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.


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  • AnonaMiss

    Holy shit I want Martin Klebba to be Nicolae.

    Ruby Tea always talks about how awesome Atheistopia is in Jenkins’ Soon series. I would love it if the new Left Behind movie(s?) created a similarly idyllic post-rapture OWG society – or at least one in which people are free enough of prejudice to be happy subjects of a charismatic little person dictator.

    “Little person dictator” sounds really weird to my ear, but “little dictator” sounds dismissive. What would be the correct phrasing?

  • JustoneK

    Dwarf dictator?

    Also now I am somehow shoehorning in Dinklage. Because that man has the manliest chin in television right now.

  • Lori

    Dinklage would definitely make the movie better, because he makes pretty much everything he’s in better.

    Small plug—if folks haven’t seen The Station Agent it’s worth finding. Not a perfect movie, but good and charming and the cast is wonderful. Bobby Cannavale and Patricia Clarkson have the other major roles and Michelle Williams has a small part.

  • themunck

    All my respect to Klebba, but meh. I’m still hoping a last-minute sign-up of Jeremy Irons for Nicolae.

  • aunursa

    According to the director, the Antichrist won’t appear in this movie, which will cover only the first several hours following the Rapture. Nicky will appear in a sequel (if there is one.)

  • themunck

    Nooooooooooooooooooo! Damn you, director!
    Fine then, plan B. Klebba as Buck. Just to see Jenkins’ reaction to his avatar not being 2m tall.

  • Alix

    Isn’t Buck already cast?

  • Lori

    Oh yeah. The inimitable Chad Michael Murray is Buck.

  • themunck

    Castings can be changed. One way or another…
    *Calls his squad of ninjas to arrange a kidnapping. This is made somewhat hard by the fact said ninjas only speak Japanese, and themunck does not*

  • Carstonio

    I would have imagined a church using a helicopter to shower crowds with Gideon bibles or Chick tracts. Or to hold Thanksgiving services with live turkeys…uh, scratch that.

  • http://thatbeerguy.blogspot.com Chris Doggett

    “As God is my witness, I thought turkeys could fly!”

  • JustoneK

    Turkeys can fly, but not for very long.

  • Alix

    Scariest moment of my life was driving down a narrow back road with my mother and having a giant black THING come leaping off the low stone wall bordering the road, sort-of-gliding down onto the hood of our car, gobbling menacingly the whole time.

    We stopped right there and took a breather, and I was on turkey watch for the rest of the ride.

  • Lori

    We have wild turkeys around here and they can be surprisingly scary. I’ve never had one land on my car, but I’ve had flocks of them sort of rush at it. They apparently don’t like to be interrupted by passing traffic when they’re eating.

  • AnonaMiss
  • Viliphied

    Ha! I live like 10 miles away from there. There’s a group of turkeys that hang around my office all the time. Sometimes they fight with their reflections in our windows

  • jmb

    The dino nature is very close to the surface, with turkeys.

  • Alix

    Someone in the comments of a paleontology blog was once whining about how dinosaurs being feathered took away the cool factor, and that it rendered them no scarier than turkeys.

    Cue everyone else replying with: “you’ve never actually met a turkey, have you?”

  • http://anonsam.wordpress.com/ AnonymousSam
  • Jon Maki
  • otrame

    The single funniest sitcom episode ever.

    In second place is when Fraser and a cleaning lady translated the confrontation between Miles and his wife’s fencing instruction, from German to Spanish, then from Spanish to English and vice versa.

  • Lori

    I loved that episode of Fraser. It shows how important execution is to a good joke. That game of multilingual telephone was not by any means an original set-up, but everyone involved just nailed it in a way that made it funny even though there was no surprise about where it was going.

    For those who haven’t seen it, the scene starts at 1:30


    Just what we need, a fourth language.

  • caryjamesbond

    That is close to the funniest episode ever.

    I still think the funniest episode of Frasier (and therefore of most anything, ever) is the one where Frasier is trying to woo a woman who is under the impression that Frasier’s dad is gay. And, of course, is therefore trying to hook him up with her gay uncle. The entire thing is just…..magnificent.

    Either that, or the one where they all have to pretend to be Jewish. Terribly. Including making fake Kosher wine and pretending that the pork roast in the oven is a brisket.

    Dammit, now I have to go watch Frasier.

  • Kubricks_Rube

    Agree completely on those two episodes. Amy Brenneman is so good in that one too.

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

    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.

    What I just cannot fathom is how the 99% can square this kind of pie-in-the-sky dreaming with the reality that to get from a paycheck-to-paycheck existence to an embarrassment of riches is an obstacle course that would put anything else to shame.

  • Alix

    The people who buy into this that I know don’t think it’s that much of an obstacle course. That also ties into why they’re convinced welfare is a scam for lazy folks – surely it’s not that hard to become wealthy! See also: why “how to make money fast” books still sell like hotcakes.

    And if they’re not rapidly acquiring wealth, why, The Man is keeping them down! Siphoning off all their hard-earned money for taxes to funnel to the lazy poor! Straitjacketing capitalism with all these liberal/socialist regulations so that an honest businessman can’t rise to become a robber baron! Etc, etc.

    (I know I use him a lot as an example, but) My dad believes all of this. He’s also convinced his parents are stingy (basically by virtue of still being alive and not signing over all their money to him), that his attempt to buy up tons of failing stock when a company was going under should’ve brought him great wealth and ~something~ happened to prevent it, and that somehow it’s taxes and the eeeevil government/poor conspiracy that are stealing all his money and not, y’know, the fact that he pisses it all away on drink and out-of-his-budget ostentatious displays of the wealth he thinks he’s owed by virtue of being a straight white man in America.

  • P J Evans

    They also expect to win the lottery.

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

    So do I, but you don’t see me voting for right-wing political parties up here. :P

  • LoneWolf343

    That’s the “American Dream” for you.

  • guest

    I don’t think that was the ‘American dream’ for most people until recently–it was more like ‘make enough (through an honest living, not speculation or hedge fund trading or whatever) to buy a house, have a nice car, go on vacation every summer, and send your kids to college.’

  • VMink

    And now it’s becoming clear that you can’t make enough through an honest living, at least out the gate; you can’t afford to buy a house without going into serious debt that is one paycheck and one annoyed boss (thanks right-to-work!) away from a financial nightmare, the nice car will put you even further into debt, Americans take less vacation than most populations in Europe, and now college isn’t even a garauntee of a decent job on graduation.

    The ‘American Dream’ of the 1950’s has been pillaged and pilloried, and too many people think that was such a golden age and if we just keep trying to do the same thing over and over and over again then magic and it will be back to ‘Normal.’

  • 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.

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

    Because “Give up all hope that you will ever do anything but scrabble for bare existance and live in constant fear of even the smallest stroke of bad luck that would be your undoing” is not much of an alternative?

  • Lori

    It’s so sad that we think those are the only choices, or that those choices cost less in the long run than fighting to get back what our forebears bled for and we’ve lost along the way.

  • VMink

    It’s the complete unwillingness of state and federal leaders and others, to acknowledge that other systems exist and should be looked at. But, no, anything other than laissez-faire, do-or-die capitalism is evil.

    There was a report that a staffer made to a senator about the Stryker combat vehicle, and why it was so inadequate. The report actually said… hold on, let me quote it…

    Okay, this is from Stryker Brigades vs. The Reality of War, which can be found at globalsecurity.com (a copy might also be at fas.org.) The byline for the report is “Written by Victor O’Reilly for Congressman Jim Saxton, D21 Aug 22, 2003” so it’s a bit dated, but I can’t imagine that this attitude has gone away.

    In peacetime, the procurement of military equipment resembles a commercial spectator sport where the rewards are profit and the penalty is loss. Of course, most thinking Americans know it should not be that way – because the lives of American soldiers, sailors, marines and airmen could theoretically be at stake – but their concerns are largely swept aside by the imperatives of a free market economy where the good, without question, outweighs the bad.

    Senators and Congressman, quite rightly, fight for their states, districts and party interests. Defense contractors fight for their bottom line. The military fight for their services.

    All of this is understandable, if less than ideal, in peacetime.

    As former military, and a ‘thinking American,’ I don’t have the right words. My mind keeps going into the ‘what is this i dont even MAN WHAT’ loop. The cynicism in this piece is blatant.

  • Lori

    I have a whole rant about military procurement and military contracting that’s like 3 hours long by now. I’ll refrain from sharing it and just say, yeah this is f’ed up.

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

    By the way, I’d like to again float the idea of someone writing a disqus-specific Javascript surrogate that orders the posts chronologically in unthreaded order.

    Proof? Disable javascript and view this site. Posts will appear unformatted, chronologically or reverse chronologically.

  • Donalbain

    The problem with unformatting Disqus threads at the user end of things is that things become just as unreadable. When you have flat threads, people are forced to quote what they are replying to and so things make sense. If you are flattening the threads at your end of things, you lose the context of conversations.

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

    The problem with unformatting Disqus threads at the user end of things is that things become just as unreadable. When you have flat threads, people are forced to quote what they are replying to and so things make sense. If you are flattening the threads at your end of things, you lose the context of conversations.

    So? It’s good practice to quote generally. Have you ever seen what Disqus does to threads nested very deeply? Posts start crossing over one another so that a post replied to no longer immediately is followed by its reply.

  • Lori

    it’s good practice to quote generally.

    I agree about the need to quote even with the threaded comments. I’ve gotten lazy about it, but I’m trying to break the habit because when threads get long things get very wonky and confusing.

  • Donalbain

    It may be good practice to quote in threaded discussions, but people do not.

  • themunck

    If you’re talking about the issue I think you are, that is “fixed” by refreshing the page.

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

    It doesn’t work when threads are at the limit of visible nesting but are still nested internally. I’ve seen comments that I have to trace back with my eye to judge where they came from.

  • Alix

    All in all, though, and maybe this is just me, but I prefer nesting. :/ Almost every other site I’ve ever been on uses some form of nested comments, so I guess it’s just what I’m used to. One reason I almost never commented here until recently was I couldn’t easily track conversations through a flat comment section.

    Admittedly, I really dislike this half-nested system, but I can at least figure out where conversations start.

  • aunursa

    I hate this format. When I return to a lengthy thread, it takes me 5-10 times longer to locate the new comments as it did when they were chronological.

  • Donalbain

    Nesting sucks. It makes it impossible to catch up on long threads. It used to be that I could skim the comments until I saw something new and carry on from there. Or even just remember that I was on about page 4 the last time I read the comments. Now, to fully catch up would require looking at each subthread on each page to see if there was anything new on it. And frankly, I have stopped doing that.

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


    One reason I almost never commented here until recently was I couldn’t
    easily track conversations through a flat comment section.

    What we used to do a lot more on the old Slacktivist (which was a pure flat format) was to address posts to people and use quoting, as exemplified in this here post.

  • Alix

    …I know. I was here, lurking. It was still damned hard for me to follow. I’d have to scroll up sometimes quite a long ways to find the comment being replied to, because quotes often aren’t enough, frankly, and I often lost the thread. Like I said, it’s probably a me thing, but it was distracting, confusing, and made for posts longer than they ought to have been, to my mind.

  • AnonaMiss

    It’s pretty clear that we need the standard imageboard thread format, which is flat chronological with automatic linkbacks for replies. But nooooo. Blah blah blah blah Disqus.

  • Alix

    That’d work. Or something that lets users decide flat or nested.

  • themunck

    If you hover your courser over the name of the person the post replies to, you can see the first few words of the post being replied to. It’s hardly ideal, I agree :/

  • banancat

    I actually figured out Disqus’s evil scheme. It’s freaking ridiculous to follow things on the blog post where they are posted. However, if you go to Disqus’s main site, you can see just your comments and the replies to them. For non-lurkers, it’s an easier way to follow a discussion that you are involved in. And so, Disqus gets the page view hits while the blogs miss out on them. Disqus has done all of this quite intentionally, to get more money from advertisers.

    Instead of making a script to deal with Disqus, I would really like to see someone create a viable competitor commenting system.

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

    Instead of making a script to deal with Disqus, I would really like to see someone create a viable competitor commenting system.

    Unfortunately, I think for Fred to do this he would need to move off Patheos, which pays him some money for ad revenue etc.

  • Kubricks_Rube

    Robert George on Obama’s speech: “Thank you for taking time to share with us, more than once now, your reflections on the Zimmerman case.”

    “The Zimmerman case”???? What a dismissive way to refer to the President’s comments, which touched on everything from his own personal experience to historical context to undeniable racial disparities across a number of metrics of justice and fairness, in which Obama went out of his way to avoid the specifics of the case at hand and focus on general issues. Zimmerman was only mentioned once in the 2,000 word speech, and in a hypothetical situation at that.

    Sadly, I encountered a similar attitude to that of Professor George over the weekend. My mother-in-law announced that she didn’t want to talk politics (preemptively blocking any attempt for us to respond) but was sure that my wife and I wouldn’t try to defend the President’s attempt to bring race into a situation that had nothing to do with it. My wife made a short but futile effort to counter her but I kept my mouth shut.

    Instead, the next day I posted a link to Andrew Cohen’s Atlantic piece Obama, Race, and Justice on Facebook along with this quote from the article:

    [I]t’s hard to know what is more disheartening about the president’s remarks — the fact that he needed to remind his fellow citizens that such racial disparities still exist 50 years after Birmingham or the fact that the former constitutional law professor’s mention of those disparities would give rise to cries of “race baiting.” How are we, as a nation and as a people, going to fix the racial problems in our justice systems if we cannot honestly admit to one other that they exist? The cries today against the President’s speech are of a piece with the cries heard 50 years ago: A black man who acknowledges unequal justice is the problem — not the unequal justice he acknowledges.

    I post on Facebook very rarely so I expect she’ll know why I made an exception. I especially like how the first line of the quote gives the impression that it will be critical of Obama’s speech but then reveals its real target.

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

    See, this is why all the hubbub about HRH Prince Unnamed Baby Boy Wales, Prince of Cambridge Middleton-Montbatten-Windsor, Defender of the Placenta, Emperor of the Third Floor Delivery Suite has got me thinking that what we need in the US is an impotent legacy monarch. Someone whose only actual power was the ability to make the media drop everything and listen for a few hours every once in a while, who could do things like cutting ribbons at monuments, giving inspiring speeches, welcoming soldiers home, and occasiionally saying things like “Maybe it would be nice if children didn’t get shot so often” without half of congress instinctively responding “Oh yeah? Says who?”, so that the actual elected officials could get on with the business of actually governing

  • Lori

    On the one hand, this idea has merit. On the other hand, imagine how far up shit creek without a paddle we’d be if the current Teahadist GOP was actually governing more.

  • dpolicar

    I often wonder about this.

    I think if we had an expectation that our elected officials actually govern and set effective policy, rather than merely perform symbolic acts of constituent representation, the sorts of people who currently go into politics in order to perform faux-populist ceremonies would not have gone into politics in the first place.

    But now that they’re there, I’m not sure what we can do.

  • Lori

    Congress used to be able to get stuff done. Compromising wasn’t always a career-killer and “bipartisan” wasn’t always a bullshit slogan that really means everyone doing what Republicans want and/or what benefits the Village. The head of state and head of government functions were just as much one job then as they are now.

    Whatever brought us to this ugly, stupid place it wasn’t the lack of powerless royalty, which makes it rather doubtful that having powerless royalty would solve the problem.

  • dpolicar


  • alfgifu

    Whatever brought us to this ugly, stupid place it wasn’t the lack of powerless royalty, which makes it rather doubtful that having powerless royalty would solve the problem.

    Yes. I’ve occasionally posted about the way the the British royal family functions to help us separate the sacramental/idealistic/authoritarian ideal of power from the people who have actual power. However, we got here by an accident of history. I’m not sure the same thing could be retro-fitted elsewhere.

    I suppose you might see a future somewhere where the US President is a purely ceremonial role and actual power is exercised by some sort of deputy (or even by the VP) but to get there you’d probably have to go through some sort of less democratic stage where the President’s power passed to an unelected appointee. Which would be a stupid waste of democracy to get somewhere possibly worse than the present.

    Possibly an interesting novel, though.

  • JustoneK

    Wasn’t that Idiocracy?

  • caryjamesbond

    Thats essentially what Ireland does: the President is a largely powerless head of state, while the Taoiseach is the head of government. So the president gets to be someone who does meet and greets with various dignitaries, and gets the adulation of Head of State, while everyone gets to yell at the Taoiseach. One of the big problems with America is that since head of state and government are the same thing, the Office of the Presidency has gotten cloaked in some serious mystical BS, that should really be foisted onto someone in a separate, largely ceremonial position.

  • dpolicar

    Isn’t that what actors and musicians are for?

  • Carstonio

    That was used on an episode of Star Trek TNG.

  • ReverendRef

    HRH Prince Unnamed Baby Boy Wales, Prince of Cambridge
    Middleton-Montbatten-Windsor, Defender of the Placenta, Emperor of the Third Floor Delivery Suite

    Would that be the Prince formerly known as embryo?

    sorry ……

  • friendly reader

    You’re Episcopalian, right? Isn’t he technically going to be the head of your church someday?

  • alfgifu

    I think ReverendRef is Episcopalian, and I’m Anglican so I’m in the same boat.

    The answer is: it depends. The Queen is currently the (ceremonial) head of the Anglican/Episcopalian church. That works, because she also happens to be a Christian. However, the question of whether that should continue has been raised a number of times.

    I think it likely that the monarch will cease to be head of the church as soon as we hit a monarch who is not a Christian. Of course, as it’s a given that future monarchs will be raised in a religious family, that may not be for some time.

    Things may change sooner, particularly if further reforms to the House of Lords take place and bring the case for disestablishment back into the limelight.

  • VMink

    But you can be sure the antidisestablishmentarians will oppose that.

    … I never get tired of that word.

  • ReverendRef

    Yes, I’m Episcopalian.

    No, he’s not going to technically be the head of the Episcopal Church someday. Although we are related (the Church of England being the “mother” church), formal authority was eliminated after the U.S. gained independence.

    The short story is that after the war, priests elected bishops would not swear allegiance to the crown, so TEC became as independent as the U.S. and we could politely say, “You’re not the boss of me.”

    That has caused some interesting . . . tensions . . . recently over the ordination of gay priests and bishops, as well as on the marriage equality front.

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

    We do this in Canada (cf. Governor-General) but even so our system has its faults when an unabashedly pro-corporate party gets into power (see: Harper Conservatives)

  • Jamoche

    So basically Zaphod Beeblebrox.

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

    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.

  • Lorehead

    That’s the Vice-President.

  • Cathy W

    …so what you’re saying is we need Zaphod Beeblebrox? Except I think that went the other way: he was elected to a post designed to distract from the civil servants doing their jobs.
    I’ve heard the royal family described as Britain’s Official State Celebrities. I suppose if we consider them in that light, they can be judged More Useful Than The Kardashians, which I acknowledge is damning with faint praise.

  • VMink

    I’ve several FB friends who have been going on about how ‘the Zimmerman case’ is distracting people from Benghazi (apparently this is the new Birth Certificate and 9/11 Truth) and the IRS scandals (something I admit I find pretty serious) and the NSA spying on all the things issue (no comment necessary.)

    And then they go on about the gun laws in New York. Such cognitive dissonance and a piss-poor attempt to shut down conversation.

    Then again, this group includes a rabid conservative who thinks being called ‘mean’ counts TOTES the same as being gay and bullied so TOLERANCE HAHAH. … Sorry, I’ll stop ranting. I almost wish that Facebook never existed; it’s put me in touch with a lot of people I’ve missed, but it’s also put me in touch with some people whom I find I didnt miss all that much.

  • Lorehead

    The way the IRS affair was originally reported made it sound pretty serious, but that didn’t hold up.

    Essentially, what you had was a lot of groups swearing that they weren’t political in order to get preferential tax status. No one seriously believes for an instant that the Tea Party was an nonpartisan, charitable educational movement. In fact, the accusation is precisely that they were political organizers and everybody knew it, making the IRS guilty of discrimination against Repubicans, which implies the IRS was right not to believe them.

    What would have been a real scandal is if that scrutiny hadn’t been applied to left-wing groups as well. However, we now know it was.

  • LL

    To be fair to the football (soccer) players, I doubt many of them are actual practicing Christians. They’re probably not atheists, but I doubt that, in their daily lives, they’re any more religiously observant than I am. So they’re not really behaving as terrible Christians. Just everyday people with a corporate name on their uniforms.

  • TheBrett

    6. If he won’t wear the uniform, then he can go find another job. It’s as simple as that.

    As for the interest rates, is that worse than simply not having the money available at all. I speak from personal experience here – my mom went through a period of sharply reduced income, and she ended up doing the whole “borrow from one payday lender to pay off the other” thing because she had a bad credit rating. That was bad, but if the money wasn’t available at all she would have lost her house.

  • Boidster

    I am glad that your mom was able to successfully navigate that nightmare.

    My response to your question about is 5,600% interest worse than not having the money available is, don’t we have other options? The charging of 5,600% interest to people like your mom, who is struggling to save her house, is immoral, full stop. I don’t see why “ok then, she gets nothing” is the only other option. I think that a) recognizing the immorality of places like Wongo and b) advocating for better options should be the aim of every person, and especially those who claim to follow a loving God.

    Don’t get me started on “bad credit”. Another immoral facet of our banking/finance system.

  • TheBrett

    Why is it “immoral”? I love my mom, but from a lenders’ perspective she was pretty risky in that period for them to lend to (nobody got their money back on time). I gave her money, but I didn’t care if I ever got any of it back – I just wanted to help her, and I was living with her at the time.

    Are you arguing for subsidized loans with subsidized interest rates?.

  • Wednesday

    Part of the trouble is that the way we handle credit scores can exacerbate the problem of risk — and actuaries can be more concerned with making the numbers work out favorably for them than looking at _why_.

    First-year math grad students in my program were required to sit through weekly talks by math professors in different disciplines. One week we had an actuary speak. He was very excited about how credit scores correlated with cost-to-insurer for car insurance, and was visibly annoyed when he said that insurers might be someday prohibited from using credit scores to set insurance premiums, because credit scores also correlate with race and poverty, and it’s just Not Fair that insurance companies aren’t allowed to charge poor black people more for insurance, because how can insurance companies be expected to make money if they have to *gasp* pool risk, like it’s some kind of risk-hedging thing, rather than make individuals pay for what they will individually cost the company.

    Some people do have bad credit histories through irresponsibility and dishonesty, but many people with bad credit are there because of a combination of outside forces beyond their control and exacerbated by the way credit histories are used to judge everything from how much you pay for your car insurance to fitness for employment.

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

    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.

  • http://thatbeerguy.blogspot.com Chris Doggett

    #6 – Sorry, but I can’t get behind this snark on this one. It’s a fair choice: if some aspect of your job offends your religion or ethics, you can either compromise on your ethics or you quit the job. It doesn’t matter if your job is a professional soccer player, a pharmacist, an ER nurse, or an elected official. It doesn’t matter if the issue is charging usury, dispensing birth control, receiving annual flu vaccinations, or upholding the separation of church and state.

    It’s damn tempting to praise the man who doesn’t compromise… on a principle that we agree with. We’ve got lots of case studies of persons taking that route. (see above) The problem is that when it’s a principle we don’t agree with, we argue that this non-compromise-r is trying to have it both ways, trying to have their cake and eat it too.

    So either Cisse’ is a moral exemplar, and so are the Catholic hospitals that refuse plan B to rape victims, or the Christian athletes in Newcastle have correctly compartmentalized their personal ethics from their professional duties.

  • Alix

    I see your argument, but find it incomplete. I think there’s a bright line missing: how well or poorly these things people take stands against are treating real, live people.

    So, sure, you could ignore that payday lenders are predators who make lives worse for their victims and that plan B helps rape victims avoid one nasty possible traumatizing side effect and say that taking a strong stand against one is the equivalent of taking a strong stand against the other. But I profoundly disagree with that.

    Honestly? This false moral equivalence thing bothers the hell out of me. It’s saying that just because someone else can use a tactic and justify it in ways that make our positions sound vaguely alike, that tactic is invalid for us to use without conceding the moral ground to our opponents. I don’t think that’s true.

  • http://thatbeerguy.blogspot.com Chris Doggett

    I think there’s a bright line missing: how well or poorly these things people take stands I think there’s a bright line missing: against are treating real, live people.

    That sounds like a nice standard. And it would be great if it was the one being used here. But it’s not.

    Cisse isn’t opposed to payday lending because it hurts people. He’s not opposed to it because of economic theory, or out of anti-poverty activism. He’s opposed to it because of religious teaching. That’s his principle: “my religion says this is wrong, and I won’t support it”. That’s what Fred is snarking on: “Hey, Christianity says it’s wrong too, and those Christian players don’t mind, the hypocrites!”

    It’s a great system… when we agree with the principle. But the exact same principle (“I won’t do this because my religion says it’s wrong”) applies to ER nurses, County officials in charge of wedding licenses, Scalia’s opposition to gay rights, and a soccer player’s opposition to payday lending.

  • http://www.aeryllou.tumblr.com/ Aeryl

    It’s a religious teaching that is supported, on the grounds that it prevents people from being harmed.

    Where is the moral bedrock to Catholics anti-contraception stance?

  • Kubricks_Rube

    But the exact same principle (“I won’t do this because my religion says it’s wrong”) applies to ER nurses, County officials in charge of wedding licenses, Scalia’s opposition to gay rights, and a soccer player’s opposition to payday lending.

    I think there’s a big difference between one’s job violating one’s principles and the conditions under which one does one’s job violating one’s prinicples.

    This distinction matters. If you won’t do parts of your job then you shouldn’t have that job. But employers should make all reasonable efforts (and in the US are required) to accomadate their employees on this type of thing where possible.

  • Alix

    This gets at something I was wondering, and I’m not a follower of any sport so I honestly don’t know: from my naive outsider’s perspective, the job someone’s hired to do in a sport is to play that sport. If, say, a basketball player had a strong religious objection to touching round objects, then he absolutely should find a different job, because the job itself cannot reasonably be altered to accommodate him.

    The backer advertised on the jersey seems to me to thus be a secondary, not-entirely-job-related matter, and so comparing it to pharmacists refusing to fill patients’ prescriptions is sort of comparing apples and oranges, it seems? A more valid comparison might be a worker objecting to, say, religious propaganda in their store’s advertising.

    So that’s the other distinction I see here.

  • Lori

    I don’t think Fred’s point was so much about how Cisse should resolve the conflict between his job and his morals, as it was that apparently no Christian players felt that there was any conflict at all. Fred has talked about that issue rather a lot.

    As for how Cisse should resolve the conflict, the obvious way is to play for another team. The thing is, he can’t just do that. He has a contract and the team has to agree to trade him. (I get the impression that the problematic sponsorship is a new development and not something that was in place when he signed with the team. Is that the case?)

  • Launcifer

    No, Wonga wasn’t the sponsor when Cissé signed: that was Virgin Money, which also loans people money, though at more conventional rates of interest. Some football journalists have used the fact he didn’t complain about the previous sponsors to suggest that he’s really just agitating for a move away from the club rather than standing on a point of principle.
    In truth, part of the problem is the specific company involved. Wonga is seen as the poster child for all of the negative aspects of the payday loans business in the United Kingdom and it’s something of a hot-button issue, especially when it comes to football. Another club, Bolton Wanderers, actually dropped their sponsor – which was another payday loans company called Quickquid – because of a protest by the fanbase and the ensuing negative publicity that generated for the club.

  • Kiwibrit

    What Christian players, this is England not the US, different culture I would be surprised if there was even one player at Newcastle he would describe themselves as a Christian and certainly not in the way that the term is used in the US. Mind you Christian or not they players should still come out against this nasty business

  • Daniel

    Also, this is a sport where Joey Barton is considered something of a polymath for being able to read and then choosing to. Football players are not really known for their integrity or their intellects, so asking these particular multimillionaires to question their consciences every time their club makes a shirt sponsor decision is actually asking quite a lot- particularly when the people that Wonga is hurting are not football players, who are extremely rich.
    And yeah, we’re not the US. Sportsmen get looked as being a little bit weird if they’re publicly religious- for any faith.

  • Lorehead

    The amazing journey I’ve been on the last few years has come to an end. I always said a couple things about playing… I said that I wanted to play till I was 28 and I wanted to play till I loved the idea of doing something else more. Well, I turned 28 this past April and I love the idea of starting my career of being a college professor, working towards a PhD, and settling down so much that it just might be more than playing and being away.

    Ashleigh Gunning

  • Daniel

    I admit I was making a rash generalization.

  • 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

  • Lori

    Good for the Archbishop of Canterbury.

  • Michael Pullmann

    The principle you’re standing on matters just as much as standing on principle. Someone standing on the principle that the world is flat is an idiot. Someone standing on the principle that hospitals should be allowed to deny treatment to patients is an asshole. Someone standing on the principle that predatory lending practices are wrong is neither of those things.

  • http://thatbeerguy.blogspot.com Chris Doggett

    Someone standing on the principle that predatory lending practices are wrong is neither of those things.

    TheBrett had a nice anecdote: short term loans have helped people avoid the loss of their cars and their homes. It’s a poor choice, but sometimes all you have are poor choices.

    “Oh, but I’m against predatory lending”

    Great. You want to help draw that line?

    If I loan you $100 today with you paying me back $125 next week, is that predatory? I ask because that’s a 1,200% annual interest rate.

    Most credit cards will allow you to get a cash advance, and the rates on those are usually below 50% APR, but the terms of the loan require that all other balances be paid off first before the cash advance principle gets reduced. Is that predatory? It’s a much lower APR.

    Bear in mind, I’m not trying to defend payday lenders. I’m trying to point out that a lot of the principles we would claim to stand on as moral exemplars aren’t the black-and-white, already-settled matters we want them to be.

    Pretending that we’re awesome for standing on our (non-factual, non-evidentiary, not-closed-question) principles, while the other guys are assholes and idiots for standing on their (non-factual, non-evidentiary, not-closed-question) principles is not helping.

  • http://www.aeryllou.tumblr.com/ Aeryl


    I think those loans should be made available to people with bad credit WITHOUT the astronomic interest rates.

    Yes, I’m one of those people, who’s been able to keep the lights on, or the car in the driveway, because of payday lending. And I’ve had it cost me 6 car payments to keep paying it down.

    Of course I’m a dirty socialist who supports Post Office banks.

  • http://www.aeryllou.tumblr.com/ Aeryl

    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)

  • Carstonio

    Most of my information about the Texas mindset comes from Molly Ivins, and i don’t know how she tolerated it for so long. The politicians she eviscerated embodied not just intolerance but also arrogance, deliberate ignorance and macho pigheadedness. The state needs more women like her and Ann Richards and Wendy Davis.

  • Cathy W

    I really, really wished we could have heard Molly’s thoughts about Wendy Davis and the “emergency session” of the Lege. Still miss you, Molly…

  • SisterCoyote

    God damn it, Texas. And I don’t even feel guilty about that one. Can we organize a search and rescue mission to get anybody stuck there out and safely away? : / I would not wish that state on my worst enemy.

  • Stone_Monkey

    The “Christian athletes of Newcastle United” bit is the thing I have trouble getting my head around tbh. I’m sure some of them are, but it would be hard to know for sure without asking them. And that would be dreadfully impolite, your religious convictions are your own business and no-one else’s.

    It’s a cultural difference, I guess, but athletes in Britain tend not to announce their religious convictions in the same way that US athletes tend to. And ostentatious religiosity in athletes, in the style of the Tim Tebows of the world, is something that’s almost unheard of here. Also, the fans, especially football fans, don’t really care; their only real concern is how well that particular player performs on the field from week to week.

    You could probably make some fairly good guesses, depending on a nation of origin of the player, I should think. I mean, South and Central American, Irish, Spanish and Italian players are pretty likely to be Roman Catholic.

    There are still other issues though; professional football here is still, unfortunately, crushingly unfriendly (an understatement) to gay players. Societal changes in attitude should change that as time goes by – a friend of mine (I’m no football fan) told me a while ago, when it was rumoured that a particular Manchester United player was gay, he overheard two grizzled fans of the old school discussing the rumour and their consensus was “I just hope he finds a nice bloke to settle down with, that way he should keep his good form…”. So there is some hope.

    (okaaay… managed to upvote myself by accident. Sorry about that.)

  • themunck

    “(okaaay… managed to upvote myself by accident. Sorry about that.)”

    It happens ^^ I used to upvote most things twice until dis started showing the names of the upvoters. (Since it apparently considered me a different count when I was my stationary pc and not my laptop. “Huh, didn’t I already upvote this post? The button’s grey, so apparently not”).

  • http://anonsam.wordpress.com/ AnonymousSam

    In other news, the city of Detroit has declared bankruptcy — and by all indications, the emergency manager had intended for this to happen all along, and is already lining up auctions for the city’s $9 billion in assets.

    Sucker’s bet how much of this money will find its way into his own pockets as compensation for his hard work in pulling the city out of financial destitution.

  • Susan Paxton

    But of course! It’s all part of the Republican Looting of America (TM). In other news, the Postal Service wants to stop delivering to homes, making it “UPS/FedEx” ready as soon as the Repugs are in power again.

  • EllieMurasaki

    The USPS what?

  • Lori

    It’s a fairly shit proposal, not least because I strongly suspect that a major part of the point is to make more people hate the Post Office, but they’re not talking about stopping all home delivery. They’re proposing moving to cluster mail boxes for all new housing developments. We have one of these now and it’s fine for all but very large packages. Some things that would have been delivered at home if delivery was door to door have to be picked up at the post office instead.

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

    I live in a town where everyone has those cluster mailboxes. It’s kind of weird, but it also kinda makes the street look just a bit tidier. Annoying that they don’t have a drop-slot in them though, especially as they’ve decommissioned like 2/3 of the freestanding mailboxes.

  • Lori

    Yes, that’s the thing I find most annoying about them—no outgoing mail slot. The town where I live is so small that the post office is only about 6 blocks from my house, so it’s not a major inconvenience, but is is mildly irritating.

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

    That happened in Canada abotu 20 years ago. It isn’t super-fantastic, but people have mostly lived with it, since there is still regular mail.

  • Wednesday

    Eh, depending on the type of route it’s going to be (city or rural), I can actually see some reasons why cluster mailboxes would be genuinely helpful to the postal _carriers_. (I’m specifically thinking city carriers — those with lifting restrictions, and those who do routes where the residents aren’t very responsible about clearing the sidewalks.) And if it keeps them from cutting back to five delivery days I’d find it an acceptable trade*.

    That said, it’s annoying to residents and additionally problematic to residents with mobility restrictions (temporarily or long-term), especially during winter when things get icy.

    *Full disclosure: My spouse is a rural carrier associate (basically a substitute), and he’ll be out of regular work (but not out of a job, so he can’t get unemployment) if delivery is cut to five days.

  • Wednesday

    Okay, you know what? Belay that. I just talked to the spouse, and he says cluster mailboxes are annoying for carriers, too. (Although the first thing he complained about with them was the hassle to residents.) Packages are supposed to be delivered to houses, but slips for failed delivery go in the mailbox, so if the mailboxes are all before the houses, you have to backtrack to put any missed package delivery slips (or ‘the package is in your garage’ slips) in the mailboxes.

    Also, a related PSA: For people with mobility restrictions, you can request the post office deliver to your door (rather than a cluster mailbox or even a street mailbox). My spouse wasn’t sure of the full official name, but the term carriers uses is “Hardship”.(as a noun, and any postmaster would know what that meant). Eg, “Grandpa Pete has a Hardship, so the carrier brings his mail to his door.”

  • Lori

    That’s interesting, because our packages are delivered at the cluster box as well, not to our door. Ours is just a freestanding version of the mailboxes you have at an apartment complex. Each resident get a regular box and then there are a couple of oversize boxes for large items. If you receive something that doesn’t fit in your box it’s placed in the big box and the key is left in your box for you. The things you have to pick up at the Post Office are boxes that are too large to fit in the big box.

    Thanks for the info about the Hardship though. At some point my parents will probably need that so I’ll file it away.

  • Wednesday

    I’m surprised about the packages being delivered to the cluster box, because I checked with the spouse and that is _not_ what he is supposed to do. That said, there are differences between city routes and rural routes, and he’s a rural carrier, so that could be it. It could also be that none of his cluster boxes have the oversize boxes for packages.

    I do not have a clear understanding what makes a route rural or city, other than who delivers it* and if they walk much. We live in a town with a radius of 1 mile and a population of about 5K and our carrier is a city carrier; my spouse has delivered a very suburban residential route in a city of population around 150K, but the route was considered rural.

    * City carriers and rural carriers have different unions, and different uniform requirements.

  • Lori

    I have no idea whether our carrier is considered city or rural. The whole town has a population of about 2200, but a lot of those people live outside the town proper, which is really small. We do live outside what I presume was the original extent of the town, but by like 2 blocks.

    I know that our delivery person drives her own car, with signs on it saying that she’s delivering the mail, as opposed to a mail truck. And I don’t think she wears a full uniform so now that I think about it, I assume she’s rural. Weird, but true. The town post office does have mail trucks and I assume some of the carriers drive them, but not ours.

    I didn’t know that city and rural carriers have different unions. Interesting.

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

    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.

  • 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.

  • Lori

    Oh, they absolutely help the Post Office and the carrier. It’s easier and faster for the carrier to deliver and that means they’re cheaper for the USPS. That’s why we already have them in a bunch of places in the town where I live. (The older sections of town get door to door delivery, but newer developments and places like mobile home parks have cluster boxes.)

    Like I said, it’s not ideal from a customer viewpoint, but it’s also not OMG horrible for the majority of residents. It is a problem for folks with significant mobility restrictions. As far as I know there’s no accommodation for that and each person has to come up with their own solution, which is a problem.

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

    I’m reasonably sure this is the backstory to RoboCop. So at least we might get an ED-209 out of the deal.

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

    the emergency manager had intended for this to happen all along

    Oh my FSM, can lightning strike this person? I bet they’re getting a cut of all the auctions.

  • J_Enigma32

    I live in Flint, a city that’s just a ways north of Detroit. I watched this happen in slow-mo my entire life.

    Really, if anyone finds this surprising, you shouldn’t. This is a picture of what happens when you’re known for just one thing, and what happens when that one thing leaves you behind (in this case, the auto industry). Flint is in a similar situation, but it never had the big city status that Detroit did. 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. Although, for Detroit, there were a lot of other issues, too – white flight, post-industrial collapse, and others.

    Also, speaking of dystopias, I used Flint and Detroit as inspiration for the United States of the Blue Pimpernel. Although I only slightly exaggerated the size of the potholes.

  • http://anonsam.wordpress.com/ AnonymousSam

    Oh hey there. I lived not far from Flint in a series of towns that don’t even show up on the map. And yes, the potholes in Michigan are to be seen to be believed.

  • 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*.

  • Alix

    People, honest to god, need to drive emergency managers out on a rail. I’ve yet to hear of one who was actually doing his supposed job, and not just there to destroy things for the profit of the wealthy.

  • J_Enigma32

    We tried. It didn’t work. We voted against it and they still rammed it down our throats. Last I heard, there was a law suit against it being pushed by the Unions, but then Michigan – the heart of Union Country – became a “Right to (not) Work” State when they crammed that garbage down our throats, too. So I’m not sure where that lawsuit is at now.

  • Alix

    …FWIW, I was thinking something … a little less legal, and possibly involving conservatives’ favorite amendment.

  • J_Enigma32

    Can’t be any less legal than the stuff the feudalists up in Lansing are pulling. The only problem is that they get to define legal, because they have the money. And, frankly, there’s a lot more skinheads and right-wing terrorist groups in the state of Michigan than most people realize; any attempt at a revolution is going to be perceived as a race war and these knuckleheads will be out in the droves ready to reenact their favorite scene from the Turner Diaries. Especially since any source of unrest from these EM’s is coming from three general areas – Detroit, Flint, and Bay City-Saginaw. Which, and what a coincidence, all have a very high black population.

    I’ve been tempted to just stop filing state and city taxes. Since 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. The problem there is that I don’t have the money to pay for the lawyer that’d inevitably require. I also wouldn’t get my tax refund back, and I live and die by that refund at the end of the year.

  • http://anonsam.wordpress.com/ AnonymousSam

    And, frankly, there’s a lot more skinheads and right-wing terrorist groups in the state of Michigan than most people realize

    Quoted for horrible truth. 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.

    And Fox News was on 24 hours a day…

  • LoneWolf343

    What were you visiting my family for?

  • http://anonsam.wordpress.com/ AnonymousSam

    Maybe yours and mine can get together sometime. Preferably on a luxury cruise ship set on a continuous loop around the planet?

  • Alix


  • 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…

  • Boidster

    Re: Mosquito Control

    I’d just like to say that the tennis-racket-shaped electrical zappers are excellent. We use citronella around the patio furniture (need to try the fan idea), but when the wine bottle’s dry and it’s time to go back inside, we find a dozen or two of the little bloodsuckers flying around the sliding door, attracted to the interior lights no doubt.

    Just hold the little racket face to the glass and it zaps ’em all in a few seconds. It also helped us take care of a nasty hornet problem without using chemicals.

  • themunck

    I just stay inside and avoid removing the spiders. So far that seems to work :P.

  • Alix

    …I prefer the mosquitos. Eesh, spiders. *shiver*

  • Lori

    Based on what I’ve been reading I would guess that you’re either very spider phobic or you don’t have type O blood.

    Turns out I haven’t just been imagining that I get bit first and worst every time there are mosquitoes.about. They’re apparently twice as likely to bite someone with type O blood as any other type. My bites also seem to last longer than other people’s. I got bit a half dozen times a couple weeks ago and you can still see the marks. It’s ridiculous. I can live with pretty much any non-poisonous spider over that crap.

  • Alix


    I don’t actually know my blood type. I get bit maybe half a dozen times, usually, if I sit outside on a summer evening? Admittedly, when I start getting bit, I usually don’t sit out long.

    Most bites fade pretty fast, but every third or fourth swells up really big, and I have to put Benadryl gel or something on it – and then it itches like hell for 20 minutes or so, and is gone.

    And I’m not actually phobic, but spiders freak me out enough that I really don’t want them anywhere they’re likely to run across me. :/ Early exposure to wolf spiders launching themselves at me from my closet, probably, and horror stories from my second-grade teacher who adored creeping us out with spider stories and … okay, maybe I’m kinda phobic. But seriously, deliberately trying to scare the crap out of the second-graders in your care is not cool. Especially not repeatedly.

  • Lori

    Your 2nd grade teacher was a jerk.

  • Alix

    …Yeah. With distance, I can see what he was trying to do – he was trying to be cool, and to make science and reading exciting, and trying to play on the whole “eww, that’s gross/scary! tell us more!” thing a lot of kids have going.

    But he … failed rather badly, and never seemed to realize it.

  • LoneWolf343

    Oh, don’t worry, wolf spiders don’t jump.

    Jumping spiders do. However, they are harmless to humans, and are the natural enemies of the brown recluse, which is very harmful to humans.

  • Alix

    …I have sort of made my peace with garden spiders, because they are useful. And by that I mean any spiders living in my garden.

    But, well. I reiterate the shiver, and it really doesn’t help that I’m currently living in a wreck of a house that’s infested with all kinds of spiders. (…I really disliked spiders before, but that makes it worse. :/)

    That said, that’s a cool fact.

  • http://shiftercat.livejournal.com/ ShifterCat

    If you can, or if you’ve got someone around the house who’s willing, capture the spiders with a glass and a piece of card stock and take them outside. Spiders are our allies in the battle against insect pests*, but I can understand not wanting to be surprised by them.

    *Some insects, like dragonflies, are also our allies in that regard.

  • VMink

    Thanks for that information. I’ve been working to eliminate or mitigate my intense dislike and fear — I wouldn’t call it a phobia — of spiders, and that’s actually helpful in that regard, as well.

  • The_L1985

    I’m type A+ and I still get bitten a ridiculous number of times. Mosquitoes have even bitten through my T-shirts, they were so eager to get at that precious unguarded back blood.

  • Lori

    I get bitten through jeans. Not making that up. Those little bastards love me.

  • Trixie_Belden

    Mosquitoes favor people with type O blood, eh? I hadn’t heard that. It certainly explains why I get bitten even if I try wearing DEET.

  • Lori
  • Trixie_Belden

    Interesting! Thanks for the link.

  • AnonaMiss


    Have you come across anything about them preferring younger people? My whole family’s type O and whoever’s the youngest always seems to be the real attractor.

  • Lori

    I haven’t seen anything age specific. Mosquitoes like people with type O blood and people who drink beer. They’re apparently also very fond of stinky feet and people who eat Limburger cheese because it has the same bacteria as stinky feet. Are the young ‘uns drinking a lot of beer or failing to wash their feet?

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

    A friend of mine seems to unfortunately get all the mosquitoes while other people nearby don’t get bitten. :(

  • MarkTemporis

    I’d recommend that you continue hanging out with him, sounds more effective than most OTC repellents.

  • Rhubarbarian82

    I’m extremely arachnophobic, but at some point I decided I’d rather have spiders than the carpet moths that destroy my carpets and more importantly, my cashmere.

  • J_Enigma32

    “Socialism never took root in America because the poor see themselves not as an exploited proletariat but as temporarily embarrassed millionaires.”- John Steinbeck

    Capitalism really has become a religion in the United States. It’s seen as a logical extension of Jesus’ teachings, for better or worse (mostly worse), and Smith’s popular interpretation, while not Christian canon, is certainly deuterocanonnical in many American Christian circles, in the same way that you need all of the other deuterocannonical texts like “The Late Great Planet Earth” to make sense of a supposedly literal book.

  • Lorehead

    Adam Smith himself was rather more skeptical than they of the notion that there should be no limits on economic power at all, and classical economics, through Ricardo and Mill, became absolutely caustic toward property-owners. Many aspects of Marxism were the logical conclusions of Smith’s premises.

    Even Atlas Shrugged, if you actually read it, starts off with a contemptible fool of a villain who inherited his daddy’s company, tried to stifle innovative competitors through an old boys’ club, was in denial about how doomed his way of doing business was long before the evil government that can do no right ever got involved, and demonstrated his stupidity by refusing to invest in rail infrastructure. Naturally, people funded by the Koch brothers, Steve Forbes, and their ilk have stopped calling any of that out and now call for the abolition of all taxes on inheritances and trust funds.

  • Lorehead

    From The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin:

    Before I enter upon my public appearance in business, it may be well to let you know the then state of my mind with regard to my principles and morals, that you may see how far those influenc’d the future events of my life. My parents had early given me religious impressions, and brought me through my childhood piously in the Dissenting way. But I was scarce fifteen, when, after doubting by turns of several points, as I found them disputed in the different books I read, I began to doubt of Revelation itself. Some books against Deism fell into my hands; they were said to be the substance of sermons preached at Boyle’s Lectures. It happened that they wrought an effect on me quite contrary to what was intended by them; for the arguments of the Deists, which were quoted to be refuted, appeared to me much stronger than the refutations; in short, I soon became a thorough Deist. My arguments perverted some others, particularly Collins and Ralph; but, each of them having afterwards wrong’d me greatly without the least compunction, and recollecting Keith’s conduct towards me (who was another freethinker), and my own towards Vernon and Miss Read, which at times gave me great trouble, I began to suspect that this doctrine, tho’ it might be true, was not very useful. My London pamphlet, which […] from the attributes of God, his infinite wisdom, goodness and power, concluded that nothing could possibly be wrong in the world, and that vice and virtue were empty distinctions, no such things existing, appear’d now not so clever a performance as I once thought it; and I doubted whether some error had not insinuated itself unperceiv’d into my argument, so as to infect all that follow’d, as is common in metaphysical reasonings.

    I grew convinc’d that truth, sincerity and integrity in dealings between man and man were of the utmost importance to the felicity of life; and I form’d written resolutions, which still remain in my journal book, to practice them ever while I lived. Revelation had indeed no weight with me, as such; but I entertain’d an opinion that, though certain actions might not be bad because they were forbidden by it, or good because it commanded them, yet probably these actions might be forbidden because they were bad for us, or commanded because they were beneficial to us, in their own natures, all the circumstances of things considered. And this persuasion, with the kind hand of Providence, or some guardian angel, or accidental favorable circumstances and situations, or all together, preserved me, thro’ this dangerous time of youth, and the hazardous situations I was sometimes in among strangers, remote from the eye and advice of my father, without any willful gross immorality or injustice, that might have been expected from my want of religion. I say willful, because the instances I have mentioned had something of necessity in them, from my youth, inexperience, and the knavery of others. I had therefore a tolerable character to begin the world with; I valued it properly, and determin’d to preserve it.


    The following instance will show something of the terms on which we stood. Upon one of his arrivals from England at Boston, he wrote to me that he should come soon to Philadelphia, but knew not where he could lodge when there, as he understood his old friend and host, Mr. Benezet, was removed to Germantown. My answer was, “You know my house; if you can make shift with its scanty accommodations, you will be most heartily welcome.” He reply’d, that if I made that kind offer for Christ’s sake, I should not miss of a reward. And I returned, “Don’t let me be mistaken; it was not for Christ’s sake, but for your sake.” One of our common acquaintance jocosely remark’d, that, knowing it to be the custom of the saints, when they received any favour, to shift the burden of the obligation from off their own shoulders, and place it in heaven, I had contriv’d to fix it on earth.

  • alfgifu

    Mosquitos: AAARGH!

    Warning, graphic descriptions of bug bites coming up.

    I think I may have developed an allergy or something. I always used to get quite a lot of inflamation around mozzie bites, but over the past four or five years things have gone really weird.

    First of all, I was at a martial arts convention in Japan, and a couple of the blighters bit my leg. No big deal, until (rather than raising up into red itchy lumps) the skin kind of dried and blistered over flat but icky itchy bruises. I managed not to scratch, but after a couple of shin-kicks the whole thing got kind of torn open and my opponent got extremely apologetic – not that it hurt that much, it just kept itching.

    Ever since then I’ve had that reaction occasionally, or sometimes the old-fashioned big red lumps. Most recently, I got bitten three times quite close together about a month ago. After a week it started to go down, and eventually seemed to be entirely gone… until a few days back when those very same bites, in exactly the same pattern, rose back out of my skin as small white lumps and the itching started up again. Recurring mozzie bites. Just what I always wanted.

    Also, applying heat used to stop the itching – it doesn’t seem to work any more.


  • Lori

    You “win” the nasty mosquito bite competition. You have my sympathies.

  • 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.

  • JRoth95