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.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    Incidentally, the custom in Canada (usually enforced by law) is that people who have to work on recognized public holidays get overtime pay for the hours worked.

  • Jurgan

    If I go to a fast food restaurant on Christmas, I usually give a tip to the server.  It’s my way of trying to correct the unfairness.

  • Sgt. Pepper’s Bleeding Heart

    Incidentally, the custom in Canada (usually enforced by law) is that people who have to work on recognized public holidays get overtime pay for the hours worked.

    In Australia it’s the law for workers in certain industries to get penalty rates on gazetted public holidays. My father was a nurse so growing up he always worked night shifts on public holidays, which made a big difference to the take-home pay.

  • connorboone

    We’ve mostly cut the cord on our TV – we don’t need the cable company’s big DVR box and premium selections.  We’ve got basic issue, 50-channel cable (which gets us MSNBC and PBS, pretty much the only things we use it for) and a Roku.  With Netflix, Amazon’s rental service and Hulu, there’s not much we feel like we’re missing.

    It also cut our cable bill in half – and doubled our connection speed.

    We’re fans.

    (Of course, our recreational TV watching is tending towards some of Fred’s favorites – we’ve marathoned our way through Buffy and Angel, and we’re working on the X-Files now.)

  • hidden_urchin

    Apparently, that judge took a physiology course from Todd Akin.  Here’s hoping it does the same thing to his career.  He sure as hell shouldn’t be on the bench.

  • http://www.facebook.com/matt.mcirvin Matt McIrvin

    “Son, one day all this will be yours.”

  • http://twitter.com/mikailborg Michael O’Brien

    With my CD and DVD collections ripped to iTunes and shared to our AppleTV, and with Netflix, Hulu, YouTube, podcasts, and Internet radio all coming through it as well, we cancelled the video part of our FIOS after only a few months, and haven’t missed it at all.

  • http://twitter.com/mcclure111 mcc

    NEVER, EVER, *EVER* LOOK DIRECTLY AT A NUCLEAR EXPLOSION!

    WHY IS THIS SOMETHING I EVEN HAVE TO SAY?!

    WHY DO I HAVE TO SAY IT SO *OFTEN*?!

  • stardreamer42

    Over at the Englewood Review link, their #7 choice (Look-Alike Lawman) has a series tag of “Texas Twins” up at the top.
    The idea that identical-twin threesomes specifically set in Texas is
    enough of a kink to support a dedicated market line is mind-boggling. 

  • Sgt. Pepper’s Bleeding Heart

    Apropos of nothing above: the Sydney-based News Ltd tabloid, The Daily Telegraph, has named its “sportswoman of the year”. They passed over Sally Pearson, Olympic hurdles champion and world female athlete of the year, in favour of Black Caviar. A horse.

  • mb

    “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?”I think they should outdo the Catholics and turn all celibate. After all, it’s written in the Bible: “What I mean, brothers and sisters, is that the time is short. From now on those who have wives should live as if they do not …”

  • Busman

    Ah, working over Christmas … happy days at triple time! I volunteered every year. Doesn’t happen now … public transport in the UK closes, like most else.

  • http://twitter.com/Didaktylos Paul Hantusch

    What – like copulate with everything they can find that’s living, human and vaguely presentable?

  • fraser

     I know from Fred that the “rape doesn’t get you pregnant” has been around a long time. I’m curious if this has too, or if it’s just Justice Cheezewhiz for Brains’ crackpot theory.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Ann-Unemori/100001112760232 Ann Unemori

    One thing Chik-Fil-A does get right, closing for the holidays.
    If only their sandwiches weren’t so delicious…

  • hidden_urchin

    Here’s what the Huffington Post dug up after Akin made his infamous remark.

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/08/23/legitimate-rape-todd-akin-remarks_n_1823218.html

    I’d be interested in knowing where Mecklenburg got the idea.  Did it start with him or was there something from an earlier time floating around in the cultural cesspit that he seized?

  • http://twitter.com/shutsumon Becka Sutton

    With the rape doesn’t get you pregnant thing  could almost see where the idea came from. Almost. (The leap from “emotional stress can sometimes adversely effect female fertility” to “rape is stressful and therefore women can’t get pregnant from it” is one of hell of a leap and not one that could be made in good faith).

    But this… does he think we have vagina dentata or something? I mean I know UK law has a similar thing about female on male rape being impossible because simply having an erection was considered consent (also rape requires a penis apparently since any other kind of sexual violence is aggravated sexual assault – the law is strange) but *head tilt*

  • cjmr

    If I understood the McD’s article correctly, workers in company-owned McD’s don’t get overtime pay for working on Christmas.  Which, I suppose, means that workers in franchisee-owned McD’s are dependent on the benevolence of their franchise-owner.

    Personally, I can’t imagine being a franchise-owner and NOT paying employees extra for working on holidays.  But that is why I’m a ‘Poor Dad’ not a ‘Rich Dad’, if I understand correctly the economic philosophy expressed in the Rich Dad/Poor Dad books.

  • EllieMurasaki

    I suppose one could make an argument that it’s entirely fair if the people working Christmas are all Jews who got the High Holy Days off, or really any flavor of ‘Christmas is not part of my religious or cultural tradition’. But somehow I doubt that’s the case.

  • AnonaMiss

    Vagina dentata
    What a won-der-ful phrase
    Vagina dentata
    Ain’t no passin’ craze
    It means no wiener
    For the rest of your days
    It’s a penis-free
    Girl cavity
    Vagina dentata

    http://www.justsomebroad.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/01/vaginadentata.jpg

  • DorothyD

    I’d be interested in knowing where Mecklenburg got the idea.  Did it start with him or was there something from an earlier time floating around in the cultural cesspit that he seized?

    From that article, “In supporting his claim about trauma and ovulation, Mecklenburg cited experiments conducted in Nazi death camps.”

    Crimeny.

  • Tricksterson

    “I’m not a gynecologist” THEN SHUT THE FUCK UP!!  At least until you consult someone who is.

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

     I wonder if he just saw that CSI where they got a woman to admit she’d consented to sex with the murder victim by telling her that she didn’t have the right bruises for it to be rape. (Worse, they told her that she *did* have the bruises for it to have been rough-but-consentual)

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

     

    Personally, I can’t imagine being a franchise-owner and NOT paying employees extra for working on holidays.

    If you’re a franchise owner opting to stay open on christmas, you’re probably not in a healthy financial place, and that often leads to doing really assholeish things to save money.

  • Lori

    Jesus, that show. I can’t even. If I had a dollar for every time an episode of CSI had displayed the writers’ ignorance about sex (or their cynical willingness to play to audience members’ ignorance about sex) I’d have a nice little Christmas fund.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    If we step back a bit it can be seen how this fits in with an overall economic pattern seen since the 1970s. The declining rate of return in the real economy (first due to high energy costs, later due to increasing competition and the more lucrative rates of return from stocks and bonds) has led to ever-higher pressures for businesses to seek profit. This idea originates with Harry Shutt, by the way, not from me.

    One almost-inevitable consequence of this, he writes, has been the legalization of pornography as a (pardon the pun) growth industry, as well as greater tolerance of gambling as a source of private and state revenue.

    In addition, these pressures have led to drives to extract more revenue from 24-hour operation, or from opening longer hours, or even to opening on public holidays even when the law mandates paying higher wages.

    So really, all the assholishness inherent in making people work on days of rest (even when they are to be paid more and given an alternate day off later) is part and parcel of the fundamental drives inherent to capitalism itself: the need for profit to keep a business going.

  • EllieMurasaki

    Maybe I’m just fundamentally misunderstanding capitalism, but seems to me that a business that’s making enough money to pay whatever expenses of its land/rent/equipment, its supplies, and a living wage to all its employees (and any and all owners should be among the employees, rather than collecting money from the business for no reason–startup capital from an otherwise uninvolved party ought always to be a loan, and once the principal and reasonable interest are repaid, that party has no further interest in the business) is a business that is doing just fine. If the business brings in more money than that, it can look into expansion (increasing how many employees it has or how much it’s paying all its existing employees, or opening new locations, or research and development, or…) or it can lower its prices, or it can donate the money somewhere. Profit’s nice, but it shouldn’t be the driving force of, uh, anything.
    And stocks are so lucrative because their value is mostly disassociated from the companies whose names are attached to the stock.

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

     It is general business wisdom that all businesses are either growing or dying. There is no such thing, says business wisdom, as Holding Your Own.

    My former boss used to say “If you don’t grow, you die” at every single all-hands meeting, before explaining his aggressive growth strategies for the next quarter.

    Two years ago he sold the company to a huge corporation and eventually phased himself out.

    While my general inclination is just to dismiss this business wisdom as a load, it kinda is exactly how capitalism works. Constant growth at an ever-increasing rate is the only thing that prevents collapse. That’s why we consider it a recession not when the economy is getting smaller, but when the economy isn’t getting bigger fast enough.

  • The Ridger

    Seriously: who here thinks McDonald’s workers will put in 40 hours OVER working on Christmas? Overtime is not what you get paid for working a federal holiday, even if you’re a federal worker. Lots of places are open on Christmas, and I imagine a lot of those workers are glad to get a chance to take home some more pay that week instead of losing a day out of their more-than-likely already part-time salary.

  • EllieMurasaki

    Which…okay, if the population’s growing at a given rate and the business is trying to keep ahead of that rate even as the population growth rate increases, I guess that makes sense…it’s long past time we figure a way to collectively cut the population growth rate to nil, though, I don’t know how many people this planet can support but we’ve got to be near the limit.

  • hidden_urchin

    Yeah, I was thinking about that.  It seems more likely to me that Mecklenburg had a preconceived idea about rape and pregnancy and then searched out support rather than a scenerio in which he was reading through old Nazi reports and decided that they meant women who were raped could not get pregnant. 

    Maybe I just don’t want to think that anyone could look at something like that and think “you know, I think the Nazi’s were right; therefore…”

    Either way, if support for your demonstrably incorrect hypothesis includes Nazi experiments then maybe you need to rethink defending your position.  I would love it if our journalists actually bothered to point out the Nazi connection to the politicians and then ask for a response. 

  • BaseDeltaZero

    NEVER, EVER, *EVER* LOOK DIRECTLY AT A NUCLEAR EXPLOSION!

    WHY IS THIS SOMETHING I EVEN HAVE TO SAY?!

    WHY DO I HAVE TO SAY IT SO *OFTEN*?!

    I’m guessing the explosion already happened, and they’re just looking at the aftermath?  Mushroom clouds like that only form some time after the blast, at first, it just looks… well, a huge ball of plasma.

    Also, you probably have to say it so often because it’s not exactly a scenario that comes up very often in everyday life, and I can’t think of any means by which that is not a good thing.

    I’d be interested in knowing where Mecklenburg got the idea.  Did it start with him or was there something from an earlier time floating around in the cultural cesspit that he seized?

    Well, there was Galen back in the middle ages, who believed that the female reproductive system was essentially an inverted version of the male system, and therefore pregnancy could only occur if both partners achieved orgasm roughly simultaneously.

    From that article, “In supporting his claim about trauma and ovulation, Mecklenburg cited experiments conducted in Nazi death camps.”

    That’s how you know you’re dealing with quality research, that is.

    Which…okay, if the population’s growing at a given rate and the business is trying to keep ahead of that rate even as the population growth rate increases, I guess that makes sense…it’s long past time we figure a way to collectively cut the population growth rate to nil, though, I don’t know how many people this planet can support but we’ve got to be near the limit.

    Earth’s natural carrying capacity for humans is around a hundred million.  The thing is, agriculture just keeps bumping it up, and making it possible for more and more people to survive.

    I think the massive population growth of the 19th-20th centuries was basically an artifact of transition between a time when it was economically necessary to have lots of children to perform labor (and there was an enormous death rate) and the present when advances in science reduced mortality to a tiny fraction of what it was.  People kept having children at the old rates when it just wasn’t… logical, perhaps?  You can see the same sort of phenomenon in the developing world.  But now the birthrate is starting to even out – look at most of Europe, with its negative absolute population growth… I think we’ll see a trend towards equilibrium, as large families are no longer necessary…

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    http://www.amazon.com/Harry-Shutt/e/B001KDZJ52

    I can only suggest reading his books to get a fuller picture. Also I recommend this:

    http://www.amazon.com/Debt-Delusion-Threaten-Economic-Disaster/dp/0977079333/

    And of course anything by Krugman.

  • EllieMurasaki

    *eyes mile-long to-read list* I’ll get to them? Eventually?

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

     http://www.amazon.com/Trouble-Capitalism-Enquiry-Economic-Failure/dp/1848134223/ref=la_B001KDZJ52_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1356380924&sr=1-2

    Start with that one, I’d suggest.

  • EllieMurasaki

    *nods*

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    To try and give the ten-cent tour, the basic premise of left-wing analysis of capitalism has been the clear presence of increasing “squeezes” on the profit corporations can extract from the resources they command, paradoxically due to the very things they most clamor for – lesser regulation (which can only go so far before it becomes self-defeating), lower taxes (which also can only go so far), higher competition (which might seem like a great way to flatten competitors, but this can backfire, as Enron discovered), and so on.

    In short, the politico-economic environment, as “business-friendly” as it might have been since the 1980s, is creating conditions where businesses, in order to seize control of markets and extract profit from them, are finding themselves caught in a bind of their own making.

    1. On the one hand competition has been increased, due to deregulation of many sectors, as well as previously very poor (e.g. Southeast Asia) or closed-off countries (formerly centrally planned economies) opening up. The best example where this has proven to be a very mixed bag is airlines. Not a half-decade doesn’t go by now in which some big airline has its hand out for a bailout from somebody, be it the union foregoing wage increases, or the government to give them a break on fuel taxes, or even passengers giving up features previously taken for granted (such as the indignity of having to pay extra for half-assed airline food and paying extra for checked baggage).

    2. On the other hand, new markets have opened up with extremely speculative risks and rewards which divert working capital away from that part occupied by businesses which sell products to the public (the “real economy”), towards the “paper economy”, the stock, bond, and forex markets (along with derivatives related to each). Since the rates of return from these markets can be astoundingly spectacular, real economy businesses have been told to boost rates of return to 5, 10, 15 percent per year to stay competitive.

    Neither 1 or 2 is sustainable on its own as a business model, but taken together they are a positively toxic nasty brew which inevitably force workers to shoulder the burdens of businesses seeking profit in any way they can.

    As someone else in this thread pointed out, the new motto isn’t “stay in business”, it’s “grow at all costs”.

  • P J Evans

     And, as those of us who have taken biology classes could tell them, that can’t last forever. Or even for very long: you either use up all the sources you need to keep going, or you saturate the market you have.

  • http://lliira.dreamwidth.org/ Lliira

    The idea that identical-twin threesomes specifically set in Texas is
    enough of a kink to support a dedicated market line is mind-boggling.

    Heh. Are you new to the internet?

    Pornography in general is actually supported by a smaller percentage of people than one would think. The thing is, people will pay a lot for their kinks. A LOT. Really… a lot. 

  • http://lliira.dreamwidth.org/ Lliira

    I’ve never heard of a retail employee in the U.S. getting overtime for working on a holiday. There are many retail employees in the U.S. who must work said holiday or lose their jobs.

    Obviously there should be a law, but there should also be people who treat retail employees like people and DO NOT VISIT BUSINESSES ON HOLIDAYS. It’s supply and demand. Stop shopping on Black Friday, stop going to fast food joints on Christmas. I’m not going to say stop going to restaurants then, but when you do, tip hugely generously. 

    Of course, getting a certain, and large, portion of the population of this country to treat retail employees like human beings is as impossible a task as turning the Atlantic Ocean into a skating rink. 

  • http://lliira.dreamwidth.org/ Lliira

    People kept having children at the old rates when it just wasn’t… logical, perhaps?  

    Uh… women couldn’t “choose” to have or not-have children with any degree of certainty until the late 20th century. It wasn’t about choice or logic. It was about there being more food available, therefore the mothers were healthier and there were fewer miscarriages, and more children survived because of said food. That does not mean the children were wanted. It’s not like women could choose whether to have sex with their husbands, or what kind of sex to have. And it’s not like abortion was easy to come by, or safe, though women still pursued it at all costs.

    As soon as women have control over their own reproduction, rates of childbirth plummet. This is invariable. 

  • Lori

     

    Seriously: who here thinks McDonald’s workers will put in 40 hours OVER
    working on Christmas? Overtime is not what you get paid for working a
    federal holiday, even if you’re a federal worker.  

    Overtime tends to be used as a catch-all term meaning “paid more than one’s normal rate of pay due”. I have had jobs where I received holiday pay if I had to work on any day that the company as a whole was closed for a holiday. Said holiday pay rate was exactly the same amount as overtime, and I received it even if that day did not put more over 40 hours for the week. (Those jobs were not in retail or fast food.)

     

    Lots of places are open on Christmas, and I imagine a lot of those
    workers are glad to get a chance to take home some more pay that week
    instead of losing a day out of their more-than-likely already part-time
    salary.   

    And boy is there a world of f’ed up described in this sentence.

  • David Starner

     In Massachusetts, if I worked any state holiday, they had to pay me time and a half. Same on Sundays.

  • DorothyD

    It seems more likely to me that Mecklenburg had a preconceived idea about rape and pregnancy and then searched out support rather than a scenerio in which he was reading through old Nazi reports and decided that they meant women who were raped could not get pregnant.

    A preconceived idea about rape and pregnancy… pun intended?  :-)

    Let’s see, the idea that if a woman becomes pregnant from rape it’s a sign that it wasn’t really rape because women only get pregnant if they enjoyed the sex. I’m guessing that notion goes way way back. Just a guess.

  • Sgt. Pepper’s Bleeding Heart

    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.

    Here’s the thing. For a lot of poor people, McDonald’s may be the only family meal at a restaurant that they can afford. I know that was certainly the case when I was a kid. And there are various reasons why eating a Christmas meal at home might not be a good option for some people. So if people who lack other options want to have a Christmas treat and that means eating at McDonalds, I’m not OK with shaming them for it. Shame the bloody owners.

    My class sensitivity twitch is acting up. How about, Fred, “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 buying someone an iPad for Christmas”?

  • stardreamer42

    Apparently my snark was a bit too subtle for those who hadn’t actually looked at the link. The book in question is a “Christian Inspirational Romance”, which means that the very idea that it might involve a threesome is ludicrous.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    I think it’s more that if you CAN afford to give up the McD’s for Christmas, do so.

    I can’t imagine anyone working at McD’s on Christmas Day really WANTS to deal with customers, so the less customers the better.

    ’cause customers generally suck anyway. :P (seriously, when I used to work a retail-ish job the LAST THING I wanted to be there for was for ‘customer service’.)

  • Sgt. Pepper’s Bleeding Heart

    I think it’s more that if you CAN afford to give up the McD’s for Christmas, do so.

    Well, sure. That’s an important qualification that was missing from Fred’s command. Which is pretty much my point.

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

     That is a bit of a problem with the admonition: it seems unlikely that anyone is going to go to McDonalds on Christmas Day as an entirely free choice. I will grant that there are people who go to McDonalds on a regular basis because they enjoy it. But I don’t think anyone gets up and says “Hey, it’s christmas day. You know what I want? I want to go to McDonalds for lunch today, even though I have enough money to afford real food and live somewhere where there are other viable options for food.”

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Charity-Brighton/100002974813787 Charity Brighton

    How do you know that? I know a lot of people who would just grab a bite to eat anywhere on Christmas Day, to tide them over until their actual dinner later that day. Of course that’s not everyone, but it’s not like it’s hard to believe that anyone would go to McDonald’s for lunch or breakfast on Christmas Day even if that’s not their favorite holiday meal. 


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