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r_ness July 29 2014, 04:18

No subject

Maureen O'Connor, writing in New York magazine:
Though mixed-race couples still report rudeness and outright hostility from ­strangers—there are plenty of places in this country where they would be reasonably wary of walking in public hand in hand—I would wager that almost as many have experienced the bizarre enthusiasm of strangers who marvel, “Your babies will be so beautiful.” You could be the ugliest man and woman in the world, but if you are from distinctly different races, Americans will chase you down the street to describe the color they imagine your babies will be, perhaps invoking the name of a creamy coffee drink or citing a beautiful cousin of a cousin who has slanted eyes that are green. Politically correct people who would never make normative statements about the beauty of one race over another nevertheless feel liberated to adjudicate physical supremacy when the subjects are composed of multiple socially constructed groups. “Asian and white is my favorite,” a blonde soccer mom at my middle school told me once, as though my parents’ decision to marry and have kids was an ingenuity akin to the creation of a Labradoodle. She meant well, of course, even as she fetishized a preteen directly to her face. Today, I would be tempted to respond, “Really? I kind of like Somali-Inuit-Peruvian better,” though it may be worth noting that I’m a lot brattier about the subject when I’m talking to white people.
Yup. Both the hostility on the one hand and enthusiasm on the other are part of my personal experience as a member of a mixed-race couple.

I've never been particularly good at the bratty comeback myself, though.
r_ness July 27 2014, 06:31

No subject

I keep being reminded how important it is in social contexts to know what not to say and when not to say it.

Most recently this has been in social media. I keep deleting comments before hitting the "Post" button. I'm pretty sure most everyone is happier this way. I certainly am.

I know that this is pretty much the opposite of the way I'm supposed to use social media. That is a problem with social media, not me.
r_ness July 26 2014, 23:16

Lightningmaps.org. Check it out.

Lightningmaps.org is a visualization of lightning data collected by a lightning detection network set up by a volunteer community of detector station operators.

They include instructions on how to set up your own station. "If you are not from Germany, Austria, or Switzerland you can even get a complete controller kit, a complete amplifier kit, ferrite rod antennas, and a gps modul for cost price, if desired."

Their real time map looks particularly cool when you turn "Stations: on".
r_ness July 26 2014, 15:23

Okay, this was a roundabout way to get a travel warning.

I happen to have Facebook "liked" the Swedish railways page. This morning I got the following notice:
Information för resande till Norge.
Med anledning av rådande säkerhetsläge i Norge har norska polisen beslutat att införa gränskontroller för resande in i Norge. Detta medför att krav på pass, nationellt id-kort alternativt körkort har införts.

Google Translate:Information for traveling to Norway.
In view of the prevailing security situation in Norway, Norwegian police decided to impose border controls for travel in Norway. This means that passport, national identity card or alternatively driving license has been introduced.
Security situation? What security situation? Did I miss something? So I fire up the news.

Apparently this is all about a warning the Norwegians received recently. From The Local:
“The PST [Norway’s security police] recently received information that people with links to Islamic extremists in Syria may intend to carry out attacks against Norway,” PST chief Benedicte Bjørnland told a press conference in Oslo on Thursday. She added that the attack was planned to take place “within a few days from now.”

Terror alerts happen from time to time, and I hope this one passes without incident. After the Breivik attack in 2011, the Norwegian authorities are understandably alert.

Mostly I'm just finding it noteworthy that I found out about this particular alert this way.
jab2 July 25 2014, 17:29

note to self

weddings are hard on friendly introverts like myself.  especially when slightly sick and/or going through the longest jetlag recovery period ever.

so yay to partnering into a great family, but only for some of the hours of the day?
r_ness July 21 2014, 19:06

I-84 in Western Connecticut is really impressive, in its way.

You can really engage more directly with a highway when there's no one else on it. So it is with I-84 between the Connecticut-New York border and the I-384 split east of Hartford.

I always knew it was a piece of work as freeways go, but driving on it at 3AM on a Sunday night really allowed me to concentrate on the parts of it which are bad because of design, not traffic. Usually, the thing has enough traffic on it that your attention is diverted from the inherent lousiness of the layout. This time there was hardly any other traffic on the road, so I got to interact with it without distractions.

Twisty curves, ups and downs, left-hand exits and entrances, lanes appearing and disappearing from both sides: really, this bit of I-84 has it all. Not so bad compared to many urban interstates, particularly within big cities like New York and Boston, but pretty impressive for one which can only claim to go through Hartford and Danbury.*

I think it really struck me because of the contrast with the highways I'd been driving on farther south. From North Carolina to New Jersey, as long as you're not actually driving on an urban freeway, you're by and large spared this kind of chaos.

It's actually kind of fun to drive on when no one's on it and you can just marvel at the complexity of the route. You'd never build an interstate like this today; it's really a relic of an earlier time. Many of its exits and entrances were built for a freeway system that was never completed.

I'm told truckers hate I-84, though they're pretty much forced to use it through Connecticut as the alternative is the usually-congested I-95 along the coast. I can see why. I can zip along in my crossover with the curves and hills simply providing a bit of spice. Not so for a fully-laden rig.

When it's full of traffic it just becomes another clogged interstate, where most of your attention is on all the other drivers. But when it's empty you can appreciate its particular challenges.

All this and road work, too!

ETA: *And Waterbury! How could I have forgotten...oh, never mind.
r_ness July 21 2014, 18:26

Yesterday evening's excitement was brief but alarming.

I was in the center lane of US 1 north just after Ryders Lane in New Brunswick when the white sedan in front of me nearly disappeared in a big cloud of dark smoke. Fortunately I wasn't following too closely and the drivers to our right got out of the sedan's way as he cut hard to the shoulder.

As the smoke cleared it was obvious that Something Bad had happened to the car's left front wheel, which was canted over at an angle. Possibly the tie rod end had failed.

In any case the acrid smell of burning rubber made it obvious that the sideways tire burning had generated all the smoke.

Well done getting the car off the travel lanes with only three functioning wheels. Also good job of everyone else staying out of his way while he got over. I imagine the cloud of smoke was useful encouragement to all involved.
digitalemur July 16 2014, 20:55

Tu as un chèvre sur la toit de ton auto, mon frère.

C: so what is 'chèvre'?it's on the roof of my car, presumably
me: goat
C: Google said goat cheese for some reason
me: that is also chèvre
C: at least it's not 'chien'
cause' I'm no Romney
me: no.
no you are not.
Les corporations sont des peuples, mon ami.
C: Romney's so white, he thinks saltines are ethnic food
me: YES got it right first try
he does
C: Les corporations sont des chiots, mon ami. [editor's note: chiot = puppy]

...I see how we got where we ended up but wow, I didn't expect that.

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