it could be better . . . but worse is more likely

Sunday, April 10, 2005

Thank you very much. Do I remember how to do this?
posted by Matt 9:16 PM

Thursday, April 01, 2004

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
For some reason, our campus radio station has been promoting the Web site of The Speakeasy, our not-yet-existent alternative bi-monthly for Hattiesburg. This must stop.

The site itself exists, with minimal info about the non-existent paper and a basic shell for a decent site to one day emerge when we actually have content to put on it, but it's not even close to being ready for public consumption. There's no content whatsoever there. This is our fault for being too busy and too lazy to actually organize a functioning operation, but the fact remains that there is, as of right now, no Speakeasy to speak of.

And yet the radio station has been mentioning it consistently for weeks as a place for local news, and I can't get a hold of them to tell them to stop until we put a real paper/site together.

Business is hard when you have no time and even less money. Speaking of time, I have free time right now - during the week! - and I don't know what to do with myself. Which is why I find myself here for the first time in a month, I guess.
- - - - -
posted by Matt 1:24 PM

Thursday, March 04, 2004

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Thank you.
- - - - -
posted by Matt 10:35 AM

Wednesday, March 03, 2004

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
From Jim Holt's "Egghead" column in Slate, on the expansion of the universe and the ventual end of civilization: "The most plausible answer," Dyson said, "is that conscious life will take the form of interstellar dust clouds."
- - - - -
posted by Matt 9:50 PM

Friday, February 20, 2004

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Today I blog, for the first time in months, from lovely Troy, Alabama, home of Troy State University, the 2004 Southeastern Journalism Conference and a few other, um, handy entities.

Currently, I'm waiting for the rest of my group from USM to finish their on-site competitions - contests in news, feature, entertainment and PR writing, plus tests on media ethics and history - so we can break for a little while. I just finished my competition (current events), which I would have absolutely kicked ass on this time last year but struggled through a bit just now. Some of the questions came across as kind of vague and arbirtrary, too, but probably only because I didn't know about the stories they referred to. It only took about ten minutes to answer the 50-question test, as opposed to the hour everyone else's competitions will need.

My somewhat off-the-wall submissions in the opinion/editorial category didn't even place in the top ten, but it was exactly the result I wanted if I couldn't win. When I found out before the competition that I hadn't placed, I said I hoped I finished last rather than just missing on a top ten spot, because I'd much rather have them reject everything about my columns - just completely miss the point of my tone, arguments and motivation - than get it and think it just sucked. And judging from the three judges' critiques of my three submissions (available here, here and here), that's exactly what happened. A sample, from judge Laura Lytle of Weakley Co. Press:

You scare me! Don't trivialize moments like Pearl Harbor and abused women by drawing parallels with "Saved by the Bell" and games (i.e. football). You have talent - all you need is maturity to go with it.

Ms. Lytle ranked me as "average" in a majority of categories (Out of "good," "average," "unsatisfactory," and "unacceptable"), while rating my grammar, AP Style, judgment and creativity ad "unsatisfactory."

Judge Joe Lofaro of UT-Martin, however, really liked me, rating me "good" in every category except "Leads & Conclusions" and "Overall Judgment of Quality." His only comments:

Which is harder, being a Saints fan or a N.Y. Mets fan?

Nice job.

Louie (I think that's what the signature says) Parrish of UT Martin rated me as "average" all the way, with the exception of "Leads and Conclusions" and "Judgment," where he thought I was "good." He also says I have talent in his comments, but this seems a little pandering. He didn't like my abused women comment, either, which I thought was actually sort of benign in context; it's not like I sent in the cannibalism column.

The other categories I get, but how did my AP Style score range from "good" to "average" to "unsatisfactory"? That's not really a highly flexible category, is it?

Now off to...well, I don't know where. Meet up with my people, I guess, and try to occupy the time before tonight's neat-o student mixer.

Oh, I should mention that I'm the envy of the other guys for landing a couple of the chicks in our group in my hotel room. This was actually their idea - not that I complained, of course, especially since the point was to alleviate overcrowding on the girls' side and rid me of a particularly unpopular roommate (and in case he should somehow come across this: Chad, you're not that bad. I would've roomed with you. We just pick on you. Congrats on second place in the photo competition). No wild sexual escapades, though - yet.

We return Saturday, and early, early, early Sunday morning, it's Mardi Gras time!
- - - - -
posted by Matt 2:55 PM

Friday, January 23, 2004

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
I don't know that Jacob Sullum is a sports fan, but as one myself, I don't find his argument that players should be allowed to use artificial enhancements very effective.

Sullum has some points: dropping the restrictions gives everyone equal access to the drugs' benefits and to medical professionals who can help reduce the risks associated with doping (which Sullum thinks are exaggerated, anyway, his usual response to reports on banned or threatening-to-be-banned substances). His basic point is right down the same libertarian line that opposes drug laws and food cops, that what you willingly put into your body is your decision and your risk, and the government has no authority to restrict your actions for your own sake.

I agree with that argument in terms of the government, but not of private corporations like the NFL, which has a vested interest in keeping its players' amazing talents just that - talents, rather than mere chemical responses artificially souped up by man-made stimulants. We may still marvel at freakish ability, but it would be that of the scientists, not the players, and that would kill sports.

Granted, most of those guys are genetic freaks to begin with, but we can't restrict their innate athleticism any more than we can Steven Hawking's freakish intellect. What the individual leagues can do is keep these guys from putting themselves at long-term risk and turning themselves into manufactured cyborgs at the same time. The whole point of sports is a celebration of natural athletic ability, which is why I've always hated the use of even legal, 'safe' enhancements like creatine or any other dietary supplement. Players' innate athleticism is what makes sports worthwhile. Weight-lifting I'm okay with, but I oppose any and all chemical alterations of the body in general, food excepted (this also holds even outside of sports, unless you have some serious illness; accept who you is).

Of course, I'm not really in line with the reason crowd on alterations of the body, anyway; most libertarians seem pretty gung ho for genetic engineering because it allows us to control our make-up, which is where I break with party line (a metaphorical party, not a real one; small 'l', small 'l'). Unless we're talking about living and dying, I can't think of an acceptable moral excuse for intentionally changing the chemical make-up of your body, of altering part of who you are. Again, the government shouldn't be able stop anybody on that premise, but I'm glad sports organizations at least try.
- - - - -
posted by Matt 10:45 AM

Thursday, January 22, 2004

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Julian Sanchez at the Hit&Run points to a Boston Globe story that reports Republican staffers monitored Democratic strategy on the web:

WASHINGTON -- Republican staff members of the US Senate Judiciary Commitee infiltrated opposition computer files for a year, monitoring secret strategy memos and periodically passing on copies to the media, Senate officials told The Globe.

From the spring of 2002 until at least April 2003, members of the GOP committee staff exploited a computer glitch that allowed them to access restricted Democratic communications without a password. Trolling through hundreds of memos, they were able to read talking points and accounts of private meetings discussing which judicial nominees Democrats would fight -- and with what tactics.

The office of Senate Sergeant-at-Arms William Pickle has already launched an investigation into how excerpts from 15 Democratic memos showed up in the pages of the conservative-leaning newspapers and were posted to a website last November.
But the scope of both the intrusions and the likely disclosures is now known to have been far more extensive than the November incident, staffers and others familiar with the investigation say.

- - - - -
posted by Matt 7:44 PM

Thursday, January 15, 2004

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Looks like it's anonymity for me on The Hattiesburg Canadian, which no longer goes by that name. It's now (tentatively) (The) SpeakEasy. I wanted, and thought we had settled on, The Pulp, but that shows how together we are as the search for advertising begins tomorrow.

The staff advisor at The Student Printz (my boss, basically) discovered the mock-up left in my box by the former ad/graphic designer at The Printz, who we recruited to do basically the same job for us. It was the first she'd heard of it (deliberately; we didn't want her to hear about it at all, although I didn't really think it mattered after we decided against discreetly pirating Printz facilities for the project), and she considers it a major conflict of interest. She thinks we're competing with the paper for readers and advertisers, and that my involvement as an editor means I'm "serving two masters."

I couldn't persuade her otherwise - we're not using Printz facilities, we're not competing with it for advertisers (I don't think we could if we wanted to) and it remains my first priority. I am serving two masters, but they're not working against each other. I want them both to succeed.

She didn't issue an ultimatum, but I'm pretty sure that if she sees SpeakEasy or whatever we wind up calling it and my name's on it in an editor's capacity, it won't be pleasant for me at The Printz. At all. I don't know that I'd be fired, but I'd be looked upon with some kind of contempt or suspicion, and I could kiss any chance of being executive editor of The Printz next year good bye.

So that means I've got to keep my name off SpeakEasy - any pseudonym suggestions?

We also discovered this week that, if we hit our goal of 50% ad coverage, there's almost no space at all left for content. Really, really very little - this thing's only eight pages anyway, including front and back cover, and getting it cut to about five severely limits what we can fit. Our writers will have to adjust and compromise severely.

So we're looking at starting a web site to go along with the pub and be home to most of the content. We were going to pay for a web site anyway, so we might as well make it a major feature of the project. That way, we can keep only the essential community shit in the actual paper and post the lengthier creative stuff on the web. It is, as my friend Brad astutely proclaimed, "real shit."

Wish us luck.
- - - - -
posted by Matt 5:12 PM

Wednesday, January 14, 2004

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
I'm not sold on TheAtlasphere just yet (I'll post some thoughts on Ayn Rand when I finally finish reading Atlas Shrugged in a week or so), but there's a pretty decent interview up with Sabine Herold, the French student who's become a libertarian darling by being a) young, devoted, energetic and idealistic, b) knowledgable of politics and exhibiting strong leadership skills, and c) hot.

I think someone's used that bit on her before. Check it out anyway.
- - - - -
posted by Matt 10:53 AM

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Via reciprocation for the link it for some reason gave me, welcome to the list INTL News, an alterna-news site with no discernably outrageous biases as far as I can tell from its stories. Of course, there's an AdBusters link on the blogroll page, so proceed with caution.

UPDATE: Never mind...the url and link now send you to the World News Network, whatever that is.
- - - - -
posted by Matt 10:49 AM

Monday, January 12, 2004

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
If everything is permissable between consenting adults, asks Theodore Dalrymple, why not?:

The case raises interesting questions of principle, even for those who take the thoroughly conventional view that eating people is wrong. According to the evidence, Meiwes and Brandes were consenting adults: by what right, therefore, has the state interfered in their slightly odd relationship?
Lest anyone think that the argument from mutual consent for the permissibility of cannibalism is purely theoretical, it is precisely what Meiwes’s defense lawyer is arguing in court. The case is a reductio ad absurdum of the philosophy according to which individual desire is the only thing that counts in deciding what is permissible in society. Brandes wanted to be killed and eaten; Meiwes wanted to kill and eat. Thanks to one of the wonders of modern technology, the Internet, they both could avoid that most debilitating of all human conditions, frustrated desire. What is wrong with that? Please answer from first principles only.


UPDATE: My column on this point - which borrows pretty heavily from Dalrymple's and really just reiterates his question - will be up on the Printz site either tomorrow (hopefully) or Friday.
- - - - -
posted by Matt 11:55 PM

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
As a hardcore football fan, a self-obsessed rabid enthusiast, connosieur and amateur expert of the game, it pains me deeply to admit it, but, with the score tied 14-14 early in the fourth quarter of yesterday's great Eagles-Packers NFC divisional playoff game, I actually, um, fell asleep.

Playoff game, fourth quarter, tie score, and I konk out like a drunk 45-year-old after a huge turkey dinner. The ignominy!

Maybe it wouldn't be so bad if I hadn't also missed all of the Carolina-St. Louis game (did manage to catch the overtimes on radio) and the first two and a half quarters of the Tennessee-New England game while covering USM-Memphis basketball for a paper back home. Or if I had paid better attention to the dreadful K.C.-Indy game, which was close but so horribly played defensively that I lost interest and started drinking; yards and points don't mean much when they're racked up at that pace.

So, two terrific days of football and I almost completely missed it. What kind of fan am I? What else have I got to do? How many weekends per year offer such a smorgasboard? Could I be deluding myself about my interest in football? Is it some kind of ingrained, deep-seeded defense mechanism to fill other holes in my life? What else could explain such a lapse at such a time?

Anyway, as for the rest of the playoffs, I don't have a clue. Not one. How can you bet against New England at home, 8-0 in Foxboro and winners of 13 straight, and how can you bet against Peyton Manning, 8-1 on the road this year and on one of the great one-man tears in NFL history right now? How can you bet on Carolina or Philadelphia, two teams I tabbed as frauds long ago? The Panthers have grown on me in the past two weeks, especially their offense, but enough to pick them to win in Philly and go to the Super Bowl? Are the Eagles really a Super Bowl team? Does the NFC champ have a prayer in the Super Bowl? How long can I keep writing in only questions? What's the record? When is the Super Bowl? Is the lay-off one or two weeks this year?...
- - - - -

posted by Matt 1:42 PM

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Chris Lawrence points to a Boviosity! post challenging bloggers to circulate more one dollar Sacagawea coins:

In order to heighten the coolness factor, I'm going to mark all my Sacagaweas with a Sharpie marker. This will rub off very quickly, but I also encourage other bloggers to do the same. If you spend a Sacagawea, mark it with a Sharpie. If you get a Sacagawea with a Sharpie mark on it, chances are it was circulated by a fellow blogger!

To start, I plan to purchase a roll of Sacagawea coins (they come in $25 rolls) and mark mine by simply running the Sharpie along the edge of the stack in a few places. Let me know if you get one of mine!

I issue a counter-challenge for the two people who may read this blog: stop the one dollar coin at all costs (no pun intended)!

Who likes carrying extra change around? I hate it. There are big piles of pennies and always a few dimes and nickels on dressers in both my house here in Hattiesburg and at home. At home, there are platefuls of change. Coins are bad news - noisy, cumbersome, often useless. Not even worth picking up off the floor, if you can even get them up. They are a necessary evil - the fewer the better.

If there's one part of London I really disliked this summer, it was all the change: pound coins, two-pound coins, fifty-p coins. My pockets were constantly weighted down and jingling all over the place. Please, let's stick with the nice, quiet, ultra-light paper bills.
- - - - -
posted by Matt 1:17 PM

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Quick update on the Lexus situation - it's now my mom's.

I finally mentioned to my parents that the car was too nice - in an off-hand, joking kind of way - and she asked if I was uncomfortable driving it. Too which I had to say, yes, I was. They'd taken this into account when they bought it, and actually had given me the choice between the Lexus and her Nissan Altima, which is pretty nice itself. So when they re-emphasized the choice, I decided to go ahead and take the Nissan.

There's a billion of the same car with the same color (a kind of pewter-gold) around, but that's fine with me.

Other news - have moved back in to my house here (which is very nearly empty due to Phillip's impending departure; practically all the furniture outside of bedrooms is his) and started classes today (I'm late for one now!). Hectic-ness. More later.
- - - - -
posted by Matt 10:54 AM

Powered by Blogger


WHAT THEY'RE SAYING ABOUT ICBB: ''O! How I have search'd for thee, and wander'd hither so! Methinks my resolve hath been fruitful. 'It Could Be Better', thou art bitchin''' - William Shakespeare "This Matt guy has totally missed the point..." - G Joe Walberg "ICBB is the greatest site on the whole interweb!" - Brad


e-mail it could be better... at

The Student Printz

I'm a Crawly Amphibian

Who are you?

What do you think?

The 2004 Candidates

You may say you hate it, but you love it

Does anybody really know what time it is?




campus press notes

Franklin Harris

Tom McMahon

Mookie Riffic

The Noble Pundit

Signifying Nothing

Steve Silver

Jeremy Wahlman


The Bitch Girls

Hit and Run

James Lileks

Talking Points Memo

Tony Pierce

Neal Pollack

Saddam's Cyber Palace

Jim Treacher


Daniel Drezner

Jane Galt

The Kolkata Libertarian

The Liberty Log

Light of Reason

Virginia Postrel

Sara Rimensnyder


The Volokh Conspiracy

Jesse Walker

Matt Welch


Daily Kos


Lean Left

The Lefty Directory

little red cookbook

Tom Tomorrow


Stuart Buck

Gaggle of Gals

Juan Gato

Happy Fun Pundit

Heather Havrilesky

Hot Sandwich

I Hate Music

The Illmatic's Live Journal

Insert Title Here



The Kitchen Cabinet

Simone Koo

Mean Mr. Mustard

The Muse Is In

a small victory

Tongue Tied

Weird Is Good



America's Worst Employed Writer

AP Wire

Christian Science Monitor

The Clarion Ledger


Freedom News

The New Republic

New York Times

The Onion



The Sun Herald

USA Today

Washington Post

SPORTS: New Orleans Saints News and Talk Southern Miss


New Orleans Saints Official Page

Saints Report

The Sporting News

Sports Illustrated Official Athletics Page


Al Hirschfeld

Arts & Letters Daily

Calvin and Hobbes

Daniel Clowes


Hip Smart

The Jim Daniels Show

Jim's Journal


Real Ultimate Power

The University of Southern Mississippi