Monday, February 28, 2011

The closest to a podcast that this blog will ever come

Miss Self-Important on the radio (very briefly). And yes, after hearing "Our baby is Hartford," I'm done with this topic, for now.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Varieties of propositions

In college, one of my roommates was a frequent target of the Vulgar Proposition by Random Dudes. Living as we did in Hyde Park, Random Dudes frequently included members of the subgroups, Apparently Homeless Dudes, and also Aimlessly Joyriding Dudes Yelling Out of Their Cars, but also the more typical Dudes Walking Down the Street, and Dudes in Dive Bars. Alex was not the type to encourage such requests, so they were always quite funny, especially since the verbal creativity of such people is surprisingly boundless. My personal favorite was when a Random Dude--I can't recall if he was Apparently Homeless or just Walking Down the Street--suggested to her that they would make a great couple because together, they could "make chocolate milk." (I suspect Alex will correct this inaccurate rendering of the incident.)

There is a kind of reasonableness, at least, to asking women one can actually see if they'd like to "make chocolate milk." I, for example, as a plain and permanently scowling person, have never been asked any such thing. But what is the reason for proposition emails? You can't even know if the object of your request is hot. Nonetheless, here is an email I received last week:
I guess I'll start by introducing myself. Hi, my name is [redacted]. I've recently read your article...and I was struck by your honest, challenging, and clear-sighted take on a very timely topic. I immediately liked you as a writer, and I'm writing you now because, well, good writers have got it going on. I, myself, am a very mediocre writer, but then again, I do drive a '99 Chevy Silverado, and there's something women like about a pickup man. You don't happen to be a country music fan, do you? For some reason, someone who goes to Harvard doesn't seem to me like they'd have the right kind of appreciation for country music. That's ok, nobody's perfect.
Now, as readers may know, Miss Self-Important is a fan of country music, and does not appreciate the insinuation that Harvard=effete coastal liberal=listens exclusively to emo-nostalgic hipster nonsense=Miss Self-Important. Miss Self-Important is so down with Real America! She catches your little country song allusion--like lolcats, she sees what you did there! Thus, I was moved to reply:
Thanks for your email. I'm glad you enjoyed my article. Contrary to your presuppositions, I am a country--and especially bluegrass--music fan. Harvard students aren't generally born at Harvard, and some even hail from places where they have a chance to develop the right kinds of appreciations. However, in keeping with my disdain for aimless young adult drifting, I'm also married, which has substantially curtailed my interest in pickup men. But as a pick-up man yourself, I'm sure you'll understand since, as far as meeting wives goes, email may be less effective than traffic jams.
Apparently, however, this doomed me to a multi-part email exchange about pick-up trucks and pick-up trucks. Random Dudes, in life and over email, are strangely persistent. I'm hoping this last response, which I post in homage to another college roommate, will end the conversation:
I have no doubt that there are many available female admirers of pick-up men remaining, more even in [the Midwest] than in New England, although I have learned not to underestimate the residents of New Hampshire on this account.
Best of luck,
Miss Self-Important

Friday, February 25, 2011


The entire month of February has gone by, and all I've done is study Greek so that someday soon I might be able to produce better translations than this. Did you know that if you learn a new Greek verb form every day for an entire month, you still won't know them all by the end of that month? You will, however, develop a kind of low-level, permanent exhaustion from waking up at 7 AM every day to try.

This leads me to wonder:
1. Is any currently-spoken language as inflected as Greek, and how did anyone in the 5th century speak it correctly?
2. A friend points out that grammars seem to simplify over time--Attic Greek to Koine, for example, or classical Latin to modern Latin--but why would that happen? Shouldn't they become more elaborate instead? Or does the proliferation of vocabulary serve the elaborating function?

Monday, February 21, 2011

Aggressive undergrad marginalia

A note found in my copy of The Prince, next to the part of ch. 3 about the Roman conquest of Philip and Antiochus:
Pre-emption: take the war to the terrorists before they bring the war here
Grrr! What must we have been discussing in first quarter sosc?

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

Inside and out

Front row seats for snowstorm #231 of the winter

WEDNESDAY UPDATE: Exciting new weather atrocity--snow turns to rain, rain causes flood, flood freezes to ice, all on top of the pre-existing two feet of snow. Harvard shuttle buses continue to taunt with the banner, "Think spring!"

UPDATE II: Evidently no inclement weather pattern was to be slighted today, as it's now hailing. Next up, perhaps frogs. Or better, icy frogs.