‘Dear, There Is No Need for That’

7:43 p.m., John
Eating a jazzle. …I do not understand the crunchy bits. Are they sweet?

7:45 p.m., Samantha
They are only jazzles if we are working at the IHT.
…Don’t know, can’t say I’ve ever had them when they weren’t attached to chocolate.

7:46 p.m., John
The chocolate is very good, dark and kinda bitter. But the crunchy bits make it seem like you dropped it on a particularly grungy New York sidewalk.

7:46 p.m., Samantha
Dear, there is no need for that.

7:46 p.m., John
I am just sayin’. (Crunch, crunch.)

7:48 p.m., Samantha
That’s enough. Besides you can’t crunch louder than your neighbor tonight, so just put your head down and stop trying.

7:48 p.m., John
…I’ll be blogging this later, I think.

7:49 p.m., Samantha
Don’t overthink it. best to close your eyes until we close the paper.


‘A Noninjury Collision With a Twist,’ Please

Buster Keaton in ‘The General’

IN OUR LEAD STORY, two motorists in Victorville, Calif., were unhurt after unintentionally recreating one of Buster Keaton’s stock movie gags — a motorcyclist rear-ended another vehicle and landed in the backseat. “We’re calling this one a noninjury collision with a twist,” Karen Hunt of the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Office in Victorville station chirped, unintentionally coining the name of a sprightly new cocktail. (1 part Amaretto and 2 parts Jack Daniels, serve with lemon twist.) According to Victorville’s Daily Press, a man driving a minivan had slowed to make a left-hand turn when the motorcyclist crashed into him. The impact, though it caused extensive damage to the minivan and the motorcycle, did not deter the minivan’s driver from completing his turn and driving a short distance to his house, where he told his wife he had just been in an accident and had to go back. “As he turned around, the man discovered the shocked motorcyclist behind him.” — Motorcyclist crash lands in back seat of van; Driver was unaware |  – Victorville Daily Press

RESEARCHERS IN CHINA have announced that, you know what, archaeopteryx, the unnecessarily-hard-to-spell prehistoric creature heretofore known as “oldest and most primitive bird on Earth” isn’t a bird after all. (“Jesus, Scientists! Can’t I count on you people!?”) Reporting the news this week, The Guardian noted that the discovery, if confirmed, “leaves paleontologists in the awkward position of having to identify another creature as the oldest and original avian on which to base the story of birdlife.” More interesting is the apparent fact that “flight evolved at least four times in vertebrates: in reptiles, birds, dinosaurs, and most recently in bats.” — ‘Oldest bird’ Archaeopteryx knocked off its perch in controversial new study | Science | The Guardian

MAKING A STRONG CASE for Most Unappealingly Ironic Idea of the Year is the Flower Grenade, an art project by the designer Tony Minh Nguyen that has become a piece of underground hippy capitalism. A slug of unfired clay with flower seeds inside, the weapon-shaped novelty retails for about $20. “Chuck a Flower Grenade,” the designer-crap store Snowhome suggests, “into an abandoned area of urban decay or vacant lot and after a few months you can return to admire your flowery work.” — the general store – garden + beyond – Flower Grenade

Percent of AAA-rated sovereign debt in the world is issued by the United States.

‘In the Absence of Clear Evidence’

Barry Fitzgerald in “The Quiet Man”

Patos Papa: ‘Me Mouth Is Like a Dry Crust’: “Mary Kate Danaher: Could you use a little water in your whiskey?
Michaleen Flynn: When I drink whiskey, I drink whiskey; and when I drink water, I drink water.”

Healthy alcohol limits likely to be increased — The Independent
“…One of the members of the original Royal College of Physicians’ working party on the subject admitted that the figures were ‘plucked out of the air’ in the absence of clear evidence about how much alcohol poses a health risk.” — July 25, 2011
How much alcohol is REALLY safe? None, say cancer specialists — The Daily Mail
French researchers said most nations including the UK and U.S. set their drink limit guidelines to deal with short-term effects of alcohol and were not designed to prevent chronic diseases.” … ‘There is no level of alcohol consumption for which cancer risk is null.’ ” — July 13, 2011

‘At Long Last and for Goodness’ Sake’

‘Oppressed by the Awful Dread of the Unknown’ | Site unseen: “Can it just be said that, at long last and for goodness’ sake, Theodore Roosevelt never, ever, saw a Bigfoot?”

While we’re at it, can we also just say, at long last and for goodness’ sake, that sun tea is not dangerous?! Presuming you’re using fresh, clean water and a freshly cleaned container, and you follow common guidelines — not leaving it in the sun for longer than a few hours, for one — making sun tea is no more hazardous than any other kind of food preparation. As the admittedly self-interested Tea Geek put it two years ago:

“In other words, there is theoretical danger, but no evidence that the risk has shown itself in the real world. … the risk was more likely to come from poor food handling practices than from the tea itself.” — Tea Geek Blogs » Sun Tea Winner (Plus a Rant About Information Drift)

Hundreds of online posts and articles cite serious dangers from bacteria like alcaligenes viscolactis, but the hazard is usually overstated and not even unique to sun tea. Most sun-tea alarmists root their fears firmly in directives from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, but this august body has NEVER issued ANY advice on the subject. Revealingly, the wags who cheerfully advise that brewers instead make “refrigerator tea” do not seem to realize that it poses the same “risks.”

Thankfully, mine is not a voice in the wilderness; observe, for example, the comments section on a she-was-not-even-trying about.com post headlined, “Is Sun Tea Dangerous?

The bottom line is that if you can make a hamburger or save uneaten potato salad from a picnic without sickening yourself, you probably have the wherewithal to make sun tea.

‘You Begin to Ask Yourself…’

A copy editor at the South African tabloid The Times has taken the early lead in the race for Understated Headline of the Year with this straightforward, if clipped, effort: “Grandpa who woke up in morgue fine.” The article underneath reports the unnerving odyssey of a man in the Eastern Cape, whose family jumped straight to “call the undertaker” from “poke him in the side” when they could not wake him up. The man spent nearly a day in the morgue before frightened attendants could be persuaded to let him out. He was suffering from dehydration, but the spokesman Sizwe Kupelo noted, wryly it seems, “He did not need further treatment.” The “grandpa,” however, is staying on the safe side; he is seeing his doctor for a checkup on Thursday. Kupelo told The Times that the “incident showed that the funeral industry needed to be better regulated.” He added, chillingly it seems, “You begin to ask yourself, how many other people have died like that in a morgue.” — Grandpa who woke up in morgue fine – Times LIVE

And Then There Were Three

“U know what, f*** the lot of you,” is how Danny Gabbidon addressed West Ham’s fans on Twitter in April after a galling loss to Aston Villa. Gabbidon, who was later fined by FIFA, apparently didn’t appreciate the nuances of criticism of his role in West Ham’s eventual relegation. He’ll get another chance to angrily defend his honor this season because Rangers made him their third off-season acquisition. Gabbidon had been “trying out” with the club during their sojourn in Cornwall.

As usual, most of the British news coverage is in the inverted-notebook style, with quote after quote from Gabbidon like “I’m delighted to be here.” (We will see about that.) But a copy editor at The Kilburn Times, in a singular bit of analysis, referred to Gabbidon as “defensive steel” in a headline.

Gabbidon, 31, is an experienced, if unremarkable and injury-prone, defender from Wales — he was that country’s “footballer” of the year in 2005. He played in 100 games for West Ham in the past six seasons (though in only 22 last season and 20 from 2007 to 2010), and has 44 appearances for his national team. — Warnock adds defensive steel as Gabbidon signs on – QPR – Kilburn Times

‘We’ve Caught Evolution in the Act’


Ralph Waldo Emerson never said it, of course, but those who aspire to “build a better mousetrap” so that “the world will beat a path” to their door had better get on with it. Researchers have discovered a type of supermouse, not to be confused with the superstrain of gonorrhea, that is resistant to warfarin, a common toxic ingredient in many rat poisons. The scientists were following up a curiousity at a bakery in Germany, whose owners had been stymied in their effort to eradicate an infestation with bromadiolone, “a particularly nasty version of warfarin, but the chemical didn’t bother the mice at all.” As one of the researchers put it, “we’ve caught evolution in the act.” — ‘Freaky’ Mouse Is Immune to Poison : Discovery News

‘Most Galling of All’

An interesting, if trite and a smidge out of date, analysis of the off-season doings of Rangers and their newly-promoted peers appeared Saturday on The Independent’s Web site. Under a charming headline that begins “Party’s Over,” the football editor Glenn Moore notes Q.P.R.’s meager acquisitions and writes that “most galling of all” is the energy displayed by Swansea City and Norwich City. Moore, of course, as nearly everyone in the British sporting media, does his due diligence by remarking on ticket prices and the dysfunctional ownership, but the compelling bit is at the end of his article, where the following list is included:

“How promoted clubs have fared:
Blackpool (spent £2.5m, relegated)
Newcastle United (£3m, survived)
West Bromwich (£5.3m, survived)
Wolves (spent £16.5m, survived)
Birmingham City (£17.6m, survived)
Burnley (£6.6m, relegated)”

Rangers figure to spend about £4 million — but only if you figure (I may be wrong) £1.3 million for Jay Bothroyd; a similar, pay-for-play deal for Kieron Dyer; and £1.25 million for the as-yet-unsigned D. J. Campbell. That is obviously the second-lowest figure among the six teams Moore pulled for his chart, though Newcastle makes a poor comparison because of its long run in the Premier League.

But it is also only about half as much as those aforementioned former Championship rivals. Moore figures £9 million for Norwich, whose off-season highlight was the loan for Kyle Naughton, a player Warnock coveted. And £7 million for Swansea, if it signs the also-coveted-by-Warnock Wayne Routledge. — Party’s over for QPR as Ecclestone keeps it tight – Premier League, Football – The Independent

‘That’s What Got Us Here Today’


It is hot in New York. And not just in the heaviness of the air. An Indian man I know, who hangs around a nearby bodega, likes to run his own brand of political science past me from time to time. These seminars, usually conducted in the wee hours, are thinly-veiled, fairly personal rants, but he likes to cast them as conversations about current events.

Most recently, he expressed dismay at the state of American justice, mostly because of what happened to Casey Anthony. He was telling me that people are naturally either leaders or followers, and the source of most problems is when people forget which one they are. Without acknowledging the irony, or the oppressive heat, he buttressed his point of view with a confusing string of theses that would have appealed to the most hot-blooded, nullifying, wig-wearing, English-furniture-buying slave master in all of antebellum South Carolina. And then he jabbed a finger at me and asked, What kind of justice is this?

Which brings to me Lufkin, Tex., where a 30-year-old mentally disabled man was convicted on Wednesday of resisting arrest after an incident in which the police mistook him for a burglar — in his own home.

According to The Lufkin Daily News, police officers, responding to a report of a black man kicking in a door, entered the defendant’s home, which resulted in his locking himself in the bathroom. At length, and after the presumably liberal use of pepper spray and a pepper ball gun, nine police officers wrestled the man to the floor of his living room.

The prosecutor Gary Taylor summed up the law-and-order point of view by saying, “His behavior was more consistent with a burglar than an innocent person and that’s what got us here today.” — Angelina County jury finds man guilty of evading arrest after being mistaken for burglar in his own home – The Lufkin Daily News: Local & State

‘The Problems of Command’


IN OUR LEAD STORY, we learned this week that, holy cow, the scene in the motion picture “Operation Petticoat” where the character played by Cary Grant, above, dictates a pleading memo on a requisition for toilet paper (“…the commanding officer of the USS SeaTiger cannot help but wonder what is being used at the Caviti Supply Depot as a substitute for this unidentifiable material…”) actually happened. (I know!) The real-life memo, written by the didn’t-take-this-sitting-down Lt. Commander James Wiggins Coe, commander of the U.S.S. Skipjack, is actually much funnier than Grant’s, though Coe is not nearly as handsome. The Skipjack crew’s search for alternatives led a Coe to conclude that a directive for the “ ‘reduction of paper work’ is being complied with thus effectually ‘killing two birds with one stone.’ ” Well played, sir. — Letters of Note: Subject: Toilet Paper

MINING A FRESH VEIN of narcissism, parents in New York have decided to simply stop paying for things if, you know, it is just too much of a bother. The MTA has reported that nearly half of the subway scofflaws who ride without paying a fare are children, many of whom scoot under turnstiles or through emergency exits with the approval of their penny-pinching parents. “We pay for every little thing,” a parent helpfully explained to The Daily News, “I don’t feel guilty.” Another parent unintentionally echoed the sentiments of organized-crime syndicates everywhere when she said, “No one’s ever stopped me, and until they do, we’ll keep doing this.” — 43% of subway fare-beaters are kids, report finds, costing the MTA millions, Daily News

IN THE DEPARTMENT of I Wish I Would Have Known This Before Buying a House Department, apparently it is not a matter of renting vs. buying, it is simply a question of what do you want to be renting. Economists studying financial data from 1979 to 2009 have filed a paper with the journal Real Estate Economics that shows, according to the nonpartisan economic think tank e21, that “renting was the superior investment strategy for most of the past 30 years.” In an editorial, e21 observes that “the choice is between renting the property directly or instead renting the capital necessary to buy the property.” Renting v. Buying: New Evidence Emerges; Informs Housing Policy | e21 – Economic Policies for the 21st Century

AND, FINALLY, IN OUR continuing coverage of the nearly-complete, sad and utterly pathetic breakdown of British culture, readers from around the United Kingdom, with the free time they have from not using napkins or fussing about the wine they drink, are up in arms about the erosion of the (British-) English language, chiefly because of incoming waves of uncouth Americanisms. A rabidly popular column last week in BBC magazine lamented the “sloppy loss of our own distinctive phraseology through sheer idleness, lack of self-awareness and our attitude of cultural cringe.” But in an astute reply by no less than the New York office of The Economist, it is noted that many of the offending Americanisms are not even American. “The OED cites six hundred years of British usage of ‘oftentimes,’ ” The Economist notes in one example, “including the King James Version and Wordsworth.” Next up for Britons, widespread adoption of track pants. Peeves: Anti-Americanisms | The Economist

Percent of college students who claim to have “received sexually explicit texts.”