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Thursday, August 30, 2007


Charming song lyric of the day (Bjork - The Modern Things):
All the modern things
Like cars and such
Have always existed
They've just been waiting in a mountain
For the right moment
Listening to the irritating noises
Of dinosaurs and people
Dabbling outside

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Housemate selected

I guess I never posted about the conclusion of our housemate search. Not like you were waiting on the edge of your seat, but I can report that Zachary will be joining Kate and I in the house. It's a good sign that he rides his bike to get around, and he works at the Federal Reserve, which makes us a 100% federal employee house (Kate being at NIH).

An appropriate epilogue to the small-world coincidences surrounding the housemate-seeking: Today at work, this guy Dan, who sits just down the hall, stopped by my desk to ask if I was the Teague he had emailed with about the house (he ended up staying in his current place). He's going to come by to play some ping pong once I get a table...
This Dept. of Homeland Security web ad is just begging to be used in a large number of "your mom" jokes...

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Miss South Carolina

Okay, this is a little too easy and kind of mean to post, but I couldn't resist. Dear lord...

(From the most-viewed list on YouTube)

Friday, August 24, 2007

The Underdog

Not to be lame and just post music clips, but I'm totally addicted to this song, "The Underdog," from Spoon's new album. The trumpet part is catchy as anything, and the song has that subtle sense of drama that Spoon does so well. As a bonus, the song also has a great (and impressive!) one-shot video.

And after a YouTube commenter said this, I couldn't help but notice myself: It sounds quite a bit like 1980s Billy Joel. Especially at 2:54 remaining (0:56 in), as Britt Daniel sings the line about "got no regard for the thing that you don't understand," it really reminds me of a Billy Joel song I can't quite place (it helps that his voice is similar to begin with):

I keep hearing great things about their new album, I really should pick it up...

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Art Brut

I'm a little late to this party, but it has come to my attention that Art Brut are a pretty good band. It's hard not to get sucked in by the idiosyncratic non-rockstar stage persona of Eddie Argos, the lead singer, which is on display in this live set [Quicktime].

Another interesting twist to the band: They have "franchises" -- other musicians who sign up to call themselves "Art Brut 35" or whatever (the original band is Art Brut 0) and get to play covers of their songs. The band doesn't charge; as Marketplace tells it, it's a punk rock thing. And as Marketplace also points out, it can be a form of guerilla marketing, though a pleasantly forthright and uncynical one.

(Also, is their drummer drumming standing up?)

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Puppy Saviors

A promo seen on weather.com:

Which is a pretty stupid question, of course. Puppies can save anything they want to.

Sunday, August 19, 2007


The Baltimore Sun gets credit for having the weirdest multimedia feature I've seen, allowing you to try different styles of moustache on celebrities like David Beckham and Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley. (It goes with this article on moustaches being in fashion in certain circles.)

Saturday, August 18, 2007

CARE Tells Agribusiness to Shove It

Erin was talking the other day (well, blogging, actually) about people in farm country trying to opt out of the existing deeply flawed agricultural system. When I posted a comment on her post, I talked about how hard it is to break out of the long-standing interest-group-driven political consensus, but that there might be some hope of change.

And this week in the NY Times, there was a sign of resistance: CARE, one of the biggest overseas aid charities, turned down $45 million in government food aid because the system is inefficient and, more crucially, undermines the very people they are trying to help.

In a nutshell: The US government buys agricultural commodities from US agribusinesses (a nice market subsidy), ships them to Africa (or wherever), turns them over to the aid organizations, who then sell the food on the local market to raise money to support their programs. Among the problems pointed out in the article: 1) More expensive for the government to buy stuff and ship it there than it is to just send money. 2) The aid organizations don't have expertise in the farm commodities market, and tend not to be able to get a good price for the food. 3) These organizations are trying to help people like small farmers, whose prices are undercut by cheap, subsidized crops being dumped on the local market.

So, only an idiot would design a food aid program this way. Unless you're with the farm lobby, and your self-interest helps you swallow all that cynicism. Of course, the article also points out that many other food aid organizations are critical of CARE's move, probably because they figure that having a powerful interest group on their side gets them enough additional support to make up for the inefficiency of the program. CARE has looked at the hidden costs of this tradeoff and decided that its subversion of their mission is too severe to be tolerated. Good for them -- such Faustian bargains not only stand in the way of effective policy, but collectively they also undermine public faith in the effectiveness of government, which is ultimately a huge drag on our political system.

(You might consider making a donation to CARE.)

Happy Blogiversary

I started this blog just a smidge more than two years ago. I'm mildly surprised, though not that surprised, that I'm still writing it. I've posted 273 times, which works out to a post every 3-4 days...

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Spoon and robot

A very friendly robot named Keepon was shown in a YouTube clip dancing to "I Turn My Camera On" by Spoon. It became a bit of a hit, logging more than a million views.

Now, a presumably grateful band has teamed up with Keepon's creators to do a video for "Don't You Evah," off their new album. It's really quite well-done, especially the end:

And Spoon are in DC in October!

Monday, August 13, 2007

Carleton World

This may not be interesting to anyone else, but I'm a little preoccupied with intersections like this right now: Aron, who I'm housesitting with right now, met Kat G., a friend of mine from Periscope at Carleton who I've not been in touch with, at a wedding a few weeks ago. We went to meet up with her tonight (on the Mall where they were showing Casablanca outside!), and it turns out she lives a couple blocks from where I'll be in Columbia Heights. Then, a woman wearing a Carleton shirt sat down in front of us, and it was Becky J., who I remember from Carleton. Also, at work last week, new hire Jeff moved into a cube down the hall...and he graduated from Carleton in '02.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Small Worlds (part 2)

Kate and I spent much of the day at the place in Columbia Heights meeting potential housemates, showing them the house, and trying to get a sense (from little tidbits of information and interaction) who would be the best housemate for us. We told people to let us know by tomorrow if they're interested, and then we'll make a decision within a day or so. So hopefully we'll be all set by the middle of this week. (I was there yesterday, too, and went to the farmer's market that's a short walk away...it was pretty nice, and combined with a nice doughnut from the bakery, I'm getting pretty psyched about moving in.)

Anyway, we were sitting on the porch today talking to potential female housemate A, when potential female housemate B comes up the steps; they look quizzically at each other for a second, and then B says something to the effect of "Hey, what are you doing here?" Turns out they're friends from high school, and were even scheduled to meet up for coffee later in the afternoon. A few minutes later, potential male housemate A has arrived, and I'm showing him and female B around the house, when Kate brings potential male housemate B inside. "Oh, hey, how's it going?" says male A to male B -- A had previously looked at the apartment that B is moving out of. I refer to a previous post to explain this.

This was capped by the fact that while I was loading the groceries onto my bike outside the Giant here in Bethesda this evening, I ran into another guy who had been by to look at the house today...

Square peg, round hole

Erin had posted about locally-driven efforts to find alternatives to industrial agriculture. Today in the NY Times, there's a reminder about how hard it is to get fundamental reform within the context of the existing system. It's about the rise of "cage-free" eggs, which even Burger King, of all companies, has recently pledged to move toward. Chickens in most egg-laying operations live in a cage "about the same area as a laptop computer" where they pretty much can't do anything except sit there and hope that if they lay enough eggs, someone will let them out of this damn cage. So no cages = good thing. But, here's the Times' picture of a well-respected cage-free operation:

Not exactly chicken heaven, and not what most people picture when they give a small self-congratulation in picking up cage-free eggs at the store. But, of course, the problem is that there is basically no way that the same industry structure that brings you zombie-chicken eggs can bring you eggs from chickens who get to live like we'd like them to be able to. And there is no way that Burger King can deliver 350 Enormous Omelet Sandwiches at each of its 7,600 US locations every morning made from eggs from farmyard-roaming chickens raised a few counties away. That whole system and business model speaks in terms of units per dollar, and nothing we currently have at our disposal can meaningfully reform it, so for the time being you're going to have to opt out entirely to make more than a marginal reduction in your impact.

Which is why the best option is to buy eggs from your boss Ted, who has a bunch of chickens behind his house out in the country...

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Songs of the Moment (An occasional feature)

> The Thermals - A Stare Like Yours [mp3]
> Ugly Casanova - Hotcha Girls [mp3]
> Ted Leo / Pharmacists - Where Have All the Rude Boys Gone? [YouTube]
> Supersystem - Miracle
> Spoon - Revenge! [mp3]
> Soul Coughing - The Idiot Kings
> Bjork - Innocence [mp3]

Friday, August 10, 2007


Lady in front of me in the checkout line at Safeway this evening:
  • box of Nilla Wafers
  • Dora the Explora fruit snacks
  • two bottles of Martinelli's Sparkling Cider

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Most likely to...

Last night I met up with a high school classmate, Elise, who I haven't seen in eight years -- I had found via Facebook that she just moved to Bethesda. It was cool to catch up after all this time; she's in town on a fellowship at NIH as part of her medical program.

It occurred to me that we had both been voted "Most Likely to Succeed" in high school. (In the accompanying yearbook photo, we improvised on the photographer's suggestion that we look like we were being competitive by having Elise hold me in a headlock.) I mentioned this, and her quite logical reaction was, "So, are we successful?" Which, for one, highlights the absurdity of the designation, since it strongly implies a narrow definition of success, but it also draws your attention to just how long it takes to settle into adult life these days, since I don't think most people our age feel comfortable answering that question, even given their own definition.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007


Kate and I are looking for someone to share the place in Columbia Heights with. Here are some stats on the 25 people who have responded in the 24 hours since I posted the craigslist ad:

Men: 11
Women: 14

People from France: 2

People from Texas: 2

Vegetarians: 3 (one vegan)

Best line: "I'm a former camp counselor (well, once a camp counselor, always a camp counselor) who likes old soul music and bad party rap...but I promise I will never play either too loudly!"

The emails sometimes read like personal ads, but that's what you get when you ask people to talk about themselves, and they are reasonably helpful on the whole. On Sunday we're trying to meet the 15 or so who sound like they might work...we've invited 9 of them to come at the same time -- we'll see how crazy that gets!

Monday, August 06, 2007

New Identity

Last week I went to the DC DMV for the second time to get my vehicular affairs in order. Despite the long wait, it wasn't actually that bad for those sorts of places. To get my car registered, I had to give up my Minnesota license (or "surrender" it, as the website put it). I was a little sad about it, partly because I still feel an affinity for Minnesota, and partly because my license photo was totally awesome:

When I got to the counter, the guy went through my documents, and upon inspecting the license, unceremoniously put it in a shredder that sat on the counter. Sigh...anyway, I've now got a shiny new DC license, and it's maybe a slight disappointment how respectable I look.