Paul Krugman: Presidents and the Economy (NY Times)
The Fed, not the White House, typically holds the reins. But is this time different?
Molly Haskell: "Ace in the Hole: Noir in Broad Daylight" (Criterion)
Billy Wilder's Ace in the Hole almost requires an honorary expansion of the term film noir. There are no private eyes in seedy offices or femmes fatales lurking in the shadows of neon-lit doorways, no forces of evil arrayed against a relatively honorable hero. This emotional snake pit, the darkest of Wilder's dark meditations on American folkways, takes place under the relentless sun of the flat New Mexican desert. The noir is interior-inside a mountain tunnel where a man is trapped and suffocating, and inside the mind of a reporter rotting from accumulated layers of self-induced moral grime.
Howard Hampton: "A Hard Day's Night: The Whole World Is Watching" (Criterion)
If you are seeing A Hard Day's Night (1964) for the second, fifth, or fortieth time, you're bound to catch some perfect detail-a brazen incongruity, sneaky delight, or intangible grace note-you missed on the first, fourth, or thirty-ninth go-round.
Catherine Russell: "The Hidden Fortress: Three Good Men and a Princess" (Criterion)
The Hidden Fortress was Akira Kurosawa's first hit after 1954's Seven Samurai, four years and four films earlier.
Lou Lumenick: "It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World: Nothing Succeeds Like Excess" (Criterion)
The enormous success of Around the World in 80 Days, which featured half a hundred recognizable actors-most in what producer Mike Todd dubbed "cameo" roles-and won the Oscar for best picture of 1956, instantly created a Hollywood vogue for extra-length, big-budget, star-filled movies.
Jason Iannone: 5 Surprising Realities of Working In a Drug Rehab Program (Cracked)
The first step toward recovery is admitting you have a problem. But then you actually have to do something about it. That's theoretically what detoxification programs are for -- they're safe, clean, welcoming environments where people can escape whatever bullshit caused them to hit rock bottom, sober up, and start up a long-term recovery plan that works for them.
Jason Iannone: "4 Valuable Life Lessons (That We Never Follow)" (Cracked)
Whenever we hear some tired old platitude designed to teach us how to be responsible adults who can be left alone for 10 minutes without selling half our hair for rent money while eating the other half for sustenance, we tend to roll our eyes. After all, how much truth and power can some silly one-liner, useful only for those too lazy to come up with an original idea, actually have?
David Bruce: Wise Up! Language (Athens News)
Sometimes servers get in a hurry and speak in shorthand. One harried waitress served food to Merce Cunningham dancers Carolyn Brown and Viola Farber. The waiter said to Ms. Brown, "You're the fried chicken," and to Ms. Farber, "You're the stuffed shrimp."
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Michelle in AZ
David E Suggests
From The Creator of 'Avery Ant'
I miss Bart
I miss Bart. Without him around to say "Hex on thee, hex on thee" the evil Dallas Cowboys won a playoff game.
My experience with hexing is limited to signs found on barns in PA Dutch country and sweet memories of wagging a Bob Prince-approved green weenie at Pirates' home games.
Kinda regret not paying more attention to my eyetalian grandmother's ravings about the evil eye.
While not a proper hex, it'd sure come in handy.
from Marc Perkel
Hello Bartcop fans,
As you all know the untimely passing of Terry was unexpected, even by him. We all knew he had cancer but we all thought he had some years left. So some of us who have worked closely with him over the years are scrambling around trying to figure out what to do. My job, among other things, is to establish communications with the Bartcop community and provide email lists and groups for those who might put something together. Those who want to play an active roll in something coming from this, or if you are one of Bart's pillars, should send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Bart's final wish was to pay off the house mortgage for Mrs. Bart who is overwhelmed and so very grateful for the support she has received. Anyone wanting to make a donation can click on this the yellow donate button on bartcop.com
But - I need you all to help keep this going. This note isn't going to directly reach all of Bart's fans. So if you can repost it on blogs and discussion boards so people can sign up then when we figure out what's next we can let more people know. This list is just over 600 but like to get it up to at least 10,000 pretty quick. So here's the signup link for this email list.
( mailman.bartcop.com/listinfo/bartnews )
from that Mad Cat, JD
In The Chaos Household
A return to sunny and seasonal.
The Winners and Losers
The book is essentially closed on 2014, and plenty of cable networks are probably just fine with that. The year saw big slides for many networks (A&E, TruTV, MSNBC) as ESPN inched its way up to No. 1 primetime status in all key measures.
This is a first for the sports network, though not much of a surprise given its seemingly fatigue-proof programming. With all but a few stray hours of the year now taken into account, ESPN nabs the top seat in average viewership, adults 18-49 and adults 25-54. (That data comes from Nielsen Media's most current 2014 stats, which combine live-plus-seven and same-day ratings through the final Friday of the year.)
So whose thunder did ESPN steal? In overall audience and older adults, USA surrendered top dog status. The network, which has seen its lineup of originals shed some ratings power from the heyday of series like Burn Notice, lost a significant 21 percent of total viewers from 2013. Among adults 18-49, TBS ceded the crown to ESPN in its own 14 percent drop.
It has to be said that ESPN achieved its coveted status by essentially staying the course. The most the network grew was in total viewership, by a modest lift of 100,000 more viewers per night. Other heavy hitters saw their profile rise by managing to hold onto the status quo as neighbors dropped double digits. FX, a top 5 network with adults under 50 for the first time, hopped past TNT with another strong year for series like American Horror Story and the swan song of Sons of Anarchy. Thanks to TV's highest-rated show in The Walking Dead, AMC also improved its ranking in spite of minor dips.
And if FX leapfrogged TNT, it blew past A&E. The cable network, one of the biggest ratings champs of 2013, plummeted 30 percent in total viewers and adults 18-49 alongside Duck Dynasty's fall from grace. If there's a silver lining, at least this is probably the last time the network will have to endure comparisons to the lingering reality show's astronomical highs.
Misogynist Doubles Down On Racism
Rush Limbaugh took to his radio show on Monday to once again address the controversy surrounding his statement that actor Idris Elba would not be the best pick for the new James Bond.
"Is it racist to suggest that James Bond is a white character created by Ian Fleming?" said Limbaugh on The Rush Limbaugh Show. "It's not racist."
Earlier this month, Limbaugh commented on a leaked Sony email where Sony co-chairman Amy Pascal reportedly wrote that it would be great for Elba to inherit the role after Daniel Craig. Limbaugh went on to state that Pascal was considering Elba only to make peace with Al Sharpton after previously leaked emails revealed Pascal and director Scott Rudin joking
"There's no racism intended here," added Limbaugh. "I have no bias whatsoever against Idris Elba. I think he's a great actor. It isn't even about him. This is about this girl Amy Pascal who thinks he would be a great James Bond and we know why she says. She's trying to buy off Al Sharpton. She's trying to buy off any of the other hustlers because she's in trouble."
Some Good Samaritans are helping warm the homeless (and scarf-less) this winter by leaving scarves and hats wrapped around poles, fire hydrants and lamp posts in chilly cities across North America.
A Redditor spotted a scarf wrapped around a fire hydrant in Wilmington, North Carolina with the following note attached:
"I AM NOT LOST! If you need this to stay warm, then please take it. It is yours. Be warm, and do something to help someone else today if you can."
In early December, a teenage soccer team in Spokane, Washington, made about 300 scarves for the homeless and draped them over the iconic Bloomsday runner statues in Riverfront Park with notes that read: "I'm not lost. If you are cold, I'm yours. I was made for you to take."
Police are investigating the theft of a bronze plaque from a monument at Mark Twain's gravesite in upstate New York.
The superintendent of Woodlawn Cemetery in Elmira said Monday the 12-by-12-inch likeness of the American writer was likely stolen between Christmas and New Year's Day.
The plaque showing Twain's image was one of two on a 12-foot-tall, 78-year-old granite monument commissioned by Twain's daughter Clara. The other plaque, of Clara's husband, was untouched.
The author of such classics as "The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn" and "Tom Sawyer" married Olivia Langdon of Elmira and had a summer home in the upstate city. He died in 1910 and was buried in the Langdon family plot at Woodlawn.
Sues For Alleged Hacking
Sharyl Attkisson, who resigned from CBS News last year over claims the network stifled critical reporting against President Obama, has filed a lawsuit against the Obama administration alleging it oversaw illegal surveillance and hacked her computer.
In a series of court documents, Attkisson cites three different computer forensic exams she initiated that found hackers monitoring her work between 2011 and 2013, while she was still at CBS News. She is suing for $35 million.
During that time period, Attkisson reported on stories critical of the Obama administration, including the Benghazi consulate attack on September 11th, 2012, and the "Fast and Furious" drugs- and firearms-trafficking story.
In the lawsuit, Attkisson claims Obama administration hackers installed and refreshed software on her computer system to steal data and monitor her activity. Attkisson also claims her Skype account was hacked.
Attkisson has become a right-wing media lighting rod since her resignation from CBS News last year, alleging mainstream media outlets - like her former employer - no longer allow investigative reporters to undertake stories critical of Democratic administrations like Obama's.
To Stand Trial
Dustin Diamond, the actor who played Screech on the 1990s television series "Saved by the Bell," was ordered to stand trial Monday in the stabbing of a man at a Wisconsin bar on Christmas Day.
Diamond, 37, is charged with felony reckless endangerment and two misdemeanours stemming from the incident in Port Washington, about 25 miles north of Milwaukee. His defence attorney noted that none of witnesses reported seeing Diamond stab the man, who wasn't seriously hurt, but an Ozaukee County judge ruled there was enough evidence for the case to go to trial.
Diamond's fiancee, Amanda Schutz, told police she shoved a woman who was making rude remarks and antagonizing her and Diamond at The Grand Avenue Saloon, according to a criminal complaint. The women then got into a physical altercation, and two men held Schutz by her hair, Diamond told investigators.
During Monday's hearing, Port Washington police officer Ryan Hurda testified that a man confronted and shoved Diamond as the actor moved toward the fight. The man's brother "intervened when he heard the snap of a knife," Hurda said.
The officer said the brother never saw Diamond stab anyone, and that there was nothing in the bar's video surveillance that shows Diamond stabbing the man.
Sees Rise In Marijuana Cases
An increasing number of visitors to Yellowstone National Park are being prosecuted for possessing small amounts of medical and recreational pot, which remains illegal on federal land.
Park rangers attribute the trend both to ignorance of federal law and the growing prevalence of legal pot in other states, including neighboring Colorado, which has legal medical and recreational marijuana.
The U.S. Attorney's Office in Cheyenne reports it prosecuted 21 marijuana cases from Yellowstone in 2010 and 52 in 2013. As of Dec. 17, the office had handled 80 cases in 2014.
Those convicted of misdemeanor possession commonly receive a $1,000 fine.
Fracking Led to Earthquakes
A hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, well in Ohio triggered scores of small earthquakes in March 2014, including one large enough to be felt in nearby towns, a new study confirms. The biggest quake, a magnitude 3, was one of the largest ever caused by fracking. State officials shut down the well two days after the earthquake hit.
Fracking involves the high-pressure injection of water, sand and chemicals into rock to break it up and release trapped oil and gas. In Ohio, fracking triggered earthquakes on a hidden fault in ancient crystalline rock beneath a natural gas well in the Utica Shale, according to the study, published today (Jan. 5) in the Bulletin of the Seismological Society of America.
No earthquakes were ever recorded in this region of Ohio before fracking started, and the shaking stopped after the well was shut down, said lead study author Robert Skoumal, a graduate student in seismology at Miami University in Ohio. Skoumal and other Miami University researchers identified 77 earthquakes with magnitudes ranging from 1 to 3 that occurred from March 4 to 12.
Skoumal connected fracking to Ohio's March 2014 earthquakes by comparing seismic records to publicly available drilling reports from the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR). It turned out the culprit was the two northeasternmost "legs" of a horizontal natural gas well drilled by Hilcorp Energy Co. in Poland Township, at the abandoned Carbon Limestone Landfill, according to the study results.
Rapid Desert Formation May Have Destroyed
China's 1st Kingdom
The first known Chinese kingdom may have been destroyed when its lands rapidly transformed into deserts, possibly driving its people into the rest of China, a new study finds.
This new finding suggests that the kingdom may have been more important to Chinese civilization than experts had thought, researchers say.
Prior research suggests the earliest Chinese kingdom might have been Hongshan, established about 6,500 years ago. This was about 2,400 years before the supposed rise of the Xia Dynasty, the first dynasty in China described in ancient historical chronicles. The kingdom's name, which means "Red Mountain," comes from the name of a site in the Inner Mongolia region of China.
Past excavations have uncovered Hongshan sites across northern China, including the Goddess Temple, an underground complex in the northeastern Chinese province of Liaoning known for murals painted on its walls and a clay female head with jade inlaid eyes.
China's 1st Kingdom
Bess Myerson, 90, the first Jewish Miss America and a frequent companion of the late New York Mayor Ed Koch who later fell from grace in a city scandal, has died after a long battle with dementia.
The Bronx-born Myerson, who served as Koch's commissioner of cultural affairs and often appeared with him holding his hand, died on Dec. 14 at her Santa Monica, California, residence, Los Angeles County assistant chief coroner Ed Winter said on Monday.
In 1945 Myerson became the first Miss New York to win the title of Miss America. She also was the first - and so far only - Jewish Miss America.
The following year she married Allan Wayne, a Navy captain, and gave birth to her only child, Barbara, before the marriage broke up a decade later.
Her varied career included such jobs as a panelist for the television game show "I've Got a Secret," commercial pitch woman and New York City's first consumer affairs commissioner, appointed by Mayor John Lindsay.
Her political career included advising three presidents. She served on Lyndon Johnson's White House conference on crime and violence, Gerald Ford's board focusing on workplace issues and Jimmy Carter's commissions on mental health and world hunger.
Myerson made an unsuccessful bid for a New York U.S. Senate seat in 1980 but lost the Democratic nomination to U.S. Representative Elizabeth Holtzman.