by AndrewMc | 10/23/2009 12:01:00 PM
As my seventh birthday approached, my parents asked me what I wanted. There was only one thing. I wanted to be hit in the face with a pie. So, my dad caught me as I came out the door to our place that morning. Then he handed me a pie and said that it was only fair that since he had . . . and I hit him with it. It was a great birthday.

Soupy Sales died Thursday night. I knew without reading the obit that the first line would contain the words "rubber-faced."

I did find one particular part of his obituary very, very strange:

"His parents, owners of a dry-goods store, sold sheets to the Ku Klux Klan."

I dunno, that just struck me as weird.

[by the way, these "Ramblings" should be considered Open Threads.]

Thomas Frank has penned an excellent essay on the loopy fringe conservative movement's takeover of American discourse. He takes Richard Hofstadter's 1964 essay, "The Paranoid Style in American Politics," which all politically literate people ought to read.

Among Frank's gems is:

The paranoid pattern persists regardless. It is impervious to world events; a blurring of the American subconscious that has not changed since Hofstadter analyzed it 45 years ago. Consider the recent wave of fear that the hypnotic Mr. Obama was planning to indoctrinate schoolchildren. In "The Paranoid Style," Hofstadter wrote, "Very often the enemy is held to possess some especially effective source of power: he controls the press; . . . he has a new secret for influencing the mind; ... he is gaining a stranglehold on the educational system."

By the way, markfromireland at Firedoglake's The Seminal has another very good essay placing the current health care debate in the context of Hofstader's essay.

Well, this is disturbing.

A Russian historian investigating the fate of Germans imprisoned in the Soviet Union during the second world war has been arrested, in the latest apparent clampdown on historical research into the Stalin era by the Russian authorities.

I want to use these to teach. But I'm not sure I could get away with it.

I absolutely love what the "Yes Men" are doing. If aren't familiar with them, they're a kind of political-guerrilla satire group. And they're amazingly good at it. In 2004 one of the group, posing as a spokesperson for Dow Chemical, managed to get interviewed by the BBC. In the interview the "spokesman" claimed that Dow was going to take full responsibility for the accident and spend $12 billion to provide health care and clean up costs. See that here.

Their latest prank was to hold a fake Chamber of Commerce press conference announcing that the CoC was going to change its position on climate change.


Oh, good grief. Because this is what should destroy whatever credibility Meghan McCain might have had? Furrfu.

The sad thing is that Meghan McCain is a moron, just on her merits. And this is amply deconstructed here. But it would be a real disservice to the public discourse if what discredits Meghan McCain are her double-d boobs instead of her boob-ish worldview. It will allow conservatives to say "See, we had a real bright star here, and she was trashed by the media."

Instead, it would be good to see more of this. Watch Paul Begala upend her:

Note that her defense at one point (around 1:18) is "You know everything, and I'm just a blond here." There ya have it. She's just a blond Sarah Palin.

Parody, done well, speaks for itself.

Even so, the blogger who made the video explains it.

I realized today that I have old mail from an e-mail account older than the freshmen in my 100-level class. Sigh.

When I signed up for the account, I had to take a form to my then-department head, Roy Rosenzweig, to sign off on it. I was an undergrad. Nobody could figure out why a history major ought to have an e-mail account. I had to swear an oath that I wouldn't abuse the system. We both signed it, and there I was, owner of an account on George Mason's "vax" server. Google has an old Usenet post, of mine, but I don't think it was my first. That would have been earlier. Still, time flies.

The beer of the week is Dogfish Head.

These people make some really good beer, and they make a wide variety of really good beer. I don't always like all of it (case in point), but there are some that I'll have every chance I get.

An example of this is their 60, 90, and 120 Minute IPA beers. The 120 minute is pricey--$7 per bottle where I live--but it's a slow sipping beer, and lasts me quite a while. As the line goes, "This is a bottle with a message in, and the message is 'beware'." It's full-flavored, and high-alcohol.

I especially like Dogfish Head's web page of their brews. Each has a bit of information, as well as suggested food pairings. It's a good guide.

The owner of the brewery, Sam Calagione, has written an excellent book on the process of starting his brewery. It's nice read.

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