At Babbage.

Also, in the spirit of information proliferation, I can offer a cure for hiccups. 1) Close your ears with your ring fingers. 2) Have someone else feed you a whole glass of water (at your own pace).
 
 
On Libya, and teasing Haley Barbour again, at Democracy in America.
 
 
On the Texas model and the rise of group texting, in this week's print edition, as well as a new nickname for Tim Pawlenty, at Democracy in America.
 
 
A moment of silence, at Prospero.


 
 
Yesterday was the first day of SXSW Music 2011. We enjoyed sets by Friendly Fires, Oh Land, the Vaccines, Porcelain Raft, and White Denim, and developed some new dance moves, but the overwhelming impression I have of yesterday is a day spent texting. These are the messages sent and received between 10 am Wednesday morning and 2 am Thursday. Edited for brevity.

To: Ginny/ What's the first port of call this morning?
To: Puja/ Is the bike back at the house?
From: Ginny/ Austinist party or fader! What do you think? Is the mayor having a throwdown this year?
To: Ginny/ I havent heard about the mayor. Either way. I'm about to leave san antonio but need to shower/change when i get in.
From: Dad/ Thanks for the visit? Any chance you can come back Sat for celebration of Mom's birthday and last day David will be home for Spring break?
From: Ginny/ When will you be arriving?
To: Ginny/ A few min
To: Jason/ So how was your night last night? Puja said you're the dreamcatcher for girls ;-)
To: Dan/ Heading to fader fort
From: Jason/ Can't help it! ;-)
From: Jason/ And I do have an air mattresss.
To: Jason/ Ha. What are you up to today? We just got to fader fort.
To: Dan/ In fader fort.
From: Jason/ Not out yet. How's fader?
To: Jason/ Crazy line
From: Jason/ Even for media?
To: Jason/ Nah, very easy for media ;-)
To: Jason/ What's with these secret mohawk passes?
To: Jason/ I just ran into Sascha and she said a girl from school thought you were cute. This is getting ridiculous.
From: Jason/ I don't remember meeting her?
From: Jason/ That's funny :-) I guess I should enjoy it while I can.
To: 67463/ Veevo
From: 67463/ 'Veevo' is not recognized, may be misspelled or you've waited too long to reply.
To: 67463/ Vevo
From: 67463/ Sorry the limit for the event has been reached. Make sure to stay tuned for alerts from VEVO!
To: Jason/ Well, hopefully 2 or 3 of them are worth your time in a non-sxsw week!
From: Jason/ One can only hope. Going to be at fader for a while? I'll meet up with y'all as soon as I'm out.
To: Jason/ Yeah for a bit but text when you're en route.
To: Emily/ Missing you during sxsw! How's LA?
From: Dan/ How is it?
From: Emily/ Ugh it's so unfair--I miss you so much! It's been a slow start to the yr but had a great time in NOLA w sergio in feb and planning a trip to Austin in may. How are you?!
From: Moos/ Tonight...going to see my friends...colourmusic @ 9
To: Moos/ Where? just got back from san antonio
From: Moos/ Tonight...going to see my friends...colourmusic @ 9pm @friends on e 6th St...they are really good...unfortunately...have a meeting @ 11 am...in Houston.
From: Moos/ ...so I cannot rock too hard...but you should come..you can also meet my old roommate...she lives in ATX now
To: Puja/ Hey, where'd you go? Ginny and I are thinking o fdartin gover to the convention center to try to get spin laminates.
From: Jason/ Actually I can't find my Mohawk pass. Does Puja have it?
To: Jason: Ha, I'll ask her. She seems to have lost my bike key :-/ Maybe some girl pickpocketed you? Occupational hazard
From: Moos/ Well try to make it...they are really good...Peace
To: Puja/ We're going to go now--back in 30
From: Jason/ Was she telling you about the pass or someting? It's a small wooden thing Rosa gave me. Can't believe I lost it!
From: Puja/ Wait!
From: Puja/ Was mid ping pong game
To: Puja/ Wait at Fader. We can get in/out more easily than you.
From: Puja: K, ill be at the arcade.
From: Dan/ Moving on. You at fort? Gotta get Andrew at like 615?
To: Dan/ came to convention center to get spin lammies. Heading back to fort.
To: Puja/ Cool, got the laminates, there soon
From: Puja/ K watchin show
To: Puja/ Like herding fucking cats. Heading back now!
From: Puja/ Sounds like need some wild dogs...take your time.
To: Puja/ In line to get back in. Should just be a few min.
To: Laurent/ Are you in Austin? How was australia?
To: Jason/ In the fort listening to friendly fires.
From: Jason/ In press line to get in.
To: Jason/ Cool
From: Jason/ Not cool. Line not moving.
To: Jason/ :-(
From: Jason/ Send Ginny out to work some magic!
To: Jason/ It's the last song of the set. we'll come out after?
From: Jason/Stay if it's fun.
To: Jason/ No we'll come find you but not budging right now!
From: Jason/ I'm almost in
From: Laurent/ Almost there in 1 hr! Australia = 10 lbs....So year it was fun but had pretty long work days. Whats the plan!
To: Jason/ Walking out
From: Jason/ I'm at front of press line.
To: Jason/ Fader fort press guy among your admirers
From: Puja/ Got the bike key. Want me to bring it home? Not prob.
To: Puja/ Yayay! cool. well what do you feel like doing?
To: Puja/ We're at the house now, leaving for the woodies soon, want to be ginny's plus 1?
From: Laurent/ Are you gonna be out tonight?
To: Jared/ At sxsw--Puja's acquired a rather good michael cera story.
To: Ginny/ Wait right after you left we realized the girl in the corner is working on a blog post for spinner!
From: Ginny/ The one who needed punctuation help? Hee! Also Austin Music Hall is not so far so when you know where you are going.
To: Puja/ It's a 20 cover but I accidentally walked in without paying. the guy who's supposedly taking the money isn't clearly demarcated ;-)
To: Jason/ At deville for the vaccines
From: Jared/ Pray tell
To: Jared/ She said she was biking down the street and saw an emo kid who looked vaguely familiar. So she pulled up and said "hey! do i know you?" and he said, "I don't think so..." and she said, "no, you look really familiar. are you in a band?" and he said, "yeah--mr heavenly?" and she said, "no, it's not that--must be someone else" and biked off.
From: Jared/ Ha. At least she didn't say "aren't you jesse eisenberg."
From: Jason/ How is it?
From: Moos/ What is the cover...
To: Jason/ Cool. White denim next
To: Moos/ 20 not sure where next
From: Moos/ Well...my friends band finished...I could meet you there
To: Moos/ Let me figure out where we're going next
From: Oscar/ Where is everybody at. Thinking of heading out to downtown.
To: Oscar/ Deville for the vaccines, not sure of next stop
From: Oscar/ Do you have s badge?
To: Oscar/ No got here about an hour ago really crowded
From: Moos/ Cool...how hard is it to get in...
To: Moos/ It was easy when we got in but really crowded now
From: Moos/ OK...I am with 3 girls...I will work my charms...what is the music type
To: Moos/ Indie. May be at capacity.
From: Dad/ Did you make it back to Austin ok?
From: Jared/ Sean and Blake are here
To: Jared/ Aw! give them a high-five from me
From: Moos/ After these jamesons...we are going to try to swing by
From: Oscar/ Cool. I'm just going to stay in
From: Moos/ We are walking there...
From: Dan/ At spill, pretty crowded but seems open for now.
From: Dan/ No actually its upper class only
From: Moos/ I am here
From: Moos? By the bar near the tent
To: Moos/ We left to get food!
From: Moos/ Ok...get food and come back...
To: Ginny/ How are the woodies? we miss you!
To: Dan/ You know what's upper class? Sitting down for ritas and enchiladas at el sol y la luna.
From: Dan/ Hot. Why did i buy this piece of shit?
To: Dan/ East coast more money than sense?
From: Ginny/ Daniel Glover is adorable and the titos is plentiful! where will you be at midnight?
From: Dan/ Palm door 4th and sabine up next
To: Jason/ At the restaurant
From: Jason/ Heading back that way but already ate. What are you doing after?
To: Dad: What's up?
From: David/ So I don't think I will be able to make it to sxsw tomorrow :( waddaya think?
From: Ginny/ Where you at???
To: Ginny/ 6th and red river you?
From: Ginny/ Will meet you there! Odd future is playing the last song.
From: Dad/ Checking to see if you made it back ok. Did you see my earlier texts?
From: Dad/ About saturday
To: Ginny/ On 6th and red river
To: Dad/ Yes and yes
To: Dad/Not sure about Saturday
To: Ginny/ Are you done with the woodies?
From: Dad/ We plan to take mom bowling in the afternoon. It'll be fun
To: David/ Whatever works! Stuff in San antonio?
To: Dan/ Where now? we are thinking of hotel vegas.
From: Dan/ Palm door is wide open for the moment
From: Dan/ Surfer blood is good
From: Moos/ Where at
To: Moos/ Looking for ginny, may go home in a min
From: Moos/ I will pay for ur cab...come meet us at club de ville
From: Moos/ I want to see you
To: Moos/ I'm herding cats at the moment! 3 houseguests
From: Moos/ Where will you come meet me? Ur call
From: Ginny/ There in 1 sec
To: Moos/ I have 3 people I'm looking after. Cant just peel away. Will update in a min
From: Moos/ Gotcha
From: Moos/ Club de ville. Live music still. Lots of couches open. Tell the girls my friend says there are cute guys!?!
To: Puja/ Wait!
From: Dan/ Come its nice here
To: Dan/ Going to hotel vegas
From: Dan/ Where is that?
From: Moos/ We will wait for you out front
From: Moos/ I will buy pizza!
To: Moos/ We're walking to hotel vegas.
From: Puja/ Scoping
From: Puja/ Do you want us to come back?
From: Jason/ Party sucks!
From: Dan/ what are you doing next?
To: Jason/ sjfhhshhhslkkskksks
To: Dan/ askxjjjsjzbhebxheb
From: Dan/ Pocket text alert!
To: Dan/ Heh. Probably going home.
From: Dan/ Me too. See you tomorrow.

The first text of this morning: "What's your plan for today?"
 
 
In this week's issue of The Economist. Retail customers are getting some interesting new innovations in financial services--although nothing will ever tempt me to leave USAA.
 
 
So you know how honey comes in a plastic bottle shaped like a bear? It's cute, right?
Picture
Honey Bear/Persona Non Grata
I was startled over the weekend to learn that this view is not universal. An English friend, over tea in the second-floor lounge of the Hotel Elysee in New York, scoffed when I offered him a honey bear and said that it was "naff."
Picture
I've also heard English people describe Mount Rushmore as 'naff.'
The next day we put it to a friend from Geneva. "Oh I hate those," she said. "They're so obnoxious." The objections were that the honey bear is cutesy and illogical. The latter complaint confused me. There is a logical connection between bears and honey. Bears eat honey, is the connection. And when they eat a lot of honey, they are full of honey. Therefore, it's appropriate to have a plastic container shaped like a bear and filled with honey. The artist Luke Chueh dramatizes the situation:
Picture
'Honey Bear' © Luke Chueh, 2007
And rather than getting into a debate over the meaning of "cutesy" vs "cute," I would just point out that people from the place that popularized cow creamers are on shaky ground with their assault on honey bears. And they may be ignoring the benefits of the animal-shaped delivery device. This gentleman, who runs a web site devoted to cow creamers, says he launched it partly "to share my fascination with the numberless ways in which such a straightforward thing as a cow can be represented in the form of a creamer."  Where's the harm if we spend more time thinking about bears and their representation?
Picture
You know what else is kind of naff, is English people saying things are 'naff.' Silver cow creamer w/saddle and bee.
 
 
My latest from The Daily, about the time Buffalo Bill took his Wild West show to London.
 
 
Simon Kuper--an English guy with a French wife?--does a little cross-cultural analysis:

Applying Carroll’s theories to Britons, you understand why foreigners think we are repressed. Americans won’t touch strangers, the French won’t talk to them, but Brits will neither touch nor talk to them. Passport to the Pub, a semi-official guide for foreign tourists to the UK, warns: “Don’t ever introduce yourself. The ‘Hi, I’m Chuck from Alabama’ approach does not go down well in British pubs.”

Nor are Britons permitted to make eye contact: the former French prime minister Edith Cresson, disconcerted that British men didn’t look at her, estimated that one in four was homosexual. No wonder Britons drink ever-increasing amounts of alcohol. Alcohol was first distilled so that British people could reproduce.

This aligns with my experience. Americans do hug friends, though, and British people don't (with some pleasant exceptions). The Brits do friendly kisses instead. That has led me into some slightly awkward bobbles when the British person move in for a friendly kiss and I'm expecting a friendly hug and we both end up in a slightly warmer greeting than intended.

As long as Mr Kuper and I are generalizing, I would like to offer a generalization about British people: they don't like it when people generalize about them. I mean, no one's crazy about it, but they're bristlier about it than Americans. My theory is that Americans are calmer about it because we're more used to it. Every time Americans do anything stupid or silly or strange the Europeans are on hand to shake their heads and say, "I'm disappointed, but I'm not surprised." The foibles of our British friends, however, are less well-publicized and so their defense mechanisms are still in place.
 
 
"Upon discovering that the toy squeaked when it was compressed forcefully, the simple dog immediately forgot that she'd ever experienced doubt or anxiety ever in her life.  She pounced on the toy with way more force than necessary, over and over and over.  The logic behind her sudden change in outlook was unclear." The drawings are the best part. Just brilliant. Via Sullivan.