Count Chocula reported this story from Transylvania, with assistance from special correspondent Frankenberry

Fox News has a problem with New York Times correspondents Jacques Steinberg and Steven Redicliffe, labeling them "attack dogs." But as any television journalist could tell a print correspondent, a picture is worth a thousand words.

Jacques Steinberg, before and after photoshop:

One of these Steven Redicliffes is not like the other:

Notice the jaundiced skin and yellowed teeth for both men. Notice the cartoonishly bestial features with which Steinberg has been graced, while all Redicliffe needs to be complete is a set of bolts photoshopped onto his neck.

Full story at Media Matters.

An Old War Story

In the summer of 1967, something unthinkably weird happened on the deck of a US aircraft carrier in the Gulf of Tonkin.

It was fueling time in preparation for yet another sortie, and the planes were arranged on the carrier in this manner:

The large plane in the upper left, an F-4 Phantom II, flipped from external to internal power. Normally, this was wholly routine. This time, a power surge launched a 5-inch rocket out of the underwing rocket pod.

As you can see, the weapon struck one of the two manned planes, A-4 Skyhawks, on the right. Although a safety mechanism prevented the rocket from detonating, it struck and destroyed a wing-borne fuel tank on the smaller plane and a conflagration ensued. The external fuel tanks on those and nearby planes overheated and exploded, accelerating the fire with even more jet fuel, which then caused even more tanks in the area to cook off. The pilots in the affected planes could either quick-fry to a crackly crunch or jump ten feet down into the fire, near its source, and run through the erupting blaze to safer ground.

Meanwhile, the impact of the initial rocket strike had also caused a couple of half-ton bombs to come loose and fall into the heart of the inferno. A minute and a half into the crisis, as the mutually reinforcing jet-fuel/explosion cycle spiraled out of control, one of the heavy bombs beneath the struck planes cooked off. It destroyed the plane with its remaining arms, blew a crater in the flight deck, and rained fiery jet fuel and molten shrapnel on the crew who had been trying desperately to bring things under control. Almost all the on-deck firefighters were destroyed in the blast. In addition, the explosion detonated eight more of the same heavy bombs. The chained explosion of the half ton missiles shredded the flight deck and sent flaming and molten debris flooding down into the hangars and living quarters below.

One hundred thirty-four dead. One hundred sixty-one injured. It took the ad hoc firefighting crew until the following day to master the flames.

One of the pilots of the two Skyhawks the wayward missile had struck was incinerated by secondary explosions as he tried to escape his cockpit. The other, whose plane had dumped the half-ton bomb that set off the huge chain reaction 90 seconds in, managed to survive. Throwing open the canopy and climbing onto the nose of his plane, he ran down, leapt into the flames, and fled through the fire shortly before the big one beneath his craft went off and destroyed his aircraft and everything around it.

He escaped– but not before going back in to try to help another plane's pilot to safety– a rescue interrupted and prevented by an explosion that threw him back two body lengths, pelted his chest and legs with shrapnel, and ripped apart his fellow rescuers.

From the heart of the disaster the Skyhawk pilot finally made it to the periphery and safety, having defeated fear– having reacted with courage and agility just in nick of time.

His name? Lieutenant Commander John McCain.

Thanks to Wikipedia for the relevant details and images.

No One's Life, Liberty or Property is Safe while the Florida Legislature is in Session

The Florida Constitution has this to say about the rights of its citizens:

All natural persons, female and male alike, are equal before the law and have inalienable rights, among which are the right to enjoy and defend life and liberty, to pursue happiness, to be rewarded for industry, and to acquire, possess and protect property…

Unless, according to the Florida legislature as of last Tuesday, by "possessing and protecting property," one means prohibiting others from bringing firearms onto that property.

no public or private entity may prohibit any customer, employee, or invitee from possessing any legally owned firearm when such firearm is lawfully possessed and locked inside or locked to a private motor vehicle in a parking lot and when the customer, employee, or invitee is lawfully in such area.

The law, Florida House Bill 503, also prohibits owners of commercial property from even asking of employees or customers whether those people are bringing guns onto the premises.

Mind you, I support your right to own a gun, and to keep arms in your home. I simply do not support your non-right to bring a gun onto my property, against my wishes.

Naturally, there are exceptions, and one of those exceptions is the State of Florida itself, which does have the right to prevent people from entering much of its property with firearms. But for others, this is a rather shocking abrogation of the rights of Florida merchants and employers to determine for themselves whether guns are to be allowed onto their property, and to control their property in general as they see fit. It goes far beyond now-traditional civil rights protections, which prevent merchants and employers from discriminating on the basis of race, gender, religion, and the like, as those are to an extent inherent characteristics, whereas the decision of whether to pack heat is always an individual choice.

The provision that guns must be kept locked in the car is a fig leaf of sanity, providing no real protection to anyone who feels that guns are unwanted on his or her private property. How long does it take to unlock a glove compartment or to pop a trunk?

Still, I suppose Floridians should be glad that the federal government is beyond this law, or nobody's mail would get delivered once Florida's postal workers learned of it. As are manufacturers of explosives, a loophole that Disney has exploited rather cleverly. But banks, and many other sensitive businesses where guns are traditionally thought a no-no, are not excepted.

H/t: Jag of the Popehat forum.

But with Good Behavior, He Can Cut the Sentence in Half

Consecutive, not concurrent, life sentences for a Texas man convicted on forty counts of sexually assaulting children.

A man was sentenced to more than 4,000 years in prison Wednesday for sexually assaulting three teenage girls.

A day after finding James Kevin Pope guilty, jurors sentenced him to 40 life prison terms — one for each sex assault conviction — and 20 years for each of the three sexual performance of a child convictions.

At the request of prosecutors, state District Judge Graham Quisenberry ordered Pope to serve the sentences consecutively, adding up to 4,060 years. He will be eligible for parole in the year 3209, according to the Parker County District Attorney's Office.

I don't practice in Texas and I don't walk into a criminal courtroom when I can avoid it, but I suppose all of this showboating could have been avoided by the simple amendment of Texas law to provide a life sentence without parole for child sexual assault.

Whatever the Supreme Court has to say about executing child rapists, this is a functional death sentence.

It's "Solid," Not "Sullied," And I'll Fight Any Man Who Says Otherwise

The Brainy Gamer and I heard the same NPR story yesterday, but he beat me to blogging about it.

Dateline: New York City, 1949. There's a great dispute between fans of two famous entertainment titans of the time. There's a riot, and 25 people die in a hail of police gunfire.

What could this be about? 19th century soccer hooligans? Favored music hall singers?


Shakespearian actors.
More specifically, a dispute over Shakespearian acting styles.

Listen to this wonderful NPR interview with the author of a book about the incident, which illustrates a time before there was a gulf between high-brow and popular culture, and when Shakespeare was widely perceived as entertainment for the people.

Follow the link to Brainy Gamer (well worth bookmarking for anyone who is interested in intelligent analysis of gaming issues) and check out his links on the subject (which are at the end of the linked post). Fascinating stuff.

Terrebonne Parish Acts Boldly To Protect English From Valedictorians

You know, I understand that each and every state in this great union has its share of dipshits. I know that undue focus of ridicule on our Southern friends (with the exception of Florida, which I think we can all agree is irretrievably fucked up) is elitist and retrograde stereotyping. I work towards not indulging overmuch in blue-state snobbery towards the South.

But sometimes y'all make it really. fucking. difficult.

Case in point: a Louisiana tizzy over a single sentence spoken in a foreign language at a graduation.

[Read more…]