From William Randolph Hearst’s ginned up hysterical stories about marijuana to the “10-cent plague” comic book scare of the 1950s to The New York Times warning of “cocaine-crazed Negroes” raping white women across the Southern countryside, the media has always whipped up anxiety and increased readership via thinly sourced exposes of the next great threat to the American way of life…
As a service to future historians of the long, slow death of the newsweekly, Reason offers this Top 10 list of the most horrifying, silly, irresponsible, or downright ridiculous Time cover panics from the past 40 years.
Michelle Bachmann is back in the news. Oh did I miss her.
Michele Bachmann, the House Representative from Minnesota known for her caustic comments, has declared she intends to break the law and refuse to fill out next yearâ€™s census.
In an interview with the Washington Timesâ€™ conservative morning radio program on Wednesday morning, Bachmann declared that members of ACORN, the grassroots political organization, â€œwill be in charge of going door to door and collecting data from the American publicâ€ and implied the census data would be skewed for political purposes…
Under current statutes, that means Bachmann plans to break the law and could face a $5,000 fine.
From A Product Guy:
Tuesday I arrive at the airport and beg and charm my way into an exit row seatâ€¦of course, as luck would have it, the guy next to me is twice my size which kind of cancels out the benefits of having an exit row seat, and as it also turns out, the person behind me has swine flu, which kinda cancels out a whole host of other awesome things. So how did they find out that the person sitting behind me had swine flu? Well, each time an airplane lands, a crew dressed up in outbreak gear gets on the plane. They point a laser at everyoneâ€™s forehead to scan their temperature, and if anyone has a high temperature, they take them out back and shoot them have them tested for swine flu. If they turn out positive, then they are immediately quarantined, and the people three rows in front, and three rows behind are also sought out for quarantine (that makes me the lucky winner!).
So, back to the present, or what was the present (Friday night), and Iâ€™ve got my bags all packed up, and Iâ€™m sitting on the bed in my hotel room, staring out at the Beijing skyline. I felt like Ed Norton in the 25th Hour, waiting for the po-po to come and get me and bring me in (I know, melodramatic, but for a white collar dude that spends 99% of his working hours in front of a computer, this is hopefully as close to the slammer as Iâ€™ll ever get).
And the post about what it’s like living in Hotel Quarantine is interesting.
So the swine flu crew finally arrives, and they come in and take a couple swabs of whatever it is they use to test for swine flu from the back of my throat. Iâ€™m escorted out of the hotel, and my limo ambulance arrives to take me away. Sean, from the Westin, is super helpful, and they help me get my bags loaded onto the ambulance:
From The Big Picture:
Relations between the Israeli government and the Obama administration have become tense lately over the issue of growing Israeli settlements in the West Bank. Nearly 300,000 Israelis now live in such settlements, alongside some 2.5 million Palestinians. The tense disputes over the settlements touch on religious and historical claims, local and international laws, and, of course political disagreements. The settlements range in size and permanence from “wildcat” outposts made of plywood shacks to established cities of tens of thousands. The international community views over 100 of the settlements as illegal under international law. Despite calls from the U.S. for a complete freeze on expansion, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that, though Israel would not build any new settlements and would dismantle unauthorized outposts, it would still allow building within existing settlements to accommodate “natural growth.”
Let me get this straight.
You finally buy a good HDTV.
Then, you have to upgrade to digital cable to get HD…
Then, you have to upgrade to an HD-DVR or HD-Tivo…
Then, you have to get a home theater surround sound because the speakers on most HDTVs suck…
Then, you have to get a Blu-Ray player to take advantage of seeing your movies in HD (or at least an HDMI upconverting dvd player)…
Then, you have to buy a good HDMI cable…
Then, you have to upgrade your Netflix account to Blu-Ray or start paying extra when you purchase Blu-Ray dvds.
What did I miss?
One day, two or three of the young rabbis came to me and said, “We realize that we can’t study to be rabbis in the modern world without knowing something about science, so we’d like to ask you some questions.”
Of course there are thousands of places to find out about science, and Columbia University was right near there, but I wanted to know what kinds of questions they were interested in.
They said, “Well, for instance, is electricity fire?”
“No,” I said, “but… what is the problem?”
They said, “In the Talmud it says you’re not supposed to make fire on a Saturday, so our question is, can we use electrical things on Saturdays?”
I was shocked. They weren’t interested in science at all! The only way science was influencing their lives was so they might be able to interpret better the Talmud! They weren’t interested in the world outside, in natural phenomena; they were only interested in resolving some question brought up in the Talmud.
Finally I tried to assure the rabbinical students that the electrical spark that was bothering them when they pushed the elevator buttons was not fire. I said, “Electricity is not fire. It’s not a chemical process, as fire is.”
“Oh?” they said.
“Of course, there’s electricity in amongst the atoms in a fire.”
“Aha!” they said.
“And in every other phenomenon that occurs in the world.”
I even proposed a practical solution for eliminating the spark.
“If that’s what’s bothering you, you can put a condensor across the switch, so the electricity will go on and off without any spark whatsoever- anywhere.” But for some reason, they didn’t like that idea either.
It really was a disappointment. Here they are, slowly coming to life, only to better interpret the Talmud. Imagine! In modern times like this, guys are studying to go into society and do something- to be a rabbi- and the only way they think that science might be interesting is because their ancient, provincial, medieval problems are being confounded slightly by some new phenomena…
They didn’t understand technology; they didn’t understand their time.
I’m winding down from a busy few days so it’s going to be an easy one today. What’s for lunch?
(I haven’t eaten yet)
Roger Ebert on Bill O’Reilly’s bully tactics:
Bill O’Reilly has been brought low by the same process that afflicted Jerry Springer. Once respected journalists, they sold their souls for higher ratings, and follow their siren song. Springer is honest about it: “I’m going to Hell for what I do, and I know it,” he’s likes to say. O’Reilly insists he is dealing only with the truth. When his guests disagree with him, he shouts at them, calls them liars, talks over them, and behaves like a schoolyard bully.
I am not interested in discussing O’Reilly’s politics here. That would open a hornet’s nest. I am more concerned about the danger he and others like him represent to a civil and peaceful society. He sets a harmful example of acceptable public behavior. He has been an influence on the most worrying trend in the field of news: The polarization of opinion, the elevation of emotional temperature, the predictability of two of the leading cable news channels. A majority of cable news viewers now get their news slanted one way or the other.
Much has been said recently about the possible influence of O’Reilly on the murder of Dr. George Tiller by Scott Roeder. Such a connection is impossible to prove. Yet studies of bullies and their victims suggest a general way such an influence might take place. Bullies like to force others to do their will, while they can stand back and protest their innocence: “I was nowhere near the gymnasium, Sister!” A recent study of school shootings found that two-thirds of all the shooters were victims of bullying, and perceived themselves as members of persecuted minorities.
What are TV shouters telling their viewers? They use such anger in expressing their opinions. Who are they trying to convince? They’re preaching to the choir. Their viewers already agree with them. No minds are going to be changed. Why are they so mad? In a sense they’re saying: You’re right, but you’re not right ENOUGH! I’m angrier about this than you are! Viewers may get the notion that there’s unfinished business to be done, and it’s up to them to do it.