The Ballad of Yvonne the Bovine

Patos Papa: ‘Put Them in the Washing Machine’: “Citing the danger to traffic posed by a hulking bovine, the authorities recently gave their O.K. to a plan to hunt her down and shoot her.”

Update: Pity Europe. In America, when our sports teams lose in embarrassing fashion, they don’t hand out apologies and free tickets. And when our farm animals get loose from their enclosures, we keep looking for them. But in Bavaria, the burgermeisters have given a permanent reprieve to Yvonne, a 6-year-old cow who made a break for it in July as she was being queued for the slaughterhouse. She has been on the lam (sorry) ever since, and now the lederhosen-clad authorities have punted, requesting that she “not be disturbed.” To be fair, they tried everything, including helicopter searches; appealing to an animal psychic, who said Yvonne “didn’t feel ready;” and luring her with a bull, one of her cow friends and her calf. The Germans, who chalked up their failure to Yvonne’s being “as nimble as a weasel,” now claim she has gone feral, looking more “like a buffalo than a cow,” according to N.P.R. The plan is to wait for winter, when her “paradise world” of “ripening cornfields” will be gone, and bundle her off to an animal shelter. — Freedom For Yvonne, Germany’s Runaway Cow: Search Is Called Off : The Two-Way : NPR


Sometimes It’s Hard to Be a Man

IN OUR LEAD STORY, my father used to tell us that he would make us get out and “walk a mile” when we were rowdy during a car trip. A man on a harbor cruise in Newport Beach, Calif., tossed his son overboard. The man, a 35-year-old from Irvine, is not surprisingly in big trouble. He and his girlfriend had been drinking before getting on the boat, which is maybe what you have to do for that sort of thing. (The tour takes in sights like the former homes of Shirley Temple and John Wayne.) But at some point the views of old Hollywood failed to impress. Witnesses said the man began to beat one of two sons who accompanied him, a 7-year-old who The Associated Press said was not an “expert swimmer,” and threatened to chuck him overboard “if he didn’t stop crying,” according to an Orange County Sheriff’s Office spokesman. Fellow passengers became “extremely angry” when he did so. The other side of the story was blithely delivered by the girlfriend, who said it was merely “roughhousing” gone awry. As she cooed to The Daily News, “He knows it was stupid.” But perhaps the best part are the details of the man’s divorce in The A.P. report, including a sneering comment in a court filing by his ex-wife: “If he truly wanted to support his boys, he would find a job.” — Angry passengers watch 7-year-old thrown overboard – The Associated Press

IN THE DEPARTMENT OF Holy Crap, I Did Not Know That This Could Happen to a Person Department, a jury in Kentucky has ruled against (against!) a man who sued a doctor for $16 million because he unexpectedly removed part of his penis during what was supposed to be a routine circumcision. Apparently, the doctor came across a cancerous tumor where he had expected to find a fungal infection, and (snip, snip) was just doing what he thought was best. Or as the doctor’s pun-deaf lawyer put it, “it was a pretty clear-cut case.” (He really said that.) The rest of the man’s penis was removed in a later operation; the plaintiff’s attorney, describing photos of the man’s groin, was matter of fact: “You can see there’s nothing there.” The trial lasted two days and produced details that were heart-tugging — the plaintiff testified he “doesn’t feel like a man” — and horrifying — the tip of plaintiff’s penis “had the appearance of rotten cauliflower.” But jurors did not beat around the bush. — Kentucky jury rules for doctor in penis amputation suit | Reuters
Jury Backs Doctor in Penis Amputation Trial – ABC News

Wigan 2, Q.P.R. 0

In Wigan, Franco Di Santo scored twice to bury Queens Park Rangers in an ignominious 2-0 loss. Three weeks into the season, Wigan, with its listless offense and porous defense, and which barely avoided relegation last season, is undefeated, and Rangers were left to pretend to be cheerful about another new signing — right back Luke Young.

Di Santo broke a scoreless tie in the 41st minute, and knocked in a deflected shot from just outside the penalty box in the 66th. Said Wigan Manager Roberto Martinez, “there is nothing better” for a striker “than hitting the back of the net.” (It says here, there are a few things that are better.)

Adel Taarabt had two or three chances, but Rangers played, for whatever reason, without D. J. Campbell and Jay Bothroyd up front. Barely worth noting, Bruno Perone made his first Premier League start.


  • Wigan Athletic 2-0 QPR | Premier League match report | Football | The Observer: “The statistics for Franco Di Santo provide worrying reading for any striker, let alone one for whom there were such great expectations when he joined Chelsea in 2008. …He had only two to his name in a frustrating start to life in English football. But the 22-year-old doubled his tally on Saturday to inspire Wigan to an important first league win of the season.”
  • BBC Sport – Wigan 2-0 QPR: “Wigan extended their best start to a Premier League season to three unbeaten games as Franco Di Santo’s brace gave them victory over QPR. The Argentine volleyed home in the first half and found the top corner with a deflected drive in the second to give the Latics a deserved win.”
  • Barton watches as unlucky QPR lose – West London Sport : “Joey Barton watched as former Chelsea forward Franco di Santo scored twice to beat a QPR side that were denied by the woodwork three times. Barton, whose move to Loftus Road from Newcastle was sealed on Friday afternoon, saw his new team-mates undone by a superb goal and a fortuitous one from a player who had previously scored only once for Wigan.”
  • Lightning strikes twice for Di Santo – Premier League, Football – The Independent: “Joey Barton will have seen little to dissuade him from the conclusion that he has made an intelligent decision in joining QPR, despite two goals from Franco Di Santo condemning the Premier League newcomers to defeat while the midfielder watched from the directors’ box. Neil Warnock was similarly upbeat despite a second defeat in three top flight games, courtesy of two goals from Di Santo who scored as many times in 65 minutes as he had in the previous three and a half years in England with Chelsea, Blackburn and at the DW Stadium.”

Swype Poetry

Me: Article estate heretofore devastates.

David: Realist young watch topics clench breasts

Me: Sucky mchugh po if fs nj hg er go peahen

David: They off thereto often once rustic refinish vouched

Me: Archbishop pension pict renzo partying

David: Drag obtuse tissues reebok picture tevse install know vagina (ok that last one was intentional)

Junior High Joke Edition

IN OUR LEAD STORY, scientists at the University of Pennsylvania have figured out how to prevent spilled coffee from leaving a ring behind on your table. (Who knew they were trying to figure that out?!) The physical forces that create such stains have long been understood; physicists first did the math in 1997. But now caffeine-quaffing Quakers are running rings around the problem. Apparently, coffee leaves a ring because, as it dries, the angle between the liquid at the edge of the spill and the surface decreases. A “radial capillary flow” is created that forces the generally spherical coffee schmutz to the edge, and that forms the telltale stain. At Penn, the presumably-jittery scientists discovered that “ellipsoidal coffee particles resist the flow,” meaning they remain “more or less evenly distributed” — i.e., harder to see after drying. — Beating the coffee ring effect for smooth coatings – Ars Technica

IN THE DEPARTMENT of You Don’t Want to Drive Your Car Through That Department, a load of frozen bull semen slipped off a Greyhound bus earlier this week in Tennessee, briefly causing a scare and shutting down a highway until emergency workers realized what it was, which briefly caused them all to say, “Ew.” — Bull semen spill causes scare, closes highway | Reuters

CAUSING FURTHER SOPHOMORIC chuckles was a man in Mesa, Ariz., who was arrested after being caught on video steal snakes from a pet store by stuffing them down his pants. Twice. Our ballsy snake-loving hero used his loot to acquire money and a reptile tank from another pet store. — Mesa man suspected of stealing snakes stuffed in his pants

AND, THIS IS JUST GROSS. The Web site or blog or whatever DIY Life advises that you use mayonnaise to repair cracks in wood furniture. (I know!) “Wipe away the excess,” the Web site says, helpfully, “and let it sit for a one to three days.” Apparently, this is not crackpottery but honest-to-god science, and the advice is repeated the length and breadth of the Web. The idea is that the natural yecch in the mayo will cause the wood around the crack to swell, which just might close the gap far enough so you will not notice. Use a B.L.T. to wipe off the excess, then polish to a shine! — Fix Scratches in Wood – DIY Life

The Road to Disunion (Vol. I)


The Road to Disunion: Volume I: Secessionists at Bay, 1776-1854 by William W. Freehling
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

In three words, delightful, if dense.

Freehling’s analysis of antebellum American politics pivots on the inexplicable power of minority rule, an eerie echo of the greasy morass in Congress today. He purports to show how even a divided mob of ultras can wield tremendous power.

His opening chapters are inspired: a vivid, imagined travelogue through the South by steamboat and rail that provides for even an avid reader an invaluable starting point. From there, he completes broad character sketches of the classes involved, trying to explain what made the Peculiar Institution so peculiar. Then he knits together the sneering, flopsweat-inducing back-and-forth that raged in convention halls and in Congress by nimbly taking succeeding crises in turn, even when timelines overlap, building in texture-rich layers and molding long-winded speeches into something like Zagat capsules. His stitches can be taxing, with clause-packed sentences careering from perpective to perspective, from voice to voice. But they are, for the hardy and interested, immensely rewarding.

View all my reviews

On Lobsters, Bunting and Budgets

  • I do not know why the animals in anthropomorphic movies are always dogs or apes. O.K., maybe I do know why, but it seems to me that a more chilling potential horror-movie villain would be fish or crustaceans. If you have ever seen them put out the trash at the Times Square Red Lobster, you will know what I am talking about. God forbid that shellfish ever attain sentience and wander down West 41st Street, because they are going to lose their shit when they see the haphazard manner in which their former brethren are disposed of. Splintered body parts scatter on the sidewalk amid a slick of butter and grease. Bulging sacks of further horrors are pitched casually into a great metal beast, and insult is added to injury by a crunching maw. It is a tableau as dark and brooding as any imagined by a deranged artist.
  • It is nearly 12 hours after Yankees Manager Joe Girardi had Derek Jeter bunt in the ninth with two men on and no one out, and almost no one has groused (e.g. only a fraction of the Twitter posts I can find are critical.) This is surprising (shocking) 1) because of the Internet’s true nature, and 2) because it was such a mortifyingly dumb decision. Jeter’s sacrifice moved up the runners, it is true, but it also gave up an out to a reliever who appeared to be on the ropes. Two of the next three batters walked, and the fourth hit a drive to the warning track that would have tied the game as a sacrifice fly. Except that it was the third out. Jeter is batting .380-something in the last month; getting a hit in that spot is literally what you pay him to do. Thanks, Joe! — Joe Girardi asks Yankee captain Derek Jeter to bunt despite hot night at the plate against A’s – Daily News
  • I am annoyed to distraction by TV sound bites from Everymen and women who archly suggest the federal government live within its means, just like they have to do. I find this grating not because, as The Los Angeles Times points out today, it is a matter of apples and oranges, though that is true. When a family cuts its spending because of “job losses and insecurity,” that is good sense; when a government does it, it makes things worse. No, I find it grating because the Everyman’s decision to buy a house he could not afford is part of the reason we are all in this mess to begin with. — The wrong budget analogy –

College Students Drink to Get Drunk

“They intend to get intoxicated” is the conclusion of scientists at Virginia Tech who have been studying excessive drinking by college students. We say again, College Students Drink to Get Drunk. The researchers were assessing campaigns to curb alcohol use and the attendant bad behaviors, and their conclusion is such programs do not work. The psychologist E. Scott Geller, director of Virginia Tech’s Center for Applied Behavior Systems, innocently told reporters “we thought if we could demonstrate to students that their performance deteriorated under alcohol,” they would stop. As ever, they do not, and the facts are damning, if downright amusing. Multiple breakthroughs were reported, including:

  • Students wearing costumes or drinking green beer have a higher blood-alcohol content on average than other students.
  • Alcohol “creates a world of adventure,” as the author Thomas Vander Ven said. “Because so much can go wrong, interesting, exciting, funny things happen.”
  • “Even when students have bad experiences,” the shared experience and social support they receive from friends are “seen as a positive.”

College drinking is liberating, and a good excuse –

Outside of a Fishing Boat

Who’s the Queen of Rock ‘n’ Roll? | Site unseen: “12:16 PM– Me: Hey. Who’s the queen of rock and roll?
9:54 PM– Bob: L’il Richard…Good golly Miss Molly
11:05 PM– Me: I was asking you. And I meant woman. Chrissy Hynd or Pat Benatar. Like that.”

8:40 PM– Me: Today: Who is king of N.F.L. quarterbacks?

9:11 PM– Bob: You mean like “the” King…somebody who really stands out as not only a quarterback but as the overall leader of the team on and off the field?

9:19 PM– Me: The king, as in Mel Brooks’s saying, It’s good to be the king. The best.

9:45 PM– Me: I say Montana. Won big games. No picks in Super Bowl.

9:46 PM– Me: Elway and Brady as leading pretenders.

10:24 PM– Bob: Never trust a guy who sells used cars…trust is key to being a king…Elways out.

10:26 PM– Bob: Brady = whiner..whiner’s are not winners…he’s out…

10:43 PM– Bob: OK…now Bradshaw. Bastard that he was I still would have to say that he would be a top pick for company to waste a day on a boat, on a northern lake, fishing for walleye. Him, Jerry Reed and Art Donovan.

10:43 PM– Bob: I would be able to vote for Montana. Wasn’t much of a winer. Recognized the abilities of the folks around him and used it to the teams advantage. Seemed to be able to nurse the varied egos. Impressed by his slight stature and relative fearless-ness when rather large sweaty guys were going to make him eat his lunch. Plus there was the Norte Dame game where he played with flu and in the rain and sleet. But when he tells stories he isn’t near as entertaining as Art.

10:47 PM– Bob: Bradshaw? Why not. For Christ sake they were the only ray of sunshine for an entire economically depressed region. He was smart enuogh to to beat the Vikings…numerous times….provides color commentation in uniquely hunble manner and when providing information as an authoritative source seems to do so with respect for those that played and are still playing.

10:48 PM– Bob: So the king:

10:49 PM– Bob: Had to be a standout player…not necessarily the most talented.

10:49 PM– Bob: Ability to perform when the chips were down…against the odds.

10:50 PM– Bob: Not a winer or pompus ass

10:52 PM– Bob: Longevity…and ironman type aspects…willing to play hurt take chances that might mean injury to get the job done.

10:55 PM– Bob: Finally they would have to have the what ever it is to provide excellant companionship in some activity unrelated to football where they could pass as a regular guy doing what regular guys do when they do it(i.e., fish’un, hunt’in,etc.)

10:57 PM– Bob: With this in mind I would have to go with Bradshaw over Montana…do to criteria number 4…he would be more fun to go fishing with.

12:03 AM– Me: Over all, I’m going with Montana. Outside the fishing boat, he’s the best QB.

12:14 AM– Bob: Montana unless I have to take him fishing. Then its Bradshaw all the way.

12:18 AM– Me: Done. See how good we are at this?