Sunday salmagundi

Turner Classic Movies does the year-end obituary reel better than anybody else. The Academy ought to just borrow this for Oscar night.

• Call it solidarity, call it justice, or common decency, or the Golden Rule, or karma, or fear of karma — but whatever you want to call it, don’t even think about going to McDonald’s on Christmas day.

• It would be really neat if Esquire made it possible to read Charlie Pierce’s blog without their website freezing and crashing one’s browser. About the only good thing I can find to say about Esquire’s website is that it’s very slightly more reader-friendly than their abominable mobile site for Kindle.

• #progGOD: A host of thoughtful responses to Tony Jones’ latest question: “Why an incarnation?

The Englewood Review of Books collects the “Worst Christian Book Covers of 2012.”

• The Obama administration takes action to save children’s lives — and in this case it’s not about gun control. (Soot kills quietly, but it kills.)

• “I’m not a gynecologist, but …” said the conservative male judge. And then it got worse. Much, much worse.

• Here’s a recent headline from Religion News Service: “Contraception opponents hail DC court ruling.” Who are these “contraception opponents”? One is Wheaton College, whose president has said he thinks that the pill causes abortions. (It doesn’t, but his biology department is not free to correct him.)

White evangelicals are turning Catholic on birth control. In 10 years, the transformation will be as complete as it is with abortion. In another 20 years, who knows — celibate clergy? Transubstantiation?

Matt Yglesias on Apple TV — anybody else going this route TV-wise? How’s that working for you?

Lord lift me up, and let me stand / By faith on heaven’s tableland …

• Mark Kleiman offers “Thirteen theses on cannabis policy.” It’s a brief, thoughtful rundown of the issues involved in prohibition/legalization. And it made me think of Hal Incandenza.

• Blasphemy laws are always themselves blasphemous. Free Alber Saber.

• Your tax dollars at work: “The grand chamber of the European court of human rights unanimously found that Mr. el-Masri was subjected to forced disappearance, unlawful detention, extraordinary rendition outside any judicial process, and inhuman and degrading treatment.”

• “The Queen James Bible” seems like a product without an audience. Those who currently regard the Bible as an anti-gay textbook won’t read it. And those who don’t, don’t need it. But I do like the cover.

• Sad to see Shawn Smucker’s farewell blog post. He’s stepping away to focus on his non-blog writing instead of writing for us, for free. That’s inexcusably selfish, but if it means we may see more books and articles from Shawn, then I guess we’ll have to accept that. (Smucker’s new book, How to Use a Runaway Truck Ramp, is available in paperback and for Kindle.)

Rhetoric Race and Religion is a terrific group blog. It just got even better.

• A semi-serious examination of a semi-silly question: How do they grow grapes for wine in Westeros? “For wine you need grapes, and for grapes you need something Westeros does not have: Reliably changing seasons.”

• Hair clinic promises to give bald men Big Bangs.

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  • Sgt. Pepper’s Bleeding Heart

    I do know people who eat at McDonalds regularly because they can’t afford to eat anywhere else and spending the day at home is either unsafe or desparately unhappy. I also know a couple of people who spend a lot of time in McDonalds, drinking the coffee and doing the crossword in the free newspaper, because it’s clean, air-conditioned and there are other people around, and they are lonely and crave the sense of social inclusion. The “other viable options” that middle class people don’t look down their noses at don’t let them take up a booth nursing a coffee for a couple of hours at a time. McDonalds does.

  • Word on the “take up a booth” thing. I’ve seen a bunch of senior citizens take up a whole table and be there almost any time in the morning I pop round to the local McD’s for my own coffee. Heh.

  • Is this something that comes up often? I’d rather hope I was vaporized than have to deal with the aftermath of the collapse of civilization. Postholocaust is the one genre of SF I steadfastly refuse to read. 

  • All the retail, no-future jobs I’ve had pay at least time and a half for holiday pay, if not double rate. Just one data point, and HI is liberal enough that it’s actually probably state law. 

  • Westeros needs wine because it’s a hellish rape and murder fest for even the privileged, (try not to even think about how the commoners live)  Take away the booze and the story would be nothing but people jumping off cliffs to escape.  Never mind if it makes sense. 

  • Judge Johnson seems to be trying to compete with The (Dis)Honorable Durke G. Thompson for the title of Worst Rape Collaborator on the Bench. Hopefully he’ll be kicked off the bench before he can rack up a record as egregiously repulsive as Thompson’s, though.  The opening of his comment quoted above brings to mind one of the pithier of Heinlein’s “Excerpts from the Notebooks of Lazarus Long.”  Paraphrased for the occasion: “The correct way to punctuate a sentence that starts: ‘I’m not a gynecologist, but…’ is to place a period after the word ‘but.’ Don’t use excessive force in supplying such a moron with a period. Cutting his throat is only a momentary pleasure and is bound to get you talked about.”

  • Hence Rule 34 of the Internet: “Yes, there is porn of it, whatever it is.  No exceptions.”

  •  There really is no good place for a sentence to go after “I’m not a gynecologist, but…” You can manage “so” or “and”, but never “but”. Even the jokes you can get to from there are creepy and unfunny.

  • Carstonio

     How did I go for four decades without imagining or hearing about that concept?  I learned about it only from reading about the film Teeth, and I assumed the theme was simply the product of a screenwriter’s fecund imagination. Apparently it’s been part of folklore for a very long time. Sounds like a variation on Anchises fearing impotence after being seduced by Aphrodite.

  •  I always liked the TVTropes writeup of the concept, which explains the phenomenon by citing a Freudian analysis of the concept and the implications against cultural concepts of the woman as Other and the basic fraugtness of masculinity.

    And then it says “Another theory holds that it’s because having your dick bit off would really fucking hurt.”

  • Daughter

     Like anything, it’s always more complicated than that.

    For example, I grocery shopped on Christmas Day. I didn’t plan to originally. But here’s why.

    At church on Sunday, we learned about a New Year’s eve performance of “A Christmas Carol” by a new youth theater. This youth theater is trying to bring theater to kids who ordinarily can’t afford it, so it’s “pay as you can” for the families and they cover their costs by donations and ticket sales.

    My daughter wanted to go, so we went. We got out of the performance about 6:15 and drove toward our home, arriving at the local grocery story at 7:05 to pick up the last minute things we needed for Christmas dinner. It had just closed. Store employees stood by the door, telling people
    that they would be open on Christmas Day from 8 AM to noon.  Note, the theater performance wasn’t a part of our original plan, but we also didn’t know that the store was closing that early.

    Now, we were having Christmas dinner with my daughter’s best friend’s family. Her mom has some disabilities and her dad was recently laid off. So they couldn’t afford Christmas dinner. Their kids had diabetes and gluten allergies, so food shopping is expensive for them anyway. We wanted to make sure they had a great Christmas.

    So guess where I was on Christmas morning? At the grocery store, finishing my food shopping. The store was packed.

    So in order to support a theater for low-income kids, and help a family in need, I ended up needing to shop Christmas morning. Should I not have done so?

  • Daughter

     Oops, that should be “Christmas eve performance.”

  • Daughter

     Let me clarify as well: I’m agreeing with you, Sgt. Pepper. It’s not as easy to say, “You’re wrong if you [eat out, shop, etc.] on Christmas day.”

  • So in order to support a theater for low-income kids, and help a family in need, I ended up needing to shop Christmas morning. Should I not have done so?

    I’m sure you will be allowed to present evidence of that before the People’s Revolutionary Tribunal. Just make sure you talk fast; the comrades on the firing squad tend to have itchy trigger fingers and jump the gun when the kulaks launch into their long defenses.

  • AnonymousSam

    For that matter, me not going to McDonald’s is unlikely to convince McDonald’s not to bother opening for Christmas. It would probably take an almost complete worldwide boycott, causing their profit margin to drop into the red, to do that. After all, any profit is profit they wouldn’t have if they didn’t open that day.

    In a way, that almost makes me want to go there intentionally, just so that I could pass a tip to the staff. It’s not their fault they have to be there, and if they have to be there anyway, why not go out of my way to help make their day a little better?