All Things Depressing

by Kieran Healy on September 28, 2004

Three stories I heard on “NPR”:http://www.npr.org on the way to Daycare which made me want to drop myself off there and play for the day while sending my baby daughter off to the office instead:

* “This kid”:http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=4048551 whose doctor and parents are reluctant to take her off the “Zoloft”:http://www.rxlist.com/cgi/generic/sertral.htm they suggested she start taking, even though she’s been asking to stop for a year. Some of the doctors quoted in the report are a bit frightening. “Oh, we don’t know when to take them off the stuff — some of my patients have been on them since they were seven and now they’re in their 20s,” or words to that effect. Mom and Dad insist they are just waiting for a “less stressful time” in their daughter’s life to stop her course of anti-depressants. But guess what? She’s a junior in high school, is looking at colleges, next year’s senior year and then it’s the transition to University and … you see how it goes. That’s the kind of parent I want to be! “Honey, the problem isn’t your shitty high school, it’s serotonin re-uptake malfunctions in your brain.”

* John Kerry is starting to “refer to himself in the third person”:http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=4049569, like Bob Dole did in ’96. A sure sign of fatigue. Bush’s glib one-liners about Kerry are better than Kerry’s rebuttals. I’ve come to agree with “Matt”:http://yglesias.typepad.com/matthew/2004/09/expectations_ma.html that the debates are going to be a rough ride for Kerry.

* Perhaps saddest of all was hearing the father of “Sgt Ben Isenberg”:http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=4048547 of Oregon talk about his son’s death in Iraq. Sgt Isenberg was killed when his Humvee ran over a home-made mine. His father quietly explains how the war in Iraq is a “spiritual war” and that people “need to just dig into their Bible and read about it — it’s predicted, it’s predestined.” He says his son understood he had to go to Iraq because “our current President is a very devout Christian … [who] had the knowledge, and understood what was going on, and it’s far deeper than we as a people will every really know, because we don’t get the information that the President gets.” What can one say in the face of such belief? The President is simply unworthy of the trust these people have placed in him.

Mmm, Astrolube and Commentary

by Belle Waring on September 28, 2004

You should read the crucial interview with Roy Edroso of alicublog which was somehow cut from the final version of the NYT bloggerama. Here’s how it begins:

I knocked several times on the green steel door of Edroso’s Williamsburg apartment before a loud, phlegmy voice bade me enter. I found the author of “alicublog” — a little-read website devoted to politics, the arts, and bitter denunciations of the buy-back policies of local bars and clubs — in his tiny bedroom, nestled between a closet and a bookshelf stuffed with volumes of 19th-century literature and old issues of Black Tail, and pounding furiously on an ash-smeared keyboard.

“Oh, it’s you,” he said, not taking his eyes off the screen. He jerked a thumb toward his bed. I pushed aside empty bottles of vodka and Astrolube, and a copy of Commentary, and took a seat.

Go read the rest.

Two’s company, …

by John Quiggin on September 28, 2004

We have a pretty clear division of labour as regards paradoxes here at CT. Brian, Daniel and occasionally Chris set them up, while I, along with the commenters, try to knock them down. Following Chris’ discussion of the paradox of rational voting, I found myself wondering about the sorites paradox[1]. Once I got the thing into a form where I felt confident about the truth-value of the premises, I came to the conclusion that the argument fails, at least in my language, at n = 2.

[click to continue…]

Polls, polls and more polls

by Eszter Hargittai on September 28, 2004

In case you haven’t seen it yet, Mystery Pollster is a new blog for “Demystifying the Science and Art of Political Polling”. I didn’t find it through Kausfiles or Instapundit, I got the recommendation during a phone conversation with a friend who barely reads blogs… but who does work with surveys herself. The blog should be of interest to data & methods geeks and political junkies alike.

UPDATE: Since a reader completely misunderstood why I happened to mention how I got information about this blog, I thought I should clarify. I mentioned that I did not get it from reading another blog, because I found it interesting that people who do not read blogs are still in the position to recommend blogs these days. For those of us interested in who knows about blogs and who reads them, this is an interesting tidbit.

Strange Aeons

by Henry on September 28, 2004

“Teresa Nielsen Hayden”:http://nielsenhayden.com/makinglight/archives/005550.html reminds us that “Charlie Stross”:http://public.antipope.org/charlie/blosxom.cgi has a strong claim to the title of Supreme Cthonic Entity of the Order of the Shrill for his Oliver-North-discovers-the-Cthulhu-mythos-and-likes-what-he-finds short story, “A Colder War”:http://www.infinityplus.co.uk/stories/colderwar.htm, available in its entirety online. Stross describes it as a dry run for his novel, “The Atrocity Archives”:http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/1930846258/henryfarrell-20 but the two are very different in tone – _A Colder War_ is chill and disturbing, while “Atrocity Archives” is jaunty and irreverent – British bureaucratic incompetence battles against eldritch powers and survives, just about. It’s quite amazing how _adaptable_ H.P. Lovecraft’s oeuvre is, and how well it has survived as a set of cultural tropes, despite its dodgy politics and dodgier prose style. To name a few other unorthodox contemporary riffs on Lovecraft: P.H. Cannon’s “Scream for Jeeves”:http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0940884607/henryfarrell-20 (Lovecraftiana redescribed by P.G. Wodehouse), Nick Mamatas’ “Move Under Ground”:http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/1892389916/henryfarrell-20, which has Jack Kerouac going up against the Great Old Ones,[1] and my personal favourite, William Browning Spencer’s “Resume with Monsters”:http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/1579620264/ref%3Dase%5Fhenryfarrell-20/, which blends the Cthulhu mythos with the misery and drudgery of dead-end jobs in a sharp, funny and effective romantic comedy. Really. As it happens, I came across two copies of “RwM” in a second-hand bookshop yesterday – will happily send one each to the first two people to ask for them in comments.

fn1. I started reading this a couple of months ago and still haven’t finished thanks to other books and work commitments; Matt Cheney gives it “a good rating”:http://mumpsimus.blogspot.com/2004/08/move-under-ground-by-nick-mamatas.html here).