THE OLD SOUTH EXPERIENCE

Posted in Rants on September 16th, 2010 by Ed

(via Field Negro)

One of the most disturbing aspects of moving to the South after a lifetime of Yankeeitude is seeing advertisements promising the "Old South experience!" at various resorts, tourist areas, and historical sites. The Old South experience. You know, the one with segregated bathrooms. Or perhaps you're more of a Gone With the Wind fan, in which case the experience requires slaves.

Charleston, South Carolina (not coincidentally the last state to officially display the Confederate flag on its Capitol grounds) recently hosted a conference of the National Federation of Republican Women. I know nothing about this group except that their convention theme was "The Southern Experience." That means lots of biscuits, charming hospitality, and doilies, right?

Oh. That "Southern Experience." That's the president of the South Carolina State Senate, for the record, dressed as a Confederate General.

The baffling part is not that this happened – we all know what to expect when upper-crust Republicans from South Carolina congregate and feed off of one another's crazy. But how in the name of god did they find two black people willing to do this? "Hi, we're a national Republican group. We need two older colored folks to dress up like field slaves and take pictures with our members and guests. Interested?" One would think that even a very Republican black person would refuse a request by his or her ideological brethren to don Aunt Jemima garb and shuffle on down to the country club to pose with ol' Jeff Davis.

"Uncle Tom" might be inappropriate here, since I assume that Uncle Tom had a limit. But one thing's for sure: the GOP mission to win the black vote continues apace.

MODESTY

Posted in Rants on September 15th, 2010 by Ed

You probably have forgotten about Tucker Carlson's Daily Caller website, billed as the conservative answer to HuffPo when it was announced last year. Like anything described as "the conservative version of _______" the Daily Caller is unadulterated shit. It makes Drudge Report look like the collected works of Lincoln Steffens and Ida Tarbell. That it borrows the layout of a 1997 GeoCities website does not help, but I digress.

In a move guaranteed to offend none of the site's 14 daily readers – all white males averaging 318 pounds and 44 years of age – DC decided to offer a "slideshow" as commentary on the controversy surrounding a female reporter, Ines Sainz, working in the New York Jets locker room doing NFL coverage for Spanish-language TV networks in the U.S. and Mexico. It has been alleged by other reporters present that players made suggestive comments toward her and members of the coaching staff threw things at her during practice. Interestingly, the Jets ownership apologized and Sainz herself did not claim to be all that offended by the behavior. The Daily Caller, recognizing that this was becoming A Story nonetheless, left little doubt about which party bears responsibility in their 12-photo montage:

The accompanying caption to this photo reads, "The skin tight jeans — er, we mean, the sensible outfit that sparked the current controversy." Other photos, all emphasizing Sainz's obvious, despicable sluttiness, carry captions like "Hello, Ines! My, what a serious photo you have to headline your website!" and "Sainz’s dressing for success recipe: Low cut lacey top? Check. Necklace with strange white things drawing the eye to her chest? Check." Classy. It is a logical extension of the "Ines Sainz is a Whore" meme that has dominated the media coverage.

The NY Post misquotes and demeans the reporter with this little blurb:

Sexy TV sports reporter Ines Sainz slinked into last night's Jet game in a black minidress with a plunging neckline and matching black stilettos — while insisting that she "felt very uncomfortable" when lusty Jet players made salacious comments about her in their locker room after practice Saturday.

Noted legal experts like Joy Behar and TV actor Richard Belzer were brought in to discuss the intricacies of sexual harassment in the workplace, taking care to thoroughly investigate the possibility that she provoked whatever behavior ensued by wearing clothing too sexy for a locker room full of dudes. Washington Redskins star and stupid quote machine Clinton Portis chimed in helpfully: ""You know, somebody got to spark her interest, or she's going to want somebody. I don't know what kind of woman won't, if you get to go and look at 53 men's [bodies]. I know you're doing a job, but at the same time, the same way I'm going to cut my eye if I see somebody worth talking to, I'm sure they do the same thing." His insightful comment underscores the fact that she was actually in the locker room scouting for hot New York Jets cock, not, as she alleged, because she is paid to do things like interview Spanish-speaking quarterback Mark Sanchez.

I always end up pissing off both sides in this debate, so bear with me for a second. Above is a photo of Sainz at last year's Super Bowl. I would not wear that to work. Personally. If I wanted to take myself seriously as a professional and have others do the same, I would not dress like I went on a shopping spree in the juniors' department. For the same reason that I put on a tie to teach classes, reporters should probably be in business casual while on the clock. That said, the issue here is not "Is her clothing appropriate for her job?" or "Does this total stranger look like a skank?" The issue is, regardless of what she wears, can harassment of someone performing a job be tolerated? The answer is unequivocally no. I understand the urge to question her choice of wardrobe but the bottom line is that whether she shows up to work in a suit of medieval armor or a thong that barely complies with local anti-nudity statutes, sexual harassment is against the law.

Dressing or acting in a way that could be interpreted as engaging in a little exhibitionism – remember Meghan McCain's famous Twitter picture? – is not a green light for others to engage in illegal acts. If I am stupid enough to stumble around a bad part of town blind drunk at 4 AM drunk while holding a wad of money in my hand, one might argue that I am Asking For It. Certainly my judgment could be criticized. But mugging me and taking the cash is still illegal. Similarly, by not wearing something that approximates professional attire, Sainz may make herself a somewhat easier target. Doesn't matter. This isn't about her judgment, her fashion sense, or which outfits are slutty. It is about an individual's right to be protected by the law and for people who violate those laws to be held accountable. Doing something that appears to others to show poor judgment does not mean that an individual consents to the boorish at best, illegal at worst behavior of others.

DIGNITY FOR SALE

Posted in Rants on September 14th, 2010 by Ed

Throughout the Roaring Twenties and most of the Great Depression, Dr. Clarence Little was the President of the University of Michigan. A biologist by trade, Little held a number of beliefs that were both common and in the process of being debunked at the time. For example, Little was a hardcore eugenicist – the "Hey, why don't we sterilize all of the poor people!" kind – and a firm believer that no aspect of human physiology had an environmental cause. It's all genetics, he claimed. As his public statements became increasingly controversial and his professional opinions were disproved Little was run out of Ann Arbor on a rail. So he did what any professional who crosses the line into quackery would do: he sold out to corporate interests who were in search of a shameless quack. Thus Clarence Little became the scientific director of the Tobacco Industry Research Committee, vehemently arguing that lung cancer was genetic and not conclusively linked to smoking.

Everyone got what they wanted. Little received a platform for his ridiculous views and a handsome salary. The tobacco industry got an official expert, Doctoral degree and all, to aver the safety of their lethal product. The smoking public got a rationalization to continue smoking despite the overwhelming contradictory evidence ("Science says it's OK! Cough cough cough.")

Little's story is a great example of how profitable it is to be utterly without shame. Any Ph.D.-level biologist, chemist, or so on could start making a fortune tomorrow by announcing some "research" proving that burning hydrocarbons do not pollute the atmosphere, hydrogenated fats are good for you, or condoms cause AIDS. A sociologist could make a mint with a book about how blacks and Muslims control society to the consistent detriment of white Christian males. A political scientist – and I know a few folks who will almost certainly go this route – can work the right-wing lecture and think tank circuit indefinitely with some ridiculous crap about how Alexander Hamilton believed in mandatory homeschooling or the 4th Amendment doesn't apply to Mexicans. It's almost too easy. Just earn the right credentials and proceed to tell the masses that whatever they want to believe is the indisputable truth.

Sometimes I wonder about the choices I've made and the potential alternatives to the deadening grind of the academic grist mill. At our recent professional conference the usual suspects on the right – the American Enterprise Institute is particularly active – attend in force but are largely shunned like the lepers they are in the reality-based community. Yet they are doing so much better than the rest of us – more money, higher profiles, and the easiest jobs on the planet. Just churn out scripts for Lindsey Graham in the morning and spend the afternoon golfing. Do the Sunday morning talk show rounds bimonthly and appear on the occasional Blue Ribbon Panel with Bill Kristol.

I'm not a particularly good person, but I'm terrible at pretending that I believe something. I wish I had just one utterly ridiculous belief – "The Arizona Cardinals will win a Super Bowl some day" does not count – that I could ride to financial success. Nothing I believe is profitable. I'd never have to work again if I could write a book about people Bill Clinton had murdered or Barack Obama's secret plans for the North American Union, the Amero, and one-world government. The marketplace of ideas is a free market, after all, and nothing moves its gears like selling garbage to idiots. The longer I look at the state of my profession and this country as a whole, the more it seems like a good idea to get cracking on that book about how Washington, Madison, Jefferson, Hamilton, and Jesus really felt about the limits of the Full Faith and Credit clause as applied to gay marriage. The only question is how large a font we should use for "Ph.D." in the cover art.

AND THE JOKE IS ON US

Posted in Rants on September 13th, 2010 by Ed

For the first few years of the "post-9/11 world" – to embrace the terminology of our previous President – every hack comedian in the country survived on a steady diet of jokes in the format: "If we __________, then the terrorists win/have already won!" Like all memes, the joke was funny the first time with diminishing returns thereafter until it reached Annoying status. By now even the hackiest of hack comedians won't use such a dated cultural reference.

The joke worked, to the extent that it did, on a number of levels. It ridiculed people who used this phrase in earnest. It mocked the seriousness with which some Americans treat the most banal parts of our lives ("If we cancel college football, then we've let the terrorists win!") And it amuses Americans, at least subconsciously, to think of "losing" a war, let alone a war against a bunch of people living in caves.

However, our hubris relies heavily on the pre-9/11 mindset of which President Bush spoke so regularly. What is defeat? To us, defeat is what we inflicted upon the Nazis and the Japs in World War II. Countries are devastated, governments toppled, and societies radically restructured. Down with Emperor Hirohito, up with a figurehead monarchy in a constitutional democracy. Even the terrorists themselves, smack-talk inspired by the need for religious justifications aside, would not claim that they could inflict this on the United States. Yes, they could blow up some airplanes and buildings, maybe killing a few thousand people. But toppling the government? Installing sharia law? Converting us to Islam? Even bin Laden would roll his eyes and say "You must be high" to any such suggestions.

Of course that was not their goal. Unlike Americans, Islamic terrorists do not relate everything back to World War II. They see themselves not as an opposing army but as the Joker to our rule-based Batman. They are interested mostly in causing chaos, in destabilizing tenuously stable economies and societies through fear, panic, and a small number of well-timed and -executed actions. They thought we needed a better class of criminal than the Soviet boogeyman that was so hard to sell after 1991. And they gave it to us. [/Batman analogies]

In that context, why talk, or even joke, about the terrorists winning? It is abundantly clear that they have already won. Charles Johnson, current right-wing apostate and creator of Little Green Footballs, was once described by a mutual acquaintance as a nice, normal individual driven completely and overwhelmingly insane by 9/11. His mind became a disorganized morass of fear, poorly conceived ideas for violent revenge, and cultural/ethnic hatred toward Muslims. Mr. Johnson does not deserve singling out, though, because that description applies to America as a whole for the last nine years.

They won. Nineteen people plus a loose network of associates who helped them execute their stunningly simple plan at a total cost of about $400,000 (per the 9-11 Commission) gave up their lives to kill a few thousand innocent civilians and in the process drove an entire nation insane. How can we look at America circa 9/11/2010 and attempt to argue that they did not accomplish their goal? America is a neurotic basketcase dog-paddling in its own toxic vomit of xenophobia, proto-fascist politics, and an alarmingly large social divide. We pursued an utterly pointless war at the cost of over a trillion dollars, thus bankrupting (not to mention demoralizing) the nation and setting us at one another's throats even more violently as we fight over the scraps of a once-mighty economy in the shadow of an external threat that is, for the most part, in our heads.

That is the lesson to learn from 9/11. We are particularly bad at learning lessons from tragedies and bad decisions, which is why so many of us believe we lost the Vietnam War because we didn't stay the course. Today the lesson we seem to have learned from 9/11 is that Muslims are bad or that to fight this threat we have to wipe our ass with the Constitution and start operating by Jack Bauer rules. The lesson we do not learn is that "terrorism" is about instilling terror, as the name implies, leading to social, economic, and political disorder in the target nation. As we stand today with a wrecked economy, an intensely divided society, and a political system that has nearly ceased to function altogether there can be no doubt that the terrorists won. They won because we let them win. They wanted us to go completely fucking insane and we were more than happy to oblige.

NPF: PHOTOSHOP OF HORRORS

Posted in No Politics Friday on September 10th, 2010 by Ed

One of my favorite things on the internet is the frequent posts on Jezebel regarding magazine photoshopping. Imagine my delight upon discovering Photoshop Disasters, The Blog. Go on, spend 15 or 20 minutes browsing the archives there. One gem after another.

I cannot check out of a grocery store without doubling over in laughter at a magazine cover bearing a photo of Sandra Lee or (more frequently) Paula Deen. To say that they look like Barbie would be an insult to Barbie. To say that they look like porcelain dolls would invite lawsuits from the Franklin Mint. Seriously, look at this shit:

WHAT THE FUCK IS WRONG WITH HER FACE. The eyes are a horror matched in intensity only by the teeth and lips. In comparison, Sandra Lee looks normal. Oh, wait. No she doesn't.

Although I enjoy Jezebel's continued coverage and commentary on this subject, I can't work up much rage over it because this crap looks so stupid to me. I am 100% certain that many magazine readers do not realize that these images are photoshopped but I cannot help my own reaction: "No one could possibly think this is real." It could not possibly look any more fake. It is just comical.

Promoting an unrealistic body image and beauty standard for female readers? Yes. Definitely. BUT JESUS JONES, LOOK AT HOW FAKE THAT LOOKS. Come on, people.

WHERE IS HER ASS? Look at the legs in relation to the body. I mean, this makes absolutely no spatial sense whatsoever. They have literally chopped her legs off at the hips and relocated them elsewhere in the photo. If not for this, the horrendous facial airbrushing would be more noticeable. They might as well have given her a third arm.

Oh, wait. They've already tried that one. Note to self – always photoshop an arm holding an ice cream cone into a picture of someone who is accused of being a fatty. Maybe next time Whitney Houston can have four arms, each cradling a White Castle Crave Case.

I know, I know. This should be a source of outrage and not entertainment for me. But it's too funny to be taken seriously on a regular basis (although the "anorexia photoshop" thing is patently offensive). As far as the media's pernicious habits go, I'd rather have one that makes me laugh than one that will give me horrifying nightmares.

AAAAAAAHHHHH. KILL IT KILL IT SOMEBODY KILL IT. LURE IT INTO THE BASEMENT. WE'LL BURN THE HOUSE DOWN ON TOP OF IT.

SENATE 2010: TWO MONTHS OUT

Posted in Election 2010 on September 9th, 2010 by Ed

The Senate races are badly in need of an update, not only because it has been ages since the last ones but also because we finally know the full slate of nominees on both sides (excepting the GOP side of the Wisconsin race). The landscape looks much different today than it did back in April, and right off the bat I want to make a number of updates to reflect that:

The Wisconsin race has turned into a competitive one owing to the conservative lean of much of the non-urban portion of the state and the generally unfavorable environment for Democrats. The biggest thing working against the GOP in the Badger State is that both of their contenders are nobodies. The Feingold-Tommy Thompson matchup never materialized and we're left with two no-name businessmen to duke it out in the 9/14/10 primary. Most analysts have this as a toss-up but given the weak competition I have some confidence that Feingold will hold on.

Worse news for the Democrats: Blanche Lincoln (AR) appears to be toast and Evan Bayh's old seat (IN) is highly likely to change hands. Those are two good pickups for the GOP, and I will not be shocked to see the DNC, DSCC, and other funding sources cutting their losses on these two races soon. On the plus side for the Socialists, Dick Blumenthal appears to have the CT open seat well in hand, thanks in part to the tremendous crapulence of GOP nominee Linda McMahon, wife of WWF chairman/wrestler Vince McMahon. That should be a safe hold, and the Delaware race for Biden's open seat is less of a certain GOP pickup at this stage.

One race with the potential to get very interesting is in Alaska, where Lisa Murkowski has launched a write-in campaign in response to her narrow primary loss to Teabagger Joe Miller. Dividing the conservative vote could have disastrous results, opening the door for unknown Democrat Scott McAdams.

That is about the extent of the Democratic good news, however. The updated uncompetitive/safe races yield a three-seat pickup for the GOP:

The competitive races illustrate the problem with something I tried for the sake of simplicity this year: limiting races to two categories, either competitive or safe. In reality there are competitive races and there are races that are truly too close to call. Those are the four toss-ups you see here. The rest of the races are leaning pretty clearly one way or another (excepting Pennsylvania, which I'll explain in a moment).

Current polling shows Toomey with a decent lead over Sestak in PA, but I still have that one as a Democratic hold because of the exceptionally poor track record of Pennsylvania Republicans in the last few elections. Whether it's McCain choosing PA to make his 300-esque last stand or polls predicting Rick Santorum's re-election, statewide Republicans just don't seem to do as well as predicted lately. The state is just too urban for Republicans to have an easy go of it, although motivating 2008-like voter turnout is a pipe dream in the midterm.

With the GOP likely to pick up two from this bunch (the aforementioned AR and IN seats) that gives the GOP a five-seat gain with four toss-ups. If they win all four the Senate will be 50-50, generously counting anal warts like Lieberman and Ben Nelson as Democrats. The Democrats also must contend with the potential for those two corrupt little bastards to switch parties if the would-be GOP leadership offers them something useful.

From the Democratic perspective, the key over the next two months will be to throw everything at Pennsylvania, Colorado, Washington, and Missouri. Delaware is the most Republican-leaning of the coin flip races, and Mike Castle is a quality opponent. Washington is the safest bet, and Colorado can probably be held at tremendous cost. In Missouri, Roy Blunt's lead in the polls withers under the inviolable rule of Missouri politics: never bet against a Carnahan. That one will remain too close to call until the bitter end, most likely.

In future updates I'll focus more on the specifics of the four toss-ups plus Pennsylvania. For now, if everything goes right for the GOP the Senate will be 50-50. With anything less than a total collapse from the Democrats, the more likely outcome is 51 to 53 Republicans the morning after the election.

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THE POWER OF SCIENCE

Posted in Rants on September 8th, 2010 by Ed

The FDA is on the verge of approving genetically engineered animals for human consumption. It has not yet done so, but let us not feign suspense about the decision they will reach. Unlike most westerners, Americans are already eating enormous quantities of GMO corn, soybeans, and other staple crops. Despite the highly controversial nature of this issue, I have to admit that I have never taken the time to form an opinion about it. I understand all of the issues involved – health-related, legal, ethical, and environmental – but I cannot muster the outrage expected of someone of my ideological persuasion.

Our fields, grocery stores, and stomachs are already so packed with lab-engineered Miracle Foods that I have a hard time seeing how GMOs are much of a step down. I mean, are those Doritos, Cocoa Puffs, and Miller Lites going to be better for you if we kick out the GMO corn? Are Monsanto, ConAgra, and Tyson going to have any less of a grip on the American food system if GMOs are ruled unfit for human consumption? Which is worse for me, the GMO milk or the non-GMO milk laced with Bovine Growth Hormone and "Doctor, I think I have anthrax" sized doses of antibiotics? If we trust the FDA to declare regular farm-raised "Atlantic Salmon" – which I can only assume is fed an engineered diet of slaughterhouse waste and chemical additives – safe for consumption, why should we grow skeptical about their judgment now?

My point is not that GMOs are great or even safe. It is that GMOs have become a buzzword and a distraction from the larger deficiencies in our food chain as a whole. The dangers of GMOs mirror the dangers of any heavily processed food, patented seed, or chemical-addled livestock. There is no point in "winning" a battle over GMOs if we're going to continue to eat Cheetos and patronize Taco Bell. Hell, if GMOs cause cancer and shorten our lives they'll fit right in with our current choices at the supermarket.

Politically, this is an instance in which people on the left are undermined by the extremity of their own rhetoric. Talk of "Frankenfoods," modified corn that will have us dropping dead, and vicious, feral strawberries waiting to kill us in our sleep accomplish little, especially since pro-GMO advocates have such pleasant-sounding (although ultimately dishonest) arguments on their side. They can claim that increased yields and pest/virus resistance will alleviate hunger and reduce the need for chemical pesticides. This, of course, is nonsense. The root causes of hunger are social and political, and they do not stem from a lack of available food globally. There is enough food for everyone and the relevant issue to confront is what prevents it from ending up on the plates of people who go hungry.

I'd like to get worked up about GMOs but I have yet to hear the argument that will push me past indifference. With or without them, we confront the same problems. Agribusiness does whatever it wants. Science keeps coming up with new ways to "improve" food with chemical additives and more exotic processing. Most of our food supply is altered in some way that serves to make us fatter and provide us with little to no nutritional value. I may be wrong, but I think every minute spent wailing and rending our tunics over Genetically Modified, factory farmed salmon is a distraction from the more important question of why we're eating chemically enhanced factory farmed salmon in the first place. Let's stop eating shit rather than bickering over what specific kinds of shit should be allowed on the grocery store shelves.

BOLDLY OBJECTIVE

Posted in Rants on September 7th, 2010 by Ed

Webster's defines "bold" (adjective) as follows.

1a : fearless before danger : intrepid, b : showing or requiring a fearless daring spirit
2: impudent, presumptuous
3: (obsolete) assured, confident
4: sheer, steep
5: adventurous, free (a bold thinker)
6: standing out prominently
7: being or set in boldface

Aside from "standing out prominently", which I do not think is a widely-held understanding of what "bold" means, none of these are good descriptions of Sharron Angle's statements. A bold statement in the context of an election would be something like "I guarantee you that I'm going to win in November!" or "You're goddamn right I said Social Security needs to be eliminated." Backpedaling from all of the crazy-ass crap one has said during a life in politics is the antithesis of boldness.

No, bold is not the right adjective here. What CNN means is "ridiculous." Perhaps "idiotic" or "retarded" would do as well. But of course a Serious, Mainstream, Legitimate News Agency has to be Objective. One cannot say that something that is clearly retarded is clearly retarded. An editor came along and changed the author's original "ridiculous" to make sure that no one's feelings are hurt, even though it changes the statement from an accurate one to an inaccurate one. Accurately describing reality results in terribly biased reporting. One must be Objective. Think of what a shit fit Bernard Goldberg and Sean Hannity are going to throw if CNN uses the right adjectives to describe Republican candidates.

Objective, of course, means means making every viewer and elected official feel like his or her viewpoint is valid. Right? Isn't that what it means?

Oh.

I guess it actually means "of, relating to, or being an object, phenomenon, or condition in the realm of sensible experience independent of individual thought and perceptible by all observers." Well that won't do! How are we going to keep the right-wing bloggers happy if we accept that we don't all get to make up our own reality?

Political journalism, in all seriousness, is worse than our sports journalism at this point. Really. When Brett Favre plays like shit, the headline will say "Favre Shitty as Vikings Lose." If we let the Washington Bureau folks write the headlines, we would learn that Favre threw three bold interceptions and an outspoken fumble.

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NPF: OK, THAT'S JUST WEIRD

Posted in No Politics Friday on September 3rd, 2010 by Ed

Following up on last Friday's Apollo 11 theme, it wasn't all fun and tiny silicon disks.

As some commenters debated last week, the moon landing was seen as an enormously risky proposition, even within NASA. It makes sense when you realize that the operation was executed with 1960s microcomputing technology, i.e. that the Apollo Guidance Computer had but a tiny fraction of the capability of a modern cellphone. NASA's odds, at the request of the Nixon White House, were 50/50. In reality NASA probably had somewhat more confidence in the mission but tried to err on the conservative side. I find it hard to believe they really would have attempted it with coin flip odds on the lives of two astronauts.

Regardless, they were worried enough that Nixon prepared (more accurately, speechwriter William Safire prepared) an address in the event that Aldrin and Armstrong had to be left behind. Additionally, Michael Collins, the Command Module Pilot, was allegedly briefed extensively on scenarios that involved abandoning them. The speech itself is pretty jarring, but what they planned to do in the event of the astronauts being stranded on the moon was downright disturbing.

Fate has ordained that the men who went to the moon to explore in peace will stay on the moon to rest in peace.

These brave men, Neil Armstrong and Edwin Aldrin, know that there is no hope for their recovery. But they also know that there is hope for mankind in their sacrifice.

These two men are laying down their lives in mankind's most noble goal: the search for truth and understanding.

They will be mourned by their families and friends; they will be mourned by the nation; they will be mourned by the people of the world; they will be mourned by a Mother Earth that dared send two of her sons into the unknown.

In their exploration, they stirred the people of the world to feel as one; in their sacrifice, they bind more tightly the brotherhood of man.

In ancient days, men looked at the stars and saw their heroes in the constellations. In modern times, we do much the same, but our heroes are epic men of flesh and blood.

Others will follow, and surely find their way home. Man's search will not be denied. But these men were the first, and they will remain the foremost in our hearts.

For every human being who looks up at the moon in the nights to come will know that there is some corner of another world that is forever mankind.

Pretty somber, to say the least. But…

PRIOR TO THE PRESIDENT'S STATEMENT:

The President should telephone each of the widows-to-be.

AFTER THE PRESIDENT'S STATEMENT, AT THE POINT WHEN NASA ENDS COMMUNICATIONS WITH THE MEN:

A clergyman should adopt the same procedure as a burial at sea, commending their souls to "the deepest of the deep," concluding with the Lord's Prayer.

Yeah. So the plan was to cut off communication with them and just leave them there. Like, "OK, bye guys!" Their choices at that point would have been to wait until their oxygen ran out (perhaps a few hours, counting what was in the lander) or open up their suits and have a faster but remarkably unpleasant death.

Personally I find it very hard to believe the people in Houston would actually have ended communication with them. On a personal level that seems unlikely at best, given how small of a community the early space program was. It seems more plausible that they would have cut off communication for public consumption but left open a line in the control room, giving the astronauts the choice of when to end contact.

In any event, it is a substantial understatement to say that I'm glad we did not have to find out how this process would work by experiencing it.

POLLEN CAPITAL OF THE WORLD

Posted in Quick Hits on September 2nd, 2010 by Ed

One of the downsides of my current circumstances is the extent to which 29 years in the Midwest did not prepare my body for what Georgia was going to do to it. Heat, I knew there would be heat. Humidity too. But the pollen? Good lord, the pollen. It's so heavy in the spring that one's car is covered in a layer, as fine as cake flour, of green pollen every morning. After a few weeks of this a mighty thunderstorm comes along and treats us to three days of green rain, approximately the hue and consistency of Ecto Cooler. But in the fall it's just a barrage of silent killers. I see no pollen. I know only that I can't breathe and I'd love to scoop both eyes out with a melon baller.

It is 11 PM on Wednesday, the usual "time to start writing a post" hour, and my eyes are virtually swollen shut by…whatever Georgia uses to attack me. Not only am I unable to stare at the screen for very long through burning eyes, but my ability to be interesting is severely compromised. So here is a pair of images that came across my social networking feeds on Wednesday. Please decide which one is more troubling, for I cannot. Also, enrich your mind for a few minutes with the musings of the Discovery Channel hostage-taker, God rest his crazy, crazy ass.

The question is no longer if America is doomed but if it is worth saving at this point.