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Five Things I'm Not Crazy About

So Adam of Don't Know It From Adam passed me this game, in which I'm supposed to list five things my friends are wild about but I'm not. First I was having exams, then I just wasn't having any inspiration, but finally tonight I've decided to put my hand to it. So, with no further ado, five thing I'm just not that crazy about, though my friends are. Since Adam wanted a different perspective, I'll start with a political matter that's been bugging me, and go from there.

(Before we start, since this is a long one: I'm supposed to hand this on to two other bloggers. Over to you, Chris and PG.)

Fear of Theocracy: When some of my European friends would wonder at how I could be a--shudder--conservative, they'd inevitably bring up the "religious wackos" that make up my party. Even among the more libertarian of conservatives that I know at Columbia, I'll occasionally get a "Yeah, but aren't you afraid of the religious right?" Heck, one of my good friends looked at me the other day and said, "But, you know, you're smart. You've gotta worry about these theocrats."

Actually, I find such spinelessness amusing when it isn't embarassing to watch.

Look, a few months ago a 20-minute cab ride would take me to a giant image of a woman boldly going where we didn't want to see (barely safe for work). My Student Senate recently passed a resolution stating that the administration needed to make the signs protesting JAG recruitment bigger on the same day that I saw devoutly Christian student assigned the task of checking a website mostly notable for having images of women covered in dung. (Not intentionally, mind you, but it just wasn't something anyone thought about. The warnings signs weren't, it seems, big enough.) If this is a theocracy, it's being run by the most incompetent bunch of theocrats this side of a Douglas Adam's novel. So Long, and Thanks for The Holy Wafers.

Look, I've been an agnostic for as long as I can remember, certainly since early high school. I'm thirty years old and unmarried, and anyone familiar with my modest dating history is going to realize it's enough that James Dobson's not ringing my phone off the hook asking me to help teach his abstinence-based education courses. I do things that a goodly number of my more evangelical fellow-conservatives disagree with. The title of the blog should have been a hint.

But I'd have to be living in a paranoid fantasyland to think we were living in theocracy. What, an Alabama judge wants to put a rock the weight of my car in his courtroom and stamp it with the Ten Commandments? That's kind of funny in a Faulkneresque way, but so long as he's not sentencing folks to death for adultery--or heck, so long as such sentences are being overturned--the sweat's just not on my brow. Some state wants to put stickers on their textbooks promoting Intelligent Design? It doesn't matter what's on the sticker, it's graffiti-bait. (Actually, one would think that a sticker on the outside of a textbook would be the first place you'd want to put an idea that you'd like to see buried.)

Yeah, there's folks out there who have a different moral code from mine, and they'd like to use democracy to promote it. But democracy is fantastically favorable to us hedonists: oddly enough, pleasure gets votes. In the meantime, maybe just maybe this Pythonesque Inquisition will find a way to keep forty foot softcore off public billboards. See? Every so often, they and I find common cause.

Linux: Most of the more tech-savvy bloggers are far more into Linux than I'm ever likely to be. I just don't have the urge to play around with my machines so that I can run it, and I don't see much payoff to the learning curve. Sure, Linux is probably a more stable operating system, but my Windows XP box (knock on wood since I'm tempting the gods here) is pretty stable as well. The way I figure, Heidi's laptop has had more operating system problems due to orange juice than either of ours have had due to actual operating systems.

To the extent that Linux is more stable, I'd screw it up. I figured out that my Outlook crash a few weeks ago was mostly a result of my third-party spam filter having a hard time with a few tweaks I'd made to ActiveSync and some other mail-based software. I admit: I'm a compulsive tweaker when it comes to software. Just imagine what I'd be like on an operating system where everyone is handing out betaware and in moments of ambition I could get at the kernel.

New York: Lots of my friends love this city. My friend Martin visited once or twice and never failed to tell me how wonderful it was. Me, it's nice, but I'm not in love.

I love London. I liked Tokyo. I'm in a kind of restless anxiety about Hong Kong because I've heard it called "the New York of the East," and to me that brings to mind dirtiness, rudeness, and relentlessly box-like architecture. (I'm sure the Fragrant Harbour will live up to my expectations, at least in being different.) I know this is supposed to be a great melting pot, and hey, I like the ethnic diversity as much as anyone. "Troglodyte like cosmopolitanism! Gimme a Cosmopolitan!" But the melting pot seems to have boiled everything down to a degree of aggression only differentiated by varying degrees of passivity. In other places it was nice to know that my friends had my back. There's something about the air in New York that makes one think they have to.

Cooking: I like to cook, but sometimes when I wander over to Crescat Sententia on food (and this goes double for Waddling Thunder, who, I have it on good authority, doesn't even waddle), I wonder if Will and Raffi are engaged in the same task I am. Strange ingredients, sci-fi-style cooking implements, and conversations that can become heated about... erm... I think it's vinegar they're talking about?

Cooking for me tends to be an experimental endeavor by an impoverished researcher. I once read Isabelle Allende's Aphrodite and loved every bit of it, but quickly figured out that I couldn't make her soup stock without commandeering every inch of cupboard space in my dorm kitchen. What of my kitchen equipment hasn't been pilfered from others in my hallway--I've lost most of a nice set of knives--has been purchased with Lexis points. Basically, I can make you anything that can be made with a no-stick skillet, a single pot, large cooking chopsticks, some basic spices, and a curious mind.

Fortunately, like any good Jekyll I experiment on myself first.

Clothing: You know the old saying about one of the kids in the family getting the brains and the other the looks? Well, it would be true, if my brother hadn't gotten a fair share of the brains too. And whatever else he got, he purloined the fashion sense. In the meantime I absolutely loathe clothing shopping.

Put me in a bookstore and I'll stay for hours. Curio shop or an antique-seller? Just go get a coffee, I'll be back by the time you're on your second round. But for some reason the process of looking through rack after rack of clothing wondering what's right for me bores me to tears. (Sadly, it shows. Some of my friends have been trying to get me to go on What Not To Wear for so long that I think they expect a bounty from the producers.)

Fortunately, there's two exceptions to this general rule. First, I love shopping with my brother, because he combines a ruthless shopping efficiency with a skill at clothing that frankly bewilders me. A hundred dollars with my brother will get me plenty of good clothing and leave me enough to buy him a beer. Secondly, I "get" suits. Indeed, not only am I intent on someday buying a bespoke suit, but I'm hoping that maybe a family friend will know a good tailor in Hong Kong.

Anyway, that's my five. Now back to that last exam.


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A. Rickey rants against the fear of theocracy instead of giving it an "eh," and Fitz-Hume outright hates on raw fish and Closer... Notwithstanding Randy Barnett's and Will Baude's enthusiasm, I am skeptical [Read More]


I share your affinity for suits... a good suit is both comfortable and good looking. I, too, look forward to bespoke... the right suit can make even a chump like me look presentable! :)
Well, hey hey, look who finally got around to not studying for finals. ;) I wholeheartedly agree about New York. I like it, it's a nice city. But it's not the best nor "only" good place to live in the world. My biggest grudge with the city is the myopia about life outside it that its denizens seem to take on by course.

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