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October 05, 2005


Michael Blowhard writes:

Dear Blowhards --

* Colby Cosh enjoyed "Serenity" -- but it ain't about to turn him into a Joss Whedon fanatic, dammit. Colby, as ever, gets off a number of energizing mini-rants in his posting. Here's my fave:

Everywhere you look, movie theatres are either glitzy new installations with Taco Bell kiosks and stadium seating, or they are utterly neglected. Home cinema is the future. And somehow I suspect that this is not just because we will all soon have 50-inch high-definition TVs, but also because we can no longer stand to sit quietly near each other with our cell phones, our wireless laptops, and our iPods switched off.

* Lynn Sislo, on the other hand, wasn't crazy about "Serenity." She links to a variety of other reactions to the movie here. I loved, by the way, the political self-description Lynn has written for her "About" page: "Disgusted with both Democrats and Republicans; haven't found a third party that doesn't creep me out even more than the Democrats and the Republicans." Hard to imagine summing it up better than that.

* Rachel slips a welcome shiv into that self-adoring sillykins Naomi Wolf.

* Jakob Nielsen's readers vote to choose the Top Ten Web Design Mistakes of 2005. Right at the top is my own pet peeve -- "bad fonts," by which most people mean "type that's too small." Yo, bloggers and web designers: Show a little pity. Not everyone has better-than-perfect vision.

* MD does some of her incomparable verbal scene-painting, then turns to the Table of Contents of "Pere Goriot."

* Yoga Journal's Alisa Bauman reports on studies indicating that yoga can not only increase strength and flexibility, but can increase lung capacity too. Some words of wisdom from one of Bauman's sources: "The best form of exercise is whatever you enjoy most and will continue to do on a regular, almost daily, basis." That's the real yoga attitude.

* Bryan Caplan ventures a few thoughts about that fraught subject, IQ, John Zmirak dares to stand up for Bill Bennett, Theodore Dalrymple suspects that The Guardian is racist, and Steve Sailer faces down the entire staff of Slate (here and here).

* Those rambuntious new girls and young women? A study from San Diego State concludes that they really are as uninhibited as they seem to be.

* Music-listening addict Alan Little puts into words what so many have thought:

Is what I want so very far-fetched? I want to be able to get anything that is currently or has ever been released. I donít care whether I get things from individual record labels or some kind of distributor, as long as I have a search engine that can easily and reliably find them.

* Cowtown Pattie describes some of the bizarre ways your memory takes to having fun with you as you age.



posted by Michael at October 5, 2005


Regarding bad web site design, I detest horizontal scroll bars. They make the browsing experience a real headache.

Posted by: Peter on October 5, 2005 11:18 PM

Indeed they do, except perhaps for the lucky people who have horizontal-capable scrollwheels. I've been considering getting one myself, simply because it seems like it might be worth the additional convenience.

Posted by: . on October 5, 2005 11:50 PM

Right at the top is my own pet peeve -- "bad fonts," by which most people mean "type that's too small." Yo, bloggers and web designers: Show a little pity. Not everyone has better-than-perfect vision.

I use the Opera browser, in which hitting [zero] increases the font a step. Narrow fonts can still suck sometimes, though.

that self-adoring sillykins Naomi Wolf

Yeah. But the weightily-titled essay "Skyscrapers, Supermodels, and Strange Attractors: Ayn Rand, Naomi Wolf, and the Third Wave Ethos" by Barry Vacker (in Feminist Interpretations of Ayn Rand) has some really interesting observations, and shows up those two idiots.

Posted by: J. Goard on October 6, 2005 3:20 AM

The thing about Yoga increasing your lung capacity is true. Paul Sorvino (Mira's dad) wrote this great out-of-print book called "How to Become a Former Asthmatic" which I can attest lives up to its title. And it's all based on Yoga breathing exercises.

Posted by: Yahmdallah on October 6, 2005 8:35 AM

Calling Naomi Wolf a "self-adoring sillikins" is just great. She certainly does seem to be! Those turtlenecks she stuck Al Gore in really worked, didn't they?

Yahmdallah---I think if you look up Paul Sorvino's bio you'll see he really has the more impressive resume vis-a-vis Mira. More then "Mira's dad"...

Posted by: annette on October 6, 2005 9:55 AM

Peter -- Horizontal scrolling does stink, doesn't it? I don't know how to explain this, but I run into a lot of really, really horizontal scrolling when I check out French websites, especially arty ones -- photography sites, stuff like that. Do they not know better? Does it remind them of an art book? Do they think it's chic? Someday someone's gonna do a sociological study of different cultures' online habits and tastes ...

"." -- Are you thinking of one of those new Apple mouses? I wonder if they're ok or not. They seem a little too smart for their own good, but who knows?

J. Goard -- It isn't hard increasing font sizes in the browsers I use either, but it seems dumb to have to do so at all in the first place, at least to old-guy me. My guess is that there are two explanations for the lousy-font and too-small probs. One's that the web is crawling with young people, and their eyes are strong. That ability to zero in on tiny type and minuscule visual details really starts to go past the age of 35. The other's that -- despite the fact that we've moved into such a visuals and graphics era -- most people seem clueless about traditional rules of readability. Rule #1: body text (ie., long print passages) should be big enough, and the type should have serifs. If people generally knew that (and of course played along) I'd be a much happier websurfer ...

Yahmdallah -- Paul Sorvino did a lot of yogic breathing? Thanks for the info. And you did some yourself? And it helped? Details pls. I'm hoping yoga takes care of a lot of exercise needs myself because I'm not doing much else ...

Annette -- Wolf's such a hilarious public figure, isn't she? So narcissistic and full of herself, so clueless about anything outside of her own self-regard ... I know someone who was at school with her at Yale, and she reports that Naomi was always ferociously narcissistic. Pretty funny when you think about her first book being "The Beauty Myth" ... Did you read it? How'd you react? It struck me as one of the dumbest things I'd ever looked at.

Posted by: Michael Blowhard on October 6, 2005 10:15 AM

About Cowtown Pattie's inability to find the words to fit an image flitting through her head: Yup, that's a classic sign of age(ing).

And I do appreciate the large type on her site. Takes care of another problem that comes with age.

Posted by: ricpic on October 6, 2005 10:49 AM

Fortunately, I avoided "The Beauty Myth" but it certainly sounded dumb---or, perhaps, incomplete. Potentially rife with leading young women in the wrong direction, because of its incompleteness. (It really cracks me up that she would call it "The Beauty Myth" and then prove how much she doesn't really think it is a myth by caring how Al Gore was packaged style-wise!). Just like many of her feminist predecessors. Ick.

Posted by: annette on October 6, 2005 12:48 PM

Michael - Not a big story, just Paul Sorvino's book describes a simple breathing exercise taken directly from Yoga. It made it so I can go months without using an inhailer and have forsaken daily drugs for two decades now.

It's just this: take a deep breath through your nose - and when you really take a deep breath your stomach pooches out and your shoulders don't raise, you monitor this by putting your hands around where your diaphragm is and making sure it expands - and then exhale it through pursed lips, as if you were blowing a trumpet, but don't make the raspberry noise, until you are entirely out of breath - pushing until you literally have no more to push. Do this twice in a row. Rest until your breath returns, and repeat. That usually clears any and all cobwebs. If you have daily problems with asthma, you should do this exercise three times a day, even if you're breathing fine at the moment. Over time it has the dual effect of teaching you to breathe correctly and deeply, and it releases trapped air in the lower quadrants of your lungs - a common situation in asthmatics. (If you're wondering how Paul could get a whole book out of that, it's because book focuses on how to teach this technique to small children, after he's explained it to adults.)

annette - Yes, I know about Paul's impressive resume, and have always enjoyed is fantastic acting. (And apparently he's a heck of a singer - which is how he found out about the technique - a fellow opera singer taught it to him.) It's just that Mira's better known now. And she has his eyes, if you'll notice.

Posted by: Yahmdallah on October 6, 2005 2:51 PM

Yahmdallah -- Thanks for the explanation, nice to know yogic breathing is good for something, and pleased to hear you manage the asthma successfully. Sounds like it beats using an inhaler, even if it's a bit more work.

Annette -- There were so many hootingly funny things about "The Beauty Myth" ... I dunno, I almost thought it was worth the bother of reading the book just for the gasps and laughs, although it does do a job on one's blood pressure too. One bit of hilarity was that Naomi deliberately kept her picture off the book, apparently from a feeling that, well, she's just so beautiful that other women might feel bad about themselves, etc, and this was the wrong time to do such a thing. Another had to do with the idea that the beauty industry is a (as always, white male) conspiracy to oppress women. But as a woman friend of mine who knows the business well says, there's hardly a straight man to be found in the beauty industry. It's all gals and gay guys. So who's doing what to whom? But I don't think appreciating life's little ironies and complexities is a Naomi specialty ...

Posted by: Michael Blowhard on October 7, 2005 12:01 PM

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