot? Well, if you're not with us, completely in support of our full and unconditional equality with straight citizens including marriage equality, then you're a progressive who's also a bigot -- even if your bigotry is a side-effect of your religion.By that metric, Obama and almost all other US politicians are bigots.
Civil gay marriage is something I support pretty much unconditionally for a number of reasons, chief of which is that I think it's an implied right in the US Constitution for anyone to pretty much define marriage as he or she sees fit so long as it involves consenting, human adults. Yet, I don't think calling the majority of the country bigoted is a very effective means of striving towards a political end. Every single state that has put an anti-gay marriage question on the ballot has seen it pass and in most cases, by a super majority. (In 2004, Ohio's passed by a 2/3 majority and Kentucky's passed by a 3/4 majority.) So far as I've seen, California's is the only one that was even close, before the California measure the narrowest margin was Oregon's where the proponents of the measure beat the opponents by almost 15%. And the ballot measures are growing increasingly broad. Ohio's measure, for example, prohibits not only gay marriage but also civil unions and the recognition of any form of same sex civil union by the state for any purpose.
From a purely political view, calling over half the country bigoted doesn't seem to me to be a very good method of moving forward one's agenda. Given that the US is quasi-democratic, one needs to win over those bigots instead of casting about pejoratives. But I'm also aghast at the intellectual narrow-mindedness that refuses to see the way that law and religion shared much of the same heritage for most of history. Not only were the oldest examples of laws religious in nature but certain elements of the legal code were adopted for religious reasons. Further, this shuts down the dialog in the same way that that right wingers do when they call their opponents traitors and un-American. Dialog becomes impossible under such circumstances.
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I clocked in at one pound overweight this morning. That makes me sad. Well, not really. One pound over the line isn't going to kill me. The general pattern for the past couple months has been my weight creeping up over the weekend and then falling back off as the week progresses. I suppose I could eliminate the weekend bump by running on the weekends as well. But enough is enough in my book. I don't think taking the weekends off will kill me.
And at least some of that new weight is muscle mass. This morning, save for the shoulder presses, I easily did three full circuits on the weight equipment. I'm stuck at half the reps for the shoulder presses. I expect that to change with time. The present short term goal is getting the reps on the shoulder presses even with everything else. After that will come increasing the reps by 10 all around. After that I might consider increasing weight but I may not. I'm not trying to end up looking like Charles Atlas. I just want to be in what I would consider to be reasonably healthy condition and not be fat.
Let me just say that running a mile outside when the thermometer reports the temperature as sixteen of God's own degrees is one of the few things I've done that makes me consider that it is not always to a man's advantage that he has outside plumbing. I should invest in a pair of sweatpants.
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It was bound to happen sooner or later. My eldest daughter finally figured out that she is able to read my `livejournal' here at HuSi. I've never actively attempted to hide it from her (or anyone for that matter). She's old enough that she can probably make some sense out of it. I think the things that I want to keep secret from her, I've used coded language well enough to put it just outside of the extent to which she can abstract. She's a very bright kid in quite a few ways. But she tends to think very concretely. For example, she's quite good at math is she's given a formula but she has a good deal of difficulty translating word problems into equations. Or when it comes to books, she likes books that have characters that she enjoys imagining herself as or interacting with. But she has trouble abstracting the themes, especially if the characters are unsympathetic in her eyes.
Usually this irritates me. But in this particular case, it may be a good thing. I have a full disclosure policy with both of my girls. But with some things, I don't intend to disclose the particulars until they reach a certain point of maturity.
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The weekend was very nice. There was more interaction than usual with some old friends, one of which is moving out of the area. It was nice to have folks over here and there to break up what is usually two days of housework and recovery from the week. I stayed up too late watching bad movies, which is always fun.
The highlight had to be Sunday. Aside from a visiting priest from Indonesia who put the typical American middle class lifestyle in a global perspective with a good deal of fist pounding on the lectern and shouting, there was also the annual nativity play. I've never seen a bumblebee at the manger before.
I started another batch of hard cider. This one, I'm going to let age longer than a month. Hard cider is easy to start up. The local Whole Foods has organic apple juice in very nice glass gallon jugs. I just bring one home, pour in the champagne yeast and put on an airlock. This time, though, I do intend to add more sugar after the first racking, and maybe after the second racking. The last batch was a bit too bitter for my liking. I also racked the white whine I started last week, although it looks more amber than white.
I should probably by a hydrometer so that I can measure the specific gravity before I start a batch rather than playing it ad hoc. I didn't want to buy a whole lot of equipment to start out with as I wasn't certain that this was something that I was going to keep up. Now that I've tried my hand at it and I think it's fun, it's time to look at buying a few of the things that I need to do it properly.
My wife took an online depression inventory. She scored in the seventies which puts her in the last category: 54 and up (Severely Depressed).
My spits and giggles, I took the same test and scored a 5 which puts me on the opposite end of the spectrum, ``not likely to be depressed.'' I bet if I would have taken it a year ago, the results would have been different. Two years ago, the results would have been more different still. And in 2002 or 2003, I'd probably have ranked right up there with my wife's score.
Well, maybe not. Still, those weren't great years for me.
Most of today and tomorrow will be spent getting ready for the holiday trip to Ohio. I think it's funny that the drive to Toledo from DC is shorter than the drive to Cincinnati. But such is the way the freeway runs. To get to Cincy, one has to drive about 60 to 70 miles north to catch the right east-west Interstate and then drive that same distance back south. Additionally, the interstates between here and there tend to make right angled turns. So despite, Cincy only being about 20 miles or so north of DC, the trip takes longer than the trip to Toledo which is closer to 200 miles north of DC. The freeways from DC to Toledo go in almost a straight line.
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