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books & writingmoney

Superman lacks super understanding of economics, causes of crime

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In Action Comics #8, published in January of 1939, Superman decides that housing conditions are responsible for juvenile delinquency. If only kids didn’t live in slums, they wouldn’t be getting in trouble with Superman. But what to do about the existence of slums? Superman sees a newspaper article that gives him an idea (click on any image to enlarge).

Residents are warned to remove their belongings from the homes. Then the world’s strongest man springs into action. [Read more →]

diatribessports

Let Go, Mets!

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This has been one of the bleakest winters ever for Met fans.  We lost Jose Reyes to free agency, a body blow though anyone could see it coming.  And our general manager acquired a few adequate relief pitchers while all our division rivals bulked up.  Meanwhile, the team continues to hang from a financial thread. But things are looking up: they recently signed Omar Quintanilla to a minor league contract. [Read more →]

moneypolitics & government

The plague of fake

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A fake candidate has ended his fake campaign. Or did he? Jon Huntsman is far, far from a household name like Spiro Agnew or Alger Hiss. Largely, the relief of that condition was his reason for running. Not that this should indict Huntsman particularly, it is the case with anyone whose name you have heard on the ballot at any but the most piddling level and once said level of piddle is achieved… Katy, burn the barn! Yes, the evidence is in and we find it as have all honest observers of politics since time begins. It is not merely that the trough of government draws pigs but it also turns the odd honest man or woman  who blunders to office into boar or sow respectively. Lord Acton told us not just that absolute power corrupts absolutely but that power corrupts; it corrupts proportionately as the petty tyrants of your Home Owners Association demonstrate, it corrupts opportunely as we see in the semi-secret rapes of children by authority figures in sports, academe and the cloisters. Subtle power corrupts with subtlety. Profane power corrupts profanely. Incremental power corrupts incrementally and provisional power corrupts provisionally; this last is the best state we can hope to achieve. [Read more →]

bad sports, good sports

Bad sports, good sports: Defense means as much as they say it does

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When you watch, read about, and write about sports, you come across an awful lot of cliches. Many of them originated in the world of sports, but lots of them come from elsewhere too. With as much talking as sports commentators have to do during a broadcast, I guess it makes sense that they lean on the same old expressions over and over again. Cliches become cliches for a reason, though. One big one in football is “defense wins championships.” No title was won this weekend, but this old expression certainly showed that it has some truth behind it as the New York Giants beat the Green Bay Packers and the San Francisco 49ers beat the New Orleans Saints. [Read more →]

adviceBob Sullivan's top ten everything

Top ten signs your new year is off to a bad start

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10. Your New Year’s kiss left smudge marks on your mirror

9. Your wife’s resolution was to give up you

8. You recently invested all your money with some Italian guy named Ponzi

7. You’re Michele Bachmann

6. You accidentally watched that new TV show about two dudes in dresses

5. You just woke up from your 2010 New Year’s Eve party

4. You started the new year with ten fingers and toes – now, not so many

3. You can still hear that firecracker someone set off near your head on New Year’s Eve

2. Last year your company went paperless; this year they’re going peopleless

1. You’re still writing “2011” on all your death threats
 

Bob Sullivan’s Top Ten Everything appears every Monday.

religion & philosophyterror & war

Piss Christs

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A tsunami of outrage has swept the nation and the globe. Another crime has been catalogued, another provocation that threatens to stir benevolent goatherds to strike at jumbo jets, of which they are pastorally ignorant. We speak of the ritual desecrations committed by American troops as they relieved themselves on a pile of defenseless, deceased, Taleban jihadis. A cry goes up that piss has no place in war. Patton would disagree but we need no more to rubbish the assertion than to recall that those who think piss has no place in war likewise think blood can be excised from it. That scrum includes, among other bigwigs, a young candidate for President who thought “smart diplomacy” a sound replacement for smart bombs. I wonder whatever became of that guy? But we have no time for trivia as the wars, under whatever management, have continued at least through this morning. [Read more →]

politics & governmentterror & war

The world is not America’s toilet

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Recently, a video surfaced showing what appears to be United States military personnel urinating on what appear to be corpses. The video is shocking, so I would prefer not to embed it here. If you want to see it, you can click on the image of president Obama below:

[Read more →]

politics & government

Vulture campaigners

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educationvirtual children by Scott Warnock

HIB: Empowering new kinds of bullies

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Early in 2011, New Jersey instituted rigid school anti-bullying laws that require schools to follow strict guidelines about HIB: harassment, intimidation, and bullying. While the intention is good, HIB’s over-zealousness creates a stifling bureaucracy for educators, and these blanket regulations, in their effort to eliminate the child bully, are perhaps empowering other types of bullies. [Read more →]

politics & government

The superficial popularity contest that affects us all

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The latest polls in South Carolina and Florida show that Mitt Romney is poised to win those respective primaries. It will be close in South Carolina, but even if Governor Romney comes in second in the Palmetto State, he is the clear favorite right now to win the GOP nomination.

At the same time, President Obama is doing some campaigning of his own. On Wednesday night he was at a fundraiser in Chicago reminding everyone how evil the rich are, and how nothing is his fault because there was a crisis when he took office a full three years ago. [Read more →]

art & entertainmentbooks & writing

It’s not “Liberalism” that’s hurting comic book sales — it’s lack of imagination

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Over at Bleeding Cool, someone called Darin Wagner thinks he has hit upon the primary reason that comic book sales have been steadily declining. And as it turns out, he has actually hit upon the primary reason that comic book sales have been steadily declining, and he stumbles into it in the second paragraph of his essay:

You pick up a superhero comic book featuring a childhood favorite of yours, hoping to reignite some of that magic you felt way back when and you see that the opening sequence in the comic deals with an oil rig disaster. You immediately and disappointingly know what’s going to be said, either by your childhood favorite or by some other character given credibility within the story. You turn the page, and sure enough, your childhood favorite grumbles about his/her country’s dependency on oil or how inherently dangerous oil drilling is to the environment and how it’s not worth it or simply mutters to him-or-herself briefly about the evils of corporate America. That’s when you put the comic back on the shelf and your local retailer loses a sale. (Sound familiar? Brightest Day #5 contained a similar scenario featuring Aquaman.)

Mr. Wagner claims that it’s “liberalism” that is — or, per the title of his piece, “may be” — hurting comic book sales. He claims that it’s Aquaman’s grumbling about oil drilling and the dangers of said practice that represents the “liberalism” that’s turning off readers. But it isn’t that. [Read more →]

books & writing

Lisa reads The Stranger You Seek by Amanda Kyle Williams

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Well, I have found my new detective obsession. I love good detective fiction and I love my handsome detectives, but I am an equal opportunity fan and Keye Street is my new best girl. The Stranger You Seek by Amanda Kyle Williams is a debut novel with great promise. The characters are terrific and the mystery is compelling — I put the book down half-way through to check Amazon and see if I could pre-order the next book. Sadly, I can’t, but I will be pestering her publisher for a review copy.

Keye Street is a terrific character. She’s a private detective with a sordid past, living in Atlanta, Georgia. She’s Chinese; she was adopted by the Streets when she was just a toddler. She didn’t come from a great background:

“I wasn’t emotionally devastated by the fact that they’d given me up. They did it because they were incapable of caring for a child. I mean, with the prostitution and stripping and drugs and all, they were really busy. I guess I was a little pissed that I’d grown up on cheese grits and gravy…but generally I have been incredibly blessed by their handing over their child.” [Read more →]

art & entertainmentmusic

Eine kleine Rammsteinmusik

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I first encountered Rammstein in an almost empty cinema on Glasgow’s Buchanan Street, during an afternoon matinee of the largely unloved David Lynch movie Lost Highway. Balthazar Getty had just broken into a house, a porno starring his lover was unfolding on a giant screen, and something was about to go very wrong — a point underscored on the soundtrack by sinister chanting, tolling church bells and an impossibly low German voice muttering words I didn’t understand. It was ominous, bombastic, absurd, utterly hilarious- and yet also thrilling: [Read more →]

politics & government

What exactly is a cubit, there, Mitt? Or a beam or a mote?

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This is the Romney Bot 10000 or what Mitt Looks Like with the Makeup Removed...Is it too early to point out that Romney’s big win of barely meeting expectations in Iowa and New Hampshire have netted him a total of 6 possible delegates. ( The Iowa delegates can actually do any goddamn thing they want to do…they’re not bound to the candidate at all. So it’s about 6, +/- human nature? Or have two small to medium somewhat oddball places solved the problem of democracy? Who the hell knows? But the media seems to see Romney as a jaugernaut just chewing up the terrain in a Harvard Business School Blitzkrieg. Yeah…Well, things can happen, if we let them…

There is a marvelous article online at the Economist that makes a really simple suggestion — stop worrying about the dogfight in the Republican party and pay attention to and force Romney to say in simple declarative sentences what it is that he intends to do as president. Since I personally think he is absolutely clueless as to what he wants to do in general, I suspect that it could be a far more enlightening exercise than wondering about how Newt Gingrich can paint himself as the populist opposing a malefactor of great wealth. Won’t happen, but it is an interesting idea…

But then, so is this. They’re making a porn parodyof Star Wars… [Read more →]

politics & governmenttrusted media & news

Fact checking Republican presidential candidate speeches from the New Hampshire primary

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This election season is arguably the most important, and most recent, in history. I have noticed that a lot of statements are being made by the presidential candidates. A lot of these statements are indisputably unfactual, and I know this because I am a fact checker.

Today, more than ever, with candidates making more and more statements, the role of a fact checker such as myself is undeniable. For instance, when a candidate makes a statement, I will fact-check it. I am taking on this monumental task myself and lucky for you that I am, because these candidates are really saying things.

I take this important role seriously. I will offer unbiased, unpartisan fact checking. All I am looking for is facts to check, and when I find them, I will check them. Without bias, because an informed electorate is arguably an important thing. So I will begin by fact checking statements made by Republican presidential candidates in their New Hampshire primary speeches last night. [Read more →]

religion & philosophysports

Universe, mostly indifferent has special indifference for Bill Maher

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Sports draws the traffic. On the talking box, on the intertubes, to the stadium and in chit-chat; sports is the universal solvent of unacquaintance and disunion. It’s a somewhat paradoxical effect given the habits of hockey fans and Olympic attendees to occasionally jeer or attack the other side but even the bitterest footie yob who would bite the ears off another ticketholder for wearing the wrong colors can find a kinship there while he could only blink in amazement at any suggestion that, hey, it’s just a game. Discouraging words like that are passing rare, as heresy deserves. Interest in a sport and adherence to one team or another cut across other demographic divides combining races, classes, those who do and do not wear glasses into a single SportsNation whose language is as loud as it is untranslatable. But the outside elements do intrude. Even a militant sports detractor like Yours Truly knows that there has scarcely been an event in forty years where some guy in the stands with a painted face and rain-fro wig hasn’t been waving an enigmatic sign; John 3:16. It is not too inscrutable. As the non-sportsman still knows who won the World Series, so even the most rabid secularist recalls or can find out that this is a citation to a verse in the King James Bible, (from recently refreshed memory) For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son so that he who believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. As a drunken Billy Graham might have put it, this is Christianity for Dummies, or those with busy schedules. Religiousity has been part of sports as it has been part of life all along. Chariot racers competed for the favors of Athena and Mars. The Aztecs played ball to decide who would be sacrificed, and who executed. Knute Rockne, whether in life or as depicted in that bastard child of two distractions; the sports movie, was a praying man, publicly so and so were his players, his staffers, his imitators and his fans. So no need to denounce Tebow as a usurper or opportunist since he has brought a quick, ritualized endzone bow into the previously dignified world of touchdown celebrations. [Read more →]

sciencethat's what he said, by Frank Wilson

The presumption that we are not alone

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I suppose most people have heard “It Ain’t Necessarily So,” sung by the drug dealer Sportin’ Life in George Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess. The song voices doubts about certain passages in the Bible. But the title phrase is applicable to a range of assumptions well beyond that.

It is, for example, widely assumed that Earth cannot possibly be the only life-bearing planet in the universe, given how vast the universe is and how many planets there must be. In fact, of 2,326 planets so far spotted by NASA’s Kepler space telescope, 10 are said to be about the size of Earth and orbiting their suns in what is called a “habitable zone.” Kepler-22b in particular looks promising. Temperature there seems to be around 72 degrees and it circles a star much like our sun.

I don’t really get emotionally engaged by this. It’s fascinating either way. [Read more →]

bad sports, good sports

Bad sports, good sports: NFL Officials, Falcons, and Tebow ruined my weekend

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I suppose it might be because my team is not participating, but I found the NFL playoffs particularly painful this weekend. It is probably because of gambling and fantasy football, but I have found that most football fans watch the playoffs, even when their team did not make it, which is different than what I have seen with most other sports. I normally enjoy these Eagles-free games just because they are football, but I found these games pretty awful. As always, I make no pretense of being objective. My own dislikes had a lot to do with my disgust, although bad officiating and bad play certainly entered into it. [Read more →]

art & entertainmentBob Sullivan's top ten everything

Top ten signs you’re not going to win the Miss America Pageant

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10. You’re a perfect 36: 12, 12, and 12

9. The judges make note of a suspicious bulge under your bathing suit

8. You can’t stop belching

7. Your evening gown is made out of pork rinds

6. You claim to be from East Virginia

5. During the interview portion, you say that the man you most admire is Satan

4. You spent all your preparation time polishing your tooth

3. The only thing you’ve ever won before is an Abe Vigoda Lookalike Contest

2. Your talent is standing erect

1. Instead of using adhesive spray to keep your swimsuit from riding up, you use duct tape
 

Bob Sullivan’s Top Ten Everything appears every Monday.

books & writingeducation

Book to ponder: Fight for Your Long Day by Alex Kudera

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Novels about academia have never held a strong appeal for me; there seems very little at stake in the tweed-clad genre except for tenure, which doesn’t make for the most riveting reading. But in Alex Kudera’s debut satirical novel, Fight for Your Long Day, there is a lot more on the line for the protagonist, Cyrus Duffleman, than mere tenure: his very life, it seems, is doomed to extinction as the world around him erupts into a frenzy of violence. [Read more →]

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