Archives For: Updates

Michael Sam Loses His Spot

Sep 2 2014 @ 11:16am
by Dish Staff

Sam was cut from the Rams over the weekend. Eric Edholm examines the situation:

Sam was unclaimed by the other 31 NFL teams and remains a free agent, with no teams offering a practice squad spot — despite those rosters increasing this season from eight to 10 players per team — with nearly every slot around the league believed to be filled. Does this mean Sam’s NFL shot has passed him by? Not necessarily. He had three sacks in the preseason, none of them gifts, and didn’t play poorly otherwise. Sam put some decent tape out there to be considered. But he is what he is: a left defensive end who likely can’t hold up for three downs in the NFL and has little to no special teams value. Still, there are teams that value pass-rush specialists, and it’s surprising that he hasn’t been brought in, even for a look.

Michelle Garcia somewhat blames bigotry:

Did the Rams cut Michael Sam out of sheer homophobia? I doubt it. But it was homophobic reasons that got him to such a precarious position in the first place.

Read On

Where The Drivers Drive You Away

Sep 2 2014 @ 8:12am
by Dish Staff


Brian Palmer determined the worst places to drive in the US:

No. 5: Baltimore. Baltimoreans just can’t keep from running into each other. They were outside the top 10 in fatalities, DWI deaths, and pedestrian strikes, but their rate of collision couldn’t keep them out of the top five overall.

No. 4: Tampa, Fla. Tampa doesn’t do any single thing terribly, but it is consistently poor:

Read On

Faces Of The Day

Sep 1 2014 @ 5:55pm
by Dish Staff


Photographer Laura Grabman emails us the background on the above pic:

That party took place exactly 5 years ago, Labor Day weekend on the boardwalk at Coney Island in 2009. I happened to be walking by this group of partiers and I wound up staying for two hours photographing them. By the time I left they were hugging and kissing me goodbye. These people loved the camera and they loved to dance. I took about 300 photographs that day and I really enjoyed how uninhibited they were and how much fun they were having. The late afternoon light was perfect and so was the music.

See more work from the series here. Update from a reader:

I know that guy! His name’s Tony Ferrante, he cuts my hair at New Street Barbershop right near Wall Street. He was on “America’s Got Talent” and every summer he goes to Coney Island every weekend to dance on the boardwalk. He’s like 78 but he still LOVES dancing and is in good shape. There are a couple of videos of him on Youtube, and the audition tape is especially tight. Here he is just chilling on the boardwalk.

I don’t know if he uses e-mail but, the next time I go there, I will show him that he was on the Dish.

(Hat tip: Jenna Garrett)

by Dish Staff

Henri Cole cites Rilke’s thoughts on the age-old divide:

Look at the dogs: their confident and admiring attitude is such that some of them appear to have renounced the oldest traditions of dogdom in order to worship our own customs and even our foibles. It is just this which renders them tragic and sublime. Their choice to accept us forces them to dwell, so to speak, at the limits of their real natures, which they continually transcend with their human gazes and melancholy snouts.

But what is the demeanor of cats?—Cats are cats, briefly put, and their world is the world of cats through and through. They look at us, you say? But can you ever really know if they deign to hold your insignificant image for even a moment at the back of their retinas. Fixating on us, might they in fact be magically erasing us from their already full pupils? It is true that some of us let ourselves be taken in by their insistent and electric caresses. But these people should remember the strange, abrupt manner in which their favorite animal, distracted, turns off these effusions, which they’d presumed to be reciprocal. Even the privileged few, allowed close to cats, are rejected and disavowed many times.

Montaigne’s take:

“When I play with my cat”, he wrote, “who knows if I am not a pastime to her more than she is to me?”

Read On

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:

Read On

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