7 things @ 11 o’clock (8.26)

1. “There’s a certain beauty in anyone doing anything about as well as it can possibly be done,” Mark Evanier writes in a fine post on the great Vin Scully, who will be returning next year for his 65th season as the voice of the Dodgers. That same statement could just as easily describe a more recent post from ME — with video — about the terrific moment in which Kristin Chenoweth picked a volunteer from the audience to sing with her. That volunteer, music teacher Sarah Horn, nailed it.

Chenoweth is a fantastic singer and performer (see this, for example), but seeing her sing beautifully doesn’t bring a lump to the throat the way it does when we see someone unexpectedly come through like Susan Horn or David Tolley or Susan Boyle or Michael Pollack did. Regarding his return for another season as the soundtrack of summer, Vin Scully said, “I have always felt that I am the most ordinary of men who was given an extraordinary break of doing what I love to do at an early age.” It’s always beautiful to see someone given such a break and making the most of it.

2. “The Battle of Blair Mountain is one of the least known major events in American history,” Erik Loomis writes in Sunday’s installment of his “This Day in Labor History” series. I had never read about this before, and perhaps you haven’t either — that’s by design, not by accident. Chris Hedges wrote about the Battle of Blair Mountain last year. Here are some amazing newspaper photos from the uprising. (For another taste of little-known American history, see also Loomis’ post on visiting the grave of Henry Clay Frick, American super-villain.)

3. Here’s a horrible, if all-too predictable story, about NSA agents abusing their access to spy on and stalk their ex-girlfriendsPaul Bibeau of Goblinbooks notes that reality is outpacing his best efforts to make fun of it. But screenwriters take note: what you’ve got here is the basis for a heart-pounding Hollywood thriller with all the conventions of a innocent underdog vs. shadowy powers story — and at the same time a subversive vehicle for a pointed critique of unaccountable government surveillance and of misogynist rape culture.

4. Evangelism is hospitality. Inhospitality is the opposite of evangelism. The Ridgedale Church of Christ may be in Ridgedale, Tenn., but every other word in its name is a damnable lie.

5. Rep. Spencer Bachus is a very conservative Republican representing the very conservative Republican 6th District of Alabama. But here’s what Bachus recently told constituents on the question of immigration reform:

Y’all may think I’m copping out, but with my Christian faith, it’s hard for me to say that I’m gonna divide these families up. … Bring ’em into our system. Give them legal status. They will pay Social Security. They’ll work hard. […]

I’ll tell you this, as your congressman, I am not gonna separate families or send them back.

Good for him. Immigration reform has everything to do with hospitality. Given Bachus’ reference to “my Christian faith,” the congressman’s remarks also has quite a bit to do with evangelism. Atrios’ response to Bachus shows, again, that inhospitality is a form of anti-evangelism: “Spencer Bachus doesn’t have the best record on this stuff, but kudos at least for him deciding that maybe he doesn’t want to be a total a–hole.”

Deciding that maybe we don’t want to be total a–holes is still a long way from creating a compelling public witness for our faith. But it’s still a big improvement over continuing to think that we do want to be total a–holes. Baby steps.

6. Corey Robin notes the passing of Jean Bethke Elshtain: “Many people were fans of her work; I was not.”

7.Our Turn to Dream” Jubilee, for God’s sake. Jubilee.


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  • Abigail Nussbaum

    Government workers spying on their exes might be ripe soil for an action film critiquing the surveillance state and rape culture, but not in Hollywood’s hands. It already took a spin on this topic, in the Reese Witherspoon/Chris Pine/Tom Hardy film This Means War, which treated spying on your girlfriend as romantic.

  • Re: Ridgedale Church of Christ

    Funny how I missed the follow-up stories where the federal government arrested the church leadership for being anti-gay bigots. I mean, that was totes gonna happen after DOMA was struck down, I’ve been told! Must be a conspiracy of silence in the liberal lamestream media. Yup.

  • flat

    stalking an ex with goverment equipment.

    glad to know all those spy tech has been put to good use.

  • LL

    Boy, it’s pretty bad when the gulf between “total asshole” and “not total asshole” is so wide and so obvious, and so many people STILL choose “total asshole.”

  • Jurgan

    1: That’s why I liked Friday Night Lights. I don’t care for football in reality, but when I’m watching people who are that devoted to doing their best, I can’t help but get caught up in it.

  • Here’s a horrible, if all-too predictable story, about NSA agents abusing their access to spy on and stalk their ex-girlfriends

    Oh look

    Didn’t someone patronizingly say last week that NSA agents didn’t have untrammelled authority to do things like thi— oh, wait. They do.

  • Jurgan

    I was going to bring that up. The problem is it played it for laughs rather than terror, so rather than subvert the surveillance state, it helped normalize it.

  • Daniel

    I’ve just come back from a year in the Czech Republic which has just had a constitutional crisis because the prime minister’s mistress used military intelligence to spy on his wife. When I spoke to people there about NSA they all treated me like I was a bit slow because I had been surprised by it.

  • eamonknight

    Also: Arnold Schwarzenegger & Jamie Lee Curtis in True Lies. Played for laughs in that case, but I kept thinking: Isn’t this guy waaaaay misusing his job’s resources?

  • It’s happened IRL too. I mentioned before about a Canada Customs official misusing his job to Facebook stalk women after he got their names off their passports.

  • themunck

    3. *sighs* Aye. Not suprised. Saddened. Abhored. Even angry. But not surprised.

    4. I dunno, Fred. I think “of” counts as well. It’s certainly putting me off RTCs.

  • aunursa

    Controversial rodeo clown speaks out after death threats

    Gessling said the clown act has been around for generations.
    “I didn’t think anything more of it than what we’ve done 15 years ago, ten years ago, five years ago, when we’ve done it with Bush, Clinton and Ronald Reagan,” Gessling said.
    But this time, race entered the equation. A white man dressed in a mask of a black president was just offensive to a lot of people.

  • flat

    well I kind of agree with the czech’s about that you are suprised by it.

    Sorry maybe I am a bit too cynical cnot to be really suprised by it.

  • flat

    well maybe it should have been done by a black guy.
    That’s all I have to say about it.

  • Jon Maki

    10+ years ago when I worked in an AOL call center there were pretty strict guidelines about accessing member information. We had access to a lot of information about a lot of people, and the situation was ripe for abuse. I believe it was pretty much zero tolerance if you were caught looking up account information without justification. As in, fired on the spot.
    Of course, there were ways to avoid getting caught, and most of the account access activity auditing was done on-demand. That is, they didn’t look into your history unless they were already suspicious, though I believe there was also some random sampling done.
    Not that this was foolproof either way. Like, if it was just a one-time thing, did you deliberately look up information on someone other than the person you were talking to or did you just mistype the screen name?
    You’d have to be pretty blatantly abusing the system to get caught most of the time, like looking up information while not actively on a call, or inappropriately looking up information while one of your calls was being recorded and then having that call – with a recording of all of your on-screen activity playing for your boss to see – be the randomly-selected subject of your monthly one-on-one.
    But at least there was some attempt at accountability.

    ETA: While I knew the ways to avoid getting caught, I didn’t make use of them to look up anyone’s information, as I had no interest in violating anyone’s privacy.

  • Jamoche

    That would be about the time that I earned SP3 in alt.religion.scientology, when several of us who used AOL had our real names published. They didn’t get all the AOL posters, so we weren’t entirely sure where the leak came from.

  • Moonlit_Night

    Regarding the Battle of Blair Mountain — oh. *That* would be why the 1632 series features a West Virginia coal mining town in particular. And why they pull it off…

  • aunursa

    So if a rodeo wants to mock Hillary Clinton or Sarah Palin, only a female clown should wear the mask?

  • Fusina


  • MarkTemporis

    Congratulations! Anyone the Co$ deems as an enemy of the faith must have done something kind of awesome.

  • Donalbain

    I can’t believe that you can’t just innocently don black face these days. Its PC gone mad!

  • stardreamer42

    I can no longer read that phrase without hearing Cory Doctorow’s equivalent for it: “It’s treating people with respect gone mad!”

  • Donalbain

    Did you hear about when Suggs said that sexism was bad?

    It was Madness gone politically correct!

  • I get being clueless and not getting it. I do not get, and do not believe the wide-eyed claims of innocence. The whole “I’m shocked, shocked that anyone found me dressing up in blackface offensive” thing. Or any time someone apologizes for their actions with a sentence that begins “I guess some people just don’t”, as in “I guess some people just don’t believe in free speech” or “I guess some people just don’t know how to take a joke.” (You “guess” because you can’t be bothered to ask. This is a really popular tactic for trolls and bigots and misogynists and homophobes, to do this “I guess” speculation about their detractor’s positions, as if they’ve no choice but to derive the positions of the people they are wronging from aristotelian first principles because it’s unimaginable that they could just fucking ask)

    A while back, Kyle Kalgren did an episode on Honey Boo Boo where he referenced the tradition of freak shows, and he mentioned “Political Correctness”. He had a bit of a sneering, dismissive tone as if he were about to make fun of the concept, but then turned the whole thing around by saying, “Or, as it’s sometimes called (much louder) BASIC FUCKING HUMAN DECENCY