Blogs

SPOILER ALERT: This Is How the "Mad Men" Finale Ended

| Sun May 17, 2015 11:50 PM EDT

Don creates the most famous commercial in the world:

Vox and Uproxx both predicted this ending!

Here is an interview with Bill Backer, the guy who really created it.

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Kayaktavists Take Over Seattle's Port to Protest Shell Oil's Arctic Drilling Rig

| Sun May 17, 2015 1:41 PM EDT
Kayaktavists gather to protest the Polar Pioneer, Shell's artic oil drilling rig stationed in the Port of Seattle.

This article is being updated as news breaks. See below for the latest.

Seattleites took a dramatic stand, er paddle, against Arctic oil drilling on Saturday afternoon. Against the backdrop of the Pacific Northwest city's skyline, around 200 activists, local Native Americans, and concerned citizens took to kayak and canoe and surrounded a giant, Arctic-bound Royal Dutch Shell oil drilling rig currently making a layover in the Port of Seattle.

Despite the oil giant's rocky history in the Arctic region, last Monday the Obama administration conditionally approved Shell's summer plans to drill for oil in the Chukchi Sea, north of Alaska. Environmentalists are not happy, and neither are many in Seattle, whose port has become a home base for the two Shell oil rigs' operations. The Port of Seattle's commissioners took heat for their controversial decision to lease one of its piers to Shell, tying the progressive city to fossil fuel extraction and the potential for environmental catastrophe in the Arctic.

As the first of the towering oil rigs arrived in Elliott Bay late last week, a group of "activists, artists, and noisemakers" calling themselves ShellNo organized a series of protests to welcome the oil company. The "Paddle in Seattle" yesterday drew an impressive flotilla of kayaks, canoes, and boats into the Duwamish River, which feeds into the Elliott Bay, to surround the Coast-Guard-protected rig. Below is a roundup of Tweeted pictures taken by people on the scene:

UPDATE, Monday, May 18, 2:00 p.m. PST:

Today, "ShellNo" continued its protest of Shell's plans to drill for oil in the arctic by blocking the entrances to the Port of Seattle's Pier 5 where one of the oil company's rigs is docked. Hundreds gathered earlier this morning at the pier's main entrance to slow operations on the rig, although some rig workers were apparently able to get in through other entrances. Police did not interfere with the demonstration, and at about 1:30PM the group began to leave the pier and march back the way they came. Those present included Native American activists and Seattle City Council member Kshama Sawant. Some pictures of the event:

Grinning, Sparring, Losing: Mitt Romney's Surreal Night Inside a Salt Lake City Boxing Ring.

| Sat May 16, 2015 12:06 PM EDT
So, this happened.

Muhammad Ali's winning formula for boxing was to "float like a butterfly and sting like a bee." There was plenty of floating, but not much stinging, for former presidential candidate Mitt Romney on Friday night, during a two-round charity bout in Salt Lake City, against former five-time heavyweight champion Evander Holyfield.

Revealing some prime #grandpabod in bright red satin shorts (remember, he only ate organic on the campaign trail?), and sporting an "I can't believe I'm doing this but WTF" grin, the former governor's sparring skills just couldn't cut it.

The Associated Press captured what's been dubbed the "Quake on the Lake":

Romney, 68, and Holyfield, 52, sparred, if you could call it that, for just two short rounds before Romney ran away from the boxer and threw in the towel, giving up a round early in the lighthearted fight that came amid several other fights by professional boxers and an auction.

The two barely threw any punches and largely just danced around, occasionally lightly jabbing each other in the midsection in what was much more of a comedic event than an actual bout.

Let's be honest: Holyfield, who once famously lost part of his ear in a fight with Mike Tyson, could have knocked out the former governor of Massachusetts with a single punch. But the joyous thing, the meaningful thing, was that he tried. Please proceed, governor:

Romney landed at least one solid jab, it seems:

Kapow! Rick Bowmer/AP

Holyfield then took a fall to make things interesting:

In the end, a ring-side Anne Romney—who always has her boyfriend's back—threw in the towel on Mitt's behalf, and Holyfield emerged victorious:

The black-tie affair raised at least $1 million for Charity Vision, a Utah-based nonprofit that helps doctors perform surgeries for the blind in developing countries. That amount of money is apparently equivalent to Holyfield's net worth, and 1/25 of Romney's, according to Buzzfeed's Tale of the Tape.

After the match, Holyfield apparently quipped to Romney: "You know what? You float like a bee and sting like a butterfly."

And so everyone had an enjoyable time, especially Ann Romney:

Friday Cat Blogging - May 15 2015

| Fri May 15, 2015 3:46 PM EDT

With Kevin continuing to concentrate on his (ever improving!) health, over the past week we've hosted guest blog posts from all-stars like Ruy Teixeira, Aaron Carroll, and Ana Marie Cox. But now that it's Friday, it's time for the humans to step aside for a real star.

It's time to welcome Phelps.

Phelps linked up with MoJo senior editor Michael Mechanic around the time of the 2008 Beijing summer Olympics. While he's not as much of a swimmer as his namesake, one of his favorite spots in his Oakland home is a perch near in the sink, where he can swat his paws through water. Mike reports that Phelps loves spending time nearby while he plays music ("maybe because my fiddling sounds like a cat") and outside, where this "neighborhood tough guy" can face down cats, birds, and dogs.

From his front porch, Mike was witness to one such interaction when a dog got the best of Phelps and chased him up a tree. The incident spurred Mike to compose a little ditty ("Dog Treed a Cat"). Another tabby-inspired tune is "Phelps's Favorite."

And today, Phelps, you're my favorite.

 

BREAKING: Jury Sentences Boston Marathon Bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev to Death

| Fri May 15, 2015 3:19 PM EDT

Update: They sentenced him to death.

They are reading the verdict right now. The jury only has two choices: sentence him to life in prison or death.

Here's a live stream from NECN:

 

 

Bonus Friday Cat Blogging - 15 May 2015

| Fri May 15, 2015 1:00 PM EDT

It's been a traumatic week for Hilbert. He and Hopper were upstairs chasing each other around when he made the fateful decision to climb onto the bathroom counter and then leap to the top of the shower door. Why? Who knows. But he did it, and immediately discovered that the shower door railing is only about an inch wide. So he tumbled into the bathtub, and was then faced with an even bigger problem: my sister keeps the shower doors closed when they're not in use.

A good deal of piteous meowing ensued until Karen investigated and found poor Hilbert trapped in the bathtub. She let him out—after taking a picture, of course—and reports that he spent the rest of the evening cuddled on her lap recovering from the indignity of it all.

Karen now leaves the door open and says that the bathtub has quickly become the final resting place for a succession of cat toys. This is probably Hopper's doing. Either that or Hilbert got over his trauma mighty fast.

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Weird Tales and Trade Treaties

| Fri May 15, 2015 11:59 AM EDT

Watching the political fight over the TPP trade treaty has been kind of interesting. FWIW, two things strike me as a little odd:

  • Historically, it's been Republicans who bitch and moan about how treaties are invasions of American sovereignty. And of course they are. If you sign a treaty with another country, there has to be some kind of neutral mediator that can decide if the treaty has been breached, and this is ipso facto an infringement of sovereignty for both countries. Democrats usually laugh this off, since it's an obvious feature of any treaty (would you sign a treaty with Pakistan where Pakistan unilaterally gets to resolve all disputes?). This time, however, the worm has turned and it's Democrats who are loudly objecting to something called the Investor-State Dispute Settlement, which sets up a special tribunal to adjudicate disputes brought by corporations against rules that they think violate the TPP. Republicans don't care much.

    I don't have any big point to make here. It's just kind of interesting to see the two sides switch.
     
  • I'm a little puzzled about why Republicans are so gung-ho to get TPP passed in the first place. Sure, they're generally in favor of trade treaties, but it's not exactly one of their hot button issues. And yet, they seem to be going out of their way to help President Obama get it passed. Given their recent track record, I'd expect them to yawn and tell Obama he's on his own to whip the votes he needs. Is there some deeper strategy here that I'm not getting? Do they truly think this is going to rip the Democratic Party to shreds with months of vicious infighting? Or what?

Anyway, it looks to me like TPP is going to pass. These things nearly always do after a bit of grandstanding followed by some face-saving compromises. It might be close, but it will pass.

The Thrill Is Gone. RIP B.B. King.

| Fri May 15, 2015 6:26 AM EDT

Legendary blues guitarist B.B. King died late Thursday in Las Vegas. He was 89.

Hailed as the "King of the Blues," King was born Riley B. King on September 16, 1925 on a Mississippi cotton plantation. Introduced to music through gospel, King ascended through the ranks as one of the greatest blues artists of all time. The 15-time Grammy winner seemingly never retired, continuing to perform for over seven decades. King had been suffering from diabetes and was recently in hospice care.

RIP.

 

Important Advice From the CDC: Don't Poop in the Pool

| Thu May 14, 2015 5:04 PM EDT

On Thursday the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a very important message for anyone planning to swim this summer: Don't poop in the pool. Also, try not to be in a pool where someone else has pooped. At least, if you can avoid it, don't swim with your mouth open in a pool if you, or someone else, has pooped nearby.

These are just a few of the ways you can try to avoid getting norovirus—a nasty and highly contagious stomach virus that sometimes makes its way onto cruise ships—as you enjoy all sorts of aquatic activities that are not limited to pools. Lakes have high levels of poop-related-risks it seems, as the CDC announcement describes how some people in Oregon swam in a lake last year and ended up getting the virus, which causes vomiting and diarrhea. The outbreak ended up sickening 70 people, some of whom didn't even swim in the lake (state health officials found, however, that swimmers were over twice as likely to get sick). 

Other important tips include not peeing in the water, not vomiting in the water, and maybe skipping swimming that day if there's a chance you might do any of those things.

This important message comes in honor of Healthy and Safe Swimming week and is mostly geared toward children (or parents of children) who are not only more at risk for norovirus but are also prime suspects of doing things in water that one shouldn't do. They also, apparently, are bad at swimming with their mouths closed. Per the CDC's press release:

"Children are prime targets for norovirus and other germs that can live in lakes and swimming pools because they’re so much more likely to get the water in their mouths," said Michael Beach, Ph.D, the CDC's associate director for healthy water. "Keeping germs out of the water in the first place is key to keeping everyone healthy and helping to keep the places we swim open all summer."

This Is What Classic Pieces of Art Would Look Like if the Prudes at Fox 5 News Had Their Way

| Thu May 14, 2015 3:04 PM EDT

On Monday, a Picasso painting titled Women of Algiers (Version O) fetched a record-setting $179.4 million at a Christie's auction, beating out Francis Bacon's Three Studies of Lucian Freud, which just two years prior had sold for $142 million, as the most expensive piece of artwork ever sold.

The sale price for the Women of Algiers (Version O) marked the latest entry into a world so mind-numbingly wealthy and closed off to the general public. It's the perfect illustration of privilege consolidating into the hands of so few, for no one else to appreciate.

New York's senior art critic Jerry Saltz has tackled this issue at large on numerous occasions. But this time around, Saltz identified something perhaps even more outrageous than the $179.4 million price tag:

This is pathetic. In anticipation of a piece inevitably shattering another sale record and this Fox affiliate being right there to cover it—both journalistically and visually—here are a few examples of how that coverage might look like:

Henri Matisse, Dance (1)
 
Bathers (Les Grandes Baigneuses), Paul Cézanne
Katsushika Hokusai's The Dream of the Fisherman's Wife
Michelangelo's David

An abominable peek into the dark arts.

Correction: An earlier version of this story said it was Fox News that had blurred the Picasso painting. This has since been corrected to say it was a Fox affiliate in New York.