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.

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Demographer, recovering sociologist, and arts buff

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Our Last 50 Referrers

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Media Linkage
Michael Blowhard writes: Dear Blowhards -- * Here comes the new Newsweek. Michael Kinsley doesn't think much of the magazine's self-reconception. * Fred Reed offers a tangy history of the news business. (Link thanks to Charlton Griffin) Best, Michael... posted by Michael at May 23, 2009 | perma-link | (41) comments

Listening by Yourself
Michael Blowhard writes: Dear Blowhards -- * As the Sony Walkman turns 30, A.N. Wilson is wondering if the little gadget destroyed civilization. (Link thanks to ALD) * How the iPod changed the world. Best, Michael... posted by Michael at May 23, 2009 | perma-link | (1) comments

Friday, May 22, 2009

Fact for the Day
Michael Blowhard writes: Dear Blowhards -- The number of print-on-demand titles published in the US has exceeded the number of traditional books produced for the first time ever. Source. A cool development, at least for those of us rooting for a more open and pluralistic book-publishing environment. Worth keeping in mind, though, is another fact that I ran across recently: The average number of copies that a book published via the POD outfit Lulu sells is one. Best, Michael UPDATE: Kelly Jane Torrance takes a smart look at these publishing developments.... posted by Michael at May 22, 2009 | perma-link | (16) comments

Cars 70 Years Ago: Not So Big
Donald Pittenger writes: Dear Blowhards -- Not long ago James Lileks (his site is here) posted the photo of a Minneapolis building shown below. His interest was in the building's history, mine is different. As the banners indicate, the photo seems to have been taken in 1939. A couple of cars near the center of the photo seem to be 1939 models: the rest are older, as one would expect. Now look at the people near the cars, because they provide scale. Note how short and narrow the cars are. They are typical of the 1930s. Luxury cars such as Packards and Cadillacs were larger (longer, for the most part, but not much wider). By 1970, American cars were quite large, the growth trend having begun to develop seriously when the first redesigned postwar models appeared in 1947-49. I remember that advertisements crowed about six-passenger seating. But even so, a while back I was startled when viewing a parked 1950 Buick Special to notice that it seem narrower than I remembered them. Nowadays, cars come in a larger variety of sizes and types and comparable street scenes should reflect that. Later, Donald... posted by Michael at May 22, 2009 | perma-link | (4) comments

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Sex and Eroticism Linkage
Michael Blowhard writes: Dear Blowhards -- * Are we inhabiting a glorious new world of feminist porn? More. * Do dates turn into disasters just because guys can be such horny oafs? Lemmonex thinks that sometimes the ladies deserve some blame too. Check out Lemmonex's YouTube channel. A nice, let's-all-cosign-that passage from a recent Lemmonex posting: I hate whiners. Truly. I have broken up with men because I found them to be sissified man children who think the world owes them eternal happiness. Women who behave like entitled princesses, believing they are the specialist of all the snowflakes, honestly deserve a smack back in to reality. * Sister Wolf has been giving herself over to the joy of girdles. * A hilarious visual blogposting: Danish interior design via stills from porn movies. Safe For Work, or pretty much so. * Will Steve Moxon's "The Woman Racket" be the next big, un-PC pop evo-bio sensation? Here's an interview with Moxon, who's nothing if not provocative. (UPDATE/ALERT: The anti-virus software of at least one visitor has been set off by this Moxon link. So be wary.) * Von Corncrake discovers that his dance partner can really dance. * Some of these pornoHaikus are, well, maybe not good, exactly, but worth paying attention to for a few seconds. * Roissy has some tips for guys who want to tell their gals how much they care. * What enables some women to enjoy themselves in the sack? Amusing to read about a new study showing that foreplay isn't as important for women as was once thought. As always, the comments are a big part of the fun. * Meet Masanobu Sato, who just repeated as Masturbation Champ. (Link thanks to visitor Hello) * Some fun facts about orgasms: * MBlowhard Rewind: I reviewed a documentary about the author of the famous erotic novel "Story of O." Best, Michael... posted by Michael at May 21, 2009 | perma-link | (20) comments

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

New Teaching Company Sale
Michael Blowhard writes: Dear Blowhards -- The sale that the Teaching Company is currently running is a particularly attractive one. Of the many bargains that beckon, I'd especially love to try out The Physics of History, How the Earth Works, Biology, A History of Mathematics, Chaos, and Understanding Genetics. The new course that I've already pulled the trigger on, though, is The Conservative Tradition. Great topic, of course. Though conservatism has a vast and impressive pedigree, the only version of it that too many people encounter is what they see on Fox News. Hey, world: Edmund Burke and Michael Oakeshott aren't just enormously impressive and enlightening writers and thinkers, they might even disapprove of Glenn Beck. The course is being delivered by a great lecturer too -- Patrick Allitt, one of my fave Teaching Company profs. I've been through two of Allitt's series and I loved them both; read about 'em here and here. Fabulously smart, articulate, knowledgeable and articulate, Allitt also has a delightful manner: amused, admiring, gentle, and enthusiastic. A stuffy pedant he ain't. Sigh: Sophisticated yet accessible ... It's one of my very favorite combos. (I wrote back here about how much I've gotten out of wrestling with the history of rightie thought. Back here you can find links to all three parts of an interview I did with the brilliant traditionalist conservative Jim Kalb. Buy Jim's mind-opening book here. BTW and FWIW: Although I'm certainly interested, respectful, and sympathetic, I'm by no means a conservative. I co-write X-rated fiction, I live downtown, I move among gays, artists, and performers, and I spend most of my "thinking about politics" time wishing the world's Primarily Political People would go away and die, or at least shut up.) Among the on-sale courses are a few that I've listened to and can recommend: Buddhism by Malcolm David Eckel. A first-class survey by a winning and enthusiastic prof. (I say this, by the way, as someone who has been through dozens of intros-to-Buddhism.) Eckel has clearly gotten a lot out of Buddhism himself, and he delivers his material in an inspired way, mixing up straightforward history, explanations of the content of Buddhism, Buddhist legends and lore, and a little bit of storytelling of his own. It's an approach that might well go awry, but Eckel keeps matters moving forward, and the approach pays off, shedding mucho worthwhile extra light on the topic. He has a burly-yet-boyish energy that I enjoyed spending time with too. Religions of the Axial Age by Mark Muesse. Back in this posting I was hard on Muesse's Hinduism lecture series. (Short version: I found it informative but dry.) I had no such quibbles with this course, though, which is a real beauty. Was I unfair in my judgment of "Hinduism"? Or is Muesse one of those profs who shines when he gets a chance to do big-picture, compare-and-contrast presentations? In any case, I found "Religions of the Axial Age" not just supremely informative but enchanting. (The Axial... posted by Michael at May 19, 2009 | perma-link | (11) comments

Michael Blowhard writes: Dear Blowhards -- Romance-novel fan FeministX thinks that guys eager to do well with gals might learn a thing or two from her favorite genre. As a straight guy who has had his eyes opened by reading a number of romance novels (hey, I mainly read out of curiosity -- why don't you?), I second her hunch. FeministX is a real find, by the way. Cranky yet sweet, super-bright, and cheerfully iconoclastic -- as well as, FWIW, a lesbian American of South Asian descent who's a regular reader of Steve Sailer -- she might very well be one of a kind. In any case, she's definitely going straight onto my blog-list. Best, Michael... posted by Michael at May 19, 2009 | perma-link | (24) comments

Onion Video
Michael Blowhard writes: Dear Blowhards -- Hmmm, The Onion's crew has maintained an awfully high level of humor for an awfully long time ... Do you suppose that history will one day recognize The Onion as one of the most remarkable culture-creations of our time? And if not, why? My own hunch: Comedy and pleasure-giving seldom get the respect or recognition they deserve. See my recent posting about the '50s and '60s humorist Patrick Dennis for more along these lines. Best, Michael... posted by Michael at May 19, 2009 | perma-link | (23) comments

Monday, May 18, 2009

Michael Blowhard writes: Dear Blowhards -- Big Hollywood's Matt Patterson interviews a certain M. Blowhard. (Matt's general intro is here.) Best, Michael... posted by Michael at May 18, 2009 | perma-link | (9) comments

Food, Mood, Cooking, Evo-Bio
Michael Blowhard writes: Dear Blowhards -- * A podcast inteview with the brilliant Gregory Cochran. Access all five parts of our own recent interview with Cochran here. Buy "The 10,000 Year Explosion," the fascinating book Greg wrote with Henry Harpending, here. * Maybe people would do better if they skipped the "therapy" thing and just got onto a yoga mat. * Are dogs more like people than chimps are? "In my view, pet dogs can be regarded in many respects as 'preverbal infants in canine's clothing'," says a researcher. * Who's happy? * Alex Birch thinks you should start cooking for yourself. * Tom Naughton has begun posting some outtakes from his superb and very entertaining low-carb documentary "Fat Head." Excellent and informative stuff. Read our interviews with Tom here, here, and here. * Fab info enlighteningly presented: Best, Michael... posted by Michael at May 18, 2009 | perma-link | (24) comments