Scribbles: Notes from NSFWCORP Staff

  1. A Scribble

    Via Wikileaks, Snowden's statement to human rights groups praises Russia as among "the first to stand against human rights violations carried out by the powerful rather than the powerless."


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  2. A Scribble

    After we topple the NSA, we need to wage a war on psycho-hucksters...What kind of shithead culture would define nostalgia—or just plain thinking about shit you did in the past—as a disorder. Reminds me of Obama's decision to "look forward" and not prosecute Bush era financial crimes.

    SOUTHAMPTON, England — Not long after moving to the University of Southampton, Constantine Sedikides had lunch with a colleague in the psychology department and described some unusual symptoms he’d been feeling. A few times a week, he was suddenly hit with nostalgia for his previous home at the University of North Carolina: memories of old friends, Tar Heel basketball games, fried okra, the sweet smells of autumn in Chapel Hill.

    His colleague, a clinical psychologist, made an immediate diagnosis. He must be depressed. Why else live in the past? Nostalgia had been considered a disorder ever since the term was coined by a 17th-century Swiss physician who attributed soldiers’ mental and physical maladies to their longing to return home — nostos in Greek, and the accompanying pain, algos.


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  3. A Scribble

    Speculative: assuming libertarian kids grow up (which is far from guaranteed—many contemporary socialists do, but others get worse), and further assuming that Hans Hermann Hoppe's craziness doesn't totally infect libertarianism, is there any chance that today's internet generation will push back against interference in private life by both business and government? (Ron and Rand do not count, the Republican party may become more "libertarian", but even if they were sincere it's still fundamentally a conservative party.)


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  4. A Scribble

    Exodus International, the oldest, most powerful "ex-gay" group, is shutting down and has apologized to the LGBT community.

    I'm stunned, quite honestly. These were the guys who hosted Falwell back in 2005, after all, and based on what I saw there, I figured they were the type to hold on long after the writing was on the wall.

    I think this is a cultural change that's migrated so deep that even the evangelical bubble's starting to feel the pressure.


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  5. A Scribble

    Michael Hastings died in a car crash. Goddamn. First heard from him when he was looking for the War Nerd to interview John for Newsweek, about 5 years ago I think. They did the interview; the story was never published though. Hastings' fiancee was killed in Iraq during the war. I think he and John talked about that.

    I kept hearing that Hastings was an eXile fan, and he'd donated money to us in our fundraising drives. Just a couple of weeks ago he started following me on twitter and retweeting out some of my stories. He got signed up to BuzzFeed and seemed to have kind of floundered there. McChrystal is probably enjoying this. Very fucking depressing.


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  6. A Scribble

    So (upon our Editor-in-Chief's sage advice) I figure newsroom is the right place to talk a bit more about the the thinking behind the “Shut Up and Pay” piece, as well as provide some additional material for context to our readers.

    This was a survivor's account that for reasons of length and flow was left out of the main piece. I'm adding it here because I think it is relevant to the issues raised by the story. What disturbs me most about Leah Rubin's story is its similarity to Liz Willette's, even though they took place 15 years apart, after more than one cycle of ostensible “reform” at ASU.

    Major trigger warning, obviously:

    By 1996, Leah Rubin had made a life at ASU. She paid the bills by working on-campus and at a local photo store. She did reporting and graphic design for The Appalachian student newspaper, participated in voter drives, helped LGBT and feminist causes, and even found time to play in a local band, the feminazis.

    One night, after drinking more than normal, a friend took her back home. After he left, two men who lived in the same building, and whom she'd turned down multiple times before, tried to get in the apartment. The next thing she knew she woke up in her living room floor, her shirt gone, boots still on, body battered. Near dawn, she went to ASU's infirmary.

    “I remember just curling up in a ball on a bed,” she says. “It was just a vacant one to talk to.” Returning to her apartment building, she knocked on the door of the men who raped her. One answered, and swore it was his roommate, not him, then instead said that she had invited them in, and wanted it.

    She lit a cigarette in front of him, and held it “straight onto my arm until it went out, and [I] could smell my skin burning.” He shouted at her to stop, “and I said 'no, I won't stop, but at least I can say no now because what you did to me last night – well, you didn’t give me the choice did you?'”

    The police told Rubin that because she was intoxicated, she couldn't press charges.

    This is, of course, completely false: sex with someone too drunk to give their consent is always rape. They took her to the hospital for an examination, then left her in the police car. She says recalls no aid, no comfort, from law enforcement or the university.

    “I was stunned at how basically I was going to have to battle through this myself.” She kept insisting to the police that she wanted to press charges. Later, she talked to an assistant district attorney, some senior police officers, and a judge, who told her they wouldn't proceed. She angrily asked them if this was how they treated their wives and daughters, and stormed out.

    She still has a burn scar on her left forearm.

    It's worth noting that Rubin credits the university's counselors with saving her life as she recovered from the trauma, but says otherwise she received no support.


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  7. A Scribble

    To go along with my piece on Dorner and the corruption of San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department:

    One interesting corruption fact about San Bernardino County (an other California counties) that helps explain why muncipal courts are so lenient on corrupt and criminal local pols and top cops: California counties have long been accused of a form of legalized bribing of state judges who work in these counties, in which the municipal voluntarily sweetens judges' pay by anywhere from $20,000 to maybe even $50,000. It comes in various forms—travel & education allowances, healthcare stipends that go on top of the normal health benefits judges get from the state, etc. Adding it all up, these perks can boost judges salaries by 25%, which deals a serious blow to their independence when dealing with municipal government matters.

    San Bernardino is one of the more egregious offenders.

    That’s why municipal pols and top cops almost always avoid unaccountability. On the county level, state judges are on their side.

    Here’s the LA Times from 2004:

    Counties Perk Up Judges’ Paychecks

    While supervisors cut jobs to balance budgets, some area jurists receive thousands in extras.

    March 22, 2004 | Hugo Martin | Times Staff Writer

    Despite a budget crunch that has triggered government cutbacks and layoffs throughout the state, several Southern California counties voluntarily sweeten benefit packages for Superior Court judges with car allowances, “personal development” grants and other generous perks.

    On top of their state salary and benefits, Superior Court judges in San Bernardino County take home an assortment of county-funded benefits, including a $383.25 monthly car allowance and a $541.66 monthly education stipend. The actual amounts are paid biweekly.

    Court officials and others defend the arrangement as a way to attract qualified attorneys to the bench. San Bernardino County’s former Presiding Judge J. Michael Welch said the perks are “based on realities and facts of life.”

    “In this county, the lawyers who work in the courts get paid a lot more than the judges who are hearing the cases,” he said.

    But considering the state’s fiscal crisis, labor unions, taxpayer groups and others say the money spent on those perks should be used to save jobs and prevent cuts to public health programs, police protection and other essential services.

    The San Bernardino County Board of Supervisors cut 218 positions last year and is expected to order more layoffs, because the state budget crisis is expected to force an 11% budget cut. The county’s cost for judges’ benefits rose from $1.7 million to $1.9 million between 2001 and 2004.

    In Los Angeles, San Bernardino, Riverside and San Diego counties, the benefits are paid biweekly, with no restriction on how the judges use the money. They can simply pocket it if they choose, county officials say.


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  8. A Scribble

    One of the shocking side-stories I came across while researching the recent history of American assassination policy: In 1981, the new Reagan Congress came very close to re-establishing the House Un-American Activities Committee (renamed "House Internal Security Committee) — to restart old McCarthyism and terrorize American "subversives" — liberals, labor organizers, leftie intellectuals etc — all over again.

    Larry McDonald, a Georgia Republican and John Birch Society nutter, had been pushing bills to re-create HUAC ever since Democrats dissolved it for good in 1975. During the Carter years McDonald's bills to restart the House Internal Security Committee went nowhere, But in the first year under Reagan, it almost passed. McDonald's bill re-starting HUAC got something like 180 supporters and almost as many co-sponsors. Names that stand out as supporters of reviving HUAC include Republicans Phil Gramm and Jim Leach — whose "Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act" bill in 1999 deregulating banks destroyed the global economy in 2008. Newt Gingrich is another co-sponsor of the bill bringing back HUAC, along with Trent Lott (when he was a Representative), Henry Hyde, the usual array of Orange County Nazis (Dannemeyer, Duncan Hunter, Dreier; Richard Shelby of Alabama; also Democrats like John Murtha.

    Here's the list of co-sponsors of Larry McDonald's bill to bring back the House Un-American Activities Committee in 1981:|/home/LegislativeData.php?n=BSS;c=97|

    I think the most shocking person on this list is Jim Leach, the supposedly "liberal Republican". Leach was the very first Congressman to support Larry McDonald's first bill in 1977 to re-create HUAC:

    Today, Jim Leach is retired, pretending to be a humanitarian who had nothing to do with tanking the global economy on behalf of the banks (or in bringing back rancid far-right politics into America). After Leach was tossed out of Congress, he sat on the board of Pro Publica, handing out awards for excellence in investigative journalism; on the board of Common Cause, the liberal outfit fighting to overturn Citizens United and get money out of politics; and so on.

    One more thing about Larry McDonald, the Georgia Republican who kept pushing that bill forward: He was president of the John Birch Society, and he also founded a private spy agency called Western Goals in 1979 that collected information on millions of Americans that McDonald and his crew of far-right nutters thought were "Communist subversives" and shared those lists with corporations and police agencies. One of the board members on Larry McDonald's "Western Goals Foundation" outfit was Gen. John Singlaub, one of the leaders of the Iran-Contra scheme.

    Here's a short clip of Larry McDonald interviewed in 1981 about Joe McCarthy:

    A typical headline about Larry McDonald's "Western Goals" group after its spying was uncovered is like this one from September 1983: "McDonald's anti-Communist Group Gas Files on 'Just About Everybody" by Murray Dubin Knight-Ridder News LOS ANGELES — Former Gov Jerry Brown, Atlanta Mayor Andrew Young, former Black Panther leader Eldridge Cleaver are in their files...

    You get the picture. But you probably won't guess who Larry McDonald's closest friend and ally in Congress was, unless you read NSFW CORP: Ron Paul, Mister "Liberty" himself.

    McDonald was killed in 1983 on the KLA flight shot down by the Soviets over Korea, giving rise to all sorts of Bircher conspiracy theories. But no one eulogized Larry McDonald's contribution to liberty more than his pal and ally Ron Paul, who published a op-eds calling for ramping up the Cold War to new levels of warmongering insanity. For liberty, remember:

    "What To Do? End All Negotiations" Ron Paul, Special to the San Jose Mercury News September 4, 1983

    The murder last week of Georgia Congressman Larry McDonald came as a special shock to me. The conservative Democrat and I had been friends since 1974. We had worked together on legislation and I was one of his admirers in Congress.

    ..I am outraged at the Soviets, but I am also outraged over the fact that many of those who have been expressing their outrage the loudest are in fact the same people who had routinely ignored Larry's warnings, and continued to subsidize the Soviets, telling the rest of us that our national security could be assured through treaties with the Soviets, based on our trust of them.

    Nothing, of course, could be further from the truth.

    What can we do?

    • First, we can begin to recognize the Soviets for what they are -- ruthless murderers who cannot be trusted.
    • Second, we can end all American subsidies to all Communist governments.
    • Third, we can end all negotiations with the Soviets, and reduce diplomatic relations to a bare minimum. Negotiations require trust, and we can only trust the Soviets to violate their own agreements, such as SALT I. Negotiating with the Soviet Union is like having a treaty with the Mafia.


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  9. A Scribble

    Heart Attack Grill's spokesman just died of a heart attack:

    That's irony collapsing back on itself folding space and time.


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  10. A Scribble

    Well damn. The Pope has resigned.

    I thought they were supposed to die, by God's grace, or something but apparently popes are actually allowed to quit. And this one has, citing lack of mental and/or physical heartiness in the face of the ongoing travails of the Catholic church, ie he's had enough with all this shit that happened under JP2's watch but broke under his and thinks someone else stronger, younger, and most importantly not him should take the reins.

    Effective 28th February, giving them a couple of weeks to start gathering the Cardinals together to choose a new one. Maybe this time we'll get some sprightly deacon from a remote mountainous monkish outpost, whose teenager years were spent wrestling wild boar, chopping down trees and leaping tinkling rivers with a single bound. Although that would just leave them open to more snide comments about the Hitler Youth, so maybe not.

    Whatever, I'll miss our prune-faced pontiff and look forward to his return onto the world stage. I'm guessing either he'll start up his own cable channel or he'll take the comic buddy role in Jason Statham's next movie.

    Or maybe he'll go on tour with Hillary.

  11. A Scribble

    First footage of a giant squid... ever!

    Now go and watch the footage, freak out, and prepare for an Architeuthis dux dispatch.


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  12. A Scribble

    Hey - has anyone had that terrible strain of norovirus that's going around? Does anyone want to know how they can avoid getting it? (Hint: It's not hand sanitizer, because that doesn't work on noroviruses)

    Stay tuned. Dispatch pending.


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  13. A Scribble

    As part of phase II (3?) of Desknotes, I'm curious what you think...

    1) Desknotes is really great for 2) Desknotes should be better at 3) Desknotes is really, really bad at



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  14. A Scribble

    There's been a resurgence of dengue fever in the US. It's a warm climate, mosquito-borne disease, known as breakbone fever. I've had it. Dispatch covering the reemergence, the disease, and what it's like to have it?


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  15. A Scribble

    Was thinking of doing a New Year's Letter from the Science Editor, in which I humorously implore and encourage readers of NSFWCORP to get weird with their sex this year. You know, something fun and sex-related after several super science pieces.



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  16. A Scribble

    I'm thinking about fiscal cliff pieces for this week. Any burning questions? The prediction in my earlier piece - that they'd do the minimum and then hand it off to the next Congress - still looks on track. Assuming they can do anything at all.


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  17. A Scribble

    Can we mock this, please? I'm sure Leigh will have thoughts, but frankly we could go at it from enough angles for everyone to have a piece.


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  18. A Scribble

    I'd love to cover the story of the woman who got an untested (and really fucking stupid) stem cell facial treatment and wound up hearing clicking noises every time she blinked because was growing bone around her eyes.

    Would be a stem cell examiner plus a discussion of her case.

    (My favorite part about the case is that the stem cells differentiated to bone because of the fillers the doctors used. And prior to her case, science knew that this chemical, that was present in the fillers, caused mesenchymal stem cells to become bone. Looks like someone didn't do their homework.)


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  19. A Scribble

    Merry Christmas, NSFWCORP. I'm writing about a particularly delightful reindeer parasite. That sometimes infects people.

    We're talking oestrids. We're talking myiasis.



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  20. A Scribble


    I'm doing a holiday-themed science explainer dispatch. For authenticity, I am wearing a completely ridiculous Christmas sweater that, no joke, was purchased at a Cracker Barrel.

    I figured I would give you fine folks the opportunity to get your (likely nonexistent) holiday-themed curiosity sated. If there are any burning questions out there, throw them my way. Subject matter involved in this dispatch ranges from sound science to pure and total bullshit, so feel free to get weird with it.


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  21. A Scribble

    Ok, sorry, so we're actually planning to do the audio now. Or at least in 15 mins or so. Anyone around?


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  22. A Scribble

    Hey, remember the no sex before marriage Fox New prick?

    He started a fight with a union guy and got punched in the face. Then pretended the union guy started it...


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  23. A Scribble

    So after the shooting in Portland yesterday we're seeing nth iteration of the country wrangling about guns in the face of a horrible tragedy.

    I'm a gun owner, I've been one for a good chunk of my adult life, and grew up where most everyone else was too. I'm also a crime reporter, and have spent the last five-plus years seeing how the law does and doesn't work when it comes to violence.

    I get a twitch because a lot of the populations that get stereotyped in the resulting fracas are ones I come from, and I've encountered both genuinely disturbed gun nuts along with a lot of people who had absolutely good reasons to own and use firearms. But that doesn't come out, instead we get a shouting match that's largely forgotten in a week.

    Perhaps a short piece, mixing those experiences with a call to actually start addressing gun culture in this country (as with 300 million of the things it's not going away, but it has changed and can change again) instead of running back to the same entrenched (and not particularly useful) positions that get brought up every time something terrible like this happens.


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  24. A Scribble

    What do we have for today? Anything? Something? James?


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  25. A Scribble

    Wondering about doing an Xmas special: 12 short articles over 12 days, covering ye olde War of 1812 before its 200th anniversary finishes up. Call it "12 Days of Fiasco" or something like that. For the 12 topics, in no particular order, I was thinking maybe 1. States' Rights (a New England thing in 1812, not a Dixie thing at all) 2. Federalists and Republicans (kind of an early Wall Street/Walmart split only even nastier) 3. France and England (full disclosure: I'm the world's last Bonapartist) 4. F'in' Canada (This goofy war was the Anglo-Canadians' one moment of glory, or that's how they tell it) 5. Injuns (Last war where it really mattered which way the tribes leaned) 6. Forts and Cannon (Napoleonic tactics played out very weird in a wilderness) 7. Navies (American privateers, British blockades, lootin' an' pillagin' on high seas, etc.) 8. The Birth of Andy Jackson (The Redneck as Aztec War God) 9. Propaganda (How to Use a Burned Captial for Fun and Profit) 10. Money (Big huge depression mid-war that nobody remembers now) 11, Militia (This war featured the citizen-soldier in all his Benny-Hill glory) 12. and finally, the big punchline...Bladensburg: The Funniest, Worst, Most Ridiculous Battle in American History. Alternate topic suggestions welcome, What does everybody think?


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  26. A Scribble

    I'm sure you are all breathlessly watching the all-important debate raging on about children's toys.

    Are EZ Bake Ovens (or the marketing of) too sexist? This young lass thinks so:

    But, wait, now that Dad's do the Christmas shopping, aren't Barbies getting more butch?:

    Hold on a minute, is the gender problem actually with the liberated Dads doing the shopping?:

    Should we look to Sweden, where the girls gots the guns?:

    Maybe we need a Supreme Court Justice straight out the Bronx to explain why all this princessy princessing isn't all its gaveled up to be?

    As the concerned parent of one of these young female creatures, I can say, expertly, "wait, aren't we talking about toys and shit?" I could be your guide through this minefield, GI Joe's or GI Jane's?


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  27. A Scribble

    So they're going to exhume Yasser Arafat's corpse tomorrow to test if he was poisoned to death:

    Here's the Al Jazeera investigation from this summer that makes a pretty damn good case for poisoning:

    And just in time, this news: The former prime minister of Turkey Turgut Ozal's body was recently exhumed and they just discovered that his "sudden heart attack" death in 1993 was due to poisoning:

    Anyone know any exhumers?


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  28. A Scribble


    There's been some interesting Ebola research published. And I get to write about it.

    Better put on your hip waders, because this is going to be messy.


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  29. A Scribble

    In a GQ interview, Marco Rubio reveals his three favorite rap songs are "Straight Outta Compton" by N.W.A, "Killuminati" by Tupac, and Eminem's "Lose Yourself."

    I need to write about this.


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  30. A Scribble

    I'm writing up a flu shot explainer, which calls for a quick, informal (I mean, uh, super scientific) survey of the NSFWCORP work force. Who got a flu shot this year? Do you normally get flu shots? Why or why not?

    Just know that if you have a dumb fuck response to why you don't get a flu shot, I am going to call you on it and publicly shame you. Probably. Shaming takes a lot of time and mine is currently at a premium, so I'm hoping that none of you start waving Idiot Flags at me. ("dumb fuck" responses generally refer to anything vaccine-related that Jenny McCarthy says.)

    Personally, I got my flu shot a little late this year (yesterday). At a pharmacy, in a tiny room with no windows, from a very polite little pharmacist. With very small, cold hands. Had a wicked response to it this year too, don't know what that was about. But, faux flu is over now, my fever is down, and my body is pumping out strain-specific influenza antibodies like the delicious, immuno-maniac it is.


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