April 30, 2015

And Other Katy Perry Songs

Here are some statistics about my night at the New York Public Library's Young Lions Fiction Award Benefit on Monday:

Drinks I had to calm down before the event: 3

Additional drinks I told myself I would have before announcement of award, in case I had to get up on stage and talk: 0

Seconds of deliberation between being offered free champagne on arrival and accepting: 2.21

Unintentionally insulting comments made to fellow nominee Ben Lerner: 1

Times Ethan Hawke manhandled me into position for a photograph: 2

(*Unrelated) times I said "Thank you" to Ethan Hawke: 2

Times I met Jenny Slate without realising it was Jenny Slate: 1

Times I thought "oh shit, that was Jenny SLATE": 1 (at least)

Embarrassed flinches at awkward phrasing while listening to actor Vincent Piazza read my work: 6

Moments during said reading when I thought "what do I know this guy from, he looks so familiar?": 16

Times I IMDB'ed him afterwards: 2

Things I've actually seen him in: 0

So why did he look so damn familiar?: beats me

Times I said "Thank you again" to Ethan Hawke: 1

Times I saw winner Molly Antopol and considered stopping her to tell her (genuinely) how much I enjoyed her book and that I thought she far and away deserved to win: 5

Times I actually talked to Molly Antopol: 0

Mini tacos I ate while continuing to drink at after party: SHUT UP I'LL TELL YOU WHEN I'VE HAD ENOUGH

Liquor stores I attempted to go to on way back to hotel: 3

Bottles of "Vineyard Creek" wine-based beverage I considered buying at Duane Reade: 0

Bottles of overpriced hotel wine I bought instead: 1

Glasses of wine anybody else actually wanted: 0

Times I would do it all again: ∞

April 04, 2015

Breaking: Earning Less Than Similarly Qualified Men Just A Bunch Of Whining Too

Last October, researchers at the Open University of Israel published the results of a study investigating the factors influencing how women recall the pain of labour. According to their rather dry abstract:
We found that despite the exceptional physical and emotional experiences of childbirth, the memory of the pain involved in labor was biased toward the average of the peak pain and the end pain, whereas the duration of the delivery had a relatively negligible effect on the recollected intensity of pain.... [Our analysis] corroborated previous findings that the level of pain toward the end of an experience greatly influences the way the overall experience is remembered.
The study was picked up by science journalism clearinghouse EurekAlert, who glossed it quite reasonably thus:
Memories of pain during childbirth tied to intensity rather than length of labor

Childbirth is physically intense and, for many women, it is the most painful experience they will have. And yet, new research shows that the amount of time a woman spends in labor doesn't seem to impact how she remembers her labor pain afterwards.
EurekAlert also explains the theory underpinning the experiment:
The idea that we tend to remember an experience as a joint product of peak point and end point of the experience while ignoring all other parts is well known to researchers, dubbed the "peak-end bias," but it has primarily been tested in lab settings using relatively brief experiments. Thus, it remained unclear as to whether the peak-end bias would apply to real life events.
So, there you have it. A couple of psychologists found a clever way to test in a real-life situation a phenomenon that has frequently been observed in lab tests.

Say, how did the press pick this up, anyway?
Study says child birth pain not as painful as women claim
That's right, folks. The take-home for the (male?) junior staff writer whose (female?) editor handed him the science beat this week was: why bitches always gotsta be complainin', man?

Okay, junior staff writer. Let's see how else you can completely botch this.
The researchers then called the moms twice, two days after birth and again two months later... The results show the women rated the process less painful two days after their delivery than they did when the researchers asked them again two months later.

According to the researchers, they conclude that moms are likely to forget all the points during labor that aren't quite as painful and just focus on the moments that were the most painful.
PEOPLE. Not "moms." PEOPLE. If a dude gets kicked eight times and one of those times happens to be in the nuts, he'll probably remember the whole experience as pretty freakin' painful. You'd never tell him he was probably recalling it as worse than it was. Jesus. If you'll permit a moment of angry feminist ranting, this is pure patriarchal devaluing-the-experiences-of-women bullshit.

It's also, maybe, a case of an idiot being put in charge of science writing, because...
The reason for the study? To determine if an epidural is helpful for moms.

March 13, 2015

He Was A Featherweight

From the Glasgow Herald: Edinburgh Zoo urged to cancel "party" nights after Peta claims bird punched at similar event at another zoo
The Royal Zoological Society of Scotland (RZSS) [has reassured] People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) there will be no "drunken atmosphere" at evenings at Edinburgh Zoo after claims similar night events at another zoo led to one visitor trying to pour beer over a tiger and another accidentally punching a bird.
I say if you're the sort of person who wants to pour beer over a tiger, you should go for it and reap what you sow. But punching a bird? That's a chickenshit move. The guy probably winged it afterwards, too.
A spokeswoman for the RZSS said the events attract people who may not normally visit a zoo who learn about endangered species and how to help.
Step one: DON'T PUNCH THE ANIMALS.
At similar recent events at the London Zoo, one person reportedly tried to pour beer on a tiger, another allegedly attempted to undress and enter the enclosure that held penguins and another fell and 'accidentally' punched a bird, among other incidents... [But] London Zoo was reported as saying earlier that its "Zoo Lates" evenings were safe and that only three people had been removed from events in two years.
I wonder which three people, right?
Edinburgh Zoo said that alcohol will be available at its Zoo Nights which are to be held over four nights in the summer but that entertainers and bars are situated away from the animals.
Funny, because usually zoos put their animals behind the bars SPLABANGO!

March 06, 2015

Willy Jokes

From The Scotsman: Hidden in the Clinton painting
[In] an interview which the American portrait painter Nelson Shanks gave to the Philadelphia Daily News... he admitted to slipping a secret image into the portrait he painted for the National Portrait Gallery in Washington DC of President Bill Clinton.

He said: “Clinton was hard."
I'll bet.

February 25, 2015

A Further Open Letter to Andrew Ladd

Dear Andrew Ladd,

Hi there. Sorry it's been a while. I've been pretty busy, I guess; I moved to London; I published my book in the U.K. (to some great reviews, incidentally); and I got shortlisted for the New York Public Library's Young Lions fiction award. If you'll pardon the hubris, it's been a pretty great year.

But anyway. I gather, as always, from my Google Alerts, that you've been busy too. You've signed some pucks. You've scored a lot of goals. You've been called for a lot of fouls. And last week, I notice, you visited a school to promote the Winnipeg Jets' children's book, The Home Team, as part of "I Love To Read Month."

Now look here, Andrew Ladd. Getting kids excited about reading is great. I'm on board with that. Kids who get excited about reading today are my meal ticket tomorrow. But dude, COME ON. It's already hard enough for me to get noticed as an author above the constant flood of news about you and your already very successful hockey career. (And now I have this jackass to contend with as well.)

So why did you have to go and start attaching yourself to books and plugging them in libraries, too? You don't catch me slapping pucks around the ice for the cameras, do you? That's your thing, and I respect you for it. So is it really too much to ask that you extend me the same courtesy?

I guess I wouldn't be so cheesed off about this, Andrew Ladd, if you hadn't so studiously ignored my book all these months. After I tried tweeting you about it, and I wrote you all these open letters, and then tweets about ME started accidentally showing up in sports website feeds about YOU, I figured you would have to be just a little bit interested. We may not have met, may never meet, and sharing a name may not mean all that much to either of us. But it's SOMETHING, right? It's a reason to at least say, hey, millions of people who hang on my every word and step, check out this book by this other Andrew Ladd. Maybe it doesn't suck.

When still I didn't hear a peep, though, I resigned myself to the thought that, okay, maybe he just care about books all that much. And now I find out that all this time you've been holding out on me? That you've got no qualms about promoting other people's books in public forums, and yet you can't even throw me one fricking bone?

Anyway, Andrew Ladd. It's still "I Love To Read Month," after all, so maybe it's not too late. Maybe now, just once, just a little, you can tell your adult fans to check out my book. And if not, well, shucks. I guess I'll just have to dig out those ice skates and come down to the MTS Centre after all, and see how YOU like it.

Yours, despite everything, in homonymery.

Andrew Ladd

February 13, 2015

Clooney Would Actually Make This Film, Too

From BBC News: Al Jazeera journalists Mohamed Fahmy and Baher Mohamed freed
Al Jazeera journalists Mohamed Fahmy and Baher Mohammed have left prison in Egypt following their release on bail.

They spent more than a year behind bars. On Thursday a court ordered their release pending a retrial this month.

They are accused of spreading false information and helping the banned Muslim Brotherhood.
In the film version of their story, Baher Mohamed will be played by George Clooney circa E.R.


The trial is due to resume later this month.

February 10, 2015

The Defense Calls Pepé Le Pew

From the New York Times: Strauss-Kahn Expected to Defend Legality of Lust at Trial
LILLE, France — Dominique Strauss-Kahn, the former head of the International Monetary Fund who is accused of participating in a global sex ring, was expected to testify on Tuesday to present a novel defense: There is nothing criminal about lust.
I believe the full argument he's presenting to the French court is: "Ma cherie, zere is nussing criminal about lust, hein?" And if you think I'm just unfairly stereotyping the French, here's an actual quote from Strauss-Kahn's lawyer, Henri Leclerc:
“I dare you to distinguish between a prostitute and a naked socialite.”
They used to say the same thing about Mitzy Goldfarb from East 73rd.
Mr. Strauss-Kahn, a high-flying former finance minister once seen as a leading contender for the French presidency, stands accused with 13 other defendants of pimping...

Mr. Strauss-Kahn has thus far been a stoic and elusive figure in the courtroom, arriving at the courthouse in a car with dark tinted windows.
Pro-tip, Dominique: if you're trying to convince people you're NOT a pimp, maybe ditch the car with tinted windows.
He has acknowledged being present at sex parties. But his defense team has said he played no part in organizing them and has insisted he was not aware that some of the women at the parties were prostitutes because they were all naked by the time he arrived...
Gee, officer! I just figured those gals musta been real hot!
[In more recent testimony] he said he might have been naïve about why the young women were there.
Annoyingly, the Times has been continuously updating the same page all day as the story has developed, so you can no longer find most of the excerpts I quote here in the link I provide above. (N.B. It is annoying that they are updating the same page rather than posting new iterations of the story on different pages. It is not annoying that they are continuing to practice journalism as new details emerge.) However, to prove I am not making this shit up, you can helpfully read all past versions of the story here.

And now, Dom, take us home. What's the Frenchest excuse you can come up with for all this?
Mr. Strauss-Kahn characterized the sex parties as libertinage, or freewheeling sex and pleasure among multiple and consensual partners, an age-old and legal practice in France dating from the 16th century.
And...?
He said that the festive nature of libertinage would have been sullied had he known that the women were being paid for sex.
"Bwuh, mais non! It would be like aving foie gras after being told ze geese were force fed! Quoi?"

The trial continues.