Monthly Archives: January 2008

Seven deadly synonyms

There's an interesting report making the rounds about how American Southerners have begun to use the word 'Canadians' as a synonym for 'black people', a la 'The food's great at that restaurant, but it's always full of Canadians.' It's a way of sounding benign during conversations in public, but it gets across your meaning to people who know what you're talking about. Check this dude out:

Earlier this month, an e-mail that had been circulating since 2003, written by a Houston assistant district attorney Mike Trent, resurfaced. The e-mail was short, only about 100 words, and was sent to the entire office. It started out by praising a junior prosecutor for a job well done. Then the message continued:"He overcame a subversively good defense by Matt Hennessey that had some Canadians on the jury feeling sorry for the defendant and forced them to do the right thing."

I was reminded of this when my new officemate reminded me today to keep the door locked when we're both out of the office: "I've got my laptop in here, and there are a lot of foreigners in the building," he said. Considering that he was speaking to a guilty-as-charged foreigner, he clearly didn't mean just anyone who's not from Denmark.

Whatever, I'm used to this shit by now. I just want to thank this news story for putting the words 'Canadians' and 'black people' into the same paragraph. I think that's the first time that's ever happened. 

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What’s the etiquette on neighbor-gawking?

One of the quirks of my apartment is that it's in a little alley, really close to a bunch of other apartment buildings. This, combined with the big windows in my room, means that I can look into my neighbors' apartment like a big-screen TV; they can look into mine.

I got a weird note in the letterbox this afternoon.

Text: Hello US Citizen! It's your neighbor speaking… I have a problem with your 'window manners' — It's quite problematic having you sitting in facel(?)-front many hours a day without making it cover or anything. I feel overlooked [this is Danglish for 'watched'] and compromised. XXX, Mel.

First of all, how did they know that I'm American? It's not like I'm sitting in front of my computer, draped in an American flag.

Second, what's the etiquette here? They can see me as well as I can see them, and I just sort of thought this was one of the quirks of urban living. You hear other people's music, smell their cooking, and glimpse them through the window every once in awhile. I don't really see why I should be the one to close my blinds and sit in my room in the dark all day, since they're the ones that have a problem with it.

Am I being a total dick here?

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Slouching toward adulthood, one visa at a time

This is what I've been up to the last week:

Friday: Stumble into Kingsford-Smith Airport in Sydney, hung over and full of last good breakfast I will eat until next Christmas. Fly 10 hours to Hong Kong next to a woman whose body is 97 percent torso. Take two Ambien to numb left side of body.

Saturday: Land in Hong Kong. Marvel at insta-uselessness of duty free shops worldwide. Re-board plane, this time next to man with shoulders like a novelty umbrella. Watch, captivated, for the two hours it takes him to figure out entertainment console remote control. Take two Ambien to numb right side of body.

Sunday: Land in London. Wait an hour at Heathrow for bus to Stansted. Begin one-coffee-per-hour IV drip to achieve semblance of wakefulness. Arrive at Stansted, wait 6 hours for flight. Realize that there is nothing to do in airports other than read and caffeinate. Board plane 300 pages bookier and 12 shots coffeer. Sit behind Miracle Baby, capable of screaming without inhaling for 90 staccatto minutes. Land in Copenhagen. Is it still Sunday? Sleep at 8 pm.

Monday: Wake at 5 am. Achieve level of idleness from which light cannot escape.

Tuesday: Return to work, at least in body. Meet with boss. Find out that new job starts Feb. 1. Good salary, tons of holiday time, interesting duties. Jetlaggy mind not capable of processing information, so make vowel sound and blink rapidly.

Wednesday: Work visa approved for for three Denmarky years.

Thursday: Finish dissertation, send to university without complications. 

Friday [projected]: Misplace keys, run over puppy on way to work, receive cancer diagnosis, lose parents in fiery sheep accident, become legally adopted by Mike Huckabee.

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Summer in the city

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Off to Sydney tomorrow

All this turquoise splendidry has been nice and all, but I seriously can't wait to get back to a proper city. I'm in dire need of good beer, crowded sidewalks, sunrise walks home, needlessly overdesigned architecture and non-parental human interaction. Seeya on the other side.

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Today in offensiveness: Mazel tov, sucka!

I paid a dollar for this book today at a used bookstore. Did America force publishers to send all their best race-baiting lit to New Zealand in the 80s or something?

"Shaft Among the Jews" British Paperback Front Cover

Back in the era when you were allowed to write books like this, I wonder what the average distance was between the word 'Jews' on the cover and a graphic of a giant diamond. On this one it's about 7 cm.

The inside cover text is appetizing:

That's John Shaft. Supercool private eye on an incredible retainer from seven Hassidic Jews - Diamond merchants who decide this dark uptown dude is mean and wily enough to handle a caper involving five murders, synthetic jewels, the mid-east arms race and an international shyster with dreams of ruling the world – until he runs into SHAFT AMONG THE JEWS

I think I had an 'incredible retainer' in the seventh grade. I'm already hooked.

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Sometimes 15 words is all you need to know

When police asked the man what caused the accident, his one-word answer was "pterodactyl."

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