Instead of actual content…

September 12th, 2014

…I give you a very silly quiz from the WP:

Is this a line from ‘The Great Gatsby’ or a New York Times profile of Lena Dunham?

I have never seen an episode of “Girls” (since I refuse to have cable). However, I still got a perfect score on the quiz. Which says something: either about my knowledge of Gatsby or about how silly this quiz actually is, I do not know.

Oh, what the heck, I’ll throw this one in, too:

http://www.lingscars.com/

I sent this to Lawrence with the suggestion that it might be worse than Bello De Soto’s website: Lawrence doesn’t think so, and I’m still trying to make up my mind.

There are so many things that push it towards legendary badness for me: the chicken walking around on the live Twitter feed (why?), the auto-play Chinese karaoke (ditto?), the spinning chat avatars, gratuitous abuse of the blink tag…

On the other hand, it hasn’t actually crashed any browser I’ve tried it on so far. On the gripping hand, it is an actually up and (apparently) functional website, as opposed to an archive of one…

Obit watch: September 11, 2014.

September 11th, 2014

Colonel Bernard F. Fisher (USAF – ret) passed away on August 16th, though his death does not appear to have been widely reported until today.

Col. Fisher (he was a major at the time) received the Medal of Honor for pulling off one of the greatest rescue missions in the history of the Vietnam War.

(I swear that I read this story in Reader’s Digest when I was a child, maybe as a “Drama In Real Life”.)

The paper of record does not seem to have deigned to note the passing of Richard “Jaws” Kiel, but the LATimes and the A/V Club have.

Edited to add: now the NYT gets around to it.

You want sad? I’ll give you sad.

September 10th, 2014

Very often the president would stride briskly out of the White House, with Tad at his side trying to keep up, and march four blocks down to 1207 New York Avenue, to Stuntz’s Fancy Store, a magical little toy shop. The owner, Joseph Stuntz, was a retired French soldier who carved wooden toy soldiers in a tiny back room. Sometimes Lincoln showed up alone at Stuntz’s and bought toy soldiers for Tad for Christmas. “I want to give him all the toys I did not have and all the toys I would have given the boy who went away,” Lincoln told the master toy maker.

The Last Lincolns, page 49 (paperback).

Inside the White House, workmen were making last minute repairs, preparing the executive mansion for the new president. In a second-floor bedroom they found something unexpected — the vast collection of Tad Lincoln’s toy soldiers. These were the beautiful, hand-carved figurines Abraham Lincoln had purchased for his son at Stuntz’s toy store. They were Tad’s favorite playthings, but he had left them behind, probably because he could not bear to see them again. He was no longer the president’s son. He was just Tad Lincoln.

–ibid., page 71

TMQ Watch: September 9, 2014.

September 10th, 2014

Might as well jump right into the first TMQ of the regular season

Read the rest of this entry »

Quote of the day

September 9th, 2014

Lincoln, Robert Todd, xi, 3, 4, 22, 210.
See also Jinxy McDeath;
Presidential Angel of Death

—index entry in Charles Lachman’s The Last Lincolns: The Rise & Fall of a Great American Family.

(Explained.)

(I just started reading Lachman’s book yesterday. For some reason, I found Chapter 2, about Willie, Tad, and the president’s relationship with the boys, really hard to get through. You want sad? That’s a sad sundae with sad sauce and chopped sad sprinkled over it.)

Your loser update: week 1, 2014.

September 9th, 2014

Like Ebola or toenail fungus, we have returned for another year of the loser update.

Are there any teams that we think have a chance of going 0-16 this year? We haven’t given this a lot of thought, but off the top of our heads, maybe Oakland or Jacksonville?

In the meantime, NFL teams that actually still have a chance to go 0-16:

New England
Cleveland
Baltimore
Indianapolis
Jacksonville
San Diego
Oakland
Kansas City
New York Football Giants
Washington
Dallas
Chicago
Green Bay
New Orleans
Tampa Bay
St. Louis

TMQ Watch: September 2, 2014.

September 5th, 2014

Yes, we know. We’re still a little behind. Our schedule was thrown off yesterday because we actually went “golfing”. (Technically, we went to a driving range. Yes, we know that seems odd; it was a corporate outing, and we were in it more to be social than to hit balls.)

Anyway, haiku after the jump….

Read the rest of this entry »

There’s all kinds of stupid.

September 3rd, 2014

Many of which I have written about here.

But forging a court order in an attempt to get content you don’t like removed is a whole new kind of stupid, even for sleazy telemarketers.

(Is “sleazy telemarketer” redundant?)

Today in journalism fraud.

September 3rd, 2014

I have read and admired a fair amount of William Langewiesche’s work. He did some excellent reporting on Pakistan’s nuclear program, and is one of the better mass-market writers on aviation related subjects.

But.

Some of you may have been following Chevron Corp. v. Donziger. For those who haven’t, briefly: Donziger filed a lawsuit against Chevron in Ecuador alleging that Chevron polluted drilling sites. Donziger won a $19 billion judgment in the Ecuadorian courts, but it turns out that there was massive fraud perpetrated by Donziger and the Ecuadorian courts. Overlawyered has a Chevron tag if you want more details.

The point, and I do have one, is: Langewiesche was asked by Vanity Fair to do a story on the suit. (Interesting point: “Donziger’s wife at the time worked in corporate communications at Condé Nast, the magazine’s publisher.“)

Langewiesche did the story.

The piece he produced was extraordinarily sympathetic to the lawsuit, so much so that Donziger himself proclaimed it “the kind of paradigm-shifting, breakthrough article that I think is going to change the entire case from here until it ends in a way that is favorable to us.”

But it wasn’t just “sympathetic”.

The reporter asks Donziger to prepare lists of dozens of questions to be asked of Chevron. And he begs Donziger to help him prepare arguments about why there’s no need for him to do face-to-face interviews with Chevron officials, as they’ve requested, even though he spent days meeting with Donziger and his legal staff.
“I want to avoid a meeting, simply because I do NOT have the time. But I don’t want to go on record refusing a meeting,” writes Langewiesche. “Perhaps I could say that my travel schedule is intense . . . ” He not only submits his emails to Chevron for Donziger’s approval (“What say, Steve. I gotta send this tonight”) and even lets him rewrite them. “Let me know if this works,” Donziger says in a note returning one of them. “I was a little aggressive in the editing.”

Langewiesche also sent Donziger a copy of the story before it was printed. Someone correct me if I’m wrong, but I believe that is a violation of journalism ethics. Especially since

…Chevron did not get to see the story before it went into print, nor submit lists of questions it wanted Langewiesche to ask Donziger. Nor did Chevron get the face-to-face interviews they asked for. Except for a single phone conversation just before the story appeared, Langewiesche insisted all their communication be via email.

And, of course, there were errors. Including one major one: an expert hired by Donziger was quoted as saying cleanup would cost $6 billion.

But the man had repudiated it a full year before the Vanity Fair story appeared, warning Donziger in a letter that the estimate was based on faulty assumptions and was “a ticking time bomb which will come back to bite you, and very badly, if anyone attempts due diligence on it.”

I am looking forward to reading VF‘s response. Certainly, these are just accusations, but they are accusations backed up by Donzinger’s email, which was obtained as part of a court order related to the ongoing fraud case.

(Hattip: JR.)

Speaking of food…

September 2nd, 2014

…by way of the Hacker News Twitter feed, I’ve learned of a relatively new blog, “Cooking in the Archives“.

Subtitled “Updating Early Modern Recipes (1600-1800) in a Modern Kitchen”, the basic premise is this: Alyssa Connell and Marissa Nicosia, the authors, pull recipes published between 1600 and 1800, adapt them for a modern kitchen, cook them, and report.

Sometimes, this works well: maccarony cheese, anyone?

And sometimes you get…fish custard.

This should be interesting to follow. I commend it to your attention.

Ancient trade secret, huh?

September 2nd, 2014

This is a couple of days old, but I was waiting to find a non-paywalled report.

Kreuz Market (yes, the barbecue place in Lockhart) is accusing a former employee of stealing trade secrets.

“It is believed that Thornton, at or just before the time he resigned from Kreuz, took possession of company documents, including company trade secrets, in paper form and/or by placing electronic versions on a flash drive or other devices,” a court document states. “It is further believed that Thornton deleted electronic copies of these documents from the Kreuz computer system so that such documents would no longer be accessible by Kreuz. Kreuz may have claims against Thornton for trade secret misappropriation, conversion and civil theft, among other claims.”

That’s pretty much the nut. The rest of the story is a decent overview of Kreuz Market history and expansion plans, probably worth reading if you don’t follow Texas barbecue obsessively.

(For my younger readers, subject line hattip.)

How ’bout those Astros?

September 1st, 2014

They’ve actually been doing better this year; the various sites I use have been projecting around 92 losses this season.

Better, but not better enough.

In a clear showing of who is in charge of the club, the Astros on Monday fired managed Bo Porter as well as bench coach Dave Trembley, just days after reports arose of tensions between Porter and his general manager, Jeff Luhnow.