I’ve been trying to follow recent developments in the deliciously-named* Whitefish, Montana. Of course, I am concerned for the health and well-being of my co-religionists and other wonderful people who have been targeted there. But also — given that the town is less than a nine-hour drive from Seattle — it has occurred to me that the same skinheads bussing themselves in from as far away as the Bay Area** could probably also find their way here. Which is why I find it so frustrating when the esteemed journalists of the New York Times are derelict in their duty to, you know, journalize.
As has been well-documented, our dearly beloved President-elect — the one with an ironic penchant for safe spaces — repeatedly took refuge during his election campaign in the proverbial locker room. Every time he did, I could not help but recall a semi-prescient New Yorker cover originally published back on June 1, 2015:
We’re not even halfway through 2014, and you’ve already seen what Hillary Clinton has in store for the 2016 campaign (above). It certainly sounded familiar, so I dug this out of the archives:
The most-commented article right now on the Daily Pennsylvanian’s website (and therefore highlighted alongside the right-hand margin) is a guest column by rising Junior Clarissa O’Conor titled Tear gas canisters, BDS Stickers and hope: What I Saw on My Trip to Palestine/Israel This Summer.
In the column, O’Conor describes her recent visit to the West Bank, East Jerusalem, and elsewhere in the company of “two other Penn alums, a larger group of Presbyterians from Atlanta, Jews, Muslims and secular folks, and one alumni of Birthright Israel.” [The editorial oversight that allowed this sentence to be printed as is simply boggles my mind. Thank you, “Summer Pennsylvanian.”] In any event, O’Conor believes that this field trip qualifies her to hold forth on the complex Israeli-Palestinian conflict because she’s gone where no American visiting on Birthright has gone before:
Throughout the entire trip, I could not help but think of my fellow Penn students who have taken a Birthright tour of Israel or are there now on Birthright Excel. I know that they do not go where I went. I know that they are told nothing about what they are seeing outside their bus windows through Palestine/Israel. For example, although Israeli soldiers accompany Birthright groups to encourage the identification of young American Jews with the Israeli army, these groups do not visit the more than 600 military checkpoints, roadblocks and barriers that are symbols of Israel’s control over Palestinians in the occupied West Bank.
O’Conor seems to know a lot about what people do on Birthright for someone who — I’d wager — never went on such a trip herself. Having staffed two in the past [full disclosure: I staffed two Birthright trips in the past, and what people do on Birthright is hook up], I would dispute that the American visitors are “told nothing about what they are seeing outside their bus windows through Palestine/Israel” — though I would agree that they probably don’t often experience checkpoints like O’Conor did.
But I’m not writing to defend Birthright; I’m writing to o’ffend O’Conor. The ironic thing about her description of a Birthright trip and all that it omits from the itinerary is that her own seems somewhat far from complete. Here is a list of her experiences on this recent trip — the locations, people, and organizations she writes of having visited:
Trust me, *I’m* not the one who suggest capitalizing “laguardia airport” and adding “, Flushing, NY” — that was all Google’s doing. And it seems to me, if you’re going to make a suggestion, you should at least have some idea of which one you’re talking about:
Typically, cats only make it online when they’re adorable and can’t spell.
The subject of this post is not particularly adorable, but he probably could spell — and that’s been enough to earn him a pile of headlines in recent days (see Yahoo, Huffington Post, and ABC News, among others). And so I feel obligated to warn the internet — indeed, all humanity — of his danger. Take it away, Tri-City Herald:
Twice a day, every weekday, a large black cat named Sable trots from the garage where he lives to a nearby street corner in West Richland.
He plops down in a patch of grass and watches as children cross the street to and from Enterprise Middle School, earning him the nickname “the crossing guard cat.”
Now, when I say Sable could probably spell, I mean this cat is a Frick-en genius. My cat is indignant every single time he gets locked up for the night, and then spends a while meowing and scratching at the door as if that has ever gotten him out. Listen, Oban, maybe if you were smart enough to eat at the next-door neighbor’s, and didn’t reliably fall for the “come downstairs for dinner” trap every. single. night. then maybe you’d manage to occasionally avoid the dungeon. But of course, you never learn. Sable, on the other hand:
Sable typically arrives at the corner about five minutes before the children — and he stays in on the weekend when children won’t be in school.
The article doesn’t address what Sable does on holidays or over the summer, but at this point I wouldn’t be surprised to learn he’s got the calendar down too (even if he doesn’t appear in any 785 cat calendars available on Amazon; for the record, that’s 250 more than there are dog calendars, probably because 99% of dogs don’t speak English). At the very least, I imagine he figured out when it’s Halloween.
But what makes Sable so intelligent? Is it that he goes to school every day? Or is it something more ominous?
I know you’re dying to see him — and, don’t worry; I know you can’t mention cats on the internet without providing a picture — so here’s what he looks like:
The other day, I wrote about Liel Leibovitz’s piece for Tablet Magazine, Why Israel Has No Newtowns. I had a lot of objections to what he wrote, but the biggest one by far was his inexplicable exclusion of mass murderers like Baruch Goldstein, Eden Natan-Zada, and countless Palestinian suicide bombers from his reckoning of Newtown-like events in Israel. I wrote:
Doubtless, these attacks were motivated by a sense of nationalistic something, rather than whatever drove Lanza or Holmes to do what they did. But at the end of the day, any mass killing reflects a deligitimization — a dehumanization — of the other, some disconnect from reality, a sociopathic disregard for human life. In the United States, where everyone hails from a different corner of the globe, where it is easy to feel a deep sense of alienation from as nextdoor neighbor or even a family members, where there is no clear “other” — everyone is “other” — and a worthwhile target can be as close as the nearest movie theater. In Israel and the West Bank, identifying “the other” is easy — just cross the wall. Mass killings don’t cease to count just because the “other” presents a more obvious target.
But that was just armchair psychology. I offered no basis for the assertion that there was no fundamental difference between a mass murderer who shoots up a school and who blows up a bus — it just felt right. They’re both mass murderers, and they probably have a lot of the same problems.
Then, I came across this article in the New York Times, What Drives Suicidal Mass Killers, by Adam Lankford, an assistant professor of criminal justice at the University of Alabama. On the basis of “interviews, case studies, suicide notes, martyrdom videos and witness statements,” he concludes:
Almost exactly two years ago, when Moment Magazine featured an interview with conservative pundit Charles Krauthammer, the magazine’s cover described him as ‘One of the nation’s most loved/hated pundits’.
This post stems not from a feeling of love, nor from a feeling of hate. I feel no great need to defend Mr. Obama’s remarks – though I agree with them and believe they have been willfully misinterpreted – and I feel no great need to bury Mr. Krauthammer.
But I can say with absolute certainty that Krauthammer wrote the dumbest thing ever written about You didn’t build that not because I’ve read every word ever written on the subject, but because it was so certifiably stupid that it would be literally impossible to surpass. Without further ado, the relevant excerpt:
Taking a quick break between the Massachusetts Bill of Rights* and the Articles of Confederation to pick on Mitt Romney.
*Sample highlight [the bold is mine]: “The freedom of deliberation, speech, and debate, in either house of the legislature, is so essential to the rights of the people, that it cannot be the foundation of any accusation or prosecution, action or complaint, in any other court or place whatsoever.”
Freedom of speech anywhere else? Meh.
More specifically, I would like to briefly examine Mitt Romney’s acceptance speech at last week’s RNC. Even more specifically, I would like to focus on the part where he said, “President Obama has thrown allies like Israel under the bus.” The implication, of course, is that Mitt Romney would do no such thing to allies like, but not necessarily, Israel.
Also from the RNC, and leaving aside the appropriateness of Israel-related bus analogies, the movie for which Clint Eastwood will be best-remembered [don’t believe me? Youtube his name]:
Yesterday was my last working for the Penn Institute for Urban Research, my first paying job since graduating in May 2010, December 2010, May 2011, or August 2011 – or, if you consider my graduation May 2012,* my only paying job in college.
*I didn’t end up going to graduation, but my name was apparently printed in the program. If anyone has an extra copy, I’d love to get my hands on one.
As you might expect from a place called ‘Institute for Urban Research’, a lot of my time there was devoted to research, and in the course of said research, I learned many interesting things. I shared a few – the ones I thought worthy of posts – but not all of them. This list won’t include every interesting thing I learned in the course of my job, but it will include some of them. In absolutely no particular order whatsoever:
1. Philadelphia is – without a doubt – the crappiest city in America: