Do-it-yourself Open Thread for Tuesday, August 19, 2014

This is an experiment. I’m not going to suggest any topics. It’s up to YOU to make it happen.

Have at it….

87 thoughts on “Do-it-yourself Open Thread for Tuesday, August 19, 2014

        1. Brad Warthen Post author

          Whenever I hear “Ferguson,” I think of the guides that Mark Twain and his wise-guy pals had across Europe in “The Innocents Abroad.”

          In keeping with their deliberate, unimpressed-by-the-old-world, ignorant American act that they inflicted on guides across the continent, they called all of their guides “Ferguson.” Here’s an example of how they tormented the Fergusons:

          He took us to the municipal palace. After much impressive fumbling of keys and opening of locks, the stained and aged document was spread before us. The guide’s eyes sparkled. He danced about us and tapped the parchment with his finger:

          “What I tell you, genteelmen! Is it not so? See! handwriting Christopher Colombo!–write it himself!”

          We looked indifferent–unconcerned. The doctor examined the document very deliberately, during a painful pause. –Then he said, without any show of interest:

          “Ah–Ferguson–what–what did you say was the name of the party who wrote this?”

          “Christopher Colombo! ze great Christopher Colombo!”

          Another deliberate examination.

          “Ah–did he write it himself; or–or how?”

          “He write it himself!–Christopher Colombo! He’s own hand-writing, write by himself!”

          Then the doctor laid the document down and said:

          “Why, I have seen boys in America only fourteen years old that could write better than that.”

          “But zis is ze great Christo–”

          “I don’t care who it is! It’s the worst writing I ever saw. Now you musn’t think you can impose on us because we are strangers. We are not fools, by a good deal. If you have got any specimens of penmanship of real merit, trot them out!–and if you haven’t, drive on!”…

          1. Brad Warthen Post author

            A nice passage a couple of grafs before that one:

            The doctor asks the questions, generally, because he can keep his countenance, and look more like an inspired idiot, and throw more imbecility into the tone of his voice than any man that lives. It comes natural to him….

          2. Brad Warthen Post author

            Another great bit, farther down on the page:

            There is one remark (already mentioned,) which never yet has failed to disgust these guides. We use it always, when we can think of nothing else to say. After they have exhausted their enthusiasm pointing out to us and praising the beauties of some ancient bronze image or broken-legged statue, we look at it stupidly and in silence for five, ten, fifteen minutes–as long as we can hold out, in fact–and then ask:

            “Is–is he dead?”

            That conquers the serenest of them. It is not what they are looking for –especially a new guide. Our Roman Ferguson is the most patient, unsuspecting, long-suffering subject we have had yet. We shall be sorry to part with him. We have enjoyed his society very much. We trust he has enjoyed ours, but we are harassed with doubts….

          3. Brad Warthen Post author

            Twain was just amazing. There’s been no one like him, before or since.

            If only I’d had the temerity to act that way while touring England.

            But I doubt it would have worked as well. Europeans today are so convinced that Americans really ARE the boorish fools Twain and company were pretending to be, that it probably would have just rolled off them….

  1. Dave Crockett

    I enjoyed the ad for “Beautiful Ukraine Brides” that was at the top of the blog this afternoon. Seriously.

    I understand that Brad doesn’t run this blog out of the sheer goodness of his heart (though that somehow has to to be a piece of it) and it takes money to host a website, since website hosting services don’t operate out of the sheer goodness of their hearts, either. But some of these Google Ads are triggered by the damnedest things. I guess that one was triggered by the chit-chat on what should/should not be a crisis for POTUS.

    I hope the revenue stream from Google is helping to pay the bills, Brad. But the ads detract, IMHO.

    1. Dave Crockett

      As a PS I feel obliged to note that Google puts real limits on what owners of sites that host their ads can say about the ads. I don’t expect Brad to comment on my observations because of those constraints, but thought others might have something to say….

        1. Brad Warthen

          I’ve got one about electric cars now. I don’t know WHAT about electric cars, because Google not only forbids me to click on the ads, they forbid me to urge y’all to click on them.

          Before that, I had one asking me whether I thought Roe v. Wade should be overturned…

          1. Bryan Caskey

            “Before that, I had one asking me whether I thought Roe v. Wade should be overturned…”

            Is that currently up for a vote or something? Did I miss a meeting?

          1. Norm Ivey

            At work, ads are blocked. Last ad I saw was for Timberlands, which I had looked at on Zappo’s recently. My boots are old. I get a lot of ebay ads, but I spend some time there.

        1. Norm Ivey

          I’m getting an ad for a “Ukraine Forever! Putin Go Home!” T-shirt from a seller on Zazzle.

  2. Bryan Caskey

    Johnathan Alder from Volokh says the Halbig petition for an en banc hearing ought to be granted within a week if it’s going to be granted. Any longer than that, and he says that the likelihood of an en banc hearing goes down.

    Sounds right to me.

    I have absolutely no idea if the DC Circuit will accept the en banc, but we should know fairly soon.

  3. Lynn T

    I’ve got “Thyroid Warning Signs” below the banner, have no idea what gave Google the idea my thyroid might be in questionable shape.

  4. Bob Amundson

    From Slate: “In an essay for the Atlantic, Ethan Zuckerman, the director of the MIT Center for Civic Media, makes a stunning admission: “I wrote the code to launch the window and run an ad in it. I’m sorry. Our intentions were good.” Zuckerman details his time at, a startup that perpetually and wildly reinvented itself during the dotcom bubble until it found an approach—advertising—that got it funded and later acquired.” See “The Internet’s Original Sin: It’s not too late to ditch the ad-based business model and build a better web.”

    1. Silence

      That guy should be castrated, tarred and feathered, drawn and quartered, burned, and his ashes should be scattered to the winds…

      1. C J Watson

        Does anyone remember the old 2 and 3 liter Coke and Pepsi bottles? I worked in a grocery store when I was 14 years old and I remember stocking them (~1977). They were heavy and didn’t last long, replaced with plastic bottles. Fast forward about 13 years when I was in college (I worked several years before entering university), I had a professor of natural resource economics who told a story of a friend of his who invented the plastic that was used in soda bottles. This friend regretted all the plastic that was ending up in the landfills. At least those web ads don’t get tossed in the landfill…

        1. Silence

          I only remember the 2 and 3 liters in plastic. I guess I’m too young to remember them in glass.

          1. Kathryn Braun Fenner

            I don’t remember big glass bottles, but I wasn’t buying soda in stores in the seventies. I got my Tab cola in fountain cups, if at all.

  5. Kathryn Braun Fenner

    How about Bobby Harrell being all “the investigation is so over” and “sources” being all “no way, dude” ? My money’s on the investigation continues.

  6. Bryan Caskey

    Since the inside baseball of the DC Court’s en banc process isn’t that compelling to some of y’all (cough, Brad, cough) here’s something a little lighter:

    BuzzFeed has a short video of five anti-gun liberals who go shooting for the first time.

    I’m not sure that I would give them a 9mm and a 12GA to start with, and I think the instructor could have done a better job of easing them into it, but I think he was trying to kind of “throw them in the deep end” a little, as opposed to actually teach them something. The “instructor” struck me as very gruff.

    And that’s the opposite of what I do with first-timers. I like to teach and share something I really enjoy with others, as opposed to simply instill fear.

    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      I saw that on “The West Wing” a couple of nights ago during my workout. Toby was trying to separate the Israeli prime minister from his defense minister during negotiations at Camp David, and took him skeet shooting. The defense minister advised him to take a firmer stance before firing. Toby brushed off the suggestion, then fired and fell over backwards.

    2. Brad Warthen Post author

      That video would have been funnier if more of them had been guys. This one had a flavor of, isn’t it funny to watch girls shooting for the first time. Felt more like that than “liberals” per se…

  7. bud

    Just got back from a road trip to New York City and lived to tell about it. Shouldn’t that count for breaking news?

    My son, wife and I visited the World Trade Center Museum and Memorial. Whatever your political persuasion that is a must visit place. I got choked up more than once on this most sacred of American places. I’m sure we will disagree and how but we must ensure that another 9-11 never occurs again. Also drove through Gettysburg and saw the Liberty Bell. It was quite a moving few days.

    1. Mark Stewart

      There is nothing sacred about the WTC site.

      Nor is there anything worthy in these phony 9/11 police and fire memorials that popped up all over the country. They are just gross.

      The best way to honor those who perished that beautiful late summer morning is to rebuild and continue on in the special way NYC thrives at being. The memorial isn’t below ground, it is the skyline above – and more than that in the spirit of the people who push us forward.

      1. Doug Ross

        But, Mark, where else will I go to get my “Twin Towers – Never Forget” t-shirt and FDNY baseball cap?

        1. Kathryn Braun Fenner

          I think many people make and visit monuments in lieu of meaningful concrete actions.

        2. Mark Stewart

          Not much in life is actually mutually exclusive. It is a multi-hued world out there, though some people can’t get away from the B&W viewpoint.

          I’m fine with a memorial, but the idea of a museum dedicated to the 9/11 attack makes my blood run cold. But the more I think about it, the more I find myself opposed to even the perpetuation of the south and north pools forever projecting the empty space above that were once the WTC Towers. So maybe I see black to other’s white on this?

  8. bud

    Last day of vacation. Not looking forward to heading back to the office tomorrow.

    There is nothing sacred about the WTC site.

    Really? I’m sure the families of the victims who spent many hours providing input into the planning and preparation of the museum/memorial would find that comment offensive. I would agree that the gift shop is inappropriate. But the museum and especially the memorial are a way for the nation and families to move forward. They provide a place to reflect on how we can become better as a people. But most importantly they provide a place for family members to honor those who were never recovered in a suitable and respectful manner. It is a very sacred place.

    1. Bart

      bud, don’t disagree with you about the importance of the WTC site being a memorial to all who died on 9/11 in much the same way the USS Arizona is used as a memorial at Pearl Harbor. The difference between civilian and military may be very distinctive but in either tragedy, Americans died during an attack they were unprepared for.

      It was my belief that the Twin Towers should have been rebuilt and construction started immediately after the clean-up was finished. That would have been a fitting memorial and a thumb in the eyes of the terrorists responsible plus a clear message to others that we won’t be defeated or demoralized. If a memorial or tribute to everyone who lost their lives during the attack and from breathing in the pollutants afterwards was to be erected, something akin to the Vietnam Wall would be appropriate.

      Just my thoughts on the subject.

      1. Mark Stewart

        While conceptually I agree with you, realistically the rebuilt twin towers would have stood as empty sentinels – it would have been impossible to find tenants to fill a rebuilt WTC.

        Even now under a completely different plan it has proven to be quiet a challenge; one reason may well be those ominous dark pools visible from the windows of all the surrounding buildings. It’s very depressive; and depressing to see how run amok this rebuilding scheme has become. As civic space that empowers a future it is a total bust.

    2. Mark Stewart

      You see a sacred place; I remember a horrific, traumatizing day.

      I am sure that the proponents of the memorialization of the site would find my comments offensive to their efforts – but that doesn’t change the fact that we all made a mistake in allowing that victimization to be set in stone. We honor the dead by carrying on; which should especially be true at that site in Lower Manhattan.

  9. bud

    I find the latest Haley ads interesting in that she is touting her jobs initiatives so fervently. In effect all the taxpayer money spent on bringing in big businesses are a form of liberalism known as “economic stimulus”. Of course it could never be called that but it certainly isn’t an anti-government approach of not picking winners that conservatives so stridently profess to support. Haley and all so-called conservatives are fine with welfare as long as that welfare enriches corporate elites. The fact that it does have a positive effect on job creation is mostly a side effect that Haley and her ilk are willing to tolerate.

    1. Bart

      Welfare definition according to Webster. 1. A condition of health, happiness, prosperity, etc.; well-being. 2 a) the organized efforts of government agencies granting aid to the poor, the unemployed, etc. b) such aid – on welfare receiving the government aid because of poverty, etc.

      The word “dole” is defined in a similar way to describe receiving money from the government by people who are unemployed or money or food given in charity.

      If liberals and conservatives would be so kind as to use the word properly, it will be appreciated. To use the work “welfare” and “dole” when referring to tax breaks, incentives, and other legal methods and means for private enterprise and corporations to take advantage of what is legal is simply wrong. If you don’t like the way the tax laws are written and applied, then write your representatives in congress and complain at every opportunity. Work to change the tax laws so they are fair across the board for everyone. We need to remember that American corporations pay the highest corporate tax rate, 39.2%, in the world with Japan, 38.1%, being a very close second. This information comes from a Reuters 2012 article reprinted in Huff Post Business.

      “Corporate Welfare” is nothing more than an Alinsky tactic used to create hostility by equating corporations with people who are actually on welfare who are in legitimate need of help.

      1. bud

        I don’t need a lecture on the use of the term corporate welfare so I will continue to use the term since it expresses the issue very nicely. Having said that I, as a liberal have no problem with corporate welfare. It’s a form of economic stimulus to help create jobs. But lets be clear, this is picking winners in opposition to the stated principal of modern day conservatism that actively rail against the practice. I’m merely pointing out the hypocricy of conservatives and especially libertarians who are strangely silent on this practice.

        1. Bart

          It was not a lecture, only an attempt to correct the incorrect use of the word “welfare”. Continue to use it incorrectly by all means, that is your right. But, don’t expect your comments using “corporate welfare” to be taken seriously. And why contradict yourself by saying you have no problem with “corporate welfare” when all you do is constantly complain about and criticize “corporate welfare”?

          Anyway, glad you had a great vacation in New York. Haven’t been back in over 10 years myself. Looking forward to another visit soon.

    2. Doug Ross

      I suppose all those people working for the “corporate elites” would prefer to be at home collecting their stimulus packages.

      I know it’s difficult to comprehend, bud, but in the real world, private industry drives the economy. Until we achieve the socialist state you desire, that’s the way it is.

      1. Brad Warthen Post author

        Yes and no.

        There’s no question that the best thing for us all, in terms of being financially well off, is healthy, dynamic growth in the private sector. I’m all for whatever helps promote that (of course, we might disagree on what DOES help it).

        But the public sector plays a role, too.

        A couple of years back, an economist who works for a major bank addressed our Rotary, and I was struck by something he emphasized — that the private sector was actually coming out of the recession pretty strongly, but that the economy was being held back (and the overall growth figures held back) by all the cutbacks in the public sector.

        In other words, all that “smaller government” stuff was actually holding the economy down.

        Made sense to me…

        Spending on government isn’t the best stimulus. I’d rather see strong growth in the private sector — not growth from a government stimulus, but growth that arises naturally. Because that means the economy is strong. But if you are going to have stimulus, spending on government has its role in that…

        1. Silence

          The problem was (is) that in order for the government to have the capacity to stimulate the economy during a downturn, they need to not be constantly stimulating during periods of economic growth. Which they certainly were. Government (and government spending) grew and grew during the 2000’s, to the point where many governments were strapped for cash as soon as tax revenues began to slip even a little bit. I’d go one step further and posit that the government spending in the run up to the 2008 financial crisis helped to inflate the economic bubble, with disastrous results.
          Eventually, you have to pay the piper, and borrowing to spend on projects shifts economic activity forward, but ultimately growth will revert back towards an overall trendline. It’s probably more tied to population growth and life cycle patterns than we like to believe.

      2. bud

        Doug you of all people should be aghast at the practice of government interfering in the market with such impunity. It’s about as non-libertarian as it gets.

        1. Doug Ross

          In most cases, they aren’t interfering in the market. They are creating incentives that normally have a higher return on investment. It’s also competitive in the sense that if one place doesn’t do it, someone else will and that means the jobs and associated tax revenues go somewhere else.

          Would you be opposed to the state using incentives to try and get a company like Google to move its headquarters here?

          This is not the same as the $150 million wasted on Innovista. There were no long term jobs that came out of that debacle… only some temporary work for construction companies to build buildings that had no tenants.

    3. Bryan Caskey

      Except for your first sentence (which is your personal feeling), the rest of your statements are incorrect.

      If you can’t tell the difference between giving tax incentives to businesses to come to SC vs. government make-work projects like dog-parks and bike paths, I can’t really help you.

      Also, do you really think that Haley wants to simply “enrich corporate elites” as her sole, primary policy goal?

      As for your statement that offering tax incentives is “picking winners”, that’s just nonsense. In a general sense, Haley doesn’t care what kind of jobs come to SC. She’s willing to offer tax incentives to companies in general. She just wants good jobs. She doesn’t care what the companies actually do in micro-sense.

      If Haley was going around saying “I only want to give tax incentives to companies that produce electric cars or repeating rifles” that would be picking winners. She’s not doing that, as far as I can tell.

      1. bud

        Seriously Bryan, you are not that naïve are you? Of course she cares about the types of companies that come to SC. She would fight tooth and nail to prevent wind turbines from being built off the coast of South Carolina. Nor are we likely to see a horse track or support efforts to legalize marijuana. Those types of job creators don’t fit the vision of the 21st century plutocracy as envisioned by Haley and her ilk.

        1. Bart

          If Haley is against building wind turbines in SC, then she would actively be trying to stop GE from producing them in Greenville. In case you are not aware, the GE facility in Greenville is one of the largest builders of wind turbines in the country and has been building wind turbines for well over 10 years. A new facility in Charleston has been opened to provide some of the most advanced testing for wind turbines in the world. FWIW, the opening was announced in December, 2013 and Haley was very much in support of the facility.

          Fighting to prevent wind turbines from being built off the coast of SC? Maybe you should check with the Kennedy family and their objections to building wind turbines off the coast of their compound on the coast.

        2. Bryan Caskey

          Ok…let’s see: Wind turbines, horse racing, and marijuana. I’ll take them one at a time.

          Wind Turbines: Do you have a citation for your proposition that Haley would be against this, or are you just blowing hot air? A simple Google search didn’t reveal any pieces in which Haley has stated a position on wind energy one way or another. I did find a piece from the P&C about how Clemson has a large wind turbine testing facility in North Charleston.

          Link to Wind Turbine Stuff in Charleston:

          So do you have some evidence to support this theory of yours?

          Horse Racing: Has there been a horse racing facility that the Governor has said no to? Did someone want to open a horse racing track that the Governor scuttled? We already have lots of horse-racing throughout the state: Aiken is quite the regional hub for all sorts of horse-related things, including polo, I think. Again, do you have any evidence here, or are you just horsing around?

          Efforts to Legalize Marijuana: We’ll now you’ve moved simply beyond giving tax incentives to a wholesale change in our criminal law. So (in my Judge Haller voice) I’m going to rule this one out of order. Changing existing criminal law is not the same thing as offering a tax incentives. Let’s stick with business enterprises that are presently legal.

          1. bud

            OK, how about a company that only hires union workers. She’s on record saying she would oppose any such company. It’s completely ridiculous to say that Haley is only about recruiting companies on a neutral basis. She picks winners and losers in spite of her rhetoric. As do all conservatives.

            1. bud

              In light of the facts presented I’ll withdraw my comment about the wind turbines. I have heard conservatives oppose wind farms off the coast, but not Haley specifically. The horse track, along with casinos, and marijuana legalization still stand as job creating industries that conservatives like Haley consistently oppose.

            2. Barry

              Haley isn’t picking winnners and losers. She simply doesn’t want companies with unions in South Carolina. She doesn’t care if they make pistols or newsprint for the New York Times.

              That’s quite different than picking one company over another company.

              I don’t know any Conservatives or anyone else that opposes horse tracks. I do know many people on both sides of the aisle that don’t particularly want gambling on horses. But again, this isn’t’ really something that is a big source of debate in the General Assembly between Democrats and Republicans.

              You are picking things out of the air to try to come up with something to argue about.

              The pot debate is a red herring. MANY experts state that the benefits of legalization may be even or outweighed by other problems that can be created. Whether you believe that or not, I don’t sense democrats in the General Assembly really believe that legalizing pot is a BIG job creator for South Carolina. If they do, they certainly aren’t running on that issue.

  10. Norm Ivey

    Since we’re all DIY, my current can’t-miss-an-episode TV show is Brew Dogs. These two Scottish blokes travel around America visiting different cities known for their craft breweries and concoct some sort of extreme beer–usually related to the locale. In Seattle they made a high-caffeine beer to recognize the coffee culture, for example. They take the beer but not themselves seriously. Tonight’s episode is in New Orleans. You should check it out. I think it’s On Demand on TWC, too.

    In other beer-related news, Stone is definitely not coming to SC, Swamp Cabbage opened their tasting room this past Sunday (their ESB is very good), and Hunter-Gatherer is going to open a brewery separate from the current location.

    1. Doug Ross

      I’m going to check that out, Norm. Thanks.

      I am also one of the backers of the Kickstarter project to fund the Columbia Brew Bus that will be doing tours of Conquest, River Rat, and Swamp Cabbage breweries starting in the next few weeks.

  11. Bryan Caskey

    I may need to go try Swamp Cabbage. I didn’t know they were going to be in Columbia. For some reason, I thought they were going to be in the low-country.

    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      Actually, that area around the stadium and The State offices is hosting quite a brewpub industry cluster.

      I knew about Conquest, but was unfamiliar with River Rat until I went there with some newspaper colleagues after that recent awards thing at the paper.

      Now Swamp Cabbage.

      Is the Hunter-Gatherer brewery going to be in the same area?

      1. Brad Warthen Post author

        Also, I assume this clustering has something to do with being just outside city limits. Are they avoiding a zoning limitation imposed by Columbia?

        1. Kathryn Braun Fenner

          Not that I am aware of. There is probably a dearth of industrial-zoned properties in town in places where folks might want to go to sample the brews. Around the stadium is a good fit for both brewing and quaffing.

        2. Norm Ivey

          I had a comment right here that was held for moderation (too many links), but it appears to be deleted. (Not that something can both appear AND be deleted, but you know what I mean.) Was I offensive?

      2. Norm Ivey

        According to Free Times, H-G has “everything but a location.”

        I’m not sure why they are clustering together. Same thing seems to be happening in Charleston. From what I read craft breweries have a sort of “There’s plenty of room for all of us” attitude nationwide. Many of them are big on doing collaborative brews, and it seems much more like a brother-and-sisterhood than a cutthroat competition business model.

        Oh, and there’s a Brew Bus starting up to tote you from brewery to brewery.

        1. Brad Warthen Post author

          Presumably there are no open containers on the bus.

          What’s the rule on that, by the way? I was at a work-related social gathering last week, and at the end of it the hostess said she wanted some to take the rest of the sangria home. Since I knew my wife liked sangria, I offered to take it home. It was in a Tupperware-type picture.

          All the way home, I wondered whether I’d be in trouble if I were stopped by the police…

          1. Silence

            I think you are allowed to drink in charter buses and limos and stuff. Just not in private cars.

        2. Doug Ross

          The Columbia Brew Bus will be having a launch party this Friday, Aug. 22 at Craft and Draft at 2706 Devine St. in Columbia from 5-8 p.m.

          Here’s a link to the Facebook event page with more information

          1. Silence

            Perhaps we should start a more, shall we say, “Adult Oriented” bus-based business?
            We’ll need one bus, some cocktail tables, a DJ, lights, and a few brass poles.
            We will also need a catchy name:
            Steve Benjamin’s Booty Bus
            The Columbia Boobie Bus
            A Vroom with a View
            The Bottomless Bus
            The Coochie COMET
            The Peppermint Hippopotamus

            1. Silence

              I like Diesel Rinocerous, even if “rhinoceros” and “sergeant” are spelled incorrectly.
              HOWEVER – since Columbia is a leader in the clean hydrogen transportation movement, I think it should be the “Hydrogen Rhinoceros” instead. That way we can avoid polluting our planet.

            2. Bryan Caskey

              The “Hydrogen Rhinoceros”?

              Love it.

              That’s the winner. If that’s not a name for a mobile gentleman’s club, then it at least ought to be a name for a rock band.

          1. Silence

            They probably need to get the stripper poles inspected for structural integrity and cleanliness…

      1. Brad Warthen Post author

        OK, I did a search, and I’ve mentioned him twice. But both times, it was in text that I had copied and pasted from somewhere. I was pretty sure I had not at any time typed his name on the blog, and I was right.

        The reason for that is that he doesn’t interest me, and neither do the topics he tends to go on about…

    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      Google Adsense is getting with the program! The banner I’m seeing at the moment says, “What is Hillary Clinton’s Worst Scandal? Vote!”

      I was hoping for a discussion on a somewhat higher plane, but at least the algorithm is making an effort…

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