Archive for Popular Culture


Soulful Christmas Open Thread

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JB is thankful. You?

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Mandela Tribute

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Our food banks here are struggling to keep up. Please help if you can this holiday season.

Food charities struggle to cover meals lost from food stamp reduction

The $5 billion cuts in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program will affect 47.7 million people, one out of every seven Americans. A family of four will lose $36 a month in food assistance, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, dropping from $668 to $632 a month.

In New York City, with 63 percent of pantries and kitchens reporting shortages, the cuts will add stress to an already strained system, says Triada Stampas, a spokesperson for Food Bank for New York City. That food bank, the nation’s largest, delivered 72 million meals last year. The organization calculates that across the five boroughs, SNAP cuts will mean that New Yorkers who get assistance will eat a total of 76 million fewer meals acquired with food stamps in the next year.

“We’ve been talking to private donors for months about these cuts,” said Stampas. “But I want to dispel the notion that private charity can make up for the cuts, that’s simply not possible.”

Donate here (Asheville area):
Manna FoodBank
Meals On Wheels of Asheville and Buncombe County

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(Creative Commons/Wikimedia, P199)

Some years ago, Johnny Carson was interviewing a NASA astronaut on The Tonight Show. Carson asked him what he thought of the bestselling book about alien visitations to Earth written by Erich von Daniken, titled “Chariots of the Gods.”

The NASA guy paused, took a breath and said, “Whenever Dr. von Daniken looks around the world and encounters something he doesn’t understand, he sees evidence of flying saucers. And since there is a lot in this world that Dr. von Daniken doesn’t understand, he sees evidence for them everywhere.”

Carson rolled his eyes for a laugh.

People who believe in widespread voter fraud are like that too, aren’t they? From the Washington Post, a study looks at a link between claims of voter fraud and alien abduction:

One of the findings of a new working paper by John Ahlquist, Kenneth R. Mayer and Simon Jackman is that “the lower bound on the population reporting voter impersonation is nearly identical with the proportion of the population reporting abduction by extraterrestrials.” Roughly 2.5 percent of the population effectively admit to one or the other.

The researchers use a clever set of survey questions in which subjects have only to admit to how many of the actions on a given list they have engaged in, without admitting to specific actions. The difference between the control and the subject groups is that the latter lists included the addition of vote fraud. But some people report to having engaged in all actions on the lists. To check for simple carelessness in reporting, another list adds being abducted by aliens. What they find again is people admitting to committing fraud and to being abducted in similar proportion.

The implication here is that if one accepts that 2.5% is a valid lower bound for the prevalence of voter impersonation in the 2012 election then one must also accept that about 2.5% of the adult U.S. population – about 6 million people – believe that they were abducted by extra-terrestrials in the last year. If this were true then voter impersonation would be the least of our worries.

Which is why photo identity cards are insufficient for preventing voter fraud. They might stop undocumented aliens, but not space aliens. GOP governors should be insisting on DNA testing for all voters.

Just where is Hans von Spakovsky from? I mean, really?

(Cross-posted from Crooks and Liars.)


Affordable Scare Act

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The Daily Show
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While acknowledging the problems with the rollout and selling of the Affordable Care Act, Jon Stewart this week saved his sharpest barbs for its critics:

“His opponents have been lying like motherf-ckers,” said Stewart, before fact-checking several reports by CNN and Fox News.

“So many people seem to feel the need to stretch the truth to attack it,” said Stewart. “If something is genuinely bad, just telling the truth about it should be sufficient. There’s a reason ’12 Years a Slave’ doesn’t have vampires and zombies — it doesn’t need them! Not to mention that some of the arguments against the Affordable Care Act make no sense whatsoever.”

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R.I.P., Lou Reed

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Orcinus Returns

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For those of you late to blogging culture who might not know it, Seattle-based Orcinus was one of the best. Investigative journalist Dave Neiwert shuttered Orcinus awhile back to take a shift as executive editor of Crooks and Liars and later to concentrate on writing several books. Now Orcinus is back.

Neiwert is the blogosphere’s go-to guy for developments on the violent, fringe right. His first installment is on the fascist tilt to Russia’s anti-gay laws.  It’s a dirty job, but somebody’s got to do it. His writing has earned Neiwert a National Press Club award for Distinguished Online Journalism.

Dave’s most recent book, “And Hell Followed With Her: Crossing the Dark Side of the American Border,” is an account of the trial of Minuteman leader Shawna Forde and her associates for an Arizona home invasion and murder in pursuit of drug money to fund their vigilante activities.

“There is no more dogged or more courageous chronicler of the radical American Right than Dave Neiwert. In this latest work, he has found a human tragedy that is both utterly heartbreaking and utterly infuriating. He is the polestar by which we navigate the great distance between what we claim to be as a people, and what we truly are. A devastating, and extremely important, book.”
– Charles P. Pierce, Esquire Magazine, author of Idiot America: How Stupidity Became A Virtue In The Land Of The Free

Welcome back, Dave.

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We’re Number Three!

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Screenshot 2013-08-04 at 2.29.10 PM

Thanks to everyone who voted for Scrutiny Hooligans in the Best of WNC competition in the Mountain Xpress. We’ve been around a long time, and your participation and support is what makes this blog such an important part of our Asheville area blogosphere. Congratulations to Ashvegas and WhatShouldAVLCallMe for whooping us!

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Paul Krugman’s observations on the impact of urban sprawl reminded me of “Automania 2000,” the 1963 John Halas animated short the 1963 John Halas animated short I watched at Furman Univerity as part of the first Earth Day observance in 1970. (I was still in high school.) Krugman’s column on sprawl is sparked by a study by the Equality of Opportunity Project. Led by economists at Berkeley and Harvard, the study finds an inverse relationship between increased sprawl and decreased social mobility. Eventually, the jobs are literally out of reach. Opportunities are simply too far across town for too many families.

And in Atlanta poor and rich neighborhoods are far apart because, basically, everything is far apart; Atlanta is the Sultan of Sprawl, even more spread out than other major Sun Belt cities. This would make an effective public transportation system nearly impossible to operate even if politicians were willing to pay for it, which they aren’t. As a result, disadvantaged workers often find themselves stranded; there may be jobs available somewhere, but they literally can’t get there.

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Comedian and activist, Lee Camp, will be appearing again in Asheville this Monday night at the Altamont at 8 p.m.

I saw Lee’s show when he was in Asheville to benefit Occupy and have met him a couple of times. Great guy. I’ll be there.

Lee Camp

Monday, July 1 – 8:00pm
Tickets: $10 Advance / $12 Day of Show
[Purchase Tickets]

“This up-and-coming US star is already developing a reputation for fearless political comedy, with some calling him an heir to the crown of the late, great George Carlin. ….He gets our seal of approval.”

-Time Out Sydney

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