News That Is Hard to Stomach

IN OUR LEAD STORY, a German tourist has gone missing in the South Pacific and what is the first thing the Germans assume? That the Polynesians ate him. Boy, spend a few centuries titilating white imperialists with your shrunken heads and liberal attitudes, and no one lets you forget it. The tourist, a 40-year-old man, was noodling around the South Pacific island of Nuku Hiva with a guide when he disappeared Oct. 9. The guide apparently told the tourist’s female companion that he knew where the missing man was, but all he did was lead her into the jungle, where he attacked her and left her tied to a tree. This got the police got interested, and (alarm!) they found what they said was evidence that a body — they do not know if it is their man — had been hacked to pieces and burned. While the tourist’s family awaits the results of a DNA test, German newspapers trumpeted awesome headlines like “Do Cannibals Still Exist on the Death Island?” To be fair, Spiegel took the responsible, if money-grubbing, route, with hand-wringing concern about the effect of possible cannibalism on tourism. Chief among the apologists was a city official, who said, we assume with a toothy grin, “Nothing like that has happened here before.” — Missing Tourist in Polynesia: Officials Dismiss Speculation of Cannibalism – SPIEGEL ONLINE – News – International

SPEAKING OF TALL TALES, DARPA, the supersecret research arm of the Defense Department, wants to develop technology that can tell from afar if a person has been influenced by subversive information. The proposal, which is apparently only in the bidding stage, builds on existing research that seems to indicate that brains are actually altered by the information they receive and, ominously, that the brains of people with different political perspectives are altered in different ways. Presumably combining cutting-edge information with existing applications, like video face recognition and lie detectors, DARPA is asking for someone to develop sensors that can “forecast narrative influence.” Consider that the next time you think Jon Stewart is so funny. — Military Seeks Sensor to Gauge Brain’s Reaction to Stories | DARPA |Narrative Networks | LiveScience


Why Would You Make Him Mad?

Manager Neil Warnock is part machine.

Neil Warnock demands unity as Joey Barton criticises Adel Taarabt | Football | The Guardian: “Neil Warnock’s attempt to keep Queens Park Rangers in the Premier League has been complicated by a double outbreak of dressing-room discontent, as Joey Barton publicly criticised the attitude of his team‑mate Adel Taarabt while Warnock called for help to catch a mole who is leaking team secrets.”

You could be forgiven for thinking that the warm glow of optimism occasioned by new ownership, a new season and a handful of new players — though how optimistic can you be about angry malcontents and half-lame dilettantes with balsa for metatarsal bones — had already been blunted by several well-delivered Premier League drubbings. But fresh, bona fide fissures are opening in the blemished facade at Loftus Road.

The captain Joey Barton, in a self-righteous tirade to gleefully scribbling reporters, presumed to lecture the soccer world on the right way (air quotes!) to do things, laying in to the childish and probably overrated Adel Taarabt for not working hard enough. “He told me he was a genius,” Barton said. “I’ve yet to see it.”

Uh, you know what else Barton hasn’t seen? Taarabt physically attack a teammate. (Or, you know, Barton himself scoring more than once.)

While Barton was getting acquainted with his sense of irony, Manager Neil Warnock, above, seemed to be advocating for vigilantism in his mostly-incoherent rants about a fan who posted supposedly sensitive information about Q.P.R. on the Web. (Warnock ascribed a share of the blame for Saturday’s draw against Blackburn to the leak.) We assume that spit flew from his mouth when he stammered, “I hope our loyal fans get hold of the person as I will definitely put it on our website so that they can bombard him.”

Warnock isn’t crazy, of course, not full-on Billy Martin, try-to-attack-Reggie-Jackson, drive-your-pickup-into-the-ditch crazy; by “get hold of,” he was referring to the fan’s e-mail address, which he gave to the press between convulsive fits. More to the point is that somewhere in the cramped, smelly locker room is a disgruntled player (take your pick) who is unafraid of unleashing the beast within Warnock.

On Taxes, and Taxing People

Ideas: How to Lie With Statistics: Tax Rates: “A good deal of the recent rhetoric in support of Democratic proposals for raising taxes is designed to make it sound as though rich people pay federal taxes at a lower rate than everyone else. That [blah, blah] is not only false but wildly false. Most people in the bottom half of the income distribution pay no federal income tax at all, although they do pay payroll taxes and, arguably, some of the cost of corporate income tax passed on in higher prices or lower wages.”

I tread lightly here, amid wing nuts and bamboozlers and people with thin skin, but it drives me up a left-leaning tree when I hear any discussion begin with something along the lines of, Most poor people “pay no federal income tax at all,” even if the comment is quickly leavened with an acknowledgement of the payroll tax’s existence — as if these levies were meaningfully different.

The point being made by the optimistic (unsophisticated) souls seeking changes in the tax code is that rich people don’t pay enough, period. Whether or not that is true, and however clumsy these optimists (rubes) are, the plain fact is that all money is not created equal. (I know!) To wit, a person who, for example, doubles his or her salary by moving to a city where the cost of living is twice as high does much better than simply breaking even. In the same way, the taxes a person in a higher income bracket pays, even though they are a greater percentage of his or her overall income, are nowhere near as onerous as the taxes paid by someone further down on the I.R.S. scoresheets.


Q.P.R. 1, Blackburn 1

Blackburn rallied to secure a 1-1 draw at Loftus Road but, as The A.P. snarkily noted, a tying goal by Christoper Samba “was not enough to prevent Rovers slipping to the bottom of the table.” Ha!

Rangers were coming off a bizarre and embarrassing 6-0 defeat to Fulham, and they showed no signs of dramatic improvement. They managed only cross-shot by Heidar Helguson that The A.P. derided as “fluky.”

Adel Taarabt did not enter the game until the second half, his 100th appearance for the club. He had a hand in most of Q.P.R.’s decent chances, but he flubbed the lot of them.


  • Queens Park Rangers 1-1 Blackburn Rovers | Premier League Match report | Football | The Observer: At least this ugly match yielded a fair result. Neither side deserved to win. For much of the game, it was not even clear that either side was trying to win. Fear, unsurprisingly, was a prominent feature of this game. Having suffered hefty defeats in their last outings both sides placed heavy emphasis on not conceding. The other obvious feature was a lack of quality. If the managers had bigger squads they might have made radical changes to their lineups following the defeats to Fulham and Manchester City but they restricted themselves to three apiece.
  • Queens Park Rangers 1 Blackburn Rovers 1: match report – Telegraph: QPR had managed just one goal in their three home games before yesterday and the lack of a cutting edge was still apparent. Shaun Wright-Phillips struggled, though he did muster a moment of danger on the half-hour mark, sending a low shot inches wide.
  • href=””>BBC Sport – QPR 1-1 Blackburn: A towering first-half header from skipper Chris Samba earned struggling Blackburn a draw at QPR. Heidar Helguson put Rangers ahead with a floated cross-cum-shot that drifted into the top corner. Rovers, who had almost led when Anton Ferdinand clipped his own crossbar with a poor clearance, then drew level when Samba rose above Fitz Hall. Rangers substitute Adel Taarabt shot wide after the break as Rovers ended a sequence of back-to-back defeats.
  • QPR still waiting for first home victory: QPR are still awaiting their first home win of the season after being held to a draw at Loftus Road. Heidar Helguson’s 100th goal in English football gave Rangers the lead in the first half, chipping over a host of bodies after his initial near-post header was blocked. But Christopher Samba equalised before half-time with a towering header from Martin Olsson’s corner. Adel Taarabt was left on the bench and as a second-half substitute he was unable to find the home side a winner.
  • QPR held as battling Blackburn grab a point – QPR – Kilburn Times: It was a disappointing stalemate for Rangers, who looked on course for three points when they took the lead through Helguson’s speculative cross on 16 minutes, but once Christopher Samba headed his side level, the hosts struggled to break down Blackburn’s stubborn defence. Neil Warnock suffered a blow in the build-up to the match with the news that forward DJ Campbell had suffered a suspected broken foot in training, and was due to see a specialist to determine the seriousness of the injury.

Vocational Guidance Counselor Sketch

[5:46 PM] Me: Shouldn’t you be studying principles of business nonsense 101.


[7:10 PM] Bob : NO …I’m currently a student at large ….contimplating taking up studies in the Electrical Engineering or Software Engineering….eitheer should give me a skill set that has me working a more sedentary type job…er…like an editor…but not so comfy of a chair…


[7:44 PM] Me: You should finish about the time you can start collecting Social Security.


[7:44 PM] Me: You should also, maybe, invest in a spelling dictionary.


[7:46 PM] Me: Aren’t I fun to exchange texts with?


[8:03 PM] Bob : WHY YES….why????

The Trouble With Signing Up for Things

The 1973 motion picture “The Golden Voyage of Sinbad” is forgettable for many reasons, but its 1970s aesthetic and reliance on clay animation by the apparently famous Ray Harryhausen (“Jason and the Argonauts,” “Might Joe Young”) makes it worth a casual viewing. But we bring it up here only for a sliver of dialogue.

In a scene shortly after the wooden figurehead on Sinbad’s ship comes alive and attacks the crew (I know!), Sinbad jauntily tells his friends that the activity they are about to embark on might be dangerous. One crew member — a layabout named Haroun, played by Kirk Christian — pipes up with something like, You didn’t say this would be dangerous. Sinbad wryly replies, “You didn’t ask.”

To the casual viewer, this is a moment of levity. Really, it is another in a series of scenes intended to show that Sinbad is so heroic that he can afford to be glib about risky situations. To be sure, Sinbad is heroic — there are seven “official” voyages in the Sinbad oeuvre, not to mention numerous television and film iterations, and all of them are overrun with magic and monstrous creatures — i.e., dangerous circumstances. His antagonist in “Golden Voyage,” to wit, is an over-acting misanthrope who regularly communes with tiny malevolent spirits.

But what is wrong with Haroun, the bleating crew member? I mean, did he really just accept a job from Sinbad and think it would be all loose-fitting clothes and sunshine?


Turner Classic Movies
Special effects master Ray Harryhausen is almost a genre unto himself. His films are a blend of charming stop-motion animation with lively stories — frequently drawn from mythology — that appeal as much to open-minded adults as to the kids they seem frequently created for.
1,000 Misspent Hours
Like most of Harryhausen’s fantasy movies from the preceding decade, “The Golden Voyage of Sinbad” is a somewhat colorless affair when there are no monsters about. … I think my personal favorite monster sequence is the one in which [the figurehead of Sinbad’s ship is brought to life.] It’s something I never would have thought of myself, and that to me is always the highest credential a movie monster can boast.
Cinema Nostalgia
Yes, the movie is a throwback to the exotic orientalism of Richard Burton’s “1,001 Nights” but so what? This is not a cinematic masterpiece nor does it pretend to be. It’s an old time, delightful and FUN fantasy adventure.
Eccentric Cinema
It’s often said that “They don’t make ’em like they used to.” This film is a perfect example of that statement’s truth. The clearness of purpose that can be felt behind Harryhausen’s fantasy films is almost never evident in cinema today.

The Existential Onion Ring

8:06 PM– Bob: What about the onion rings?


8:07 PM– Me: We can get them around the corner. Give me 10; if I need to get beer, too, 20.


8:09 PM– Bob: Ship to second floor of the Wesleyan library.


8:11 PM– Me: That will take about four hours, at least, if I can get to J.F.K. in time. Where will you be?


8:12 PM– Bob: Between D753 b and G 343 i, second floor


8:13 PM– Me: Done. Be sure to wait.


8:21 PM– Bob: And a frosted mug, please.


8:22 PM– Me: Of course. …If the delivery guy is late, just wait. He’s coming.


8:23 PM– Bob: Did you provide the tip or shall I?


8:24 PM– Me: I got it. Tip. Napkins. Silverware. The whole bit.


8:24 PM– Bob: Ketchup? Hienz 57?


8:26 PM– Me: Yup. Three kinds of mustard. Horseradish. Worcestershire. Relish. Mayo. Pickled ginger.


8:27 PM– Bob: Your a champ!


8:27 PM– Me: Tabasco. Sriracha. And handiwipes.


8:28 PM– Bob: Tooth pick? Round. Mint flavored.


8:29 PM– Me: Please. And cinnamon.


8:30 PM– Bob: All righty then, sounds like I’m all set. I shant keep you any longer and will let you back to your guests.


8:31 PM– Me: You’re not a bother. You’re a treasure.


6:39 AM– Me: I hope the portions weren’t too generous.


10:57 AM– Bob: The delivery guy hasn’t shown yet. Is this normal for NYC food delivery?


11:04 AM– Me: Yes. Keep waiting.

Bears Don’t Like to Share Pizza

IN OUR LEAD STORY, pizza parlors in college towns are usually well-prepared for grabby louts who barge in and cause trouble, but the counter help at a pizzeria in Whistler, British Columbia, was at a loss recently in dealing with a hungry brown bear that helped itself to four large pizzas — and kept coming back for more. We say again, Bears Don’t Like to Share Pizza. The Calgary Sun led its report with this punny gem: “Andrea Lawrance is used to customers having growling tummies.” Lawrance and a co-worker spotted the bear nosing around the shop’s garbage. Next thing they know, it wandered inside. “Our first thought was to scare it out,” Lawrance said. Their second was to hide bravely behind the counter for the 30 minutes it took the bear to finish — while dozens of would-be patrons took pictures with their cellphones from outside. The bear barged back in twice more that night, but was not served again. To say the least, it was a ringing endorsement for the pizzeria, Fat Tony’s.Lawrance told the paper, “The one he loved the most was beef and blue cheese.” — Bear gobbles up pies at B.C. pizza joint | Weird | News | Toronto Sun

ADDED TO THE LIST of good ideas we were not even thinking about is the development of artificial leaves. Eggheads at M.I.T. have created a silicon chip that, when dropped in water, creates energy from sunlight and uses it to free oxygen and hydrogen. Scientists have not figured out how to collect the hydrogen produced, and they are working on making the whole thing more efficient. But they envision the leaves being used with solar panels to cheaply and greenly power fuel cells. — MIT create an artificial leaf that can split water, power fuel cells |

ALSO ON THAT LIST is a bill making its way through the Mexico City city council that would create marriage licenses with a built-in two-year trial period. The left-leaning Party of the Democratic Revolution controls the assembly and their initiative is sure to rankle conservative rivals more than the successful effort in 2009 to legalize gay marriage. The proposal calls for a contract between bride and groom that would provide for how to handle children and property in the event the happy couple chooses not to renew their union. “You wouldn’t have to go through the tortuous process of divorce,” one lawmaker chirped. — ‘Til 2013 do us part? Mexico mulls 2-year marriage | Reuters