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June 5, 2010

linda mcmahon steps in steroids

As you may or may not have heard, depending on your locality, the wife of Vince McMahon, the WWF/WWE guy, is running for Chris Dodd's Senate seat in Connecticut.  Linda McMahon is no dope herself, as she was a WWE exec as it grew into the entertainment monolith it is, and is rumored to be Vince's business smarts (to his PT Barnum smarts).

Given her pro-wrestling past, you can imagine the quality of the coverage of her candidacy.  And she has largely distanced herself from pro wrestling, as there is not much about pro wrestling that is what you'd call senatorial.  Until this week, when she remarked about steroids in a Business Week article:

"There's some evidence sometimes of muscle disease, or cardiac disease, but it's really hard to know because you didn't know the condition of the performer's heart, or whatever, prior to," she told me.  "So I still don't think we know the long-term effects of steroids.  They are continuing to study it more and more, but I don't believe there are a lot of studies out there today that are conclusive."

As noted in the feature, Linda's ex-company has employed a number of young men who've died prematurely, including a notoriously roided worker who equally-notoriously murdered his wife and son and then hanged himself.

The jury may well be out on the extent of the side effects of steroids.  But if there's anyone that should err on the side of circumspection on the topic, it's Chris Benoit's old boss.

[Via TPM.]

Posted by mrbrent at 8:53 AM

June 4, 2010

it's been a peculiar week

I'd trying to avoid all the photos of the birds stuck in oil, assiduously not clicking on the links, avoiding news in general, and I get a big eyeful looking over someone's shoulder at a NY Daily News on the subway and boy I hope that bird was dead because I don't want to imagine trying to save that bird or the bird trying to cheat a last few hours even though the bird is wearing a couple quarts of crude.

There was a letter from a TPM reader who works in the oil rigging industry that offhandedly suggested that the reason the BP was using a "dispersant" that the Feds eventually nixed is that they wanted to kill off the wildlife to lessen the number of photo ops like that bird that I can't unsee.  That's an interesting possibility that I haven't seen followed up.

So now I'm overloading on Stone Temple Pilot videos before I launch into working, on account of another offhanded suggestion from a Tumblr post.  I started out with the sad stuff, the ballads, but right now "Days Of The Week Is Winning".

I really didn't want to see that photo.

Posted by mrbrent at 9:40 AM

June 3, 2010

yes, i was in young life

Headline from the container of headlines on the Yahoo! mainpage (which is no doubt configured to appeal to whatever personal information the Yahoo! servers can discern from my browser):
Chaperone Accused Of Groping Girls On Field Trip

Sorry, but when we were kids, that's pretty much all a chaperone did.  In fact, the more opportunistic of the boy-folk just couldn't wait until they were out of high school, so they could get a sleazy apartment in the village and be a "chaperone".

I'm in no way condoning chaperoning; just lost in reminiscence, considering how much inappropriate touching has changed over the years.

Posted by mrbrent at 4:36 PM

deepwater and the planet

I think I've reached the point where the existential dread elicited by the Deepwater Horizon Spigot has overwhelmed me into resigned silence.  The lack of a resolution, the lack of an endpoint, makes commentary seem futile, and I stand around with my hands in my pockets waiting for some smart guy to stop the gushing so that recovery can begin.  Pointing fingers, finding exciting new ways to use "blame-game", just seems dumb when we still don't know the extent of this event, or how many times worse than bad this will be.

And I think that this is the incident that has forced me to accept something that's been gnawing at me for a couple years: the planet is in fact not so resilient that we cannot fuck it up.  Argue all you want about whether human activity is changing the climate, and then count all the ways we have undeniably altered ecology.  We've altered the courses of rivers, erased forests the size of small countries, and disappeared entire species — buffalo and passenger pigeons we managed to eradicate a century ago, before we had really good weapons, and now we've moved on to every living thing in the ocean, or at least the ones that don't get strangled by the floating cities of garbage we created.  We actually can kill this planet, and we are far too dumb to come to a humanity-wide consensus that, yes, we are in danger of doing so, and we should work to not do that.

Yeah, bleak.  It makes it easy to understand why a blown baseball call can literally capture the imagination of the entire Internet.

The president got some guff for quoting his daughter asking if they've plugged the hole yet, but for me that is the most trenchant piece of wisdom on the whole thing I've heard so far.

Posted by mrbrent at 10:33 AM

June 2, 2010

more flotilla sadness

This will be another no-fun post, but I haven't been able to stop thinking about the Israeli misadventure concerning the Turkish flotilla ship, even though it's not the biggest story out there.  (Like the one about how I'll miss shrimp.)  But the consensus is weak and this is some polarizing stuff, especially here in this city of New York, and this neighborhood in which I live which is packed to the gills with excellent delicious Israeli restaurants.

I remain convinced, beyond a doubt, that the actions of the Israeli's constitutes either crimes that should be prosecuted by Turkey, or an act of war against Turkey.  There are arguments about the nature of blockades and their implications in international waters, but I'm not buying it.  Commandos do not come in peace, intrinsically, and resisting against commandos dropping on the deck of your ship, even if you are deliberately provoking a blockade, is not an action I can condemn.  Maybe more details will come out on how the raid went down once Israel releases the journalists that were on board.

So when I see people I respect (and I'm not linking out of this respect) take the opposite side, I double-check what I believe and am not moved.  It's the Kent State rule: you don't get to shoot up a bunch of hippies and be right, no matter how bellicose you are, no matter how righteous you are.  And what the good guys do when they make a mistake is own up to it.

Ultimately, what I judge is irrelevant, and my arguments are no more convincing of those that believe that Israel was acting in its self-interest than my arguments are of them.  But the implications of the aftermath of this are disquieting.  It's like Israel, or at least the hard-Right elements that are controlling foreign policy, have gamed this out and decided that they only need one single ally, which would be the US.  And that benefits neither nation, and is in fact perilous — our might is not what it used to be (especially against non-state actors), and our interests are not entirely in synch.

Need more fun news.

Posted by mrbrent at 9:08 PM


I just got a bit of promotional email from Classmates.com, and I was all like, "What was Classmates again?"  I mean I remember spending a lot of time with something that I think was called Classmates a while ago — mostly mawkishly trying to remember high school — but what it was escapes me.

I guess I'll tweet a question and see if anyone else remembers.  Or maybe there'll be a mention on Facebook.

Failing that, maybe I'll see if my folks still have that set of encyclopedias?

Posted by mrbrent at 9:59 AM

June 1, 2010

law of the sea

Here's a nice depressing take from human rights activist Craig Murray on yesterday's depressing incident of Israeli commandos boarding a flagged ship in international waters and killing nine of its occupants:
Possibility one is that the Israeli commandos were acting on behalf of the government of Israel in killing the activists on the ships.  In that case Israel is in a position of war with Turkey, and the act falls under international jurisdiction as a war crime.

Possibility two is that, if the killings were not authorised Israeli military action, they were acts of murder under Turkish jurisdiction.  If Israel does not consider itself in a position of war with Turkey, then it must hand over the commandos involved for trial in Turkey under Turkish law.

Of course neither is really a possibility, given that Israel's "if you're not with us you're with the terrorists" stance will not allow it to admit crimes on the part of its soldiers, while at the same time it is not so stringent as to demand a declaration of war on Turkey.

But there's not a lot of gray area here.  And even ignoring the occupation and blockade of the Gaza Strip, Israel's position, that resistance to illegal boarding of flagged vessels will be met with lethal force, is entirely untenable.

[Link via a friend with a locked Twitter feed.]

Posted by mrbrent at 11:30 AM

david brooks wavers

Small historical note about the works of David Brooks, as appearing in today's contribution:
t the same time, it is clear that even well-meaning corporations sometimes take shortcuts when it comes to controlling pollution and protecting worker safety.

That is indeed the first time that Brooks has hinted that corporations could possibly be anything other than well-meaning.  In fact, if you read the sentence more than once, you get the distinct impression that corporations that are "even" well-meaning are not depicted as an obvious majority of all corporations.  I'm sure that a pack of billionaires in spats and top hats are rushing right now to the office of Brooks in order to dispense with a little attitudinal adjustment, with bats and metal pipes.

The column itself?  Brooks decides to construct a metaphor from the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spigot.  You'll laugh; you'll cry.

Posted by mrbrent at 9:17 AM

May 31, 2010

war crimes

So much for the slow-news Memorial Day, as Israel continues its ongoing public relations assault, which unfortunately does not differ much from an actual assault.

This is probably not so good for security in the Middle East:

A senior Israeli military official told pool reporters on board a missile ship that formed part of the operation that the navy had prepared to meet them as "peace activists, not to fight."

"This was not spontaneous.  It was planned," he said, displaying a box from the boat containing switchblades, slingshots, big metal balls and metal bats.

I am unsure if a raiding party of armed commandos is the proper way to meet peace activists, but thank goodness that Israel has pinched off the critical big metal ball supply line into Gaza.

Posted by mrbrent at 10:54 AM