Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Sam De Horatii Carminibus Putat

Acceptus Columbiae collegio, I've decided to start doing more latin and greek. Ergo vobis praesento primum carminum Quintii Horatii Flacci, translatum memet:

Maecenas atavis edite regibus,
o et praesidium et dulce decus meum:
sunt quos curriculo pulverem Olympicum
collegisse iuvat metaque fervidis
evitata rotis palmaque nobilis.
terrarum dominos evehit ad deos
hunc, si mobilium turba Quiritium
certat tergeminis tollere honoribus,
illum, si proprio condidit horreo
quidquid de Libycis verritur areis.
gaudentem patrios findere sarculo
agros Attalicis condicionibus
numquam demoveas, ut trabe Cypria
Myrtoum pavidus nauta secet mare.
luctantem Icariis fluctibus Africum
mercator metuens otium et oppidi
laudat rura sui; mox reficit rates
quassas indocilis pauperiem pati.
est qui nec veteris pocula Massici
nec partem solido demere de die
spernit, nunc viridi membra sub arbuto
stratus, nunc ad aquae lene caput sacrae.
multos castra iuvant et lituo tubae
permixtus sonitus bellaque matribus
detestata. manet sub Iove frigido
venator tenerae coniugis inmemor,
seu visa est catulis cerva fidelibus
seu rupit teretes Marsus aper plagas.
me doctarum hederae praemia frontium
dis miscent superis, me gelidum nemus
Nympharumque leves cum Satyris chori
secernunt populo, si neque tibias
Euterpe cohibet nec Polyhymnia
Lesboum refugit tendere barbiton.
quodsi me lyricis vatibus inseres,
sublimi feriam sidera vertice.

(Text from Perseus)

My translation:

O Maecenas, with high kingly ancestors,
both my defense and my sweet honor:
there are those who delight in the noble palm
and in collecting Olympic dust on the track
after the turning-post has been shunned by the torrid wheels.
This man, if the mob of malleable knights
contend for the threefold honors exalts it
to the ruling gods of the earth, another
if he preserves whatever is swept up from
Libyan threshing-floors.
You could not, even with Attalic offers,
induce one who delights in cleaving his paternal
fields with a hoe to cleave instead the
Mytroan sea, a frightened sailor with a Cyprian ship.
The trader who fears the African wind wrestling
with Icarian waves praises rest and his homeland;
unable to learn to suffer poverty, he soon rebuilds
his shattered crafts.
There is he who scorns neither glasses of
aged Massican*, nor to take away a part of the whole day,
now stretching out beneath a green arbutus,
now at the soft head of a sacred river.
Many rejoice in the war-camp, and the intermixed sound
of lituus and tuba,** and in wars detested by mothers,
the hunter stays beneath a cold sky,
heedless of his soft wife,
whether a deer is spotted by faithful pups
or a Marsan boar ruptures the smooth fields.
Prises of ivy on the learned forheads stir me up
to the highest gods, soft choruses of Nymphs
with Satyrs, and icy glens cut me off from society,
if Euterpe does not hinder the reedpipe,
nor Polyhimnia*** shrink from stringing the Lesbian**** lyre.
But if you implant me among the lyric bards,
I will hit the stars in the highest pole.

*a kind of wine
**two kinds of war-trumpet
***Euterpe and Polyhimnia are musical muses
****not like THAT; 'Lesbian' refers to the isle of Lesbos, home of the great poet (and yes, legendary vaginal snorkeler) Sappho

Sloppy, I know. But Perseus' english translation is particularly unhelpful, grammatical exegesis-wise.

I feel like that's a decent use of an afternoon. More tomorrow, probably!

Friday, March 27, 2009

Sam Learns About Stuff

It's been a pretty educational 15 minutes here at 1070 Bway this fine morning:

I. So I keep hearing blah blah "stress tests for banks" blah. Right? I had NO IDEA what anybody actually fucking MEANT by 'stress test' up until just now*:

The only way to make sense of Tim Geithner’s “stress test” for banks is to assume a kind of triage. Banks that are reasonably healthy right now -- whose assets are fully adequate to fund their liabilities, and can make new loans...

I'm still really unclear on how exactly all this goes down, whether there's an acceptable leverage ratio vs "if everybody asked you for all of their money TODAY, could you do it?," &c. But still: a little clarity.

II. So I've lived in a seriously Puerto Rican neighborhood for over a year now, and while I was working I worked in a room full of Puerto Ricans, Dominicans, and an Ecuadorean. But I'm an awkward white kid from Maine. So I've always been at kind of a loss about the best way to refer to all these people collectively. Until earlier today:
Most Latin people know meringue like most white people know rock but some white people know good rock and underground rock..... Where a lot of Spanish people know “so much” about Latin music, there's still a lot they don't know about so we dig that up and do our own mixes.

That's from an interview (on the excellent FreeWilliamsburg) with a DJ from La Mega 97.9, aka Car Service Radio. That is to say, he knows what he's talking about. What have we learned? "Latin" and "Spanish." I've been saying "Latino" and feeling awkward about it, so I'll stop.

*I don't read this blog. I searched for "'stress test' bank definition" on google.

Thursday, March 26, 2009


So have you heard this stuff about the Chinese wanting a non-dollar global currency, and Michele Bachmann freaking out about it &c &c?

I have a really hard time believing this will actually happen. Here're the things:

  • China is holding lots and lots and lots of dollars at the moment

  • The Euro already exists

  • So that means they would have to start this new currency using non-Euro countries that also didn't want to move to the dollar. Then, they would have to sell off their dollars. The best part is that IF their new currency takes off, they'll take significant losses on the sale of their dollars (cause who would buy them instead of the new fabulous China-backed currency?), which would actually weaken their new currency. Plus most of the countries who would sign on would be either a)poor or b)run by crazy people (or both).

    Sooo, basically, calm down, Michele Bachmann, is what I'm saying.


    OK. So: I called the Columbia Classics office, and talked to a lady, who told me I didn't get the Ph.D. OK, fine. I asked her, what about the master's. She said that they didn't know I was interested, but, she could get the file back, and since they'd just looked at my stuff, they could maybe have a decision about that by as early as TOMORROW AFTERNOON! AGH! SO maybe the future's looking brighter?

    Wednesday, March 25, 2009

    Rebel EXTREME Procrastinator!

    Looking through my documents folder to find something better to submit as my writing sample for Masters' apps, I found a transcript I made of my favorite Sealab 2021 episode of all time. So, I present to you, good reader(s), MONKEY BANANA RAFFLE:

    Quinn: So, how long has he been out there?
    Debbie: Three hours.
    Stormy: That’s frickin’ amazing!
    Quinn: It’s frickin’ impossible! The pressure should have exploded his head instantly.
    Stormy: Mmkay.
    Sparks: Holy crap, I know who that guy is! (Switches on TV)
    News Announcer: What would you do with a triiilllion dollars? Well, if you said ‘Build a golden fortress at the center of the earth to enslave Troglodytes,’ your name must be Max Stone, the Rebel Extreme Trillionaire! (Cut to Max’s press conference)
    Max: Internet! I just bought it! Ha ha ha, suckers. (Cut back to Sealab)
    Sparks: Uh, w-where the hell did he go? (Max bursts through ceiling)
    Stormy: Aaah!
    Sparks/Quinn?: Woah, look out.
    Debbie: How the hell did you get in here?
    Max: Jet pack, transportation mode of the future!
    Quinn: And how did you survive the water pressure?
    Max: It’s called mathematics! Look it up, dummy!
    Debbie: Wait, what?
    Max: Enough chitty-chat. I claim this place in the name of me, Max Stone!
    Dan: (With guitar) Extreme rebel trillionaire!
    Max: Muchayus graceeyus, Dan.
    Quinn: You—You can’t claim Sealab! It belongs to the U.S. Government!
    Max: Government? Hah, hold on a sec. (Pulls out phone; speaks into it) Hello, telephone? Get me the government. Beep boop boop. Hello, government? Buy, sell, buy, sell! Ha ha ha, you’re an a-hole. Click. (TV comes on)

    News Announcer: This just in: the rebel extreme trillionaire Max Stone has just purchased Sealab. Plus, Beeeeesss!!!
    Max: Yeah, I own this tank of crap now, and I’m taking it to the extreme!
    Sparks: Awesome!
Quinn: Extreme? This is a serious research station!
    Max: Seriously boring. So I filled the hallways with rabid alligators.
    Alligator: Rowr!
    Stormy, Sparks, Debbie, Quinn: Aaah!
    Max: A-whip-cracka! (Hits alligator with stick)
    Alligator: Uurgh. (Walks off)
    Max: If I was you, I’d get yourselves some big sticks.
    Sparks: M-Mr. Stone, let me just say: it is an honor, Sir. Whatever you need—
    Max: Well thanks for kissing my ass, head-set. (Uses jet-pack claw to give Sparks a wad of bills) Money. (Again) Some double money.
    Tornado: I don’t care who you are, you can’t take over my Sealab. I won’t letcha!
    Max: So you’re telling me I can’t, I can not do something? (Jetpacks over to Tornado) Well, folks told Max Stone he couldn’t bungee jump the Grand Canyon, usin’ a thousand deadly cobras as a cord. Guess what happened, stupid? Slide! (Slide of Max bunjee jumping the Grand Canyon with a cord made of snakes)
    Dan: (With guitar) Extreme rebel trillionaire…to the max!
    Max: Great job, Dan-O. You got yourself a real gift, son: the gift of you’re fired! Ha ha ha ha, get it? You, hair guy! Grab that guitar, and make it sing!
    Stormy: Mmmkay.
    Tornado: Belay that order! Mr. Stone was just about to leave.
    Max: Jetpack! (Jetpacks over Dan, setting him on fire)
    Dan: Aauuugh!
    Max: You mean just about to lead. You see, that’s where we differ, ‘cause I’m Max Stone, a leader of men. You women out there, hit the bricks!
    Tornado: What?
    Max: You couldn’t lead a monkey to a banana raffle! A leader needs funny catch phrases, like “Take it to the max!” and “Monkey banana raffle!” (Pause)
    Tornado: Well, uh, I got a catchphrase, I’ve just, uh, I’ve just never had a chance to use it. (Clears throat) ‘Damn, that’s cold, y’all!’ (Pause)
    Stormy: (Laughs)
    Max: Carbonite gun. (A laser gun emerges from Max’s jetpack) Monkey banana raffle! (The gun shoots a bean which encases Tornado in carbonite)
    Tornado: (Being encased) Damn that’s cold y’all!
    Quinn: (Pushing frozen Tornado) Damnit! This is not over! Aw, hell no! Gonna get him dethawed, call the government, and then—(dropping frozen Tornado, it breaks) Aw damn. Nyah-ah-ah.
    Max: (Hovering on jetpack) What we need around here is a clear hierarchy, with me at the top. Hey, you there, put my head on a dog.
    Stormy: (With guitar) Head on a do-o-og!
    Max: What’s with the blank looks, people? Remember Egypt?
    Guy: What the f*** is wrong with this guy?
    Max: Oh I am so sorry. Was that too extreme for you? Well how about this, hot shot: you’re fired, monkeyballs! (To Dr. Virjay) What’s your job?
    Dr. Virjay: I am Sealab’s medical officer. Pleased to meet you.
    Max: Well have fun in the burn unit, Dago, ‘cause you’re fired. (To next guy) What’s your deal, eyeballs?
    Next guy: I make the robots.
    Max: Well, if a big-ass robot comes up to you and says he’ll be back, you better listen to him, ‘cause you’re terminated. (Flies forward briefly, then back) Pop culture reference; look it up, stupid. (To Fire Inspector) Now, what’s your deal, Red?
    Fire Inspector: I’m the fire inspector!
    Max: Too easy.
    Stormy: (With guitar) He said ‘too easy,’ ‘too easy!’
    Max: Hey, earmuffs.
    Sparks: I love you.
    Max: You’re in charge until I get back. I’m going to the moon for a sandwich! Anybody else want one?
    Stormy: Uh yeah, I’d love a moonwich.
    Max: You got a million dollars?
    Stormy: Mmno.
    Max: So you’re not getting a sandwich, are you, jackass? To the moon! (Jetpacks away)
    Everyone: Hooray!
    Quinn: (Finishing reassembling Tornado) There. Good as new. Well kinda.
    Dr. Virjay: (Approaches, opens soda on Tornado’s nose)
    Quinn: Hey, knock it off!
    Dr. Virjay: Oh, what, so now you hate sodapop?
    Quinn: No, I’m talkin’ to him.
    Christian: (Chipping away at Tornado’s groin) I gotta have that d***!
    Max: Mm—cheese just takes better on the moon. Ain’t dat funny?
    Moon Waiter: [Moon language]
    Max: (Using jetpack arm to open briefcase full of money) Moon money. Go get yourself some more of them silver britches, moon-waiter.
    Moon Waiter: [More moon language]
    Max: Hot damn, I love this moon!
    (Frozen Tornado looking at snack machine)
    Stormy: Look, Quinn, Rebel Extreme Trillionaire Max Stone may have some quirks, but you gotta give him one thing: (With guitar) He gave me this guitar!
    Sparks: Uh, the point is, he’s been here all of what, ten minutes, and Sealab’s already running better than it ever did when the government was in charge, OK?
    Debbie: And have you seen the budget for your research lab, Quinn? (Stormy pokes Quinn with guitar neck) He increased it 300%!
    Quinn: 300%? Wow, I (Stormy pokes Quinn a 4th time) Stop it! (To Debbie) I could finally resume my genetics research!

    Flipper Guy: (Walks on) Haven’t you done enough already?
    Quinn: You get back in your cage!
    Flipper Guy: (Running off) Meow!
    Quinn: Now, well. The real point is, this is gonna go horribly wrong, and I’ll end up savin’ the day. Y’all can’t see that?
    Debbie: You’re the non-seeing one! Max is great! I mean, he helped me start a mission at the center of the earth!
    Max: Listen up, Troglodytes: there’s gon’ be a little lady comin’ around these parts, preachin’ the good word. I want y’all to be on yo’ best behavior. I’m looking at you, Gragamel.
    Steve: My name is Steve.
    Max: Now get back to minin’ my gold. A-whip-cracka! (Cracks whip, alligator bites Steve’s leg)

    Steve: Aagh!
    Max: Damnit, I told y’all to Get Big Sticks.
    Frozen Tornado: (Thinking) So…beautiful. Urgh…urgh…uh…urgh (inches way towards snack machine, tips it over on himself) Haha, haha, ha ha ha…I can’t eat it…
    Quinn: (Running in) Sparks, what’s wrong?
    Sparks: What? Everything’s fine.
    Quinn: The vaporators!
    Sparks: Chuggin’ away at 150% efficiency, my man.
    Vaporator guy: (In monitor) Hooray!
    Quinn: Uh, kelp! Problem with the kelp?
    Sparks: Harvested this morning, chicken little.
    Quinn: Beeees!
    Sparks: Uhh…there aren’t any?
    Quinn: Damnit! Isn’t there something, or someone around here, that needs saving?
    Debbie: (On monitor) Quinn, come quick!
    Quinn: Ah, here we go! ALAARM! ALAARM!
    Sparks: Eh, seriously dude, you need to calm the f*** down.
    Quinn: (Entering lab, followed by Sparks) ALAARM! ALAARM! ALAARM!
    Debbie: What the hell is wrong with you?
    Quinn: I thought there was a ALAARM!
    Debbie: No, silly stupid dumb-dumb. We wanted to show you the giant electron microscope Max got you.
    Quinn: Really? Huh. (A shark falls from the sky)
    Sparks: Oh god!
    Stormy: Aaahh!
    Debbie: Demon! (The shark bursts open, Max emerges with jetpack)
    Stormy: Ahh!
    Sparks: Holy crap!
    Debbie: It’s Max!
    Sparks: I know that dude!
    Max: First man in history to eat a shark from the inside out. Cross it off the ol’ honeydew list. (Jetpack arms emerge with pencil and clipboard. He crosses off “Become human parasite” from his “Trillionaire To Do List,” including “Trick bear into going to college” [crossed off], “Create Earthquake Machine” [crossed off], “Invent Time Machine” [crossed off], subitem “Travel to past; kill Father” [not crossed off])
    Sparks: Welcome back, Sir. As per your instructions, I fired like 100 more people and equipped all the hallway alligators with nail guns.
    Max: That’s awesome! And now I’m bored.
    Sparks: What?
    Debbie: Uh, come again?
    Max: Bored. This place sucks. I’m outta here. (Jetpacks away)
    Sparks: Wait, wait!
    Debbie: Don’t go!
    Stormy: (With guitar) Don’t leave me baaaaaayyy-byy! (Max comes back)
    Debbie: Please, you can’t leave, Sir. This place has never run more smoothly. Even flipper guy is contributing!
    Flipper Guy: I’m still sexually active! Hooray! (His phone rings, he answers it) Flipper Penis.
    Max: (Jetting over to Quinn) What do you say, eyeballs? Y’want me around?
    Quinn: Aw man, yeah, please stay.
    Max: Well, super! But it’s gonna have to be a hell of a lot more interesting in this crap of tank! Scratch that, reverse it.
    Sparks: Uhh, sir? I’m just spitballin’ here, but what about bats, made of fire, just bouncin’ off the walls all the time?
    Max: Ooh, I love it. You people keep surprising me with stuff like that—
    Stormy: (Hits Max in the nuts with his guitar) Booyah!
    Max: My balls!
    Quinn: Stormy!
    Max: No, that’s great, I love it. You totally surprised me, son. Keep up the good—
    Stormy: (Hits Max in the balls again) Booyah!
    Max: (Unphased) Nope, seen that one already, you’re boring me. You gotta think of the craziest thing you can. Set it on fire, chase it with a shark, and then you’re getting somewheres!
    Quinn: (Turns and runs) Beeees!!!
    Max: You dumb dirty bastards. Now what did I just say, people? The bee thing’s old hat. (Kicks shark carcass) Seen it. Now you just follow my instructions—
    Bs: (Rushing across screen) B B B B B B B B B B B!!!
    Everyone but Max: Aaagh! (Go under)
    Max: Ha ha ha, I love it! Never saw it coming! Ha ha ha! (Pause) Nope, bored again.
    Troglodyte (Steve?): Do troglodytes go to heaven?
    Debbie: Uhh, no. (Pause)
    Troglodyte: Is it ‘cause I’m gay?
    Debbie: You’re gay?
Troglodyte: We’re kind of all gay.
    Other Troglodyte: Yeah, there’s no lava women.
    Debbie: Then, I’m afraid you’re all going to burn in fiery lava pits for the rest of eternity.
    All Troglodytes: Hooray!
    First Troglodyte: I’m a gay man, yay.

    (What does it say about me that I apparently already had a "Max Stone: Rebel Extreme Trillionaire" tag?)

    Monday, March 23, 2009


    GOD. Have you heard about this Private-Public Investment Thingie Tim Geithner proposed today? Let's just say that had Barry waited to go on Leno until tonight, he could have compared his bowling to this instead. Basically the government asks private investors what they think a certain charmingly-retitled "legacy asset" (why not "albatross," instead?) is worth, and then they give whoever says it's worth the most 97-100% of the money to buy it, sometimes in the form of government debt (for mortgages and stuff, as opposed to the more complicated securities which you and I will be paying for in cash.)

    The thing that irks me here is, right: this crash was mostly caused by everybody pretending things cost more than they did. This program, by getting private investors to buy stuff on the company dime, completely incentivizes PRETENDING THINGS COST MORE THAN THEY DO. Listen: I have a bag of shit. You have a bag of shit. The government arrives, and says that if I buy your bag of shit, they'll give me $10 to do so. Same goes for you. Even a Special Olympian could tell you that you and I will both be $10 richer, but will still both be holding bags of shit at the end of the day.

    (HT Dealbreaker inter alios.)

    Sunday, March 22, 2009

    Master's progs

    STILL haven't been definitively rejected from Columbia, but I don't have enough time to sit around and wait to get rejected.

    SO this is the list of master's programs I've assembled so far, with app due dates:

    CUNY: Apr 14th
    SFSU: May 1st
    UCSB: May 1st
    Columbia: Jul 15th
    Bryn Mawr: Jun 30th

    2 schools in the city, two schools in Cali (one in Pennsylvania...eh.) I think I have a really good shot at a master's, cause I've already missed the deadline for applying for funding, so I'll have to pay, so everybody not having any money should be less of a problem. I like Bryn Mawr and SFSU the best, I think. We'll see. Any other suggestions (theoretical blog readers...hah.)

    Thursday, March 19, 2009

    Ups & Downs

    SO I've been rejected from 5 of the 6 Ph.D. programs I applied to, and seriously doubt I'll get into the 6th. I told my advisors this via email, and just got this response back from one of them:

    I am somewhat surprised that you have not been accepted anywhere. It is not your fault but probably the fact that you went to GW which is not considered to have a 1st rate classics department (actually it does not have a classics department but a joint department with other languages and this never looks good). In this case whatever your qualifications are and whatever good (rather best) things people have to say about you might not have as significant effect as in the case of someone who went to a 1st rate undergraduate department. It may well be that the current financial situation affected some of the fellowships too (I know from prof. Keesling that tenure tracked job advertised in September were canceled in November and there were about 8 such jobs left by December. That's down from the usual 40-60). An MA might be a good idea but note that most first rate programs tend not to give fellowships in this case. Most people in your situation would go to a post bacc. program.
    It is shorter, less expensive, and if the program is good (e.g. Penn) it helps one get into a good school. The problem is that you are such a good student that it will probably feel like a waste of time.

    So, that makes me feel a little better...