Food Thread: Miscellaneous Stuff [CBD]
Hanukkah is a relatively minor Jewish holiday that has been raised to ridiculous heights because of its proximity to Christmas. But that's okay, because giving and receiving gifts is rarely a bad thing. And we get to make potato pancakes (latkes), which go fantastically with sour cream. Although there are some Jews...deeply, irredeemably disturbed Jews....who eat them with apple sauce.
And did I mention doughnuts? They're called sufganiyot in Hebrew.....
Hanukkah is the celebration of the liberation of Jerusalem and the Temple from the Greek (Seleucid) occupiers by a Hasmonean family called the Maccabees. The miracle upon which this holiday is based is The Miracle of The Light, in which the sacred oil that burned in the Temple's menorah lasted eight days, when there was only enough for one day. The menorah used during Hanukkah has eight branches; one for each of the days of the miracle; unlike the Temple's menorah, which had the standard seven branches.
The Hasmoneans were successful in freeing Judea from the Greeks, and had an independent kingdom until the Romans showed up in 63 BCE.
Crown Roast of pork is a classic preparation, but is it purely cosmetic, or is there some function to shaping the roast in a circle and stuffing it? Clearly it looks grand, but I am disturbed by the frenching of the ribs (get your minds out of the gutter). That's some of the best meat on a roast...that succulent mix of fat and meat, nestled against the bone where one can gnaw it off in little pleasure-packed bites.
And the circular shape eliminates the end pieces, which get nice and crispy and crunchy.
At least one of you is making a Crown Roast for Christmas dinner, so this is not an academic question......
From a Bartender Friend of Mine
The end of the year is a time of reflection and contemplation. With that being said I've decided to list the most memorable things that have been said to me, or that I have overheard at the bar this year. Some were said directly to me, and others were overheard, but not by eavesdropping, just by the fact that I cannot stop sound waves at certain decibels from hitting my eardrums.
Some of these also reflect the obvious fact that people sometimes forget that bartenders can hear, and most of the time we are a hell of a lot more sober than they.
1) Him -- I'd like a gin martini.
Me -- Excellent. Do you have a preference on the gin?
Him -- Ummmmmmmmm, how about Ketel One.
Me -- Ketel One is a vodka.
Him -- Whatever man, I'm just trying to impress this girl who's in the bathroom and I thought a martini would make me look more sophisticated.
2) Her -- I've had this tampon in for like 17 hours.
3) Her -- Excuse me, but are you French? [Said to the bartender. In NJ. CBD]
Me -- No.
Her -- Walks away without another word.
4) Her -- I don't know if I'd call myself upper class, but I live in Ridgewood [pompous suburb. CBD] so I guess I have to be, right?
5) Him -- So I have a match.com date here tonight. It's our first time meeting.
Me -- Well, I wish you the best of luck.
Him -- If it doesn't work out do you know any strip clubs in the area?
6) Him -- Is that my wife? Shit I told her I was at our daughters basketball game. Cover for me.
7) Her -- Do you know any GOOD restaurants in the area?
8) Him -- I can't wait till pot is legal in New Jersey. Then I won't have to suffer through all the hangovers.
9) Her -- Instead of potatoes would it be possible to get a bigger steak?
10) Him (after bringing in an inebriated young lady) -- Oh I don't want anything. We just had to stop somewhere because she thinks she's going to throw up.
Cod filets (about 6-8 ounces per person)
Panko bread crumbs
Preheat oven to 300F
In a large oven-safe non-stick skillet melt a few teaspoons of butter over low heat.
Cut the filets into single portions, trying to keep each piece uniform (they will cook more evenly).
Dry the pieces and then lightly salt and pepper them just before cooking.
Whip an egg until frothy, adding a bit of salt and pepper to taste.
Turn the heat under the skillet to medium high and add 1 ounce of oil.
Dust each piece of cod with lightly seasoned flour. I use salt and pepper, but whatever makes sense is fine.
Starting with the thickest pieces of fish, dredge the cod through the whipped egg wash and then through the Panko bread crumbs, making sure that the fish is covered completely. If necessary pat the crumbs gently to help them stick to the fish. As you prepare each piece, put it in the skillet so the Panko doesn't get soggy.
Place the thicker pieces in the middle of the pan, which is usually hotter than the edges.
Cook for a few minutes until the Panko is lightly browned and crunchy, and then flip gently with a wide spatula.
Cook for a few minutes more, and then finish the fish in the oven for 5-6 minutes.
Serve immediately with a few squirts of lemon.
For an added bite, toss some crushed red pepper into the panko.....
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The Gaming thread (without much gaming)
—Gang of Gaming Morons!
Not gaming related but this is cool
Comic book fan, cosplay aficionado, and 15-year veteran deputy sheriff Michael Wilson (@knightmage) brought cheer to countless families on December 18 when he strolled into his local Ohio TOYS R US dressed as Dragon Ball's Piccolo and paid off everyone's layaways.
Not a whole lot has come out of this year's Jump Fiesta. You get a new Final Fantasy trailer and that's about it:
Square gonna go out their way to make you feel weird to be touching yourself to Cid in this Final Fantasy XV trailer
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What Happened to "Reasonable People Can Disagree?" [Y-not]
Recent events have led me to a troubling realization about the state of the GOP (to which I have belonged since 1980 and to which I still belong, but perhaps not for long) -- it is currently dominated by factions who apparently no longer subscribe to the "Reasonable People Can Disagree" theory of American politics.
I discovered this when my timeline was blasted with vitriol from a certain segment of political types whose mission is life is to destroy -- or at the very least marginalize -- Senator Ted Cruz. Here's a sample:
What Lee-Cruz did was a huge strategic blunder--possibly the result of base-pandering, not knowing senate procedure -- or both.— Matt Lewis (@mattklewis) December 13, 2014
I like this one:
In both policy and politics, what matters is RESULTS. Nobody cares how good your intentions are if you don't get good results.— Ken Gardner (@kesgardner) December 13, 2014
"Results" matter... except when they produce in a trillion dollar spending bill, I guess.
Go to Twitchy for a round up.
(A few days ago Ace had a terrific post about this latest Cruz incident. He is much more eloquent than I am so go read it.)
Now to be honest a lot of these folks are people whose accounts I had already "muted" (a most excellent feature of Twitter that I wish we had here, but I digress) from previous episodes of "base"-bashing and condescension and other nonsense, but after the Cruz stuff I "blocked" a bunch of them. Why? NOT because they dislike Cruz, but because they were attacking him using weak (to non-existent) arguments about Cruz's maneuver (and resorting to ad hominem attacks) with the type of vigor that should be reserved for Harry Reid, Nancy Pelosi, and Barack Obama.
There were a few folks whose tweets did surprise me in terms of their negativity about Cruz but whom I did not block, primarily because everyone deserves a mulligan now and then... and also because the tone of their tweets was somewhat less incendiary. (I'm looking at you Sean Agnew! *wink*)
The problem with the barrage of (frankly, seemingly coordinated) attacks on Cruz last weekend was the folks making these tweets left no room to engage them in a discussion. In fact, I really only bothered to try to interact with a handful of anti-Cruz folks whose tweets (or past behavior) left room for discussion. Here's an example of what I encountered:
@lybr3 Are you confusing Cruz with Rubio, who is fighting with Rand over Cuba right now?— #PoliceLivesMatter (@moxiemom) December 20, 2014
@lybr3 He does go it alone sometimes, but I hadn't noticed him being more prone to attacking GOPers than most of the others, incl...— #PoliceLivesMatter (@moxiemom) December 20, 2014
@lybr3 But you really haven't provided example. Not trying to be difficult, but honestly what I see Cruz doing is issues-based, not personal— #PoliceLivesMatter (@moxiemom) December 20, 2014
It's a very long thread and a lot of other folks joined in during the process but, amazingly, we were able to stay civil. Although we did not persuade each other, and I never really did get to the heart of what Stubbornly Me's objections were (he really could not cite specific examples of Cruz attacking other Republicans), at least we treated each other like fellow conservatives. In other words, we afforded each other the umbrella of respect of the "Reasonable People Can Disagree" philosophy.
Yesterday we had another incident, even more serious in many ways than the dreadful CRomnibus, and yet again I started seeing people from the Right tweeting (or writing blog posts) in ways that suggest that They Know All The Things and Reasonable People Cannot Disagree.
Can we stop with this, please?
I'm not talking about compromising your positions. I'm just talking about trying to not exude nuclear levels of smug or incendiary rhetoric or false claims of Truth when you state your positions. I see this behavior a lot lately, whether it be the Same Sex Marriage debate or Gun Control or Ted Cruz or Police Shootings.
Most of what we are engaging in on a daily basis resides in the world of opinion, not fact. Even, frankly, Constitutional matters exist in that realm -- that's what the Supreme Court is for, right? Seems to me they reverse themselves from time to time.
So let's forget making the Republican Party about a "Big Tent!" It's not working. Frankly, the people pushing this philosophy appear more interested in excluding some conservatives under the guise of "expanding the base."
There is no point in having a Big Tent if you shoulder existing residents out of it in the process.
Let's go for "Reasonable People Can Disagree" and see where that gets us.
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Sunday Football Thread
—Dave In Texas
Dec 21. Almost Christmas y'all.
Dallas and Indy both 10-4. Should be interestin. Murray reportedly said he's gonna play.
Tough Rhetoric Does Not Cause Violence
I see folks handing around the Tweetable Guide To Media Myths And Left-wing Violence in the wake of the murder of Rafael Ramos and Wenjian Liu yesterday. Some folks are sending it around in protest of the claims from media and the authorities that anti-police rhetoric should not take the blame for this atrocity. But that's not quite the point of the Tweetable Guide.
My problem with media coverage of violence is that the media and sometimes even public authorities reflexively and without any evidence blame conservatives and conservative ideas for violence. And that ignorant blaming of conservatives always seems to turn out to be incorrect later. After those two issues comes my final point: much of the high-profile violence that gets blamed on conservatives actually come from folks in at least one (and sometimes more than one) category: crazy, leftist, or Islamist.
Nasty rhetoric may contribute to a crazy killer or leftist killer or Islamist killer's self-justification for his actions. But it generally is not the cause of premeditated violence. We should be cautious about blaming the anti-police rhetoric that followed the grand jury verdicts in Ferguson and on Staten Island without more evidence. That's what the media does to us and it usually turns out wrong.
If it is true that Ismaaiyl Brinsley was motivated by rhetoric then that is a really big deal. But I don't know why he killed those police officers and neither do you yet. Generally, however, rhetoric doesn't just set somebody off. Wait for more facts. And, if you're betting, he'll probably fall into one of the other categories when this all shakes out.
Gun Thread [Weirddave]
We here at the AoSHQ gun thread would like to take a moment to honor the memory of NYPD officers Wenjian Liu and Rafael Ramos who were murdered yesterday by Ismaaiyl Brinsley, with a gun.
Predictably, this atrocity has led to more calls for gun control from the usual idiots. Let's be crystal clear about this: Ismaaiyl Brinsley was a felon. As such, it was already against the law for him to own a gun. He committed this crime in New York City, which has some of the strictest gun control laws in America. He had a gun anyway. His victims were armed professionals, cops, exactly the people that the gun grabbers tell us are all we need to protect us from criminals with guns. It didn't help them. Far from being an good example in favor of gun control, this is a blinding example of the futility of gun control. Criminals. Don't. Obey. Laws. Passing more laws wouldn't have done a thing to prevent this atrocity.
On the other hand, suppose this had happened in a state where gun rights are protected? A law abiding CCW holder in the area might have reacted to the first shots quickly enough to save the life of at least one of the officers. Maybe not, but I'll bet right now the families of Officers Lui and Ramos would give anything they own to roll the dice and take that chance.
Gun of the Week
Here's a piece by someone who usually carries concealed who tried open carry when he went to Idaho.
Someday, open carry may be acceptable in, and even reassuring to, the public. It'll be viewed the way I've come to see it: a visible sign that someone near me may be willing and able to take responsibility for ensuring the safety of himself and others, if called on. Also, I know that an open-carrier is not a felon. That cannot be said about any other adult one might run across. But open carry will only be acceptable when it's associated with otherwise normal-looking individuals. Open-carry makes a statement, and the bearer is part of it. If he looks benign, his weapon will be seen as integral to that. This means no military rifles, camouflage wear, black cargo pants, etc. Again, we've all been conditioned by TV and movies to believe that a gun's appearance always precedes violence. Activists agitating for change by carrying (legal) long guns openly at various places of business must know they are already going to get attention. I think such demonstrations, if necessary, should aim for the best possible impression. A starched shirt and "dad jeans," for example, would take much of the edge off, and make the point while adjusting common misperceptions.
Don't Mind Us
Communities have a responsibility to curb crime, says Beloit Police Chief Norm Jacobs. One of those responsibilities is for residents to make sure legally owned weapons are safely stored, Jacobs said. And he adds the Beloit Police Department is offering to inspect homes for those who believe there could be illegal firearms in the residence. Written consent would need to be given from a person who has charge of the home in order for police to search the residence, Jacobs said. While Jacobs doesn't believe there will be a flood of calls to the department seeking a search, he does hope it will raise awareness that a community can help prevent crime. "It was clear to me that people in the community are looking for things that they can do to help cut violence in the community," Jacobs said. "I think it's appropriate that police try different things also."
So let's assume the most benign of intentions. After searching your house, the police tell you "Everything looks great. Your weapons are legal, they're properly secured, you're a credit to gun owners everywhere. We'll note that in our files so that we don't have to bother you again". What happens when someone not so benign gets access to those files, huh? No thank you.
This is Cool
Gun of the Week Answer
Of course that's the venerable Ma Duece, an M2 Browning .50 cal heavy machine gun. It's been in service since 1933, and it'll be in service for decades to come, baring a quantum leap in arms technology. Sometimes something is just perfect and can't be improved upon. So far, the M2 is the last word in heavy machine guns. And it's over 80 years old. That John Browning, he must have been some kind of genius or something.
The Law of Self Defense, the how-to manual for gun ownership.
Send your gun news, tips or requests to @Weirddave0 on Twitter
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Sunday Morning Book Thread 12-21-2014: Christmas Time Is Here [OregonMuse]
"...And To All A Good Night."
Good morning morons and moronettes and welcome to AoSHQ's stately, prestigious, and high-class Sunday Morning Book Thread. The only AoSHQ thread that is so hoity-toity, pants are required. Or kilts. Kilts are OK, too. But not tutus.
A Short Book Review By Vic
1 Good Morning Morons. Today is Monday, December 15, 2014. On This day in 1939 Gone With The Wind premiered in Atlanta, GA. I thought the movie was OK but the book blew chunks.
Posted by: Vic at December 15, 2014 06:46 AM (u9gzs)
Shorter Vic: actually, that's about as short as it gets.
Who You Gonna Call?
From the sidebar article earlier this week, The 30 Scariest Wikipedia Pages You'll Ever See, comes 50 Berkeley Square:
Described as the most haunted house in London, this posh address has had reports of ghost sightings for about 250 years now. Though stories vary, one legend has it that the attic is haunted by the ghost of a young woman who killed herself after being abused by her uncle. At least two people staying there have reportedly died of fright, and even former resident — and 18th-century British prime minister — George Canning claimed to have had paranormal experiences there.
Well, who cares? Why am I taking up space on the book thread with this? Because of this:
The townhouse is now home to the Maggs Bros. antiquarian booksellers. Shop at your own peril.
Heh. The Maggs Bros. Ltd. web site is here. I wouldn't mind visiting it should I ever visit London. This 2010 article from the Guardian discusses the store's history and current operation. Nothing about ghosts, though.
This time it's 11 Terrific Words Coined By John Milton. And we're talking basic, ordinary words like 'terrific' and 'enjoyable'. Also, 'space.'
Well, someone had to be the first to use them.
Another Business Model For Bookstores
Brick-and-mortar bookstores are having a hard time competing with online sellers such as Amazon. But in Tawain, they've found a business model that seems to be working:
The Eslite Group, which owns an enterprising chain of bookstores in Taiwan and Hong Kong, thinks so. While bookstores in countries across the world struggle to survive, business at the Taiwanese book chain is booming, and observers credit the chain's unusual model.
Eslite bookstores are open 24 hours and they're more nightclubs than bookstores:
The 24-hour store at Taipei's Dunhua Road location has five floors, each dedicated to different categories, like fashion, music, food or events. Customers - which include both middle-aged literati and young hipsters - stand or sit on small steps, reading tables, or on the floor reading and chatting quietly as classical music emanates from speakers. Many stores also have small cafes and restaurants where customers can enjoy a book or hang out with friends.
So what they've done is take a bookstore as a place where you buy your stuff and then leave, and turned it into a place where you hang out. Many bookstores have chairs and couches where you can sit down and read, but this is taking it to a whole new level.
Can something like that work here? I don't know, but it certainly won't for me. When I buy a book, the first thing I want to do is take it home and read it, not hang around and spend even money on stuff I don't need.
How Much Would You Pay For Some of These?
Many of us use AbeBooks as a good source for used books, and many can be picked up relatively inexpensively. But that's definitely not the case with these, AbeBooks' 50 Most Expensive Sales of 2014. It's fun to scan through the list and see what I'd buy if I was insanely rich and had money to burn. I might buy the 1867 edition of Das Kapital for $40,000 just to give my irony meter a good workout. But a Le Carre first edition signed by the author for $22,500? No.
Other than that, I think I'd like the 1969 Random House Alice in Wonderland, signed by Salvador Dali, who provided twelve color plates for this edition. Only $11,500. Dali seems like he'd be an appropriate illustrator for a book like Alice.
Thanks to moron commenter 'Mike Hammer' for tipping me to this.
Conservative Fiction - I
I've been putting off mentioning the Liberty Island conservative writing site even though it's been up and running for some time now. Perhaps this was a mistake. But I have mixed feelings about these sorts of self-consciously "conservative" endeavors. On the one had, conservatives ought to write and be involved at all levels of book publishing. But I don't like these self-imposed enclaves we put ourselves in, although maybe we have little other choice.
I think self-identified conservatives today, especially in the arts, are treated like Jews living in medieval Europe. That is, they're very much despised by all "right thinking" (SWIDT?) folk, and their presence is barely tolerated, just so long as they never venture out of the ghetto.
Anyway, the occasion this late mention is that I got an email this week from David Dubrow, author of The Blessed Man and the Witch, telling me that LI has just wrapped up their "Non-Traditional Holiday Fiction" short story competition, and while Mr. Dubrow didn't win, he was a runner up.
His story, which he would very much like you to read, is Get the Greek: A Chrismukkah Tale.
There's lots of other holiday-themed fiction over on the LI site. I am happy to see that moronette Elizabeth Wolfe was given an honorable mention for her holiday story Like Water For Stone.
Conservative Fiction - II
But there are exceptions, of course. Every now and then a conservative writer will break out of the ghetto and run amuck, much to the consternation of the right thinking folk. Such an author is John Ringo, who has been mentioned and recommended many times on the book thread. Currently, I'm reading The Hot Gate, which is the third book in his Troy Rising series. Very enjoyable, very exciting, and every now and then, Ringo gets in a good conservative rant, and those are very fun. And the rants fit in very much with the flow of the story, they don't read like they're pasted on artificially.
The Spy Who Stayed Out In The Cold
CIA mole Aldrich Ames was one of the most destructive traitors in the history of the U.S. He personally burned at least 11 Soviet intelligence officers who were secretly working for us, most of whom were taken out and shot. The two main CIA counterintelligence agents who led the efforts to discover and smoke out Ames, Sandra Grimes and Jeanne Vertefeuille, collaborated on a book about their investigation, Circle of Treason: CIA Traitor Aldrich Ames and the Men He Betrayed.
This book came to my attention because Mrs. Muse and I watched the 2014 ABC miniseries The Assets, which we enjoyed very much.
I was very surprised and disappointed when I learned that The Assets got very mediocre reviews. And I guess the ratings must've been pretty lousy, too, because ABC cancelled it after airing 2 episodes. We were thankful that we could watch all of it on Netflix, where it's currently available on streaming video.
One of the things I liked about the series is that the story being told, while not explicitly conservative, rests on a bed on conservative assumptions, i.e. we're the good guys, the Soviets are the bad guys, Ames is an actual traitor who did the country great harm (instead of being some misguided idealist), the CIA counterintelligence agents need to conduct their investigation according to the rules of law, while the KGB just shoots guys in the head. There were no moral equivalence games or tiresome lectures about American imperialism.
Of course, maybe that was why some of the critics didn't like it.
What books or other gifts are you getting for the book-lovers on your Christmas list this year?
So that's all for this week. As always, book thread tips, suggestions, bribes, rumors, threats, and insults may be sent to OregonMuse, Proprietor, AoSHQ Book Thread, at the book thread e-mail address: aoshqbookthread, followed by the 'at' sign, and then 'G' mail, and then dot cee oh emm.
What have you all been reading this week? Hopefully something good, because, as you all know, life is too short to be reading lousy books.
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Early Morning Thread, 12/21/14 - Delayed Payments edition. [krakatoa]
I'm so terribly sorry your budget has tightened up this year. I know how hard it is to make ends meet on only 11.3 billion dollars. I can only say, America feels your pain.
It was so nice of you to
promise warn us of the pain your inability to manage spending would do to the rest of us. Happily, you will still be able to give your people the raises they so richly deserve putting in those long hours shredding hard drives doing the people's work.
Imma just go ahead and claim 20 dependents from here on out, and pay up at the end of the year, so you guys don't have to worry your tender little heads about getting me my refund on time, mmkay?
So here's the open thread part: Is that actually legal? Can I withhold payments until the end of the year? I'm sure some of you guys know some strategies.
Overnight Open Thread (20 Dec 2014)
Interesting read. A French soldier's view of US soldiers in Afghanistan.
Everyone complains about the quality of 'the new guys.' Don't. The screw-ups of this modern generation are head and shoulders above the 'high-medium' of any past group. Including mine. So much of 'The scum of the earth, enlisted for drink.'
This is 'The Greatest Generation' of soldiers.
They may never be equalled.
White Christmas probability. No snow for me this year damn it. Just high winds and lots of rain.
Apparently, a few Russian bank robbers were blown up when lightning struck their car as they made their high speed getaway. I don't know. I'm thinking someone dropped a live grenade or something.
Best Of The Web 2014
Guess That Party
Funny that the NY Post just left out the political party affiliation for this politician who 'follows' a porn star on his twitter account. I'm sure y'all guessed this politician is a Democrat and of course he claims his account was hacked. Standard response 101.
All those idiots like de Blasio, the Congressional Black Congress, pro sports players, etc that keep on insinuating that cops are killers and that justice needs to happen need to own the murder of two cops today in NYC. Some are already celebrating that these two cops were murdered.
E Z Pass
Of course they are. E-Z Pass keeping an eye on speeders.
Cats and Snow
Tonight's ONT brought to you by how to rock a pocket square:
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Fundamental Concepts - Quick Hits [Weirddave]
I didn't do one of these today, but in light of the murder of twp NYPD officers, Officers Wenjian Liu and Rafael Ramos, I thought I'd bring up one quick concept that too many people tend to forget or understandably shy away from.
This is what they do.
The political left in this country is comprised primarily of people who have a background as, or the mindset of, "community organizers". The job of a community organizer is to make things worse. They are the ones throwing gasoline on the fire and rubbing salt in the wounds. Their job is to sew turmoil, discord and hate. They work to prevent accord from being reached, to end cooperation between peoples and to head off agreement. They are professional shit stirrers.
Ideologically, their reason is to destroy western civilization so that it can be replaced with a collectivist Utopia. That's great and all, but it's kind of fuzzy. Personally, however, their motivation is pure personal profit. There's not a single one of these sons of bitches that doesn't get rich ripping the scabs off of wounds, and in that lies the ultimate irony. They decry the capitalist and free marketeer as promoting a system based upon the assumption that people act from in own self interest, while at the same time demonstrating all of the traits that they condemn, proving that the capitalist was right in the first place. Human nature is human nature. None of this should surprise anyone who is a student of history, yet somehow it always does.
A peaceful, prosperous community or nation does not need community organizers. Community organizers, on the other hand, can't function in a peaceful, prosperous nation, so they are always, ALWAYS, striving to destroy it.
None of this is new, or surprising. We just need to remember who these people are.
Close it up
Sunday Saturday. whatever
—Dave In Texas
It ain't a cold here as it it in Moline IL.
*sorry fat kid at recess*
Just Awful [Y-not]
Two uniformed NYPD officers were shot dead -- execution style -- as they sat in their marked police car on a Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn, street corner.
According to preliminary reports, both officers were working overtime as part of an anti-terrorism drill when they were shot point-blank by a single gunman who approached their car at the corner of Myrtle and Tompkins avenues.
"It's an execution," one law enforcement source told The Post of the 3 p.m. shooting.
Perp is reported to have killed himself.
There are also reports that he posted his intentions on Instagram before the shooting.
Prayers for the police officers' souls, for the loved ones they leave behind, and for all in harm's way, especially at this time of year.
Life is Beautiful
On Twitter a few nights back, I shared a very trying experience the wife and I endured this year. I want to share it here, expand on it, and direct it, a bit, at a very specific reader.
A few months ago, in the middle of preparing for my sister's wedding, and the Decision Desk, my wife and I went through a very tough time.— Brandon M Finnigan (@ConArtCritic) December 16, 2014
I say tough, and its an awful word to use because what we went through, what she especially went through, just isn't talked about.— Brandon M Finnigan (@ConArtCritic) December 16, 2014
Mid-August, she found out she was pregnant for the very first time. Cautious, then excited, everything went to shit on Labor Day Friday...— Brandon M Finnigan (@ConArtCritic) December 16, 2014
when she woke me at 5am, bleeding more than I've ever seen someone. Gore is the closest word to what we saw. It was just awful.— Brandon M Finnigan (@ConArtCritic) December 16, 2014
She had apparently miscarried- the opalescent tissue and blood making it painfully obvious.— Brandon M Finnigan (@ConArtCritic) December 16, 2014
Keep in mind- we weren't planning to have kids. But in the short time from test to that nightmare we had grown excited, hopeful.— Brandon M Finnigan (@ConArtCritic) December 16, 2014
I can't comprehend what went through her mind. It pained me to see my wife go through this. Considering we had unprotected sex for 2 yrs...— Brandon M Finnigan (@ConArtCritic) December 16, 2014
And this was the first time something "took", the thoughts started coming. "What if this was a one shot deal?" "What did I do?"— Brandon M Finnigan (@ConArtCritic) December 16, 2014
The Decision Desk work was a nice mental distraction but seeing her as she was, it was like feeling your heart getting squeezed.— Brandon M Finnigan (@ConArtCritic) December 16, 2014
She's always been a tough woman. One of her best qualities. I've seen her cry maybe five or six times in the ten years I've known her.— Brandon M Finnigan (@ConArtCritic) December 16, 2014
She kept that up for some time. Unbeknownst to me she didn't go back to the doctor after everything had "worked itself out"...— Brandon M Finnigan (@ConArtCritic) December 16, 2014
So in the subsequent weeks and months, we both attributed her mood swings to depression- totally understandable after that awful moment.— Brandon M Finnigan (@ConArtCritic) December 16, 2014
Her cycle hadn't resumed, which we also assumed to be normal, and which her doctor reassured her "happens to a lot of women".— Brandon M Finnigan (@ConArtCritic) December 16, 2014
She started getting other odd symptoms, however, as the weeks went on. A near-total aversion to alcohol. Spicy food. Strange stomach pains.— Brandon M Finnigan (@ConArtCritic) December 16, 2014
Fearing the worst, and after an emotional moment at her job, to the gyno we went, last Monday.— Brandon M Finnigan (@ConArtCritic) December 16, 2014
What the gyno showed us sent us into another emotional spin. But this one was amazing, and we are still in it.— Brandon M Finnigan (@ConArtCritic) December 16, 2014
Because, unbeknownst to me, to her, to her doctor... Someone apparently refused to give up.— Brandon M Finnigan (@ConArtCritic) December 16, 2014
World, meet Jameson Finnigan. Five months down, four to go, and due April 23, 2015. pic.twitter.com/LuMJovVHCE— Brandon M Finnigan (@ConArtCritic) December 16, 2014
Our reaction to the news took a while to build. Sitting in a room, viewing a screen, and hearing the heartbeat was surreal after all we had gone through. On the ride back home from the OBGYN, we kept saying to ourselves "this is unreal" (when we weren't asking each other how the hell we missed every obvious sign). Our emotions were initially paralyzed by caution- after what had happened in August we didn't want to get our hopes too high. But eventually the joy couldn't be stopped. It hit my wife during a second ultrasound, as he was rolling and kicking about. It hit me at an In-N-Out drive through just last Friday. He never gave up, even when we had, I told a puzzled lady as she handed me my Double-Double.
I know that for millions of couples, the story doesn't end the way it so far has for us- we feel lucky, blessed, and everything in between. We are thankful beyond description that our son, so far, is alive, kicking, and growing, and it has filled us with a feeling words fail to properly explain. Life gives us a lot of punches to the gut. It doesn't care what our plans are. Often times, it bites us. But sometimes, it surprises us for the better. In moments like the last few weeks, profoundly so.
When all seems lost, it is important to understand and appreciate this short moment all of us have on this earth. Do we wish to endure that moment sheltered in a box? Do we wish to give up? Or do we choose to just keep plodding on- taking each moment as it comes, not taking advantage of it, but treasuring it?
Reflecting on all of this, I can't help but think of Chris Picco. Last month, his wife was rushed to Loma Linda UMC for an emergency C-section, passing way from an aneurysm shortly thereafter. Just a day later, he lost his son. A video of him performing Blackbird for his dying boy went viral, and if you haven't seen it, I implore you to.
This is a man going through inconceivable pain, having just lost his closest partner and friend, and knowing full well the loss still to come. Yet in the moment, he strums and sings without missing a beat, without choking up, without the faith-shaking despair overwhelming him. He chose the tortuously short time granted not to mourn, but to encourage. To reassure. To know and love his son in the best way he could, in the short time they had.
We live our lives, and make more lives, and mourn those lost, and celebrate our milestones, the milestones of others, and fuck up, and fix ourselves, and fuck up further, and triumph, and fail, and repeat all of this until our heart taps out. That is the shared experience of billions. We are well aware of the workings and complexities of the universe we live in, and for some it depresses: we get maybe ten decades of life in a multidimensional spacetime that will last trillions of years.
But those among us who see it that way get things all wrong. Sure, there is an incalculable amount of stuff in our universe (or multiverse if you subscribe to that eleven-dimension reality). Yes, there are probably trillions of life forms in this one. But the few bits of stuff lucky enough to be alive, and further, self-aware, like the bits within ourselves, have an incredible moment. The life we live itself is fantastically beautiful, especially since it isn't guaranteed, it has no certainty, and rises and falls in the blink of a cosmic eye. Whether by chance or by divine hand, that we are even here, with the conscious ability to do and see and explore and try and hope while we are, is extremely precious. Why waste it in an introverted darkness? Why wallow? Life is promised to none of us. Live it.
When I started to write this post, it was at the behest of a few of my Twitter followers who were touched by our story. I had hoped sharing it would prove a nice break in the dreary climate we've found ourselves in from time to time, put things in a better perspective going into the holidays. But as I sat down trying to haphazardly collect my thoughts, I realized this would be an opportunity, weird it may be, to flesh out how I am feeling about one very particular reader, as hinted at the top of the post.
Jameson, I don't know when you will stumble upon this entry, but I'm glad you've found it. I hope it gives you some perspective of what was rolling through our minds, and what it meant to us when we found out that you had hung in there. A lot of this probably reads like rambling, which you'll be used to by now. Your story is only months old, and you haven't even taken your first breath of outside air. You didn't give up even as we had pretended, badly, to move on from our pain. You fill us with a profound joy and purpose. These last two weeks have been the most exhilarating and wonderful we have ever experienced.
Thank you for proving to us that life is beautiful.
P.S. - the answer you're looking for is 42.
Dec 20 2014
(Oh, and a very Merry Christmas to the rest of the rotten lot of you.)
Close it up
Saturday Gardening Thread: Elfin Edition [Y-not, Weirddave, and KT]
Inspired by the Christmas season - and by KT's description of the Dwarf Tomato Project below - today's theme is "elfin." (Yes, I *know* Dwarves and Elves are not the same! "Shut up," she explained.)
To get us in the mood, how about a song?
When I read KT's section of the gardening thread, I thought about doing my portion on bonsai, since they are "dwarf" plants and also because I see a lot of bonsai suggested as gift items in my local nurseries. But I know nothing about the art of bonsai. Does anyone here pursue this hobby?
I think of Tolkien's elves.
You'll recall that the dirty Scandis from the Nobel Prize Committee held the opinion that JRR Tolkien's writing was no big shakes. Bunk! Anyone whose literary work so thoroughly displaces a long-held notion of elves as small, clever imps with his own vision deserves a lot of credit. To me elves will always be tall, mysterious beings who spend their days writing poetry and who smell vaguely of patchouli.
What does this have to do with gardening? Think about the world Tolkien created, filled not just with races of beings and their histories, but also with plants. So it got me thinking about those plants and Tolkien's possible sources of inspiration.
According to Tolkien's biography, he spent part of his childhood in the West Midlands, including rural Worcestershire. Today, it is home to a couple of nice botanic gardens, the Birmingham Botanical Gardens and Winterbourne. (You can read a nice article about the sites that shaped Tolkien's writings about Middle Earth here.)
Tolkien's experiences in Europe during World War I may also have inspired him. Although I believe the notion that LotR was intended as an allegorical story about the World War has been refuted, Tolkien did draw inspiration for the Dead Marshes on Northern France after the Battle of the Somme. (History buffs might find this page describing the Somme Battlefields of interest.)
So let's see if we can relate any of the "elvish" plants Tolkien describes to real plants.
A tree of Numenor recognisable by its yellow flowers that hung in long clusters from its branches. The laurinque was especially common in the wooded southeastern peninsula known as the Hyarrostar, and though its wood was of little use, the Numenoreans valued it for the beauty of its hanging flowers."
This description immediately made me think of the Goldenrain tree (Koelreuteria paniculata). We had one in the house we rented a few years ago here in Utah, but they are also found in Europe (although not native to it). And there's even a famous one at Oxford University, that was planted in honor of Gandhi. (The tree is also known as The Pride of India.) Recall that Tolkien was a professor at Oxford.
There's another tree called a Golden Chain Tree (Laburnum anagyroides), but I like my Oxford University connection so I'm sticking with that guess!
Mellyrn (aka "Mallorn")
A huge Elven tree that grew in Tol Eressea, Numenor and in Lothlorien. Bilbo's Party Tree was also a mallorn.
Its bark was silver and smooth, and its boughs somewhat upswept after the manner of the beech; but it never grew save with a single trunk. Its leaves, like those of the beech but greater, were pale green above and beneath were silver, glistering in the sun; in the autumn they did not fall, but turned to pale gold. In the spring it bore golden blossom in clusters like a cherry, which bloomed on during the summer; and as soon as the flowers opened the leaves fell, so that through spring and summer a grove of malinorni was carpeted and roofed with gold, but its pillars were of grey silver. Its fruit was a nut with a silver shale.
Could it be the Common Beech?
Mature trees grow to a height of more than 40m, and develop a huge domed crown. The bark is smooth, thin and grey, often with slight horizontal etchings. The reddish brown, torpedo-shaped leaf buds form on short stalks, and have a distinctive criss-cross pattern.
Young leaves are lime green with silky hairs, which become darker green and lose their hairs as they mature. They are 4–9cm long, stalked, oval and pointed at the tip, with a wavy edge.
Beech is monoecious, meaning both male and female flowers grow on the same tree, in April and May. The tassel-like male catkins hang from long stalks at the end of twigs, while female flowers grow in pairs, surrounded by a cup. This cup becomes woody once pollinated, and encloses one or two beech nuts (known as beechmast).
I found a lot of great images of beech trees at British websites. I have the impression they really love this tree. Here's a link to the BBC's pages. This blogger has some lovely images she captured while looking for bluebells. And you can read more about beech trees and their fruit here.
OK, this last tree has me stumped... (SWIDT?)
A sweet-scented tree that grew in Numenor, and especially in the western region known as Nisimaldar. It was the custom among Numenorean mariners to have a cut bough of oiolaire placed on the prow of their ship before setting out on a voyage, as a symbol of good fortune. According to Wikipedia, "It had "ever-green, glossy and fragrant" leaves and throve upon sea-air; its bough was believed not to wither "so long as it was washed with the [sea]-spray", which is the source of its name ('ever-summer' in Quenya)."
Is anybody up on their Norse mythology? It sounds like Tolkien must have been inspired by the Vikings, but I struck out when trying to identify this tree.
Anyway, it was fun poking around the internet for a few hours trying to track down Tolkien's inspiration.
While I was trying to find a Viking connection to Tolkien's trees, I stumbled into this which seems appropriate a few days before Christmas, The Legend of Mistletoe:
Baldur, grandson of the Norse god Thor, woke up one morning certain that each and every plant and animal on earth wanted to kill him. His mother consoled him. His wife consoled him, but all to no avail. As Baldur cowered in his room, half-wild with fear, his mother and wife decided to ask every living thing to leave their poor Baldur in peace. They begged the kindness of the oak tree, the pig, the cow, the crow, the ant and even the worm. Each agreed. Then, as Baldur paused to celebrate his release from torment, he felt a pain in his chest. He had been stabbed and killed by an arrow made from the wood of a mistletoe plant. Mistletoe was the one species on earth his wife and mother had failed to notice.
Baldur died, but a lesson was learned: Never forget about the mistletoe. Mistletoe would come to hang over our doors as a reminder to never forget. We kiss beneath it to remember what Baldur's wife and mother forgot.
I hope you all have a hottie to kiss under the mistletoe this year.
And now, without further ado, here's the incomparable KT!
The American Garden Dreams of FDR
Olivia de Havilland, one of the few surviving actresses from The Golden Age of Hollywood, recently did an interview with Garden and Gun. She described a conversation with FDR about gardening, over dinner at the White House. I guess it was natural for her to bring up Gone with the Wind:
He thought every American should own an acre of land. The country was then in the grip of the Depression. Millions were not only starving but were without resources of any kind. I think the president felt that through owning and cultivating an acre of land, most Americans could be self-sustaining in case of catastrophe. He may well have been influenced by the role that Tara played in Scarlett's life -- it sustained her. Then there were Gerald O'Hara's words: "Land is the only thing in the world worth working for…because it's the only thing that lasts."
I'm going to live through this . . .
Ms. de Havilland apparently had this conversation with FDR before the WWII Victory Garden campaign. FDR convinced a lot of people to grow a garden as part of the war effort.
Seeds for Victory Gardens
Nostalgia for Victory Gardens in the days before F1 hybrids became popular brings us (sort of) to the Victory Seed Company, one of several small but really dedicated seed preservationist sites. They sell seed of vegetables, grains, flowers, herbs and tobacco. Among other endeavors, they have a good selection of the tomato varieties introduced by the old Livingston Seed Company, back when seed companies said "hybrid" when they meant a stabilized, open-pollinated cross bred from traditional varieties.
Victory also has a selection of dwarf and container tomatoes, including both heirlooms and some new varieties from the Dwarf Tomato Project. See the discussion of this unusual project below. Of their heirlooms, Burpee's Quarter Century is reputed to be an excellent container tomato for desert climates.
Preppers and seed savers who order from this company should consider the inexpensive rechargeable desiccant packets for storing seeds (except bean seeds), preferably in the refrigerator or freezer. Their selection of gifts for gardeners is eclectic. How about a Traditional Glass Pickle Ornament? The hardwood dibble seems a little expensive to me, but some people appreciate quality tools and not everyone has a dibble. Or maybe someone you know would like a Victory Garden Kit. Though Victory offers a pre-selected one, they actually recommend that people pick varieties suited to their own yards for prepper-type seed collections.
Territorial Seed Company also has a "Victory Garden Seed List". Bet we could find similar lists in other catalogs. If you already know which varieties do well for you, catalogs for market growers are a good source for larger quantities of seeds.
The Cross-Hemisphere Dwarf Tomato Project
The dream FDR described to an actress -- an acre of land for every American -- has been replaced by the new progressive dream of squeezing lots of people into very small living areas. And many people today would not really know how to devote an acre of ground to growing food. In recognition of today's smaller gardens, a committed group of amateurs organized the Dwarf Tomato Project.
Dwarf tomato plants come in two basic versions (with some variations):  Determinate, or "bush" tomato plants (fruit forms on terminal branches, often over a short season or even all at the same time) and  Indeterminate Short Internode tomato plants (ISI or Compact Indeterminate). The second category of plants produces fruit on branches that continue forming over a long season. But the branches are not as "viney" as the branches of regular indeterminate tomato plants.
The only old large-fruited heirloom ISI tomato generally recognized by "tomato nuts" for exceptional flavor is New Big Dwarf. Some of these "tomato nuts" decided it would be nice to have additional high-quality ISI dwarf varieties for today's smaller gardens. They formed two teams of amateur tomato breeders, one in the Northern Hemisphere and one in the Southern Hemisphere.
Normally it takes at least 8 generations to stabilize a new open-pollinated tomato variety. By sending seed from one hemisphere to the other, two generations per year are possible, cutting development time in half.
As varieties selected by the project team members are stabilized, they are released through small, preservation-minded seed companies. I am considering "Rosella Purple". One of its parents is "Stump of the World" - the only heirloom among my top 5 performers during this year's hot, dry summer.
Y-not: Thanks, KT! And now here's our co-host, Weirddave:
Y-not: Hmmm... I guess Weirddave was up late last night!
To close things up, here's a cute video about John Rhys-Davies, who played Tolkien's dwarf, "Gimli:"
He was the featured voice artist for the Mormon Tabernacle Choir's Christmas edition of Music and the Spoken Word this year. We didn't go this time, but we have gone to a couple of the MTC Christmas concerts and they are pretty impressive. (I think the video becomes available a the following year.)
Close it up
A Love Letter to Childhood [Weirddave]
This week is Christmas, so I'm going to forgo Fundamental Concepts just this one time. For those of us who believe, Christmas is a celebration of the love and mercy that God showed us human sinners by sending his own son to die so that we don't have to. For those of a more secular bent, it is a celebration of all that's good and right in the world, regardless of the source. This post is for all of us.
I watched the movie The Sandlot for the first time last week. Halfway through I turned to my wife and said "This is a love letter to childhood". She responded "Your childhood as an American male, my childhood was as a Canadian female". There was no reproach in her statement, just that I was talking about an experience that wasn't wholly shared. Point taken. I am an American male, and I'm writing this from that frame of reference with no apologies. Let me go even further. In this * spit * post-racial, social justice, redistributionist America of 2014, I am a white American male. So the fuck what? I'm writing for EVERY American who is willing to embrace what this country should stand for and can be.
The Sandlot is the story of a group of kids who play baseball in 1962 suburbia. Their whole life revolves around the game, which the narrator classifies many times as simply "ongoing". They have the usual childhood adventures, all of which are tied back to their baseball game. It's idealized, as any myth should be, but the core truth of their experience shines through. They learned teamwork, honor, and friendship through their adventures. I had the same childhood, even though I came along a generation later. My childhood took place in the late 70s and the early 80s.
What did I do in my childhood? I went out. I left the house in the morning, and came home when the porch light went on for dinner.
I remember at 5 or 6 gathering all my courage to throw myself on a sled down the "highest hill in the world! IN THE WORLD, I TELL YOU!". I've been back to that hill since. I'm taller than it now. My wife never tires of teasing me about that whenever we drive by it.
I remember hopping the fence of the neighborhood graveyard, finding the mulch pile behind their maintenance shack and bringing home a pot of hardly withered lilies from the mulch pile for my mom as a gift. She made them bloom and I never told her where I got them.
I remember throwing crab apples into a neighbors swimming pool with my friends, and when it turned out that the homeowner's mother had been swimming at the time, my father spanked me, HARD, with a belt ( he did this two times that I can recall, the other was completely bogus, some asshole up the street told dad that us kids had thrown our baseball bats at him when he rode by on his motorcycle. We hadn't, but dad didn't know that. The salient point is that we were playing baseball together in the street.)
I remember riding my small motorcycle up and down the CSX tracks, from Baltimore City damn near to the Pennsylvania line, completely unsupervised. When I went over the handlebars ONTO MY FACE in the ballast, and split my entire upper lip open, I had to stand the bike up, get it running again, and ride home. To her credit, mom didn't freak out (I was red from neck to toe with blood by that time), but hustled me off to the ER.
I remember blowing my face off with black powder on vacation in Maine.
I remember digging a HUGE hole (I swear we must have gotten it to at least 8X8 and 4 ft. deep) to make the coolest underground fort EVAH with my best friend, and then getting bored with THAT project (too much like work) and just throwing Molotov cocktails into the hole for amusement. (WHOOSH!!)
I remember getting together with same friend and cutting down a tall, TALL pine tree, and not realizing until it was on the way down that OMG THERE ARE POWER LINES OVER THERE! The tree top missed them by maybe an inch.
And so on. I could literally go on for pages.
I'm trying really hard not to turn this into just another old man "get off my lawn" rant, there is a point to my ramblings. My experiences as a child taught me important (you might even say...fundamental) lessons about life. I learned to share. I learned how to rely on people. I learned how to behave in a group setting. I learned that actions have consequences. I learned that I don't know as much as I think I know. I learned to fess up to my sins. I learned to be responsible.
I think this is what used to be called "growing up".
If The Sandlot is a love letter to an idealized childhood, I think it behooves us to ask why idealize such a thing now, what is different? My experiences weren't so different than my father's, or my grandfather's or my great grandfather's. I'll always remember my great grandfather's last words: "Oh, a train!" (He was killed in the 1930s in a small Kansas town where the railroad ran right through the village with no crossing gates. He stepped off of the sidewalk at just the wrong time. I have no idea if those were his actual last words. I suspect they were "Oh, SHIT!").
Kidding aside, as a kid I'm sure he played hard on the great American prairie. My Grandfather did the same. So did Dad. I played the same games in the green woods of the Mid-Atlantic. Cops and Robbers, Tag, Cowboys and Indians, War. We went out and made the world our childish oyster. The world was our pet, and it followed us along obediently. In the process, however, we learned all of the lessons I stated above.
I have two kids. Big is 20 and Little is 10. Did/do they have the same childhood? Perhaps, to an extent, Big more than Little, kids are kids after all, but today Little's games revolve around a virtual world. Not completely, but that's just because I make a point of pushing him out into the real world, if he had his druthers he'd do nothing but play video games.
I'm not knocking the virtual world, I sit here and blather on at y'all after all, pretending that it's important, but I can put it in perspective because of my upbringing. Fostering off our kids to be babysat by the internet or cable TV or YouTube is easy. It's seductive. I recognize this, and resist it, but in my experience many parents don't and completely abrogate their responsibility to raise their kids, leaving it to mass media. I'll admit that I use it to my advantage at times, and I'm ashamed of that. I want time alone so I send Little off to the computer. Now I have time to myself to go to my workshop and do projects that interest me, or to sex my wife, or maybe just to watch the Ravens game. Like I said, it's seductive. Is it better?
No. It is not better. All of those values I spoke of up thread, they're not being instilled in our kids. Because of this, the social fabric of America is unraveling.
Last summer Little made a new friend, Kendall. They spent a lot of time at his house playing video games, but they went out into the woods too. One day Little came home with a long scratch on his arm. "Oh, I got that when Kendall, his brother and I were out in the woods. I fell against a telephone cable that scratched me". I made appropriate noises of sympathy, but I swear to God that I wanted to jump up and down and scream "YES! YES! MY SON HAS BEEN WOUNDED BY THE REAL WORLD!". Isn't that pathetic? In my day that was the norm. I came home one day with no eyebrows because one of those Molotov cocktails we were throwing into our fort hole exploded too close. Nobody even thought it was worth commenting on. Sadly, Kendall has now moved away.
I guess the point of all of this is that we as a people, as a culture, need to take time to consider why a childhood like the one in The Sandlot is idealized. By almost any measure, 1962 was worse than 2014. Here's an interesting article from AEI about that. Still, you don't idealize something that's objectively worse, you idealize something that was better.
What have we lost, and what will it cost us in the long run?
Close it up
Weekend Headlines [CBD]
What The Heck Do Hobbits Drink?
Courtesy of Y-not. And no, she isn't a hobbit
Our Jails Are A Scandal
Kevin D. Williamson crushes the NYC prison system....and unions!
Obama Gives The Castro Regime In Cuba An Undeserved Bailout and;
President Obama's 'Betrayal' of Cuban Democrats
Good editorials against Obama's normalization with Cuba. But...check the source. Yes, those are pigs cavorting in the sky.
Professor Deeply Hurt By Student's Evaluation
Yes, it's The Onion, but it's strangely prophetic.
Saturday Morning Politics: Holiday Edition [Y-not]
You know who else hates Christmas?
Merry almost-Christmas, you goons!
And Happy Hannukah, too! (Courtesy of my confused neighbors)
Close it up
Early Morning Thread, 12/20/14 - GoP edition. [krakatoa]
Greetings Ace of Spades dummyhead mob.
I bring to you this morning greetings and felicitous branches of piece olives from his most eminence Kim Jong Un.
He join with you you're disdain for main brook media like Sony, and ask for you're patient resolve for Un's Armies of Truth to bring entertainment selection that honor our share rererr... Our share renever...
Our share revener...
Sip with me the Johnny Walker, and together under His Most Enlightenment PhD of Luminocity, we will follow him on his mighty steed to slice like a Stanley Burrell.
Overnight Open Thread (19 Dec 2014)
Sorry for the abbreviated ONT but I've been on the road all week and now I am enduring a mandatory fun event for work.
Well if you were hoping for a supernova to end the endless stream of bad news on planet Earth, you might be waiting for a bit.
Closer to home, our own sun is a bit active as it has released a faint halo coronal mass ejection with impact expected on 21 Dec.
Weird Al Magic Trick
I think more Central/South American countries should be on this list. The global conflicts to watch in 2015.
It's not easy being a police officer these days. You get slammed if you defend yourself and now you get sued if you decide to take a drunk driver home instead of arresting him. I'd turn around and sue the mother for obviously not instilling good judgment and for allowing her son to have access to the keys to her car.
Epic Violin, Cello, and Drums
Unwanted Phone Calls
We all hate those unwanted phone calls. What do you guys do when you get them? Do you answer? If so, what do you say? Here are some entertaining suggestions. I always like messing with the home refinance guys. They always ask me what my current interest rate is. I don't answer and ask what is the best rate they are offering me. They always say they can't tell me until they know more information. I tell them that's bullshit but then I tell them I'm currently paying some insanely low number and dare them to beat it. They never do and they don't call back.
Dogs and Math
Tonight's ONT brought to you by awkward Christmas photos:
Notice: Posted by permission of AceCorp LLC. Please e-mail overnight open thread tips to maet or CDR M. Otherwise send tips to Ace.
Close it up
Marco Rubio Sounds Very Impressive in Interview with Mark Levin
He was speaking about Cuba, an issue which I do not (or did not) care about.
So I was a good audience to judge him in an impartial way. I did not care about the issue he was talking about, and in fact was rather skeptical about him for caring about it more than I deemed necessary.
He made me reconsider my Not Caring position, and made me shift on to both Caring and towards agreeing with him. Which is something.
I had not really thought much of Marco Rubio, thinking of him as both a pretty face who gives nice speeches about the Greatness of America that impress grandma and no one else, and as the Guy Who Pushed for Amnesty.
But this 15 minute interview made me consider him more seriously.
Give it a listen, tell me if I'm right or crazy.
On Fox Now: Rand Paul, who Rubio called out, is now responding to Rubio.
Embarrassing to a Leftwing Pressure Group, Devastating to the Leftwing Media, So Of Course It's Almost Entirely Embargoed
A couple of reporters at the Washington Post are on it.
The rest of the media?
Very busy ignoring it.
Fewer US-Born People Working in American Now Than in 2007; Foreign-Born Migrant Workers Account for the Increase in Employment
Fewer Americans born in the U.S. have jobs now than were employed to November 2007, despite a working-age population growth of 11 million.
The amazing drop in employment highlights President Barack Obama’s slow recovery from the deep 2008 shock, but also spotlights many companies' growing reliance on foreign migrant labor.
In November 2014, one in every five U.S. jobs was held by a foreign-born worker, up from one-in-six jobs in January 2010, according to federal data highlighted by the Center for Immigration Studies.
Since November 2007, the number of working legal and illegal migrants has risen by two million, from 23.1 million in November 2007 to 25.1 million in November 2014.
But the number of Americans with jobs has fallen by 1.5 million, from 124 million in November 2007 to 122.6 million November 2014.
All of the net gain in employment from 2007 to 2014 -- all of it -- has gone to foreign immigrants.
When Americans say they still feel like they're in a recession -- that's because they are. American employment is lower now than it ever has been.
In 2012, Michelle Obama Told David Letterman About Her Target Victimization, Only She Claimed She "Felt so Good" to Not Be Recognized
But of course in 2012, her immediate political need was putting a warm, fuzzy gauze on the Obama reelection campaign, so her anecdote was related as a Just One of the Common Folks at Heart aesop.
"That's my Target run. I went to Target," she said. "I thought I was undercover. I have to tell you something about this trip though. No one knew that was me because a woman actually walked up to me, right? I was in the detergent aisle, and she said -- I kid you not -- she said, 'Excuse me, I just have to ask you something,' and I thought, 'Oh, cover's blown.' She said, 'Can you reach on that shelf and hand me the detergent?' I kid you not."
As the audience laughed, she went on, "And the only thing she said -- I reached up, 'cause she was short, and I reached up, pulled it down -- she said, 'Well, you didn't have to make it look so easy.' That was my interaction. I felt so good.... She had no idea who I was."
But in 2014, her political need is to show that she's Down with the Struggle, so the same incident becomes a searing racial humiliation.
I imagine The Usual Suspects will just make the usual arguments: "Oh, she was so traumatized by this experience of course she remembers it differently each time she talks about it. You're just re-victimizing her by pointing out that this is also a classic sign of deception."
AoSHQ Podcast: Guest, @TheRickWilson
Note: We moved the podcast to a new URL recently, and everything worked right except for the iPhone/iPad podcast app. If that's where you listen and you don't see recent episodes in the episode list, unsubscribing and then re-subscribing should do the trick.
Republican media strategist Rick Wilson joins Ace, Gabe and John to discuss the crazy goings on this week.
This is probably the last episode of the year, and we wish all our listeners a happy holiday season. See you in 2015.
Intro: Run DMC - Christmas in Hollis
Outro: Otis Redding - White Christmas
Browse (and even search!) the archives
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Don't forget to submit your Ask the Blog questions for next week's episode.
Open thread in the comments
Oh Boy: Woman Who Started #IllRideWithYou Viral Meme Admits... It Pretty Much Didn't Happen, and Was Mostly Imagined
After the Sheik killed two people, the media turned to praising Islam and highlighting the plight of Muslims in the West, because that's what we always do after a Muslim kills people in the West: We praise Islam, and then worry about what hypothetical crimes Westerners may commit against Muslims.
Kinda skipping over the actual crimes a Muslim has just committed against Westerners.
By the way: That's kind of a two-fer for al Qaeda and ISIS, isn't it? Not only do they get the terrorism and murder and fear they seek, but then they get the Western media praising Islam as the world's most peaceful faith in the aftermath of the slaughter, don't they?
Do we want to give them free two-fers like this?
Anyway, so after a bloodthirsty sheikh (is there any other kind?) murders two people and holds a coffee shop hostage, of course we have to turn to talking about how awful Westerners are to Muslim, because, obviously, that's the storyline when two non-Muslims lay dead, murdered by a Muslim.
But it turns out the story the media forced on us for twenty-four hours was pretty much a lie.
The story went like this: A woman saw a Muslim woman on a subway car. The non-Muslim people were staring at the Muslim woman hatefully, because we're full of hate, even though we don't seem to murder Muslims, but instead seem to be murdered by Muslims, but apparently we're hateful for occasionally noticing that.
So the evil Christians are staring at the Muslim woman, making her uncomfortable, until at last she removes her hajib, in a silent, shameful submission to the hateful glares of the cultural-imperialist Christians.
And then the Muslim woman gets off the subway, because she's still hounded by hate, but this nice progressive woman gets off with her, in a show of solidarity, and says to her: "I'll ride with you."
And the media read their twitter accounts on the air for 24 hours, repeating this wonderful story.
Small problem: It's not true. It never was. The woman who originally reported the story on FaceBook now "confesses" (her words) that many details were simply invented, or, as she calls it, "editorialized."
Confession time. In my Facebook status, I editorialised. She wasn't sitting next to me. She was a bit away, towards the other end of the carriage. Like most people she had been looking at her phone, then slowly started to unpin her scarf.
Tears sprang to my eyes and I was struck by feelings of anger, sadness and bitterness. It was in this mindset that I punched the first status update into my phone, hoping my friends would take a moment to think about the victims of the siege who were not in the cafe.
I spent the rest of the journey staring--rudely--at the back of her uncovered head. I wanted to talk to her, but had no idea what to say. Anything that came to mind seemed tokenistic and patronising. She might not even be Muslim or she could have just been warm! Besides, I was in the “quiet carriage” where even conversation is banned.
By sheer fluke, we got off at the same station, and some part of me decided saying something would be a good thing. Rather than quiz her about her choice of clothing, I thought if I simply offered to walk her to her destination, it might help.
It’s hard to describe the moment when humans, and complete strangers, have a conversation with no words. I wanted to tell her I was sorry for so many things—for overstepping the mark, for making assumptions about a complete stranger and for belonging to a culture where racism was part of her everyday experience.
But none of those words came out, and our near silent encounter was over in a moment.
My second status was written as a heartbreaking postscript to my first. While the woman appeared to appreciate my gesture, we had both left defeated and deflated. What good is one small action against an avalanche of ignorance?
1. She's not sure the woman was Muslim.
2. She's not sure the woman took off her scarf due to the glares of hatred. She notes it could have just been hot. She also now says the woman had mostly been looking at her phone -- and it's hard to notice the scorn of the crowd when you're reading FaceBook on your phone.
3. She never actually said, "I'll ride with you" to the woman. In fact, she never said anything to her. She just wanted to say it.
The media doesn't do news. The media does narratives.
They're easier and they tell the story the media wants to tell, whether they're true or not.
Obama Holds a Press Conference In Order to Feel the Sustaining Adulation of His Devotees
I don't know what he'll be talking about, though I imagine he wants to be praised for his Cuba executive action.
Weird: Five Days After Alleged Rape, Jackie Seems to Have Sent a Romantic Email to Ryan
This is complicated, but the email sent on Oct 3, 2012 was sent by Jackie's Mystery Date, who had the unlikely name of "Haven Monaghan." "Haven" (ahem) was supposedly forwarding an email of Jackie's to Ryan, an email in which she gushed about him.
Haven -- who had supposedly participated in a seven-man gang rape -- appears to be trying to act as a matchmaker here, letting Ryan know how very much Jackie likes him.
Now "Haven Monaghan" is very unlikely to actually exist. There is no student at UVA with that name. Nor, I would bet, in the physical world. Haven seems to be a Catfish account of Jackie's where she pretends to be this hot guy who's totally into Jackie (but who wants Ryan to know that Jackie's totally into him).
The really terrible thing is the date the email was sent -- October 3, 2012. This would be five days after the gang rape allegedly occurred.
Five days after a terrible gang-rape, and Jackie is screwing around with fake Magic Boyfriends to get another boy interested in here?
It does not seem psychologically plausible that a woman coming off a brutal, forcible gang rape would turn to silly romantic deceptions to land her man. I would think that she would have no amorous feelings for at least a few weeks (if not a few months; if not a few years).
It actually gets weirder -- and maybe even worse for Jackie. Because the gushing email she wrote about Ryan turns out to have been cribbed nearly word for word from an effusive proclamation of love ripped off from Dawson's Creek.
Here's Jackie talking about Ryan (which "Haven" then forwards to Ryan, to let him know how much Jackie likes him):
Ryan is fine. Ryan's great, actually. I mean he's smart. He's attractive. He’s funny. He’s a scaredy cat. If you creep up behind him, he'll jump right out of his skin. It's pretty amusing. He's honest. He always calls them just like he sees them. You can constantly count on getting the truth from Ryan, even if the truth hurts. He has the most incredible taste in music. He's like this walking, talking music library. And he understands how truly important music is. He's stubborn. He has this regimented way about him that can be so frustrating sometimes. And sometimes the things he says hurt. But he’s a really, really good friend. And loyal to a fault. He's realistic about everything. And I'm a dreamer so I mean, it’s good to have somebody like that in my life. He's one of my best friends here, you know? He’s more than that...he's everything.
And here's James van der Biek on Dawson's Creek, talking about Katie Holmes:
She's great. I mean, she's smart, she's beautiful, she's funny, she's a big ol' scaredy cat. If you creep up from behind her she’ll jump out of her skin. It's pretty amusing. She's honest. She always calls them just like she sees them. You can always count on getting the truth from Joey even if the truth hurts. She’s stubborn. We fight a lot. She can be so frustrating sometimes. But she's a really, really, good friend. I know her to a fault. She believes in me. And I'm a dreamer so it's so good to have somebody like that in my life. If she goes away, I don't know what I'm going to do. I mean, she's my best friend, you know? She’s more than that. She’s everything.
Sally Kohn immediately called James van der Biek a rapist.
BREAKING: FBI Says North Korea Responsible For Sony Hack
Suspected, now confirmed.
"The FBI has determined that the intrusion into SPE’s network consisted of the deployment of destructive malware and the theft of proprietary information as well as employees’ personally identifiable information and confidential communications. The attacks also rendered thousands of SPE’s computers inoperable, forced SPE to take its entire computer network offline, and significantly disrupted the company’s business operations."
The FBI said the "destructive nature of this attack, coupled with its coercive nature, sets it apart. North Korea’s actions were intended to inflict significant harm on a U.S. business and suppress the right of American citizens to express themselves. Such acts of intimidation fall outside the bounds of acceptable state behavior."
As Ace has pointed out several times, one of Obama's favorite tools for dealing with inconvenient events is to ignore them. If he doesn't talk about them, they didn't happen. Think of our new war in Iraq. We keep sending troops and increasing air attacks on ISIL but he just doesn't say much about it hoping no one notices he's doing it.
Well, the FBI saying North Korea just wiped out the electronic infrastructure of a US based company (Sony's parent company is in Japan but this division is US based) in order to prevent Americans from exercising their constitutional rights, would seem to preclude ignoring it.
Obama is giving his year-end press event this afternoon before heading off on vacation. He's going to have to lay out some sort of response.
Unfortunately, there don't seem to be many good options.
Related, the hackers sent Sony a note promising not to hurt them anymore. Yeah, good luck with that.
P.S. Krøyer: "Fishermen Hauling the Net on Skagen's North Beach" (1883)
Friday Morning News Dump
- Why Liberals Really, Really Hate Us
- Second Amendment And People Who Had Been Committed To A Mental Institution 28 Years Ago
- Things Just Got A Lot Worse For Jackie
- Will Diversity Destroy The Left
- Leftists Mourn Possible End Of Cuban Poverty
- The Extraordinary Life Of Barak Obama's Imaginary Son
- How Rusty Is Jeb Bush
- NYPD Union Chief Not Pleased With De Blasio
- With Economy Failing, Putin Turns To Nationalism
- Aww The IRS Is Having Problems Because Of Cutbacks
- SEIU Thug Arrested For Attacking NYPD Officer During Mostly Peaceful Protest
- China Tests ICBM With Multiple Warheads
- US Struggles For Response To Sony Hack
- Busty Blonde In Creepy Bill Clinton Photo Files For Divorce
Morning Thread (12-19-2014)
Did you surrender to the Communists yet, daddy?
Overnight Open Thread (12-18-2014) - Six Shopping Days Left Edition
One Cuban young woman complains to another. "He lied to me! He told me that he was a luggage handler! It turns out, he's nothing but a neurosurgeon!"
-- Cuban joke (explanation here)
You know, I never thought that gay marriage would be the way fascism would come to America. People are doing all sorts of batshit crazy things in its name.
I'm old enough to remember when people like Harvey Milk were against the whole idea and considered anybody who brought it up to be bigoted and homophobic.Posted by: AmishDude at December 18, 2014 07:00 PM (L2xDv)
Not just disagree with or look down upon but actually hate them personally. Note that she posted this unashamedly, expects to receive accolades for it and fears no professional repercussions.
"I hate Republicans," communications department chairwoman and professor Susan J. Douglas boldly declares in the opening of the piece. "I can't stand the thought of having to spend the next two years watching Mitch McConnell, John Boehner, Ted Cruz, Darrell Issa or any of the legions of other blowhards denying climate change, thwarting immigration reform or championing fetal 'personhood.'"
She writes that although the fact that her "tendency is to blame the Republicans . . . may seem biased," historical and psychological research back her up, and so it's basically actually a fact that Republicans are bad!
Reason #77 that the modern university system needs to be radically reformed and defunded or simply ended.
By the way here is the face of hate:
Well this might be one reason:
According to IMDB, Team America, while distributed by Paramount, was produced by Scott Rudin, the embattled (and uber-manic) Sony Pictures executive being eaten alive by the North Korean hacking scandal. I wonder if he put in a frantic call to Paramount to have Team America banned as a substitute for the latest anti-North Korean movie whose production he led. (If so, the Norks will likely let us know in their next round of hacks.)
...A couple of years after Team America snuck past Paramount's leftwing censors, Mark Steyn had Hollywood's number down pat: "Hollywood prefers to make 'controversial' films about controversies that are settled, rousing itself to fight battles long won"
And whose espionage in the DIA led almost directly to the death of Green Beret Sergeant Gregory Fronius.Sweden to Russia: Hey Your Fighter Jet Damn Near Hit Our Plane
Russia to Sweden: You Filthy Scandis are High
Okay I have to wonder if the writer of this article has ever met any actual criminals or even watched a full episode of Cops. Because the ideas proposed have about a 0.0% chance of ever eliminating the need to have police. Because human nature.
Now one or two of the ideas such as citizen patrols and mental health treatment are good ideas as adjuncts to an existing police force but the thought that these ideas would ever eliminate the necessity for police is just kumbayah nonsense.
3. Restorative Justice
Also known as reparative or transformative justice, these models represent an alternative to courts and jails. From hippie communes to the IRA and anti-Apartheid South African guerrillas to even some U.S. cities like Philadelphia's experiment with community courts, spaces are created where accountability is understood as a community issue and the entire community, along with the so-called perpetrator and the victim of a given offense, try to restore and even transform everyone in the process. It has also been used uninterrupted by indigenous and Afro-descendant communities like San Basilio de Palenque in Colombia for centuries, and it remains perhaps the most widespread and far-reaching of the alternatives to the adversarial court system.
Q: Can you take non-Muslim women and children captive?
Q: Can you have sex with them, even prepubescent girls?
Q: Can you sell them or give them as gifts to others?
Q: Can you give them as gifts after having sex with them?A: No that is forbidden.
Because air cargo deregulation.
This one says I have large boobies, questionable judgment, and Dad is not part of my life.
A note from a longtime Moronette:
Thought the moron horde might find this interesting and would be curious about their reaction. Happens to be a good friend and have watched the toll this has taken on him over the last few years.
I know at times you feel like you probably have a thankless job and wonder why you spend hours (or minutes) putting together threads.I have been following Ace for 10 years now and still wonder where some of the original "regular" commenters went like Tushar (after the birth of his twins, not a word...). Watching the blog morph as the years go on. Even in its new and improved, cleaned up, hoity-toity version, Ace's house feels like family. I am sure there are many others like me and one day we will actually respond to a "lurker show yourself" thread.
Yahoo group. That is all.
Come on be a smartie and join the yahoo group party! For the children.
And my lo-fi Twitter spew.
Tonight's post brought to you by a little love:
Notice: Posted by permission of AceCorp LLC. Please e-mail overnight open thread tips and juicy gossip to maetenloch at gmail. Otherwise send your scraps to RoneryAce. Do not taunt happy-fun ball. Bathrooms are for customers only.
Close it up
What Exactly Has North Korea Done That Progressives Don't Do Every Single Day?
A professor blogged a criticism of a teaching assistant, who'd discussed gay marriage in her classroom, but then shut down all dissent, claiming dissent to be illegitimate (per his claim).
Result? The university is "investigating" him and has suspended him from all teaching duties.
arquette University has suspended with pay and barred from campus the tenured professor who criticized a graduate student instructor in a personal blog, pending an investigation into his conduct.
John McAdams, an associate professor of political science at Marquette, last month wrote a controversial blog post accusing a teaching assistant in philosophy of shutting down a classroom conversation on gay marriage based on her own political beliefs. He based the post on a recording secretly made by a disgruntled student who wished that the instructor, Cheryl Abbate, had spent more time on the topic of gay marriage, which the student opposed. McAdams said Abbate, in not allowing a prolonged conversation about gay marriage, was "using a tactic typical among liberals," in which opinions they disagree with "are not merely wrong, and are not to be argued against on their merits, but are deemed 'offensive' and need to be shut up."
McAdams shared the text of an email he received from Richard Holz, dean of the Helen Way Klinger College of Arts and Sciences.
"The university is continuing to review your conduct and during this period -- and until further notice -- you are relieved of all teaching duties and all other faculty activities, including, but not limited to, advising, committee work, faculty meetings and any activity that would involve your interaction with Marquette students, faculty and staff," Holz wrote.
Apparently the academy is no longer the place for academic debate.
The Year in Outrage
I just picked on Slate but this is pretty terrific: every social media outrage of 2014.
Including some that weren't really outrages, because, like, they had to fill the whole calendar.
Still, some of those are fun. To mock the social media outrage mongers, Patton Oswald began claiming to have deleted offensive tweets he'd posted. The gag was that he had not posted the allegedly offensive tweets at all.
Meanwhile, from our friends at Free Beacon, here are our friends at MSNBC, bein' silly all 2014.
Byron York: No, Ted Cruz Did Not Let Harry Reid Confirm Appointments That Otherwise Would Have Failed
A few weeks ago, I noted that if an "expert" is not on your side, he's not a benefit to you. In fact, he's a threat.
What I mean by that is simple: An expert who's actually on your side can provide you with useful and true information and advice.
An expert who's not on your side can use his claimed expertise to bully you into accepting lies as the truth.
Witness Jonathan Gruber and all the alleged "Health Care Wonks" of the press who lied the public down the river.
Last week, Establishment types began claiming that Ted Cruz, by seeking a vote on immigration, somehow invoked a little-understood part of Senate rules which then permitted Harry Reid to ram through a bunch of stalled progressive appointments.
It was not quite explained how this rule operated or how Cruz had activated it.
The whole story relied on the bullying power of asserted expertise: Trust us, we understand Senate rules, and, while they're too complicated to explain right now, you'll just have to take our word for it that Ted Cruz permitted Harry Reid to do something he was otherwise powerless to do.
I don't like being told to just take things on faith, by anybody. I have not liked doing so since I was a child. Since I was a child, I rejected most claims of authority about what conclusions I should draw. If I don't understand the logic and facts which lead to the conclusion, I don't accept the conclusion as true, no matter how passionately the expert demands I take his word about things.
Which is not the same as saying I reject the conclusion as false: If I don't understand things, I can't say the conclusion is false, just as I can't accept it as true. I myself can draw no conclusions about it. I can cite the conclusions of experts, and even trust the conclusions of experts, but what I cannot do is take the conclusions of experts to be my own conclusions.
A man who's ignorant of the basic facts and principles in play does not get to have conclusions; he can only regurgitate the conclusions of others.
At any rate, I was skeptical of this claim not for any especially strong reason, but just due to pocket (fallible) heuristics, like: The people claiming this did not offer up a detailed explanation, permitting me to follow their logic and check their claimed facts. They just wanted me to Accept It.
People who have the truth on their side have no need of demanding I Accept things, given that they can prove them.
I also sort of didn't like the shabby sorts of people making the claim, like John McCain, who I know fancies himself as honorable and true but in fact is a low, sleazy liar in pursuit of his political goals. (See: "Build the dang fence.")
It's also the sort of Too Good to Be True/Proves All of the Arguments We've Always Been Making sort of claim. I've generally found these sorts of claims to be false.
Anyway, I didn't have strong reasons to doubt it, but I did have some reasons.
But, not having any real insight into the truth here, I refrained from writing about it.
That wasn't just me being lazy. I just get so fucking sick of having to offer Strong Opinions on things about which I know nearly nothing. Sometimes I like to implicitly confess my ignorance and not write about things about which I know nothing.
And now Byron York, someone I tend to trust a lot, has looked into it, and his conclusion is this was all nonsense.
Specifically, the accusation is that Cruz's initiative created a break in the consideration of the spending bill that allowed Reid to take the opportunity to set in motion the procedures necessary to get the confirmations underway. By doing that on Saturday, instead of having to wait until after the spending bill was passed on, say, Monday, the thinking goes, Reid got to pass more nominations than he might otherwise have. And of course, given that Democrats are about to give up control of the Senate, this was Reid's last chance to confirm Obama's nominees on his own.
There are four problems with the anti-Cruz scenario. The first is that on Dec. 9, days before Cruz threw a wrench in the works, Reid signaled his intention to confirm all of Obama's remaining nominees, no matter how long it took.
"You know, maybe we'll have to work the weekend and maybe even work next week," Reid told reporters. "I know that's tough duty for everybody, but we may have to do that. We have a number of nominations we're going to do. We're going to -- we have nine judges left. We're going to do those. We're going to do [Surgeon General nominee] Dr. [Vivek] Murthy. We're going to do the head of Immigration Naturalization, ICE. Social Security administrator and other things. I've given a list to the Republicans and it's up to them to decide how long we stay."
Does that sound like a majority leader who is ready to pack up and go home without passing his party's nominees? No, it doesn't. And that leads to the second problem with the scenario, which is the nature of Harry Reid himself. It is simply impossible to believe that the man who made the Senate pass Obamacare on Christmas Eve would abandon the president's nominees out of the goodness of his heart so that Republican colleagues could go home to make scheduled dates at the ballet or visits with family. That is not Harry Reid's style. If Cruz had not acted, would Reid have said, 'Well, it looks like we would have to work all the way until Dec. 18 to finish these nominations, so let's just put them aside and go home and have a nice time, even though it's our party's last chance to pass them." Does anyone believe Reid would have done that?
You can read the other two points.
The best argument made for the Cruz-Ruined-Everything scenario is less persuasive. The idea is that while Senators must stay in DC to pass the CRomnibus, they could go home once that is done; so if the CRominbus passed earlier, Democrat senators might bug out of Washington to get an early start on their vacations, rather than stick around to vote on appointments.
I find this unpersuasive and silly in its speculation. First of all, we were only talking about a couple of days.
Second, there would have been Holy Hell to Pay from the leftwing blogger/activist base if Democrat Senators went on vacation instead of passing President Princess' oh-so-important progressive appointees.
I just can't think of who they have in mind, when they postulate these leftwing senators willing to use the nuclear option to get Obama's picks installed, but not leftwing enough to stick around the couple of days needed to do so.
Such people might theoretically exist, but no one's pointed to a specific senator and said, "Well, Al Franken totally loves his vacation, he would have been out of here."
Let me point out the obvious:
The Republican Establishment is very similar to the Progressive Establishment in the dim view it takes of the Tea Party, and also in the belief that it is itself "rational" and "fact-based," as opposed to those emotional, hot-headed fabulists in the Tea Party who just "make up facts to comport with their ideology" and who "just make shit up so they can yell about it on talk radio."
Let me suggest here that making up silly fantasies about Ted Cruz enabling Harry Reid to do what Harry Reid could always have done (and which he said he would do) does not convince me that the Establishment is as "fact-based" is it believes itself to be, nor as above "just making up silly partisan hokum to make people angry so they can yell about it."
In fact, it appears like The Establishment has all of these failings too. Wrapped in entitlement and arrogance, to boot.
So if The Establishment wants my vote -- and I am a gettable vote -- it has to actually act as if being "fact-based" and "above made-up nonsense smears" is something that's important to them, rather than just something they claim to be all about (as they gleefully make up silly nonsense to smear the Tea Party with).
Fall Out: New Regency Cancels Thriller Set in North Korea; Paramount Bans "Team America: World Police" From Theatrical Screening
And now, the corporate cowards are in full flight.
The chilling effect of the Sony Pictures hack and terrorist threats against The Interview are reverberating. New Regency has scrapped another project that was to be set in North Korea. The untitled thriller, set up in October, was being developed by director Gore Verbinski as a star vehicle for Foxcatcher star Steve Carell. The paranoid thriller written by Steve Conrad was going to start production in March. Insiders tell me that under the current circumstances, it just makes no sense to move forward. The location won’t be transplanted. Fox declined to distribute it, per a spokesman.
I guess I understand that move -- it's show business, and if wacky midget dictators are going to tank your project, you can't make money on it, and have to walk away.
I have less understanding about Paramount's gutless appeasement, though.
The Alamo Drafthouse had planned to show Team America: World Police instead of the pulled The Interview because Texans are awesome.
But Paramount, which I guess owns the rights to Team America, is now telling Alamo Drafthouse they have no right to do that.
From the Daily Beast:
The famous Alamo Drafthouse in Texas, Capitol Theater in Cleveland, and Plaza Atlanta in Atlanta said they would screen the movie instead of The Interview but Paramount has ordered them to stop.
Please note: Our Late Shift screening of Team America: World Police has been canceled by Paramount Pictures. pic.twitter.com/TlPVzIeICW— Capitol Theatre (@CapitolW65th) December 18, 2014
That is just outrageous cowardice.
Meanwhile, you can at least enjoy the scene that caused Fidget the Midget to go Full Spazz here -- Kim Jong-un's "death scene."
Oh and you won't be surprised to learn that Slate is fucking stupid and engaging in apologism for fascism.
Really, though, underneath all this not entirely unwarranted hand-wringing about bedrock American values, there’s a strong sense of someone sitting on the back of a large corporation and twisting its arm until the large corporation cries uncle. This, too, is frightening, sort of, but it should tell us that large corporations like Sony need to get their cybershit together, not that the Constitution’s in tatters and the terrorists have really, finally won. The fact that Sony chose not to release the film at all--not to VOD, DVD, VHS, or traveling hand-puppet reenactments—suggests that the calculus was less "How do we protect moviegoers while also standing up for free expression and artistic integrity" and more "Please, oh mighty lord in heaven, just make this go away." Simply put, at a certain point--given the accumulated damage in industry relationships, in corporate practices revealed, in class-action lawsuits from its own employees, in potential liability nightmares--The Interview was no longer the hill that Sony wanted to die on.
You stupid shits, that's what coercion always is -- escalating the pain (for a perfectly lawful action) until the person taking it decides they've had enough.
Slate, which is not worth the paper that people don't bother to print it on, seems to think there's some distinction between a real case of anti-free-speech censorship and this apparently shabby sort of corporate capitulation.
I mean, the party being attacked for daring to engage in free speech eventually said "I submit." Obviously then this isn't a real matter of free speech.
Real free speech battles always involve leftists talking about their peenies and gynies. Everyone knows that.
Update: Actually, If You Work For Slate, You Kind of Suck. I really hate Slate writers' default posture of being Above It All.
Note to Slate's writers: You are not "above it all." Proof of that? You work for Slate.
You are rather beneath it all, or at least beneath most of it.
There is an element of criticism which is inherently obnoxiously superior. One cannot criticize a thing without, implicitly, assuming a posture of being above that thing (or above the person who created that thing).
This is an obnoxious and unwarranted posture (how many movie critics could make a movie, or even write a short story?), but it is unavoidable, if one is to criticize at all.
But for God's sakes that doesn't mean you have to exult in it. You don't have to parade around in that unwarranted superiority.
The fact is, all of us bitchy little online critics, pedants, carpers, and snipers, all of us ankle-biters, jock-sniffers, apple-polishers, and boot-lickers -- and I include myself in this -- are rather low in the socio-economic pecking order. Pretty damn low.
And if you work at Slate -- even lower.
If we could do something else, we wouldn't be fucking pissant internet critics.
Slate's Stupid Business Model is to never admit the obvious. If it seems obvious that North Korea has committed a serious attack on Sony's Free Speech, Slate must come in and offer a #SlateTake, even if the opposite of the obvious is stupid and loathsome.
Now 10% of the time, this sort of doctrinaire counter-intuitive #SlateTake might be worth considering.
But 90% of the time it's just wrong. Because the obvious take is the correct take 90% of the time. Putin taking over Ukraine is bad for the Ukraine. That's obvious.
And a #SlateTake claiming Actually, Maybe Being Occupied by Russia Is Just What Ukraine Needs! is just stupid, prickish and prattish.
And then to package these outrageously-wrong brainfarts up with attitude -- as if being outrageously wrong is more charming when you're vomiting up unwarranted arrogance alongside it.
It's not enough to say something stupid -- no, they have to imply that other people are dumb for not thinking of the stupid #SlateTake themselves.
Only very clever people could be this determinedly stupid, their corporate credo seems to be. (And yes, Slate is a corporation: So if a hacker extorted Slate, would that not be a real first amendment issue, I wonder?)
One should not exert oneself this hard to be clever. Let the cleverness come naturally; don't force it all the time, laddies.
I'm reminded of the aphorism: The failure state of "clever" is "asshole."
This constant attitude from the silly little shits at Slate, who haven't done anything except blogposts, is repulsive.
Stop acting like you've fucking Done Something until you've actually Done Something, boys.
Greta Van Sustern: Sony Was "Stupid" and "Idiots" to Make NK Movie; Should Have Known They'd Be Hacked, Threatened with 9/11-Style Terrorist Attacks
anyone who has been to NK knows how dangerous it is and would not have been so stupid to make that movie;— Greta Van Susteren (@greta) December 17, 2014
North Korea has never engaged in this sort of retaliation before, and they've been similarly provoked. The awful James Bond movie Die Another Day featured North Korea as a villain, and had Bond blowing up half of a North Korean brigade; Team America: World Police featured a hilarious parody of Kim Jong-il, and showed him being killed ("assassinated," I gues) at the end.
Also, when he died, the creature living inside of him -- an alien parasite, maybe, or a mutant demi-urge taking the form of an insect -- escaped. That creature inside him, representing his soul, was a cockroach.
So why would Sony know that they shouldn't make this movie?
Greta Van Sustern is just wrong here in so many ways. Her "solution" to terrorism is just to capitulate pre-emptively to potential terrorists -- Sony and all other media companies should just figure out which Evil Basket-Case Tyrannical States are willing to use terrorism as part of their PR apparatus, and make sure they never mock such countries.
So... We're not supposed to mock the most vicious regimes which are most deserving of mockery. If we self-censor, then we won't permit North Korean terrorists to censor us, I guess.
In a way I guess that's true, but in all important ways it's wrong.
It seems to me Van Sustern is demonstrating one of the most common, and stupidest, sorts of human behavior here.
Whenever a terrible setback befalls someone -- paralysis, cancer, rape, cyberterrorism by basket-case states run by midget maniacs -- human beings have a remarkably annoying, and sometimes offensive, need to moralize about the tragedy, and begin positing all the ways in which this horrific event could have been avoided.
Though usually not as overt as in Van Sustern's formulation, the suggestion is usually present: This tragedy was eminently avoidable, and the fact that it was not avoided suggests a defect, whether intellectual, moral, or characterological, on the part of the victim.
I think people do this partly due to their basic survival programming: Learn from the setbacks of others. Postulate methods of avoiding similar tragedies.
I also think they do it partly to reassure themselves so that they're not unduly frightened: People don't like accepting the fact that many dangers are very unpredictable and hence impossible, or nearly impossible, to avoid, so they are overly fond of claiming that each and every tragedy that occurs in life was eminently foreseeable and thus eminently avoidable.
It's kind of a psychological knock-on-wood reassurance.
I don't think this is true in many cases. I do not think it was so "obvious" as Van Sustern says that North Korea would of course resort to an entirely unprecedented and never-once predicted or threatened form attack.
If this was so obvious, I'm sure Ms. Van Sustern can quote herself warning of the attack's inevitability...? Or cite someone she read making that warning?
Even if that warning had come (it hadn't, but if it had), then she's just saying "We should give in to bullies and censors and terrorists because otherwise they'll make trouble."
And all this just so she call call them "idiots" and "stupid."
This is of course the really basic thing about human behavior: Humans love to discover new ways in which they are Superior to new people they had previously not realized they were superior to at all.
Somewhere in Van Sustern is a hungry ego, impatiently crying out to be fed, as there is in all of us; she sees here an opportunity to feed the crying beast, and seizes upon it.
If Van Sustern thinks it's "stupid" to provoke terrorists and bullies and censors, she should quit her job at Fox immediately, because of course Fox takes a less charitable view of ISIS, Islamofascists generally, Russia, China, Iran, North Korea, and all the various leftwing soft-fascism organizations than any other news company.
Is she so "stupid" to put her own safety and privacy at risk by antagonizing these people?
I guess so.
The Mewlings of Cowards: Too often I see cowardice being credited as "wisdom."
Risk-taking is good. I don't love Seth Rogen all that much, but mocking a tyrant is a good thing, even if it's a risky thing.
Perhaps Rogen was foolish to not realize it was risky.
Perhaps. But I don't know that. Why should I assume he didn't realize this was risky? Why should I assume he's stupid?
People tend to fear bravery -- to the extent they'll mock it, and the person exhibiting bravery, when he stumbles.
I hate this tendency our safe modern society has of mocking bravery and risk-taking.
"Well those idiots didn't know the safe play."
That's the sort of thing a boring, vanilla, will-never-impact-the-world coward tells himself about risk-taking people to make himself feel better about his own safe, soft decisions.
Risk-taking people usually do in fact know the risks.
They also know "the safe play" that the softer-bodied people are always demanding everyone take.
They just choose not to make the safe play. They choose, knowingly, the risky play.
I think it is toxic for society -- a poison that saps at our vitality-- for the Safe Play People's voices to be so loud, and so numerous, while so few people actually stick up for a bit of riskiness and danger.
Hey, Safe Play People: I've got news for you. No one ever accomplished anything big by sticking to the Safe Play.
So keep on hectoring and picking at anyone who dares to step out of line, if that makes you feel better about your own choices.
The people taking risks will just have to content themselves with mattering and living lives full of color and steel.
How Progressivism Is Killing the Social Sciences
The parasite kills its host. Every time.
I have had the following experience more than once: I am speaking with a professional academic who is a liberal. The subject of the underrepresentation of conservatives in academia comes up. My interlocutor admits that this is indeed a reality, but says the reason why conservatives are underrepresented in academia is because they don't want to be there, or they're just not smart enough to cut it. I say: "That's interesting. For which other underrepresented groups do you think that's true?" An uncomfortable silence follows.
I point this out not to score culture-war points, but because it's actually a serious problem...
That's why I was very gratified to read this very enlightening draft paper written by a number of social psychologists on precisely this topic, attacking the lack of political diversity in their profession and calling for reform....
They start by debunking published (and often well-publicized) social psychology findings that seem to suggest moral or intellectual superiority on the part of liberals over conservatives, which smartly serves to debunk both the notion that social psychology is bereft of conservatives because they're not smart enough to cut it, and that groupthink doesn't produce shoddy science. For example, a study that sought to show that conservatives reach their beliefs only through denying reality achieved that result by describing ideological liberal beliefs as "reality," surveying people on whether they agreed with them, and then concluding that those who disagree with them are in denial of reality -- and lo, people in that group are much more likely to be conservative! This has nothing to do with science, and yet in a field with such groupthink, it can get published in peer-reviewed journals and passed off as "science," complete with a Vox stenographic exercise at the end of the rainbow. A field where this is possible is in dire straits indeed.
That's the stupidest thing I ever heard.
More "Science:" Hate is bad, but you can hate Republicans, because Science shows us that they are bad.
As I've said before, what really bothers me is their combination of asserted superiority and actual childishness.
A University of Michigan department chairwoman has published an article titled, "It's Okay To Hate Republicans," which will probably make all of her conservative students feel really comfortable and totally certain that they’re being graded fairly.
"I hate Republicans," communications department chairwoman and professor Susan J. Douglas boldly declares in the opening of the piece.
She writes that although the fact that her "tendency is to blame the Republicans . . . may seem biased," historical and psychological research back her up, and so it’s basically actually a fact that Republicans are bad!
Republicans now, she writes, are focused on the "determined vilification" of others, and have "crafted a political identity that rests on a complete repudiation of the idea that the opposing party and its followers have any legitimacy at all."
(Apparently, the irony of this accusation given the content of her own article was lost on her.)
I swear, a lot of Progressives are borderline stupid, but want to be smaaahhht, so they select a political philosophy that promises them they'll be smaahhhht if they just say the right things, no matter what their so-called "IQ tests" may say about it.
Thursday Morning News Dump
- 'Free Trade' With Cuba Is A Dangerous Fantasy
- The US Bows Down To The Norks
- Russians Flock To Stores To Pre-empt Price Rises
- Vermont Giving Up On Single Payer Health Care
- This Stirkes Me As One Of Those Stories That Will Turn Out To Be BS
- The Response To North Korea's Attack On Hollywood Is Disastrous And Cowardly
- How Academia's Liberal Bias Is Killing Social Science
- McSally Win Gives Republicans Another House Seat
- Man Who Waterboarded KSM Rips Democrat Torture Report
- Kerry: Cuba Policy Has Isolated The US For 50 Years
- Lets Learn From Canada's 'Bootstrap' Immigration Policy
- Blacks Falling Behind Under Obamacare
- Obama Claims He's Been Treated Like The Help
- Cool New Bullet Designed For The US Army
- President Obama Didn't Tell The Whole Story About Cuba