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March 18, 2013

Oita, Japan has a city council member named Skull Reaper who refuses to remove his luchadore mask!

And he is not the first Japanese politician to do this! Skull Reaper Getting Hassled by Rest of City Council - Lowering the Bar
Skull Reaper A-ji won a seat on the city council of Oita, Japan, in February, but was not allowed to attend initial meetings last week after refusing to remove his lucha-libre-style wrestling mask for that purpose. According to one report, the majority decided that allowing a masked city councilor would "offend the decency of the Assembly," which sounds like something they just made up because they're not wrestling fans. Another report said the majority cited a rule providing that "a person taking the floor shall not wear items such as a hat." If that rule exists and applies to everybody, that might be different—I'm having trouble thinking of a reason that a wrestling mask would not be an "item such as a hat." Skull_Reaper_A-jiBut should they make an exception for Skull Reaper A-Ji? He did campaign in the mask, after all, so if it didn't bother the citizens why should it bother the councilors? In fact, if the citizens voted for masked representation, wouldn't making an exception be the democratic thing to do? . . .

March 12, 2013

What happens when a journalist re-reports Bob Woodward's book on John Belushi?

Woodward has been coasting on his Watergate fame for 30 years now. His books are awful and factually incorrect and boring. As one journalist learned the hard way. Bob Woodward and Gene Sperling: What Woodward’s John Belushi book can tell us about the sequester scandal. - Slate Magazine
Two years after Belushi died, Bob Woodward published Wired: The Short Life and Fast Times of John Belushi. While the Watergate sleuth might seem an odd choice to tackle such a subject, the book came about because both he and Belushi grew up in the same small town of Wheaton, Ill. They had friends in common. Belushi, who despised Richard Nixon, was a big Woodward fan, and after he died, his widow, Judy Belushi, approached Woodward in his role as a reporter for the Washington Post. She had questions about the LAPD’s handling of Belushi’s death and asked Woodward to look into it. He took the access she offered and used it to write a scathing, lurid account of Belushi’s drug use and death. When Wired came out, many of Belushi’s friends and family denounced it as biased and riddled with factual errors. “Exploitative, pulp trash,” in the words of Dan Aykroyd. Wired was so wrong, Belushi’s manager said, it made you think Nixon might be innocent. Woodward insisted the book was balanced and accurate. “I reported this story thoroughly,” he told Rolling Stone. Of the book’s critics, he said, “I think they wish I had created a portrait of someone who was larger than life, larger than he was, and that, somehow, this portrait would all come out different. But that’s a fantasy, not journalism.” Woodward being Woodward, he was given the benefit of the doubt. Belushi’s reputation never recovered. Twenty years later, in 2004, Judy Belushi hired me, then an aspiring comedy writer, to help her with a new biography of John, this one titled Belushi: A Biography. As her coauthor, I handled most of the legwork, including all of the interviews and most of the research. What started as a fun project turned out to be a rather fascinating and unique experiment. Over the course of a year, page by page, source by source, I re-reported and rewrote one of Bob Woodward’s books. As far as I know, it’s the only time that’s ever been done. . . . There’s no question that he frequently ferrets out information that other reporters don’t. But getting the scoop is only part of the equation. Once you have the facts, you have to present those facts in context and in proportion to other facts in order to accurately reflect reality. It’s here that Woodward fails. . . .

If you hate kids, why would you go to a playground?

Other than the obvious answer: to kick them in the chest. Sabryna Bell Allegedly Kicked Two Year Old, Threatened Lives Of Other Kids In Golden Gate Park: News: SFAppeal
11:08 AM: A 24-year-old woman was arrested after allegedly kicking a toddler at a playground in San Francisco's Golden Gate Park on Monday afternoon, a police spokesman said today. The attack was reported at about 4:30 p.m. at the Koret Children's Quarter near Kezar Drive in the southeast corner of the park, police spokesman Officer Gordon Shyy said. The suspect, Sabryna Bell, allegedly walked past a father and his daughter and, for no apparent reason, kicked the nearly 2-year-old girl in the chest, Shyy said. The girl fell and hit her head on the pavement, but her injuries are not considered life-threatening. She was in San Francisco with her family from out of state to be a flower girl at a wedding, Shyy said. Bell also allegedly walked up to another parent and threatened to kill other children, then fled, Shyy said. She was apprehended a short distance away, and was booked into jail on suspicion of assault with a deadly weapon, making criminal threats and inflicting injury upon a child. She had outstanding warrants for her arrest, Shyy said.

March 07, 2013

UPDATE: Even When Bloggers Are Bad at Math, Global Climate Change Is Still a Reality

Late in 2012 we--along with most of the pinko-hippie blogosphere--posted...