Otterday! And Open Thread.

Today’s otter video is a tribute to the passing of an online Best Mate who loved and was most particular about the quality of his coffee, whisky, urban legends, puns, poker and pointed sarcasm. I hadn’t heard from him for a while, and I was terribly sad to hear of his death. Vale atque ave, Phil Gustafson – somewhere a JATO car is pacing your passage, and somehow a scuba suit is involved.

Video Description: Mythbusters – Sea Otter Shenanigans
A sea otter interrupts a Mythbusters experiment using ping-pong balls to attempt to raise a wrecked vessel from the depths. The playful sea mammal couldn’t resist the gleaming white spheres, and kept on taking them out of position. Given that there are severe penalties for disturbing the wildlife in the Bay, the Mythbusters team start trying to decide which one should take the blame and pay the court fine. Luckily, after an extended period of otter mischief, they manage to persuade the otter to leave with no harm done.

Please feel free to use this thread to natter about anything your heart desires. Is there anything great happening in your life? Anything you want to get off your chest? Reading a good book (or a bad one)? Anything in the news that you’d like to discuss? What have you created lately? Commiserations, felicitations, temptations, contemplations, speculations?

Categories: Life

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24 replies

  1. Phil’s family just posted this death notice on his Facebook wall:

    Phil Gustafson died peacefully in his home in San Jose on January 13,
    2011. He was born in Boston on October 30, 1944, and raised in
    Belmont, Massachusetts. Following graduation from MIT, Phil moved to
    the Bay Area and spent the last thirty years or so in San Jose. After
    his retirement from Sun Microsystems, he dabbled with consulting
    services, and volunteered with Planned Parenthood. Phil was an amazing
    chef, a pretty decent musician, and collector of all sorts of
    informational tidbits. Through the internet, he maintained close and
    lasting friendships with people from all over the world. He is
    remembered for his warmth and sense of humor, his portrayal of Santa
    Claus on Christmas Eve, and the speed with which he could solve a
    Rubik’s Cube. He is survived by brother Carl Gustafson of Port
    Washington, NY, sister Sally Evans of Flagstaff, Arizona, his
    Massachusetts cousins, and his niece and nephews. Donations in his
    name may be made to Planned Parenthood Mar Monte, 1691 The Alameda,
    San Jose, CA 95126.

  2. Another long-term e-friend has posted about Phil’s death and the online reaction to it: A Death in the Community.

  3. Sorry to hear about the death of your online friend. Sounds like he was a great guy.

  4. Thanks, Mindy – he was. He would have loved this Copenhagen Philharmonic flashmob in their central station:

    (via Still Life With Cat)

  5. Phil’s death leaves a kind of unexpected hole; he had become, over the last 18 years, one of those people who is just there, part of the fabric of one’s life. He came to Paul’s and my wedding and declared me “Absolutely beautiful, even if you do have a huge bow on your ass!”
    He was hopelessly in love with Maddy, a fact which alternately touched and annoyed her (although you could say that about most things), and he truly grieved when she died. I hope, if there is an afterlife, they’re drinking good coffee together and having a laugh.

  6. I’d love to hear Phil’s (or Maddie’s) take on this typical noxious spin on the bbbut-free-speech argument (eta: made on behalf of a secretive Wall Street fraternity mocking Occupy Wall Street in skits at annual gala)

    Mr. Ross defended Kappa Beta Phi on the grounds that the same freedom of speech rights afforded to Occupy Wall Street should be extended to the group’s members.
    “This is not a political convention,” he said by telephone on Friday. “It’s a group of people that are friendly with each other trying to have an enjoyable evening, mostly at each others’ expense.”
    source: A Raucous Hazing at a Wall St. Fraternity

    Say it with me, everybody: freedom of speech does not guarantee freedom from criticism!
    Nobody says that these Wall St “titans” should be stopped from revealing themselves to be obtusely provocative privileged arsehats, just that when they do so entirely of their own free volition? It will be noted, and criticised.

  7. P.S. @Vicki: I love all the stories from you and others who met up with Phil over the years about how he could so easily find the perfect acerbic remark to break up a room full of folks wondering ‘well, what now?” into a relaxed gathering just getting on with it.
    (eta: not that I’m saying your wedding was an occasion of such bewilderment – you and Paul seemed pretty sure of the plan for the day by all accounts)

  8. I’d also like to echo Mindy’s comment, tigtog – Phil does sound like a very interesting man, I’m sure he’ll be greatly missed.
    I just got my first misogynist-without-realising-it comment from a male reader at my blog and it took me almost an hour to reply to it. Slightly anxious now. *breathes deeply* I hope I did ok with it.
    Anyone remember their first comment like this? A comment that just completely proved/missed the point you were making?

  9. Just ducked over and read your comment Jo, I think you dealt with him very well. I hope he’s a one-off and doesn’t turn into a troll. Ugh.

  10. I just came home from a cake fight. It was pretty sweet.

  11. Thanks Mindy, it’s good to have a thumbs up! I don’t think he will turn into a troll because I met him at latin summer school (aka shameless geekery) last week and gave him the blog interest because he was interested in it when I mentioned it.
    TAK: an actual cakefight? Like, throwing cake at each other? Must have been amazing! And sticky…?

  12. I hope he rethinks his ideas about street harassment being sensual! I suspect he probably hasn’t given it much thought at all before.

  13. BTW who teaches Latin summer school at USyd these days?

  14. I reckon! I love the bit where he says just ignore the bad men and look at these wonderful white western canonical poets on the basis of their achievements in the institution! /snark

  15. Ah, you’re familiar? :D A lot of people teach it, my group was led by Kathleen and Atticus. I think the organisers are Robert Forgacs and Frances Muecke – know anyone?

  16. We went years ago, 95 or 96 I think. We were terrible students. Atticus sounds familiar and so does Frances.
    The year we went there was a child prodigy there who was teaching himself Latin.
    We annoyed him by giggling about someone called Superbum, he got very cranky with us and said stiffly “it’s pronounced su-per-boum”. That is about all I remember I’m afraid. We always did mean to go back and do it properly but never got around to it.

  17. Ah, latin geekery. I also get a little frustrated at people’s pronunciation sometimes… but I wouldn’t go out of my way to snark at people for it!
    I’ve only done two semesters of uni latin, so I was in a group that was mainly school kids – and you could really tell the difference between uni students and school students. Most of them seemed to be there under duress, even… And most didn’t seem to understand the concept of preparing texts for class. I guess I’m just really used to that from uni now! But yeah, latin geekery is awesome. I also learnt a lot of archaic english, because apparently all latinists speak archaic english… :D

  18. Ack, sorry to kinda hijack this thread, but I just got this comment:

    But, many men who whistle etc, are acting out of attractedness towards a woman, not hatred. You can’t call it misogyny when the people involved aren’t acting out of misogyny.

    So I laughed hysterically for five minutes, and now have no idea what to say to this person. WTF???

    • I think you might have to get semantic vs etymological.
      miso is not just about hate, it’s about disgust and denigration. Treating women as if only their bodies matter is denigrating their minds which determine their personhood, end of story.

  19. Talking about folks missing the point entirely, I just saw someone leave this “gem of wisdom” on a George Takei facebook post about perceptions of gender in two photographs of the same person:

    Penises and vaginas are not social constructs.

    And who exactly does this chap think said that they were?
    Let me fix that for him: Penises and vaginas are not accurate predictors of a person’s interests, skills or talents. Because of socially constructed gender roles, however, they can be reasonably strong predictors of which array of opportunities are offered to a person.

  20. You guys you guys we passed 5000 posts yesterday and I wrote the 5000th one!!!!!!!!!

  21. Chally: 5000? Blimey!

  22. Goodness me – that’s quite a landmark *quietly sips vodka and tonic (with lime)*


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