The novelist, essayist, playwright, historian, and all-around brilliant author died today. He was 86. His two books of collected essays, United States and The Last Empire, are two of my all-time favorites. Others prefer his historical novels, and many prefer Myra Breckenridge/Myron, or his more recent historical writing, but for me, those two fat books of essays were transformative reading experiences. Vidal is from a long line of American aristocracy—he's connected in various ways to the Gores, Jackie Bouvier Kennedy, the Auchinclosses, and other old storied names—but he always wrote like he was pissed at everyone, and his elegant mannerisms never got in the way of the sharp stick he jabbed at the eyes of those in power. He wasn't always right, but he was always maddening in the best possible way. I will miss him.
I know I promised last week that Greg Nickels would show up at Drinking Liberally, and he didn't, but I'm told he'll really be there tonight. So if you have buyers remorse over Mike McGinn please feel free to stop by and buy our former mayor a drink.
FYI, the Seattle chapter of Drinking Liberally meets every Tuesday night from about 7PM onwards at the Montlake Ale House, 2307 24th Avenue East, and has been since early 2005. Everyone is welcome—even Republicans—and I'm almost always there if you ever want to stop by and say hello.
Well, I was gonna stay out of it because a) I don't particularly want to see the WA-01 race go negative, and b) God knows I'm not allowed to speak authoritatively about anything regarding anything I've expressed an opinion on, because that would be ABSURD! But now that Josh has chimed in again regurgitating the DelBene party line verbatim, I just have to come to the defense of Darcy Burner, liberal bloggers, and the truth.
A misleading story about Suzan DelBene is making the rounds (again) on liberal blogs. The claim is that DelBene broke election rules by not filing a personal financial disclosure form in 2011 even though she had spent $5,000, the candidate threshold, and indicated she was a candidate by checking a box on her quarterly report.
First of all, the idea that you can simply dismiss a story as "misleading" just because it is "making the rounds (again) on the liberal blogs" is bullshit, Josh. Dave Neiwert is an award winning investigative journalist and author who spent two decades as a reporter and editor at newspapers in Idaho, Montana, and Washington. He won the Pacific Northwest Newspaper Association's 1993 C.B. Blethen Memorial Award for enterprise reporting for his work at the Bellevue Journal American, and received the 2000 National Press Club Award for Distinguished Online Journalism for a series on domestic terrorism he produced for MSNBC.com. Probably won other awards too, but I didn't bother to look beyond the top two Google hits.
Neiwert is credible, and his post is the best researched, best sourced, most credible explication of the issue I've read thus far... despite the fact that it appears on a (gasp!) liberal blog. I suggest folks read it, and make up their minds for themselves.
The outsourcing candidate strikes again, according to Boston.com:
The Mitt Romney campaign’s chief financial officer described himself as a “financial outsourcing consultant” on the professional networking website LinkedIn until at least July 17, according to a cached version of his profile page, but has since changed the description to “political/finance professional.”
The CFO, Bradley Crate, is also the founder and president of Red Curve Solutions , a Beverly-based financial management company that works with political campaigns, start-up companies, and nonprofit organizations.
Romney trusts his campaign's finances with an outsourcing expert. Romney himself has outsourced jobs at Bain Capital and as governor of Massachusetts. I think at this point it would be smarter for Republicans to embrace outsourcing than to pretend they're not votng for an outsourcer-in-chief.
Posted by news intern Mike Gore
As I was walking to lunch, a man was on fire on Broadway between John and Thomas streets. I didn't see what happened, but I saw his arms and head engulfed in flames.
A construction worker at a job site had been using a construction torch when it ignited some kind of alcohol, causing an explosion, said Kyle Smith, a spokesman for the Seattle Fire Department, when reached by phone. The man received 2nd and 3rd degree burns on his arms, legs, head, and torso, said
SmithMoore. He was transported to Harborview Medical Center in serious condition, but has since been reclassified into critical condition. Smith said there was no other known damage to the building or other individuals at the site.
First comes Slog Tipper Stacy:
I just got a robo-call voicemail from someone claiming to be a recycle driver warning me that Waste Management is bringing in out-of-state drivers who "may not be qualified" to drive on our dangerous roads. Please be careful! Make sure your children stay out of the way of trucks! Call the police if you see anything dangerous! It seemed like a very curious piece of scare-mongering, calling up visions of drunk yahoos careening the recycle trucks down the street, plowing over little kids. Not sure what the point was, really.
Then comes Slog Tipper Julianne:
Saw a Waste Management truck by the Fremont Troll, with a vested employee gingerly transferring pieces of garbage from an overflowing can into a sack.
Walking by, I asked "Did you guys settle?"
He pauses then says, "We're management".
Love that the bosses are being forced to deal with the actual crap.
It's been a while since I've seen fear mongering like this in an ad. And I don't know if I've ever seen 9/11 footage in a political ad like this:
Wow. This is shameless stuff. It's just full of misstatements and lies about President Obama, saying he's turned his back on Israel (not true) and apologized for America (also not true) and it tries to drag America back to 2004-style fear of terrorism, when everybody in every podunk town thought that every single strip mall in West Virginia and Wyoming was about to be attacked by evil Muslim terrorists with M-16s. This is the kind of attack ad that can turn people away from a candidate; the smartest thing about it is that Mitt Romney never appears or is mentioned in the ad. This should be the first piece of evidence in the case against super PACs.
Anna Minard claims to "know nothing about music." For her weekly column we force her to listen to random records by artists considered to be important by music nerds.
This week, Nipper, Dave, and I each picked one album that Anna has definitely never heard of! Which one should she write about? Bonus points if you can guess which person picked which album.
A VHS copy of the beloved 1993 rom-com Sleepless in Seattle.
This pro-Obama ad serves as an in-case-you-missed-it reintroduction of Mitt Romney's tax returns into the political debate, just in time for Romney's return stateside.
I don't blame them for remounting this issue. It's a solid one, and Romney seems terrified to release his taxes, so the tax returns are basically an endless source of attack ads for the Obama campaign. Of course, they also run the risk of exhausting the media's patience on this topic. Our media outlets are famous for letting go of stories that appear to have no resolution (look at how quickly the news networks rolled over for the Bush campaign during the drawn-out aftermath of the 2000 election, for example) and so the Obama campaign runs the risk of obsessing on a topic that nobody will report.
But the Democrats always seem to find new ways to make the story fresh. Case in point: Harry Reid's comments today about Romney not paying taxes for a solid decade, which may seem irresponsible but which get everyone talking about Romney's taxes again. Someone should start a Romney tax rumor generator. It would get a ton of hits.
Last week, I made the prediction that Rmoney would, while visiting Israel, say: You Jews are so good at business. This prediction turned out to be true.
“I was thinking this morning as I prepared to come into this room of a discussion I had across the country in the United States about my perceptions about differences between countries,” Romney told a group of high-dollar donors at a fundraiser in Jerusalem’s King David Hotel. “As you come here and you see the GDP per capita, for instance, in Israel which is about $21,000 dollars, and compare that with the GDP per capita just across the areas managed by the Palestinian Authority, which is more like $10,000 per capita, you notice such a dramatically stark difference in economic vitality.”
As the Associated Press noted, Romney actually got the numbers very wrong: Israel’s GDP per capita was $31,000 in 2011 and Palestinians’ per capita GDP was just $1,500. Romney at no point mentioned that the Palestinian territories have for decades been occupied without sovereign control, where residents face significant restrictions on movement and employment.
“Culture makes all the difference,” Romney said. “And as I come here and I look out over this city and consider the accomplishments of the people of this nation, I recognize the power of at least culture and a few other things.” Among them, he cited “the hand of providence.”
Yesterday, we told you about Twitter banning sportswriter Guy Adams for calling out NBC's terrible Olympics coverage. I pointed out that it looks like Twitter suspended Adams's account because he was mocking NBC, and NBC has a corporate sponsorship with Twitter for the duration of the Olympics.
Overnight, the news broke that Twitter in fact alerted NBC to Adams's tweets and urged them to file a complaint, which eventually got Adams suspended from Twitter. This is about as shitty as it gets. Twitter is a communications service, and they should not have any control over what gets said on their service. They especially should not protect their corporate partners from criticism. Imagine your Hotmail account banning you because you're complaining about your XBox not working in an email to your friends and you have an idea of how bad this is.
Now, Twitter's general counsel, Alex Macgillivray, writes that Twitter has reinstated Adams's account and says that the company apologizes for their actions:
That said, we want to apologize for the part of this story that we did mess up. The team working closely with NBC around our Olympics partnership did proactively identify a Tweet that was in violation of the Twitter Rules and encouraged them to file a support ticket with our Trust and Safety team to report the violation, as has now been reported publicly. Our Trust and Safety team did not know that part of the story and acted on the report as they would any other.
As I stated earlier, we do not proactively report or remove content on behalf of other users no matter who they are. This behavior is not acceptable and undermines the trust our users have in us. We should not and cannot be in the business of proactively monitoring and flagging content, no matter who the user is — whether a business partner, celebrity or friend. As of earlier today, the account has been unsuspended, and we will actively work to ensure this does not happen again.
This is a good start, but Twitter had better make sure that they don't have too many more accidents like this one; people don't like it when their communication platform starts making judgment calls on their behalf.
Well, if I wasn't already a complete and total Darcy Burner partisan, my foray today through the latest campaign finance disclosure filings would've sealed the deal: A $1,000 contribution from satirical songwriter Tom Lehrer, one of the half-dozen or so writers I consider a major influence on my own development as a writer.
You may remember Lehrer from such classic songs as National Brotherhood Week or The Vatican Rag, or perhaps not remember him from the number of songs he wrote for the children's TV show The Electric Company. Yes, I was one of those geeky kids who collected comedy albums, not popular music, and I still pull Lehrer's albums out occasionally to the utter disinterest of my daughter. Except for Poisoning Pigeons in the Park. She loves that one. Because she's got a wonderfully sick sense of humor like her dad.
Holy shit! Could it be? Huffington Post:
A month or so ago, [Harry Reid] said, a person who had invested with Bain Capital called his office.
"Harry, he didn't pay any taxes for 10 years," Reid recounted the person as saying...
"You guys have said his wealth is $250 million," Reid went on. "Not a chance in the world. It's a lot more than that. I mean, you do pretty well if you don't pay taxes for 10 years when you're making millions and millions of dollars."
Again, this is just something Reid says he heard—and it's important to point out that Reid refuses to name the investor he allegedly heard this from—but if Romney continues to refuse to release his taxes, it's going to harden into truth. The Romney camp denies that Romney didn't pay any taxes, but obviously they are not being forthcoming with the facts, and they refuse to release the paperwork that would contradict this, if in fact the paperwork would contradict this.
Head on over to Line Out for the story.
I'm a woman in my mid-30s, and I've been sucking cock for almost half my life now, but I don't swallow. The reason I don't is that semen invariably has a laxative effect on me. I'd give a blowjob at night, and spend the next morning running to the bathroom. This was true with every guy I was with over a period of several years. I just wanted to ask, is this normal? Or at least not freakishly unusual? For the record, I don't have any other digestive issues. The few times I've mentioned it to other people, they looked at me like I was nuts. Hopefully you or your readers can reassure me that I'm not alone.
- Regular Until Next Swallow
I'm on vacation and Terry wants me to shut the fucking laptop. But I had to jump in and post this:
Child predators are described as the stuff of parents' nightmares. But no parent would dream of the acts federal authorities say stoked the imagination of Ronald William Brown. Brown, 57, lived alone in the Whispering Pines mobile home park in Largo, a professional puppeteer with a soft, Southern-accented voice and thick eyeglasses. He often served pizza to kids in the neighborhood, then drove them to services at Gulf Coast Church, where he was an active congregant.
But there was another side to Brown, according to a 29-page criminal complaint filed July 20 in federal court in Tampa: The man who, as he was feeding pizza to teenagers, nursed fantasies of murdering and eating them. The one who acted out Bible stories with puppets at his church, while musing online about carving and cooking the body parts of a young parishioner for Easter. "I imagine him wiggling and then going still," Brown told an associate in an Internet chat session, describing his plot to kill and cannibalize a boy at Gulf Coast Church, according to the criminal complaint.
Police found child porn in Brown's house along with lewd images of children bound and gagged, a flier for a missing child, and "images of children that appear to be deceased." Via Rebecca Schoenkopf at Wonkette. Says Rebecca:
Happy Sunday, everybody? Good news? Ronald William Brown, a very nice man who loved to hang out with children from his Florida trailer park, and buy them pizza, and watch over them at Sunday school, and be the puppeteer on a Christian Television Network show (above!), was not able to realize his fantasy of abducting one of said children, strangling him, and frying him up in a pan for eating. Hooray!
Praise the Lord!
Sometimes people email me for restaurant recommendations. I always answer! Here's one from loyal friend of Slog Elissa.
Sorry to be one of these people, but I've used the internet as much as possible and I'm frustrated! I am humbly asking for your assistance as a long-term Stranger & Slog reader.
My fiance's parents and my parents are meeting for the first time (along with his 12 yr old sister and my 9 yr old nephew), and we'd like to take them all out to dinner. I would like a place along the lines of Maple Leaf Grill, Stumbling Goat, Cafe Flora (but with meat) (but not all meat), Pair, etc. Small, neighborhood-y American or New American but not as pricey as Tilth, and ok with (very well-behaved) kids being there. A place where the adults can have a conversation. His family is from Wisconsin and mine is from Texas, so they'd be scared of anything super awesome, like Ethiopian, Thai, etc. Here's the problem: Monday night. It HAS to be on a Monday night.
Can you think of any place that fits these criteria??...
Here's a new ad, in which Mitt Romney somehow looks almost human:
So far as these ads go, it's a good one. It introduces Romney's biography in a pleasant, inoffensive way. It doesn't attack President Obama (although the "Believe in the America you built" at the end is of course another dig at "you didn't build that," it's subtle enough that people who don't know about it won't get it) and it makes an uncharismatic man at least seem like a human being, albeit a terribly square one. They achieve that using a bunch of tricks, but the most prominent one is the fact that we're sitting in the back seat of the car as Romney tells his story back to us, as though he's the dad driving and telling us kids about the way the world works. It creates a subliminal sense of comfort, and trust in Romney.
The story in this ad can be pretty easily punctured by an attack ad or two, though. Note that Romney doesn't say what kind of a business he started. That bit about him knowing what it's like to "wonder whether you're going to be able to make ends meet down the road" will seem disingenuous when viewers realize that he comes from money and went on to make a quarter of a billion dollars. But for a biography ad, it's well-made.
Very little needs to be said* about these exquisite gems, with their transparent layers of watercolor on thick paper. They're the latest works by Seattle's Rumi Koshino, who last year created this after the Japanese tsunami; you can see more of her letters and "drawings" on her web site.
*It may be worth noting that, if I'm remembering right, they're for sale for $375, which seems highly affordable.
After four years of boring behind-the-scenes money-wrangling, James Bond's return is nigh. The first trailer for Skyfall introduces Q and Javier Bardem's bad guy, as well as a bunch of quick-cut action sequences that don't give us much of a hint as to how artsy director Sam Mendes will handle his first straight-up action movie. Here it is:
As Goldy mentioned in yesterday's morning news, a study largely funded by the coal billionaire and climate-change skeptic Charles Koch—and led by physicist and climate-change skeptic Richard Muller—has found that climate change is real and "humans are almost entirely the cause."
So we can finally stop dithering about whether the human species is drastically changing the climate, right? We're all on board—right?
Sadly, the answer might be no. Why? Because lots of people aren't rational. (Paleoclimatologist Michael Mann wryly damned Muller's study with faint praise, saying it "demonstrated once again what scientists have known with some degree of certainty for nearly two decades.")
The whole climate-change debate has kicked off a corollary line of study—the cultural reasons for irrational climate-change denial. It's never really been about the science, researchers like Irina Feygina at NYU have found. It's been about mass psychology. (Others, like Dr. Luis Villarreal, think irrational group thinking, especially in terms of group identity, has biological-evolutionary roots.) Here's the abstract for Feygina's 2009 article titled "System Justification, the Denial of Global Warming, and the Possibility of 'System-Sanctioned Change.'"
Despite extensive evidence of climate change and environmental destruction, polls continue to reveal widespread denial and resistance to helping the environment. It is posited here that these responses are linked to the motivational tendency to defend and justify the societal status quo in the face of the threat posed by environmental problems. The present research finds that system justification tendencies are associated with greater denial of environmental realities and less commitment to pro-environmental action. Moreover, the effects of political conservatism, national identification, and gender on denial of environmental problems are explained by variability in system justification tendencies. However, this research finds that it is possible to eliminate the negative effect of system justification on environmentalism by encouraging people to regard pro-environmental change as patriotic and consistent with protecting the status quo (i.e., as a case of “system-sanctioned change”). Theoretical and practical implications of these findings are discussed.
In other words, the deniers won't believe the rational science. To get them on board, we'll have to appeal to their emotions: their patriotic pride and their fear of change.
Courtney Love wants Lana Del Rey to think about her vagina; Spin is going down (maybe, probably, slowly but surely); Thurston Moore has joined a black metal band; Bill Doss has died; and even more weird, sad, and neat music news here!