Various and Sundry, 6/2/11

I’ve spent the last couple of days catching up with the world, so here are a couple of quick thoughts on what I see going on in it:

* The huge news in Ohio is that Ohio State football coach Jim Tressel — who was apparently assumed to be a straight arrow sort because he wore vests, or whatever — has resigned under a big fat scandalous cloud. This precipitated a number of e-mails, some with more than a tinge of schadenfreude (those mostly from Michiganders), asking how I, as an Ohio resident, felt about it.

My answer: Dude, like I care. I live in Ohio but I was born in California. That thing where Ohioans bleed scarlet and gray? I don’t have it. Also, as both a geek and a graduate of a Division III school, college football is waaaaay down on my list of things to care about, somewhere between competitive badger grooming and yogurt farming. So, with the exception of seeing neighbors rend their garments in grief, this one doesn’t affect me at all.

That said, I’m not sure Michigan fans should be entirely gleeful; yes, your hated nemesis Tressel is now gone, but your team is still fairly crappy and (more importantly) hasn’t won against Ohio since 2003. I mean, hell. I could coach the Buckeyes and they’d still beat you, and Ohio State would rather have a chicken randomly pecking out plays on a board than me as coach. This isn’t an “Ohio picking on Michigan” thing, since I rather like Michigan as a state, have many friends there, and really don’t care about the rivalries between the two states. I’m just telling you that I’ll believe that Michigan can beat Ohio State when I see it.

* Anthony Weiner’s Woodie: New York representative Anthony Weiner claims someone hacked into his Twitter account and tweeted a picture of his underwear-clad johnson to some young lady whom both he and the lady in question contend he does not know. This is all fine, except for the little detail where Weiner maintains that he cannot be sure the picture is not, in fact, of his erect wang in his shorts. And this is where I rather horrifyingly find myself to some extent in agreement with Fox News: Really? You don’t know your own dick? Because at the risk of oversharing, I’m pretty sure I could ID my own John Thomas out of a lineup, as can just about every other male (their own, that is, not mine. I don’t get around that much).

This response also implies that Rep. Weiner does, in fact, take pictures of his chubby from time to time, which is both more than I need to know and, of course, just spectacularly ill-advised. Can’t someone please put a “Things Not to Do Online” info sheet into the Congressional Orientation Packet? It can include a) IMing congressional pages, b) Trolling Craigslist for girlfriends, c) Taking digital pictures of your trouser snake, clad or otherwise. Among other things.

* One place I will not be this weekend, alas: The University of Chicago, at which a number of friends of mine will be for our college class’ 20th reunion. I won’t be there because, as you may recall, I just got back from a long tour. The idea of heading out somewhere again for three days is just a little much at the moment, I’m afraid. This makes me sad, because I would have loved to see people and to catch up with them about what was going on with their lives. But then I would have been a shambling zombie and no one would have wanted to be anywhere near me. So I suppose it all evens out. And anyway, now there’s Facebook, so none of us ever have to be apart ever again.

* And in fact I am recovering from the tour. My body has come down from tour mode, which means at the moment I am a little sick and a lot tired. I’ve been sleeping eight to ten hours a day since I got home, which for me is a fair bit, and otherwise wandering about going “duuuuuuuuh” here at home. All of this is entirely expected, mind you. I’ve given myself a week to wonder about the house aimlessly and bump into the walls. But being dazed for several days on end eventually gets a little old. I’m giving myself a couple of more days of it and then I have to just get my crap together again. I have actual work I need to do soon. Annoying, yes. But there it is.

62 Comments on “Various and Sundry, 6/2/11”

  1. Really? I’m not sure I could identify my own willy in a lineup, perhaps I’m usually looking at it from a different perspective.

  2. taking pictures of their own penis is something all men should never do. Even Dave Lister knows that: (the 1 minute 10 seconds mark onwards)

    Also, and on behalf of people from the UK South West, Competitive Badger Grooming is far more important than mere football. Arrrrrr.

  3. Really, don’t underestimate the excitement of Competitive Badger Grooming. But you’ve really got to go with the Ungloved Division to really get the real fun.

  4. I’ve been puzzled about the Weinergate coverage–it’s stated in some places that Weiner’s account was used to send a picture to “a woman”, but in other places “to all 46,000 of Weiner’s Twitter followers.” Those are pretty different things–one suggests he might’ve been caught in a flirtation with a single person, and the other that someone obviously pulled a prank on him, or that Weiner must really have wanted to share that picture with everyone, perhaps while under the influence.

  5. I hear that Wisconsin is pretty big into competitive badger grooming. Its actually more interesting than it might sound. mostly because they let the badgers have projectile weapons. and badgers, as a general rule, do not like to be groomed.

  6. If you had a name like Anthony Weiner, you’d be picked on, too. The poor chap gets dogged by everyone, and likely doesn’t relish all that abuse.

    That said, I’m still trying to figure out the yogurt farming. The mental image is intolerable.

  7. Weiner also seems to think that saying “certitude” a lot makes his story sound better.

  8. What Theophylact wrote. I mean, I could probably make a pretty good guess by process of elimination. But frankly, I’d probably find it easier to identify whether the undies were mine. Or, you know, whether I was aware of any pictures like that in existence, on my computer or anywhere else.

    The whole thing is rather strange and silly, but considering the people pushing the story hardest, it’s no stranger or sillier than I’d expect.

  9. Re: Ohio State football coaches. Everybody who’s held that office since Woody Hayes has had a bullseye painted on his back. Some handled the pressure better than others. You’d be better off letting the chicken have that job.

    Re: Weinerdawg. It’s hard to believe this guy is from the same state as Chris Lee. You’d think he would have noticed Lee’s empty seat in Congress and put two and two together. Just shows how much NYC politicians pay attention to what’s happening in the rest of the state.

  10. Weiner was on the Rachel Maddow show last night and he didn’t strike me as a very technical guy. He’s aware that things like Photoshopping exist, but probably not aware of exactly how that works or what it can do. And so he knows it’s a possibility that photo could have originally been something else, but was manipulated to appear like a wang in underwear, and he doesn’t know where it came from, so he can’t say with mathematical certainty that the original photo wasn’t him. Maybe not the best explanation to give, but it’s at least understandable.

    Assuming, however, that he’s not in the habit of photographing his wang, it still would probably have been better to say “I have no idea where this photo came from, but I’m not in the habit of photographing my wang.”

  11. I generally say that I am not bumping into walls; I’m testing the universe’s collision detection algorithms.

  12. #5

    It’s the nature of twitter. If you send something “@” someone, everyone can see it. The debate is whether he was hacked and the hacker sent it “@”; or if he tried to direct message her, which has the same format with the “@” replaced with a “d”. The @/d mistake is a not uncommon one on twitter.

    And honestly, he’s not acting at all like an innocent person would act. If he was hacked, he’s got to be guilty of something else just based on his absurd actions. Not denying it is a picture of him? Hiring his own team to “investigate” instead of calling the FBI or capitol police? (Hacking and impersonating a sitting U.S. congressman is a serious crime.) Dodging questions that should take 5 seconds to answer and getting angry, calling reporters “assholes” for bringing up this “distraction” and claiming it happens “hundreds of thousands of times a day”?

    Innocent until proven guilty is fine for the courts. But anyone can see his actions make no sense whatsoever if you posit that he is completely innocent.

  13. Re: Various and Sundry — have you any thoughts on Kristine Kathryn Rusch’s series of posts about how publishers are screwing authors over on e-book sales? Just curious to here the Scalzi side of things since (unlike KKR) you seem to be pretty ANTI-going-it-alone.

  14. Oh, come on! First you make a very effective and air tight case that you don’t care about football and aren’t really from Ohio anyway, and then you lay down the trash talk like you frickin graduated from Ohio State with a frickin MAJOR in Being From Ohio with a Minor in Bleeding Scarlet and Gray? Methinks the lady doth protest too much. I mean, how do you even know that Michigan hasn’t beat Ohio since 2003? Did you just happen to have that fact handy, or did you look it up? Either way, it reeks of caring. CARING, I say! Ha!

    (Full disclosure: I have a graduate degree from UM and live in Ann Arbor, but, personally, I don’t follow football, and I really mean it. For reals! Seriously.)

  15. As a graduate of Penn State and a Nittany Lions fan, I have to say that I thoroughly enjoy watching OSU and Michigan fans go at it. Please do carry on; I’ll be over here, making popcorn.

  16. I wonder what the intensity level of yogurt farming is. I’d love to see pictures.

  17. I’m with Dr. Jim and Tad on being a bit curious about yogurt farming. Is this the bit where we groom yogurt into becoming our hyper intelligent overlords?

  18. Hubby and I had just this discussion last night. He’s not sure he could ID his wang in a lineup. I pointed out that this was reasonable since, a) he sees it from a different perspective and b) if you’ve seen one man’s weener, you’ve pretty much see ’em all. Sorry guys, but they’re really not that memorable.

    The bigger question is why he’s prevaricating at all. I mean, I’m pretty sure I’ve never taken photos of my boobs or other naughty bits. Hubby can’t recall any photo sessions for his dick.

    Hmm. Some people photograph scenic vistas and apparently, others, like Weiner, prefer more familiar geography.

  19. Meh, I find the Weiner’s weiner story quite suspect considering it originally came from Breitbart.

  20. “I don’t have memory of this photograph,” Mr. Weiner said in the interview in his office. “But I also … you know, Jon Stewart might have had it right last night: that there were elements of this photograph that might have been doctored.”

    I’ve been interviewed by print reporters a few times, and I speak from painful personal experience when I say: that sounds to me like a joke. I think he was riffing off Jon Stewart’s bit and the reporter utterly failed to capture the sense of it.

    (Here’s a bit of free advice, should you or someone close to you ever do anything notable enough to prompt a reporter to ask you for an interview: Never use humor more complex than a knock-knock joke with a journalist. They may be wonderful nice people off the clock, but in their professional capacity they tend to be idiots.)

  21. John, you MUST go to your 20th re-union! It was perhaps the most illuminating event for me in a number of years.

    Now, I prolly don’t get out socially with old school buddies as much as you, (only had kept in touch with 3 peeps) so I was astounded to see people I knew since pre-school and kindergarten and how their core personality was still same. Nice people were still nice. The funny people still funny. Aloof people still same. And so on. It was like nothing had changed and you “knew” these people not seen in 20 years. It was comforting and also strangely scary in a sci-fi way. And it changed my perspective on how “cooked” we are early on. I’d have liked to believe people, in general, can readily transform/grow/change and are much more malleable, yet I was awed to notice that core spirit persists even through dramatic and varied life experience. You can’t let this event go missed. Sure,there are some lame-ish awkward moments of not having much more to talk about after 10mins, but it was unremarkably remarkable, and I have reflected back on that event several times since.

  22. Evan @23:

    Here’s a bit of free advice, should you or someone close to you ever do anything notable enough to prompt a reporter to ask you for an interview: Never use humor more complex than a knock-knock joke with a journalist.

    Even then, they’re likely to read way too much into the knock-knock joke. The joke will be racist, sexist, supportive of a socialist agenda, or anti-religious, or any and all of the above, whichever is generating the highest ratings at the time.

  23. No thoughts on the Anthony Weiner thing per se, BUT:

    While I FEEL certain that I could pick my penis out of a line-up, when I really sit down to think about it I start to lose confidence. Humans are very good at doing facial feature-geometry to tell people apart. In fact, while still infants we have this ability even with animals but lose it overtime. I feel we’re probably less good at shaft/ball geometry than we might expect.

    To that end, can someone get the Mythbusters to make molds of their penises and put them in a lineup with other random penis molds to see if they can pick them out?

  24. Hey John, my name is Anthony Annicchiarico and I think I need your opinion. Reason being is because I just recently decided to begin writing a book. What I plan on writing about is the troubles I have had to go through during my early teenage years. I’m currently 17 years old and losing my father to cancer at the moment. My book I plan to make maybe a little touching, yet trying to reach out to others that people sometimes really do care when you don’t really expect them to be. I say this because ever since my father was diagnosed with Stage 4 colon cancer, I was shown how caring and loving the people around you can be. Even people who you don’t even know. Now, I’m not looking for your criticism towards teen writers and how they should put off trying to become some amazing author, I’m just looking for maybe a bit of input. Even better some help from a professional writer. I’ll tell you now though, I’m not a writer at all, and don’t really plan to be. I’m really writing this book to benefit myself and show myself that I could do something great if I put my mind to it. Who knows, maybe my lack of English Writing skills will show it’s true colors in some way when all said and done. You could never tell what the future holds in store for yourself. I have a dream to someday be famous, but I know it won’t happen if I don’t put my mind to it and believe I’m wasting my time and energy doing so. I’m writing this book to see where it takes me, if not a success, oh well just like any other entrepreneur, I move on to the next step towards success. That’s all there is to it.
    I’m not much of reader, not much of a reader at all as a matter of fact, but I will occasionally pick up a book and read, and I’m always reading newspaper articles but whatever that not that important. Although what is, is that I have this strange urge and motivation to write a book. So I’m going to take on the task of writing and do whatever I need to do to complete the task. Like I told you, I’m not much of reader so I don’t really know who you are, I had come across your blog “10 Things Teenage Writers Should Know About Writing”, and actually read your whole blog, unlike those other scumbags that think they’re tough shit criticizing your views and input towards what you think is best for young writers like myself should do with their works. For me, I am just beginning, and I know I am taking a very Very huge leap over everything any other teen writer has had to do to get to the point where they were able and ready to write a whole book. But I feel, that if I were to put enough time and effort into what I plan on writing, that it could maybe payoff and move me one step closer to my future, towards success, though not much towards literature, but maybe ya never know I could always develop some passion for writing novels . Yea I’m sure your thinking right now that I’m so full of myself, but if you knew me personally I don’t think you’d say so. Mind you, my dad isn’t doing so well right now and he only has days to live, but besides that, he has been taken in under the care of a hospice care center in Bergen County, NJ, and this morning I came upon this book, and in context was famous quotes based on Success & Failure, Sex & Sexuality, Love & Loving, Life & Living. Yet, I was only interested in the Success & Failure chapters. I opened this book and read every quote about success there was. Until I came to this one quote in particular which I find to be very meaningful at the moment and very believable. It goes like this

    “It is a paradoxical but profoundly true and important principal of life that the most likely way to reach a goal is to be aiming not at the goal itself but at some more ambitious goal beyond it.” the wise words of Arnold Toynbee.

    Well anyway, it would be really awesome if you were to get back to me, I could really use a professional’s guidance throughout my writings, as far as maybe how I could write to maybe attract publishers. Even if you could give me a bit of input that would help as well.

    Anthony Annicchiarico

  25. Oh and yea, you could E-Mail me at or contact me on Facebook if you chooose, My name there is Anthony David Annicchiarico. Quite the name, I know.

  26. I haven’t seen the interviews, but WTF exactly would Weiner guy be “guilty” of? That’s what’s so bizarre about all of this. Either he sent it to JaneDoe24 instead of JaneDoe42 or he sent it to everyone instead of just one person, or someone actually did break into his twitter account, found his stupid woody pictures, and sent them to everyone. None of it seems like it’s worth investigating to me. It’s just another example of why the old people who make up Congress shouldn’t try and do anything complicated on the Internet. Just send a few emails and let your intern/office people handle the rest.

  27. I still don’t get the part where Anthony W. didn’t just deny flat out that he had sent a picture. Unless the underwear can be definitely tied to him, how would anyone ever prove it? What got him into trouble was the confusion he seemed to display.
    But honestly, this whole non-scandal irritates me because it is SO UNIMPORTANT. Sheesh. Except for the part where an innocent party (that 21 yr old) has now had all of her personal info plastered far and wide by scuzzy people with no morals whatsoever.

    (Republicans seem to do that a lot…find somebody slightly connected to an alleged budding scandal and proceed to drag them through the mud. Do they get their sense of shame surgically removed?)

  28. I’m not sure I could ID my penis from a photo either, unless perhaps it was from the usual perspective… but even then, it’s not something I exactly /stare/ at frequently. Got something you’d like to share with us, John? :-P

    As others pointed out, it seems to have originated from Breitbart, so outside of conservative axe-grinders the whole thing’s not got much credibility anyway.

  29. “I’ve given myself a week to wonder (sic) about the house aimlessly and bump into the walls.”

    Wow, is Krissy giving you a whole week, too? Or is the “honey do” list too long for that?

  30. Just googled “Yogurt Farmer”. First hit goes to Urban Dictionary. Did not click.

  31. I mean, how do you even know that Michigan hasn’t beat Ohio since 2003?

    Osmosis. I mean, he’d have lock himself in a closet every football season to avoid hearing about it.

    Also: “It just hasn’t been the same since Bo died.” I think we can squeeze a few more years out of that one.

  32. MyName@29: “but WTF exactly would Weiner guy be ‘guilty’ of?”

    The Court of Public Opinion (or Media Court, in this case) doesn’t require formal charges. Anything worthy of “what would your mother say?” seems to be enough to get a spot on the docket.

  33. re: Weiner ‘scandal’
    I saw a reporter on TV claim that if he just said straight out whether he did it or not, the press would just loose interest and leave him alone. What a crock! Of course they wouldn’t! Breitbart is a serial liar, but the media knows a good scandal when it sees one. It doesn’t matter if it’s true, as long as it keeps the viewers watching

  34. Either the mainstream media somehow completely forgets Breitbart’s dishonesty 5 minutes after every one of his fictions drops off their radar, or they’re not really concerned about whether there’s any truth involved as long as reinforcing the echos makes their ratings look good. (And then there’s Fox “News” …)

    If there happens to be any truth behind this latest stink bomb, it’ll be purely coincidental.

  35. So, John: did you ever expect this post would generate so much introspection from guys trying to figured if they could identify their own package in a photo?

  36. Re: Weinergate; There must be something in the NY Congressional water that makes these folks do spectacularly stupid things relating to nudity and inappropriate behavior. Lee, Massa and now Weiner. I think, unless the good folk of NYC are total fools, Weiner’s possible run for the mayorship is dead like a limp duck.

    Re: Jim Tressel; as the son of Penn State alumni and a long time resident of Wisconsin, I too am loving the rending of garments by Buckeye fans. Those groomed UW Badgers just got a better shot at the Big Ten title. Way to go Jim! :P

  37. Also, it’s very important that you do not groom the yogurt. Doing so could lead to sentient yogurt.

    The Yogurt Farming Industry of America.

  38. After the performance last season by my beloved Longhorns, I have sworn off trash talk for the foreseeable future. Does anyone know where we can buy a running game, cheap?

  39. People like Tressel are why I can’t get excited about college football; what a fraud.

  40. Oh, John, Jon, Jawn! “You just don’t get it!” Showing a picture of your penis, is like showing a picture of your famliy, you just have to whip it out! It’s just like American Idol, they just want to know who’s BIGGER! I mean, some men are known to have cock fights! Now I am going to make a point [but I won’t put it in your mouth], this will make you learn the words “STAY AWAY FROM MY DAUGHTER!”.

  41. I’m not at the U of C 20th reunion either, due to a family conflict. A friend posted pictures of the Medici and 57th Street Books, though, so I can almost feel like I was there.

  42. We went up yesterday for the Fermi-time-capsule, dinner at the Med, and then a movie on the quads. (Husband’s #10, my #12). There were NO SCALZI BOOKS in the University-sponsored Barnes and Noble. None. They’d NEVER had any Scalzi, even though they make an effort to “stock alumni authors.’ I complained. And the manager was sort of floored that he’d never heard that a guy who wrote bestsellers AND worked on SG-U was an alumni.

    I think all the people who write poetry books that sell 6 copies are just jealous.

    Need to post my time capsule photos today, though…. all my physics-major friends (I was classics but ran with physicists) will want to see…..

    Anyway, yesterday was nice, and am looking forward to Saturday–esp. since Rockafeller Chapel is hosting the world premiere of a new James MacMillan piece!

    Anyway, some perky students with a video camera were asking who my favorite alum was, and I went all fan-girl about Scalzi. As I walked away I wondered “Should I have said Karl Weintraub? But I think they meant living alum.”

  43. If he reports it as hacking, and the investigation reveals that he did it himself, that would be filing a false police report, which is a crime.

  44. for someone that professes college football is way down your list of priorities, why the smart ass comments about Michigan and its fans? Seemed to be a bit defensive there…

  45. That ‘Weinergate’ started with Breitbart is suspicious enough. That Breitbart seems to be the only person who managed to capture a screen-shot of the offending tweet is even more so. That the alleged screen-shot appears to have been photoshopped makes it seem like a really bad hit job…

  46. Years ago I read an interview with the legendary Bear Bryant. He was asked about the NCAA rules. “90% of the teams abide by the NCAA rules”, is was reported to have explained. “The other 10% get to go to bowl games”.

    I’m not sure anyone should be too proud of any successful college program.

  47. I think it’s been all but confirmed that Weinergate was a scam. Some twit hinted at the scandal well before it actually happened, and the same twit was the first to apparently break the news and send it to Breitbart. Now the twit has clammed up. Who knows why they were after Weiner at this particular point in time, but some speculate it was because he was banging a gong about Clarence Thomas.

  48. Others think it’s someone who was previously involved with him, thus the possession of the (without certitude) photo to use.

    And check out Mediaiate’s Tommy Christopher defending Breitbart here.

  49. Re: Weiner. Breitbart started the story. Therefore it’s a complete crock unless I have utter proof from some unrelated source.

    If I were standing in a storm, and Breitbart told me it was raining, I’d start looking for the people with buckets throwing water on me.

  50. Frank @50: Cut the guy some slack; he lives in rural Ohio. He doesn’t want to be tarred and covered in maize-and-blue feathers.

    True story: a number of years ago, when I was still living in Michigan, I decided to be the bigger person and buy some Ohio State goodies as a birthday present for my stepfather (who is in all other respects besides Buckeye fandom a fine human being). Not a single “sports goods” store in Ann Arbor had OSU anything. NONE. It was like I’d stepped into an alternate universe where college football consisted of the Big Nine. MSU? Sure. Notre Dame? Yeah, we have some of that. But when I asked the store clerks if they maybe had some OSU stuff in the back or put away, they flatly told me no, they just didn’t carry it. I ended up having to drive to Toledo.

  51. Meh, I find the Weiner’s weiner story quite suspect considering it originally came from Breitbart.

    Ah, yes, the sound of minds, like steel traps, snapping shut.

  52. from my gay perspective, if your gonna take a pic of your fabric clad weiner, the very least you could do is wear some attractive underwear for god’s sake. ya know? like some of those silky, pouch front basket huggers. fer cryin out loud if your trying to entice someone you’ve gotta wear something besides generic gray, baggy-crotched boxer-briefs. that’s just wrong !

  53. Scorpius: You, sir, have no call to criticize /anyone/ for having a closed mind.

  54. Scorpius, Kevin Williams:

    I’m not convinced the line of conversation you two are going down will end well for anyone involved.

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