Monday, May 29, 2006

Ben Stein

"In many U.S. states, if you rob a convenience store with a gun and get $40, you go to prison for 20 years and you should. If you sell marijuana and are caught three times, you go to prison in some states for life -- even if no one was really injured. If you're a black kid who steals a bicycle, you go to jail in many places.

But what if you use cunning stock-option plays to unethically make hundreds of millions? Then, you get a Gulfstream Jet, ski chalets, and nine-figure bank accounts. "


"Users could download as many of the songs and films as they liked after paying a four lev ($2.50) monthly fee. Authorities estimate the damage to the entertainment industry at around $30 million." The rest is here.

I hate when they do this. They always "estimate" the damage to the music industry. Something tells me that when they do this they calculate it so it is as if everyone who downloaded the song would have purchased it if they were not able to download it. Pure bullshit. I imagine the actual amount of people who would have purchased the CD but decided not to becuase they could download it is ridiculously low.

Saturday, May 27, 2006

Treading Air

A lot of my favorite books are the kind that span two generations. By the end of the book, you feel as though the events that occurred in the beginning are as distant as your own earliest memories. The span of time that goes from pre to post-soviet rule in Estonia provides a great setting for this kind of story because of the contrast of those years.

This book describes the German and then subsequent Soviet take over of Estonia well. The main character is in the midst of many of these events and historical personalities. The book is written about, and around Estonian history, but that does not detract from the universal aspects of the story – such as all of the things that can conspire to thwart potential ranging from asshole family members to geopolitical events. At the same time though, the characters do not seem to be in the position to dwell on their fate. That probably would have ruined the story. A lesser writer probably would have driven the point home ad nauseum. The further away from the black and white take on reality the closer you get to literature.


“He was dosing off on Charlotte’s couch, when the thought had suddenly struck him: God could simply be playing a trick on me! He could exist after all – but will refrain from punishing me for my theft and lies until I am no longer able to associate the punishment with my deeds!
I asked: “And how did you get out of that one?”
He said: “On that occasion – simply by forgetting.”
p. 27

Instead of offering them oral and financial support, which he undoubtedly could have afforded, Uncle Joonas announced (and there were always ears to hear, and mouths to discuss such information) that his sister in law and her son were themselves to blame for their misfortune, well, not chiefly to blame, but certainly in part. But he, Dr. Berends, was said to treat them on the same premise as he did his patients. He would not treat alcoholics since they were largely to blame for their own misfortune.

p. 106

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Law School

First year is finished.


Keep gas prices high.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Fuck Your Goji Berries Lady!

There is a health food store down the street from me that drives me nuts. First, they charge at least double what is charged in Whole Foods (already an expensive store) and sometimes 3 to 4 times more than Trader Joe’s. However, the thing that really ticks me off is all of the bullshit claims that the store owner and the product packaging make. They sell these “Goji” berries like crack. They are all over the store. From what I have read, they do seem to be a nutritional food, but of course, just because they come from China (if they were in fact grown there), the packaging is filled with additional claims like “helps chi” and all kinds of other shit.
The thing that really irks me about it is that the only reason those claims are made is because the product is allegedly grown in China. Some health food establishments really buy into (and more importantly sell) this notion that just because something is Asian it is “mystical.” Just imagine if the common lemon was only grown in Malaysia, I’m sure all of these stores would be carrying “Malaysian” Lemons and making all kinds of claims about how they “help your chi,” and “help you shit faster.” The woman who owns the store is probably filthy rich but doesn’t consider herself so because she wears faux Indian outfits instead of lipstick and a business suit.
I want to open an electronics store that does the same thing. “This Sony Television is made in the Himalayas by monks, it will increase your chi and allow you to live to 140 years old.”

What ever happened to Grain?


Good Article about kids using agencies to get in to schools (as the plagarist did)

New York Metro

"The schadenfreude also has a righteous tint: Just as the Duke-lacrosse-team case confirms ugly stereotypes about privileged white jocks, Kaavya Viswanathan, the only child of a brain surgeon and gynecologist, confirms the invidious stereotype of privileged meritocrats gone wild. She is a flagrant example of the hard-charging freaks that our culture grooms and prods so many of its best and brightest children to become, a case study in one sociopathology of the adolescent overclass."

Pravda is a really shitty paper, and this is a shitty article, but I liked one paragraph:

"Reflecting upon Modernity, one is compelled to consider the centuries of European monasticism, which produced so much of Europe’s intellectual heritage. Yet one marvels today at the contempt with which contemporary American society holds the monks of centuries past. Asceticism and celibacy are ridiculed by Americans. "

Monday, May 08, 2006

John Selden

Picked up a random book of Seventeeth Century Prose from the library (it was laying outside the front door).

John Seldon:

1. Of all actions of a man's life his marriage does least concern other people, yet of all actions of our life 'tis most meddled with by other people.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006


"Announcing the TMN “Sloppy Seconds With Opal Mehta” Contest, where you, as “writer,” plagiarize as much as you want, for a sort-of original story. Start cribbing now—the entry deadline is in two weeks!"