2013...mewhat-popular - %2

Friday Cat Blogging - 27 December 2013

| Fri Dec. 27, 2013 2:00 PM EST

Here it is, our final quilt of the year. The design is a "blooming nine patch." (The nine-patchy nature of the quilt might not be obvious at a distance. Click here for a close-up. If you look carefully, you'll see that every other square is 3x3 nine-patch.) It's machine pieced and machine quilted, and it's the only quilt Marian has designed specifically to coordinate with our house. (It matches the drapes.) And since this is our final quilt, it's fitting to spotlight the person responsible for this year's quiltfest. In this year's final catblogging picture, Marian is doing her best to get Domino to cooperate with the camera, and as you can see, she succeeded admirably.

And now for one more year-end pitch. The most important part of Mother Jones isn't this blog, it's the serious investigative reporting we do. As the PEN Award judges put it, we've become an "internationally recognized powerhouse...influencing everything from the gun-control debate to presidential campaigns."

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The 39 Worst Words, Phrases, and Parts of Speech of 2013

| Fri Dec. 27, 2013 7:00 AM EST

Many words were spoken in 2013. Not all of them were created equal. Here is a brief, but by no means complete, guide to the words and phrases (and symbols, and parts of speech) we'd like to retire in 2014.

Please print this out and post it to your refrigerator or cubicle wall for convenient access.

  • "#." R.I.P., early Twitter feature. We'll bury you next to your friend, the FourSquare check-in.
  • adverbs. Ban all adverbs. They're mostly just gulp words, really.
  • "all the things."
  • "because [noun]": (e.g. "because science.")
  • "brogurt." No.
  • "classy."
  • "controversial tweet." There's just no way to make this sound dignified, and besides, it leads to think pieces.
  • "cronut."
  • "crowdsourced."
  • "derp." It's been an emotional ride, but it's time to send this one off on the ice floe.
  • "disrupt." Luxury car apps aren't disruptive.
  • "Donald Trump is considering a run for…" No, he's not. He just isn't. And if you'd like to get him unearned publicity, you should at least get some stock options out of it.
  • "doubled down." Unless the candidate did it while biting into a delicious sandwich, let's just say the candidate "reaffirmed his/her position" on transportation funding or burrito drones or whatever we'll be discussing in 2014.
  • "...favorited a tweet you were mentioned in." No one has ever wanted to know this.
  • "gaffe." It's going to be a long-enough election year as it is.
  • "game-changer." What you're describing probably won't change the game. But if it does, would you want to spoil the moment with a cliche?
  • "Guy Fieri." What if we all decided to just never mention him again? Would he disappear?
  • "hashtag." This refers to the spoken utterance of the word "hashtag," often accompanied by air-quotes. People can see you doing this.
  • "hipster." Wearing glasses is not something people do because they're hipsters; it's something people do because they're nearsighted. People don't drink hot chocolate because it's a hipster thing to do; they drink hot chocolate because it's literally liquid chocolate. Yes, I wrote "literally." That's what happens when you use a word so casually and carelessly in think pieces as to render it meaningless.
  • "I can't even." You can. Dig deep. Find your Kentucky.
  • "impact." (When used as a verb.)
  • "…in .gifs."
  • "...in one chart." We're aiming high in 2014. Two chart minimum!
  • "listicle." This is the last one.
  • "literally the worst." Actually, while we're at it, let's ban "literally." Literally is the "not the Onion" of fake things.
  • "millennial." Young people are living with their parents because their parents' generation destroyed the global economy. Next.
  • "nondescript office park." As opposed to the Frank Gehry ones.
  • "not the Onion."
  • "Rethuglicans, Repugs," "Republikkkans," "Demoncrats," "Dumbocrats," and every other variation thereof. Please just use the normal proper nouns; you can add whatever modifier you like before or after.
  • "selfie." But what do they tell us about our society, in the digital now? Let's ask James Franco.
  • "Snowfall." (In the future, a high-cost digital production that doesn't live up to the hype shall be known as a "Skyfall.")
  • "the Internets." This was a George W. Bush joke or something, right? You can still use the Internet—just drop the "s."
  • "This Town."
  • "thought leader." Mostly beaten out of existence, but don't think we didn't notice that Paul Allen interview, Wired. You're on notice.
  • #YOLO. Seriously.

I am guilty of most of these sins. Let us never speak of this again.

The Outrage Continues: An Alabama Man Who Raped a Teen Still Won't Do Prison Time Under His New Sentence

| Fri Dec. 27, 2013 7:00 AM EST

The Alabama man who was allowed to walk free after being convicted of rape has had his probation extended by two years, but he still won't have to serve prison time under a new, supposedly stiffer sentence handed down this week.

In September, a jury in Limestone County, Alabama found 25-year-old Austin Smith Clem guilty of raping his teenaged neighbor, Courtney Andrews, three times—twice when she was 14, and once when was she was 18. County Judge James Woodroof theoretically sentenced Clem to 40 years in prison. But Woodroof structured the sentence so that Clem would only serve three years probation, plus two years in the Limestone County corrections program for nonviolent criminals, which would allow Clem to work and live in the community. Only if Clem violated his probation would he be required to serve the prison time.

Clem's lenient sentence touched off a national outcry, and Andrews eventually appeared on Melissa Harris-Perry's MSNBC show to call for tougher punishment. In early December, the Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals found that the sentence was illegal and ordered Woodroof to mete out a stiffer penalty. But Clem's new sentence, which Woodroof handed down Monday, only extends Clem's probation from three to five years. And if Clem violates the terms of his probation, he will only have to serve 35 years in prison—less than he would have under his initial sentence.

We're Still at War: Photo of the Day for December 27, 2013

Fri Dec. 27, 2013 7:00 AM EST

Marines and sailors with Ragnarok Company, 2nd Supply Battalion, 2nd Marine Logistics Group tramp through the sands of Onslow Beach aboard Camp Lejeune, N.C., Dec. 13, 2013. The sand simulated snow, which the service members expect to hike through during winter training aboard the Mountain Warfare Training Center in Bridgeport, Calif., and Cold Response 2014 in Norway. (U.S. Marine Corps photo

WATCH: On the Day After Christmas, a Visit From Saint Ayn Rand [Fiore Cartoon]

| Thu Dec. 26, 2013 4:43 PM EST

Mark Fiore is a Pulitzer Prize-winning editorial cartoonist and animator whose work has appeared in the Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times, the San Francisco Examiner, and dozens of other publications. He is an active member of the American Association of Editorial Cartoonists, and has a website featuring his work.

Public Service Announcement

| Thu Dec. 26, 2013 10:00 AM EST

I'll be off for the rest of the year, returning after New Year's. During the next week I might pop in with an occasional post, or I might not. Who knows? Friday catblogging, however, will appear as usual on Friday.

In the meantime, enjoy what's left of 2013, and let's all hope that 2014 is a whole lot better.

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We're Still at War: Photo of the Day for December 26, 2013

Thu Dec. 26, 2013 7:00 AM EST

A paratrooper jumps from a CASA 212, Dec. 13, 2013 during Operation Toy Drop. The number of toys for the 16th Annual Randy Oler Operation Toy Drop continues to grow as special operations forces donate throughout this week at Luzon Drop Zone, Camp Mackall, N.C. Jumping from CASA 212s and a German C-160, paratroopers earned foreign jump wings from one of nine countries’ jumpmasters participating in this year’s Toy Drop after donating a new, unwrapped toy and successfully completing a jump. Germany, Canada, Italy, Poland, Chile, Sweden, Latvia, Brazil and Netherlands jumpmasters participated this year. Hosted by the U.S. Army Civil Affairs & Psychological Operations Command (Airborne), Operation Toy Drop is the largest combined airborne operation in the world. The donated toys will be distributed to children’s homes and social service agencies in the local community. (U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Amanda Smolinski/USACAPOC(A) PAO)

Merry Christmas!

| Wed Dec. 25, 2013 8:30 AM EST

And now for our traditional Christmas ornament greeting, in memory of the late, much-loved Inkblot. Merry Christmas, everyone.

We're Still at War: Photo of the Day for December 25, 2013

Wed Dec. 25, 2013 7:00 AM EST

A section of Arlington National Cemetery, in Arlington, Va., shows a fraction of the 143,000 wreaths placed at the graves of fallen service members during Wreaths Across America, Dec. 14, 2013. Thousands of volunteers helped place over 143,000 wreaths at the graves of fallen service members as part of the annual Wreaths Across America event. (Department of Defense photo by Sebastian Sciotti Jr.)

Martin Scorsese Asked This Band If He Could Use Their Song When Leonardo DiCaprio Has Sex on Money

| Tue Dec. 24, 2013 4:37 PM EST

Martin Scorsese's The Wolf of Wall Street is the year's best film—a towering achievement in humor and sprawling excess. The movie hits theaters on Christmas Day, and dramatizes the testosterone-soaked saga of Jordan Belfort, co-founder and chairman of Long Island brokerage house Stratton Oakmont, who went down for securities fraud and money laundering in the 1990s. The script—overflowing with orgies, Quaaludes, and scandal—is by Terence Winter (The Sopranos, Boardwalk Empire), and the film stars Leonardo DiCaprio, Jonah HillMatthew McConaughey, Margot Robbie, and Cristin Milioti.

The Wolf of Wall Street soundtrack is heavy on blues music, and includes some familiar names such as Elmore James, Howlin' Wolf, and Bo Diddley. (Critics frequently note the quality of Scorsese's soundtracks, from Mean Streets to The Departed, which often lean heavily on classic rock.) But one of the songs prominently featured in a couple of scenes in The Wolf of Wall Street is by a blues-rock duo you probably haven't heard of: The band is the Los Angeles-based 7Horse, with Phil Leavitt on drums and lead vocals, and Joie Calio on guitar. (The two previously played together in the alt-rock group Dada, and have been playing together for two decades.)

The song is "Meth Lab Zoso Sticker":

"Meth Lab Zoso Sticker" is also the first song heard in the film's second trailer. It's a catchy and exciting blues number. But how did Scorsese hear it?