Saturday, November 21, 2009

Weekend Update

It's a cold and clear Saturday morning here in Urbana. I'm watching giant, cornfed midwesterners bash into each other in the Minnesota vs. Iowa game, while the radio is playing "Commodity Saturday," the all important weekly corn and soy crop report. It all feels very American. Fortunately Robyn is making some eggs benedict. Delicious, treacherous eggs benedict.

Remember what I was saying about how awesome Pac-10 football? Well, Sports Illustrated agrees with me. So there.

The senate is supposed to finally vote on the health bill today. But, wait - what do you mean that the effects of the Health-Reform Bill won't take effect until after 2013? That is, not until after 2012, when Obama has already either been re-elected or not, and after I get the chance to either show my approval or disapproval of the Healthcare in the 2012 election, and, most importantly, the bill won't take effect until the apocalyptic cataclysms of 2012? That sucks.

Yesterday was Library Friday in for our 8th grade reading and writing class, which the students really like and is a nice, relaxing way to end the work week. I have been spending most of this time reading The Diary of Anne Frank with one of our students. Yesterday, while we were reading, he suddenly turned to me and asked, "What did you major in in college?" "Philosophy." I said. "Oh." he said, and turned for a minute back to his book. After a pause, he looked at me again and asked: "What's philosophy?"


Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Be Careful What You Wish For OR The Blazers Are Rolling

You know you spend too much time on the internet when your life revolves around how long you should wait before posting your first guest post on someone else's blog.

Conventionally, when one convinces a female to give you her number (usually through a case of mistaken identity) you wait three days before calling said girl back. Does that same rule apply to internet diaries? If you get invited to guest post, are you supposed to wait three days? Is it more appropriate to wait longer because you're terrified of causing the whole thing to jump the shark? At what point do your friends who own said blog think you've fallen off the face of the earth, or worse, mistakenly think you aren't interested in blogging?

What if the only personal reflection writing you've ever done was about which of the terrible bands you listened to in middle school had the most meaningful lyrics?

After sweating profusely for about 2 weeks, I've finally decided to make my maiden post on our friend Joel's blog. I hemmed and hawwed for a while about what this post should be about but in order to explain that I need to backtrack. Despite my enjoyment of stories about the haughtiness of cats or Manifest Destiny, my favorite Logios posts are sports related. Joel's ability to divine the BCS system is mind boggling; apparently NASA has a whole team devoted to it and they still don't understand why Oregon is ranked below USC.

So since probably last spring or fall, I have been bothering Joel to do a Blazers post. "Com'on man, they're really good." That was kind of the extent of my argument- I suppose can now see why it wasn't very persuasive. I can only guess that he got fed up with my nagging because now my boss (Joel) has demanded I put out good copy on the Blazers ASAP. So here goes:

I like the Portland Trail Blazers and they are good this year. My role here will be the occasional update on the team's progress, good games, bad games, and jokes about how old Greg Oden is. Possibly some economics too though given my bosses' (Robyn and Joel) advanced degrees, I don't plan on straying into policy or academics with any frequency. I also listen to a lot of really bad music (still) and so will probably write about that sometimes.


Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Yes, I Do Love Pac-10 Football

While Robyn and I were eating delicious pulled pork sandwiches on Saturday at the Black Dog in Urbana, and most of the raucous crowd was hooting and hollering at the Iowa-Ohio State game, I was keeping my eye on the sports ticker that showed the following: Stanford 35, USC 21, 4th quarter. I couldn't believe what I was reading. A week after beating my beloved Ducks, the Cardinal was crushing 'SC in the Coliseum!!! This is one of the many reasons why I love the Pac-10: Anything can, and will, happen. Later that night, I watched 'Bama beat Mississippi State 31-3 in the most boring football game ever in grand preparation for their showdown next week with Chattanooga. And, with Ohio State winning the Big Ten, the Pac-10 remains the only major conference left with any drama concerning who their champ will be. The Ducks are on top for now, and it's probable that the champion of the Pac-10 will be the winner of the Toilet Bowl Civil War Game. But by my calculations, six of the ten Pac-10 teams still have a mathematical possibility of reaching the Rose Bowl:

1) Oregon (8-2, 6-1): Win at Arizona, Win vs. Oregon St.

2) Arizona (6-3, 4-2): Win vs. Oregon, Win at Arizona St., Win at USC.

3) Oregon State (7-3, 5-2): Win at Wash. St., Win at Oregon. Have Arizona lose once.

4) Stanford (7-3, 6-2): Win vs. Cal. Have Oregon lose once, Arizona lose once, and Oregon State lose once.

5) USC (7-3, 4-3): Win vs. UCLA, Win vs. Arizona. Have Oregon lose to Arizona and Oregon State. Have Arizona beat Arizona State. Have Oregon State lose to Washington State. Have Cal beat Stanford and Washington, thereby creating a six team tie for first place. The first tie-breaker would be those six team's records against one another, which would be: USC: 3-2, Arizona: 3-2, Oregon State: 3-2, Stanford: 2-3, Cal: 2-3, Oregon: 2-3. Oregon, Stanford, and Cal would all be dropped, leaving only Arizona, Oregon State, and USC, and since USC beat both Oregon St. and Arizona, they would win the final tie breaker.

6) California (7-3, 4-3): Win at Stanford, Win at Washington. Have Oregon lose to Arizona and Oregon State. Have Arizona lose to Arizona State and USC. Have Oregon State lose to Washington State. Have USC lose to UCLA. This would create a four-way tie for first between Oregon, Oregon State, Cal, and Stanford. Their head-to-head records would be: Oregon: 1-2, Stanford: 1-2, Cal: 1-2, Oregon State: 3-0..... Damn. Maybe there are only five teams that can still go to the Rose Bowl. Let me get back to you on this one.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

"It takes a lot of time and a lot of welding"

From: Robyn

Scene: Joel's rereading Catch-22, watching The Simpsons, and bothering the cat with an odd, jiggling stuffed Christmas thing leftover from our Halloween party.

I'm doing homework (slightly) and reading a wedding blog (ouch).

R: "Look, these people in Portland had a Neo-Victorian Haunted Museum Wedding"

(Yes, that's a thing)

J: "Since when did Portland become the Steampunk capital of the world? Get it together Portland. Go slaughter some cows or build railroads, or something!"

R: "Their chief export is whimsy! And it's misty in Portland, helps to tarnish their brass."

J: "I don't care, they need to do something real..."

Where In The World Is Joel? Not San Diego!

One of the things that I am liking the best about living in Champaign-Urbana is feeling, once again, like a member of an actual community. For example, on Saturday, Robyn and I were strolling through downtown Champaign when we ran into our friend John, who was sipping coffee and surfing the web at a cafe. (It was really nice outside at that moment.) He asked us if we wanted to hang out, and, kind of on the spur of the moment, we said sure.

"Have you guys been to Allerton Park?" he asked us.

"What?" we said in unison.

"Oh, man! You guys have got to see Allerton Park! It is awesome!"

So we did, because it was a lovely Saturday afternoon and we happened to run into our friend John - who called his girlfriend Jean who drove us to Allerton Park - and because we didn't really have anything better to do.

It turns out that Allerton Park is awesome, and it is also absolutely insane. The park is 1,500 acres of woods and marshes that surround the Allerton mansion and estate. The estate was built as a home by Samuel Allerton - Chicago businessman, politico, and slaughterhouse tycoon - for his gay, art-collecting, philanthropist son, Robert. On the Allerton Park website, it says, "Allerton believed that art surrounded and embraced every human being through nature. His belief in the artistic power of nature led to a life-long commitment to stewardship of the land and its natural elements." I can just imagine the conversation the 20-year old Robert had with Samuel while his dad was running for Mayor of Chicago in 1893. "But Dad, I don't want to go and work in the stockyards! I believe that art surrounds and embraces every human being through nature!"

But it sounds like Robert was rather happy in his estate out in the woods, where he collected art and was a patron to both the University of Illinois and the Art Institute of Chicago. He lived there until 1946, where he and his partner, John Gregg, moved to Kauai and donated the entire estate to the University of Illinois. In 1960, Allerton officially adopted Gregg and declared him legal heir, thereby allowing Gregg to continue Allerton's legacies of philanthropy and art patronage.*

Today, the estate is a state park, one of the "Seven Wonders of Illinois," and the main building serves as a conference center. And the place is crazy-cool. Allerton and Gregg had traveled the world collecting art pieces, and Allerton Park has a mosaic of aesthetic themes coming from China, the South Pacific, Egypt, Greece, Versailles, and Duchess County, New York. (Where Samuel Allerton was born. Robert went to prep school in Massachusetts and dropped out of Harvard.)

Here are some pictures Robyn and I took on our camera phones:

The path leading up to the mansion.

A Scary Face On The Wall

Naked Lady Sphinx


And at the end of the hedgerows... "The Birth of Man." Looking good, Adam. No Eve necessary.

This is the path going out into the woods on the other side of the mansion. Only one of two things live at the end of that path: The Headless Horseman or the Erlkonig.

Or John.

This path actually goes for a ways around the estate, and there were lots of signs telling us to look out for bow hunters. We saw lots of pileated woodpeckers, and even heard an owl of some sort.

More woods. Check out that vine twisting around and choking that tree to death.

Actually, the path leads to the Fu Dog Garden. Inside that gazebo are two statues of Buddha and one of an Egyptian pharaoh, all being guarded by 22 Chinese Fu Dogs. (This was my favorite part.)

The Fu Dogs are made out of blue ceramic, and became popular during the Han Dynasty. (200 BC - 220 AD) I don't know how old these ones are.

Fu Dog!

I call the big one Bitey.

Black Fu Dog!

Anyways, that's about it. We followed a whim and ended up on an adventure to see an awesome place that I had no idea existed. I love it when things like that happen. It makes me want to go and seek out the other six Wonders of Illinois.**

*An interesting way to cope with the discriminations and legal obstacles presented to gay men and lesbians who cannot marry. Gregg was 26 years younger than Robert, but was also 61 when he was adopted.

**Fu Dog!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

As I should have said:

What frustrates me about writing is that as soon as I've committed something to print, someone else does a better job of it. Particularly Katha Pollitt's piece in the Nation on the Stupak amendment and Melissa McEwan of Shakesville on Obama refusing to stand up for women.


"You know what I don't want to hear right now about the Stupak-Pitts amendment banning abortion coverage from federally subsidized health insurance policies? That it's the price of reform, and prochoice women should shut up and take one for the team. "If you want to rebuild the American welfare state," Peter Beinart writes in the Daily Beast, "there is no alternative" than for Democrats to abandon "cultural" issues like gender and racial equality. Hey, Peter, Representative Stupak and your sixty-four Democratic supporters, Jim Wallis and other antichoice "progressive" Christians, men: why don't you take one for the team for a change and see how you like it?

For example, budget hawks in Congress say they'll vote against the bill because it's too expensive. Maybe you could win them over if you volunteered to cut out funding for male-exclusive stuff, like prostate cancer, Viagra, male infertility, vasectomies, growth-hormone shots for short little boys, long-term care for macho guys who won't wear motorcycle helmets and, I dunno, psychotherapy for pedophile priests. Men could always pay in advance for an insurance policy rider, as women are blithely told they can do if Stupak becomes part of the final bill.

President Obama, too, worries about the deficit. Maybe you could help him out by sacrificing your denomination's tax exemption. The Catholic Church would be a good place to start, and it wouldn't even be unfair, since the blatant politicking of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops on abortion violates the spirit of the ban on electoral meddling by tax-exempt religious institutions. Why should antichoicers be the only people who get to refuse to let their taxes support something they dislike? You don't want your tax dollars to pay, even in the most notional way, for women's abortion care, a legal medical procedure that one in three American women will have in her lifetime? I don't want to pay for your misogynist fairy tales and sour-old-man hierarchies."

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

There Oughtta Be A Law

My general support for the BCS has been rather well documented; most of you are already familiar with my love of having a system of human voters and computer programs determining which two teams get to compete for the national championship. It's just so much more aesthetic than what I see as a brute, cold, and essentially nihilistic standard playoff bracket format. It all comes down to a question of taste. But even I, on occasion, am taken aback by the audacity of some of the voters.

Honestly, I wasn't too upset about the Ducks losing to Stanford last weekend. I kind of saw it coming: Oregon was coming off of a big win and was due for a let down, Stanford had an extra week to prepare, plus the Cardinal is much better than a lot of people assumed. Also, I kind of like Stanford - they're the nerds of the Pac-10. Richard Rorty taught there. I can't wait for them to play Notre Dame in an epic clash of two powerhouse philosophy programs. But what irks me is this:

Oregon is 14th in the AP poll. USC is 11th.

According to, out of the 60 voters in the AP poll, 23 now have USC ranked higher than Oregon.

Even in the BCS, USC is 9th and Oregon is 13th.

Both teams are 7-2. Both teams have a victory over a top 20 non-conference opponent (#10 Ohio State and #16 Utah.) Both teams have lost to a Pac-10 underdog (Washington and #25 Stanford.) And, what else? Oh yes, Oregon beat USC 47-20 less than two weeks ago.

This injustice will not stand.

Monday, November 9, 2009


I'm looking at a chart that displays the subject terms assigned to a library collection as circles of varying sizes, depending on the number of items in a particular subject. The circles are placed near or far from each other depending on the strength of the connection between subject terms.

Guess which subject is the absolute farthest from "Academia"?


Sunday, November 8, 2009

And where are the french fries I did not ask for? You need to anticipate me!

Greetings, Gentle Readers

I'm delighted to have Joel capitalize on the fact that I'm too lazy to maintain a blog of my own. This will be far more efficient than yelling suggestions from across the room. First things first, I think we need some titles. For example, I am nominating myself the official Information (Mad)Scientist as well as the Czar of Lady Business.

On that note, here's some News that Makes me Angry:
Yesterday the House of Representatives passed the Stupak amendment to the health care reform bill by 290-194. This included 64 yay votes from Democrats (scumbags).

This amendment prohibits covering abortions for anyone on the prospective government health insurance plan. According to the Associated Press, "The amendment also prevents private insurers from covering abortions for anyone getting federal subsidies to help pay their premiums." Yet another instance of the Dems throwing women's health under the bus to placate a pack of obstructionist loons. Like their capitulation over a decent public option, I don't see the point of even passing a health care bill if it's stripped the elements that could make it effective.

And I'm counting down to when the Obama administration repeats their tune of "We all need to work together to find common ground over the abortion issue". This isn't an argument with two reasonable sides coming to an agreement, it's about whether we'll allow women and their health providers the freedom to control their own medical decisions.

What I can't get over is that the Republicans and the credulous are having conniptions over 'government mandating' of health care, or anything that interferes with the work of the Free Markettm in public services. Yet they see no conflict in turning around and effectively banning a procedure that could affect half the U.S. population.1

And I'd just love to know what personal medical decisions men are prohibited from making under this plan."The Democrats' original bill would have allowed people getting federal subsidies to pay for abortion coverage with their own money." Isn't this the heart of American conservatism? 'People do what they want with their money, bureaucrats be damned!' (Oh, that assumes they think women are people, doesn't it?)

You can find out how your Representative voted here: I'm pleased to see that Hodes and Shea Porter from NH voted no, and unsurprised to see that IL-15th's unmitigated ass Tim Johnson supports this.

There's the possibility that this could be taken out of the Senate version of the bill, so I'll be sending letters to Congress.

And to combat my woe, here's a picture of Robert Pattinson pretending to be a lobster man:
What disdain, quel ennui ! That's no way to enjoy corn, you sparkly putz...

1. By which I mean the poor part of half the U.S. population. Wealthy women will of course still be able to go to Canada or get ahold of RU-486. Don't have the funds for that? There's always back-alleys and coat hangers.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Meet Your New Bosses Friends

So as some of you may have noticed, there's at least one new name there listed under "contributors" on the right hand side bar. You see, about a month ago, R.A. and I took a trip to Oregon to announce our engagement to our folks, and while we were there we had a nice, drunken conversation with our good friend Kirby. We decided that night that Logios Dolios Eriounios - or L.E.D. - could use a little bit of an update. I haven't been doing a very good job of keeping my promise of blogging at least twice a week on a regular basis, and both Kirby and R.A. - although I'm not sure that they realized it - volunteered to join the team and add their own special insights to the blog.

R.A., as many of you know, is living with me here in Urbana while she works towards her Master's degree in Library Science. She is rapidly becoming an expert in very technical sounding areas like "information technology" and "data curation." She has also sworn to "use my library powers only for good," after having read that Swanson was using tw0-node searching to "identify a number of novel candidate viruses that were particularly amenable for future bioterror development". So maybe, if we're lucky, she will tell us more about that.

Our other new contributor, Kirby, has told me that he is already percolating some great ideas for blog posts, mostly about the Portland Trail Blazers. Kirby presently lives in Denver, CO, and studied economics in college. Once, he blew my mind when he told me that being a Marxist economist is a little like being a Christian atheist. Hopefully he'll talk more about that, but I'm also counting on him to discuss with us lacrosse, grilling, Steve McQueen, and Horatio Hornblower.

So there you have it. Kirby and R.A. can tell you more about themselves later, but now they are officially on the gun and under the ball as bloggers. I'm sure that everyone will thoroughly enjoy their wit and whimsy, or, at the very least, getting to read about something other than Wittgenstein and the White Sox for a change.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Damn Yankees!

OK, so the damn Yankees finally one, I mean, won, a World Series. A-Rod gets his ring, Jeter gets his fifth ring, the new Yankee stadium gets inaugurated with a championship, blah, blah, blah. All pomp and circumstance as far as I'm concerned. And don't get me wrong, I always root against the Evil Empire, but tonight I realized something:

The last time that the Yankees won a World Series was October of 2000. That was right before the infamous Presidential Election of 2000, and the last Fall Classic before George W. Bush became president. Now, nine years later, the Yankees finally win another Series - in the first November after Bush has left office. So, if the moral of the story that one must sometimes choose between the lesser of two evils, and if my two evils are the Yankees winning the World Series or George Bush being president, then by God I would want the damn Yankees to win it every single year.

Still, you've got to sing:

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Kids Say The Darnedest Things, Day 78

Today, in the 7th/8th grade writing class, we were writing paragraphs on what the students were learning in their Social Studies classes. J- has been learning about American history, and he wanted to write about the Yankees teams of the 1930's and 40's, and about how important they were as public heroes to the American people. An excellent topic, I thought, but J- needed a little help first.

"What was the name of that guy who played for the Yankees?" he asked.

I turned to look at him.

"What?" I said.

"What was the name of that guy who played for the Yankees?" J- repeated, obviously becoming irritated with my inability to know the name of that guy.

"Babe Ruth." Sure, I thought. Why not.

"Nooo, Mr. W!" exclaimed J-. "The other guy who played for the Yankees!"

I paused, intending to make it a pause pregnant with meaning, hoping that J- would pick up on it. But just in case he didn't:

"Lou Gehrig."

"NO!" I was getting worried that J- was about to spring up out of his seat, and possibly take off his shirt, he was so upset. "His name was, like, Najeeo, or something."

"You mean Joe DiMaggio?"

"Yeah! That's it!"

Pleased with myself, and with the fact that my answer got J- writing again, I turned to help the next student.

"Mr. W?" I heard from behind my back. "Can you write that on the board?"

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Yes, But Can Tim Tebow Complete a Syllogism?

I just wanted to let everyone know that, needing a way to pass the time between Saturday college football games, I have officially begun the 2009-2010 season of the Ultimate Philosopher Championship. Highlights of the year thus far have included Karl Marx upsetting Arthur Schopenhauer, Aristotle defeating Plato in their annual Largest Outdoor Symposium, and Simone de Beauvoir defeating Emmanuel Levinas to take over 1st place in the wild and crazy French Division.

I am sure that you will all be glued to your computer screens this winter to find out who wins the coveted Socrates Cup. I will be sure to keep you all updated.

My inspiration: