Ragged Claws

Tuesday, July 05, 2011

Two Quotes

(1) "I love how most of these comments create some sort of ridiculous scenario in where these people would need to have government involvement. Kid beer? Give me a break. People don't obey the law because it's the law. When laws outline common sense, there need not be a law. I don't know one freedom minded individual who would sell a kid beer."

-Commenter The Federal Crime, in a discussion of this Planet Money piece about putting libertarian ideals into practice.

(2) "I was such a child, and so little, that frequently when I went into the bar of a strange public-house for a glass of ale or porter, to moisten what I had had for dinner, they were afraid to give it me. I remember one hot evening I went into the bar of a public-house, and said to the landlord:

'What is your best-your very best ale a glass?' For it was a special occasion. I don't know what. It may have been my birth-day.

'Twopence-halfpenny,' says the landlord, 'is the price of the Genuine Stunning ale.'

'Then,' says I, producing the money, 'just draw me a glass of the Genuine Stunning, if you please, with a good head to it.'

The landlord looked at me in return over the bar, from head to foot, with a strange smile on his face; and instead of drawing the beer, looked round the screen and said something to his wife. She came out from behind it, with her work in her hand, and joined him in surveying me. Here we stand, all three, before me now. The landlord in his shirt sleeves, leaning against the bar window-frame; his wife looking over the little half-door; and I, in some confusion, looking up at them from outside the partition. They asked me a good many questions; as, what my name was, how old I was, where I lived, how I was employed, and how I came there. To all of which, that I might commit nobody, I invented, I am afraid, appropriate answers. They served me with the ale, though I suspect it was not the Genuine Stunning; and the landlord's wife, opening the little half-door of the bar, and bending down, gave me my money back, and gave me a kiss that was half admiring and half compassionate, but all womanly and good, I am sure.

I know I do not exaggerate, unconsciously and unintentionally, the scantiness of my resources or the difficulties of my life. I know that if a shilling were given me by Mr. Quinion at any time, I spent it in a dinner or a tea. I know that I worked, from morning until night, with common men and boys, a shabby child. I know that I lounged about the streets, insufficiently and unsatisfactorily fed. I know that, but for the mercy of God, I might easily have been, for any care that was taken of me, a little robber or a little vagabond."

-Charles Dickens, David Copperfield, page 116 of this edition. First published in 1850, the novel is often considered to be Dickens' most autobiographical work.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Today in Out-of-Context Sentence Theater

"And British monarchs have kept their right to dead whales washed ashore."

-Igor Kopytoff, "The Cultural Biography of Things: Commoditization as Process," in The Social Life of Things: Commodities in Cultural Perspective, ed. Arjun Appadurai (Cambridge and New York: Cambridge University Press, 1986).

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Overheard at a quizbowl tournament yesterday

Player 1: Wait, are you hypoglycemic or hyperglycemic?

Player 2: Hyperglycemic.

Player 1: Dude, maybe that soda wasn't such a good idea, then.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

The basics, vol. 2

See here for last year's results.

Search completions suggested by Google, June 19, 2010.


do you think you are
wants to be a millionaire (two variants)
is Clark Rockefeller
is the richest person in the world
vs. whom
what wear
went home on American Idol
invented the internet


does my name mean
is my IP address (two variants)
celebrity do I look like
to do when you're bored
not to wear
to do in San Francisco
is love
time is it
to expect when you're expecting


I look at you lyrics
is Easter (two variants)
is Mother's Day (two variants)
is Daylight Savings 2010
is Father's Day 2010
in Rome
is Passover 2010
are taxes due


the wild things are
is my refund
is Chuck Norris
does Justin Bieber live
is the love lyrics
the wild things are soundtrack
the sidewalk ends
are they now
the red fern grows


did I get married too
can't I own a Canadian
is a raven like a writing desk
is my poop green
is the sky blue
do dogs eat poop
did the chicken cross the road
did I get married
do cats purr
does Google say Topeka


to train your dragon
I met your mother
to tie a tie
to kiss
to lose weight fast
to get a girl to like you
many calories to lose weight
to make it in America
to get pregnant
to download Youtube videos

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Gravity normal, air returning, terror replaced by cautious optimism

I was fairly cynical about yesterday's primary election, what with the demon sheep, the ad campaigns in which Meg Whitman and Steve Poizner attacked each other for doing and believing entirely reasonable things (and hotly denied the vicious calumnies of their opponents - they'll have you know that they've never held any remotely reasonable position in their entire lives, thankyouverymuch), and propositions which were the usual mix of decent ideas, half-cocked schemes so crazy they just might work, and abominations unto Nuggan. The worst of the propositions was probably Prop 16, which was local power giant PG&E's attempt to pass a law making it harder for elected officials to threaten power company profits. PG&E poured a lot of money into a campaign in favor of the law, and underwrote ads which framed the issue as one of voters restraining reckless politicians "who want to go into the power business." (For some utterly inexplicable reason! That has nothing to do with profit-gouging rate hikes or poor service by incumbent power companies! Because they're politicians, and like to burn taxpayer money just to watch the pretty, pretty flames!*) By contrast, the opposition seemed to have almost no money, and no presence whatsoever on the airwaves. My prediction was that the proposition would pass, and the notion of a public interest distinct from private profits would be eroded in California that much more.

And yet, despite the absence of any well-funded campaign to counter it, Prop 16 (narrowly) lost last night. (As wu ming at Calitics points out, there's considerable overlap between the counties with PG&E service and the counties with "no" majorities on 16 - to know PG&E is, apparently, to want the option of escaping from PG&E.) Following California politics involves a lot of disappointment (and occasional, tooth-grinding rage), so it's always heartening when the system somehow manages to confound your worst expectations for it.

*Apologies to Meg Whitman and Steve Poizner for any offense conveyed by the suggestion that politicians usually choose to act in the interests of their constituents. I of course take Whitman and Poizner at their word that they are creatures of pure ideology, who could never, ever be influenced by considerations of practicality or good governance.

Friday, June 04, 2010

Lessons learned from a 2-year-old issue of Allure at the gym

1) Sexiness comes from self-confidence.
1a) And makeup.
1b) And an artfully tousled ponytail. The creation of which requires several
different hair products and electrical implements.
1c) And pheromones. Although maybe humans don't have these. Although William
Shatner says that they do. Or at least, he says that he does, and they explain
his sexual magnetism.
1d) And stilettos.
1e) And seriously, we mean it about the makeup.

2) Over the years, Charlize Theron has worn many different dresses.

3) High-waisted denim bikinis!

4) When booking a hotel room, savvy travelers will take the physical location of the hotel into account.

5) If you extract fat from one part of your body and inject it into another part, most of that fat will be reabsorbed within six months.

6) Ali Larter's whipped cream bikini in Varsity Blues was actually made of shaving cream.

7) Plutarch was unimpressed by Cleopatra's physical beauty, although he allowed that her personality was enticing.

8) To take good pictures of your friends, try to ensure that they remain within the frame of the shot.

9) There is a surprisingly wide amount of price variation among sunless tanning establishments.

10) The human face is a disgusting, pitted, mottled, lined, lumpy, sun-ravaged hellscape, which should be concealed with as many chemicals and minerals as physically possible.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

One of the many, many - oh, so many - things wrong with Transformers

If you're falling from a considerable height, and a giant robot "catches" you in its hand, you're still smashing into metal at a high velocity. The fact that the metal is hand-shaped doesn't actually make it safer to hit than the ground. Just saying.