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.

 

  • 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.

  • 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…

  • 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
  • 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

    :/

  • Alix

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

  • 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.

  • AnonaMiss

    SO THAT’S WHY

    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.

  • Trixie_Belden

    Interesting! Thanks for the link.

  • 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?

  • 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.

  • 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. :(

  • 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.

  • Jamoche

    So basically Zaphod Beeblebrox.

  • LoneWolf343

    What were you visiting my family for?

  • 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?.

  • 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?

  • Lorehead

    That’s the Vice-President.

  • 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

  • MarkTemporis

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

  • 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.

    Ibid.:

    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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • Daniel

    Touche.
    I admit I was making a rash generalization.

  • 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*

  • 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 :/

  • 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.

    Grrrrrrrrrrr!

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • JustoneK

    Wasn’t that Idiocracy?

  • 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

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

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.’

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • VMink

    But you can be sure the antidisestablishmentarians will oppose that.

    … I never get tired of that word.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.


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