1. Mark Evanier remembers character actor Jay Robinson, who died last week at age 83. Who? I didn’t recognize the name, but it’s a fascinating story — with cameos from the Bay City Rollers and from Chuck Colson (who was, by then, “Born Again,” but still very much a hatchet man).
2. Defeating the Dragons: “ordeal of the bitter waters, part two.”
3. I’m a big fan of Ezra Klein and the team of Very Smart People he’s assembled at the WonkBlog. That’s what I turn to them for, wonkery — very smart people clearly explaining complicated things. See, for example, Mike Konczal’s guest-post on “non-essential” government functions, or Brad Plumer’s explanation of why “prioritization” can’t prevent a defaultapocalypse, or Plumer’s “Nine ways the shutdown will get more painful as it drags on,” or Ezra’s insightful breakdown of “The 13 reasons Washington is failing,” or pretty much any of the WonkBlog posts with a title that starts “Everything you need to know about …”
But sometimes they overdo it. Here’s their ernest headline for a post earlier this week: “Seventeen academic papers of Janet Yellen’s that you need to read.” Um, OK, see the job of wonks, again, is to understand complicated stuff and then explain it to the rest of us. It’s not to tell us what we need to do in order to become wonks ourselves. (Matthews’ post is actually really interesting, once you get past the inadvertent self-parody of the title.)
4. I think that Muffie Potter Aston speaks for all of New York’s uber-rich socialites when she says, “I fear for New York City if Mr. de Blasio gets elected.” Two things: 1) Can we, from now on, call all rich people whining about taxes “Muffie Potter Aston”? and 2) Here, again, is Jamelle Bouie asking, “Are Black Names ‘Weird,’ or Are You Just Racist?”
5. Pat Robertson tries to resurrect a long debunked lie about AIDS, said demonic objects in your house may give you headaches, and compared transgender people to his castrated horse. Bryan Fischer, meanwhile, praised Vladimir Putin as “a lion of Christianity.” None of this will stop Republican members of Congress for eagerly jumping at the chance to appear on Pat Robertson’s TV show and Bryan Fischer’s radio show.
6. Richard Beck reflects on “The Gospel According to Karaoke.” Coaxed out to karaoke night by Mark Van Steenwyk, Beck comes to agree with his theological take on this communal ritual: “Church, according to Mark, should look more like a Karaoke night at a bar.” I agree, too.
For the record, Dr. Beck apparently sang “Sweet Child of Mine,” so here’s a video I hope he’ll enjoy:
7. Oh, and Beck has also started a new series on Christ and “the powers” — which is the apostle Paul’s term for The Powers That Be, or The Man. Beck’s tour through Hendrik Berkhof’s Christ and the Powers is theologically rich, but also helpful, I think, for anyone who wants to fight back against TPTB. Part one. Part two. Part three.