Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Anthology of Interest!

Or, Tit-Bits for the Verodobbsically inclined.

["Verodobbsical" is not a word, but 1) I find it hilarious and 2) using it on this page cruelly denies the good folks at Crooked Timber a Googlewhack. Mwa-ha!]

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I just purchased the new Sons and Daughters album on iTunes (preliminary assessment, three tracks in: I am annoying my downstairs neighbor with my stomping, and my across-the-way neighbors with my manic air-guitaring. Approval!) and on said iTunes page, there is this one-star review: "For the rest of us with good taste in music we'll head over to Three Days Grace and Linkin Park - Where REAL rock is formulated!" All [sics] originally [sicced], of course. But seriously. Linkin Park -- where real rock is formulated. I know this is too good to be anything but taking the piss, but had to share.

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Similarly, you might have noticed that on Monday, Pakistanian elections dealt a severe blow to Pervez Musharraf. Then this morning, Castro relinquished his grip on power. Pundits might expel much ink searching for the root causes of this bad week for tyranny (I have high hopes for Thursday!) but I feel the need to point out a simple fact: new Mountain Goats album.

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I very much enjoyed this NYT article on how amazed everybody was that an MTA employee correctly used a semicolon on a subway sign. The semicolon, as the trail of my writings well attest, is the punctuation mark most surrounded by flowery pink hearts in the Trapper Keeper of my mind. But this discussion of mild literacy of the subway put me in mind of what I pass every morning on my commute:

This is an art installation, currently in the Wilshire/Normandie Metro stop in LA, entitled "The Complete Works of Roland Barthes." It's a series of photos of people holding up (unattractive editions of) every one of Barthes' books in turn. The artist's blurb on the side says that "[e]ncountering images of people reading may trigger a reminder that reading might be a good idea." Also, "[t]hese Los Angeles artists, interacting with books, represent a cross-section of the City." I know I am not one to talk, but this strikes me as the most hilariously pretentious thing ever -- I am trying to estimate in the history of the LA subway system how many times anyone has read anything by Barthes while riding on it, and if that number is in the three digits I'll be surprised.

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I dunno whether you guys have seen this, but as best I can determine (and this is all quite tentative, since it's complicated enough I don't have a great grasp of things), McCain secured a loan for his campaign by putting up public financing as collateral -- that is, he took out a loan from a bank, and promised that if he couldn't repay it, he'd stay in the presidential race and request public funding (the system in which candidates can opt out of raising money from donors and get money from the gov't instead -- you have an option of checking a box in your taxes to fund this), then use that to pay back the loan. There are more complications -- he had public financing, then he didn't, then he was maybe thinking of getting back in. And because it is so wonky, there's no way the story will ever have any traction in the media or with the public. But it's sufficiently slimy that I'm wracking my brains for comparable examples of legal legerdemain that don't end in someone going to jail.

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