Friday salmagundi

• It’s not a good sign if your church has a high-priced corporate fixer PR guy on staff. It’s also not a good sign if that high-priced corporate fixer PR guy is pretentious enough to quote Shakespeare without understanding that maybe Polonius isn’t meant to be a trustworthy source of wisdom.

• Speaking of over-rated PR spinmeisters, I’m sure that former Bush White House spokesman Ari Fleischer doesn’t really believe that Nazi Germany “followed the law of war.” I’m sure that if you were talking to him in some abstract, contextless setting far-removed from the partisan spin that has been his career, he would likely agree that the Nazis were war criminals and that Nuremberg wasn’t wrong to find them guilty of war crimes.

It’s just that once you have — like Fleischer — committed yourself to contradicting President Obama about absolutely everything, then you’re bound to wind up uttering some wildly monstrous, foolish lies, like saying that Nazi Germany “followed the law of war.”

Let’s put a better, more deserving war hero on the $20.

• The first Roger Ebert Film Festival since the beloved critic’s passing was a solemn, somber affair — with Ebert’s wife, Chaz, joined by Academy-Award winner Tilda Swinton for a moving musical tribute. I would like for this to happen at my funeral too. (via)

• Televangelist Matthew Hagee finally comes out publicly … against gay people coming out publicly. I’d always suspected that the younger Hagee was secretly pro-closet. It was brave of him to say so on television.

• I think Stephen Fry would be very pleased with this comparison. And now I’d kind of like to see him cast in a revival of 1776.

• And while we’re at John Fea’s blog … he asks, “Should the Democratic Party Dump Andrew Jackson?

Yes. Yes they should. They should have a long time ago. Let the Republicans have him — make him the player to be named later in the same deal in which they claimed Andrew Johnson off of waivers.

And while we’re at it, let’s get him off the $20 bill, too. Replace him with Harriet Tubman. (Because can you come up with someone more deserving or more all-around awesome than Harriet Tubman? No. No you cannot.)

• The government is over-paying its government football coaches. After all, more than half the football coaches on the government payroll are losing more than half of their games. And half of all coaches are below average.

• Lying to school administrators about illegally bringing guns to school property? This kid sounds like Liberty University material! Give him a scholarship!

• Republicans are hoping that lying about Planned Parenthood won’t backfire disastrously like it did in the last election cycle.

• White evangelicals are hoping that lying about Planned Parenthood won’t continue to erode their souls and shrivel their hearts the way this habitual bearing of false witness has for the past three decades. (I’m very serious about the soul-eroding, heart-shriveling effect of this. Lying about “bad people” is really, really dangerous for one’s spiritual health.)

• If you don’t believe in democracy and voting, then the Benton County, Arkansas, Republican Party may be for you: “The 2nd amendment means nothing unless those in power believe you would have no problem simply walking up and shooting them if they got too far out of line and stopped responding as representatives.”

Don’t vote, shoot. Bullets, not ballots. You’ve gotta love it when the GOP and the NRA are quoting Chairman Mao.

• Arizona AG Tom Horne should resign, then run for mayor of Toronto.

Why is a minor traffic accident interesting? As it turns out, when Arizona’s attorney general hit another car and drove away without leaving a note, he very likely would have gotten away with it, except, unbeknownst to him, Horne was being followed by FBI agents who saw the incident and reported what happened.

And why were FBI agents following the state attorney general? Because federal law enforcement suspects [Tom] Horne may be guilty of breaking federal campaign finance laws, illegally coordinating with an outside political group.

What’s more, making this just a little more entertaining, the Arizona Republican drove away after hitting that other car in part because his passenger is one of his subordinates, with whom Horne has had an extra-marital affair.

Incidentally, Horne, ostensibly Arizona’s top law-enforcement official, initially lied about hitting the other car and declined to cooperate in the police investigation.

On the bright side for Horne: It seems he was sober at the time of the accident.


"The giants of the Protestant Reformation were Calvin, Luther, and King Henry VIII ("Defender of ..."

The ‘weird’ fringe is the biggest ..."
""I believe in God the Father almighty, creator of heaven and earth" Apostles Creed"

The ‘weird’ fringe is the biggest ..."
"Just because I am feeling contrary today, whatever happened to "innocence" until proven guilty? whilst ..."

A modest proposal regarding prayer breakfasts
"No, it's not "throw out the incumbents." It's "throw out the Republicans"--because it's the current, ..."

‘A kind of resentful nostalgia’

Browse Our Archives

Follow Us!

What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • EllieMurasaki

    That presumes having heard of the latter. I suspect most folk have not.

  • eyelessgame

    Hey, you forgot Lincoln’s other big act – he nationalized more private property than any president before or since. Bet you hate that part too.

  • eyelessgame

    Fortunately, all knowledge is just a google click away.

  • FearlessSon

    “The 2nd amendment means nothing unless those in power believe you would have no problem simply walking up and shooting them if they got too far out of line and stopped responding as representatives.”

    I wonder if the people making this argument realize that applies to a broad spectrum of political beliefs that feel they are being unrepresented. For example, suppose a state tried to outlaw abortion with a heavy-handed crackdown law passed by a gerrymandered legislature against the will of the people who need such services. Would I feel that taking up arms in such a situation is justified? I would lie if I said I did not consider it. People would be suffering due to some ill-considered moral absolutist ideology of a few, and I have an obligation to stand up against such things by whatever means I judge to be necessary and beneficial.

    I am, after all, part of the “culture of death” that thinks infantacide is sometimes preferable to the alternative, why do they think I might not be pushed to inflict violence as readily as they are?

  • Hexep

    In any case, the cause she was most likely fighting for (the Northern Wei dynasty) is now rather re-classified as a ‘bad guy’ dynasty, like the Yuan or the later Zhou.

    It’s like if there was a Confederate version of… Molly Pitcher, I guess? Personal heroism, but we don’t like her cause anymore.

    EDIT: and it’s not to say that Disney made her up, or that they heavily fictionalized a real person. She’s a folk-legend over here already.

  • Also, for some obscure reason, Disqus is counting downvotes on my comments as upvotes.

  • FearlessSon

    My understanding of socialism is that it involves the state influence into or over an otherwise free market system, compared with communism in which there is no free market system.

    By that definition, almost no country is without socialism, since almost any state has some influence on its own markets or the markets of others. The issue most people have is over what the nature and degree of that influence is, and what parts of the market it should affect.

  • What nonsense, hypocrite! I do sometimes upvote AnonymousSam’s comments. I downvoted this one since I try to rate every comment on Slacktivist threads I comment in and the comment you replied to did not apply to me. Besides, I didn’t start this downvoting of completely innocuous comments. Apparently, when it happens to AnonymousSam, Lliira notices. When it happens to me, Lliira turns a blind eye.

  • The_L1985

    Disney doesn’t make any character up outside of the CGI Pixar films. All of them (except Pocahontas) were from Western fiction written before 1935. The other “Disney Princesses” were from folk-legends dating waaay back when (Cinderella, Snow White, and Sleeping Beauty were all collected in the Grimm anthology of fairy tales in the early 19th century, but their stories are probably much, much older.)

  • Charity Brighton

    Well, almost everyone who thinks this way believes that the guns will all be on their side. They speak in generalities, but that’s the philosophical underpinning behind their “might makes right” POV. You never hear them saying, “boy howdy if the government outlaws gay marriage then they better get ready for a revolution!!”

    It’s kind of like how people in America can support using the law to enforce religion; they know that their religion has a supermajority and is the norm, so the odds that it won’t be the one receiving privileges are low.

  • Foelhe

    No worries, taking a level of Gun Owner gives you a free feat that lets you detect criminals, and being of Good alignment gives you a bonus to your attack rolls with ranged weapons. That’s why good people always win in shootouts with bad people. I am almost certain this is how guns work.

  • EllieMurasaki


  • reynard61

    Okay, I’ve gotta know; was that downvote for my suggestion of putting Hua Mulan on Chinese currency, or was it for suggesting the Harriet Tubman commemorative coin? (If it was for the Harriet Tubman coin, I’ll have you know that I’m actually quite flattered.)

  • FearlessSon

    That is what bugs me about it. Do they have no concept of precedent and escalation? They talk about gun ownership as though the second amendment only gave the right to bear arms to members of a particular political party. They may deny it, but there are plenty of political liberals who also happen to be gun owners (though they tend not to be the loudest voices among the gun owning population) and when you shoot at someone, you have to expect them to shoot back.

    If they decide to escalate to violence, what prevents others from matching that violence in turn? Regardless of the moral considerations of employing force, they think that they have a monopoly on that force when they really do not. The primary reason that their opposition has not used it yet is because that is a line that, once crossed, is hard to walk back over. You do not get to go all revolutionary and then expect that no one will challenge the peace immediately afterward.

  • Mulan may not have been real, but Wang Cong’er was:

  • FearlessSon

    It’s kind of like how people in America can support using the law to enforce religion; they know that their religion has a supermajority and is the norm, so the odds that it won’t be the one receiving privileges are low.

    On that point, Altemeyer’s studies have revealed something. To sum up, most North Americans (religious or otherwise) said that they would rather public school not try to sponsor sectarian Christian prayer. However, most of the Christian fundamentalists that he polled said that Christian school prayer should be mandatory and encouraged, and minorities should just suck it up because the majority here is Christian, so there. When Altemeyer posed a similar scenario where the situation was the sponsorship of sectarian Muslim school prayer in a primarily Muslim country, the fundamentalist Christians objected, saying it would be unfair to all the minorities in that country to have to participate in a prayer they did not believe in.

    He noted that they were basically unprincipled on the issue, even though they tended to care about it so passionately. It was a big double standard about school prayer. He gave atheists the same poll and found that they opposed school prayer in all cases, but also strongly tended opposed schools endorsing an atheistic viewpoint as well (though atheists from the U.S. tended to more strongly favor this this than atheists from Canada.) Altemeyer noted the irony of atheists being more strongly principled on the subject of school prayer than school prayer’s actual proponents were.

  • Trixie_Belden

    You know, I think that Stephen Fry is generally a pretty interesting person, and I like QI, but I found during that interview, that he really came across as a very wealthy, privileged person lecturing other people for not pulling up their socks and being as awesome as he thinks they should be (maybe as he thinks he is?). People have pain, they get tired, they have things they can’t handle. Maybe they work at dull jobs they don’t like because the world can be very hard on people who try to do daring things but don’t succeed. Frankly, he sounded like a bit of a prat. I wasn’t surprised to read in the comments that he’s a bit of a libertarian.

  • Lori

    Well that’s disappointing.

  • Foelhe

    I was mostly kidding with my post down-thread, but also sort of serious – gun-rights types live in a fantasy world, they consider themselves the good guys, and as far as they’re concerned, good guys always win. It’s not that they don’t think they’ll have to fight. It’d surprise me if they didn’t consider that a perk in fact. But they think fighting will go in their favor, because they think they’re Righteous, Valiant, and True. And of course no one who fits that description ever loses.

    Which is why so many of them get pissy if you ask questions that boil down to, “What if you pull out a gun to protect yourself and only make things worse?” They don’t like the idea that someone can act with the best of intentions and then totally fuck it up.

  • Oh Joseph Campbell, is there any collection of varied stories and ideas you can’t reduce to variations on a single theme by stripping out the fact that there are differences for an important reason, and thereby destroy a generation of creative thinking by convincing everyone that the ONLY valid way to tell a story is by doing a variation on his monolithic idea and anything that deviates too far is doomed to unmarketability?

  • hf

    Yes, I think a rational psychopath – if he had to invade the Soviet Union at all – would have tried to get those people on his side with an “I’m not Stalin” propaganda campaign. Instead Hitler somehow managed to exceed (by some reckonings) the death toll from Stalin’s entire reign.

    It’s like a mind-bogglingly evil version of a D&D character making ‘chaotic’ decisions by rolling dice.

  • Hexep

    Is that so? Hold on a moment, let me count on my fingers.


    Yes, you’re right. I never noticed that before. Good eye.

  • arcseconds

    I’ve only seen (I think) the first season of QI, and while I generally like it, there are a few moments where Fry gives some rather bizarre and apparently serious lecturettes.

    In one he gives the whole ‘Jesus = Mithras’ canard, and in the other I remember he points out that castration adds several years to one’s life-expectancy, apparently as a talking-point to argue in favour of smoking.

    I mean, I can kind of see where he’s going with the last one, and I do have a modicum of sympathy for the idea that in the (needed) deprecation of smoking we’ve veered too far in the direction of demonizing it, but it was rather odd, and the way he delivered both these little sermons was dreadfully patronizing.

  • FearlessSon

    Which is why so many of them get pissy if you ask questions that boil down to, “What if you pull out a gun to protect yourself and only make things worse?” They don’t like the idea that someone can act with the best of intentions and then totally fuck it up.

    You know, when Wayne LaPierre says that “The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun,” it sounds to me like he is advocating his own assassination. I mean, he is in favor of putting more guns into circulation while he profiteers from fearmongering, that makes him a bad guy, right?

    They make the mistake that their own intentions are shared by everyone else. If we cannot agree on what is “good” how are we going to agree on who we should shoot?

  • Maniraptor

    He pretty much always sounds like that. I think he means more or less well but he’s got privilege like whoa. (Yeah, he’s rather famously not straight, but it doesn’t seem to have granted him a lot of empathy along any other axis.)

    grumble grumble and QI is very poorly fact-checked but everybody thinks he’s a genius now grumble

  • arcseconds

    haha, now, this will amuse you.

    One of the classic experimental proofs of the existence of the fundamental attribution error (where we attribute what’s going on to inner qualities of the actors, rather than to external factors happening right now, for example saying someone’s giving to a beggar because they’re kind, and not because their friends are there and they want to look kind) is a quiz setup.

    Two random people are put in a room and put in a quiz scenario, where one of them gets to be the quizmaster. The quizmaster gets to ask whatever questions they like, so obviously they’re going to pick ones they know the answers to.

    The subject of the experiment is actually people watching the quiz, and they’ll usually say that the quizmaster is the smartest, even though they know the set-up, and they can see that the quimaster has a huge advantage.

    And that’s pretty much QI! And that’s pretty much what’s happened to Stephen Fry!

    (except of course presumably he has a bunch of people finding out stuff for him, which gives him even more of an advantage.)

  • Rhubarbarian82

    Lilo & Stitch? Lady and the Tramp? Aristocats? Wreck-it Ralph?

    The books that the Rescuers, 101 Dalmations, Black Cauldron, and the Great Mouse Detective were based on were written in the 50s or later.

    Unless you’re referring specifically to their princess movies, there are a bunch that either aren’t based on anything, or are so tenuously connected to the thing they’re based on that the original source material just serves as a jumping off point.

    If you were referring specifically to their princess movie, then sure, point granted.

  • EllieMurasaki

    The books that the Rescuers, 101 Dalmations, Black Cauldron, and the Great Mouse Detective were based on were written in the 50s or later.
    Great Mouse Detective is Sherlock Holmes, isn’t it?

    And don’t forget that Disney does live-action straight-to-Disney-Channel movies. Pretty sure some of them are wholly original, though the only one I can think of off the top of my head isn’t.

  • I was very surprised to see that “Lady and the Tramp” and “The Aristocats” were based on books and stories.

    However, you can add “The Emperor’s New Groove,” and “Brother Bear” to the (admittedly very short) list of movies that were original to Disney.

  • ISTR from psychology class that americans frequently rank Alex Trebec and Dan Rather as two of the smartest people in the world.

  • Great Mouse Detective is Sherlock Holmes, isn’t it?

    Only indirectly. The Great Mouse Detective is based on a book series called “Basil of Baker Street”. It’s sort of halfway between “Sherlock Holmes as a mouse” and “Ben & Me with Sherlock Holmes instead of Ben Franklin”

  • Hexep

    Due to recent events involving certain religious groups, Wang Conger’s White Lotus society has been re-classified into being historical villains, so I’m afraid she’s out.

  • Mulan.

  • Rhubarbarian82

    Were they? I thought Lady and the Tramp was original.

    The Lion King also wasn’t directly based on anything; I don’t know why I forgot that one.

  • And Mommy, he started it!

  • I don’t mind downvotes of irrelevant comments; I do mind downvotes of relevant comments that the audience is generally supposed to agree with.

  • EllieMurasaki

    Um. Hamlet?

  • Rhubarbarian82

    Hamlet was a starting point much more so than the basis for an adaptation. I wouldn’t call Underworld an adaptation of Romeo and Juliet, after all.

  • EllieMurasaki

    Okay, fair enough.

  • Foelhe

    Dude, nobody’s supposed to agree with anything. We agree or disagree. And one of the reasons you get so many downvotes is because you suck at pandering.

  • I don’t pander. I either agree or disagree with the commentators here.

  • I suspect one of the reasons why EH gets so many downvotes is because he makes such a big deal out of the voting system. Aunursa’s another person the community frequently disagrees with, but he hasn’t shown any interest in how the votes go (to my memory, anyway).

  • Charity Brighton

    I guess it’s like typecasting. The ‘quizmaster’ knows all of the answers already, and they get to look confident, knowledgeable, and almost teacher-like as they correct the wrong answers given by the other person.

    I think if you put any random person in a nice outfit and give them a position where they get to speak confidently and knowledgeably about something they have a deep interest in, they are probably going to seem smart.

  • Trixie_Belden

    I watched episodes from several seasons on youtube and IMO the show got better as it went along. I don’t even watch it just for Fry: I love Alan Davies some of the other comedians he has on as guests.

  • Trixie_Belden

    grumble grumble and QI is very poorly fact-checked but everybody thinks he’s a genius now grumble

    Really? That’s interesting! The show has such an overbearing attitude about its own correctness that I would have thought there’d be a whole bunch of people eager to burst the bubble, so to speak, and you’d hear a lot about the errors on QI. Maybe we don’t hear so much about the errors on this side of the pond.

  • reynard61

    Really?! Pardon my skepticism, but from what I’ve been reading you don’t exactly strike me as the type who gives a rat’s @$$ about who does or doesn’t appear on Chinese currency. Just sayin’…

  • arcseconds

    At some points, at least, they seem to deliberately be distorting things a bit to get a counter-intuitive answer.

    Take Cruithne, for example. Astronomers don’t call it a moon, as far as I’m aware. It orbits the Sun, not the Earth.

    But QI decided they would, just so they could klaxon the obvious ‘one’ answer.

  • arcseconds

    Well, as I said, I generally like the show. It’s just that while Fry is obviously a smart man (there are plenty of reasons to think this apart from the set up of the show), and is probably nice enough, you do get glimpses that he has his own odd little hobby-horses where he’s quite sure he’s right and you need to be educated.

    he’s kind of like everyone’s well-read but eccentric great-uncle!

  • reynard61

    “Were they? I thought Lady and the Tramp was original.”

    Lady and the Tramp was loosely based on an unpublished story, Happy Dan, the Whistling Dog, and Miss Patsy, the Beautiful Spaniel by Ward Greene.

  • Well, I did chart the course of the northernmost of the Great Walls of China. Just sayin’.