Archive for October, 2013


Roundup – Every Face Punch from Road House

Line O’ the Day:

The Miami New Times’ Cultist got just such an opportunity to ask when offered a phone interview with Abraham about a new Vivid strip club in Miami that she’s promoting (oh, Florida).

Do you consider yourself a feminist?
I’m pretty feminine. I think so.

Not feminine — feminist.
What does that mean, you’re a lesbian or something?

My God, that exchange should be framed in the Louvre.

Best of the Best:

Where Politicized Intelligence Comes From [Paul Pillar on The National Interest]

[A]n intelligence question such as what some state has done with a certain class of weapons is quite different from the policy question of whether it is wise to do something such as intervening in a foreign war. Unfortunately Americans have gotten into the bad habit of treating these two questions as equivalent. This is a lazy and politically convenient way to dumb down a policy debate. No matter how iron-clad a case there may be regarding what the Assad regime has done with chemical weapons, that begs the question of whether U.S. military action in Syria is advisable.  And in this case it is not.

Pastor claims sex with boys gave them ‘sexual purity in the eyes of God’ [Rick Couri on KRMG]

31 year old Brent Girouex was arrested on 60 counts of suspicion of sexual exploitation by a counselor or therapist. The former youth counselor told police he did it to “help with homosexual urges by praying while he had sexual contact with [them].” He claimed the acts would give his victims “sexual purity.”…Girouex admitted having sexual relations with at least four young men but as many as eight have now stepped forward claiming abuse. The man told cops one of his relationships lasted four years and there was “mutual” contact 25 to 50 times…Girouex is said to have told detectives “when they would ejaculate, they would be getting rid of the evil thoughts in their mind.” Last week a judge handed down a 17-year prison sentence but promptly suspended it to allow Girouex to get sex offender treatment and probation. As long as Girouex doesn’t violate the terms of his probation, he won’t do any jail time.

The true true size of Africa [The Economist via The Big Picture]

In Mr Krause’s map he seems to have used the shapes of the countries from a Mercator projection, but has scaled up the outline of Africa, without changing its shape, to show the appropriate area. An alternative and arguably more rigorous approach would be to repeat the exercise using an “equal area” projection that shows the countries’ areas correctly while minimising shape distortion. These two properties are the hardest to balance when showing the whole world on one map. I decided to rework Mr Krause’s map using Gall’s Stereographic Cylindrical Projection (1855) with two standard parallels at 45°N and 45°S. Distortions are still evident at the poles, but for most countries shape is maintained, and their areas are shown correctly. As you can see (below), the results are distinct from Mr Krause’s map. But however you look at it, his point is a good one: Africa is much bigger than it looks on most maps.

Before the School Bell Rings, Some Students Make an International Journey [Daniel C. Vock on Stateline]

New Mexico is unique in how openly its schools embrace American children living in Mexico, but all along the U.S.-Mexican border, children cross international lines on their way to school every day…Hipolito Aguilar, deputy secretary of the New Mexico Public Education Department, said the state’s constitution requires school districts to educate all school-age children. A state law specifies those children “shall have a right to attend public school within the school district in which he resides or is present.” That includes students who cross into the district from Mexico…The same open door applies to students from Arizona and Texas, he said, who sometimes live closer to schools in New Mexico. New Mexico allows school districts to charge out-of-state students tuition, but that decision is up to the local jurisdictions. The state’s school funding system gives local officials few reasons to turn away additional students. The money comes from the state, and it depends largely on how many students are in class on key dates, Aguilar said. There is no penalty for out-of-state students.

More Branded [David Thorne on 27b/6]

The company you work for sells water heaters. I might be missing something but I fail to understand how stock market graphs and rainbow gradient backgrounds relate to warm showers. While art is certainly subjective, it has also been said that art is a tryst, for in the joy of it, maker and beholder meet. Unfortunately, in this case, the tryst would be the emotional-connection equivalent of a quick handjob in a K-mart toilet from a middle-aged shelf-stacker named Rhonda in exchange for half a packet of Marlboro Menthol lights.

Autism Inc.: The Discredited Science, Shady Treatments and Rising Profits Behind Alternative Autism Treatments [Alex Hannaford on Texas Observer]

The extremes. That Texas has become a hotbed for alternative autism treatment and that many parents blame their children’s autism on vaccinations is thanks in no small part to the 2001 arrival of a man named Andrew Wakefield. Fifteen years ago, Wakefield was the lead author of a paper published in the British medical journal The Lancet suggesting a possible link between autism and the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine. Though the paper itself said that no causal connection between MMR and autism had been proven, the publicity surrounding it—in which Wakefield called for the suspension of the triple vaccine—caused panic among parents. The number of parents choosing to vaccinate their children fell dramatically, and measles rates went up: In 1998, there were just 56 cases of the disease in England and Wales, but by 2008 there were 1,370. In 2006, the country saw its first child measles death in more than a decade. In 2011 the World Health Organization urged European countries to act to stop the spread of the disease after the largest outbreak in years. According to the agency’s report, there were more than 26,000 reported cases of measles in 36 European countries that year. Of those, nine people died, including six in France, and 7,000 people were hospitalized. Ninety percent of the cases occurred in people who were “definitely or probably not vaccinated.” In 2004, the UK’s Sunday Times published an investigation into Wakefield, exposing what the newspaper said were conflicts of interest (that Wakefield had been paid to advise attorneys for parents who believed their children had been harmed by MMR) together with unethical research practices (that children were subjected to a series of invasive tests such as spinal taps, and that Wakefield paid children for samples of their blood at his son’s birthday party). Shortly afterward, 10 of Wakefield’s 12 co-authors removed their names from The Lancet paper (in 2010 the journal retracted the paper altogether), and the UK’s General Medical Council launched an investigation. The council hearings started in July 2007 and lasted two and a half years—the longest in the body’s history, costing an estimated $1.6 million. Its conclusion—that the doctor was guilty of serious professional misconduct—resulted in the council striking Wakefield from its register, meaning he could no longer practice medicine in the UK. In January 2011 the British Medical Journal (now officially known as the BMJ), a peer-reviewed publication, went further, accusing Wakefield of outright fraud. In a series of articles, the journal asserted that he altered facts about his patients’ medical histories to support his claim to have identified a new syndrome, which linked bowel disease, autism and MMR; and that he sought to exploit the ensuing MMR scare for financial gain (it said he had been paid more than 435,000 British pounds to advise attorneys working on the MMR suit). Wakefield, the BMJ wrote, has “repeatedly denied doing anything wrong at all. Instead, although now disgraced and stripped of his clinical and academic credentials, he continues to push his views.” In January 2012 Wakefield attempted to sue the BMJ in Texas courts for falsely accusing him of fraud; seven months later a judge dismissed the suit.

Why Are Women Switching from the Pill to the Pullout Method? [Amanda Marcotte on Salon]

Not everyone is decisive when it comes to knowing when to start having kids—or, if you want more than one kid, when the time is right to try for another. For some, it becomes easier to just be inconsistent with contraception or switch to less effective methods and let fate make the decisions for you. We all know a lot of people who say they’re not trying to have a baby exactly, but they’re not not-trying either—basically carving out emotional space to consider starting a family without having your mom start emailing you the names of fertility doctors if it doesn’t happen right away. Switching to the pullout method in particular allows men and women to choose, in the heat of the moment, to throw caution to the wind and maybe just get pregnant.

Slave descendants fighting tax hikes on Ga. coast [Russ Bynum on The Associated Press via Yahoo! News]

Cornelia Bailey said her tax bill shot from about $800 to $3,000, though she and other island residents receive virtually no county services. They have no schools, no trash pickup, no police station and only one paved road.

Liquor Lobby Fights Off Tax Increases On Alcohol [Elaine S. Povich on Stateline]

States raised tobacco and gambling taxes in recent years and even taxed marijuana in two states. Another “sin” tax— on alcohol— has largely escaped change in recent years thanks to a strong liquor lobby which reframed the liquor tariff conversation from “sin” to “hospitality.”

What’s Holding American Students Back? The SAT [Peter Coy on Bloomberg Businessweek]

Sternberg, the formerly stupid first-grader, wound up running the University of Wyoming this fall after academic postings at Yale, Tufts, and Oklahoma State. At all three schools his research showed that measuring students’ creativity and practicality could predict their college success better than plain SAT scores could. The message: Real life is messy. You’re not given five answers to choose from. And America shouldn’t depend on something resembling an IQ test to rake geniuses from the rubbish.

Statue of Limitations Runs Out for Keeping Stalin Off His Pedestal [Joe Parkinson on The Wall Street Journal]

Gori’s main boulevard is called Stalin Avenue and the former dictator is the No. 1 tourist attraction. The town houses the world’s only surviving museum of Stalinism, which preserves the humble brick cottage where baby Stalin spent his first years and the bulletproof train carriage that shuttled him across the Soviet Union. The museum offers a somewhat sugarcoated assessment of the dictator’s reign: The bloody period known as the Stalinist purges is recast as “the victory of socialism.”

Convenience Stores Want Your Fast-Food Dollar [Vanessa Wong on Bloomberg Businessweek]

Fresh food has increased traffic and brought new customers to C-stores, particularly female and older shoppers. As it stands, classic convenience store customers tend to be men ages 18 to 30 looking to buy cigarettes, coffee, beer, and lottery tickets.

Curiously Strong Remains:








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