Tom Danehy: Tom has some thoughts about making Donald Trump a one-term president-and he's worried the Democrats are gonna blow it (Tucson Weekly)
The odds should be pretty high that Donald Trump will lose next year, but it's not a sure thing. What we (and Nate Silver of 538) learned the hard way in 2016 is that, no matter how good your algorithm is, there's no Greek symbol for closet racism that you can plug into an equation. That one-third [of hard-core Trump supporters] is out there, emboldened and happy as hell that Der Trump is running again. Whaddya say the rest of us find a disciplined message, a charismatic messenger and make the next 572 days a living hell for their fearful leader?
Helaine Olen: Elizabeth Warren wants to make it simpler to file taxes. Good for her. (Washington Post)
If Warren gets her way, the IRS would be required to offer an online service at no cost, one that would permit filers to do their taxes without the involvement of outside tax prep businesses. At the same time, those with basic returns could request the government send them a tax return already filled out with the information that the government receives from employers, financial services firms and others, the way it is done in other developed countries such as Britain, Germany and Sweden. If you agree with the government's figures, you sign off and either pay up or wait for your refund. If you disagree and/or don't trust the government to do your taxes, you still have the freedom to do them yourself.
Jillian Steinhauer: Object Lessons (The Nation)
The vignettes are valuable not just as entertaining stories, but also because they extend the reach of Gorey's transfixing spell. He was self-actualized in a way that most of us can only dream of: He lived how he wanted and made the work that called to him. "More and more, I think you should have absolutely no expectations and do everything for its own sake," he once said. "That way you won't be hit in the head quite so frequently."
Terry Teachout: The Swinging Star (Commentary Magazine)
While many of the records themselves, like most of his films, have become period pieces, Crosby the artist remains as accessible and vital as ever, so much so as to put the attentive listener in mind of Artie Shaw's oft-quoted 1992 remark: "The thing you have to understand about Bing Crosby is that he was the first hip white person born in the United States." So he was-and that hipness, like Sinatra's, remains undiminished by the passing of time.
Chris Moss: The Dying Light (Poetry Foundation)
Leonard Cohen's death in November 2016, at the age of eighty-two, prompted the usual media outpouring that greets the passing of any influential artist. Many obituaries were fawning, a few were perceptive. Cohen's songs, pointed out one critic, seemed polished and pared down, unlike those of Dylan-recently anointed a Nobel laureate-which seemed to "pour out" of him. If this is a poetic effect rather than a measure of the craft, it remains a compelling interpretation. Dylan himself said Cohen's songs were "like prayers." Suzanne Vega expanded this to "like prayers or spells."
THEODORE DALRYMPLE: The Doctor's infinite wisdom (Standpoint)
The hero of the tale, if such he can be called, is Rasselas, Prince of Abissinia. The offspring of the Emperor of that immense African empire are enclosed, as is Rasselas, in the Happy Valley, a mountainous grove completely separated from the rest of the world, in which everything possible that can be done or provided to make them perfectly content is done or provided. The food and drink is abundant, varied and delicious, and the entertainments amusing and without cease. There is always delightful music on hand to soothe any disquiet, should it ever arise.
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• In 2011, the city of Troy, Michigan, suffered a severe lack of money, and to reduce expenses, it considered closing its public library unless voters approved a referendum that would raise taxes .07%. A vocal anti-tax group opposed the tax increase, and it seemed as if the tax increase would be voted down and the library would be shut down. But library supporters came up with the idea of a creative campaign to convince people to vote for the tax increase and the library: "Troy Public Library would close for good unless voters approved a tax increase. With little money, six weeks until the election, facing a well-organized anti-tax group who'd managed to get two previous library-saving tax increases to fail, we had to be bold. We posed as a clandestine group who urged people to vote to close the library so they could have a book-burning party. Public outcry over the idea drowned out the anti-tax opposition and created a ground-swell of support for the library, which won by a landslide."They put these signs in yards: "VOTE TO CLOSE TROY LIBRARY AUG. 2nd. BOOK BURNING PARTY AUG. 15th. Facebook.com/BookBurningParty." The citizens of Troy, Michigan, considered the book burners to be "idiotic" and voted for the tax increase and the library. The campaign to save the library was so effective that it won an Effie Award (which recognizes effectiveness in the marketing communications industry) in the non-profit category.
• Michael Wigge, a German television personality, is able to come up with good ways to make money when needed. In San Francisco, California, he wanted to raise money so that he could fly to Costa Rica. He raised the necessary $300 with pillows. He says, "I took two pillows from my couchsurfing hosts and offered pillow fighting to passersby for a little donation. San Franciscans really seem to be in need of a good pillow fight. A young man in Dolores Park took a pillow and hit me in my face as hard as he could - I didn't even have a chance to fight back. Two businessmen opted to fight each other on their lunch break and gave me $20 to stay out of it. People started queuing up in Golden Gate Park to take part." This worked: He raised enough money to fly to Costa Rica. Other ways that he has raised money to fund his travel is by acting as a human sofa: He gets on all fours and lets people sit on him and catch their breath. His sign said, "Relax for one dollar by sitting on the human sofa!" In addition, he has worked as a hill helper. San Francisco has steep hills, and he helps people climb up hills. He says, "As the Hill Helper, I pushed groaning tourists up the incline [of Lombard Street] by holding their back with my hands. They leaned back and put their entire weight on my hands to be pushed uphill. It was real backbreaking work (my back, not theirs)."
• George Burns often read and gave advice about scripts for the TV sitcom The People's Choice. He was also a problem-solver. Sometimes, he read a script and realized that it had a problem. If he couldn't figure out what was wrong with the script, he would go to Hillcrest, a club that he and many other Hollywood people frequented. He then would start talking to a TV writer who made $250,000 a year and tell the writer the story in the script and say that it was a great story. The TV writer would look at him as if he were crazy and tell him what was wrong with the script. Then Mr. Burns would tell his partner in The People's Choice what was wrong with the script but not tell him how he had learned what was wrong with the script. Mr. Burns says that everyone thought that he was a genius.
• Audiences tend to think of acting as a glamorous job, but often actors have their problems on the stage. Agnes Booth played Belinda Treherne in W.S. Gilbert's satirical play Engaged when it was presented at Madison Square Garden over a century ago, but her role necessitated the eating of a great many tarts, and at length she rebelled. Fortunately, a pastry cook devised a satisfactory substitute made mostly of air (no filling). In fact, Ms. Booth did not need to eat anything, as the counterfeit tart was collapsible, and with some dexterity she was able to pretend to consume the "tarts." Theater critic John Rankin Towse wrote, "Thus the comedy went on, and the tarts were satisfactorily consumed without being eaten."
• Girls at a middle school started to wear lipstick. Unfortunately, this caused a problem. They would put the lipstick on in the girls' restroom and then kiss the mirror, leaving behind lipstick on the mirror. The principal decided to get the girls to stop doing that. She called all the girls into the bathroom and explained, "The lipstick on the mirror is very difficult for the janitor to get off." The principal asked the janitor, "Will you please show the girls how difficult it is for you to get the lipstick off the mirror?" The janitor dipped a toilet brush into the water in a toilet and then used the brush to scrub the mirror. The girls stopped kissing the mirror.
• Henry Lewis was talented in more than one way. At a Catholic school, he played a recital, but he forgot the middle of a composition by George Frideric Handel. No problem. He improvised some music that sounded as if Handel could have written it, and he got through the recital. Henry's father wanted him to go out for the football team. Henry went out for the team, made it, and immediately quit. Henry said, "I wasn't interested, but I wanted to show him I could do it." Later, Mr. Henry Lewis became a noted conductor.
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Early Days Chronicled
The Grateful Dead have teamed with Z2 Comics to create a biographical graphic novel that will hit shelves in early 2020 and come with an exclusive record featuring previously unreleased music.
Grateful Dead Origins will focus on the band's early days and, per a statement, their "transformation from a bar band performing as the Warlocks to becoming the creators of their own sound and forefathers for the jamband culture." Chris Miskiewicz will write the book while Noah Van Sciver will illustrate it.
"Chris and Noah have captured the Dead's sensibility in their words and images that bring to life on the page the earliest days of the Grateful Dead, from the band's founding in 1965 through to Woodstock," said Grateful Dead archivist David Lemieux. "We couldn't be happier to be partnering with such talented artists who have delved so deeply into the Dead's history and origin."
The deluxe edition of Grateful Dead origins will be released in hardcover and come with a special vinyl record featuring a selection of unreleased Grateful Dead music from the era the book covers (a track list has yet to be announced). The package will also include three art prints signed by the book's creators. A standard edition will also be released in softcover and come with a download of Grateful Dead music from the era.
"Aquaman" star Jason Momoa just shaved his signature beard off for a good cause. In a four-minute YouTube video, the actor cuts his facial hair for the first time in seven years to bring awareness to plastic waste.
"I'm just doing this bring awareness that plastics are killing our planet," Momoa said, encouraging people to "save the planet" by cutting down on plastic and choosing aluminum instead.
"You drink the can and in about 60 days, it will be back," he said. "I hate going to the airport or being on an airplane and getting a water bottle this big. When it can be an aluminum one. They have aluminum sodas and it's fully recyclable."
He displays different types of canned water, including still, alkaline, sparkling and spring water. The camera shifts to a mostly shaven Momoa who was putting on finishing touches. He said it's the first time he's shaved since 2012.
"Goodbye, Drogo. Bye, Arthur Curry. Bye, Declan," Momoa said, referring to his roles in "Game of Thrones," "Aquaman" and "Frontier."
Creators Headed to Trial
In the realm of the supernatural, a secret governmental project investigating the paranormal qualifies as remarkable. So, too, does a potential trial exploring whether Stranger Things creators Matt and Ross Duffer stole the idea for their Netflix show from a guy who allegedly pitched a project at the 2014 Tribeca Film Festival.
On Wednesday, a Los Angeles Superior Court denied summary judgment to the Duffer brothers in a lawsuit brought by Charlie Kessler.
Kessler alleges Stranger Things is based on a feature film script titled The Montauk Project - set in the New York town in which he says is home to "various urban legends, and paranormal and conspiracy theories."
In January, in response to claims of breaching an implied contract, the Duffer brothers argued they didn't "manifest any intent to enter into a binding agreement" with Kessler, that they independently created Stranger Things and the ideas Kessler says he disclosed were not novel.
In denying summary judgment Wednesday, Los Angeles Superior Judge Michael Stern says there is no "novel" requirement under either New York or California law.
Hollywood Walk O'Fame
Cypress Hill, the first Latino American hip-hop group with a recording to go platinum, received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame Thursday morning.
Comedian George Lopez was among the speakers honoring the hip-hop group at the ceremony.
The ceremony comes less than seven months after the release of the group's latest album, "Elephants on Acid."
Born in Cuba and raised in South Gate, brothers Senen Reyes, also known as Sen Dog, and Ulpiano Sergio Reyes, also known as Mellow Man Ace, teamed with New York City native Lawrence Muggerud, also known as DJ Muggs, and Louis Freese, also known as B-Real, in 1988 to form the hip-hop group DVX.
Cypress Hill's self-titled first album was released in August 1991 and sold more than 2 million copies. The group's second album, "Black Sunday," released in 1993, debuted at number one on the Billboard Top 200 and earned a triple-platinum certification after selling more than 3 million copies.
Reporters Without Borders
The Americas saw the greatest deterioration in press freedom of any part of the world during the last year, a press advocacy group said Thursday.
The 2019 World Press Freedom Index compiled by Reporters Without Borders shows that Nicaragua fell 24 places from the previous year's list due to attacks on journalists covering protests against President Daniel Ortega. Some journalists fled abroad, fearing they might be jailed on terrorism charges.
El Salvador saw the region's second steepest fall - 15 places - because journalists suffered armed attacks, harassment and intimidation by politicians, according to the report.
There were also poor performances in Venezuela, Brazil, United States and Mexico. The latter is one of the world's deadliest countries for the media, with at least 10 journalists slain in 2018.
The report said that never before in the United States have journalists been subjected to so many death threats or turned so often to private security companies for protection. An armed man walked into the newsroom of the Capital Gazette in Annapolis, Maryland, and killed four journalists and another employee last June.
To Be Sold
American Media Inc (AMI) said on Thursday it was selling its National Enquirer tabloid to James Cohen, whose family owns a magazine distributor and used to own the Hudson chain of airport newsstands.
The National Enquirer had admitted to paying hush money to help U.S. President Donald Trump get elected and been accused of attempting to blackmail Amazon founder Jeff Bezos.
The weekly tabloid, along with two of its sister publications, will be purchased by Cohen. The Washington Post reported the sale was for $100 million. The companies did not respond to Reuters' request for comment on the price.
Cohen's family owns a U.S. magazine and book distributor, Hudson News Distributors. In 2008, the family sold the airport retail and newsstand business to Dufry AG.
Paul Pope, one of the heirs of the National Enquirer founder, Generoso Pope Jr., had also been in the list of bidders, according to media reports.
A 42,000-year-old foal discovered frozen in Siberian permafrost contained a surprise: the oldest liquid blood on record.
This is the second time that a defrosted Ice Age animal has turned out to contain liquid blood, said Semyon Grigoriev, the head of the Mammoth Museum at North-Eastern Federal University in Yakutsk. In 2018, Grigoriev and his colleagues extracted liquid blood from a 32,200-year-old mammoth carcass. That makes the foal's blood the oldest ever found by 10,000 years.
Grigoriev and his colleagues are set on cloning a mammoth and other Pleistocene fauna, and they're already trying to clone the foal, a member of an extinct species called the Lena horse. It's a long shot, though, Grigoriev wrote in an email to Live Science.
The Lena horse (Equus caballus lenensis) foal was found in the Batagaika Crater in eastern Siberia last year. The foal was 2 months old and stood 39 inches (98 centimeters) at the shoulder when it died, drowning in mud. Remarkably, the icy permafrost preserved the foal's skin and hair down to the tiniest detail. There was even well-preserved urine still inside the foal's bladder, Grigoriev said.
The liquid blood was a surprise, he said. Typically, blood coagulates or turns to powder even in well-preserved carcasses, because fluids gradually evaporate over thousands of years, he said. In the mammoth, dubbed "Buttercup" by researchers, the blood was preserved in ice inside the carcass.
The foal autopsy should reveal a lot about Pleistocene Siberia, Grigoriev said. Not only will researchers study the biochemistry of preserved urine, gut contents and organs, but they will also study samples of the soils and paleo plants found in the layer of permafrost where the foal died.
'Strikes The Same Place Twice Quite Often'
People say that lightning never strikes the same place twice - but the idea is completely wrong, it turns out.
In fact, lightning frequently strikes exactly the same place twice, due to lightning travelling along 'channels' that are reused, scientists have said.
The finding is based on data from a Dutch radio telescope called LOFAR (Low Frequency Array) that has analysed the weather phenomenon in more detail than ever before.
LOFAR uses thousands of antennas spread across northern Europe which analyse lightning at new, unprecedented levels of detail.
They found that lightning strikes the same place twice due to 'needles' up to 100 metres in length, which extend out from positively charged lightning channels.
Snot Otter Emerges Victorious
Pennsylvania's soon-to-be official amphibian has more than its fair share of nicknames: snot otter, mud devil, Allegheny alligator, devil dog, lasagna lizard.
In short, it's not exactly a looker.
But the Eastern hellbender salamander was the overwhelming choice of lawmakers for amphibian representation in the state. On Tuesday, the state's House of Representatives voted 191-6 on a bill that would name the aquatic creature its state amphibian. The Senate passed the bill in February.
The hellbender is a nocturnal salamander that can grow more than 2 feet long. The mud-colored creature, covered in a layer of mucus, breathes primarily through loose flaps of thick, wrinkled skin that look a little bit like lasagna noodles.
The giant salamander's sensitivity to pollution and changing conditions makes it an indicator species for healthy bodies of water, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The animal relies on cool, moving water to breathe and prefers rocky, swiftly flowing rivers and streams in the Appalachian region, with a range that stretches from northern Georgia to southern New York.