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Posted by Rob Beschizza

Sadly, the Republican Party has already deleted its article titled What Do The Legend of Zelda and the American Tax Code Have In Common? and any corresponding twetes. But it lives on at Google Cache, at least for now.

Tragically, having equated the adventures of a mute yet heroic elf with the clawing economic deprivations of progressive taxation, the article barely touches upon why beyond simply noting a few coincidental dates. It's the very dumbest boilerplate. Sad! https://twitter.com/Beschizza/status/900516331522535429

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Posted by Peter Sheridan

This week’s tabloids may not be entirely divorced from reality, but they are permanently estranged and consulting lawyers.

Many celebrities are horse lovers, but not Star Trek’s William Shatner. He has a “bizarre horse obsession” according to the ‘Globe.’ He rides and breeds horses, but the ‘Globe’ has found an “expert” who warns: “equine lovers get sexy kicks out of dominating powerful animals!” Don’t we all?

The ‘Globe’ also airs its “Ryan O’Neal Cancer Fears!” In other words, he’s lost weight lately.

Ellen DeGeneres is suffering a “mental health crisis,” reports the ‘Globe.’ Its evidence? She admitted suffering depression back in 1998 when her TV series was axed. So she’s still depressed?

Clint Eastwood has given “Bride No. 3 wedding ring” claims the ‘National Enquirer.’ Or maybe his girlfriend Christina Sandera is just wearing a ring?

Jack Nicholson is battling an “Alzheimer’s Nightmare!” alleges the ‘Globe.” At least, that’s what unnamed “friends fear,” because the 80-year-old is occasionally forgetful. "The rumor is he has the beginnings of Alzheimer’s disease,” a “pal” says. Because that’s what pals are for. And where’s the fun in owning a tabloid if you can’t publish rumors?

“I killed Elvis!” states Priscilla Presley’s “shocking confession!” in the ‘Globe.’ As if. Priscilla supposedly “blames herself” for The King’s death “because she rejected his plea to get married again.”

Just like I blame myself for Michael Jackson’s death because I planned to attend his concert appearances and made him work himself to death. My bad.

And now Jacko’s “tomb is empty” according to the ‘Globe.’ Not taken by body-snatchers, but secretly cremated by his family, it seems. This story not only bears a remarkable resemblance to the recent tabloid story claiming that Princess Diana’s tomb is empty (it’s not) but also echoes wild rumors that ran rampant when the gloved one was interred in 2009. Invasion of the story-snatchers.

The ‘Enquirer’ claims a “World Exclusive” and the ‘Globe’ claims a “Royal Exclusive” as both identically report that Queen Elizabeth II has named son Charles as her heir. If they both report this, it must be true, which will come as a shock to absolutely no-one, as Charles has always been her heir apparent since his birth at 9.14 p.m. GMT on November 14, 1948. It’s true that the tabloids have repeatedly floated the fantasy that the Queen would by-pass Charles and donate the crown to grandson William - a constitutional impossibility. But the ‘Enquirer,’ not happy with actually getting a story right by default for a change, can’t help itself by adding that the “Queen Quits!” - an abdication which appears to have been missed by the mass ranks of Fleet Street’s finest. You'd think that might have made a paragraph or two in the British press, but apparently not.

The ‘Enquirer’ goes on to reveal that the Queen has ruled that Charles’ wife Camilla “can NEVER be queen!” Not exactly revelatory, since the official Royal spokesman at Clarence House said publicly before Charles wed Camilla in 2005 that she had no desire to ever be named queen. As the official announcement stated: “It is intended that Mrs. Parker Bowles should use the title HRH the Princess Consort when the Prince of Wales accedes to the throne.” But who remembers what the Palace said 12 years ago, right?

“Hollywood Pushers Tell All!” screams the headline in a ‘Globe’ exposé of celebrity drug abuse, as reliably narrated by "four of Hollywood’s top drug dealers.” Like the one who recalls allegedly selling cocaine to a morning TV show host (who I’ll refrain from naming here) 25 years ago when he worked at a local Rhode Island TV station. If you’re pushing coke in Rhode Island, are you really one of “Hollywood’s top drug dealers” . . ?

The celebrity magazines continue their headlong plunge toward irrelevance with cover stories that are vacuous even by their own airless standards: ‘People’ mag features HGTV’s ‘Property Brothers’ Drew and Jonathan Scott on “Fame, Family & Finding Love!” while ‘Us’ mag’s cover reveals that former 'Real Housewives of New Jersey’ stars Teresa and Joe Giudici are to “Divorce!” - except, the story inside quickly backpedals away from the cover’s claim, saying just that Teresa is “fed up” with her husband - not entirely surprising since he recently began serving a 41-month prison sentence for conspiracy and bankruptcy fraud. She is “considering leaving,” the increasingly timid report states.

The "Scientology battle gets ugly” between Leah Remini and Tom Cruise, as ‘Us’ mag declares: “It’s War!” But it’s not even a war of words - Remini slammed Cruise by saying that his public persona is different from “the person behind the mask,” while Tom hit back by saying . . . nothing.

‘Us’ addresses the Royal love story of the year, asking of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle: “Did he propose?” It’s unfortunate that the mag doesn’t have the answer. Not a clue.

Fortunately we have the crack investigative squad at ‘Us’ mag to tell us that Jenna Dewan Tatum wore it best, that Brooklyn Decker suffers “a crazy, unreasonable fear of toads” (but not frogs?), that ‘Vanderpump Rules’ star Stassi Schroeder (have they really run out of celebrities?) carries a “friendship crystal,” a Bytox hangover patch, and lip balm for her “permanently chapped lips” in her Chanel purse, and that the stars are just like us: they browse clothes, withdrew cash from ATMs, and “chow down.” Wait - the stars eat food just like us! Who knew?

Onwards and downwards . . .

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Posted by Rob Beschizza

Here's McSweeney's Ziyad Gower, cannily stealing the voice of Scottish actress Louise Linton, the wife of Trump treasury secretary Steven Mnuchin and mocker of the poor.

Greetings #peasants, it’s me, Louise Linton, in a beautiful #hermesscarf and #tomford sunnies. You may know my husband, Steve Mnuchin, America’s Secretary of Treasure. Or you may be familiar with my work as a film star, from my turn as Samantha in Crew 2 Crew to 2013’s The Power of Few, where I played the role of “Cory’s Mother” #crew2crew #corysmom. I am also #rich, and probably paid more taxes on my #farragamo pants than you have in your entire worthless life.

It's funny, but this scathing aristocratic exaggeration is only a short hop from the real Linton. Crazy times.

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Posted by Xeni Jardin

Congressional investigators looking into connections between Donald Trump's presidential campaign and Russian meddling in the 2016 U.S. elections have found an email from a senior Trump aide that references “a previously unreported effort to arrange a meeting last year between Trump campaign officials and Russian President Vladimir Putin,” CNN reports.

(more…)

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Posted by Jason Weisberger

Joe Sparks' Radiskull and Devil Doll remain my favorite characters of the Dotcom boom. After a long hiatus while working for a company that apparently wouldn't let Joe publish independent work, he is back.

Check out his darling new video!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1A9EBq0Thy4

Representin' Hades!

See you at Burning Man!

Aug. 23rd, 2017 03:59 pm
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Posted by Cory Doctorow

Tomorrow, I'm turning off my email and hitting the road for Burning Man, where I'll be giving three talks, and I hope to see you there: at 4PM on Weds, Aug 20, I'm speaking at Palenque Norte at Camp Soft Landing; at noon on Thursday, Aug 31, I'll be speaking at my home camp, Liminal Labs (6:15 and Rod's Road); at 4:30PM on Friday, September 1, I'm speaking at the Center Camp Cafe stage. See you there -- or back here after Labor Day!

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Posted by Xeni Jardin

Yesterday, we learned that President Donald Trump chewed out Senate GOP leader Mitch McConnell over matters related to the open investigation into Russia, and Trump. Today, we learn from a Politico report that Trump also “clashed with multiple GOP senators,” not just McConnell, over Russia.

(more…)

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Posted by Jason Weisberger

Rarely does a novel grab my attention like Laura Lam's False Hearts.

I started reading Laua Lam's False Hearts and could not get out of my chair until I was done. I then rewound my Kindle to page one and handed the device to a friend who read 3-4 chapters before handing it back and saying "Wow, I want to keep reading!" This novel is wonderful.

A dystopian tale of near future San Francisco, Lam's world building is excellent. The opening, reminiscent of Roger Zelazny's EPIC Nine Princes in Amber, takes off at a blistering pace and the novel never slows down. A murder mystery surrounding separated-but-formerly-conjoined twins and the oppressive commune they were raised in fascinates.

I don't want to spoil anything. Read it yourself.

False Hearts: A Novel by Laura Lam via Amazon

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Posted by Jason Weisberger

I was surprised to hear people suggest that removing statues of Confederate traitors would somehow lead to us tearing down the Jefferson Memorial. That is patent bullshit.

Arguments attempting to equate slave owning founding fathers of the United States, George Washington and Thomas Jefferson, and their resultant memorials, with statues of Confederate General Robert E. Lee that are currently being removed across the nation are ridiculous. This fantastic article at Smithsonian.com describes how Arlington National Cemetery came to be, and why it is the perfect monument to the traitorous general who led an invasion of Pennsylvania in an attempt to preserve slavery on American soil.

While the Lees worked to reclaim Arlington, Meigs urged Edwin Stanton in early 1866 to make sure the government had sound title to the cemetery. The land had been consecrated by the remains buried there and could not be given back to the Lees, he insisted, striking a refrain he would repeat in the years ahead. Yet the Lees clung to the hope that Arlington might be returned to the family—if not to Mrs. Lee, then to one of their sons. The former general was quietly pursuing this objective when he met with his lawyers for the last time, in July 1870. "The prospect does not look promising," he reported to Mary. The question of Arlington's ownership was still unresolved when Lee died, at 63, in Lexington, on October 12, 1870.

His widow continued to obsess over the loss of her home. Within weeks, Mary Lee petitioned Congress to examine the federal claim to Arlington and estimate the costs of removing the bodies buried there.

Her proposal was bitterly protested on the Senate floor and defeated, 54 to 4. It was a disaster for Mary Lee, but the debate helped to elevate Arlington's status: no longer a potter's field created in the desperation of wartime, the cemetery was becoming something far grander, a place senators referred to as hallowed ground, a shrine for "the sacred dead," "the patriot dead," "the heroic dead" and "patriotic graves."

The plantation the Lees had known became less recognizable each year. Many original residents of Freedmen's Village stayed on after the war, raising children and grandchildren in the little houses the Army had built for them. Meigs stayed on, too, serving as quartermaster general for two decades, shaping the look of the cemetery. He raised a Greek-style Temple of Fame to George Washington and to distinguished Civil War generals by Mrs. Lee's garden, established a wisteria-draped amphitheater large enough to accommodate 5,000 people for ceremonies and even prescribed new plantings for the garden's borders (elephant ears and canna). He watched the officers' section of the cemetery sprout enormous tombstones typical of the Gilded Age. And he erected a massive red arch at the cemetery's entrance to honor Gen. George B. McClellan, one of the Civil War's most popular—and least effective—officers. As was his habit, Meigs included his name on the arch; it was chiseled into the entrance column and lettered in gold. Today, it is one of the first things a visitor sees when approaching the cemetery from the east.

While Meigs built, Mary Lee managed a farewell visit to Arlington in June 1873. Accompanied by a friend, she rode in a carriage for three hours through a landscape utterly transformed, filled with old memories and new graves. "My visit produced one good effect," she wrote later that week. "The change is so entire that I have not the yearning to go back there & shall be more content to resign all my right in it." She died in Lexington five months later, at age 65.

Read more here.

(Thanks, Jane!)

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Posted by Sarina Frauenfelder

Nicoletta Ceccoli is a pop surrealist painter/illustrator from the Republic of San Marino (a microstate within north-central Italy). Nicoletta has an animation degree from the State Institute of Art in Urbino and has illustrated over 30 children’s books since 1995. She does both commercial and personal work, and has exhibited her artwork all over the world. Among many other awards, she has received a silver medal from the Society of Illustrators in New York and the Andersen Prize, “honoring her as the best children’s book illustrator in Italy.”

Ceccoli’s work depicts a world of delicate, feminine girls alongside freaky creatures in strange situations. This duality of imagery in her work is reminiscent of the out-of-this-reality type of nightmares a young child might have. Each piece of Ceccoli’s work tells its story with a cloud of mystery around it, which is up to the viewer to interpret. The titles to her work suc,h as “Ollie Ollie Oxen Free” and “Ready Or Not Here I Come” pull us even deeper into the world of make-belief. In an interview with WOW X WOW, Ceccoli explains that “Growing up I simply never stopped loving the children’s universe. Childhood remains the only magically joyful and free condition, and as adults we end up losing that. In my opinion it can only be regained through imagination.”. This love of the “children’s universe”  is apparent through Ceccoli’s ability to pull the viewer into a childlike realm of wildly imaginatory situations.

Ceccoli’s exhibit titles “Hide and Seek” is now being displayed at the Corey Helford Gallery in Los Angeles. Be sure to check it out if you’re nearby.

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Posted by Mark Frauenfelder

I bought these LED string lights for a friend who has been stringing up little incandescent A/C powered plugs on her backyard terrace. These are much better. They don't get ruined by sprinkler water, and you don't need an extension cord. They have a timer function so you don't drain the battery. Two 20-foot strands (60 LEDs per strand) cost $12.

Red Dwarf XII slated for October

Aug. 23rd, 2017 11:39 am
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Posted by Jason Weisberger

Fun, fun, fun in the sun, sun, sun. Lister, Rimmer, Kryton and the show stealing Cat are back this October on Dave.

From the Red Dwarf blog:

Red Dwarf XII is the twelfth series of the legendary comedy, once again written and directed by Doug Naylor and following last year's series XI, voted "Best Comedy of the Year" and "Best Returning Comedy" by British Comedy Guide. The original cast of Chris Barrie (Rimmer), Craig Charles (Lister), Danny John-Jules (Cat) and Robert Llewellyn (Kryten) are back for six brand new episodes recorded in front of a live studio audience at Pinewood Studios.

For the very first time, the rest of the crew discover just how it feels to be Kryten when they're arrested by the Mechanoid Intergalactic Liberation Front. The Dwarfers come across a ship where criticism is illegal, and a space station where the crew have developed a cure for evil. When all the machines on Red Dwarf go on strike Rimmer and Kryten hold a Presidential election, while The Cat faces an identity crisis like never before when he discovers he needs glasses. Lister discovers a simple update of the ship's latest software could be a matter of life or death. Finally, Rimmer decides to leave Red Dwarf in search of a parallel universe where he isn't such a massive loser.

Featuring a whole host of star guests, smart sci-fi and ingenious comedy, Red Dwarf XII returns to Dave exclusively this October.

Coolest cat in the universe.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5HOsbbD4IKc

Trump is a human void

Aug. 23rd, 2017 11:30 am
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Posted by Rob Beschizza

Talking of Trump's beliefs is pointless, because there are none. The barking comedy of his speeches and statements goes nowhere because "he cannot understand anyone’s response to them except as it relates to him."

David Roth in The Baffler:

Trump doesn’t know anything or really believe anything about any topic beyond himself, because he has no interest in any topic beyond himself; his evident cognitive decline and hyperactive laziness and towering monomania ensure that he will never again learn a new thing in his life. He has no friends and no real allies; his inner circle is divided between ostensibly scandalized cynics and theatrically shameless ones, all of whom hold him in low regard and see him as a potential means to their individuated ends. There is no help on the way; his outer orbit is a rotation of replacement-level rage-grandpas and defective, perpetually clammy operators. ...

Instead of hate, there is simple resentment—abject and valueless and recursively self-pitying; instead of love, there is the blank sucking nullity of vanity and appetite.

Always an egomaniac, Trump suffered deep narcissistic injury in his personal and business failures. His modern persona is invincible because it is reconstructed from nothing. It's a gold-plated concrete replica of the motormouthed vulgarian that America remembers from the 1980s. His presidency is a political superbacteria formed from the few parts of his ego, his brand, that were not annihilated in bankruptcy.

If you're hoping something emerges that will wash the Trump presidency away, I've got bad news for you. Even piss will not sterilize it; it will only make it shinier.

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Posted by Mark Frauenfelder

Here's how the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) uses your tax dollars - to pay a creep to pretend he loves a woman, play with her children, and persuade her to break the law for him so that the agents can swoop in and arrest her. That's what happened to Jennifer Padilla, who met a federally paid professional snitch known as Informant No. 9097.

From the Santa Fe Reporter:

They had sex several times in the publicly funded halfway house where Padilla lived with other recently released women. But it was more than a physical attraction. He complimented her, listened, drove her to work—setting himself apart from the abusive men she’d loved before.

When he held her youngest daughter’s hand, strolling along Tingley Beach in search of digital Pokémon, it felt like a fresh chance at having a family.

There was darkness, for sure. She fed his marijuana and ecstasy habits with cash. Sometimes he disappeared for days. And he encouraged her relapse, slipping her an ecstasy pill one night at the halfway house. That ended a stretch of nearly two drug-free years in her decade-long battle with addiction.

But she had fallen in love with him. So when he asked her to set up a drug deal—scared for his safety after he claimed he’d been robbed—she called an old acquaintance and made an introduction.

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Posted by Mark Frauenfelder

Philip Goff, associate professor in philosophy at Central European University in Budapest, argues that the idea of panpsychism ("mind is everywhere") shouldn't be dismissed just because it sounds crazy.

(more…)

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