Author Archive | Haystack

The Tea Party Is The New Birch Society

Before the Tea Party there was the John Birch Society, which decried "big government" as part of a communist plot to enslave America. These so-called "loonies in the basement" were kept in check for many years by the likes of William F. Buckley, who represented the more moderate, intellectually-grounded strain of the conservative movement. This clip John Birch speaking in 1958 is being circulated by the Birchers themselves to draw attention to the similarities:
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TSA to Punish Passengers who Opt-Out of Virtual Strip Search with Non-Virtual Groping

TSAJeffrey Goldberg at The Atlantic has published a piece on his experience opting-out of the back-scatter body scanners at Baltimore-Washington International:

At BWI, I told the officer who directed me to the back-scatter that I preferred a pat-down. I did this in order to see how effective the manual search would be. When I made this request, a number of TSA officers, to my surprise, began laughing. I asked why. One of them — the one who would eventually conduct my pat-down — said that the rules were changing shortly, and that I would soon understand why the back-scatter was preferable to the manual search. I asked him if the new guidelines included a cavity search. “No way. You think Congress would allow that?”

I answered, “If you’re a terrorist, you’re going to hide your weapons in your anus or your vagina.” He blushed when I said “vagina.”

“Yes, but starting tomorrow, we’re going to start searching your crotchal area” — this is the word he used, “crotchal” — and you’re not going to like it.”

“What am I not going to like?” I asked.

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Twins with Conjoined Brains Share Sensory Information

twinsThis via BoingBoing, Ken MacQueen at Macleans.ca reports on two Canadian twins who share a brain:

The odds of their conception were astronomical; of surviving in the womb, let alone a live birth, slim to none. The odds of living past their first day, worse than a coin toss, though not if the small army deployed by Vancouver’s Children’s Hospital had a say in it. And they did. And today, approaching their fourth birthdays on Oct. 25, Tatiana and Krista Hogan are wearing pretty velvet dresses, red and purple respectively. They greet you at the door of their sprawling, unruly home in Vernon, B.C., carrying a bouncy ball, and issuing a command: come play.

You have just enough time to add your shoes to the pile at the entrance and to give their mother, Felicia Simms, a quick greeting before you’re led through the living room and kitchen, to a long, sloping hallway that leads to some of the bedrooms in what was, until this year, a residential home for the elderly.

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“The Moral Underground” Explores How Ordinary Americans Subvert an Unfair Economy

Kathleen Burge at the Boston Globe has this review:

As Newton resident Lisa Dodson, a Boston College sociology professor in the thick of a research project, was interviewing a grocery story manager in the Midwest about the difficulties of the low-income workers he supervised, he asked her a curious question: “Don’t you want to know what this does to me too?’’

She did. And so the manager talked about the sense of unfairness he felt as a supervisor, making enough to live comfortably while overseeing workers who couldn’t feed their families on the money they earned. That inequality, he told her, tainted his job, making him feel complicit in an unfair system that paid hard workers too little to cover basic needs.

The interview changed the way Dodson talked with other supervisors and managers of low-income workers, and she began to find that many of them felt the same discomfort as the grocery store manager.

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Dictionary Contains Dirty Words: SoCal Parents Move to Protect Children After Shocking Discovery

Source: Booksworm (CC)

Source: Booksworm (CC)

This from Alison Flood at The Guardian:

Dictionaries have been removed from classrooms in southern California schools after a parent complained about a child reading the definition for “oral sex”.

Merriam Webster’s 10th edition, which has been used for the past few years in fourth and fifth grade classrooms (for children aged nine to 10) in Menifee Union school district, has been pulled from shelves over fears that the “sexually graphic” entry is “just not age appropriate”, according to the area’s local paper.

The dictionary’s online definition of the term is “oral stimulation of the genitals”. “It’s hard to sit and read the dictionary, but we’ll be looking to find other things of a graphic nature,” district spokeswoman Betti Cadmus told the paper.

While some parents have praised the move – “[it’s] a prestigious dictionary that’s used in the Riverside County spelling bee, but I also imagine there are words in there of concern,” said Randy Freeman – others have raised concerns.

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La Maupin: 17th Century’s France’s Cross-Dressing Duelist Opera Star

The fictional Mademoiselle de Maupin, from 'Six Drawings Illustrating Theophile Gautier's Romance Mademoiselle de Maupin' by Aubrey Beardsley, 1898

'Six Drawings Illustrating Theophile Gautier's Romance Mademoiselle de Maupin' (Aubrey Beardsley, 1898).

La Maupin once scandalized a ball by kissing another woman on the dance floor. She was challenged to a duel by three men, beat them all, and promptly returned to dancing. Jim Burrows is writing a novel about her, and has this account of her life:

La Maupin, 17th century French swordswoman, adventuress and opera star, was like something out of a novel by Dumas or Sabatini, except for two things.

First she was real, and second few authors would have attributed her exploits to a woman.

Theophile Gautier borrowed her name and a few of her characteristics for the heroine of his novel Mademoiselle De Maupin, but in many ways his character was only a pale imitation of the original. The real Maupin was a complex creature.

Well born and privileged, she knew how to use her influential friends and contacts to get what she wanted or to escape danger, but she was also proud and self-reliant.

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Images of 19th Century Paris’s Hell-Themed Café

Manning Krull at Cool Stuff in Paris has posted some rare pictures of a Hell-themed café that was founded in late 19th century Paris.

interior

Little is known about the establishment, which appears to have operated into the mid-20th century. National Geographic has this to say:

“A hot spot called Hell’s Café lured 19th-century Parisians to the city’s Montmartre neighborhood—like the Marais—on the Right Bank of the Seine. With plaster lost souls writhing on its walls and a bug-eyed devil’s head for a front door, le Café de l’Enfer may have been one of the world’s first theme restaurants. According to one 1899 visitor, the café’s doorman—in a Satan suit—welcomed diners with the greeting, “Enter and be damned!” Hell’s waiters also dressed as devils. An order for three black coffees spiked with cognac was shrieked back to the kitchen as: “Three seething bumpers of molten sins, with a dash of brimstone intensifier!”

Next door was a less interesting café called Le Ciel (Heaven). See more at Cool Stuff in Paris.… Read the rest

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