7 things @ 9 o’clock (9.13)

1. Friday the 13th: A Ghost Story. Somewhere in America, tonight:

Those who have witnessed it firsthand are, for obvious reasons, reluctant to talk about it. You’ll never see them publicly recounting their tales in front of the cameras and the microphones. These are not stories they are eager to tell.

But one hears whispers, rumors, stories told by the friends of friends. And those whispers, rumors and stories are too numerous and too eerily similar to be dismissed.

Something is happening. Something, it seems, happens every Friday the 13th, just before midnight.

The stories begin right around the turn of the 20th century, with the earliest reference I can find coming from August of 1897. …

2. FloridaFloridaFloridaFloridaFloridaFlorida. Florida.

3. The Washington Post reviews I, Saul, by Jerry Jenkins and James McDonald, calling it a “less-fun Da Vinci Code”: “Paul is indeed an intriguing character, but I, Saul doesn’t break new ground in terms of better understanding the historical figure. And it doesn’t help that the 2,000-year-old characters talk (and pray) exactly like the present-day ones.”

It’s Friday the 13th. It’s not a dream.

4. Religious liberty! Feel the freedom.

5. Most of what we drink here in America has added sugar. That’s true not just of fizzy soda, but also of fruit juice. You can get the all-natural, no-sugar-added, fresh-squeezed, not-from-concentrate variety, but it costs twice as much.

And but so, the working poor who get SNAP benefits (a.k.a. food stamps) don’t have a separate set of healthier beverage options available to them than the rest of us. “Researchers found that 58 percent of all refreshment beverages purchased by SNAP participants were for sugar-sweetened beverages such as regular soda, fruit drinks, and sports drinks.” Is that more or less than the percentage of “refreshment beverages” purchased by non-participants? The researchers do not say. They’re not interested in scolding the rest of us for our beverage choices — their condescension and resentment is focused exclusively on the working poor.

It’s a terrific bit of “research,” too, since no matter what, we get to judge the poor, condemning them for whatever they drink. Do they buy the cheap stuff? Well, then, we’ll wag our finger at them for consuming too many “sugar-sweetened beverages.” Do they choose the more expensive healthy stuff? Well, then, we can sniff at those uppity poors fleecing the investment-class with their fresh juices and artisanal teas and Perrier.

And then, if you work for The Hill, you can take this research and lie to make it sound even worse — twisting that 58 percent into something else entirely and reporting that “more than half of all SNAP benefits are used to buy sugary drinks.” Turns out that 58 percent of beverage purchases works out to more like 3 percent of total SNAP money spent, but that doesn’t matter to these folks. What matters is that they resent the poor and they’re losing sleep over the possibility that some of the people they’ve trapped in dead-end, $7.25/hour jobs might still be pulling a fast one by occasionally quenching their thirst with something that tastes good. How dare they?

6. Charles Koch is a jerk. A complete knee-biter.

7. On NPR’s “Fresh Air,” Terry Gross interviews Barton Gellman about the leaks by Edward Snowden and what we’ve learned about the NSA.

It’s a good overview of the story — where things stand and how we got there — without having to read around quite so much Glenn! Greenwald!


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