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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