In which a group of graying eternal amateurs discuss their passions, interests and obsessions, among them: movies, art, politics, evolutionary biology, taxes, writing, computers, these kids these days, and lousy educations.

E-Mail Donald
Demographer, recovering sociologist, and arts buff

E-Mail Fenster
College administrator and arts buff

E-Mail Francis
Architectural historian and arts buff

E-Mail Friedrich
Entrepreneur and arts buff
E-Mail Michael
Media flunky and arts buff

We assume it's OK to quote emailers by name.

Try Advanced Search

  1. Seattle Squeeze: New Urban Living
  2. Checking In
  3. Ben Aronson's Representational Abstractions
  4. Rock is ... Forever?
  5. We Need the Arts: A Sob Story
  6. Form Following (Commercial) Function
  7. Two Humorous Items from the Financial Crisis
  8. Ken Auster of the Kute Kaptions
  9. What Might Representational Painters Paint?
  10. In The Times ...

Sasha Castel
AC Douglas
Out of Lascaux
The Ambler
Modern Art Notes
Cranky Professor
Mike Snider on Poetry
Silliman on Poetry
Felix Salmon
Polly Frost
Polly and Ray's Forum
Stumbling Tongue
Brian's Culture Blog
Banana Oil
Scourge of Modernism
Visible Darkness
Thomas Hobbs
Blog Lodge
Leibman Theory
Goliard Dream
Third Level Digression
Here Inside
My Stupid Dog
W.J. Duquette

Politics, Education, and Economics Blogs
Andrew Sullivan
The Corner at National Review
Steve Sailer
Joanne Jacobs
Natalie Solent
A Libertarian Parent in the Countryside
Rational Parenting
Colby Cosh
View from the Right
Pejman Pundit
God of the Machine
One Good Turn
Liberty Log
Daily Pundit
Catallaxy Files
Greatest Jeneration
Glenn Frazier
Jane Galt
Jim Miller
Limbic Nutrition
Innocents Abroad
Chicago Boyz
James Lileks
Cybrarian at Large
Hello Bloggy!
Setting the World to Rights
Travelling Shoes

Redwood Dragon
The Invisible Hand
Daze Reader
Lynn Sislo
The Fat Guy
Jon Walz


Our Last 50 Referrers

« Recent Presidential Portraits Are Mediocre? | Main | Emerging Tastes »

February 12, 2007


Michael Blowhard writes:

Dear Blowhards --

* Geeks: memorize this list of fashion faux-pas and you may dramatically increase your chances of finding a girlfriend.

* The Manualist outdoes himself.

* David Chute's well-done profile of the Hong Kong identical-twin movie directors the Pang Brothers supplies a lot of info about the current state of Asian moviemaking too. Short version: Hong Kong down, South Korea and Thailand up.

* Need to mess with digital photos but don't want to spring for Photoshop? There are now a number of free online photo editors you can use instead. SmileyCat compares and contrasts the offerings.

* I don't know about this ruling ...

*Jeremy Gilbert celebrates Edmund Arnold, the father of modern newspaper design, who died a few days ago.

* Jenny Sinclair thinks that writing workshops should be banned. Nice quote: "Writing is not a good in itself that everyone should be encouraged to attempt, such as cycling to work or eating more broccoli. It's a specialised art that if practised, only adds to billions of existing published words."

* Robert Stein looks at the announcements about layoffs at Time magazine and recalls an amusing exchange he once had with Henry Luce.



posted by Michael at February 12, 2007


Need to mess with digital photos but don't want to spring for Photoshop? There are now a number of free online photo editors you can use instead.

If you just want to mess with digital photos, in a limited crop / resize / adjust colour way, then Photoshop is ridiculously overpowered for you, and probably the applets she cites are just fine. But if you want to have functionality comparable to Photoshop, but don't want to pay through the nose, you can try the GIMP, which is an open-source graphics program. Quite powerful.

Posted by: Taeyoung on February 12, 2007 11:32 PM

No tucked in shirst: That doesn't seem right. Of course, that dress shirt tucked into the parachute pants is a difficult look to pull off.

As for Time, the media has marched full-force into political correctness. For most of the mainstream larger media sources (which means it will trickle down to the smaller places through the folks who want to move up), PC seems to rule with at the least an annoying jabbing dagger if not an iron fist. I find it hard to come up with one thing which PC rules that is successful. Govt. is failure. Education is a failure. Newspapers are marching toward the cliff. The literature departments are effectively burning books with their foul choices. The immigration policy is a failure. For the most part, PC is a death sentence unless it comes with a govt.- or substantial corporate-subsidy. NO such luck for Time.

Only theater seems to manage currently under PC dictates. Of course, the gay struggle seems to have shot its load, so plays may soon start to slip, and we don't know what is possibly being spiked. What we are missing?

Perhaps, a play about the media and PC would work. You know, where the media in a black hat ties itself to the train tracks. As we hear a train coming (or in the print media's case "a train going") our heroes (print media management) free a hand so as to add duct tape to the ropes, assuring their own destruction. As a few cynical right wingers cheer the impending demise, we see a sparkle in the eye of print media, a crafty self-assured look. A camera is seen in the background. Ah HA.

The print media has videotaped the event as accompaniment for the story on their Web sites. THE END.

Posted by: sN on February 13, 2007 3:54 AM

First, no that ruling was unabashedly stupid. I can see WHY it was made: "the law is the law, and just because something is stupid doesn't mean we shouldn't allow it. After all, it's the law!" In this case, the letter of the law was more important than its spirit. Lawmakers can't foresee every possible result of what they create. It's up to the courts to take those exceptions and either validate or invalidate them. There is an alternative, though: every couple that divorces, and has children, should have to take a paternity test to insure proper dispersement of funds.

Second, RE: Jenny Sinclair's rant. Honey, get over yourself. People don't accidentally walk into writing workshops and come out thinking they're writers. If they've gone to the workshop, they've gone because there might be some interest in it. How else are they supposed to figure out if they're any good unless they give it a shot?

Posted by: Upstate Guy on February 13, 2007 8:57 AM

Hmm.... I'm skeptical of some of the specific fashion advice for nerds. Really, never tuck in your shirt? Seems odd to me. I also resent the "no glasses" rule.

Maybe my fiancee's just odd?

Posted by: Brett on February 13, 2007 9:02 AM

Having strong nerd and geek tendencies myself, (and living in Atlanta, where anyone who reads one non-Tom Clancy/John Grisham book per year classifies as a "nerd" and anyone who read more than two non-fiction books per year--other than yuppie self-help books of the "How to Be a Millionaire" variety--classifies as a geek), I took a look at the list. All the suggestions seem sound to me, and I'm pretty much following all of them already. The one that struck me as bizarre is the one about never tucking in your shirt. Is this perhaps a generational thing? I recall someone writing on the "Jump the Shark" website that the reason he didn't like SEINFELD is that Jerry in the show tucks his shirt in his pants. I strongly suspect from the semi-literate prose that the commenter was young, and I've noticed members of Generatiobd X, Y and Next tend to have untucked shirttails. I am a Baby Boomer, raised to tuck in his shirttail; and more than that, I have always used as my guide to style the question, "What would Cary Grant do?" Well, Cary Grant was no nerd or geek, and he tucked in his shirts! And if that was good enough for Cary Grant, it's good enough for me. And as Mattie in the novel TRUE GRIT says, "And it should be good enough for you, too."

Posted by: Bilwick on February 13, 2007 9:26 AM

OMG! I have a beard, pleats in my pants, tuck in my shirt and sometimes wear socks with sandals.* Good thing for me I have a hot wife.

Methinks the no tuck and no pleats rules show the women surveyed are pretty young. My wife hates an untucked shirt.

* Only with long pants, never shorts, and the socks are a gray herringbone while the sandals are black -- is that any better?

Posted by: john on February 13, 2007 11:18 AM

Fashion advice - it was good for most part, and not just for nerds, or to impress women, or just for guys who are of "clubbing" age.

I agree with others' objections to "no tucked shirts". Particularly for men who might have a bit of a gut developing (nearly inevitable on men over 30, even fit/active ones). An untucked shirt will give them a pregnant look. Tuck it in.

The problem with Jerry Seinfeld's look wasn't the tucked shirts; it was the tight jeans he tucked it into.

Posted by: PA on February 13, 2007 12:01 PM

Actually, the untucked shirt rule is a godsend for those of us with a bit of a corporation.

But has anyone noticed that the untucked shirt rule contradicts the wear a belt rule?

Posted by: ricpic on February 13, 2007 2:39 PM

No potentially offensive humor on T-shirts? Heh, yeah.

I used to think something like this:

Aren't such shirts basically a screening process against the huge majority of women who would themselves be screening out intelligent, actually funny guys by the second date?

Now, I think:

How does it prove your singular sense of humor to tell somebody else's joke, over and over every time you cross somebody's line of sight?

Posted by: J. Goard on February 13, 2007 7:39 PM

The only printed T-shirt I ever saw that was worth wearing:


Posted by: ricpic on February 13, 2007 9:54 PM

Yep, some of the geek fashion advice was sound, but that shirt-tucking rule is a generational thing for sure. Michael, you did a post on that look a while back, I think. . .

Posted by: Derek Lowe on February 13, 2007 10:26 PM

Toss the sandals in the trash unless you're John-John; and if you're John-John toss 'em in the ocean.

Sorry for that.

Posted by: sN on February 13, 2007 10:48 PM

But has anyone noticed that the untucked shirt rule contradicts the wear a belt rule?

Elsewhere he says your first course of action should be to "ask a girl" for advice -- basic logical consistency is therefore not to be expected. He's more on the right track when he says ask a stylish gay guy -- they're the ones who are top designers and celebrity stylists, not women. If he had said "Ask a French or Japanese woman," then perhaps you'd get good advice, but American women are barely less slovenly than the men.

Seinfeld looked goofy because his shirts were probably 4 sizes too big, while his jeans were slim fit. Hence the Hefty trash bag look above the waist.

Posted by: Agnostic on February 13, 2007 11:31 PM

Your best bet is to get advice from anyone, even a hetero man or American female, who has a strong, classic sense of style and a good sense of how clothes should fit (giving credence to someone's fashion advice based on them being French or gay is a recipe for embarrassment). Such people are obvious to almost everyone, even the sartorially challenged.

If this person travels in the same work/social circles as you do, all the better, as s/he will know what clothing is appropriate and what clothing, while all the rage in ___________, in your world will just look weird & out of place.

Posted by: GR on February 14, 2007 10:13 AM

Most of the people I see violating the socks-and-sandals rule are older men, not nerds.

Agnostic -
Asking women for fashion advice makes sense in this context even if most women have relatively little fashion sense. After all, the whole point of the article is how nerds can become more desirable to women through improvements to their dress and grooming. That might include dressing in a way that women like, even if it violates normal rules of fashion.

As I've said elsewhere, nerdiness is as much a state of mind as a matter of physical appearance. I'm unconvinced that most nerds are going to become popular with women merely by following these fashion and grooming rules.

Posted by: Peter on February 14, 2007 10:47 AM

A bit of a tangent, but importnt for the single guys to keep in mind:

While it's good to ask women for advice on fashion, asking a woman, even a well-meaning one like a sister or cousin, for dating advice, will lead to disaster.

That's because what women say they want, and what they reward, are two different things.

For dating advice, your best bet would be to ask a man who is very successful with women.

Posted by: PA on February 14, 2007 11:05 AM

That might include dressing in a way that women like, even if it violates normal rules of fashion.

But as PA points out, verbalized thoughts and actions don't always match. Women tend to say they want a sweet, caring guy, and while true for some, most will trade off thoughtfulness to get more masculine charisma or just about anything else.

Also, women on average aren't good at being brutally honest -- if you've seen an episode of Queer Eye, you can tell that gay men are barely less insensitive toward hurting another person's feelings if the context requires it. E.g., "Oh, you're going to wear that -- I thought you gave up your job as a drag queen rodeo clown?" Or, "No, your apartment does look nice -- you just might want to update the 'Dickensian insane asylum' look to make it more modern and chic." Often followed by campy faux remorse: "Omigod, I'm such a bitch!"

Posted by: Agnostic on February 14, 2007 12:08 PM

my favorite one, the one I salvaged for myself after my son, says
Brooklyn: the place where weak are eaten

Amid hellfire, on a black background, of course.

Posted by: Tat on February 14, 2007 2:43 PM

Okay, on the 'don't tuck shirt in' advice, this just in from an article in the Telegraph:

For years it was cooler to wear a shirt outside trousers but now it just smacks of chavs on a Saturday night. These days it's all about a neat, more refined silhouette.

Makes sense to me.

Posted by: mr tall on February 15, 2007 2:32 AM

Post a comment

Email Address:



Remember your info?