Archives For: Updates

Should ISIS Be Censored?

Aug 21 2014 @ 3:37pm
by Dish Staff

E.W. argues against Twitter and YouTube’s decisions to scrub the video of James Foley’s murder:

Censorship proponents are of the mind that the ISIS video constitutes propaganda and that its dissemination furthers ISIS’s aims. It is true that extremist groups have been known to use social media as a means to circumvent the checks media organisations employ to stop the spread of propaganda. But the video isn’t only propaganda. And since when has that label been sufficient grounds for censorship anyway? The amount of online content that could be wiped from social media if this reasoning was applied uniformly would be staggering. …

Twitter is not television. No one is being forced to view the footage. Evening news shows can decline to show the video because not all their viewers might be comfortable seeing it. But people have to be able to access it on their own if they wish. It’s completely understandable that family members don’t want footage of a loved one’s death to spread, but it’s not clear that that’s their decision to make.

Earlier this week, J.M. Berger noted that support for ISIS on Twitter had been falling since the revelation that the group had massacred some 700 people in the Syrian province of Deir Ezzor:

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No One’s Watching The Skies

Aug 19 2014 @ 11:01am
by Dish Staff

Mark Jacobson mulls over the decline of UFO culture:

It is true that very little beyond a shadow of a doubt forensic proof of alien presence has come to light over the years, but there are a number of subsidiary reasons for the seeming twilight of the UFO moment. With voracious proliferation of vampires, New World Order conspiracies, and the unprecedented rise of evangelical Christianity, the simple flying disc from far, far away has become a quaint, almost nostalgic specter. The saucer may have been the post-war generation’s signifier of the strange, but even versions of the unknown outlive their usefulness.

The end of the era may have commenced with William Gibson’s Neuromancer, which located the drama of the unknown inside the claustrophobic cyberspace accessible to the common keyboardist. Instead of the far-flung wonder to the universe, much of what falls under the rubric of contemporary ufology has become deeply interiorized, resigned to the viscous psych-sexual abduction phenomena described and popularized by people like Budd Hopkins, Whitley Strieber, and John Mack.

Update from a reader:

While it may seem as if the UFO community is dying, there’s still a lot of interest in UFOs. I write for the weird news section of HuffPost, which does a lot of UFO stories. In fact, HuffPost is the only major news website with its own full-time UFO reporter, Lee Speigel. Those stories attract a lot of attention, and Lee gets a lot of deserved credit for focusing on the science and not the “woo woo” part of the UFO community.

“Hogmeat And Hoecake”

Aug 18 2014 @ 11:02am
by Dish Staff


Jennifer Jensen Wallach reviews Sam Bowers Hilliard’s recently reprinted Hog Meat and Hoecake: Food supply in the Old South, 1840–1860, admiring the author for examining “patterns in eight states of the former Confederacy to learn what Southerners ate and how effective they were at producing their own food”:

Swine, he shows, appeared on regional tables in the colonial period, and it remains today one of the most obvious markers of Southern-style cooking. “If the ‘king’ of the antebellum Southern economy was cotton, then the title of ‘queen’ must go to the pig.” And yet, Hilliard explains, the meanings assigned to different foods change over time, and although many relished the meat, antebellum Southerners were sometimes ambivalent about their dependency on pork, deeming it a coarse, indigestible food more appropriate for the beleaguered enslaved population than for the purportedly delicate white Southern belle. Despite the consternation of medical professionals such as John S. Wilson, who despaired in 1860 of the quality of fare served in the “great Hog-eating Confederacy, or the Republic of Porkdom”, nineteenth-century Southerners ate about 150 pounds of the meat annually. Because plantation owners were reluctant to set aside land for grazing cattle that could be used to grow cotton, beef was in short supply and thus rarely eaten by the enslaved population or by poor whites. Mutton served, according to Hilliard, as merely an “occasional diversion” in a pork-focused diet.

Corn was the other foundational element in the Southern diet, and the persistence of cornbread on contemporary Southern menus indicates that this pillar is still intact. Antebellum Southerners grew as much corn as they did cotton, and the grain was a staple across the class and caste spectrum. Although wheat was grown in the Southern hills and rice was cultivated in Louisiana and along the Atlantic Coast, neither grain challenged the South’s identity as “corn country”. Hilliard’s subjects rounded out their meals with garden crops such as sweet potatoes, cowpeas, turnips and watermelon, foods that are still subjected to endless variations in nouveau Southern cooking. Southerners, both enslaved and free, also hunted for venison and smaller game, including possums, raccoons and squirrels, animals yet to be rebranded as sources of “heritage” foods worthy of a place on the menus of high-end restaurants.

Update from a reader: “It has long been a Southern truism that ‘We eat every part of the pig but the oink.'”

(Photo of Central BBQ Sign in Memphis via Southern Foodways Alliance)

by Dish Staff

About two weeks ago, Paul Krugman caused a tiff by obliquely calling Paul Ryan “stupid,” leading Laurence Kotlikoff to respond, “No one, and I mean no one, deserves to be called stupid.” (Krugman later clarified that he believes Ryan isn’t stupid, but rather a “con man.”) In a post relevant to all in the blogosphere, Noah Smith mulls over the power of the s-word:

Now, calling people “stupid” is certainly not polite. But I never cease to be amazed at how effective it is in terms of making people choke on their own rage. People really do not like being called stupid. … In the end, I think people overreact to the “stupid” insult because, as a society, we use arguments the wrong way. We tend to treat arguments like debate competitions– two people argue in front of a crowd, and whoever wins gets the love and adoration of the crowd, and whoever loses goes home defeated and shamed. I guess that’s better than seeing arguments as threats of physical violence, but I still prefer the idea of arguing as a way to learn, to bounce ideas off of other people. Proving you’re smart is a pointless endeavor (unless you’re looking for a job), and is an example of what Stanford University psychologist Carol Dweck calls a “fixed mindset.” As the band Sparks once sang, “Everybody’s stupid – that’s for sure.” What matters is going in the right direction – becoming less stupid, little by little.

Megan McArdle similarly sees “stupid” as a rhetorical crutch:

Read On

The Best Of The Dish Today

Aug 6 2014 @ 9:15pm

That’s a future prime minister up there. Won’t it be fun? Meanwhile, a reader writes:

This whole “least happy city” thing has (of course) got me riled up…

I think the key here is in the wording: satisfaction is not synonymous with happiness. It stands to reason that New Yorkers, as a species, are more dissatisfied than residents of Nashville (the adjusted “most satisfied” city). I have spent quite a bit of time in Nashville – great place, nice people – but they are satisfied with one small art museum with an ok collection, satisfied to see “Paula Deen Live” or a touring production of “The Book of Mormon” at the Tennessee Performing Arts Center, satisfied with decent but ultimately uninspired and mediocre food, satisfied with a lovely – if underfunded – library, satisfied with pretty good colleges, satisfied with four blocks of walkable urbanism downtown, etc.

New Yorkers want (and expect) MORE. New Yorkers are unsurprised that they can see Vermeers at the Frick AND the Met. New Yorkers have seen great theater, which makes them want even better theater. It’s not uncommon for a New Yorker to eat great food one week, then compare it to a better meal they had last week . New Yorkers are currently arguing about how to make the Fifth Avenue main branch of the New York Public Library even better. New Yorkers greet Columbia and NYU with a shrug (not to mention the great CUNY system). And no place on earth (except perhaps Paris) is more focused on the quality and character of the urban environment than New Yorkers – and in every borough.

Perhaps Nashville delivers satisfaction. Nashville pleases. New York teaches New Yorkers the art of dissatisfaction. New Yorkers expect an awful lot from their city, and when it delivers, it surpasses all expectation. As you well know, it doesn’t give up those moments as often as we might like, but I for one, would rather a chance at the sublime than a guarantee of comfort…

Biased and balanced. Speaking of which, an update from another reader:

All I can say to your NYC reader who seems to think Nashvilleans (and presumably all other non-New Yorkers) are satisfied with their lives because they somehow don’t KNOW to expect better is … bless his or her heart. It’s so nice to see a New Yorker live up to the reputation of being a condescending prick.

Today, we celebrated cheap beer, back hair and loud farts in movie theaters. We lamented the murderousness of ISIS, the cynicism of Hamas, the spreading scourge of sponsored content, and the rise and rise of the Israeli right. Readers pushed back on my criticism of Israel’s latest Gaza war; and I backed Douthat’s critique of what Obama might do on illegal immigration.

The most popular post of the day was The Last And First Temptation of Israel; followed by Back Hair Is Beautiful.

Many of today’s posts were updated with your emails – read them all here. You can always leave your unfiltered comments at our Facebook page and @sullydish. 24 more readers became subscribers today – bringing us to 29,907. Help us get to 30,000 here – and get access to all the readons and Deep Dish – for a little as $1.99 month. Gift subscriptions are available here. Dish t-shirts and polos are for sale here. One subscriber writes:

I had the wonderful yet rainy weekend in Provincetown. We were able to also take in Miss Martina’s show. I thought I saw you outside the Wired Puppy coffee shop Saturday eve but reader-hat-shadesdid not want to interrupt your private time. It is through your stories of Ptown that made me want to visit. I have been a huge fan of your blog for the past 7 years. It has made a difference in my intellectual life. I know I can always read thoroughly about a topic. I became an obsessive reader during President Obama’s elections and the Arab Spring and most recently the Israel and Gaza conflict. I have also been reading How to Live, a great book club selection. I have been a subscriber for the last two years and will continue. I still sport your original t-shirt around Wilmington, DE.

Enjoy the rest of summer in your town and thanks for the tip to come. Such a great, friendly town.

See you in the morning.

A Cure For Ebola?

Aug 5 2014 @ 5:14pm

Kent Brantly and Nancy Writebol, the American ebola patients now being treated in the isolation unit at Emory University Hospital, received an experimental treatment while still in Liberia that may have saved their lives. James Hamblin looks into just what this “top-secret serum” is:

Read On


Sending the above photo, a reader answers:

This spot (so I can get high).

Another in Boston:

My favorite place is the MBTA’s Red Line. I get on at Alewife (the end of the line) so I always get a seat, and I read all the way to Downtown Crossing. I’ve been doing this commute for twelve years and I think I’ve read more in this fifth of my life than in the other four-fifths combined.

Another can’t pick just one:

My number one most favorite place to read is in the bathtub. For a while, I had a water-proof protective case for my i-Pad, because I was afraid I would drop it in the tub, but then decided that it was too annoying, so now I just take my chances. So far, so good. A bonus is that, unlike books, which get a little waterlogged just from little drops of water on my hands even when I don’t actually drop the book in the tub, the i-Pad is amazingly impervious to water. My screen often looks like it is quite dirty, though, when in fact, it is just streaked with soap.

My second most favorite place to read is on the train.

Read On

Godless Republicans Do Exist

Aug 3 2014 @ 8:36am

While suggesting a few caveats to S.E. Cupp’s assertion that conservatism isn’t hostile to atheism, Allahpundit offers some reasons why she has a point:

She’s right that most conservatives welcome atheist fellow travelers. I remember telling a friend before [Hot Air] launched that I’d be writing for a righty website and him telling me that I should hide my nonbelief, but I didn’t and it’s never been a problem. The most static I catch for it is when I’ve written something extra RINO-y and a commenter grumbles that we shouldn’t expect any better from the godless. Even that’s rare; the smoking gun of RINOism that’s most often cited by my righty critics is support for gay marriage, not atheism. So yeah, certainly this is no bar to entry into the commentariat. In fact, more conservative atheists seem to be writing about their dual identities. See, e.g., Robert Tracinski in April at the Federalist making “an atheist’s case for religious liberty” or Charles Cooke back in February arguing that godlessness and conservatism aren’t incompatible after all.

I think Cupp’s right too that righty atheists on average respect religion more than their liberal counterparts do. That’s probably mainly a function of exposure:

Read On

Can You Grin And Bear It?

Aug 2 2014 @ 10:47am

David Berry gets to the root of our dentist phobia:

Most people’s fears have less to do with the cultural history of dentistry, though, than their own personal history. Sometimes that just means they’ve seen Marathon Man [see clip above], but usually it has to do with a bad experience in their past. Occasionally that means a botched procedure of some kind—true to the fascination of fear, people supposedly terrified of dentists can and do recount these experiences at some length while explaining their current discomfort… —but shame tends to be just as powerful a progenitor of dread. Phobics are not the most fabulously reliable self-reporters, but studies have suggested that up to half of even serious phobics, and more among the merely uncomfortable, have experienced nothing more traumatic than a dentist being a weapons-grade dick about how often they floss.

This is actually kind of a double-edged sword for dentists, insomuch as the longer you go without professional care, generally, the worse things get, and attempts to correct the behaviour can often just inflame the insecurity and fear. There are ways of getting you into the chair—most dentists are happy to provide either laughing gas or anti-anxiety medication, and some even specialize in just knocking you right out even for routine cleanings—but there isn’t really a way to make you floss regularly or show up ever again (at least if you’re only a dentist: cognitive behavioural therapy has been shown to be fairly effective…).

About the only saving grace to any of this is that, on the whole, people’s fear of dentists tends to decrease while they age. Although, going back to that shame thing, children are as a group less afraid of the dentist than middle-aged adults; it’s only once you start to reach retirement age that your fears begin to lessen.

For more, check out the delightful little Dish thread “Deranged Dentist Names“. Update from a reader:

Our current dentist is Dr. Pullen. In our previous city we never made it to the dentist, but the one recommended to us by our real-estate agent was a Dr. Grinder. Prior to that I went to a dentist who shared his name with a bruising right-wing for the Chicago Blackhawks, Brian Noonan, who in the early ’90s was often seen performing free amateur dental work on members of the Detroit Red Wings.

Headline Of The Day

Aug 1 2014 @ 12:38pm

From the Times of Israel:


Money quote:

History is there to teach us lessons and the lesson here is that when your enemy swears to destroy you – you take him seriously. Hamas has stated forthrightly that it idealizes death as much as Israel celebrates life. What other way then is there to deal with an enemy of this nature other than obliterate them completely? …

I will conclude with a question for all the humanitarians out there. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu clearly stated at the outset of this incursion that his objective is to restore a sustainable quiet for the citizens of Israel. We have already established that it is the responsibility of every government to ensure the safety and security of its people. If political leaders and military experts determine that the only way to achieve its goal of sustaining quiet is through genocide is it then permissible to achieve those responsible goals?

Update: The Times has now taken down that blog post. A reader notes:

I think it’s important to mention that the paper removed Yochanan Gordon’s reprehensible piece “for breaching … editorial guidelines.” You might also want to mention that this was a blog post, not an article in the paper itself. You would know better than I how much vetting papers do of such posts, but I suspect in this case that very little (if any) review was done in advance.