The Wires

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June 20: New York Times: "You may be hunched over your phone right now, worrying about reports that young people are growing horns on their skulls from spending too much time hunched over smartphones.... Recent articles by the BBC and the Washington Post have cited a 2018 study in the journal Scientific Reports saying that these bone growths have been turning up more often than expected in people aged 18 to 30. The study suggests that 'sustained aberrant postures associated with the emergence and extensive use of hand-held contemporary technologies, such as smartphones and tablets,' are to blame.... Experts give the report mixed reviews." ...

     ... Update. Uh, it seems one of the authors of the "scientific study" is a chiropractor called David Shahar, who used his own patients as subjects of the study AND, according to Quartz, is "the creator of Dr. Posture, an online store that advertises information and products related to forward head posture. One section tells users how to 'look and feel your best in three easy steps,' which include watching a video by Shahar, downloading at-home exercises, and sleeping with a Thoracic Pillow, which Shahar has trademarked and sold for $195." So hunch over, pick up your phones, & call your friends with the good news that the "study" is more likely a marketing scam than a warning about another dire effect of cellphone use. Thanks to safari for the link.


Nick Schager in the Daily Beast: "Premiering on Netflix and in select theaters on July 24, The Great Hack is the most enraging, terrifying and — I don’t use this term lightly — important documentary of the year. Directed by Karim Amer and Jehane Noujaim..., its subject is the Cambridge Analytica data scandal—a story that’s galling on the surface, and infinitely more bone-chilling when one considers its far-reaching ramifications. That’s because Cambridge Analytica’s deceptive and criminal relationship with, and conduct on, Mark Zuckerberg’s social media platform had world-altering consequences: helping launch the Brexit movement, and successfully aiding the election campaign of Donald Trump.” 

Guardian: “The businessman Arron Banks and the unofficial Brexit campaign Leave.EU have issued a legal threat against streaming giant Netflix in relation to The Great Hack, a new documentary about the Cambridge Analytica scandal and the abuse of personal data. The threat comes as press freedom campaigners and charity groups warn the government in an open letter that UK courts are being used to 'intimidate and silence' journalists working in the public interest. In a joint letter to key cabinet members, they call for new legislation to stop 'vexatious lawsuits', highlighting one filed last week by Banks against campaigning journalist Carole Cadwalladr.”

AP: "MAD, the long-running satirical magazine that influenced everyone from 'Weird Al' Yankovic to the writers of 'The Simpsons,' will be leaving newsstands after its August issue. Really. The illustrated humor magazine — instantly recognizable by the gap-toothed smiling face of mascot Alfred E. Neuman — will still be available in comic shops and through mail to subscribers. But after its fall issue it will just reprint previously published material. The only new material will come in special editions at the end of the year."

Hill: "The Democrats beat the Republicans in a high-scoring 14-7 win Wednesday [June 26] night in the 58th annual Congressional Baseball Game. It was the Democrats' 10th win in 11 years."

New York Times: "... the Library of Congress has named [Joy Harjo] America’s new poet laureate. She will take over for Tracy K. Smith, who has held the position for two years.... Harjo, a member of the Muscogee Creek Nation, is the 23rd poet and first Native person to be selected for the role."

New York: "The mass of the metal 'anomaly' beneath the moon’s largest crater is five times greater than the big island of Hawaii, and according to a new study from scientists at Baylor University, it could contain metals remaining from an ancient asteroid impact, weighing in at around 4.8 quintillion pounds."

New York Times: "A skeleton in Siberia nearly 10,000 years old has yielded DNA that reveals a striking kinship to living Native Americans, scientists reported on Wednesday. The finding, published in the journal Nature, provides an important new clue to the migrations that first brought people to the Americas. 'In terms of peopling of the Americas, we have found close to the missing link,' said Eske Willerslev, a geneticist at the University of Copenhagen and a co-author of the new paper. 'It’s not the direct ancestor, but it’s extremely close.'... The DNA of [a group scientists call] the Ancient Paleo-Siberians is remarkably similar to that of Native Americans. Dr. Willerslev estimates that Native Americans can trace about two-thirds of their ancestry to these previously unknown people.”

New York Times: Navy pilots flying along the East Coast of the U.S. spotted UFOs "almost daily from the summer of 2014 to March 2015.... The sightings were reported to the Pentagon’s shadowy, little-known Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program, which analyzed the radar data, video footage and accounts provided by senior officers from the Roosevelt. Luis Elizondo, a military intelligence official who ran the program until he resigned in 2017, called the sightings 'a striking series of incidents.'” In one incident, the UFO flew between two Navy jets "flying in tandem about 100 feet apart over the Atlantic east of Virginia Beach.... It looked to the pilot ... like a sphere encasing a cube."

Mrs. McCrabbie: This actually seems crazy to me:

New York Times: "A shiny stainless steel sculpture created by Jeff Koons in 1986, inspired by a child’s inflatable toy, sold at Christie’s on Wednesday night for $91.1 million with fees, breaking the record at auction for a work by a living artist, set just last November by David Hockney. Robert E. Mnuchin, an art dealer and the father of Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, made the winning bid for Mr. Koons’s 1986 'Rabbit' from an aisle seat near the front of the salesroom."

Might as well just get this -- it's vintage! it's "authentic"! -- and give it pride-of-place in the front hall. Sure, visitors will think you're tasteless & nuts, but in such a vintage, authentic way.

UPDATE: (May 19): New York Times: Mnuchin would not reveal the identity of his client; i.e., the purchaser of Stainless Bunny is. During an NYT interview, "He was near tears when asked about his son Steve and refused to comment about their relationship. But friends said that he is in an impossible predicament, conflicted over his sense of duty about being a loyal father and his concern as a citizen that President Trump is bad for America."

David McCullough Is a Crap Historian. Rebecca Onion of Slate reviews his book on the history -- okay, make that "hagiographic platitudes" -- about the settlement of the Northwest Territory. "Its success (it is No. 10 on Amazon’s best-seller list for books, as of Friday) shows how big the gap between critical history and the “popular history” that makes it to best-seller lists, Costco, and Target remains.” Mrs. McC: Onion doesn't mention it, but I get the impression all the "settling" was done by men; apparently the women's tasks were of no account. Somehow I don't think most of the "ladies" sat around drinking tea & doing needlepoint in their pretty parlors.

Constant Comments


Mrs. Bea McCrabbie

Democracy is a pathetic belief in the collective wisdom of individual ignorance. -- H. L. Mencken (probably)

Freedom of the press is guaranteed only to those who own one. -- A. J. Liebling


The Commentariat -- September 18

Just when you think Newt Gingrich can't get any crazier.... Kasie Hunt of Politico reports, "Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich on Saturday said Republicans should try to oust Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius because she was acting 'in the spirit of the Soviet tyranny' and represents 'left-wing thought police.'” ...

... The Second Coming, Values Voters, Style. Ashley Parker of the New York Times: "... At the Values Voters Summit, Indiana Congressman Mike Pence..., whose forceful, hard-line speech at the conference Friday drew calls of 'Pence for President,' came in first in the summit’s annual straw poll on Saturday with 24 percent of the vote. He also took first in the poll for vice president:

I guess that would be good — if he died he could replace himself. -- Tony Perkins, President of the Family Research Council, which sponsors the event

       ... Following Mr. Pence was Mike Huckabee (22 percent), Mitt Romney (13 percent), Newt Gingrich (10 percent) and Sarah Palin (7 percent).

They tell us that they they represent America the way it used to be, self-reliant, virtuous individuals and small businesses. And the truth is, what they want to do is dismantle government so corporations, big corporations will control our destiny. -- Bill Clinton, on the extreme right that is taking over the Republican party

Who Do that Voodoo like You Do? Christine O'Donnell cancels her Sunday talkshow appearances -- even the one on Fox! -- after Bill Maher airs her witchcraft video, which is embedded on my post above titled "Woman of the Middle Atlantic."

Glenn Greenwald: at a $30,000-per-plate DNC fundraiser in Greenwich, Connecticut, President Obama mocks the "petulant" left. CW: does he really think this is a good way to energize his base? Here's the money quote:

Democrats, just congenitally, tend to get -- to see the glass as half empty. (Laughter.) If we get an historic health care bill passed -- oh, well, the public option wasn't there. If you get the financial reform bill passed -- then, well, I don't know about this particularly derivatives rule, I'm not sure that I'm satisfied with that. And gosh, we haven't yet brought about world peace and -- (laughter.) I thought that was going to happen quicker. (Laughter.)

     ... Here's Jane Hamsher on the same subject.

Margaret Wheeler Johnson, in Slate, on the history & art of gay-baiting in American politics.

Gail Collins on the Alaskan Senatorial campaign. Collins highlights a candidates' forum: "On Thursday, in the beautiful fishing town of Petersburg, [Joe] Miller and [Scott] McAdams mixed it up in a candidate forum. The organizers seemed unsure about whether Miller would show up, but he walked in halfway through the proceedings to murmurs of excitement in the school gym where people had been listening to a rather unthrilling discussion on a transportation reauthorization act." You can watch the debate here.

On the presidency, Sarah Palin would "give it a shot" if she's "The One":

Surprise! The Republicans Have Been Lying to You. David Kocieniewski of the New York Times: IRS "statistics indicate that only 3 percent of small businesses would be subject to the higher tax, and many studies of previous tax increases suggest that it would have minimal impact on hiring.... Even among the 750,000 businesses that would be subjected to the higher rates in 2011, many are sole proprietors — a classification so amorphous it can include everyone from corporate executives who earn income on rental property to entertainers, hedge fund managers and investment bankers." Ninety percent of these "small businesses" have no employees.

Keith Hagey of Politico wonders if the Jon Stewart-Stephen Colbert Washington rally on October 30 is the Democrats' "October surprise." CW: he has a point. The rally is three days before the election. I'd love to go.

Stupid Secrecy. Scott Shane of the New York Times: the publisher distributed about 100 advance copies of the uncensored version of Lt. Col. Anthony Shaffer's Operation Dark Heart before the Defense Department bought & destroyed the entire first printing. Now the second, redacted printing is out, replete with blacked-out text, giving a window into the Pentagon's ideas of what should be "secret." Shane says a lot of the so-called secrets are common knowledge or are available from multiple sources:

There’s smart secrecy and stupid secrecy, and this whole episode sounds like stupid secrecy. -- conservative scholar Gabriel Schoenfeld, whose book Necessary Secrets defends protecting classified information

Nancy Youssef of McClatchy News: "With the U.S. drawdown in Iraq, the Army is finally confronting an epidemic of drug abuse and criminal behavior that many commanders acknowledge has been made worse because they'd largely ignored it during nearly a decade of wars on two fronts.... A 350-page report issued in July after a 15-month investigation into the Army's rising suicide rate found that levels of illegal drug use and criminal activity have reached record highs, while the number of disciplinary actions and forced discharges were at record lows."

Ah, Looking ahead to 2012. Jim Rutenberg & Jeff Zeleny of the New York Times: "The Republican presidential field for 2012 is beginning to take shape in a period of intensive upheaval set off by the rise of the Tea Party movement, expanding the roster of potential candidates but presenting a more complicated road to the nomination.


The Commentariat -- September 17

Delusions of Grover. Clyde Haberman of the New York Times on New York's Republican gubernatorial nominee Carl Paladino: "On [Paladino']s campaign Web site, prominently displayed near the top of the home page, is a notice that says in large white-on-black type, 'The last NY governor from Buffalo became president of the United States.' ...  The two men have things in common, including fiscal conservatism and a distaste for political patronage and bossism. Oh, there’s one other matter: Both acknowledged having fathered children who in a quainter time were described as — pass the smelling salts — illegitimate."

** The Unwashed Candidates. Glenn Greenwald makes a cogent argument as to why the GOP is all aflutter over the ascendency of tea party candidates -- it isn't that the tea partiers' political ideas are any different from what Republicans have been pushing for decades; rather, it's their unsophisticated way of expressing themselves. "And it's especially uncouth when the person [is] some poor, unprivileged, very ordinary Walmart shopper like Christine O'Donnell." ...

... Andrew Sullivan argues that "it isn't class snobbery. It's the difference between those who use far right convictions and those who actually hold them."

Jeffrey Smith of the Washington Post: "From the moment Boston-based OneUnited Bank began seeking a federal bailout in the summer of 2008, it received special treatment that went beyond what the Treasury Department or the bank and its political supporters have previously disclosed.... A close look at how OneUnited - which is now at the center of an ethics investigation involving Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) - won bailout money shows how the Treasury Department, federal regulators and another influential lawmaker helped it despite its record of bad investments and extravagant spending."

Roger Cohen of the New York Times on Pope Benedict XVI's visit to the British Isles: "Britain would have done well to heed tradition and deny the honor of a state visit to this pope, a blunder-prone spiritual leader of rigid intellect and uncommunicative soul, too remote to heal a church in crisis."

Howard Kurtz in the Washington Post: Robert Gibbs calls a Forbes cover story by Dinesh D'Souza, which "accuses President Obama of adopting 'the cause of anti-colonialism from his Kenyan father,'" "a new low." Forbes stands by its story.

Steven Pearlstein of the Washington Post laments the collapse of the political center. "This is the way wealthy nations become poor. There are no vibrant economies without effective political systems, and there are no effective political systems without a vibrant center.... In the end, there are no winners - except, perhaps, for the Chinese."

Conor Dougherty & Sara Murray of the Wall Street Journal: "The downturn that some have dubbed the 'Great Recession' has trimmed the typical household's income significantly, new Census data show, following years of stagnant wage growth that made the past decade the worst for American families in at least half a century." ...

... BUT. Tiny Violins, Please. Mark Whitehouse of the Wall Street Journal: "It's not as easy to be rich as it used to be."

Peter Wallsten & Danny Yadron of the Wall Street Journal report on the Tea Party Express, which "played a central role upending Republican primaries in Nevada, Alaska and, this week, Delaware, raising millions of dollars to help topple candidates favored by GOP bosses.... The Tea Party Express ... is driven by ... Sal Russo..., a longtime California GOP operative and former aide to Ronald Reagan, [who] runs Tea Party Express out of his Sacramento, Calif., consulting firm."

New York Times: "Jon Stewart ... plans to stage a rally in Washington to counter what he identified as extremists on either side of the political spectrum. Mr. Stewart told his audience the show had secured the National Mall in Washington on Oct. 30 for what he called 'The Rally to Restore Sanity.'”

Jon Stewart announces his Rally to Restore Sanity October 30:

Contra Stewart, Stephen Colbert announces his March to Keep Fear Alive:

Also, see Stewart's extended interview of President Clinton here. It's a four-parter, so I'm not posting it, but it's worth clicking thru.

     ... New York Times Update: "A day after the 'Daily Show' star Jon Stewart announced plans to stage an ambitious public rally to counter what he identified as extremists on either side of the political spectrum, specifics were in short supply on Friday, with most of the details still to be worked out." The Website established by the rally is


The "Tyranny" of Christine O'Donnell, et al.

Michael Scherer of Time, like everyone interested in the 2010 election, tries to read the tea leaves at the tea party.

Scherer begins with Christine O'Donnell's misattributing a remark about tyranny to Thomas Jefferson, a "citation" the recent college grad apparently lifted from the Internets. Scherer only notes that O'Donnell erroneously cited Jefferson. According to the scholars who wrote The Jefferson Encyclopaedia,

We have not found any evidence that Thomas Jefferson said or wrote, `when governments fear the people, there is liberty. When the people fear the government, there is tyranny.'... [T]he most likely source of this quotation appears to be a series of debates on socialism published in 1914. -- The Jefferson Encyclopaedia, via

On the morning he bombed the Murrah Federal Building, Timothy McVeigh carried some shibboleths with him, including a bumper sticker that read, "When the government fears the people, there is liberty. When the people fear the government, there is tyranny." The citation was there attributed to Samuel Adams. Underneath, McVeigh had scrawled, "Maybe now, there will be liberty!" (See footnotes 24 & 54.)

We should be alarmed that a Republican candidate for U.S. Senate inaugurates her campaign with a quotation cited by Timothy McVeigh as a reason to kill Americans & do violence against the government. Two days ago, the Republicans gave O'Donnell short shrift. Yesterday, Texas Sen. John Cornyn, who holds the NRSC purse strings, heartily embraced O'Donnell & sent her a $42,000 check.

This, then, is what the Republican party has come to: an organization with a prominent member who allies herself with violent, anti-American terrorists. There is a difference, of course. Timothy McVeign shoveled real fertilizer to commit his murders; so far the fertilizer O'Donnell is spreading is strictly rhetorical.

Then there's this from another Republican candidate for Senate:

Our Founding Fathers, they put that Second Amendment in there for a good reason, and that was for the people to protect themselves against a tyrannical government. In fact, Thomas Jefferson said it’s good for a country to have a revolution every 20 years. I hope that’s not where we’re going, but you know, if this Congress keeps going the way it is, people are really looking toward those Second Amendment remedies. -- Sharron Angle, January 2010, via the Las Vegas Sun

And let us not forget these ladies' popular mentor Sarah Palin, the most recent Republican nominee for Vice President, whose husband Todd belonged for years to a secessionist organization called the Alaskan Independence Party. Sarah Palin attended the secessionist party's convention in 1994, when she was a Wasilla city councilwoman, & in 2006 when she was a candidate for governor. In 2007, as governor, she delivered a taped welcome message for the party's convention.

These are dangerous women leading a dangerous anti-American movement. Both O'Donnell & Angle have adopted the language of revolution, invoking -- correctly or incorrectly -- the imprimatur of the founding fathers & the Constitution. Palin has aligned herself with a revolutionary party. Together, these women have a formidable following. We ignore them, & their infiltration of the Republican party, at our peril. -- Constant Weader