7 things @ 11 o’clock (7.11)

1. Two videos — both incredible, but in very different ways: One toke over the line. A flash of lightning.

2. Scot McKnight shares a story about how Justices Antonin Scalia and Elena Kagan have become “hunting buddies.” I’ve often thought it would be constructive to organize hunting trips like this, sending NRA-beholden lawmakers out for a long weekend with, say, police officials who favor gun-safety laws. That might provide a chance for the cops to convince them that common-sense gun legislation isn’t the threat to Second Amendment rights that they fearfully imagine it to be.

But in the case of Justice Kagan, I’d advise a bit of caution. She’s probably safe as long as there’s a Democratic president in the White House, but once there’s a president in office who would fill a Supreme Court vacancy with another member of the Federalist Society, then I’m not sure she should head into the woods with an armed hothead who might be dreaming of pulling a Cheney as a short-cut to a 6-3 majority.

3. I linked yesterday to Sarah Moon’s post on “Privilege, oppression, and being ‘nice.'” She was responding to an earnestly awful post elsewhere in the evangelical blogosphere titled “Are Christian Feminists Hurting Their Cause?” (You know, because they’re all pushy and angry and insufficiently grateful for all that men have begun to allow them to do.) Amy Mitchell also has a nice response to that post, titled “The tone policing needs to stop.” But I think my favorite response is from Dianna E. Anderson, who co-opts and wonderfully spoofs the faux-concern and condescension of the original in a post titled, “Are Christian Complementarians Hurting Their Cause?” Sauce for the gander indeed. That’s deserving of a Nina Turner Award for the Exposure of Duplicitous Hypocrisy.

4. Rent-seeking can be a tricky thing to explain or to grasp. It basically means making money without ever making anything else, or collecting wealth without creating value. Concurring Opinions points us to a new book from Geoff Mulgan which provides a helpful metaphor for this form of affluent parasitism. The book is called The Locust and the Bee: Predators and Creators in Capitalism’s Future. Here’s the nut of it:

If you want to make money, you can choose between two fundamentally different strategies. One is to create genuinely new value by bringing resources together in ways that serve people’s wants and needs. The other is to seize value through predation, taking resources, money, or time from others, whether they like it or not.

Hence locusts vs. bees. Or, as I usually think of it, Old Man Potter vs. George Bailey.

5. Andy Kessler was losing an argument with his 16-year-old son, so he made the disastrous decision to continue losing that argument even harder in a far more public forum. Kessler, a hedge fund manager (i.e., a rent-seeking locust), took to the pages of the Wall Street Journal to repeat his belief that homelessness is caused by homeless shelters.

Scott Keyes performs the necessary chore of shredding Kessler’s factually ignorant and morally stunted argument, but what I find most interesting is the between-the-lines family drama this column inadvertently reveals. Kessler makes it clear that he had grown frustrated by his son’s failure to be instantaneously convinced and converted by this blinkered analysis of the “damage” done by shelters. He didn’t get the answer he was looking for — something like, “You’re so smart, Dad, and so very right, so I will now quit volunteering at the homeless shelter” — and so he has repeated it to his peers, to the other WSJ-reading locusts who are sure to supply the hearty agreement he was looking for. It doesn’t occur to him that his son has acquired real-world experience as a volunteer, and that he has thus encountered truths and learned things about reality that cannot be reconciled with his father’s elegantly self-serving theories.

As Doktor Zoom writes, the whole thing is “kind of sad, like Homer Simpson telling Lisa, ‘It’s OK honey, I used to believe in things too.”

But hang in there, kid. Your dad may be disgracing himself, but that’s not on you.

 6. “This argument has been made before, with equal self-satisfaction but without quite this level of obliviousness.” That’s from Eric C. Miller’s devastating Religion Dispatches essay “An Evangelical Intellectual Takes on Same-Sex Marriage, Grasps at Straw Men.”

7. Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell is in trouble and he deserves to be in trouble. Not just because he allegedly has taken tens of thousands of dollars in gifts from the owner of a dietary supplement company, and not even just because those gifts appear to be a transparent quid pro quo in exchange for the governor’s support for that company’s products. McDonnell’s bigger problem is the nature of some of those gifts and the cartoonish opulence of the luxuries he’s purchased with this ethically dubious money. The governor received a $6,500 Rolex watch — engraved with the inscription “71st Virginia Governor.” The business owner took McDonnell’s wife shopping — in Manhattan, at Bergdorf Goodman, for an Oscar de la Renta dress. The governor borrowed the business owner’s luxury car — a Ferrari. This is the Republican governor of a Southern state, but his spending habits read like the kind of hoity-toity East Coast liberal elite caricature you’d hear vilified by Rush Limbaugh or the speakers at a tea party rally. Mitt Romney had better populist instincts than this guy. Heck, Rafalca had better populist instincts.

An undisclosed $6,500 contribution or a dodgy gift of $15,000 to the first lady might be ethics violations, but McDonnell might have ridden out the scandal if those gifts had been simple cash transfers. But a $6,500 Rolex and a $15,000 haute coutore shopping spree at Bergdorf Goodman provide the kind of unforgettable, unforgivable details that will likely make it impossible for McDonnell to rally enough support from his base to survive this.

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  • caryjamesbond

    I think if you said that to him, he’d agree and say it was called “life.”

  • aunursa

    My mistake.

    [Geez — it’s all in jest! You conservatives don’t have any sense of humor.]

    And what kind of person is Justice Kagan, to so quickly become a trusting friend of and spend her leisure time with such a monster!

  • caryjamesbond

    ……you and I have very different understandings of the phrase “moral code.”

  • Testify to that. Also the heat-transfer properties of the container seem to play a role too. Drinking iced tea out of a can seems to taste subtly different from out of a glass.

  • Alix

    … I … think that makes catfish even more awesome. >.>

    I thought indeterminate growth was something all fish were capable of, though? Growing to massive sizes is hardly unique to catfish.

  • Don’t .22 bullets have little stopping power, comparatively, as well?

  • picklefactory

    Someone who says “gun grabbers” is basically just telling me, in coded language, that I no longer have to take them seriously, rather like someone who says “white knight.”

  • Rhubarbarian82

    Yeah, they really don’t have any stopping power. I don’t want to underestimate their lethality – which people often do – but it’s more of a target, small game, or varmint round than something you’d buy to try to protect your home/overthrow your lawfully elected government.

    I asked one of the ammo guys at a gun show I was at* six months ago, and he said that people were buying up .22 because they were hoarding their larger caliber ammo rather than firing it. They’d stockpile the big stuff and go target shooting with the .22. Of course, now with the laws of supply and demand, .22 is almost as expensive as 9mm.

    *Few places have as many people openly advocating treason as gun shows.

  • Rhubarbarian82

    I don’t think I’ve ever seen someone who wasn’t a shithead use “white knight” in earnest.

  • I’ve seen it used by a few female bloggers to refer to someone who’s heart is in the right place, but is perhaps a little too earnest — often to the point of complementarian behavior, just in a different way. “My lady, stay behind me while I thoroughly insult this lout to defend your honor so that you won’t have to be sullied with his presence!” “… Right. Thanks. I guess.”

  • I just realized this was 7@11 on 7/11.

  • aunursa

    Mrs aunursa remembered that 7-Eleven offers free Slurpees today. But they only offer them free from 11 AM – 7 PM, and she realized it at 7:11 PM — so it was too late.

  • Lori

    Yes, all fish keep growing until they day. Catfish live longer or something though because they seem to get weird huge more than most other fish. And like I said, they’re bottom feeders, so the longer they live the more toxic they tend to become.

  • guest

    ‘I’m often praised on those occasions when my political views align with those of the rest of the readers. And my LB comments are sometimes among the highest rated and discussed.’

    Is that important to you? Just curious.

  • FearlessSon

    I read that one. Ralph Offenhouse (a guest minor character from one of the early season episodes) comes back as a Federation ambassador to the Ferengi, a position for which his fish-out-of-temporal-water status as a twentieth century businessman made him well suited.

    I believe the scene in question was where Riker, Data, and Worf were watching old cheesy action movies for a laugh.

  • guest

    One thing I’ve learned over the years is that every single ‘self made’ success story includes getting help from someone. Even Horatio Alger heroes become successful by catching the eye of the factory owner or whatever. That’s not exactly achieving by yourself. (I’ve appreciated knowing this, because I can realise, when I need to, that although I have all the attributes of someone who should have been a conventional ‘success’ I’ve never been in a position to secure that kind of help. It’s got nothing to do with me.)

  • guest

    :) I’ve almost always lived within the sound range of bell towers, so I always know what time it is….

  • We’ve been watching River Monsters, and judging from that, gigantic catfish are responsible for a surprising number of human injuries and deaths.

  • reynard61

    And, heck, *that* watch sells for only $1500; so your karma’s *still* $500 in the clear.

  • I’ve heard it’s hard for Nibelungs to find a good job these days.

  • The human agency thing is a good point, now that I think of it. There’s a difference between saying, “I wish that guy would get bitten by fire ants” and “That guy should get pushed into a nest of fire ants”.

    That business some years ago with Sarah Palin posting pictures of gun-sight targets on Democratic politicians counts as wishing for human agency, I’d say. We know perfectly well that such targets don’t appear spontaneously.

  • reynard61

    Hey! I happen to carry a $60 pocket watch! (Yep, this kind.) I’ll admit that there’s a bit of vanity involved in my choice of this over a wristwatch, but I like the fact that I’ll never have to replace any batteries (just wind it up and “hack” it to my alarm clock and I’m all set!), and I like the feel of it’s weight in my pocket — kind of like the substantiality that Time has in our lives. Would I pay more for a better, more gadget-laden version? Probably not. But the collection of precision-made bits of metal and plastic that I have is useful to my particular needs in a way that a cellphone (which I don’t own anyway) or computer simply can’t match.

  • stardreamer42

    It is within my ethical boundaries to wish that his karma should catch up with him all at once. And so I do.

  • reynard61

    The Wealthy practice a tribalism that is just as exclusionary as that of the poorest tribal clan in Afghanistan. The toys that they play with are just a bit newer and sparklier.

  • Hexep

    The market for magical golden helmets has, unfortunately, bottomed out in the last few quarters.

  • reynard61

    What about the market in magic swords and spears? My broker says that I can get rich in Nothung flat! ;-D

  • reynard61

    The main problem with the Bootstraps ideology is that it tends to all-too-quickly evolve into a Jackboot ideology.

  • Jenny Islander

    The NRA is in the business of selling a fantasy. It’s been observed that this strategy really took off around the mid-late ’90s. I noticed it myself: when people got together to talk guns, they didn’t talk about hitting targets or hunting deer anymore, they talked about mowing down people. Also the rifle ranges out the road turned from relatively tidy rows of targets to blasted-apart trees rising from a mess of wood shrapnel. I also noticed that the anti-marauding-tree brigade didn’t bother to clean up their fricking brass. Hooo-uh! Go Murica!

    I wish there was a rival organization to the NRA that emphasized hunting (real hunting, not drink’n’shoot) and target practice.

  • Turcano

    Specifically, industrial aluminum smelting requires vast amounts of electricity. Bauxite is dissolved in a flux of molten aluminum salt and electrolyzed to precipitate the pure aluminum. This means that aluminum takes 95% less power to recycle than to smelt, and that aluminum smelting is how Iceland exports its geothermal energy.

  • Turcano

    So is John de Lancie typecast as a troll now?

  • themunck

    *Hugs tightly* It indeed is. :) And here’s the daily show link, now that I have a date to filter by.

  • themunck

    And thus, he would learn about the right to arm bears.

  • themunck

    Nope. He’s also been a draconequus. ;)

  • Isabel c.

    Yep. Wishing for human agency and also, given the number of actual gun crimes (which she and her fellows bear some responsibility for) also rather tasteless. I rather like using “ugh, die in a fire” myself, but if it was right after something like Waco? I’d find another phrasing.

    I’ve become rather fond of “eat a bee” (credit to Sarah Bunting of Tomato Nation) lately.

  • I carried a cell phone when I worked the sales floor at a Walmart because I was usually all by myself. The rules state that if you find a spill, you should stay by the spill and get another associate to get paper towels (or granulated absorbant) to clean it up. Since I was by myself, that would mean that I would have to stand there by the spill for as many as 20 minutes until another associate happened by, and if I didn’t yell loudly enough to get his or her attention, I could stand there even longer.

    So I started carrying my phone. Then, when I found a spill, I would pull out the phone and call the store and ask for someone in one of the next two departments over, which both had both phones and cash registers, so someone had to be near the phone nearly constantly. When they would answer, I would ask them to bring towels. This meant that someone would come and help within about two or three minutes, rather than more than 20.

    Occasionally the spill was so bad that I had to call the store to ask for the Customer Service Manager to get someone from maintenance over to clean the spill.

  • The_L1985

    I didn’t know using marijuana was so spiritual. XD Someone remembered the “innocent as doves” part but forgot the “cunning as snakes” part.

  • The_L1985

    It reminds me of how at career colleges, the majority of students who get caught cheating on tests and plagiarizing papers are Criminal Justice majors.

  • The_L1985

    I wear mine all the time because:

    – Sometimes a classroom clock breaks and I need to make sure I’m pacing things slow enough that all my students “get it” but still fast enough that I can get to everything in today’s lesson.

    – I can wear it while doing activities that are best NOT performed while using electronics. I’ve even gone snorkeling in a water-resistant watch!

    – To check the time on my watch, I merely need to glance at my wrist. To check the time on my cellphone, I have to reach into my purse, dig around til I find it, and then push a button to make the time display.

    – I always wear watches that also show the date. A lot of devices don’t show the date by default.

    That said, I’m also not the sort of person who spends more than about $25 on a watch, at least at initial-purchasing time. I also tend to replace watchbands and batteries, instead of buying a whole new watch, because watches with the date display are hard to find.

  • The_L1985

    If more of my stuff had pockets, and I had more money, I’d totally get one of those old-fashioned mechanical ones. They’re pretty cool.

  • Michael Pullmann

    Honestly, I think they topped themselves last week when they said Egypt could use its own Pinochet.

  • Mark Z.

    The zombie apocalypse fantasy is harmful, not because anyone thinks it’s going to happen, but because it provides mental exercise for thinking of ___________ as the implacable, irredeemable, subhuman savages who are coming to kill us all.

  • Alix

    (River Monsters is so much fun. What, better than one of every three eps is on catfish? :P)

    The other thing to keep in mind with catfish, though, is how very many kinds there are – not just the super-huge ones, but even tiny parasitic species; some are actively predatory, some bottom-feeders, some scavengers, some strictly vegetarian. There’s a huge diversity there. And there are just so many catfish overall* that, well, I’m not really surprised we find a lot of huge ones or that they cause a lot of human injuries and fatalities.

    *Trying to get hard figures is fun. :/ Wikipedia, the font of reliability, throws up the interesting tidbit that apparently one in every 20 vertebrate species is a catfish, with over 3000 extant species. But, well, Wikipedia, and all other pages I find just talk in even more general terms. All agree that catfish account for a lot of the world’s overall fish population, though.

  • Alix

    Also, iirc, the Mekong Giant Catfish Lori linked to above is an herbivore that, apparently, eats mostly algae.

  • Alix

    I’ve heard that alligators and snakes similarly just keep growing all through adulthood, but I’m not sure if that’s accurate either. :/ It seems from my limited understanding of biology that indeterminate growth would be a bit easier to have happen underwater where the effects of gravity are somewhat mitigated.

  • Alix

    I’m … not so sure. I mean, it’s possible, and I sure in hell can’t speak for how the rest of VA sees him (seeing as how the rest of VA thinks my part of the state isn’t “proper” VA), but around here, as the news is getting around, people are pissed.

    I have some hope, if only because VA’s trending slowly bluer, and the blue patches are slowly growing. (More counties going solidly blue, that sort of thing.) I keep telling myself that VA never used to be in play nationally, either, and now it’s a swing state, and we have at least some pride in the idea that we don’t tolerate this kind of shit. In theory. We’ll see how that plays out in reality. (We really really hate being embarrassed nationally, which is why I don’t think George Allen will ever make a real comeback, no matter how hard he tries.)

    I’m more worried that McDonnell will try to go national, and get traction that way. I also really, really wish that my state could just stop with the batshit Republicans, already.

    (And before anyone decides to jump on me for the batshit comment, check out some of the antics my state executives and legislature get up to. “Batshit” is being polite.)

    (And I need to stop with the parentheticals, already. XD)

  • Alix

    That, and it feeds paranoia and conspiratorial thinking, both of which are the kind of habits one might not really want to get into.

    I’ve also known some people who are really into the zombie-apocalypse thing or other doomsday scenarios, and they are scary. Obsessively prepping for their scenario of choice, fortifying their homes, talking about who they’d kill first and having serious debates over whether or not they’d help their neighbors if the SHTF, that sort of thing. (Not to mention obsessively talking about the many, many ways to obliterate a person’s skull – only difference between the ZA obsessives I know and the NRA-type obsessives is that the ZA ones aren’t solely focused on guns.)

    And whenever I interject that maybe the zombie apocalypse isn’t actually going to happen, I’m told in a very arch tone that it’s just a fun way of prepping for real disasters, and that if you’re prepared to survive zombie hordes surviving a superstorm or epidemic or somesuch is a cakewalk. Which … well, they have a small point there. But the way they think about this stuff is … like I said, it’s kind of scary, and not really all “help out the neighbors.” It’s another very paranoiac “me and mine vs. the ravening hordes” fantasy. :/

    But I am reliably informed I’m a joykiller, so. :/

    People who understand the ZA or other doomsday scenarios are just fantasy are fine. But any fantasy taken too far is … problematic, and the ZA one seems to be gaining, at least in the circles I roam in, a scary sort of traction.

  • Daniel

    Will not make a joke about brown recluse in someone’s underwear…
    They would be literal arse spiders. Sorry.

  • Lori

    Most reptiles keep growing, so it is probably true of alligators and snakes. The thing is that that growth slows way down over time, so after the main growth part of their life cycle the additional growth isn’t that big of a deal. AFAIK the one exception to that is the octopus. It not only continues to grow, it apparently grows faster the longer it lives.

    Nature. It’s freaky.

  • Alix

    Dude. The octopus was already my favorite animal, and that just makes it more awesome.

    Nature. It’s freaky.


  • Alix

    …is Disqus suddenly not showing replies in the dashboard for anyone else? (Or am I the only person who uses the dashboard? >.<)

    If it's not one thing, it's something completely unexpected. Dammit, Disqus.