Monthly Archives: February 2007

Great moments in mankind, American edition

From my friend Chris' blog in Seattle:

For the past two weeks I — and every other male in my office who has a bladder — have been going to the bathroom and in the first urineral sits a dime in the water. It isn't too deep, probably going up to my watch if I stuck my hand in.

it got me to thinking. If I was considering it, I'm sure others were too. Just needed more incentive.

So starting last Monday I started dropping a dime in the urinal every day to see how many it takes for someone to either bring gloves from home to pick it up or stick their hand in and pick it up.

Many people I asked believed it would just be two or three days (four or five dimes). I thought it would be closer to seven or eight. [...]

Monday: I couldn't have placed the drop any more perfect. The original one was heads down in the middle. The second one fell just to the north, heads up, barely touching. Absolutely perfect.

Tuesday: My drop wasn't nearly as good, hitting the right side of the urinal, but ended up falling so it almost completely covered up the orignal dime — just a sliver of the orignal dime is showing on the left side. The third time fell heads up as well.

Wednesday: I couldn't tell if the dimes were at first glance. The person before me didn't flush, and after I did there were some bubbles that made it impossible to tell. Upon my second pee-pee, I could tell they were still there. And then I added the fourth one. Instead of a straight drop, I bent my wrist back and threw it in. Mission accomplished. Tails up. It is getting more difficult to tell how many are in there. Don't know if that helps or hurts….

But after three days, all four dimes remain.

[two weeks later]

$1.40 and counting …

at this point it just looks like the bottom of a wishing well. it is impossible to tell how much is in there, but people can tell it is probably at least a buck.

But here's the problem… I could really use a buck right now.

So here is my new proclamation: If/when the pile gets to $3, I am reaching my hand in there and getting it myself.

There's no more entries, so I assume Chris just broke down and rusted his watch grabbing his own dimes out of the Goddamn urinal.

I hella want to do this experiment, among other places, A) In Denmark and B) at a human rights organization. The NGOies would break down at the first glint of silver…

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Tomb much?

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Slav to the music

Ahhhh, the Great Musical Cockblock of '07 is finally over. For the fortunate audiophiles who don't live in a scoldy Nordic country, allow me to explain: Last October, almost all of the Internet service providers here in Denmark put a block on allofmp3.com, the generous, WTO-frustrating Internet music store that sells entire albums for the cost of a song on iTunes. Trying to access the site from a Danish computer gives you this message:

"Ved Københavns fogedrets kendelse af 25. oktober 2006 er Tele2 A/S blevet pålagt at hindre vore kunders adgang til http://www.allofmp3.com, som efter IFPI's opfattelse formidler ulovligt kopieret musik."

Which more or less means 'Nice try, bro'. I don't really understand how this ban came about, and why the ISPs capitulated so easily. I mean, I can't yank a 320 kbps version of 'Winds of Change' off the Inter-nyet but I can still be subjected to this dude?

Anyway, this little Scandygram underestimates the Internet's neverending, hydra-like ability to get around regulations, especially when free shit is involved. Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you: musicmp3.ru.

Like everything ending in '.ru', the site is of dubious legality and full of delicately composed English like "We are starting an unexampled program!" and "iron nerve customer support." They appear to have taken the entire Allofmp3 archive, and new albums are popping up every day like tuberculosis in Siberia. They don't take credit cards yet, but they do give you an opportunity to explore the exciting world of Russian PayPal services (Nyet-banking, maybe? You can tell I'm loving this).

So: My long musical winter is finally starting to melt. I can rejoin my pretentious indie brethren in endless meadows of it-might-as-well-be-free music and rejoice in discovering new twinkly Scand-pop and embarrassing British flamboyance without having to resort to MySpace. I forgive you, Russia.

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Enough already: Gay animals

 I checked one of my gay blogs (blaggots?) today and found this story: Researchers: Captivity Brings Out the Lesbian in Koalas

It's about how female koalas act all Brokeback when you put them in captivity without males. Yawn.

There has been a shitload of these stories lately, from statistics showing that 80 percent of animal species engage in homosexuality to heartwarming stories of male penguin-pairs starting families (I'm sorry, I'm way too lazy/uninterested to look up a link for that shit).

Can we as a society agree to just stop bringing this shit up? People on the left latch on to these stories like it's some sort of blistering rhetorical smackdown. "Homosexuality is natural! Look: 80 percent of animals do it!" You know what else 80 percent of animals do? Eat their own poop. Animals do a lot of nonsensical shit. That's one of the symptoms of being an animal. There are a lot of good arguments out there for the public acceptance of homosexuality, but I'm sorry, "Lassie's doing it!" just isn't one of them.

Similarly, people on the right act like these kinds of stories have any significance whatsoever, which is retarded. Your son seeing two lions topping each other at the zoo is not going to drive him to 'Shortbus' anytime soon. Just snort derisively, think of John something-colon-something, and move on.

Look, one of the main fronts of the 'culture war' is this whole gay thing. There is enough embarrassment on both sides without bringing fucking National Geographic into it. Anyone using zoo animals as props to make a political, human-centered argument needs to take care of a Dalmation for a few months. Then tell me how much of that behavior we want to write into law.

I propose the following: Let's make a pact to stop reporting on every cousin-sodomizing zoo animal. That way we can get back to the real arguments. Like whether gay guys in the NBA locker room are the equivalent of 'profoundly unattractive, morbidly obese women'.

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A short excerpt from ‘Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close’

The next morning I told mom I couldn't go to school again. She asked what was wrong. I told her [...] "The meat and dairy products in our refrigerator, fistfights, car accidents, Larry –"

"Who's Larry?"

"The homeless guy in front of the Museum of Natural History who always says 'I promise it's for food' after he asks for money [...] How you don't know who Larry is, even though you probably see him all the time, how [our dog] just sleeps and eats and goes to the bathroom and has no raison d'etre, the short ugly guy with no neck who takes tickets at the IMAX theater, how the sun is going to explode one day, how every birthday I always get at least one thing I already have, poor people who get fat because they eat junk food because it's cheaper,

"[...] Domesticated animals, how I have a domesticated animal, nightmares, Microsoft Windows, old people who sit around all day because no one remembers to spend time with them and they're embarrassed to ask people to spend time with them, secrets, dial phones, how Chinese waitresses smile even when there's nothing funny or happy, and also how Chinese people own Mexican restaurants but Mexican people never own Chinese restaurants, mirrors, tape decks, my unpopularity at school, Grandma's coupons, storage facilities, people who don't know what the Internet is, bad handwriting, beautiful songs, how there won't be any humans in fifty years [...]"

"Why do beautiful songs make you sad?"

"Because they aren't true."

"Never?"

"Nothing is beautiful and true."

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Don’t look a gift horse in the dental hygiene

I've mentioned before that my family has a way of sending, shall we say, unceremonious e-mails. From my parents this morning:

I mailed a box of stuff to you for your birthday: a pair of socks and pants that I think you left here, and your dad stuck in some toothpaste he wants you to use.

 

This is just one of the joys of being a dentist's kid. Last year, after I lost my passport in Seattle and had to postpone my trip back to Denmark for a few days, I got this gem:

I was actually somewhat glad that you stayed an extra week here, Mike, even though it cost you hundreds of dollars and lots of frustration.  I was happy I could examine your teeth and gums, and clean your teeth before you left.  I had no idea you were that cavity prone.

 

This is my dad in full Fatherly Advice mode:

[a patient of mine] was born in the same year as you, and will probably need to have nearly all his teeth extracted because of 'Meth-mouth.' His teeth are unsavable, or would take thousands of dollars of dentistry for root canals, gum surgery and crowns to save them.  He's off the stuff now, at least he says he is now, but I'm so glad you and J never got involved with the really nasty drugs like meth and coke.  It can destroy your life.  I took out a young woman's upper teeth today and gave her an immediate denture because of the same problem.  So keep flossing, Mike!

 

You can just feel the love from your molars to your bicuspids, can't you?

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The pursuit of crappiness

Here's the 'World Map of Happiness', according to data by all the upper-case letters you see above. The 'SWB' stands for 'subjective well-being', meaning how happy you say you are when a man with glasses and a clipboard asks you in the mall. Notice that the U.S. scores quite high here (the Great Lakes, incidentally, look reeeaaally happy) in spite of the fact that our health care is shitty, our leaders are a rhesus monkey and an Orc Lord, and most of our national food comes from Germany.

The real story here, of course, is that Denmark scored the highest. This has been commented on extensively in the past, but I just took a look at the original British Medical Journal article today and am now convinced that the BMJ is actually the newspaper from Grover Cleveland High School in Troglodyte, Pennsylvania. The quote that everyone is using from the BMJ press release is:

Year after year they are pleasantly surprised to find that not everything is getting more rotten in the state of Denmark.

Seriously? You're a medical journal and you're using this study as an excuse to trot out an old Shakespeare line? What next, a joke about pastries? A stock photo of a viking?

We focused on accounting for why life satisfaction in Denmark substantially exceeds that in Sweden and Finland: Hair colour—It may indeed be the case that "blondes have more fun." [...] Sweden, however, has a higher prevalence of blondes than Denmark.

You actually considered hair color? Maybe it was Bring Your Daughter to Work Day or some shit, but surely you have some more robust suggestions than, you know, a shampoo slogan from the 1950s.

Genes—Genetic factors might influence differences in life satisfaction within a country, and Danes might have a special genetic constitution. Genotypes in Sweden, however, are similar to those in Denmark because most Swedes were Danes until the 17th century.

Any Dane reading this only sees:

Xxxxx xx x xx xxxx xxx xx xxxxx xxxx xxxx xx xxx xxx xx x SWEDES WERE DANES xx xx xxx xxxxx xxxxx.

Any other ideas?

Food— "Danish cuisine" is an oxymoron, except perhaps the open faced "butter breads" that accompany the beer and aquavit Danes consume for lunch. Danish cuisine has some similarities with food from Switzerland and Austria, the second and third happiest nations according to the World Map of Happiness; this suggests that the consumption of comfort foods may be important for life satisfaction.

Right. Because Danes, Swiss, and Austrians don't have anything more important in common than their food. It couldn't be higher rates of education, or safety, or the almost complete lack of poverty. Nah, it's definitely the schnitzel.

Prowess in sports—Guidebooks to Denmark correctly assert that winning the 1992 European Championship in football by beating Germany 2-0 in the final put Danes in such a state of euphoria that the country has not been the same since.

This one sounds facile, too, but it's actually the most plausible so far. People here talk about 1992 the way we talk about 1776. But wait, further down the study says:

This victory arguably provided the biggest boost to the Danish psyche since the protracted history of Danish setbacks began with defeat in England in 1066, followed by the loss of Sweden, Norway, Northern Germany, the Danish West Indies, and Iceland.

Damn, they should have had a spoiler alert before this paragraph. There were Danish West Indies?

So after considering happiness-affecting measures such as hair, food and sports (what, was 'boobies' not scientific enough?), the study finally concludes with

The key factor that explains this and that differentiates Danes from Swedes and Finns seems to be that Danes have consistently low (and indubitably realistic) expectations for the year to come.

That sounds about right. I've always had the feeling that Danes approach life with the attitude of someone walking into a John Travolta movie. If you expect 'Battlefield Earth' every day, you can settle for a 'Ladder 49' or a 'Swordfish'. With those hopes, you almost forget that 'Pulp Fiction' came out in 1992.

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Walking in a Goddamn winter wonderland

Well, after almost two months of soggy clouds and half-assed precipitation, we finally got The Dump. The papers predicted 25 centimeters (that's, what, 10 inches?) of snow yesterday and man, they weren't kidding. Everything's covered in Sweet n' Low out there.

All this really means is that A) I got to work 40 minutes ago and I'm still numb from the chin to the chode-'sicle and B) you can measure time by the number of people you see fall down on the sidewalks-cum-ice rinks that are the city's arteries. I saw three top-heavy tundra-chicks take diggers yesterday, and I'm expecting at least a baker's dozen more by March.

In other I-don't-have-anything-to-blog-about news, I trekked through the blizzard last night to see a concert. It was a band called Ratatat, which I was only intrigued by because I like saying the band name in my best Samuel L. Jackson voice ("Well, allow me to Ratatat, mothafucka!"). It was just two dudes with guitars and a laptop-monkey pecking at a sampler to make percussion. Head-bobbing ensued. It was hella repetitive, but never undestimate the ability of four beers to render even the most 'rinse-repeat' concerts incredibly fascinating. The pilsners did their sacred duty last night, and I had a great time. And I only fell down twice on the walk home. Ratatat, mothafucka. 

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My crowded monkey castle

This is by far the funniest shit I've seen all year.

Can we get a sequel with Timbaland calling up Thom Yorke, please?

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The surest sign of civilization in Russia

While surveying the endless scorched earth of Russia's human rights record today, I came across the most promising thing yet: Overheard in Moscow. Yes, that whimsical Russian sense of humor finally has an outlet. A few minutes on babelfish later, and I was checking out the following entries:

Solid the man of average years (by phone): Greetings, you as, still start up the wife home? Well and in vain. Here I have expelled the, and you know – more cheaply. Much more cheaply.

Where it is overheard: marshrutka 13
By whom it is overheard: pushhvost

The cashier (client): I shall issue you. And the baby it is necessary to alter.

Where it is overheard: Aerocash departments
By whom it is overheard: akos

The young man (spitefully kicking konkom an ice):. dets! I Hate sports!

Where it is overheard: TSPKiO it. Bitter
By whom it is overheard: kjorn

Five children in the age of from 8 till 14 years (in eager rivalry): the Daddy, buy a fritter!
The daddy (strictly): It is artificial and harmful meal for muscovites.

Where it is overheard: near to " Buffet of the Underground " at station of the underground " Library of a name of Lenin "
By whom it is overheard: osd

 

I'd make fun of the bad translation, but this is probably what I sound like when I speak Danish (especially when I'm "in eager rivalry"), so I'll just finish these off with my own Slavic conversational experience from last winter:

Me: I don't think I'm going to school today. I've got a really bad flu.

Lithuanian friend: Why do you have the flu?

Me: Huh? I just, um, got it from the –

Lithuanian friend: Because you are weak!

 

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