Julia Pierson, Director of Secret Service, Resigns In Wake of Embarrassing Disclosures About Agency's Lapses
The wheels of Obama's bus are tall, and roll over obstacles easily.
Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson said he accepted her resignation and he named Deputy Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas to lead an investigation into the Sept. 19 incident in which authorities say Omar Gonzalez scaled the White House fence, made it into the executive mansion and overpowered an officer before being subdued by a second officer.
Mr. Johnson also said heís convening a panel of independent experts to report back on changes needed at the troubled Secret Service.
She was the first female director of the elite security service.
The #WarOnWomen is calling from inside the house.
(This isn't my joke -- a commenter used it years ago, for some other similar purpose.)
More: At Hot Air, Josh Earnest just defended her this morning.
More importantly: the White House has agreed to an "independent" investigation into the Secret Service's lapses.
I guess on the theory an agency cannot investigate itself.
The Obama administration also says there will be an independent investigation into White House security concerns. pic.twitter.com/mg6x878S7R— Tamara Keith (@tamarakeithNPR) October 1, 2014
So here's my question:
When will the White House agree to an independent investigation of the IRS?
First US Ebola Patient Identified; Second Possible Ebola Patient Under Watch; Schoolkids Monitored for Possible Infection
The first Ebola patient diagnosed in the United States told relatives that he notified health care workers the first time he went to the hospital that he was visiting the U.S. from Liberia, the man's sister said Wednesday.
Mai Wureh told The Associated Press that her brother, Thomas Eric Duncan, went to a Dallas emergency room on Friday and was sent home with antibiotics. He returned two days later after his condition worsened and was admitted to Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital.
Dr. Mark Lester confirmed Wednesday that a nurse asked Duncan on his first visit whether he had been in an area affected by the Ebola outbreak that has killed thousands in West Africa, but that "information was not fully communicated throughout the whole team."
Officials are monitoring 12 to 18 people who may have been exposed to the man, including three members of the ambulance crew that transported him to the hospital and five schoolchildren.
Several questions here. The man from a country in which there is an out-of-control Ebola outbreak. He was visiting the US for ordinary, not extraordinary, reasons: to visit his relatives here.
We have not barred entry from West Africa but it's time to do so. At the very least it's time to restrict entry except in extraordinary circumstances, so that we have fewer visitors, and so that we can actually give each would-be visitor a more serious examination than merely checking them for fever.
At the very least, all travelers from West Africa should be required to check in for a health check (say) three days before their intended flight, and then get checked again on the day of the flight.
This will still permit some infected people to get through -- but hopefully it would catch some people with Ebola symptoms, too.
Duncan might have transmitted Ebola to a second patient, one close to him.
Health officials are closely monitoring a possible second Ebola patient who had close contact with the first person to be diagnosed in the U.S., the director of Dallas County's health department said Wednesday.
All who have been in close contact with the man officially diagnosed are being monitored as a precaution, Zachary Thompson, director of Dallas County Health and Human Services, said in a morning interview with WFAA-TV, Dallas-Fort Worth.
"Let me be real frank to the Dallas County residents: The fact that we have one confirmed case, there may be another case that is a close associate with this particular patient," he said. "So this is real. There should be a concern, but it's contained to the specific family members and close friends at this moment."
At this moment, yes, but it was also contained to a few close family members in West Africa at one point, too.
It is the nature of outbreaks to break out.
I'm not advising panic, of course. But I am advising the government to get a little more serious about this -- even if it means (horror!) disrupting foreign visitors' non-urgent travel plans.
Five kids in a bunch of different Dallas schools are being monitored as well, as a precaution. I assume they came in contact with Patient One or Patient Two but do not exhibit any symptoms of Ebola. Yet.
Dallas ISD superintendent Mike Miles also revealed that five children from four of the district's schools were possibly exposed to the virus.
Miles identified the schools as:
Conrad High School
Tasby Middle School
Hotchkiss Elementary School
Dan D. Rogers Elementary
The patient who was diagnosed with the Ebola virus was staying at a northeast Dallas apartment complex, according to a Dallas police spokesman.
Incidentally, that article notes that there's a large-ish (10,000+) Liberian community in Dallas. Hence the connection.
Meanwhile, even Chris Matthews wants to know why President I Got This told the American public that it was "unlikely" that Ebola would reach America's shores.
Allah disputes the "unlikelihood" of it -- all we're doing is checking people for fever. That's a symptom that might not present itself for days after the actual infection.
So why would Obama say this?
Because he says "Nothing to see here, folks, move on" to everything. He is worried how worries will affect him politically, so he does nothing but offer empty -- and often outright false -- assurances that he's on top of everything.
He's not on top of anything at all except the low rising hill at the sixth hole.
Did any of these political guys see Jurassic Park?
It takes significant efforts to possibly halt a disease from breaking out.
"Life will find a way," Jeff Goldbum's character noted there. And for these purposes, a virus counts as "life."
Romney on a 2016 Bid: "We've got a lot of people looking at the race. We'll see what happens."
Not until today, having read the words of the man himself, have I sincerely believed he might run again. The RomneyWatch(TM) posts are fun to write but not because Mitt 2016 was a real thing -- I thought. They were fun because it wasnít a real thing. It was a way to collectively pretend-scare ourselves, like playing with a ouija board.
I'm not as scared by this, but I haven't really taken this very seriously. I think Mitt's a good man and I think a good (if very flawed) candidate.
But because this didn't seem really real, none of us had to focus on those flaws. If Romney's candidacy was just a pretend hypothetical blow-off story, we could just talk about the good aspects of Mitt, and think again to the first hour of election night, when many of us still thought he would actually win.
If this is a Real Thing, though, then we have to talk about Romney's failings.
First: Perhaps the highest recommendation for Romney was the idea that he was a together guy, a numbers guy, a great CEO, who would implement a highly effective (if somewhat soulless) campaign.
His campaign was not highly effective. I'm sure John Ekdahl can tell you about that. A frequent taunt of Romney I see is "We hit all of our numbers," referring to the campaign's conviction that they did all the mechanical aspects of campaigning right.
But they didn't.
Add into that a base which was dragged into supporting Romney the first time -- shouting, with some degree of vindicated conviction, that Romney just could not win. I don't know how those who bitterly opposed Romney, but went along with the program reluctantly anyway, can be induced to not go absolutely Nuclear at the prospect of a second Romney candidacy.
I think DrewM's head would actually explode. I like DrewM. I worry about his head exploding. Heads shouldn't explode. It's not right.
And of course add in Romney's lack of any sort of emotional connection with the electorate. Perhaps his great humbling of 2012 makes him more "relatable;" but I don't know how much that gets you. Political charisma is something someone has or doesn't have. It's not fair that idiots like Obama have it, or scoundrels like Clinton, or that good men like Paul Tsongas don't have it.
But politics aren't fair.
I really don't know about this. I'm predisposed to liking Romney -- as the election went on, I came to actually like him and see the human inside of him -- but, putting that to one side, I don't know.
Allah discusses the implications for a Jeb Bush bid. Romney has indicated he wouldn't run if Jeb did. Does this mean that Jeb isn't running? Or does it mean that Romney had assumed Jeb would be a strong candidate but now, having seen the first few moves Jeb has made, has decided that Jeb isn't much of a candidate and so should not be the Center Right's representative in the 2016 derby?
Or does it just mean that Romney does in fact have "President Disease," as one wag put it, and won't be able to shake it until he either becomes president or is so thoroughly crushed that the idea becomes hateful to him?
I don't know. But I guess we have to start talking seriously about all this now.
Wednesday Morning News Dump
- A US Senate Race Refresher
- All The Facts Fit To Delete
- Obama Stands Aloof From America's Four Foreign Policy Traditions
- Secret Service Missed Man With Gun In Elevator With Obama
- Futures Trading
- School Board Tells Homeschool Family Curriculum Must Be Guided By Common Core Standards
- Time: Ebola Blah Blah Climate Change Blah Blah
- WH Huddles While ISIS Advances Towards Turkey
- In A Stunning Development, Turns Out Islamist Oklahoma Headchopper Is Also A Racist
- Hong Kong Protesters Brace For A Holiday Test
- GOP Celebrates Unhappy Second Anniversary of Obamacare
- CDC Issue Ebola Guidelines For US Funeral Homes
- Google Climate Name Calling
- Why Isn't The Media Outraged About The Kansas City Chiefs?
- Obama's Mixed Messages On War
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Top Headline Comments 10-1-14
Fueled by this summer's bad news, Fox News just had the most-watched quarter in primetime across cable, something it hasn't managed in more than a decade. Also reruns of Shark Tank on CNBC outperformed every single telecast on MSNBC.
Hundreds were poisoned from contaminated chicken at a Food Safety Summit. "The outbreak was the first in the 16-year history of the Food Safety Summit."
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ONT 9/30/14 - Homework Edition [krakatoa]
YeeIkes. Tuesday already.
Time flies when you have a 7 month old. Some people say it's the added responsibility, the extra work just to get an extra human being through the day, or even just a defense mechanism against remembering in vivid detail what just came out of your perfect little mini-you.
I say it's all the Scotch.
Or in this case, Bulleit Rye, which is my new favorite. It's not terribly pricey, it has a unique flavor, it's smooth, and after the first sip or two, it completely dulls the pain of Val-U-Rite Vodka's well known side effect, open throat ulcers. Or, according to science, Cancer. But then you give a moron enough of anything *, and he or she is sure to get some disease.
So I volunteered to be your Tuesday diversion. Your regularly scheduled ONT host has better things to do, although we promised to tell the regular readers that he misses them greatly, and it is with great regret that he had to foist you off on guest bloggers so that he could pursue "job responsibilities". And then he said something about some tentacle pr0n conference, and a asked whether "these rhinestones make my Cthulothario costume too 'effeminate'". We assured him it was probably the Freddy Mercury mustache, of all things, that was making people uncomfortable.
Anyway, on to the festivities.
Let's get the ugly out up top. After that opening, I know what everyone is thinking: "Homework? Double-U, Tee-Eff?"
I don't know how many of you read the sidebar.
Hell, I don't know if any of you can actually read. Much less type. I certainly don't follow up on the comments and try to decipher what most often can be charitably described as the crack-addled spasms of a 3-fingered epileptic. **
But for those of you that can read, and can form complete sentences, did you happen to check out the sidebar item on creepy "true" reddit stories?
I blew more time than I like to admit there, having experienced my share of crazy stuff in my life. Haunted house, haunted apartment, UFO sighting, the drive by Area 51 complete with crazy giant jackrabbits vaulting our vehicle while we did 50 mph and ghostly flying creatures that could best be described as albino giant bats... and I know it's all true because I have super-explicit memories of them. You might say those memories are scientific.
So tomorrow, I want you to blow off work, or slut-shaming, or whatever your day job is and read some of those stories to get in the mood, and then tomorrow night, just crap all over that ONT with your own creepy stories.
Or hell, be a real go-getter and post them here tonight for extra credit.
I got nothing with meat to talk about. Slow news day, and you can only talk about Obama's snowballing sideshow of a presidency so often.
Maybe some fun pictures to soften the experience.
Obama's response to various scandals, crises and golf junkets as described by the MSM:
Obama's various solutions, in reality:
I had this in my back pocket --- apologies if this made a previous ONT, but it segues in with the concept of unintended consequences when the government decides to DO ANYTHING! Among other things, more cobras than you can shake a press secretary at.
But that's no fun. Let's see... how about something that will provide some distraction from the existential nightmare that is the contemporary Western world.
I know what you're thinking. Family Feud, amiright? This is a list of FF answers that "Caused Steve Harvey to Lose His Faith In Humanity."
That said, I think the response to this one was about as affirming as you could possibly hope for.
This ONT brought to you by Male Models. Because chicks need support too.
* Especially: Spare Time.
Also: If you have a little extra, think about giving to LibertyChick.
Close it up
Ebola: EVERYONE SETTLE DOWN (tmi3rd)
Hi there, Morons and Moronettes.
As we're all aware, the first confirmed case of Ebola (that we didn't bring here deliberately) has made it to our shores, and is currently in strict isolation at Dallas Presbyterian Hospital.
This, obviously, is not good news, but let's get everyone up to speed on how Ebola works, how you stay away from it, how it's spread, and a few other bits.
More below the fold...
First of all:
Seriously, folks- I used to work emergency medicine at a hospital in Fort Worth. Whenever something scary gets going disease-wise, everybody and their grandmother descends upon the emergency room. If you're not absolutely sure you've got something you need urgently looked at, call the doctor's office and either go see them the next day or talk to whoever's on call. Most doctors' offices have an answering service for that very reason.
We saw this happen with a couple of ugly influenza strains in '09 and '10- it eats up all our resources, and all of a sudden, you've got a waiting room full of people who are scared, irritable, and having to wait a long time. That seldom goes well, and you mainly wind up exposed to the disease that the guy next to you actually has.
The bottom line is that you'll show up at the emergency room and it'll look like the entrance to a Best Buy before opening on Black Friday.
So please, don't panic. Now let's talk about how the bug works...
The Ebola virus disease is caused by a virus called the Ebola virus (I know, Captain Obvious), or EBOV, and it causes a usually-fatal hemorrhagic fever. Hemorrhagic fevers are thought to cause disseminated intravascular coagulation, which is a nice way of saying that your blood goes through its clotting mechanism within your blood vessels without clumping. This eats up your ability to form clots where and when you really need them. This, in turn, leads to all sorts of other systemic problems that I won't bore/scare you with; the Wikipedia entry on it details this just fine.
The important part of this is how Ebola is spread, and thus how you avoid it.
First of all, this is believed to be the Ebola Zaire strain. The Ebola Zaire strain is NOT- I repeat, NOT airborne. Thus, you can only get Ebola Zaire by handling body fluids of an infected or dead Ebola patient.
Body fluids- as obvious as this may seem- include (but are not limited to) blood, sweat, tears, vomit, urine, feces, semen, vaginal secretions, and the like. You can also get it by contact with contaminated medical equipment that has come into contact with infected or dead patients. Finally, you can also get it by coming into direct contact with infected animals (like eating infected meat, which is believed to be part of how this epidemic got going in the first place).
Equally important- and I want to emphasize this- Ebola can only be spread human-to-human AFTER SYMPTOMS BEGIN. Symptoms can pop up anywhere from two days to three weeks after exposure. If they're not sick after three weeks, they're not going to get sick, and this has been established.
Now, the Dallas patient was symptomatic and out of the hospital for a total of four days. Certainly, anyone this cat came into contact with is at risk, but remember: it's very contagious but not as easily transmitted. If you're in the D/FW area, just stay calm.
So what are the symptoms? Well, unfortunately, they look a lot like the onset of cold, flu, malaria, dengue, et cetera. Here's the list (pay attention to (pay attention to the early stuff; if you get to the back end, you're already in trouble):
Here's what the virus looks like:
Just like with any viral disease, there is no actual cure for it (we've never actually cured a virus in human history), but that doesn't mean we can't treat the symptoms. We do that through what we call supportive care: we pump fluids into you to keep your blood volume up and to keep you from dehydrating, we give you stuff to get the fever down and keep the pain at bay, we may give you blood if you need it, and so forth.
So to wrap this up, here's the story: yeah, having a case loose in a major metropolitan area is a bad thing. Yeah, having this cat loose in the public with Ebola is a very bad thing.
You get past it in public by washing your hands frequently, and by not touching your face- don't give a bug a door to come in, whether it be the common cold all the way to Zombie Maker or whatever. Cover your mouth and nose if you cough or sneeze, and all the things you're used to doing as we get into cold and flu season.
If you're genuinely getting sick and you're worried, by all means, have someone take a look at you, but please don't panic. The emergency rooms are going to be busy for probably the next month with people overreacting (it always works out that way), and you're going to wait a lot longer to be seen, at the very least.
I hope this helps- as I'm currently an EMT trying to get into medical school, I can't give you medical advice much beyond "have someone look at you", but if you need me for something, you can always find me on Twitter.
Here's the CDC's information sheet on the outbreak, and there's a great infographic at the link as well.
Y'all just stay safe, informed, and aware, and this'll hopefully just be a bad memory in about a month.
Close it up
I've been looking for a nightcap story and I just decided to give up three seconds ago.
The best I got is Mollie Hemingway's report that yes, Saturday Night Live is not merely terrible.
It's been terrible for years. What it is now is frankly embarrassing. The show has a real amateur dinner theater shenanigans vibe to it now.
Remember Senior Follies when seventeen year olds with no comedic ability would get on stage and do sketches?
Yeah, it was bad. Plus, the popular kids tended to get it into their heads that they were So Cute that they would naturally entertain people just by being adorable.
That's what Saturday Night Live is -- the Senior Follies of a school you didn't go to featuring superannuated seniors who aren't adorable.
A Break From The Constant Cycle Of Horrible News
Finally, some good news.
First US Case of Ebola Confirmed In Dallas
Confirmed by the CDC.
"The patient is an adult with a recent history of travel to West Africa," said Texas' Department of State Health Services, in a statement. "The patient developed symptoms days after returning to Texas from West Africa and was admitted into isolation on Sunday at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas."
Meanwhile, Kent Brantly, the doctor who survive his ebola infection, calls the outbreak "a fire from the pit of Hell."
Prosecutor: Sure Alton Nolen Was "Infatuated with Beheadings" and Sure, Maybe He Used Some "Arabic Words" While He Was Beheading That Woman, But This Sure Looks to Me Like Plain Ol' Workplace Violence
An Oklahoma man apparently uttered Arabic words during an attack in which he allegedly severed a co-worker's head, and had "some sort of infatuation with beheadings," but the killing appeared to have more to do with the man's suspension from his job than his recent conversion to Islam, a prosecutor said Tuesday.
The statement is technically defensible -- it is possible the man's termination had "more to do" with the sudden decision to go jihad that his fascination with jihad -- but it sure seems aimed to suggest that jihad had nothing to do with this.
By the way, if you're wondering why I say his firing did have something to do with it: Well, the timing. He did this immediately after (or during) the "process of being terminated." Surely that is not a coincidence.
However, he just as surely had a predisposition to publicly behead women, and it is not really a mystery from whence his predisposition came.
I'll just post one more quote:
"There was some sort of infatuation with beheadings. It seemed to be related to his interest in killing someone that way," Cleveland County Prosecutor Greg Mashburn said. "Other than that, it seemed to be related to his being suspended earlier in the day."
Other than that.
Update: Other than this.
On March 7th, Nolen added an image to his Timeline which shows a partially decapitated man with someone standing over him pulling his head back to show the wound. Above the image there is a quote which reads, "Thus do we find the clear precedent that explains the peculiar penchant of Islamic terrorists to behead their victims: it is merely another precedent bestowed by their Prophet." Just below the image is a citation from the Quran, "I will instill terror into the hearts of the unbelievers: smite ye above their necks and smite all their finger-tips off of them."
Great Ad Slams Mary Landrieu As Absentee Senator Who's Done Nothing to Help Black Constituents
Really good ad.
Josh Kraushaar: Obama's Pass-the-Buck Presidency
Earlier today, on Twitter, I was asking why the media does not see the pattern of Obama's dissembling and ducking of responsibility. They seem to now realize he's lying about his subordinates failing to warn him about ISIS:
Obama has had accurate intelligence about ISIS since BEFORE the 2012 election, says administration insider
A national security staffer in the Obama administration said the president has been seeing 'highly accurate predictions' about the rise of the ISIS terror army since 'before the 2012 election'
Obama insisted in his campaign speeches that year that America was safe and al-Qaeda was 'on the run'
The president said during Sunday's '60 Minutes' program that his Director of National Intelligence had conceded he underestimated ISIS
But the administration aide insisted that Obama's advisers gave him actionable information that sat and gathered dust for more than a year
'He knew what was at stake,' the aide said of the president, and 'he knew where all the moving pieces were'
Obama takes daily intelligence briefings in writing, he explained, because no one will be able to testify about warning the president in person about threats that the White House doesn't act on
That whole piece is good. Those are just the up-top bullet points.
So why doesn't the media see the pattern? Obama absented himself from oversight of HealthCare.org, then claimed it was all Kathleen Seblius' fault, for example.
Why don't they connect the dots? This is not an isolated incident; this is the central defining mode of Obama's presidency.
Well, John Kraushaar of the National Journal does see the pattern in all these matters, and lays a bunch of them out.
I really suggest you read this whole thing, but I'll just quote a little, for the lazy:
The elements of the administration's blame, deny, and wait-it-out communications strategy has been front and center amid all the recent controversies. When the administration badly botched the launch of the health care exchange website, Obama said he was "not informed directly that the website would not be working the way it was supposed to." This, for his signature achievement in office. Blame was later pinned on Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, who left the administration in April.
When officials at the Internal Revenue Service improperly targeted conservative outside groups for scrutiny, Obama first feigned outrage, saying he had "no patience for" the misconduct. But months later, as the public's anger subsided, Obama said there "wasn't even a smidgen of corruption" at the agency, and the administration has done little to hold anyone accountable since.
The administration's approach to controversies was best crystallized by former National Security Council spokesman Tommy Vietor, who deflected criticism about allegations that talking points on the attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, were altered for political reasons. "Dude, this was two years ago," he told Bret Baier of Fox News. The remarks were perceived as flippant, but they underscored the success of the administration's public-relations strategy. Buy enough time, and inevitably problems tend to go away--especially in today's attention-deprived environment.
He doesn't say so, but add into that: Especially given a media that affirmatively wants Obama to get away with it, and so will consciously join in his scheme of burying Obama's bad news the moment they feel Obama has successfully deprived the story of enough oxygen to smother it.
More: The Judge in Pruitt Scolds the Obama Champions of the Judicial Branch
Gabe pointed this out as noteworthy, and I think he's right.
In concluding his ruling, the judge in Pruitt takes time to note the "apocalyptic language" used by the dissent in Halbig (the DC circuit case in which the majority found similarly that the IRS had acted lawlessly).
He notes that a lot of these objections have little do with the actual law or the actual guidelines judges follow when interpreting Congress' law.
A lot of their objections just seem to be of the flavor, "Well if we let these monsters win, Obama's policy goals will be thwarted!"
The judge here chides them for assuming the posture of a political advocate, concerned not with the law but with "helping" certain people (and, coincidentally I'm sure, certain Presidents).
The court is aware that the stakes are higher in the case at bar than they might be in another case. The issue of consequences has been touched upon in the previous decisions discussed. Speaking of its decision to vacate the IRS Rule, the majority in Halbig stated "[w]e reach this conclusion, frankly, with reluctance." Other judges in similar litigation have cast the plaintiffs' argument in apocalyptic language. The first sentence of Judge Edwards' dissent in Halbig is as follows: "This case is about Appellants' not-so-veiled attempt to gut the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act ('ACA')." Concurring in King, Judge Davis states that ď[a]ppellants' approach would effectively destroy the statute . . . ." Further, "[w]hat [appellants] may not do is rely on our help to deny to millions of Americans desperately-needed health insurance. . . "
Of course, a proper legal decision is not a matter of the court "helping" one side or the other. A lawsuit challenging a federal regulation is a commonplace occurrence in this country, not an affront to judicial dignity. A higher-profile case results in greater scrutiny of the decision, which is understandable and appropriate. "[H]igh as those stakes are, the principle of legislative supremacy that guides us is higher still. . . This limited role serves democratic interests by ensuring that policy is made by elected, politically accountable representatives, not by appointed life-tenured judges."
This is a case of statutory interpretation. "The text is what it is, no matter which side benefits." Such a case (even if affirmed on the inevitable appeal) does not "gut" or "destroy" anything. On the contrary, the court is upholding the Act as written.
Congress is free to amend the ACA to provide for tax credits in both state and federal exchanges, if that is the legislative will. As the Act presently stands, "vague notions of a statute's 'basic purpose' are nonetheless inadequate to overcome the words of its text regarding the specific issue under consideration. It is a "core administrative-law principle that an agency may not rewrite clear statutory terms to suit its own sense of how the statute should operate."
"If Congress enacted into law something different from what it intended, then it should amend the statute to conform to its intent."
(All internal citations omitted -- quoted language is from other cases, obviously, but I didn't feel like formatting all that crap.)
Oh and I meant to note this earlier, but forgot: Remember Jon Gruber, who declared that it was "absurd" that that Congress could possibly intend to withhold subsidies from states that didn't set up their own exchanges?
And then was found talking at conferences stating that that was in fact Congress' intent, and that it all made perfect sense?
He gets name-checked in a footnote:
Flip-flopping hack Jonathan Gruber makes an appearance in a lengthy footnote, of course. pic.twitter.com/DLGMPO1bLy— Gabriel Malor (@gabrielmalor) September 30, 2014
And I have to correct something: A "circuit split" occurs when the circuit courts of appeals split.
I misinterpreted Gabe. We do not have a circuit split yet, as I think only one appeals court (the Fourth Circuit) has has ruled on this on the circuit level, the appeals level. And there, they claimed that the law could be stretched as Obama liked.
All of the other rulings are from the originating (trial) courts.
Gabe's point was that he doesn't expect the Supreme Court to wait for a bona-fide split, but will probably take an appeal earlier, given the importance of the cases.
That error was mine, not Gabe's.
Oklahoma Federal Court Rules IRS Attempt to Save Obamacare's Subsidies for Federal Exchange Enrollees "Arbitrary, Capricious, an Abuse of Discretion, and Otherwise Not In Accordance with the Law"
BOOM. Pruitt just came out in Oklahoma. IRS subsidy expansion to fed. exchanges is "arbitrary and capricious." #halbig— Gabriel Malor (@gabrielmalor) September 30, 2014
Here's the bottom line in Pruitt v. Burwell: pic.twitter.com/39Gb9JZsTI— Gabriel Malor (@gabrielmalor) September 30, 2014
It is not often you see a district court judge chiding circuit court judges for being hysterical, as here. pic.twitter.com/lWaznrpIwl— Gabriel Malor (@gabrielmalor) September 30, 2014
The full decision is here.
If you're coming in late to this, or have forgotten, this concerns the IRS granting those who enroll into Obamacare in the federal exchanges the same subsidies as are granted to those who enroll in the state exchanges.
The problem is that the law only specifies subsidies for state exchange enrollees. It appears this was intended to be an encouragement for states to set up their exchanges.
But 26 or so states opted out -- but Obama's IRS, desperate to save his bacon with lots of enrollees, decided that by administrative rule they would trump the law passed by Congress and just rule that anyone signed up for Obamacare should have subsidies.
A federal court in Oklahoma has ruled otherwise.
Now, a DC circuit court also ruled this way a few months ago -- but that is now going to an en banc rehearing, and as the full court is stuffed full with progressives (thanks to Harry Reid's nuclear option), it is widely expected that the full progressive court will countermand the three-judge panel which issued the ruling.
As Gabe says-- Correction; Gabe did not say this; I misinterpreted him; see my full correction below -- this seems to insure that there's a split in the lower courts (there were some liberal judges who ruled that the administrative law-making was a-ok with them), thus dramatically increasing the odds that the Supreme Court will have to rule on the matter.
Correction: And I have to correct something: A "circuit split" occurs when the circuit courts of appeals split.
I misinterpreted Gabe. We do not have a circuit split yet, as I think only one appeals court (the Fourth Circuit) has has ruled on this on the circuit level, the appeals level.
All of the other rulings are from the originating (trial) courts.
Gabe's point was that he doesn't expect the Supreme Court to wait for a bona-fide split, but will probably take an appeal earlier, given the importance of the cases.
That error was mine, not Gabe's.
Obama Has Attended Less Than Half His Presidential Daily Briefings
And even in the 41% of security briefings he did attend, he spent the most time carpet-putting. (I assume -- but you know I'm right.)
President Pushback is putting out the word that while he may not care about the United States' security to show up for briefings, he reads each report with keen interest, but...
1. That's just him saying that. If he showed up for the actual briefings, we'd have an actual record of his presence. But when he claims "I read the Dickens out of these reports when no one's around," that's just Obama giving you his word that he's awesome.
Anyone still eager to take the word of Barack Obama?
2. The suggestion is made that he is very interested indeed in reading these things. However, when someone is very interested in something, they tend to make additional time for it. Like, say, the time necessary to show up for an hour briefing on the security situation of the United States.
So I don't think he's very interested at all. It seems to be like homework he doesn't want to do.
3. If the president were keenly interested in these matters, he'd want to be physically present for the briefing, so he could ask questions. How confident are you about this prediction? What is this based on? Are there additional possibilities you're not considering?
Obama can't ask such questions of a piece of paper.
I don't believe he asks many questions. (I'll get to that in a second.) Because he doesn't really care.
4. I think Obama's proxies, the guys he makes go to the briefings so that he can watch episodes of Homeland, brief him later, but this is second-hand nonsense, and furthermore, toadying minions will tell the boss what he wants to hear, and avoid telling him what they know he doesn't want to hear, won't they?
I mention that because of fact noted by even arch-liberal Norah O'Donnell, that there is a public paper record of Obama being warned about the rise of ISIS, and yet Obama is simultaneously claiming that he was never so warned, and that other people dropped the ball and let him down.
Well I don't believe a word Obama says, but it should be noted these two claims are in fact reconcilable if you make this assumption:
The intelligence committee did in fact repeatedly warn Obama's minions, attending the briefings and reading the briefings on Obama's behalf, but then his minions, knowing that Obama did not want to deal with any of this and pretty much just wants to go out and do #TheBearIsLoose photo ops with his dwindling number of fans, soft-pedaled it or ignored it entirely.
Obama claims he read this stuff. But going to the briefings would have done something important -- had he attended, he would have been confronted with the information in the briefings.
He would not been able to get a Minion to pipe down about all this IS bother by putting on his Bored Face and then asking "What else you got?" or whatever other signals he uses to indicate that he's got a tee time in 20 minutes.
Being absent from the briefings permits him to cocoon himself from things he doesn't want to think about or deal with, which is of course one of this president's deepest and most dangerous psychological traits.
A Couple of Silly Things Then I'll Start Working
Neil Tyson, apparently, now knows that Bush referred to the God who named the stars in 2003, not 2001, and in relation to the deaths of the crew of the space shuttle Columbia, not in relation to Al Qaeda, terrorism, or Islam generally.
Someone asked him when he intended to apologize:
@cfchabris Thanks. Sure, I plan to say something like that soon. Iím looking for a good medium & occasion.— Neil deGrasse Tyson (@neiltyson) September 28, 2014
Now, in case you don't know this, Neil Tyson's Cultists have a bizarre fetish for quoting him, marrying that quote to a dramatic/cool picture of him, and (often) adding a Star Field behind him, to show that Tyson is a Savior sent to us from the Stars to deliver his Wisdom.
Don't believe me? Google it, b*tch.
The one at the end of this list is particularly obnoxious.
So John Ekdahl decided to give Tyson's new quote -- trying to figure out the right "medium" to apologize to Bush on, implicitly admitting he was wrong all along -- the Starborne Savior treatment.
Meanwhile I got annoyed with the Democrats' never-ending fundraising emails. They tend to go like this:
You stood with us in 2008. Will you stand with us now, when your President needs you?
Please send $3 -- we must roll back the Republicans' anti-woman agenda.
They start with "Hey-" because telemarketers have found that many emails from actual friends begin that way, so it's a manner of tricking the eye into stopping at the email slugline. Then they pretend a friendship that doesn't exist -- all of these emails are written as if Nancy Pelosi or Barack Obama have a personal relationship with the addressee -- and conjure up some dire emergency just over the horizon.
Then they ask you for money. They often ask for $3, which is not a lot of money, of course ($3 barely covers the costs of processing the credit card transaction), but that $3 indicates the sender is a "live one" -- a Glengarry lead -- and also invests that person emotionally in the cause.
It's a well-known trick of psychological manipulation that if you can get someone to make a small gesture -- a token donation -- the very act of making that tiny donation will tend to make them more emotionally invested in the cause than they otherwise would have been. Now that they have "skin in the game," as it were, even just a tiny amount of skin, they become more reliable partisans in all aspects, from donating further to increasing likelihood of voting to donating time to canvas and so forth.
I think this effect is related to the psychological failing that keeps people at casinos trying to win back all the money they lost (and losing even more money). Once someone has a Sunk Cost, they will be irrationally invested in redeeming that Sunk Cost, in turning that Cost into a Win.
So these emails are crafted by psychological manipulation experts drawn hailing from the shabby field of telemarketing and cold-call high-pressure sales.
And the Democrats send millions of them every day.
So I decided to give them a taste of their own medicine. I began soliciting Debbie Wasserman-Schultz, Nancy Pelosi, and Barack Obama with the same sorts of manipulative messages, begging for money.
Skip through the first bunch of tweets (which basically duplicate what I just wrote above) to get to the ones where I start asking Nancy Pelosi to contribute to my cause.
Hey- @nancypelosi, you have walked with me in the past. Will you stand with me now? Please send me $15 for Arby's.— iLoveScienceSexually (@AceofSpadesHQ) September 29, 2014
Tuesday Morning News Dump
- The Gelded Age
- Everything You Need To Know About 43 Topics Vox Knows Everything About
- Politico Finally Started Asking Tough Questions About The Clintons
- Obama Betrays The Kurds
- Bill Maher And Me
- Valerie Jarret Appears In Prime Time TV Show
- Iraq Was Then, Syria Is Now
- Choosing Fortune Over Freedom
- My Aggravating Year With Obamacare
- ISIS Advances Just Outside Of Baghdad
- The New McCarthyism
- Media Matters Petulant Attack On George Will
- ISIS To Open A Consul In Turkey
- Yeah Buzzfeed Andrew, We Totally Believe You
- Is Mark Udall A 9/11 Truther?
Follow me on twitter.
Top Headline Comments 9-30-14
Director of the USSS Julia Pierson will testify today before House Oversight about the recent security breach. WSJ has a timeline describing how the details of the incident have evolved.
Ed Morrissey is covering the Extraordinary Synod from the Vatican. What a cool opportunity.
A U.S. air strike last week almost took out a headquarters of our allies, the Free Syrian Army. Whoops. A lack of coordination with the FSA, which Obama proposes to train and arm, gets blamed.
Hundreds of thousands face the (extended) income- and citizenship-verification deadline today for Obamacare subsidies. "White House officials pointed to the health law's requirement that people who are proven to be ineligible for subsidies have to pay them back, but said additional guidance on how to do that will be provided later." Mmmhmm.
The U.S. and Afghanistan have signed a security pact to allow almost 10,000 U.S. troops to remain in the country.
AoSHQ Weekly Podcast | Stitcher | Download | Ask The Blog | Archives
Overnight Open Thread -- 9/29/2014: Corpulent RINO Edition
—Damn Dirty RINO
Good evening, 'Rons n' 'Ettes! It's been a spell since I was last permitted to darken the hallowed pages of AoSHQ. But, since your regular ONT provider purportedly has something more important to do, and I called dibs for tonight's iteration, I reckon you'll just have to swallow hard and accept whatever half-assed excuse for infotainment I manage to cobble together in the next couple of hours, or so.
Some of you may recall that I was a bartender the last time I encroached upon this otherwise estimable space. Well, thanks to a shitstorm apocalyptic proportion, I was unceremoniously relieved of those duties a little over a month ago. Since then, I've found employment in a somewhat different industry -- that is, chicken farming. I learned a lot in my first few weeks as a farmhand, first and foremost being that I'm too damned fat and out of shape to be a farmhand. Here's a fair approximation of the physical activity I typically engaged in prior to my unexpected career change.
But, after a few weeks of perseverance through searing agony, my body has adapted to the demands of the job. Yes, I'm still dog-tired at the end of the day, but I can manage a full day of carrying feed buckets the length of eight 520' chicken barns, doubling back several times in each one. And I'm doing it largely without pain. The only problem is, I'm old. And, being old, I didn't seem to be shedding the considerable beer gut I'd developed over years of tending bar. And, frankly, I'm highly skeptical of recent studies showing that the ladies quite dig men sporting the distended abdomen look.
According to a recent study commissioned to mark the DVD release of ďBad Neighbors,Ē starring Zac Efron and Seth Rogen, three in four British women prefer men with a bit of a belly over one rocking washboard abs when it comes to relationships.
The full results of the study are here, but the basic verdict is women prefer relationships with a man who makes them feel confident, not threatened. A man with a bit of a gut is likely not as concerned with appearances as a gym rat may be. Ergo, we feel less judged.
While that may be a comforting thought, experience has taught me otherwise. You don't just stroll up to some babe at the grocery store with a John Goodman physique and expect David Beckham results -- at least not of you're a blue-collar schlub like myself. And, with that in mind, I've decided to make some minor lifestyle adjustments.
Now, let me just stipulate that I'm not angling for the washboard stomach that's all the rage these days. That doesn't strike me as a realistic goal at this point. You see, I'm a man of appetites with an unfortunate tendency toward inertia in my downtime. I'm no Glenn Reynolds; this is about as close to six pack abs as I'm likely to get anytime soon:
But, I do have reasonably good muscle tone for a dude with four-plus decades on the planet -- especially for one who's spent as much time holding down barstools as I have. And I have no plans to eliminate that [in]activity from my admittedly debauched lifestyle. But, I have made some adjustments -- like cutting back on the beer and going back to a couple of old favorites: cheap scotch and gin and tonic. For those of you who may also have a taste for cheap scotch and have yet to try it, allow me to humbly recommend Hankey Bannister.
As I said, I am a man of appetites, and I'm not keen on denying them. And, yes, that does make losing the gut a bit of a challenge. But, some years ago, I came up with a system that worked pretty well for me. Essentially, I stopped all between-meal eating and started eating less fattening foods by cutting back on bread, potatoes [my greatest weakness], and sugar. Not foregoing them completely, mind you, but eating them in smaller quantities while making an effort to eat more of the things I like that are actually pretty good for me. I do this Monday through Saturday. And then, when Sunday comes around, I eat whatever the hell I want to eat, and as much as I want of it.
Obviously, that won't work for everyone. But, it worked for me the last time I tried it, and it seems to be working for me now. But, there are other ways of dropping a few pounds that aren't tantamount to masochism. Some scientist at Cornell thinks he's come up with a few.
ďOne thing that happens with people who are overweight is that they often feel their situation isnít solvable, and they are on the verge of giving up,Ē explains Wansink. ďWhat weíve found over and over is that making one small change, like eating off a smaller plate, leads to a small weight loss, and then that triggers making more changes. Within a year, a personís lost 35 pounds without ever Ďdieting.í Thatís our goal.Ē
ďItís so much easier to be Ďslim by designí than by using willpower,Ē Wansink says. ďYou make one change, itís done. Willpower is a 24/7 unending job.Ē
I have no idea how much weight I've lost. I don't even own a scale. I judge my weight by simply looking down at my waist from time to time, and by which holes in my belt I have to use to keep my pants up. I've cinched my belt up two holes over the past two weeks. That's probably a hundred pounds. Idunno. And all I've had to do is eat more green beans and salads, drink unsweetened tea and water (sometimes with lemon) instead of sweet tea and soft drinks with meals, and not run to the freezer for ice cream just before bedtime.
And, with a little diligence, maybe the next time I find myself on vacation in Panama City Beach, I won't be mortified at the notion of walking around shirtless on the beach. Speaking of which, here are a few shots I grabbed while I was there about a month ago:
Close it up
The World is Stupid - Also MNF
—Dave In Texas
I had to deal with a kid's car today and I got off cheap.
SO I got that goin for me, which is nice.
Patriots. Chiefs. Chiefs is likely the next target.
And Speaking of Major Security Breaches: Al Qaeda Claims Guilt for Rocket Attack on US Embassy in Yemen
Before getting to that, let me link this, which half of you have already mentioned in comments.
The White House insisted Monday that the U.S. counterterrorism strategy in Yemen is a model for the fight against the Islamic State -- despite the country being engulfed by a violent political crisis that last week led the Obama administration to remove some of its diplomats and urge American citizens to leave.
The White House, though, is standing by claims that the country is a "useful model" for dealing with militants elsewhere. Press Secretary Josh Earnest on Monday claimed fighters in Yemen remain under "continual pressure" from the U.S. despite the latest unrest.
Now, as to that rocket attack.
The State Department claimed that US personnel were being evacuated out of an "abundance of caution."
This phrase is usually meant to mean that there is no actual serious threat -- that steps are being taken in the absence of a serious threat, just to be completely, abundantly on the safe side of things.
But common words and phrases do not mean the same thing when spoken by this administration.
When this administration says it's evacuating personnel out of an "abundance of caution," what they mean is that the capital is overrun and Al Qaeda are shooting rockets are our embassy.
This is like saying "My house was on fire, so, out of an abundance of caution, I called the fire department. Just in case the flames did not choose to self-extinguish harmlessly."
An Al Qaeda splinter group launched a rocket attack on the U.S. embassy in Sanaa on Saturday, injuring several guards, to retaliate for what it said on social media was a U.S. drone strike in a northern province the day before.
The rocket landed 200 meters from the heavily fortified embassy, which lies in a compound surrounded by high walls, hitting members of the Yemeni special police force who guard the site. At least two were injured, police said.
The guards injured by the rocket attack were taken to a hospital, out of an abundance of caution.
Five O'Clock Follies have nothing on this crew.
White House Fence Jumper Made It Into the East Room; 2011 Shooting Incident Downplayed by Secret Service Revealed to Have Been More Serious Than Claimed
This 2011 incident was -- well, let me say, as non-provocatively as possible, not reported accurately to the public.
In 2011, a gunman fired a rifle at the White House (when Obama was not present, but members of his family were). Seven bullets hit the White House.
Do you remember reading about that?
Well, if not, there's a reason for that.
A bullet smashed a window on the second floor, just steps from the first familyís formal living room. Another lodged in a window frame, and more pinged off the roof, sending bits of wood and concrete to the ground....
Then came an order that surprised some of the officers. "No shots have been fired. . . . Stand down," a supervisor called over his radio. He said the noise was the backfire from a nearby construction vehicle.
By the end of that Friday night, the agency had confirmed a shooting had occurred but wrongly insisted the gunfire was never aimed at the White House. Instead, Secret Service supervisors theorized, gang members in separate cars got in a gunfight near the White Houseís front lawn -- an unlikely scenario in a relatively quiet, touristy part of the nationís capital.
It took the Secret Service four days to realize that shots had hit the White House residence, a discovery that came about only because a housekeeper noticed broken glass and a chunk of cement on the floor.
It's an important article, with some real reporting going on (for a change).
On the heels of that comes another story in which the Secret Service seems to have seriously downplayed how far an attacker penetrated White House grounds.
Spoiler Alert: The East Room.
The man who jumped the White House fence this month and sprinted through the front door made it much farther into the building than previously known, overpowering one Secret Service officer and running through much of the main floor, according to three people familiar with the incident.
An alarm box near the front entrance of the White House designed to alert guards to an intruder had been muted at what officers believed was a request of the usher's office, said a Secret Service official who spoke on the condition of anonymity.
The officer posted inside the front door appeared to be delayed in learning that the intruder, Omar Gonzalez, was about to burst through. Officers are trained that, upon learning of an intruder on the grounds, often through the alarm boxes posted around the property, they must immediately lock the front door.
After barreling past the guard immediately inside the door, Gonzalez, who was carrying a knife, dashed past the stairway leading a half-flight up to the first familyís living quarters. He then ran into the 80-foot-long East Room, an ornate space often used for receptions or presidential addresses.
I sort of understand the reason for, um, less than accurate public reports here. The Secret Service is a security and intelligence outfit. Intelligence outfits generally conceal their successes, and their failures, and especially how they succeeded and how they failed.
This is the "methods" part of intelligence which spooks always claim is highest-level tippy-toppiest top secret. Letting your enemies know how you respond when probed or attacked gives your enemies far too much information about how to probe or attack you in the future.
I doubt this is a genuine "political" scandal, because I'm thinking Obama's political interests lay with overselling the danger here, not underselling it. I imagine, to the extent he blessed the Secret Service's course of action of underplaying these threats, he did so for reasons of concern about his personal safety and that of his family, and not due to any political advantage.
I imagine the Secret Service will be likely given the "methods" pass on this as well -- they do have, I think, a plausible case to make about why they choose to conceal/downplay attacks which are semi-successful (in that they result in far too deep a penetration for comfort).
However, on this last point, it's useful to point out something about human nature.
When one has a failure -- an embarrassment -- one has personal, selfish reasons to conceal that.
But people are very good about making up stories for their own consumption about how The Greater Good actually requires the same thing that their personal good requires (here, downplaying the incidents and concealing the Secret Service's failure).
And if someone in the Secret Service found these lapses embarrassing, I think it's entirely plausible that such a person might have made a good case to himself that the best course of action was to conceal the embarrassing lapse -- for the sake of the President's security, you understand.
Not out of any grubby desire to hide the embarrassing lapse.
I'm not saying that's what did happen * -- I'm just saying that when personal advantage can be argued to align with ethical imperative, people are very eager to believe such arguments, and convince themselves that they're right.
People tend to be very willing to agree with their own interests. We're all pretty great at that.
That said, I don't expect these stories to go anywhere. The Secret Service does have a facially-plausible reason for downplaying these stories -- "We don't wish to give future attackers an insight into our response and the gaps in our security" -- and that will probably be enough to shut people up.
It's enough to shut me up, personally, and I'm a loudmouth.
I just hope that they're right about that being the actual best course of action, and they're not letting a desire to conceal their mistakes color their judgment.
* Intelligence services are prone to repeated mistakes because they always have an easy out: "Shut up and stop asking questions, because asking questions will compromise security."
But sometimes that sort of mindset precludes the sort of criticism and motivated response required to cure the original defect.
And so sometimes the cover-up results in a new crime -- or a new failure.
I'm sure that most of the time the CIA says "We're not answering that because it would compromise security," that is true, most of the time.
However, I'm equally sure that when the CIA is probed about a lapse in judgment, and it says, again, "We're not answering that because it would compromise security," that is false, a lot of the time.
Hmmm... wheatie has an interesting claim.
I know nothing at all about White House security, except from what I see on 24. (Best way to smuggle a bomb into the White House: recruit the Vice President into your terrorist cabal).
But wheatie says this:
That thing about the doors not being locked?
The doors have traditionally been left unlocked for security reasons!
That's because the Secret Service agents need to be able to have instant access to all areas...in the event of an emergency situation.
So if they are now going to start locking all the doors, it's going to create an impediment to the SS agents.
That kinda makes a whole lot of sense to me.
The real defense against a threat is not a locked door. It's a Secret Service agent.
Neil DeGrasse Tyson: Maybe You Can't Find That Anti-Muslim Quote I Claimed Bush Said in Any So-Called "Newspapers" or "Official Records," But I Cite the Highest Authority Possible for It: Me
That's a parody headline, but that's pretty much what he says:
Ignore the written record. My memory is an Awesome Thing that should not be easily contradicted.
Let's move on to the Bush quote, which is where things get really bad. To Seanís request that Tyson verify the quote heís been using against the former president, Tyson notes that September 11th affected him "deeply" and adds:I have explicit memory of those words being spoken by the President. I reacted on the spot, making note for possible later reference in my public discourse. Odd that nobody seems to be able to find the quote anywhere -- surely every word publicly uttered by a President gets logged.
Yes, surely, Doctor Science.
But you say you have an explicit memory! Well my stars and garters, I didn't know you had an explicit memory!
Explicit memories are scientifically proven to be much more reliable than plain ol' memories.
So ignore the evidence -- Take my word for it. I'm a Scientist.
He goes on to say:
FYI: There are two kinds of failures of memory. One is remembering that which has never happened and the other is forgetting that which did. In my case, from life experience, Iím vastly more likely to forget an incident than to remember an incident that never happened. So I assure you, the quote is there somewhere. When you find it, tell me. Then I can offer it to others who have taken as much time as you to explore these things.
I am infallible, so ignore the evidence as documented by thousands of disinterested reporters and transcribers in the government, who write down and publish the president's words every single day.
This is all terribly scientific.
Here's What I Know About Memory: I hate to argue with a Scientist, but what I've gathered from actual science is that "memory" is actually very misconceived. We think of it like the memory of a tape recording or video recording.
It's nothing of the sort. It is certain associations (probably involving some basic keywords, like elemental notions of basic nouns and basic concepts like "direction towards" or "direction away" and "happy" and "scared") networked together in the brain as having been implicated together at one time.
When we "remember," we do not replay a tape of past events in our brain. Instead, what we do is conjure up a new narrative, make a new story for ourselves, from the embedded and networked keywords and associations.
Memory changes over time, as we re-conjure images and experiences. Sometimes new parts get added, and others subtracted.
Sometimes we add new parts that were never part of the actual experience at all and make the "memory" about something that never actually even happened.
Surely Tyson is not so completely ignorant of cognitive science that he thinks an "explicit memory" is infallible...?
Even the way Tyson speaks is anti-scientific.
A long time ago, when I was a kid, I had a very explicit memory that a certain cartoon animal was a certain color.
I actually got in a physical fight with a friend over this animal's color. My friend said the animal was one color; but I had an explicit memory of it being a different color.
He was so stupid with his Wrong Color Naming that I got angry and we got to scrappin'.
A year later I saw the cartoon again.
The animal's color? Precisely the color my friend claimed it to have been.
Precisely not the color I had claimed it to have been.
The problem was that I was remembering part of one cartoon animal -- his type, his name, his basic shape and silhouette -- but then remembering a different cartoon animal's color.
My memory glitched, and put together three correct associations (type, name, shape) with a fourth erroneous association (color).
When did this happen? Why did neurons get crossed here?
Who knows -- maybe one time when I re-conjured the image of the cartoon animal, I forgot the color, and my brain, seeking to fill in the blanks, took the color from another cartoon animal. Having a "void" in the memory bank for color, my brain took its best guess and filled the animal's shape with what seemed a plausible color.
And then, whenever I "remembered" that cartoon animal, I "remembered" the three correct attributes with the one false attribute my brain had conjured up in a pinch.
Anyway, as a six-year-old boy, I learned something about memory that the World's Greatest Scientist Neil DeGrasse Tyson is still ignorant of.
So TV Is Pretty Much Just for Women Now, Right?
Just looking at the new TV shows -- Madame Secretary, How to Get Away With Murder, Forever, etc. -- it seems almost of all of them are pitched chiefly to appeal to women.
Something similar happened in the movies. 16-to-25 year old males bought most movie tickets. So studios started making more and more movies targeting 16-to-25 year old males. This led to people outside of this demographic buying even fewer tickets -- which meant that an even greater fraction of tickets were bought by males 16 to 25, making it more important to make movies for males 16 to 25, and so on.
Well, from what I'm seeing on TV, it appears that women watch more TV than men (at least more scripted shows), so TV is pitching itself harder to harder to women, thus making men even less likely to watch, thus making it even more important to appeal to women, etc.
Something like this already happened with print fiction -- women, I think, were always better readers than men, and furthermore enjoyed fiction more. So publishers bought more female-skewing novels, thus making it less likely men would buy novels.
And so on. You know the breakdown of novel purchases by gender? Women buy 80% of novels; men buy 20%.
This isn't really a complaint so much as an observation.
Back when I was a younger man, I didn't complain that a suspiciously large number of films seemed designed to appeal to me. I just accepted my good fortune.
(Well, I don't know if I should call it "good fortune." For every Die Hard, there were eight Erasers and four Hard Targets.)
Now that I'm older, most movies aren't for me (I'm a little tired of the Talented but Rebellious Young Man Must Accept His Destiny of Being Awesome character arc) and very few novels and apparently no TV shows at all.
The only TV shows "for men" seem to be those designed to appeal to both sexes equally -- dumb reality shows like Survivor, procedurals-mixed-with-personal-drama like Elementary, and general-audience sitcoms like Big Bang Theory.
The only single scripted TV show -- a single fiction -- whose intended audience is primarily male I can think of is Game of Thrones. But that wound up appealing to women, and if I were to guess, I'd say that women probably made up the majority of the audience.
Again, I'm not really complaining. This seems to be explainable by operation of market forces (with the addition of a vicious cycle whereby the smaller part of the audience becomes smaller and smaller still as the industries pitch to the larger potential audience).
It's not a conspiracy, and it's not really even "political."
Still, if we live in a world where each and every "Gender Gap" must be shrieked about and endlessly discussed as "problematic" (and we do live in precisely such a world) -- how about doing a little shrieking for the poor underserved male potential TV audience?
Commenters Point Out Additional Male-Skewing Shows-- mostly on cable channels, and mostly on FX (or FXX, whatever). Archer and Always Sunny are definitely male-appealing; commenters say "The League" is too.
But these are on a fairly minor cable channel, and certainly it doesn't look like new shows are being pitched to the male audience.
(Update: Oops, someone pointed out Adam Baldwin's vehicle (ahem), The Last Ship. Okay, that counts as "new." But still, on TNT.
Okay, you can point out a few male-skewing shows -- but not many.)
#GamerGate Angle: While the Social Justice Warriors complain mightily that video games seem to feature many more male heroes than female ones, and seem skewed to male tastes as a general matter -- I don't hear the Social Justice Warriors crusading for male-skewing fictions in print or on TV.
Seems the SJWs gladly take their advantages where they find them (that is, in entertainments designed to appeal to their gender identity) and then cry an awful lot because one particular entertainment niche (video games) is still skewed towards male tastes.
FBI: Oklahoma Beheading of Woman by Jihadist is Obviously Just a Case of Workplace Violence
I wondered last week if the media would completely cover up this story, as they embargoed the Jihadist Serial Killer in Seattle.
I forgot to ask if the FBI would, too.
They're Now Building... Shipping-Container Apartments
The shipping containers are specced out with interior walls and plumbing and such and then they're just stacked on top of each other to form an apartment complex.
In the sci-fi novel Ready Player One, the very poor protagonist lived in a place called "The Stacks," which were just mobile homes stacked one upon the other (to save space, because of overpopulation and the impossibility of poor folks owning any actual property), then laced together with ramshackle fire escapes.
I thought that was a cute attempt to hyperbolize the drama of the poor, but a dumb one. An interesting image, but there's no way that would happen.
Well, something like that is happening. Shows what I know.
The Proper Use of Pronouns, As Demonstrated by Barack Obama
Demonstration One: The Second-Person Singular Pronoun "You."
Barack Obama: "All around the country, wherever I see folks, they always say, oh, Barack, we're praying for you -- boy, you're so great; look, you got all gray hair, you looking tired. (Laughter.) We're praying for you. Which I appreciate..."
Demonstration Two: The Third-Person Plural Pronoun "They."
The United States underestimated the rise of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, President Obama said during an interview, to be broadcast Sunday night, in which he also acknowledged the Iraqi armyís inability to successfully tackle the threat.
According to transcript from Sunday's "60 Minutes" on CBS interview, correspondent Steve Kroft referred to comments by James Clapper, the director of national intelligence, in which he said, "We overestimated the ability and the will of our allies, the Iraqi Army, to fight."
"That's true. That's absolutely true," Obama said. "Jim Clapper has acknowledged that I think they underestimated what had been taking place in Syria."
Demonstration Three -- INCORRECT Usage of the Third-Person Singular Pronoun "He."
Reached by The Daily Beast after Obamaís interview aired, one former senior Pentagon official who worked closely on the threat posed by Sunni jihadists in Syria and Iraq was flabbergasted. "Either the president doesnít read the intelligence he's getting or he's bull****ing," the former official said...
Kidding aside, Geraghty then (in the second link) demonstrates the various warnings the intelligence committee has made about Iraq and Syria.
Thanks to JustTheTip and @comradearthur.
For Further Consideration:
Historical Demonstration: The Proper Use of The First Person Plural Pronoun "We."
"We got him." -- Barack Obama commenting upon the killing of Osama bin Ladin
Speculating Bloggers: Hong Kong Protesters Are Using "Hands Up" Posture in Conscious Echo of Ferguson, MO
People Who Bother To Do Their Jobs and Ask Questions: No They're Not
Why does this keep happening? Is every single stray thought, twitter speculation, and phantom bridge in Israel breaking news for Vox?
Incidentally, did they really imagine the "hands up" posture was something unknown to the wider world until Ferguson protesters began using this?
Seems very provincial to me -- conceiving of the world as having the same agendas and reference points as American bloggers who either live in Brooklyn or intend to move there ASAP.
Thanks to @benk84. Just a quick one as a slumpbuster.
Updated: This wasn't just Vox claiming this pulled-out-of-the-ass speculation as fact -- it was a lot of the media, including a blogger for the WaPo and, naturally, MSNBC.
And in daylight, painted 9 years later. These two pictures look different because of a problem with viewing art on the internet I brought up a while back. Unless you see it for yourself, there is no way to know which of these is closer to the original.
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Monday Morning News Dump
- Five Reasons You're Too Dumb To Vote
- The Revolution Will Be Internalized
- The Neil Degrasse Tyson Saga Continues
- Remember, The Left Wants Government Out Of Your Bedroom
- The Khorosan Group Does Not Exist
- New Iraqi Comedy Makes Light Of ISIL
- It's Not The Crime, It's The Cover Up
- How Important Is Your Vote?
- Republican Ersnt Pulls Ahead In Iowa Senate Race
- A New Border Surge Opens Us To A New Wave Of Diseases
- Frances Far Right Grabs First Ever Senate Seats
- This Is A Great Man
- Are There Really 3,000 ISIS Jihadis?
- This Last Weekend Was The End Of Saturday Morning Cartoons Being Aired On Network TV
Top Headline Comments 9-29-14
I missed this great rebuttal last week to Democratic claims that Obamacare is just hunky-dory.
Greg Orman, the dude running against GOP Sen. Pat Roberts in Kansas, is a complete coward. When asked who he would caucus with in the Senate, he now answers, "It's not in the best interests for us to say that." His answers on other issues are as vague.
Pro-democracy demonstrations continue in Hong Kong.
Another former TV property hit it big at the box office.
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Overnight Open Thread 9/28/14 (tmi3rd)
Hi there, Morons and Moronettes. Maetenloch is tied up with other things at the moment, but my understanding is that itís not contagious and the burning sensation should clear up fairly quickly.
Letís get the bad news out of the way firstÖ
Bieber To Voice KITT In New Hasselhoff Film, Confirming Apocalypse
Per Yahoo! and The Insider, this is actually a thing that is happening as part of a quid pro quo between the Biebs and the Hoff. The latter evidently appeared in one of the singer's videos, so now he's calling in the favor, all of which is explained in the Insider segment that you can watch here. Please note that watching it will make you feel as if you were just lobotomized with a pick axe, so consider yourselves warned.
Is This A Thing?
On the left, Dwyane Wade. On the right, Cam Newton. Note the shoes.
Iím just asking, is this a thing? If it is, thatís worse than the short suits that were being pushed earlier this season.
This ONTís Edition OfÖ
Itís podcast pimping night.
The first one is from our buddy UCFGoose, and itís for vapers (folks who are e-cigging to quit smoking)Ö itís titled The RAW DEAL with UCFGOOSE, and it runs on Thursdays from 10 PM-midnight Eastern. Itís delivered from the Moron perspective, so check it out if youíre so inclined.
Two other podcasts of note can be found over at the NewsNinja site... our friends PolitiBunny and Texas Uncle Sam have their podcasts back-to-back on Thursday, at 9 PM and 10 PM Eastern, respectively.
You can fight over who you listen to on whatever given Thursday itís convenient to do so, but please, support our Morons!
Oh, and on a programming note- our friends over at Hookers & Booze are going to be down for a while while they retool their site. Their content (which can be VERY NSFW- youíve been warned) can be found here. Check Ďem out if youíre so inclined.
Disturbing, Disturbing, DisturbingÖ
The Secret Service took five days to realize a gunman had fired several rifle rounds into the White House.
A contract-labor IT worker crippled the Chicago air traffic route center with a knife, a gas can, and a lighter.
Hospitals are largely unprepared to handle Ebola waste
One of the things thatís really concerning about the culture thatís sort of set in over the past few years has been this indifference to incompetence and a lack of attention to detail. Regarding the Secret Service- nobody reading this blog regularly is a fan of TFG, but an attack on him is an attack on all of us. The Secret Service HAS TO BE THE BEST AT WHAT THEY DO, period.
With the air traffic situation- nobody could have seen this coming, but this cat WRECKED Chicago Centerís operations, and thereís a lot of stuff thatís got to be fixed before Chicagoís airspace can get back up to speed. That means that nobodyís adequately securing sensitive gear, and itís not just in Chicago.
Finally, with regards to Ebola- I canít go into detail what all has gone wrong with the Ebola response both overseas and domestically (itíll come out fairly shortly), but issues that should have been resolved in terms of communication and chain of command on the heels of 9/11, Katrina, and a few other incidents are still problematic.
With a contagion as lethal as Ebola is (and there are a few other bugs that are just as nasty out there), indecision and poor communication will get people killed. This has been a hallmark of federal response for well over a decade, and thatís simply not acceptable.
On An Equally Serious and Thoughtful NoteÖ
If you havenít read Aceís take on why the GOP sucks, please go give it a look. While youíre at it, youíll also want to take a look at David Druckerís piece on why Senate races come down to the wire. Finally, Carol Brown points out that being pissed off at the GOP establishment isnít a good reason to stay home.
Iím of this mind about it: I think Ace is right in that the Republican Party is not a conservative party, no matter how it may be portrayed. As such, expecting conservative, or even libertarian, governance out of them is a mistake.
The culture isnít on our side right now, and thatís something that needs to not be overlooked. A potential Senate flip is not happening because our side has effectively sold our point of view, but because the other side has screwed things up so badly that much of the country has nowhere else to go. Losing sight of that is a sure path to defeat in the long term.
Douthatís piece is a good lesson in coalition-building, but the categories it creates are debatable. Druckerís piece is a bit more poignant in that it points out that voter intensity will drive the results much more than polling will.
Republicans are panicking because donations arenít coming in, and they donít seem to realize that nobodyís going to donate to an empty hole just for the sake of donating. A good example is in KansasÖ this should be a safe seat, but due to an indifferent and lazy incumbent, the Democrat running as an independent is playing with a solid lead. For good measure, it would appear that the liberal wing of the Kansas GOP is about to toss Sam Brownback out for the sin of governing as a conservative. What reason would any principled conservative have to give money to the party?
Conversely, Carol Brownís piece begs everyone to get involved and give money. I appreciate her point that Democrats holding the Senate does not help our side at all, and I agree with it. That said, itís hard for me to get excited about helping out a group that seems so openly dismissive of my best interests.
My boy Blackiswhite, Imperial Consigliere and I were talking about this last nightÖ his stance is to starve the beast in terms of finances and in terms of votes, and thatís not an unreasonable stance under the circumstances. I canít get behind that stance because I feel like itíd be abandoning any voice in the state of things. Itís still frustrating, because it does feel futile a lot of the time, but...
At the moment, Iím going to go ahead and pull the lever for our side in the election, but I canít and wonít spend my time and money to help these guys out. I havenít made the decision to openly ignore GOP candidates in elections, but Iím done with people who swear they wonít do that in my mouth.
Tonight's Musical Selection
W.A.S.P. are one of these hair bands that have some talent to go with their hairspray and makeup. Most people do it wrong when they cover The Who, but they got this one dead right.
And Tonight's Cartoon Selection
Old school, yo.
You crazy kids have fun, and play nice! Thanks for reading.
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What A Bargain! - [Niedermeyer's Dead Horse]
A couple of weeks ago I spotted a $5 cell phone holder which attaches to a car's air conditioning vent. Yesterday I finally got around to opening the package and installing it in the car. It took approximately .5 seconds for me to decide that it had to come out. So, 5 minutes later, pliers in hand, I broke off the clips and tossed the entire device. $5 down the drain.
Marketeers (yes. I call them marketeers) know that there is a break-point at which a customer will make the effort to return a bad product and, for many people, $5 ain't it.
So, think about it. How much money do you suppose you have wasted buying bad products? How's your luck with As-Seen-On-TV products?
Is there anything you've purchased which exceeded your expectations?
Just a curiosity.
Some of my favorite purchases of the non-infomercial variety include, well, besides my handbags and shoes, a 4' scaffold for about $80 and a coffee table I picked up from a thrift store for $25.
What are some of your favorites?
Food Thread: Beerslinger Returns! A Beer Primer[CBD]
Now here I go dropping science about beers; ales and lagers.
Well...maybe we can skip the science, what with all the postulating theorems formulating equations, this is, after all, a primer, and, it's a Sunday.
Ales and lagers are the two broad categories of beer. Each of these categories offer a variety of styles. The basic differences are the yeasts used and the temperatures at which these yeasts are fermented.
The bitterness, sweetness of the beer, colors and alcohol content range in a large spectrum for both, ales and lagers.
Ale yeasts are fermented at warmer temperatures which cause the yeast to ferment on the top of the beer. Lagers are known as bottom fermenters as the cooler temperatures allow the yeasts to ferment at the base. Kind of like crayfish, carp and career politicians. Please, no offense intended to you lager lushes out there and /or career politicians.
Ale flavors tend to express more fruity and spicy notes which are derived from the warmer fermentation of the yeasts. However, lagers can also be fairly full bodied, such as is found in wheat beers with notes of cloves or bananas.
For the most part, lagers are clean, crisp and refreshing.
With lagers your going to taste more of the grains and some hops.
With the ales, your tasting mostly the yeasts and hops.
It's not science, it's just beer (unless you're a brewer).
So, which do you prefer? And, what style of that category does the horde prefer?
This is from Cooks Country, which is a solid, if irritating (they want your credit card #!) site for fail-safe recipes.
For a substantial crust, don't break up the Melba toasts too much, and coat the chops well with mayonnaise. Although an instant-read thermometer takes the guesswork out of determining when the meat is done, you can use the "nick-and-peek" method: Use a paring knife to make a slit in the top of the pork chop and take a look at the meat's interior. The Melba crumbs can be made weeks in advance and stored in the freezer. Applesauce is a natural with these chops.
1 (5-ounce) box Melba toast , broken into rough pieces
1/2 teaspoon table salt
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/8 teaspoon sugar
6 tablespoons mayonnaise
4 center-cut boneless pork chops , 3/4 inch to 1 inch thick (each 6 to 7 ounces), patted dry with paper towels
1. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 425 degrees. Place Melba toast pieces, salt, garlic powder, onion powder, paprika, thyme, and sugar in heavy-duty zipper-lock freezer bag. Seal bag and pound with heavy blunt object (such as a rolling pin) until Melba toasts are crushed but still have some crumbs the size of small pebbles. Add 2 tablespoons mayonnaise to bag and work mayonnaise evenly into crumb mixture by gently squeezing outside of bag. Transfer Melba crumb mixture to large plate.
2. Using your fingers, coat 1 chop with 1 tablespoon mayonnaise. Transfer to plate with Melba crumbs, sprinkle top of pork chop with some Melba mixture, and press down firmly on chop to adhere crumbs. Flip chop and repeat, making sure that thick layer of crumbs coats both sides and edges. Transfer breaded pork chop to baking rack set over rimmed baking sheet. Repeat with remaining chops.
3. Bake pork chops until juices run clear and instant-read thermometer inserted into center of chop registers 145 to 150 degrees, 16 to 22 minutes. Remove chops from oven and let rest on rack for 5 to 10 minutes. Serve immediately.
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Gaming Thread 9/28/2014
—Gang of Gaming Morons!
Been playing quite a bit of Archeage this past week (level 33). Game is not a looker but it's been a lot of fun and the amount of stuff you can do is pretty good.
So Steam finally unveiled the long talked about updates to the store. And IMO, I wish they could go back as it's a mess of a front page. People thought it had a problem with content finding and they made that worse.
I do like the curated store feature though which I've started to tinker around with and created one for the Ace of Spades HQ. The 152 character limit still sucks though, pain in the ass to say why I think a game is good and worth buying in Twitter speak. Only 10 games so far on it and it's a bit all over the place. I'll be adding more when I have the time. If you think I should throw anything in there, just post it in the comments.
"Current" gen has finally kicked off on the PC as Bethesda is asking for 4GB cards to play The Evil Within
And Warner Brothers is asking for 6GB cards to play Shadow of Mordor with "Ultra" textures.
As for what they will actually require will make benchmarks very interesting
I'm keeping away from the P&P games even though there are some really good ones (Call of Cthulhu,, Vampire The Masquerade and Deadlands being the predominate ones around here) as I was hoping to keep it in a day at most time frame for it's gametime (like I've got a campaign of Call of Cthulhu I'm in that is 12 years running vOv).
Gloom (2 - 4 players, try for 4) - You can play classic fast paced original version (with expansions) which is very casual friendly and makes for a perfect game over drinks or you can go with the Cthulhu version which adds a few wrinkles to it's game play like having to finish a story instead of killing your family and it adds some modifiers to your family members. I think the original version plays better as it's a faster pick up and play but I tend to always be outvoted and stuck playing this. Though I prefer the original, you can't go wrong with either as it's a good little diddy that won't break your pocketbook.
Space Hulk (2 players) - The seminal board game. One plays as the Blood Angels and the other as Genestealers in a really fast paced turnbased action point game. The game play is very tight and like all Games Workshop games, very modular with tons of missions. I hate to have this on the list as it's expensive but Games Workshop has just the 4th edition which you can still pick up for it's retail price of $125 (which is cheap in comparison to how much the other releases cost these days). SPACE HULK!!!
Elder Sign (1 - 8, over 4 players makes the mechanics go a bit sideways) - Yeah, it's not the best game in the series (Eldrich Horror is better than Arkham Horror) but it fits my need of something a bit lighter and as much as I like the more in-depth actions you get in Eldrich, Elder Sign keeps people attention when drinking. It's Clue with an active endgame with a ton of dice rolling. If there is a knock against it, it's that you will quickly need pick up the expansions as there isn't too much
Call of Cthulhu (2 players) - Gameplay wise, it's roots as a standard CCG (collectable card game) is obvious as it's pretty standard in it's resource building but it's all in the flavor of a tightly wrapped telling of Cthulhu mythos. That being said, it's very expansion heavy and they're needed to get the most out of it. That being said, I prefer the LCG (living card game) method of instead of buying packs to build your decks, you just buy the expansions.
Betrayal at House on the Hill (3-6 players) - This game is a pain in the ass to give an quick quip on it's gameplay (less confusing and somewhat stripped down Mansions of Madness). I'm going to leave it to Dice Tower with their review
Last Night on Earth (2 - 6 players, more the better) - If you want a zombie game, this is pretty much it (can't recommend Zombies! this this game out there and I personally didn't like Zombicide). It's a straight up survival game where the last person alive or who completes the missions wins. IMO, the most fun is when you're playing as the zeds. It's fun, it's easy to learn and it's fast paced where you don't lose any interest
Zombie Fluxx (2 - 6, four or five players is the sweet spot IMO) - It's Fluxx, just with a different theme and I'm a big fan of Fluxx over beers with it's fast paced off the wall brand of craziness. Draw cards and play one which will change the rules to the game. There are a ton of themes if you don't want zombies (or Cthulhu), personally the one me and my friends play the most is the Monty Python deck though the Star Fluxx deck is supposed to be pretty good.
Werewolves of Millers Hollow (8-18, bare minimum is 12 with another as moderator IMO) - Straight up, I've only played this four times as you need an insane amount of people for this to work but this game is a serious hoot if you can round up the people. It's a basic whodunit. Give out random roles (townsfolk, werewolves and special people who have abilities). Werewolves kill a person at night and the townsfolk during the day pick a person and kills them. Yeah, that's it to the game and it's some of the most simple fun around with a large group. After playing it, it's quick to understand why this was up for a Spiel des Jahres award.
Munchkin Cthulhu (3 -6 players) - It's Munchkin but cthulhu themed. Is there much else to say, don't know many people who have never played Munchkin before? It's hard not to have fun playing one of the games. I don't know what else to say really, it's Munchkin.
Dungeons & Dragons: Castle Ravenloft (1 - 5 players, wouldn't play it solitaire though) It's a stripped down version of D&D 4E in a tile laying dungeon crawler without a DM (rules act as DM). I dunno, it's pretty easy to pick up if you've ever played D&D before. The game is pretty damn hard though with it's non-stop waves of encounters. Pretty much every turn your probably going to be fighting something and you will die. That being said, it's a good gateway to proper Pathfinder playing for kids. Not my favorite dungeon crawling game (Loot & Scoot holds that distinction) but it's a damn good one.
And totally not horror related but
And when ever I talk about board/card games, I am always compelled to say that there is never a bad time to bust out the greatest card game ever made, Tichu. It's a 4 player trick taking game built with poker hands and 4 tiered Jokers. And like Spades, it's totally cool to blame your partner if you find yourself down $80 at the end of the night.
Lord of The Rings: Shadow of Mordor (PC, PS4, XBO, 360, PS3) - I didn't expect much from this open world Assassin's Creed/Arkham Asylum game but the reviews are outstanding for it and I'm pretty sure I'm going to be picking this one up.
Forza Horizon 2 (XBO & 360) - Sad that this is the closest we're going to get to a new Project Gotham Racing but it's a good series so far. First game was really good and the demo of the second game was quite a bit of fun for an arcadey racer. That being said, racing really is one of the three genres that needs to be 60FPS (fighting, racing and shmups). At least the soundtrack is great top to bottom.
Super Smash Bros. (3DS) - Also coming to the Wii U (supposed to be right before Black Friday). Early impressions have been good if you like the series (I personally have never liked Super Smash Buttons) and it looks okay graphically. Eh
Crimes & Punishments: Sherlock Holmes (PC, 360, PS3, XBO, PS4) - New game from Frogwares where there is no middle ground on if this Sherlock Holmes game is good (Awakening, Jack The Ripper) or bad (Earring, Baskerville). At least they finally upgraded to UE3 though it's lead to a "gritty" Sherlock Holmes.
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Weekend Travel Thread: Funny Bone Edition [Y-not]
Greetings morons and moronettes!
While we all nervously scan the German newspapers for signs of moronette, HR's, arrest for disorderly conduct at Oktoberfest, how about a few chuckles?
Courtesy of Travel and Leisure, here are some funny signs you might encounter while on your travels. As co-author of the Garden Thread, I like this one:
(I'd hate to see the dogs in that neighborhood!)
Courtesy of NomadicSamuel dot com, here's a list of recommended travel blogs known for their edgy humor. There are some good links there. Here's an excerpt from one of the recommended blogs, Johnny Vagabond, describing a trip to Bangkok:
I think I'm finally adapting to the heat and humidity here. By adapting, I mean that my entire body has transformed itself into a single, massive sweat gland.
Yesterday morning, as I dressed for my visit to the Amulet Market, I made the first mistake. I'd run out of clean underwear and decided to just go commando. I do it all the time at home, right? What could possibly go wrong?
My second mistake was wearing a fancy shirt I'd purchased from REI right before I left home. It was a high-dollar, high-tech, water-resistant short sleeve with an SPF of 30 (huh?). I think it even spoke Spanish. What it did not do, alas, was ventilate. At all. Wandering about the market in 96 degree temps and 100% humidity, I felt like I was wearing a $50 garbage bag.
I was soon drenched, with sweat running down my back and soaking my pants -- I looked like I'd been bobbing for apples with my ass. Eventually making my way onto the grounds of a quiet university, I found a bench in the shade, and sat awhile to cool off -- setting the scene for my third mistake...
Follow the link to read the horrifying rest.
I'm not a big reader. Years in academia may have burnt me out, particularly from long-form reading (novels, biographies). That said, when I read for pleasure I tend to gravitate to anthologies of short stories or writers who write in an episodic style (Wodehouse's "Jeeves & Wooster" books are amongst my favorites). I've noticed that travel books tend to fall in this category, so I tend to gravitate to them. I especially enjoy them when I'm traveling -- their episodic format makes excellent light reading.
Here's CNN's list of the Top 15 Travel Books of all-time (I've edited the content for length):
15. "The Sex Lives of Cannibals" (2004) By J. Maarten Troost
At age 26, Troost leaves the cushy city life and embarks on a two-year stint in the heat-blasted "end of the world" -- in this case, the equatorial Pacific atoll of Tarawa in the Republic of Kiribati.
14. "Vroom with a View" (2006) By Peter Moore
From Milan to Rome on a '61 Vespa nicknamed Sophia. If you understand the "Sophia" reference you'll appreciate not just where the Italy-intoxicated Moore goes, but where he's coming from.
13. "The Lost Continent" (1989) By Bill Bryson
The preeminent bard of genial travel laughs embarks on a 38-state tour in search of the vanishing small town America of his youth ... in his mother's aging Chevy Chevette.
12. "Coasting" (1999) By Dick Flinthart
A swaggering travel guide that takes in the good, the bad and the malignant features of 2,800 kilometers of Australia's East Coast.
11. "Killing Yourself to Live" (2005) By Chuck Klosterman
Extemporaneous pop culture critic Klosterman sets off on a U.S. cross-country road trip with a twin purpose: look up old girlfriends and visit the places where famed rockers, from Buddy Holly to Lynyrd Skynyrd to Kurt Cobain, met their tragic fates.
10. "Out of Sheer Rage" (1997) By Geoff Dyer
Some travel for discovery.
Some travel to for recreation.
Dyer travels for procrastination.
To put off writing a book about D.H. Lawrence, he roams the planet (Rome, Greece, Mexico, United States) in an elaborate stall.
9. "Queenan Country" (2004) By Joe Queenan
Charmed and discombobulated in equal measures, unapologetic Yank Joe Queenan travels through Old Blighty -- homeland of his wife and extended family -- to find out what makes the British tick.
8. "Are You Experienced?" (1997) By William Sutcliffe
The only novel on our list follows Brit gap-year bounder Dave on a hellish (for him) excursion to India, providing the author ample opportunity to spew murderously funny vitriol at unwashed backpackers, high-end package tourists, Intimate Yoga hucksters and over-solicitous locals.
7. "Into the Heart of Borneo" (1984) By Redmond O'Hanlon
True to the title, naturalist O'Hanlon, along with poet pal James Fenton and three native guides, makes his way up exotic jungle rivers into the forbidding interior of Borneo.
6. "Westward Ha!" (1947) By S.J. Perelman
The longtime "New Yorker" columnist's jaunty, round-the-world voyage by sea west from Hollywood to "all the areas celebrated by Kipling, Conrad and Maugham," then to the Middle East and Europe -- in all, 27 countries in nine months.
I've read several of the books on the list, including Bryson's although they overlooked my favorite, "Notes from a Small Island". Here's a brief excerpt from a chapter in which he describes his experiences at a run-down boarding house in Dover:
I'd intended to turn in early, but on the way to my room I noticed a door marked RESIDENT'S LOUNGE and put my head in. It was a large parlour, with easy chairs and a settee, all with starched antimacassars; a bookcase with a modest selection of jigsaw puzzles and paperback books; an occasional table with some well-thumbed magazines; and a large colour television. I switched on the TV and looked through the magazines while I waited for it to warm up. They were all women's magazines, but they weren't like the magazines my mother and sister read. The articles in my mother's and sister's magazines were always about sex and personal gratification. They had titles like `Eat Your Way to Multiple Orgasms', `Office Sex - How to Get it', `Tahiti: The Hot New Place for Sex' and `Those Shrinking Rainforests - Are They Any Good for Sex?' The British magazines addressed more modest aspirations. They had titles like `Knit Your Own Twinset', `Money- Saving Button Offer', `Make This Super Knitted Soap-Saver' and `Summer's Here - It's Time for Mayonnaise!'
The programme that unfolded on the television was called Jason King. If you're of a certain age and lacked a social life on Friday evenings in the early Seventies, you may recall that it involved a ridiculous rake in a poofy kaftan whom women unaccountably appeared to find alluring. I couldn't decide whether to take hope from this or be depressed by it. The most remarkable thing about the programme was that, though I saw it only once more than twenty years ago, I have never lost the desire to work the fellow over with a baseball bat studded with nails.
Towards the end of the programme another resident came in, carrying a bowl of steaming water and a towel. He said, `Oh!' in surprise when he saw me and took a seat by the window. He was thin and red-faced and filled the room with a smell of liniment. He looked like someone with unhealthy sexual ambitions, the sort of person your PE teacher warned that you would turn into if you masturbated too extravagantly (someone, in short, like your PE teacher).
What are your favorite books about travel? Do you have any funny stories to share?
To close things up, here's Monty Python's take on air travel:
Which one is Ace?
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OK Horde, here's your chance to tell me I'm wrong [WeirdDave]
Or right, I dunno, that's why I'm asking. I have this buddy on Facebook. Good guy, good friend, I like him a lot. He's an ex-nuc, if you've ever read Blind Man's Bluff, his boat was the subject of one of the stories in the book (he won't tell me which one, which is how it should be). In spite of the fact that he glows gently in the dark, I respect him a great deal.
Which is why I was surprised when he posted a link to this article and indicated his approval. If you don't want to click the link, the article was published at Talking Points Memo, it's from a group of former service members who work for The Truman Project (A Soros funded non-profit), who are outraged, just outraged, that Greg Gutfield made a pun on The Five. They were discussing the female pilot from the UAE who led one of the airstrikes in Syria. Greg referred to it as "boobs on the ground" and one of his co-commentators made a joke about her having trouble parking the airplane when she got back. This, apparently, is the greatest outrage since the Holocaust. I replied:
Couldn't disagree more. If it was on a newscast? Maybe. The Five is a humorous, satirical commentary show. Notice who is doing the complaining: The Truman Project, one of George Soros' web of non-profits dedicated to advancing left wing causes. This is all part of the coordinated effort to manufacture an imaginary "war on women" leading up to the mid terms, a desperate attempt to distract people from the fact that 6 years of "progressive" governance has been a disaster. I know more than one female member of the armed forces, and any one of them would reply "Goddamn right we needed boobs on the ground, you swinging dicks weren't getting it done".
He responded no, he found it offensive, and furthermore, the UAE stuck their necks out by having a woman lead the attack, they are sure to be monitoring American news outlets, and stuff like this wasn't doing us any favors with a much needed diplomatic and military ally. (I'm not quoting him because I don't have permission to, but I am trying to present his arguments honestly as he made them).
I thought about this. I thought about it for a day, as I said, this is a friend and I respect his opinion. Ultimately I came back with:
I've thought long and hard about this. LOL, really, I have, which is why I didn't reply immediately last night. I respect your intelligence and point of view, so I wanted to consider what you're saying seriously. There have been news reports that the pilot's family have disowned her, which is a shame, because by all reports she performed admirably. I'm still going to have to say that in my opinion, you're wrong. There are two issues here.
#1, I stand by my initial assessment, this is all Proggy theater, designed to manipulate emotions for elections and nothing else.. I don't think I could put it better than a currently deployed buddy of mine put it when I asked him about the linked article:
"Tell em to gimme a callback when they REALLY esteem and love our armed forces and don't see them as Nazis and torturing kill-bots, or alternatively as dead-end inner city minority yutes that were too stupid to get a job at the Post Office. Libs give a fuck about military people until(sic-when) they can see them as victims, like here, when they're all for women in combat, but won't tolerate some mean boys being rude to them."
#2, regarding your last post, I have no doubt that UAE officials watched closely, and were probably outraged at Gutfield's joke. To that I say "So what". You seem to be rehashing the Terry Jones argument. One of the core values of being an American is the First Amendment. You, and I, and Greg Gutfield, have the absolute right to say any stupid thing that comes to mind. That statement may be offensive, funny, crude or ridiculous. It doesn't matter. The right to say it is a core principle. If we start censoring or monitoring people for exercising that right, we lose what it means to be Americans. If the UAE wants our might on their side, they have to accept that. They just might to want to take a moment to consider why we have such might, and they don't.
Finally, I would note that while the folks who signed the Soros article you linked did serve in the armed forces (I assume, I'm taking that as a given, although I wouldn't put it past Soros to invent people to suit his needs. A Jew who made his fortune by profiting off sending other Jews to the gas chamber is not exactly an.....unimpeachable source in my book), that doesn't give them any special insight. I honor their service, and thank them for it. That doesn't mean they are immune from being full of shit.
So, that's it. Am I off base here? I might be, Lord knows I'm frequently an idiot. Why, just last winter when I was licking a flagpole, an entire group of people gathered around and castigated me. That was hurtful. In this case, I don't think so, but I might be, as I said, my friend is someone I respect a great deal. When someone like that tells me I'm out of line, I have to consider seriously that they might be right. What say y'all?
Close it up