Entertainment News 3-20-12
- Please send as far and wide as possible.
Editor, The Konformist
Steamshovelpress.com is back! New web content! New book product! New conference information! PLUS: a new, daily, twitterish quip: "Parapolitics Offhand!"
Now available on CD and through US Mail only: Popular Parapolitics, 219 pages, illustrated, of comentary on the nexus of parapolitics and popular culture. $15 post paid from Kenn Thomas, POB 210553, St. Louis, MO 63121.
Bleecker Bob's Golden Oldies
The record store at the center of the "Stickball" tale told previously here now has a web presence:
118 West 3rd St. New York, NY 10012// (212) 475-9677// MAIL ORDER AVAILABLE!!// Sun-Thurs: 11am-1am// Fri-Sat: 11am-3am// OPEN year round, 365/7 days a week (and yes we're open on Christmas, New Years Day and ALL other holidays!!!)// NEED CASH? WE'RE ALWAYS BUYING LPs+CDs!!!
To see Bob & his store on Facebook:
And finally, to read about the "Stickball" story:
To hear "Stickball":
Man suffers heart attack while eating at Heart Attack Grill
Feb 15, 2012
Millions of Americans watch what they eat. But one Las Vegas man has painfully discovered that where you eat can have a big impact on your health as well. In a story almost too bizarre to be true, a man suffered a heart attack after eating a "triple bypass burger" at the Heart Attack Grill in downtown Las Vegas, local affiliate Fox5 reports.
As comically tragic as that may sound, no one can sue the restaurant for not issuing fair warning. Its website proudly proclaims the menu offers, "Taste Worth Dying For!" (Fortunately, the man in question survived his attack.)
Still, it was the first actual known cardiac incident at the Heart Attack Grill. "He was having the sweats and shaking," "Nurse" Bridgett, who was working at the restaurant at the time of the incident, told Fox5. (Employees at the restaurant are given fake medical titles, including the establishment's owner, "Doctor" Jon Basso.)
"I actually felt horrible for the gentleman because the tourists were taking photos of him as if it were some type of stunt. Even with our own morbid sense of humor, we would never pull a stunt like that," Bosso told Fox5. "He was sweating, suffering. Anyone with an ounce of compassion would've felt for him."
Basso said the man's name is being kept private but that he is recovering from the heart attack.
Of course, you can't blame patrons for being caught up in the overwhelming sense of irony. Not only is the restaurant named the Heart Attack Grill, but its sign tells prospective diners that anyone "over 350 pounds eats free." There's even a tongue-in-cheek warning sign at the restaurant's door stating that the offered dining fare is a health risk.
Some of the menu items available for diners at the Heart Attack Grill include: The butterfat milkshake, non-filtered cigarettes, "flatliner" fries and four different burgers, each rated on an ascending scale of one bypass to the quadruple bypass burger.
Rihanna as blonde, courtesy of EOnline.com...
From Yahoo.com Oscar Coverage, Natalie Portman, Angelina Jolie, Rooney Mara, and Kate Beckinsale & Milla Jovovich at the Vanity Fair Oscar Party...
Christ's disciples' remains 'discovered'
An amateur archaeologist and film maker claims to have identified what could be the remains of some of Christ's 12 disciples in a first century burial chamber buried beneath a block of flats in Jerusalem.
Adrian Blomfield, Jeruslaem
28 Feb 2012
A team led by Simcha Jacobovic, a Canadian documentary director, used a robot to photograph a number of limestone burial caskets, found below a block of flats, which may provide an unprecedented glimpse into Christianity's earliest days.
But the potential significance of the discovery is almost certain to be overshadowed by controversy, with Mr Jacobovic using it as new evidence to bolster his widely disputed claims to have identified the bones of Christ and his family at a nearby burial site.
The caskets, known as ossuaries, were inscribed with what some independent experts said could plausibly be the earliest Christian iconography ever documented.
One of the ossuaries carries an etching of a fish with what appears to be a human head in its mouth, perhaps an image of Jonah, the reluctant Old Testament prophet. The story was of major significance to early Christians and is referred to in the Gospels because Jonah spent three days in the belly of the giant fish that swallowed him, just as Christ spent three days in the tomb.
The fish was also seen as a sacred symbol by early Christians; not only did fish feature in a number of Christ's miracles, but many of the disciples were fishermen, while the Greek for fish ichthys is held to be an acronym for "Jesus Christ, God's Son, Saviour".
Independent archaeologists say no Jewish tomb from antiquity is known to have carried a picture of a fish, giving further credibility to the theory that the etching is indeed Christian.
A second, adjacent ossuary is engraved with a Greek inscription that appears to refer to resurrection. It could be translated as "Divine Jehovah, raise up, raise up." Some Israeli archaeologists, however, said that some contemporary Jewish communities, including the Pharisees and the Essenes, also believed in resurrection.
The tomb, like others uncovered in Jerusalem, would almost certainly date to before AD 70, the year the city was destroyed by a Roman army. As a result, if the bones are shown to belong to early Christians they may well have been contemporaries of Christ and perhaps even his disciples as the community in Jerusalem was considered to be small at the time.
Further investigation is likely to be tricky, however. Although the chamber was discovered in 1981, excavation has been impossible because of an edict by Jewish religious authorities who hold that it is sacrilegious to interfere with Jewish tombs.
After years of negotiation, Mr Jacobovic, himself an Israeli-born Jew, managed to win approval to lower a robotic arm beneath the tower block to photograph the ossuaries.
According to Mr Jacobovic and his colleague James Tabor, a biblical scholar at the University of North Carolina, the discovery gives greater credence to their controversial claim that a chamber they called "the Garden tomb" nearby housed the remains of Christ.
They have concluded that both tombs, which lie in the Jerusalem district of East Talpiot, are probably located on the rural estate of Joseph of Arimathea, who the Gospels say took charge of Christ's burial.
"These two tombs, both dating to around the time of Jesus, are less than 200 feet apart," they wrote in a report published yesterday. "Any interpretation of one tomb has to be made in the light of the other. As a result, we believe a compelling argument can be made that the Garden tomb is that of Jesus of Nazareth and his family."
Their widely challenged assertions rest on the discovery in 1981 of ossuaries in the Garden tomb that appear to carry names similar to those of Jesus, Mary and Joseph. Two others carried the names of "Judah, son of Jesus" and a woman they claimed could have been Mary Madgalene, whom they suggested could have been Christ's wife in a theory given popular appeal in Dan Brown's novel the "Da Vinci Code".
But the Israeli archaeologists who discovered the ossuaries dismissed Mr Jacobovic's conclusions as nonsense, saying such names were common at the time.
Biblical scholars have also pointed out that, as a Galilean, Christ would not have been buried in Jerusalem, particularly not in a tomb that suggested considerable wealth given His humble origins.
Israeli archaeologists, who jokingly refer to Mr Jacobovic as "Indiana Jones", point out that he is a film maker with no academic qualifications beyond a bachelor's degree and say he has "cherry-picked" findings from experts on his team to create the flimsiest of cases.
"His Jesus theory is conjecture built upon deception built upon wilful misinterpretation in order to spin a moneymaking yarn and garner publicity," said one archaeologist who asked not to be identified in order not to link his name to the claims
Follow the Urine!
Ryan Braun Makes a Kind of History
Dave Zirin on February 24, 2012
Something historic happened this week in the world of sports and, for once, I'm not talking about Jeremy Lin. Milwaukee Brewers slugger, and reigning National League Most Valuable Player Ryan Braun, appealed and beat a looming 50 game suspension for failing a steroid test. This marks the first time in history that a baseball player has successfully challenged a steroid-related penalty.
"I am very pleased and relieved by today's decision," Braun said in a statement. "It is the first step in restoring my good name and reputation. We were able to get through this because I am innocent and the truth is on our side ..We provided complete cooperation throughout, despite the highly unusual circumstances. I have been an open book, willing to share details from every aspect of my life as part of this investigation, because I have nothing to hide. I have passed over 25 drug tests in my career, including at least three in the past year.
Braun beat the suspension because of a bizarre set of circumstances surrounding his drug test that seems like the plot of an awful movie that could be called "Brotherhood of the Traveling Urine Sample." As ESPN reported, "... the collector, after getting Braun's sample, was supposed to take the sample to a FedEx Office for shipping. But the source said the collector thought the FedEx Office was closed because it was late on a Saturday and felt the sample wouldn't get shipped until Monday. As has occurred in some other instances, the collector took the sample home and kept it in a cool place, in his basement at his residence in Wisconsin."
Yes, the reigning National League MVP and arguably the highest profile player to ever test positive for steroids, had his good name destroyed and it was all based around a piss test left in a cold, Wisconsin basement. As Barry Petchesky of Deadspin wrote, "If the procedure is so f--ked up that some dude can keep a jar of Ryan Braun's pee in his fridge over the weekend, then maybe Major League Baseball should worry less about Ryan Braun's appeal and more about a chain of custody that relies on a courier knowing the hours of his local Kinkos."
The response to Braun's acquittal by Major League Baseball and their testers, the US Anti-Doping Agency, has been nothing short of spiteful. MLB's official comment was, "While we have always respected that process, Major League Baseball vehemently disagrees with the decision." Behind the scenes, they have been described as "enraged" with the arbitrator's decision.
The USADA CEO Travis Tygert said, "It's frankly unreal. And it's a kick in the gut to clean athletes... To have this sort of technicality of all technicalities let a player off ... it's just a sad day for all the clean players and those that abide by the rules within professional baseball."
It's not just Major League Baseball and their professional urine brigade that's up in arms. Reporters like Mike Lupica of the New York Daily News have made clear that, aqcuittal or not, Ryan Braun has not cleared his name. "Understand something: The overturning of Braun's 50-game suspension doesn't mean Braun is clean, no matter what he says or how many times he says it or what he expects reasonable people to believe. He wasn't exonerated. He was acquitted. There's a difference."
But as Sports Illustrated's Joe Sheehan also wrote, quite logically, "This, by the way, is how it's supposed to work. If the penalty is 50 games and millions of $, the process better be PRISTINE."
The remarkable lack of grace being shown by Major League Baseball is stunning. It's understandable why the USADA is upset. Their entire for-profit business model is built around finding and rooting out the players who, as Tygert said, aren't "clean." Imagine if police officers were only paid per-arrest and you get a picture of why the USADA already is viewed with suspicion by players and the union.
Baseball executives are sour they didn't get to lower the hammer and are saying that Braun was only found not guilty because of a "technicality." But as Gabe Feldman from the Tulane Sports Law Center wrote, "Chain of custody a `technicality'? It's critical to fair drug policy, and is mentioned 33 times in the MLB drug policy."
Major League Baseball is more upset because they need scalps to justify to congress, sportswriters, and the minority of fans that care, that they are serious about cleaning up the game and drug testing isn't mere window dressing. As the baseball writers dean, Peter Gammons wrote, after Braun had already been convicted in the press, " .what the Braun test result tells is that the Commissioner's Office and the players don't care if it's the MVP or a 4A utility infielder, they want a level playing field. Thus, in a sense, this speaks for the sincerity of the program, that it doesn't protect the faces of the sport or anyone's favorites, that Ryan Braun gets no different treatment than some kid in the Dominican Summer League."
Very noble. Yet amidst all the steroid hysteria, is a person, Ryan Braun, who actually has rights. In baseball commissioner Bud Selig's worldview, that means he has the right to shoot himself up with painkillers, chew tobacco, and drink himself blind, but no right to use even prescribed steroids. If that's the kind of world the union wants to collectively bargain, then that's their choice. It's a choice with which I disagree. This is just the cultural sanctioning of a war on drugs mentality that's been great for the prison industry, but awful for the rest of us. I can certainly understand why players want the right to not feel like they need to take steroids to compete with the guy in the next locker. But Braun also has the right to not have his urine stored in a basement. He has the right to not have had the test results revealed before his appeal. He has the right to some dignity through this process. We don't know at end whether Ryan Braun is "dirty." But we know that baseball and their drug testing system has deep flaws which should be seen as intolerable not just to Ryan Braun and Major League players, but to all of us.
Dave Zirin is the author of "The John Carlos Story" (Haymarket) and just made the new documentary "Not Just a Game." Receive his column every week by emailing dave@.... Contact him at edgeofsports@....
Mitt Romney Admits: "I am a Corporation"
Mitt Romney Or Montgomery Burns?
Collapse of Mayan Civilization Traced to Dry Spells
23 February 2012
The collapse of the ancient Mayan civilization may have been linked to relatively modest dry spells, researchers now say.
The ancient Mayan empire once stretched across an area about the size of Texas, with cities and fields occupying what is now southern Mexico and northern Central America, including the countries of Guatemala, Belize, El Salvador and Honduras. The height of the Mayan empire, known as the Classic period, reached from approximately A.D. 250 to at least A.D. 900.
The ancient Maya had what was arguably the most advanced civilization in the Americas. For instance, they made dramatic breakthroughs in astronomy that helped them very accurately predict where the moon and other planets would be in the sky centuries in the future. They also left behind many books and stone inscriptions regarding the stories of their gods and the history of their divine kings and queens.
For unknown reasons, the ancient Mayan civilization then disintegrated more than a millennium ago. The number of people declined catastrophically to a fraction of the empire's former size, and the ruins of its great cities are now largely overgrown by jungle.
Scientists have long drawn connections between the slow decline of the ancient Maya, which took about two centuries, "to climate change, and especially to drought," said researcher Martín Medina-Elizalde at the Yucatan Center for Scientific Research in Mexico. "No sound estimates had been made about the severity of this drought, but some have suggested extreme scenarios."
To see how much rainfall the ancient Maya saw before the demise of their civilization, the researchers combined the four most detailed records of past climate changes known regarding the civilization's collapse three from nearby lakes and one from a stalagmite, a mineral formation that grows upward from a cave floor. This helped develop a model of "the region's balance between evaporation and rainfall," Medina-Elizalde said.
The scientists found that rainfall in the region decreased episodically for periods as long as a decade at a time.
"Our results show rather modest rainfall reductions between times when the Classic Maya civilization flourished and its collapse between 800 to 950," said researcher Eelco Rohling, a paleoclimatologist at the University of Southampton in England. "These reductions amount to only 25 to 40 percent in annual rainfall, but they were large enough for evaporation to become dominant over rainfall, and open water availability was rapidly reduced. The data suggest that the main cause was a decrease in summer storm activity."
The timing of these dry spells might help explain why modest reductions in rainfall still may have helped cause the demise of a well-established civilization.
"Summer was the main season for cultivation and replenishment of Maya freshwater storage systems and there are no rivers in the Yucatan lowlands," Rohling said.
It appeared to Rohling that the ancient Maya had become reliant on continuous rainfall supplies, and had stretched the capacity of their farmlands to a fine limit based on normal levels of rain. "Then, even a rather subtle climatic change was enough to create serious problems," he told LiveScience. "Societal disruptions and abandonment of cities are likely consequences of critical water shortages, especially because there seems to have been a rapid repetition of multiyear droughts."
Rohling emphasized they are not saying that climate ended the ancient Mayan civilization. "We are documenting that there was a reduction in rainfall, and that reservoirs of water were evaporating," he said. This may in turn have led to societal unrest or diseases or both, "which are more likely to explain the actual collapse of society."
The scientists noted that the droughts they saw during the demise of the ancient Mayan civilization were similar in severity to those projected by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) for the near future in the same region. [10 Surprising Results of Global Warming]
"There are differences too, but the warning is clear what seems like a minor reduction in water availability may lead to important, long-lasting problems," Medina-Elizalde said. "This problem is not unique to the Yucatan Peninsula, but applies to all regions in similar settings where evaporation is high. Today, we have the benefit of awareness, and we should act accordingly."
The scientists detailed their findings in the Feb. 24 issue of the journal Science.
which is the cooler invention by modern science?
A zero gravity roller coaster - AKA "The Vomit Comet" - based on NASA's KC-135A that is used to train astronauts:
Chaotic Moon Labs' Board of Imagination, which is controlled by brainwaves:
Actually, in the long run, the winner may Swiss designer Yves Behar for his solar-powered $100 tablet, which will open up the Internet and educational opportunities to the poorest in both industrialized countries and the Third World:
"I am as ashamed as I possibly could be of our colonial past... I think they should be Argentinian."
Roger Waters of Pink Floyd on the Falkland Islands
"A big promise has been broken. You can't have a United States if you are telling some folks that they can't get on the train. There is a cracking point where a society collapses. You can't have a civilization where something is factionalized like this."
"Show me a good loser and I'll show you a loser."
Real Estate Porn
Dick Clark's Malibu estate, modeled after The Flintones' home, on the market for $3.5 million...
FeedBack: Turning America Into Pottersville
Excellent article. I try to remind people all the time of how the events of history got us where we are today - and should be examined for clues on the best direction to take for the future. Why would we want to go back to an era similar to that of prohibition with folk heroes like John Dillinger, Babyface Nelson, Al Capone, Bonnie & Clyde? The "guv-mint" and the rich elitists really need to understand - if we got nothing to lose, what's the point of following the law?
Ben & Jerry's Flavor of the Week
Taste the Lin-Sanity: A mix of Vanilla Fro Yo with swirls of Lychee Honey, served a waffle cookie. (Originally it included "fortune cookie pieces" but they were removed due to political incorrectness. Oh well.) Served only at B&J's Harvard Square shop...
"I love my job. I love fighting for what I believe in. I love having fun while doing it. I love reporting stories that the Complex refuses to report. I love fighting back, I love finding allies, and - famously I enjoy making enemies."
Andrew Breitbart (1969-2012) from his book Righteous Indignation. He may have been a vicious SOB, but he was a very entertaining vicious SOB...
Davey Jones of The Monkees also passed away, a band that has never gotten the respect or credit it deserves. via YouTube, here's "She" - a gem that is rarely heard anymore:
RIP as well to highly influential fantasy artists: Star Wars conceptual designer Ralph McQuarrie, whose work helped greenlight what was then viewed as a highly dubious project, and Jean "Moebius" Giraud, who magazine Heavy Metal helped inspire movies such as Alien and Blade Runner. As film director Luc Besson put it, "Moebius is to comic books what Miles Davis is to jazz: the master." More RIPs: guitarist Ronnie Montrose, "Broken Windows" social scientist James Q. Wilson and founding Firesign Theatre member Peter Bergman...
Farewell to Peyton Manning as QB of the Indianapolis Colts and Dennis Kucinish in Congress, and tip-o-the-hat to the late great Wilt Chamberlain for his 100-point game turning 50, The Simpsons for broadcasting its 500th episode, Randy Moss returning to the NFL with Robalini's favorite San Francisco 49ers and Japan's own Takeru Kobayashi for eating 13 grilled cheese sandwiches in one minute in Austin, Texas...