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Send Good Thoughts

[ 0 ] February 24, 2008 |

…to terrific blogger and friend of LGM Sara Anderson. Hope she’s well soon.

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Yes it is Neat…

[ 0 ] February 24, 2008 |

…But given the frequency with which I hear about women as “incubators” or “vessels,” I’m not exactly sure this is how I’d frame it.

Though I still do love xkcd for this and this (as Rob has noted).

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A Big Game?

[ 7 ] February 24, 2008 |

Apparently there’s some kind of basketball game going on in Memphis tonight. My sympathies are with the Tigers, rather than with the Great Orange Satan that preceded the Great Orange Satan.

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Next, we have Millard Fillmore’s foot on a keychain…

[ 0 ] February 23, 2008 |

In Lexington, Kentucky, somebody coughed up $17,000 on Friday night for what were supposed to be four strands of George Washington’s hair.

Christa Allen, a Colorado woman who once lived in Owsley County, sold them. Allen said she got the hair, which was pressed under glass in a locket and accompanied by a watch, from her father, a Philadelphia attorney.

Jamie Bates, owner of Thompson & Riley, which auctioned the hair, had hoped the auction would bring at least $75,000.

“I’ve never sold George Washington’s hair before; I don’t know,” Bates said before the auction.

Allen told potential buyers how the hair was handed down from person to person since it was clipped from Washington. The Historical Society of Montgomery County, Pennsylvania, looked at Allen’s evidence and gave her its backing.

Eric James, president of The James Preservation Trust, discussed the chain of ownership of the hairs from the time Washington was briefly disinterred and his hair snipped in 1837.

I’m sure there’s all kinds of strange presidential refuse floating around among collectors — fingernails, used handkerchiefs, tiny jars of urine and such — but what I can’t for the life of me figure out is why GW’s casket would have been uncorked in 1837. This isn’t the sort of information that usually appears in presidential biographies, and ten minutes or so with Google have failed to turn up anything even remotely suggestive of an answer.

. . . John in comments spends eleven minutes with Google and discovers the reason for Washington’s bizarre resurfacing in 1837. The official explanation was that his tomb was “rapidly going to decay.” The real reason, as I’m sure everyone would suspect, was that the Whigs were hoping to reanimate him in time for the 1840 election. As it turned out, the party instead got William Henry Harrison, who croaked after a few dozen days in office. The stuffed and electrified corpse of George Washington, disgruntled Whigs were known to claim, would have performed at least as well.

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The Forgotten Pioneers

[ 2 ] February 23, 2008 |

Via Feministing.

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Carville: If Only Democrats Were All Southern Conservatives

[ 0 ] February 23, 2008 |

Of course person whose opinions nobody cares about James Carville wants Harold Ford to replace Howard Dean. After all, this is the man who thought that Zell Miller would be a great vice presidential candidate

…the context is that Ford is carrying water for New England Republican Chris Shays.

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B-2 Down!

[ 0 ] February 23, 2008 |


A B-2 stealth bomber plunged to the ground shortly after taking off from an air base in Guam on Saturday, the first time one crashed, but both pilots ejected safely, Air Force officials said.

The aircraft was taking off with three others on their last flight out of Guam after a four-month deployment, part of a continuous U.S. bomber presence in the western Pacific. After the crash, the other three bombers were being kept on Guam, said Maj. Eric Hilliard at Hickham Air Force Base in Hawaii. At least one B-2 bomber had taken off safely from Andersen Air Force Base but was brought back when another aircraft plunged to the ground.

There were no injuries on the ground or damage to buildings, and no munitions were on board. Each B-2 bomber costs about $1.2 billion to build.

Tragic; now we’re down to only twenty of a bomber that has a ready rate of about 20%. If you doubt the importance of the B-2 to the US defense establishment, I invite you to revisit Robert Kaplan’s Atlantic article of last September, although I must warn you to be careful, because I’m not sure that they mopped the floor after Kaplan’s last visit. Recall that the B-2 forced the collapse the Soviet Union, put the fear of a righteous Mormon God in China, laid low the Serbs in Kosovo, brought about the destruction of Saddam Hussein, made great coffee, won an Academy Award for film editing, heavily influenced the Pixies, invented the DVD format, fed stray puppies in its spare time, and most importantly would soon crush Adolf Hitler Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

With the loss of one of the 21 B-2s, we now have only 95.2% of that goodness. I’m not sure how I’ll go on; be strong. This is a safe place, so in comments, please feel free to tell us what the B-2 meant to you.

…addendum by d: I can’t speak for Rob, but perhaps Tom Keifer can . . .

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Bush Idiocy of the Day

[ 0 ] February 23, 2008 |

I sometimes wonder if President Bush brushes his teeth without thinking idiotic ideological thoughts (I’m going to go with no). Today’s example? Bush is seeking to reinstate the Washington, DC needle-exchange ban. The ban had been in place for quite some time, and Congress only this past year revoked it. Needle exchanges are important generally to preventing HIV, but they’re especially vital to DC. The Times explains why:

The nation’s capital has the country’s highest rate of H.I.V. infection, and a recent report by the District of Columbia’s health department found that more than 20 percent of the city’s AIDS cases could be traced to intravenous drug users. Now that Washington has a chance to fight back, the White House must not be allowed to hobble that effort.

Why Bush is spending his precious time meddling with Washington, DC’s policies is beyond me. Aren’t there bigger problems, like, I dunno, a failed imperial war or a tanking economy? I guess (and this is no surprise) that his willingness to do wink-wink favors for the wingnut right knows no bounds.

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[ 26 ] February 23, 2008 |

Randy Paul helpfully explains why Castro is bad even if he led only the 34th worst regime since 1900. Police state dictatorships are never particularly admirable; it seems to me that US policy should in general be that the institutions of such regimes ought to change in broadly democratic directions. This doesn’t imply that all such regimes are equal, or that such a policy requires invasion, embargo, etc., or that there’s anything admirable or consistent about current or historical US foreign policy in this area etc. etc. etc. As such, for me the single greatest crime of US policy towards Cuba is that for the last fifty years it essentially guaranteed Castro’s hold on power, especially in the last twenty years as the rest of Latin America has steadily transitioned towards democracy.

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Dolphin Queen Update

[ 12 ] February 23, 2008 |

Shorter Peggy Noonan:

I would respect Mr. and Mrs. Obama more if they were sharecroppers.

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[ 0 ] February 23, 2008 |

Now that they’ve burned our embassy, does this count as the start of Serbia “being at war with us?” Or could we start counting from 1999? Or 1995? Listen, all I want to know is when we can start assassinating Serbian scientists…

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The Lost Art of Undergraduate Paper Title Writing

[ 25 ] February 22, 2008 |

When undergraduates bother to write titles for their papers, they tend not to be very good. I offer the rare exception to the rule, from a just-submitted essay addressing the domestic politics of the early Cold War:

“Best Contain Yo’ Self Before Communism Claim Yo’ Self.”

I dunno. Maybe it’s the unseasonably nice weather we’re having today, but that pretty much made grading fun for about half a minute. The rest of the paper was pretty smart, too.

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