Tag Archives: drugs

A piece of Purim poetry, inspired by #ManInTree

Last Tuesday, while much of the world stood transfixed by the tragic bombings in Brussels, Seattle could not take its eyes off #ManInTree — a man (surprise!) who defied police orders to descend from an 80-foot sequoia tree in downtown Seattle for a full Shabbat (25 hours).

At the height (pun intended) of his popularity, KOMO News’ livestream of #ManInTree’s treetop standoff attracted 420,000 viewers (the perfect number of Seattleites to demonstrate interest in someone really, really high). By comparison, a nearby Hillary rally attracted fewer than 3,000.

As #ManInTree’s ordeal stretched into Wednesday, I could not help but notice certain parallels between his story and that of the impending holiday of Purim (which began that night). And so I was inspired to pen a piece of poetry,* which I now publish publicly for the first time. I hope you enjoy:

Continue reading A piece of Purim poetry, inspired by #ManInTree

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Understanding why Jon Stewart is so sad about how How I Met Your Mother ended

People were so unhappy with the way Ted met Your Mother that the DVD box set was forced to include a more palatable “alternate” ending. But even that edition’s addition has not helped everyone come to grips with the fact that the neverending show finally ended.

For instance, Jon Stewart.

Continue reading Understanding why Jon Stewart is so sad about how How I Met Your Mother ended

In case you were under the impression Ken Jennings knows everything

74-time Jeopardy! winner Ken Jennings creates a weekly news quiz for Slate featuring “12 challenging questions on the week’s news events, big and small, including happenings in science, sports, politics, and culture both high and low.” I happen to enjoy taking this quiz in order to compete against a good friend. But this week, Jennings went off the rails. See if you can spot the problem below:

Continue reading In case you were under the impression Ken Jennings knows everything

Aaron Hernandez Will Be Referred to Substance Abuse Program For Violating NFL Substance Abuse Policy

NFL COMMUNICATIONS:

COMMISSIONER ROGER GOODELL notified former New England Patriots tight end AARON HERNANDEZ today that he will be referred to the league’s Substance Abuse Program for violation of the league’s Substance Abuse Policy following his 2013 arrest.

Continue reading Aaron Hernandez Will Be Referred to Substance Abuse Program For Violating NFL Substance Abuse Policy

The Patriots are hardly the only Super Bowl team to suffer from deflated balls

As you may have heard, the New England Patriots stand accused of deflating the balls they used on offense in the AFC Championship Game, in clear violation of NFL rules. And if Tom Brady can turn #deflategate into a series of inappropriate jokes, I am more than willing to play along. This shouldn’t be too hard.

Continue reading The Patriots are hardly the only Super Bowl team to suffer from deflated balls

How disingenuous is Egyptian claim that Israel’s blockade of Gaza is “inhumane”?

Reports the Jerusalem Post:

Egypt: Israeli blockade ‘inhumane’

Egypt’s foreign ministry said that the country’s border with Gaza at Rafah remains open, despite media reports claiming the border was closed with exceptions for humanitarian or aid transfers.

“Since Israeli attacks commenced, Egypt has been adamant in keeping the Rafah crossing open continuously and exceptionally to allow for the passage of people and humanitarian aid convoys and to receive the wounded,” said the ministry in a statement, Ahram Online reported on Sunday.

[A]ccusations that Egypt was keeping the border closed are “in complete contradiction to facts on the ground.” In fact, the ministry said, it is Israel that continues its “inhumane” blockade on Gaza. The ministry demanded the blockade be lifted.

That’s sort of a funny demand from Egypt’s foreign ministry given that, according to the New York Times (and many others not cited here), Hamas’s latest attacks on Israel were really just a proxy fight against Egypt:

Continue reading How disingenuous is Egyptian claim that Israel’s blockade of Gaza is “inhumane”?

Why is Jon Stewart spreading misinformation about tobacco (and Ebola)?

Stephen Colbert has been described as “the Best Thing to Ever Happen to Science on TV” and Slate speculated that his departure to CBS “could be a big loss for television coverage of science.”

Jon Stewart, not so much — and hopefully, you’re about to see why.

Last Thursday’s The Daily Show included a segment on the political scandal that brought down Virginia Governor and potential Presidential hopeful Bob McDonnell (“The Giving Spree“). The scandal revolved around allegations of influence-peddling by a Virginia businessman who enlisted the governor to promote his tobacco-based nutritional supplement. That’s when Stewart went off the rails:

Continue reading Why is Jon Stewart spreading misinformation about tobacco (and Ebola)?

Oh Jon Stewart, how quickly you forget

On last night’s The Daily Show, Jon Stewart and Jason Jones combined forces to produce a segment on the punishment meted out by the NFL to Ravens running back Ray Rice after Rice was caught on a security camera first punching out his fiancee and then dragging her out of an elevator.

Stewart made the obvious point that the suspension Rice received was shorter than what the NFL imposes on recreational drug users and that the lenience of Rice’s sentence sends precisely the wrong message to players and their fans. So far so good.

Continue reading Oh Jon Stewart, how quickly you forget

What really happened to flight MH17? A deep dive into the pool of idle speculation

The first time a Malaysian Airlines flight disappeared under mysterious circumstances, news media had themselves a field day: at least a month of wall-to-wall MH370 coverage, much of it idle speculation — or worse — due to the near-complete lack of hard information about the missing plane.

A second plane was tragically shot down today over Eastern Ukraine, but unlike the original missing flight, the circumstances under which it disappeared are far less mysterious. We have the body, we have the bodies, and now, we have the black boxes. I imagine that, pretty soon, we’ll have the full story.

Which means that if there are going to be batshit crazy theories about what happened and why, we’d better get moving in a hurry. What follows is my contribution to the concoction of crackpot. You’ve been warned.

Continue reading What really happened to flight MH17? A deep dive into the pool of idle speculation

The saddest fact (allegedly) about Canada

While researching my response to Bret Stephens’ article “Can Environmentalists Think?”, I came across a 2009 editorial that was published in Canada’s National Post (by either the editorial board or Editor-at-Large Diane Francis; it’s unclear), CN idea a winner for oil sands.

“CN idea” happens to be shipping tar sands by rail, which is a bad idea for reasons I addressed in my response to Bret Stephens, but it was an off-hand argument that appeared in the column that struck me as just the saddest thing I’d heard all day:

As for Canada’s environmental concerns, the oil sands is absolutely essential to maintaining the future living standards of Canadians. They should not be stopped.

I’m not even talking about how the author dismissed environmental concerns without actually thinking too hard about them, which would normally make me both angry and depressed. I’m talking about the part where she argues that developing oil sands is “absolutely essential to maintaining the future living standards of Canadians.”

You see, I was under the impression that Canada is a wealthy, developed, first-world country. I thought it was recently ranked most-educated in the OECD. I thought it was a major world power, with both the 35th-highest population, and — because of its second-largest size — the 228th-highest population density. From my visits to BC, I thought it was filled with beautiful natural scenery that stretches from one ocean shore to the other. I thought it was the land of maple syrup and honey. That it shares a long peaceful border with a wealthy, friendly neighbor who speaks mostly the same language and with whom it has secured a free trade agreement. I thought it was home to world-class cities and centers of culture like Montreal, Toronto, and Vancouver (and I’m out of Canadian cities). I thought its banking system was among the most effective and secure anywhere in the world. I thought it ranked 11th on the Human Development Index, earning it the designation “Very High” (much like Canadians in general — Canadian kids smoke the most weed among their counterparts in western countries). I thought it ranked fifth in Economic Freedom (a measure by which the US ranks 18th). I thought it got all the benefits of a royal monarchy (zomg!! Kate had a baby!) without having to pay for it without having to pay very much for it. I thought it ranked third for overall quality of life.

Much as it pains me to admit it, Canada sounds like a pretty great place to live. And I refuse to believe that it got that way, and can only stay that way, because of some gunk it learned to extract from the ground. Canada was prosperous long before it seriously began to develop the tar sands and presumably can remain both happy and healthy even if it decides to leave all that fossil fuel where it belongs. The idea that tar sands are “absolutely essential” to Canadian prosperity and well-being or anything else, really, is just absurd — and ultimately, tragic. Canada’s perch among its international counterparts is not so precarious that one decision regarding a small portion of Alberta will send its economy plunging into Lake Ontario. It has the potential to build — hell, it already has — a strong economy on the basis of more than just unsustainable* resource extraction. There was a Canada long before the tar sands, and there will be a Canada long after the tar sands, whether they’re ever developed or not. That fact alone is not reason to leave them in the ground — but scaremongering is not reason to take them out of it either.

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*I mean this in the most literal sense. No matter how good we get at extracting them, we will one day run out of fossil fuels. And that’s sort of the definition of unsustainable.