Thursday, March 31, 2005

All hating together

The Times today published a heartwarming photo of numerous Israeli religious leaders -- Islamic, Catholic, Armenian, Ashkenazi, and Sepphardic -- coming together in opposition to a common foe: gay rights. Nothing triumphs over prejudice quite like prejudice. Anti-semitism, one of society's traditional glues, just won't work there for some reason.

I found myself driving to work singing along with the Smiths again, and my mind drifted off to Tony Thomas, a tall, well-dressed black guy who hauled himself from the under-manicured streets of East Chicago, Indiana to Yale Law School in the eighties. Between a multi-year research project on House Music, a serious appetite for tha kine, and dying at an excruciatingly young age of AIDS, he never quite made the mark that he might have. On his chest of drawers he had a picture of himself at his high school prom, in a colored tux with a good sized fro and a female date. It must not have been fun to be gay at an i high school. I miss the guy.

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Special K

The cleverly named points out that the Spawn of Knight passed Dean Smith for total career NCAA tournament victories (66) when Duke beat Mississippi State to get into the Sweet 16. Where they lost.

Lets just take a second to note that Mr. Unspellable has coached almost all of his career in a tournament with 64 teams and six games. When Dean got started, there were 22 teams in the tournament, then 32 (1975), 40 (1979), 48 (1980), and 64 (1985). Making Dean's victory total much harder earned. There were fewer round of 64 gimmies back then. K's got no fewer than 15 of these fluff games on Dean. For now.

Like a good corporate shill, CoachK lards his site with inspirational witticisms like this: "Leaders have to give time for relationships. But more demands will be placed on their time as they become more successful. So if a person’s success is based on developing relationships, then they have to continually find new ways of getting it done.” Like delegating the relationship-building function.

This one also struck me as deep: “Visualize a wagon wheel as a complete team. A leader might be the hub of the wheel at the center. Now suppose the spokes are the connecting relationships the leader is building with people on the outer rim of the wheel. If the hub is removed, then the entire wheel collapses. In a situation like that, if a team loses the leader, the entire team collapses.” The man is smooth with his metaphors, for sure.

I'm really not sure how I made it this far in life without Coach K's quotes. I'm surprised he doesn't charge for access to them.

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

In the noggin

The Times reports today that out West somewhere a court invalidated a death sentence because the jurors had consulted a bible in reaching it, when the judge had clearly instructed them to use their own judgment without outside influences. What if one of them had memorized the Bible, or just cited it? What difference does the presence of the physical book make, when it's the text that matters? How is one supposed to make moral judgments in a vacuum?

The point is that the state's not supposed to be killing people, period.

Though McVeigh was worth frying. I'd say Kozlowski and the whole Enron gang should burn too. Capital punishment for crimes involving large amounts of capital, as I used to say.
(Blog sanitized here to prepare for promotional email blast).

sweet orange velvet: Issyk oh so Kul

Love is in the air of Bishkek, Kiev, Tbilisi. Who woulda thunk it. Last time I was paying close attention to the former Soviet realm, Kyrgyzstan was like a big dry Switzerland and Akaev was Mr. Nice Guy amongst a bunch of real roughsters, and now he's up and flown the country. It all takes you back to Prague in '89, almost. Problem is, Prague was all ready for its Velvet Revolution, with a favorable geographic location and an openness driven by Mitteleuropa-crazed backpackers in the 80s. Kyrgyzstan, Georgia, and Ukraine, on the other hand, don't have it all organized, and will probably muddle along more like Romania and Bulgaria. God forbid a power vacuum should arise in Georgia. That would be no fun.

That's where having well-placed friends helps: "(Georgian President) Saakashivili invited billionaire financier George Soros to help pay some government salaries and boost all-important tax collection."* Good idea. I think I'll invite Soros to pay for some stuff too. No but seriously, instead of providing services which supplement government (school books, salaries for nuclear scientists, etc), as he has so often, here Soros is propping it right up. It's sort of a new model.

In some ways it's odd how Soros's mission and Wolfowitz's are fellow travellers to a certain point.

In general, optimism is the tone of the day. Here's what Zbigniew Brzezinski says in the Journal today, in support of a rising democratic pluralism in the post-Soviet zone: "Russian youth are well-educated. Increasingly, many have traveled and studied in the West." Shows how long he's been away from the region. He must not have read the surveys showing that a shocking number of Russian youths don't know who Lenin was. Sure, they know about Britney Spears and the Royal Deluxe. They could probably even set me straight on Lindsey Lohan. But that's about it.

*Columbia Alumni Magazine, Winter 2004-5

Monday, March 28, 2005

Props to Ray Ray

After busting on Felton a few weeks back, credit must be given to the young man for nailing four free throws in the crunch time against those cheese-heads. How bout em?

Guru on message

Caught a PBS-like chat with a certain Jon Kabat-Zinn on the TV this weekend. The interview started off with the crusty PBS yankee guy asking the bearded Kabat-Zinn: "who was William James?" To which our guest replies: "He was the father of American psychology." And I'm sitting here thinking, he was also Henry James' brother and the father of Pragmatism as a philosophical school, so why sell him short. But as the guy went on and espoused his doctrine of mindfulness and its ramifications and all that, I came to see that he was in fact just a disciplined salesperson, relentlessly on message for his yogic theory of societal enlightenment. The guy was like, I've got 15 minutes up here on the TV and I won't spare a syllable that doesn't sell my product, nebulous though it may be. Impressive

Is he any kin to you, Z?

Friday, March 25, 2005

Oh what a beautiful morning

5:00AM Graham Screaming. Change poopy diaper.

8:00 AM Graham vomits banana and formula

9:10 AM Arrive for 9:15 Dr's appt. concerning Carpal Tunnel System

9: 45 AM Leave doctor's office without having been seen, after leaving small piece of my mind

10:00 AM Arrive Princeton Junction train station for 10:12 train. Because of holiday, metered parking available.

10:03 AM Arrive Princeton Junction station convenience store. Thirsty. Irritated. Need caffeine. Because of holiday, store closed.

10:15 AM Mary calls my cell. Graham has puked again. Should we go to Larchmont for holiday? Will she brave the Turnpike alone with one sick kid and one boisterous one?

10:28 AM 10:12 train arrives. Because of holiday and circus at Madison Sq. Garden (take Natalie?), train full of jabbering families.

11:30 AM Train near Secaucus by now. Phone rings. It's Rick, my lunch engagement, for which I had rushed out of Dr's appointment and for which Jon, my COO and boss, was energetically polishing sales collateral for me to print in New York office. Rick is violently ill and has stayed in Princeton.

11:31 AM Call Ted at Midtown to check on replacement lunch. Ted can't do it. Conference call. Ted tells of how Henry once puked for 24 hour straight while having strep throat at the same time.

11:40 AM Arrive Penn Station. Set off for Rock. Center on foot, psyched for a falafel with hot sauce from place on 48th st.

11:58 AM Arrive 48th st. Falafelteria closed for Purim. Thankfully, nearby Noodle shop is good consolation prize.

12:15 PM Check in with Mary. Trip to Larchmont is on. Thank God I don't have to go back to Princeton, trip not entirely in vain.

Thursday, March 24, 2005

New tennis courts

Out running the other day, I noticed that Princeton, the university, that is, had built and is building a bunch (16? 24?) of new tennis courts down behind the astroturf as it slopes down towards the crew sculling lake. To make up for the ones that got bulldozed to build whatever they're building up the hill. In addition to the other sizable tennis center back over there.

And I'm thinking, like, what are they thinking? Nobody plays tennis anymore, courts are so often fallow, land is at a premium, it's just another paved surface to generate run-off. But Princeton must gird up the ruling class by supporting the grand old sports.

Hey, I'm cool with it. I'm gonna be sneaking onto those mugs. I do play tennis. They're not gonna staff them with guards all the time. No way. They cain't stop the kid.

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Rainy day in Jersey

Raining outside. Can't even try out my new tires, really. At least I have this funny new keyboard, bent around all funny to make me type more ergonomically. From a company they call Microsoft. I wish it had a cupholder and a picture of Shania Twain doing a rap duet with old Diff Puddy (his actual new name).

Could someone explain to me who Lindsey Lohan is? I've seen her featured on the cover of several of our finest magazines, and I don't know who the hell she is, and she's not even marginally hot, like teen stars are supposed to be. Britney Spears, a least, has well-designed silicon at work, although rumor has it that she's been taking some pointers of late from Kirstie Alley.

Was saddened to hear yesterday that an old friend got dumped and divorced not long ago for failing to perform financially. That ain't right. It's not like it was a huge surprise he didn't make a lot of money. That's the kind of thing you ought to see coming before you marry them. Rare is it for someone to remake themselves out of whole cloth just because they walk down the aisle.

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Warm and foggy

The sun and its various reflections has been chasing me around the building here at Midtown. In most places, you can count on the sun to be in certain places at certain times of day. Rise East, set West, is the way I was always taught. But when you're in a glass box, surrounded by others, it's not like that. Going to the East side of the building late in the day does you no good. So here I sit, hands all clammy, trying to concentrate, thinking of hauling the laptop to another corner of this great shiny ghostly office of ours, so unlike the class B shitholes of some of the scrappier little enterprizes I've visited recently.

And it's a nice day outdoors, too. Spring springs. Had lunch at fancy Bryant Park restaurant with Hilary today, which was wierd because the joint was so swanky I felt like I should have been trying to sell her something instead of holding forth about careers, children, ponds and 40.

Monday, March 21, 2005

Running low

Was freaked out all weekend because I thought that my evident Carpal Tunnel Syndrome might be of the "gnarled up hands for the rest of your life" variant. A colleague assures me that they're not that far gone, though I've clearly booked time with the doctor not in vain. There is funky pain coursing around my pinkies and forearms.

So why am I typing so much doggeral, you may ask yourself. Because by now I feel contractually obligated to produce blogtext. Even with little to comment on. I cannot sacrifice my few, proud readers, even though I got two separate emails over the weekend from people saying that they read my blog and therefore feel in touch with me. Would that it were the case. There's more to me than meets the blog, of that you can be assured.

Friday, March 18, 2005

Tales from the Heartland

My mom's in town from North Carolina, and last night she brought us up to date on a friend of hers, whom we shall refer to as Janet. Some years back, Janet lost her husband to a massive stroke which befell him as he was out walking the dog. The cardio event seems to have been correlated with his considerable girth, which in turn derived from his habitual devotion to Southern food.

For many years, Janet didn't do any dating at all, spending all her time with her kids and grandkids and also coaching young debutantes to get ready for the cotillion (I kid you not). Last night mom tells us Janet is married. She started dating a guy in October, saw him monthly for a couple of months, wasn't tight enough with him to include him in Xmas, and now they're married.

Why the rush, you ask? Sex. Those crazy 60-year olds, they wanted to have sex, but thought it inconceivable outside of wedlock Reminds me of a great scene from the 1809 A Russian Gil-blas by Narezhny, when a woman believes that it is literally impossible for a friend of hers to have gotten pregnant because she is not married. I do hope Janet got a pre-nup.

So there's a little tale of the red-state mentality these days. Premature death by fat, premature marriage by fiat.

Thursday, March 17, 2005

Diet Dr Pepper spills on train

I spilled my Diet Dr. Pepper on the train this morning, like a moron. Fortunately the car was pre-depopulated because someone else had spilled more of something else earlier, so mine commingled, unnoticed. Very fortunately, cuz people get worked up over spills on NJ Transit. Like that meshuggeneh witch in the Manolo Blahniks who went ballistic on me when someone kicked my coffee over one day and it got on her precious little shoes.

But I do knock over stuff all the time. Not long ago some lasagna slipped off my plate onto someone's white rug. Never mind the wisdom of having a white rug in the dining room, it was embarassing, but cleanable. Fortunately I've been able to confine my accidents to social rather than business contexts for the most part. I did bump into that guy and spill his wine in a pub in the fall of 2003, but he wasn't a client or anything, so it was OK.

I never run into anybody else's car or pet, so I'm good on that.

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Little neuroses

In her newly needy mode, Natalie has taken to doing more than just blather on incessantly, sing at the dinner table, lean on you , and make that annoying noise with her tongue and lips that Mary's good at but I'm not. More recently, she's taken to clearing her throat with an almost pathological frequency.

More disturbingly and poignantly, she's developed a tick: she gently lets out a little "yippy," most often while reading stories. Last night while we were reading Billy and Blaze, she let out seven or eight of these "yippies." It clearly involuntary, a reflex against something. But what? Is she freaking out in advance at the onset of Kindergarten? Have we begun to displace too much frustration with other stuff (Graham, career) onto her? Is she just sick of Graham climbing all over her?

How did her parent-teacher conference go today? Crap, have a 1 pm call to get on before I can check in with Mary on that.

Soy cheese sticks to leg of high chair

I was giving Graham some soy cheese the other day and a piece of it slipped out of my hand and fell down, down, till its progress was arrested on the metal leg of his high chair. It just stuck there. I knew transfats had to be good for something.

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Trip in vain

I had hoped a sales jaunt up to Northern New Jersey would yield some good blog fodder, but not really.
Yes, I saw an Assyrian Orthodox Church, as well as a Greek one and a Russian one.
Yes, I saw lots of cops waiting by the sides of roads, one even sniffed my butt.
Yes, I went through two toll booths on the Turnpike when the stupid reader wouldn't recognize my badge for jah knows what reason, when the ones on the Parkway were just fine with it.
Yes, some stupid woman in a rusty Dodge Neon spewed oil all over my car.

But really there was little of note. Probably was looking too hard. There was a thing in the New Yorker not long ago about this guy Milch who was a writer for Hill Street Blues and then NYPD Blue and now Deadwood. Mary said that I needed to read it because the guy's just like me: alkie, Yalie, visionary in his own mind. So I read it. In many ways the guy's a pretentious primadonna with Matthew Barneyesque macho stylings, but then he gives his advice to young writers: write 20 to 50 minutes a day, write dialogue, and don't think about what you're writing before you do it. Makes sense. You can't force it.

Monday, March 14, 2005

It's all gotta count

As with spirit, so with spirits: if you got it you can count it.

The Times' intrepid reporters told us the weekends of a new practice out in the red state region: "Power Hour", the hour after kids turn 21 before bars close, during which time they try to knock back 21 shots. As if just doing 21 weren't enough of an accomplishment, some of them have ambitious "to-do lists" line-iteming out specific drinks tasks, which are crafted and overseen by their very closest friends. The need for buckets is foreseen and provisioned for. Good work, America, for bringing task-oriented project and supply chain management to drinking.

Back when I was drinking, let me tell you, we didn't need to count and plan our drinking precisely to know when we were drunk. We were simply at one with alcohol, and respected its natural ebbing and flowing. Frequently. Somewhere along the way, this intrinsic, wholistic way was lost, but now young drinkers have formal best practices to help them fill the gap. There are unconfirmed rumors that, in certain elite bars across the high plains, top corporate recruiters quietly observe power hours and scout for those who dispatch their shots with the greatest dispatch, panache, and presence of mind, searching for the next Jack Welch...

I'll let you know what I hear.

Sunday, March 13, 2005

The Motorcycle Diaries

Cinematography: Yah
Easy on the eye casting: Sure, Che is way dreamy and plenty genuine
Script: Ham-handed hagiography

This thing got glowing, glowing reviews. Well worth renting for a peak of the other America down there, but I think most of the reviewers probably got carried away by the good looks of the whole thing. If you really want to get a flavor of South America, rent Malkovich's The Dancer Upstairs. Even if you don't want the flavor, rent it. Es muy bueno.

Saturday, March 12, 2005

Non-productive labor

Economists have a concept called non-productive labor, or something like that, and the classic example is Soviet factories which put together raw materials, labor, and overhead but come up with such a shitty product that they can't charge enough to make money, never mind about fixed prices in a command economy.

Probably a better example of non-productive labor is trying to cut out words and phrases while reading children's books at night. We've all been there, bleary at 7:56 only half way through our three book quota, reading some verbose non-rhyming thing, trying to excise phrases to get the little one down in a timely enough fashion to escape spousal rebuke for poor time management ("It's past her bed time!"). But it's murderous work, trying to read aloud and read ahead at the same time and figure out how to condense without mangling the narrative. For the most part, it's more exhausting than just reading the whole thing.

And then there's the well-documented problem of kid memorization: "No dad, you forgot to say 'I like your shirt, Henry.'" There's nothing like getting caught red-handed.

Your best bet is non-narrative rhyming books with lots of pages, of which you can skip . Seuss's If I Ran the Zoo is a perfect example. You have to begin by never reading all the pages, so they never have a chance to memorize or internalize the sequence of creatures. Never ever read the whole book, and certainly not two nights in a row.

Thursday, March 10, 2005

Takes the prize

Being somewhat curmudgeonly, I don't usually blog on subjects suggested to me, as the suggestion of appropriateness makes me feel boxed in. As A Flock of Seagulls so famously brushed off the "New Wave" label when signing autographs at Northgate Mall in 1983 with the incisive comment, "We don't like labels." History, of course, has vindicated them entirely.

But yesterday Gene suggested that I blog about Templeton Prize, about $1.5 million dollars given by the Templeton of mutual fund fame for "progress toward research or discoveries about spiritual realities." The prize wants to catch spiritual progress up with progress made in other, practical realms such as "research and innovation in food products," where things have gotten better by at least "a hundredfold." So we should make things "a hundredfold better" in the realm of spirit. Gotcha.

There are some critics who think it absurd to try to attach a dollar figure to progress in matters spiritual, that the only appropriate prize would be to send a very nice note to the prizewinner so as not to sully their accomplishment with a quantitative and monetary appraisal.

The Grouse cannot sanction this viewpoint. No no, the offense is not in the monetary component of the award, but that it is a flat fee or lump sum. Anyone with the most rudimentary knowledge of compensation theory should see immediately that this is absurd. The only way to properly incent anything, spiritual discovery in particular, is with a scalable variable pay structure, say, 2% up front for progress as it occurs, accrued monthly and 50-75 basis point trailing fees. Since spiritual improvement is, apparently, eminently countable, passing twentyfold and twentyonefold all the way up to a hundredfold, the accounting on this should not be daunting.

Drop off

One wonders why dropping Natalie off at school is the best moment of my day. All the kids are happy, psyched about going to school, greeting each other bouncily. And I see all the parents too, which is very cool. Some from my old neighborhood, some from my new one, some humanists, some business people, sometimes somebody I know from college, some actual Princeton natives. There's a pretty thick sense of community. "Did you get that job?" "How's the renovation coming?" "Did Jenny get over that bug yet?"

After the drop off, the drop off. Back to that.

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Enormous brownies

Was talking to Jane in the cafeteria the other day about the outlandishly sized brownies they have. They're as big as 5 or 6 normal brownies. Even I know they're too big. And Jane tells me how one woman routinely buys two, one for snack, one for the evening when she has a class. That's a pretty scary thought. That's much brownie.

And look at the women in the office across the hall from ours. They have at least one cake or cookies or brownies or something every day. Somebody brings it in for sake of camaraderie, some cheap grocery store baked good. That's pretty scary. They eat the stuff every day.

This bespeaks one of two things: either the abject failure of public health education or total fatalism.

And that's coming from me, scarcely a poster child for good diet.

More on "Ray Ray"

Alright alright. Offline chatter is busting me for neglecting Felton's 3pt prowess (not in evidence in game's I've seen). We can only assume Felton's NBA career will eclipse those of Duke's point guards Hurley and J. Williams. I guess coach K teaches them how to drive the lane, but not how to drive within their lanes. Dooohhh.

Tuesday, March 08, 2005


Natalie swore she wanted to watch the Tar Heels, then she spent the whole time being in the way of the TV, or climbing on me, or talking incessantly, or using her tongue to make that incredibly annoying sound she's so fond of and she usually reserves for drowning out Graham, or waving her magic wand around really close to Graham's head so that I would yell at her, or doing her gymnastics on the floor right in front of the TV, etc. And she's surprised when she gets a time out.

It's understandable for a kid such as herself (ie. w/younger sibling) to be continually needy for and competing for attention. In some ways it's pretty impressive because it calls for such tremendous stamina to be so consistently annoying over a long time span.

But it's particularly interesting when this tendency persists into adulthood, when deep insecurity holds on for so long that there's a constant need to comment on everything, as if something doesn't exist if you haven't talked about it, giving rise to a sort of continual play by play of existence. I guess it's the oral equivalent of having a blog and incessantly updating it everyday and then monitoring traffic closely.

Sunday, March 06, 2005

Dean domesticity

Well the Tar Heels squeaked past Duke yesterday, and we'll be #1 this week, which is astonishing, given that we hardly hit an outside shot all day. Raymond Felton needs to hire a good financial planner, because the $3-4 million guaranteed he may pick up as a late 1st round early 2nd round pick is all the money he'll ever earn playing basketball. I love the kid to death, but you can't be an NBA point guard and not shoot free throws and go 3 for 13 when it's all on the line.

That was moral victory #2 for Duke though. We should have crushed their scrawny little butts. We should have been having fun yesterday, not sweating it. Maybe this will set us up to really nail them properly in the tournament.

Friday, March 04, 2005

Looking for birth certificate

Natalie's gotta get registered for Kindergarten next week, and to sign her up we need her birth certificate, so Mary sent me on a mission to our files to track it down. I'm a fairly archival person, so I thought I'd find it somewhere, but not yet.

Here's what I did find:

  • Model releases from a 1995-7 photo project
  • Letters from as far back as 1986
  • Trivial receipts from many tax years
  • Mary's college and grad school transcripts
  • Course materials for 1994 teaching gig
  • Student evaluations
  • High quality paper like we used to print resumes on
  • Very cute pictures of me and Mary from Tanya and Jamey's wedding, 1992

    And, best of all
  • Certificate of completion of course for birthing a child (Natalie)
Which is just pathetic.

The Usual Suspects

3:33 AM. Hungry, which is shocking. You would think lentil soup and a salad would carry you for days. Foraging in kitchen. Same old candidates.

  • Nuts, which get stuck between your teeth and keep you up.
  • Peanut butter, which is all good and well.
  • "Empty carbs," a category which makes more sense from the middle of night perspective than the diurnal one.
  • Complex carbs, which do not excite.
  • Leftover lentil soup.

Why is there never any sausage pizza or cheeseburgers around the time you need em?

Must get back to bed without waking up baby, or else.

Thursday, March 03, 2005

Into the ether

Cheated today, probably spent 20 minutes mucking about with the grouse's look and feel, so I can't write much.

It's astonishing how much it sucks out of you to be continually hoisting emails out into the ether, to people you just met professionally, to people you haven't seen in a long time but are trying to reestablish contact with for whatever reason. When your net outflow of emails is high, there's a sense of tremendous exposure, of being all laid out for rejection. Particularly when you're trying to sell hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of services and you don't really know what the services are.

And then in comes an email out of nowhere. Lor Gould. Haven't talked to that guy in many years and here he is gonna fill me in on what's up down in Cary. Beautiful.

Robert Belknap once made a good point, s that the plot conventions of well-constructed comedies in particular (but really of any traditional genre) spoke to a general belief that there is order in the universe, and that instilling this belief was their function. Marxist critics said the same thing, but with a twist. It would appear that the internet has a similar sense of orderliness.

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Levels of Service

Graham and I were in Eckerd's today picking up some drugs, and got some slow, bad service from a woman who was new there. It took me back to 2000, when unemployment was as low everywhere as it is in the great Garden State now.

I even wrote a little riff on it then and got it published on the Motley Fool's Fribble. For those too lazy to read that, the basic idea is that bad service indicates that people who couldn't used to get jobs are now getting them, and that it portends an overall rise in quality of services in the future, plus better distribution of wealth etc. Gotta like it.

Not much else to tell you. Waiting for a word on whether or not I'll be walking merrily to work for the next 5 months or so.

Went to a hedge fund industry do yesterday at Jasna Polana, former residence of the Johnson & Johnson Johnsons before a clever Polish maid snaked it from them. It was fancier than most of the places I usually hang out. Much fun was had when a guy from a moderately-sized university's endowment stuck it to a cocky bulge bracket I-bank Fund of Funds manager by suggesting that Fund of Funds managers in general shouldn't be paid incentive fees. They were rolling in the aisles.

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

Those French are so smart

They have a different word for everything.

But, seriously, who can make sense of the frogs? First they shake their jowls and decline to join us in gloriously importing a new paradigm of freedom to the liberty-thirsting Iraqis, and now get this.

A friend of mine was visiting Paris with his wife and baby, and they visit the so-called "Louvre." They check out some of the art in there, and find themselves in a room of Italian paintings with breasty Madonnas and hungry but restrained little baby Jesuses, and the child gets inspired, crying out for la lait maternelle. So the mom sits down and discreetly arranges to feed her baby in the gallery a la faison naturelle. A guard comes up and tells them that breast-feeding is not cool in the gallery, that they need to repair to a more appropriate location. A mild uproar ensues. "But look at the art in here, " they cry, but it falls on deaf ears.

So they go and talk to a manager, who straight-facedly confirms that, while there is no official policy on breast feeding, guards are empowered to take action to enforce la bien seance pour tous. Which is ridiculous. Everybody knows the French like tits. Shoot, just look at I. M. Pei's pyramid entrance to the museum, which so clearly references the bustiers made by Jean-Paul Gaultier for Madonna.

I beseech you. Don't let this bit of franco-absurdite pass by in silence. Since the morons don't post a comments email address on their website, pick up a pen and write to the Director of the Louvre at the address below to demand justice. And a frickin pain au chocolat for good measure.

Henri Loyrette
Président-directeur du musée du Louvre
Pavillon Mollien
75058 Paris Cedex 01.

Where's all the traffic coming from?

Yesterday saw a huge spike in first-time visitors to the Grouse, with no particular pattern: no obvious search term, no link in from another site. I'm befuddled. Whassup out there? Who are all you people from all over this big blue marble coming by my little blog? I'm vaguely reminded of the scene at the end of the 1975 classic Race With the Devil, where Peter Fonda, Loretta Swit and friends witness a ritual Satanic massacre (admittedly, a fairly run of the mill disembowelling). They hop in their RV and race off, thinking that they've gotten out safely. Only in the final scene, when the Winnebago is surrounded by everyone they've met since the massacre, all of them with a funny gleam in their eye, do they realize that the seemingly pleasant rustic types all in fact have Lucifer on the brain. Whoops.

Hopefully, I'm not seeing the cyber equivalent of that. Though it's similarly spooky. Maybe the blogger "next blog" button got stuck and my traffic monitor was broken at the same time.