7 things @ 11 o’clock (7.23)

1. Texas. TexasTexas. TexasTexas. TexasTexas. Texas. Texas.

2. Scot McKnight endorses this Lifehacker tip for dealing with mosquito bites:

Heat up a metal spoon under hot tap water for a minute or so, then press it directly against the bite. Hold it tight against your skin for a couple of minutes, and when you take it off, the itch should be gone for good.

And William J. Broad recommends this tactic to avoid getting bitten in the first place:

On a low table, they set up a small electric fan, perhaps 12 inches high, that swept back and forth, sending a gentle breeze across the grassy area where people were sitting.

That was it. No citronella candles, no bug zappers, no DEET, nothing expensive or high-tech. Yet amazingly, it worked. As far as I could tell, no mosquitoes flew into the vicinity of the simulated wind; nobody was bitten.

Broad links to an endorsement of the idea from the American Mosquito Control Association, which has a fascinating FAQ on the little pests. Their bottom line: Fans work, citronella candles kinda work — but no better than “other candles producing smoke,” and don’t waste your money on bug-zappers or ultrasonic gadgets.

3. If you’re not reading Doktor Zoom’s “Sundays With the Christianists” series at Wonkette, then you’re missing out on some terrific snark directed toward some very deserving targets — with the occasional insight or fascinating tidbit thrown in as a bonus.

The latest installment — “American History Textbooks That Are 3/5 Accurate” — includes a fine debunking of the religious-right myth that the U.S. Constitution was only completed and ratified after Ben Franklin convinced delegates to begin each day with prayer asking “for God’s guidance and wisdom.” What these myth-spinners fail to mention, though, is that Franklin’s proposal was found unnecessary. Alexander Hamilton, for one, thought the addition of such prayers would produce “disagreeable animadversions.”

Apart from this being a terrific potential band name — “Alexander Hamilton and The Disagreeable Animadversions” — I think it’s a useful phrase to file away as a response/rebuttal whenever other such official prayers are suggested. Now I’m eager for a chance to try that out.

4. Hemant Mehta passes along an update on the much-anticipated Left Behind movie re-boot — a tweet from director Vic Armstrong announcing that the actors and extras casting offices for the film are now open in Baton Rouge. The movies’s IMDb page confirms Nicolas Cage will be playing Rayford Steele, and also lists a couple new names “rumored” to be in the cast — including Martin Klebba. (As Bruce Barnes? As Nicolae?)

5. One piece of conventional wisdom about American politics says that policies favoring the very rich will always be popular because, even though most people are not themselves very rich, they hope to be one day, somehow. And since they hope, dream, fantasize about and even almost expect to one day count themselves among the super-rich, they don’t want to support any policies today that might ask more of their future wealthy selves.

This latest legislative push from Republican Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli has nothing to do with wealth, but I would guess the same principle applies. I don’t see this as a winning campaign issue in Cuccinelli’s bid for governor.

6. Senegalese striker Papiss Cissé plays for the English Premier League club Newcastle United. That’s a problem, because Newcastle’s sponsor — featured prominently on team uniforms — is a predatory payday lender called Wonga. Cissé, a Muslim, believes promoting Wonga’s usury would be an injustice forbidden by his religion.

Cissé doesn’t want to don Newcastle’s jersey — according to his agent — because the sponsor is Wonga, which, as stated on its website, lends money with an annual interest rate of more than 5,800 percent.

“He feels that it is immoral….,” the Senegal international’s agent Madou Diene told CNN, outlining his interpretation of the striker’s position.

… Under Sharia law, making money from interest, for example, isn’t allowed.

But the BBC reported that two of Cissé’s Muslim teammates, midfielders Cheick Tiote and Moussa Sissoko, told the club they had no issue with wearing the shirt and both of them were included in the squad for the trip to Portugal …

So only one of the team’s three Muslim players thinks that charging 5,800-percent interest is immoral. But apparently none of the team’s Christian players thinks charging 5,800-percent interest is immoral. For the Christian athletes of Newcastle United, that’s an injustice permitted by their religion. Ugh.

7. Ladies and gentlemen, Robert George — moralist and public intellectual. Sanctimony and pretension are not really the same thing as decency and intelligence, but apparently you can make a good living selling the former as plausible counterfeits of the latter. Just ask Richard Cohen.


"Especially when you haven't even brought the kid back, and are just promising not to ..."

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"American Christianity suddenly has a lot more to answer for. Apparently, at least some of ..."

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"As expected. Let's make sure the deception doesn't stick."

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And his own received him not

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  • Lorehead

    Or, the Iowa supreme court has now ruled, one horny boss. If he comes on to you and you say no, he can legally fire you, at least under Iowa state law, and say it’s to protect his marriage from his own uncontrollable lust toward you. (The woman would seem to have a strong Federal case against him, but John Roberts hasn’t gotten to sexual-harrassment law yet. I wonder if Clarence Thomas will recuse himself.)

    The beauty of it is that your boss can also fire you for not being attractive enough.

  • Our packages are delivered to package boxes next to the cluster boxes.

    But aren’t those additional difficulties equally true of street mailboxes? I mean, maybe I am confused, but I can’t imagine the places where they’d be switching to cluster boxes would primarily be places where they otherwise deliver mail to your door — they’d be places where you’d otherwise have a mailbox at the end of your driveway.

  • Not exactly; Zaphod was elected as a distraction, to keep the public from paying attention to what the government was actually doing. I’m suggesting something almost like the contrapositive of that: someone whose job is to keep the actual government from getting distracted by politics.

    Zaphod would go out and put on a big public spectacle to keep anyone from noticing that the economy was tanking and the government was intentionally making it worse. My hypothetical monarch’s job would be to do things like, as I suggested, to stop anyone who had to run for re-election from having to do things for the sake of appearances. Right now, if Obama came out against drinking muriatic acid, the house would vote to dump it in the reservoir just so they could go on Fox News and crow about how they’d stood up to the Atheist-Muslim-Nazi-Socialist-Kenyan-Pretender.

  • To come back to this, you have to examine WHY people go to payday lenders.

    Because they are poor people from poor families. They don’t have close relationships with people who have access to capital.

    Because they have bad credit. AND THIS IS WHERE IT GETS FUCKED UP!

    First of all, three corporations are responsible for the credit rating system used in the US(though I remember this post is about a guy in England). Unelected, unappointed corporations who are in no way held accountable to the people they monitor. Considering how essential access to credit is for financial stability in this country, this is outrageous.

    Secondly, people who go hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt have an easier time recovering, and are more easily forgiven, than people who accrue less than $10,000 in debt.

    Because of the position I hold at my employer, I have regular contact with brain dead idiots who imagine they have wealth. I’ve seen these people run business after business in the ground, ruin families, and destroy futures, and they never suffer for it. In several cases, they have been rewarded for it!

    Our system is designed to reward those who fuck up in astronomical ways, while punishing those who have nothing, no family connections, no wealth.

    Predatory lending is but a symptom of a greater disease.

    (Which is why I’m a dirty socialist who supports Post Office banks)

  • Zeborah

    I get the bites swelling up red – if in a fleshy area, it can be the size of my palm. Sometimes in the past they’ve included a blister the size of a pea, but that at least not so much anymore (possibly because I’ve learned not to itch, so less chance of infection). Luckily I’ve never had the recurring bites. :-(

    I’ve always found the heat trick (I first heard it as using a hairdryer) works wonderfully to get rid of the itch – but absolutely not permanently for me. I theorise that the heat breaks down some key part of the venom, and for most people at that point the body can then flush the fragments away; but that either my body’s already gone to battlestations or I’m allergic to the fragments themselves.

  • Wednesday

    @Ross –The backtrack-package issue that annoys my spouse is not true of street mailboxes. If you’ve got a package for a house with a street mailbox, and you can’t deliver the package, the furthest you have to go to leave the slip is back to the curb and across the street. Which is likely where you’d have to go to get to your vehicle anyway.

    But on my spouse’s route, there’s a set of cluster boxes that he comes to _before_ he comes to any of the houses for that box. It’s a fairly long street, so if there’s a house near the end that needs a package slip, he does have a significant backtrack distance (which irritates him, because the route is already >120 miles).

    @Lori — if your carrier uses her own vehicle and doesn’t wear a uniform, then I’m pretty sure she’s a rural carrier. Rural carriers sometimes use the mailtrucks, though. My spouse uses his own car for the route he’s on, but he’s also worked in offices where all the rural routes had the trucks.

    And while I’m sure the boxes help the post office, they don’t necessarily help the carriers — sure, the boxes might be faster on average (ignoring the backtracking problem my spouse has had), but that doesn’t mean the carriers _like_ them better. Shorter routes mean you get paid
    less, after all.

  • That actuary sounds like he would have had a coronary at the realization that my province’s auto insurance quasi monopoly is forbidden by law from discriminating on the basis of sex, race, or age, and yet somehow miraculously still makes a (decentish) profit.

  • Kiwibrit

    The non-existent “Christian players” may be doing nothing but the church of england seems to be if this report is anything to go by http://www.guardian.co.uk/money/2013/jul/25/church-england-wonga

  • BaseDeltaZero

    And there’s a surprising amount of people who haven’t realized yet that 3d printing is eventually going to replace the assembly line, and that manufacturing is DOA now.

    Eh. 3d printing is convenient, but traditional assembly is far, far, more efficient, at least until we get some serious improvements in 3d printing… but they’d have to be pretty remarkable. I suspect the assembly of large industrial products will always be done by… well, assembly, albeit maybe with smaller components being printed on-site rather than shipped in, and the frame components built with 3d-printing based techniques. A typical commercial 3d printer can take the better part of a day to print a vase… think of how long it’d take to build a car that way.

    And yes, Michigan’s roads are remarkable. It’s like the moment you cross the border it goes from smooth ride to *bump bump bump*.

  • BaseDeltaZero

    I’m not be represented at all by the Emergency Managers, who are basically appointed barons, I’m being taxed without any representation at all.

    Hey, I object to that characterization. Based on the size of their domains, they’d be counts, not barons. Besides, their appointment is based on ideology, not heredity. Thus making them commissars.

    I found myself in the heart of skinhead territory when I visited family and got to hear more racist rants about foreigners and “that n****r in the White House” than I would ever care to experience in my life, much less over a couple of weeks.

    I have family there too, and one of my uncles, while he’s not quite that bad (at least with us around), he’s deeply in the Fox rabbit hole…

  • Lori

    Good for the Archbishop of Canterbury.

  • JRoth95