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Basketball in New York

[ 2 ] April 20, 2014 |

Tonight’s British Pathé film features footage of your 1939 NCAA Basketball National Champion Oregon Ducks. Of course.

Easter!

[ 63 ] April 20, 2014 |

Happy Easter, if you’re into that sort of thing. At the Farley household we’re celebrating with Cadbury Mini-Eggs, which for my money are the best Easter-related product available.

And also bourbon, of course. If anyone knows any good Resurrection-related cocktails, tell us in comments…

Rubin Carter, RIP

[ 29 ] April 20, 2014 |

Rubin Carter, the boxer wrongly convicted on murder charges thanks to racist police, a racist jury, and the testimony of two thieves who later recanted, leading him to serving 20 years in prison, has died.

So this new FDA proposal is environmentally unfriendly and raises the price of beer?

[ 37 ] April 20, 2014 |

In that case, why not support it?

On Giving Up

[ 97 ] April 20, 2014 |

English environmentalist Paul Kingsnorth is infuriating. He’s fought for environmental causes for 20 years and now he is totally giving up and saying that fighting against climate change is pointless so let’s just accept the earth’s impending destruction. To me, this is a prime example of the problem with an environmentalism that isn’t fundamentally about protecting people and integrating everyday people into your concerns. It’s not that Kingsnorth is wrong about the way we are going as a planet. But thinking of climate change as a tipping point is less useful than a sliding scale. What he does not seem to care much about (at least from this article) is environmental justice. Let’s take one issue. The hotter things get, the more cockroaches will develop in substandard urban housing and the higher asthma rates for the people of color who are forced to live in such places. Part of environmentalism should also be seeking justice for these people, pushing for policies that might not be enacted in time to save most frog species but that might save human lives (and possibly some frog species too). Things can get better or they can just continue getting worse and even if the Earth loses half of its species in the next century, it could lose 90% of species if people quit fighting and just go into mourning instead of seeking to work toward change.

Giving up is just self-centered nihilism.

Harding Greets Indian Chiefs

[ 31 ] April 19, 2014 |

The great British newsreel company Pathé has placed a mere 85,000 of their films on YouTube. I am going to highlight some over the next week. Such as Warren Harding greeting various tribal chiefs in 1921.

Are These the Hills You Want to Die On?

[ 336 ] April 19, 2014 |

Amanda Marcotte has an interesting entry up about comics editor, Janelle Asselin, who had the temerity to point out that maybe giving a teen girl comics character the body of a porn star* wasn’t such a great idea.  This was received as well as you might imagine in the geek community. Male geeks everywhere were like “You know what? You’re right. She looks kinda ridiculous and not age-appropriate.” HA HA HA!!! I’m just joking. That’s not what really happened. What really happened is…guess!:

A.) She received flowers and candy and from admiring feminist men?

B.) She was harassed.

C.) She received rape threats.

D.) She received year’s supply anal lube, because, well why not?

If you guessed B and C, congratulations! You’ve just won a year’s supply of anal lube because you are incredibly smart and I’m an incredibly thoughtful prize-giver.

Now, this story is, in and of itself, like, super-boring, because shit like this happens to geek girls/women ALL. THE. TIME. I mean, crap, I check my watch (because let’s pretend for this sentence I am 70 years old) every 2 minutes and I say to myself “Some geek girl somewhere is getting shit for being anything other than a chill girl.”

But Amanda asks a really really interesting question I thinks she gives short shrift, and it’s this: Would it be so bad if women had more say in/control over the geek world? Would it really be bad if there were fewer super-sexy (I guess), busty characters in video games and comics?  If comics and and video games were less chauvinistic would that really be bad? Would it harm these mediums in some way? I’m asking. Seriously.

*Some people in the comments objected to Amanda pointing out how ridiculously busty the girl was, noting that some young women are very busty. Well, no. Not really. The truth is that the amount of women–young or old–who are that busty are fairly rare, and the vast majority of those women also have fat elsewhere on their bodies–it hasn’t all been miraculously deposited into gravity-defying breasts. Sorry. It just doesn’t happen. OK, it does happen, but it really is–sorry to burst your bubble–INCREDIBLY RARE.

I Believe the Children are the Future

[ 278 ] April 19, 2014 |

On the decline of golf among young people, a sport I dislike not only on aesthetic grounds, but on class, racial, urban planning, and environmental grounds.

Passover in the Confederacy

[ 118 ] April 19, 2014 |

Interesting stuff on Jewish practice in the Confederacy:

For many American Jews today, particularly those descended from immigrants coming through Northeast corridors in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, the idea that Confederate Jews fought on the side of slavery offends their entire worldview, rooted so deeply in social justice. Even the idea of there being so many Jews in the American South, decades before Ellis Island opened its gates, is a strange idea.

But just as Robert E. Lee, an Army officer for 32 years, sided with his home state of Virginia against the federal government, many Jews found a homeland in Dixie over the centuries and decided they could not take up arms against it. To them, after all they’d suffered and fled throughout the ages, the South was their new motherland, the land of milk and honey (and cotton), and it was worth fighting for. “This land has been good to all of us,” one Jewish-German Southerner wrote. “I shall fight to my last breath…”

And on Northern anti-semitism:

While the South, like everywhere else, did exhibit anti-Semitism, many Southern Jews felt the North was more deeply anti-Semitic. Popular Northern newspapers denigrated Jews; Harper’s Weekly said that all Jews were secessionists, copperheads and rebels. Other papers blamed the Jews for destroying the national credit. Union general Ulysses S. Grant exhibited the greatest bigotry of all when he issued General Orders No. 11 in December 1862, “the most sweeping anti-Jewish regulation in all of American history,” according to Rabbi Bertram W. Korn. The orders called for the expulsion of all Jews within 24 hours from Grant’s territory at the time, which included parts of Kentucky, Tennessee and Mississippi.

Grant and his men believed Jews were solely responsible for the common practice of illegal trade with the enemy – a forbidden but economically necessary practice. Some Jews did engage in such illicit commerce, but so did a lot of people on both sides. To add to the offensiveness of the order, Union soldiers forced Jews from their homes, confiscated their possessions, denied them rail transportation even as they were being evicted from their towns, revoked trade licenses and imprisoned them. A few weeks later, when Lincoln found out about the order, he revoked it — “I do not like to hear a class or nationality condemned on account of a few sinners,” he said.

Will the Supreme Court Protect Polluters from Lawsuits

[ 55 ] April 18, 2014 |

The answer is probably yes.

There should be no statute of limitations on health claims. Just because a cancer might not develop for a twenty years doesn’t mean it’s not related to toxic exposure.

Chicken Production and Workplace Dangers

[ 14 ] April 18, 2014 |

I strongly recommend Michele Simon’s article on how Tyson Foods and the USDA have pushed forward drastic increases in chicken production line speeds that would increase the profits of meat companies at the cots of workers’ lives:

But let’s back up a bit. As Mother Jones magazine explained last year, “Currently, each factory-scale slaughterhouse has four USDA inspectors overseeing kill lines churning out up to 140 birds every minute. Under the USDA’s new plan, a single federal inspector would oversee lines killing as many as 175 birds per minute.”

USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack defends the proposal under the guise of modernization (an industry code word for deregulation) and claims the new standard would actually reduce bacterial contamination. However, Food and Water Watch found numerous food safety problems with the USDA’s pilot project owing to company inspectors missing defects such as “feathers, lungs, oil glands, trachea and bile still on the carcass.”

The rule is especially terrible for workers, who already suffer unsafe conditions, resulting in serious injuries and even lifelong disabilities. Last year the Southern Poverty Law Center released a disturbing account of worker injuries and health problems in Alabama poultry slaughterhouses due to what it called “punishing” line speeds. Workers were made to “endure debilitating pain in their hands, gnarled fingers, chemical burns and respiratory problems.” Also, for many immigrant workers, as the law center put it, “Threats of deportation and firing are frequently used to keep them silent,” making the USDA’s attempt to spin the recent NIOSH data particularly disturbing.

Federal agencies appear to be ganging up on the USDA — and rightly so. The Government Accountability Office published a report last year criticizing the USDA’s plan on the basis of inadequate and faulty safety data. Of course, the chicken industry loves the proposal. In fact, the National Chicken Council would prefer not having any limits on line speeds at all.

The Agricultre Department basically operates as the tool of agribusiness at this point and that’s why the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) and DOA are basically at war, with NIOSH’s director directly calling out the Food Safety Inspection Service for lying about its data. The meat we buy from the store not only comes from a system that treats animals awfully, it destroys the lives of workers as well. It’s awful hard for the government to do much when one agency is fighting to make these factories safe for workers and other is fighting to make them unsafe.

Friday Creature Feature

[ 104 ] April 18, 2014 |

Meet Dimetrodon, a meat-eating reptile from the Permian period. A typical Dimetrodon was around 11 feet long and had a big sail on its on back it may have used for temperature regulation and/or display.

I find these guys interesting because I’d always thought evolution followed this simple line that went reptile—->mammal. I didn’t know what came before. (Amphibians, DUH. But that’s another entry.) So I had no idea these “mammal-like reptiles” were around long before the reptilian dinosaurs.

Dimetrodon-dinosaurs-22052354-700-466

I love these pre-pre-historic monsters. 

It should be noted that Dimetrodon are often included in Dino-related toys and apps. Dimetrodon was not a dinosaur and made its mark long before dinosaurs were just a gleam in Mother Nature’s eye. If anybody tries to tell you Dimetrodon is a dinosaur, please respond by beating him or her soundly about the head and shoulders. Or you could just do what my 2-year-old son does and say “You say it WONG. Dimeetrodong is a weptile. Not a dinocore.” (He cannot say “s’s.”)

Also not a Dimetrodon

Greg notes, in the comments:

Also, more time passed between the stegosaurus and the T. rex than between the T. rex and the present.

OK, now tell me that doesn’t blow your mind.

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