Email Insecurity

Maybe the answer is that she wanted China and Russia to read her mail. It's just an expansive head-fake to help them feel comfortable with American diplomacy, because they think they know what you think, but you really know that you said what you wanted them to think you thought on a server they could easily hack into and read.

I mean, that's what I'd have been doing if I'd done this. It's key, though, that they don't think she's smart enough to out-think them. And I think she's got that part of the play down.

"This needs to stop, and now."

When did sports journalism start hectoring its audience to show more sensitivity? I don't read a lot of it, so maybe I missed it.

My first exposure to Ms. Rousey was in Expendables III. I don't watch television, let alone Pay Per View, so I had no idea who she was when she showed up as the bouncer-turned-mercenary in that movie. Now, movies are fantasy, but she beat the crap out of not just one but a whole horde of men in that film. And, I gather, she does have a dominant record in her sport -- really, quite impressive.

So when the guy said, "that Rousey could beat 50 percent of the male bantamweights in the UFC," I'd take that less as an expression of her superlative glory and more as an empirical claim. Can she? Can she beat any of them?

The author apparently feels the answer is definitely not, and having to admit that takes away from all she's accomplished.

But why don't we ask her? Does she want to try?

In related news, the Army announced this week that it's opening 4,100 new Special Operations jobs to women, including 18 Bravo (Special Forces Weapons Sergeant) and other positions long considered the last redoubt of men. I presume women will have to compete for these jobs in some manner. If we agree that it's insulting even to suggest an equal competition with men to the finest female fighter America has ever produced, doesn't that say something about what will be necessary to fill these positions with women?

I'm told I need to stop talking about this. And now.

Isn't That Illegal?

So, a friend of mine on the Left -- a gentleman scholar, holds a Master's Degree -- responded to my incredulity about claims that the Speaker of the House might be guilty of near-treason for inviting the Prime Minister of Israel to speak before Congress by asking, "Wasn't the invitation against the law?"

Why, no. In fact, why would it be? Congress has Article I powers related to foreign policy including -- not to put too fine a point on it -- the power to declare war! Why shouldn't they be able to invite, say, heads of state from the region where they might be thinking about possibly declaring war to give an opinion relevant to the discussion? I mean, they can order me or you to come testify about whatever they want. Why shouldn't they be able to invite pretty much anyone who has cause to be in the United States legally?

Give credit where credit is due: the propaganda has apparently been extremely strong on this occasion.

New York City Schools to Close for Muslim Holidays

That's interesting.
The official announcement by de Blasio and Schools Chancellor Carmen Farina came four hours later at PS/IS 30 in Brooklyn, where officials said 36 percent of students were absent the last time Eid al-Adha fell on a school day, according to WCBS.... Official estimates of the number of Muslims living in New York City vary from 600,000 to 1 million, with Columbia University estimating that 95 percent of Muslim children attended the city’s public schools in 2008, composing 10 percent of the public education population.
So, 90% of the children are not Muslims, but nearly four in ten didn't bother to come on Eid al-Adha?

On More Important, If Less Urgent, Business

A new argument that King Arthur fought out of Strathclyde.

I've always thought the "northern Arthur" arguments were stronger than the "southern Arthur" arguments, though the latter have historically been much more popular among historians. I suspect some part of that is the outsized influence that England and English sentiment play on the development of history as a discipline, though: where Oxford and Cambridge lead, it's hard not to follow.

Still, I take 'the City of Legions' to be much more plausibly Chester than Caerleon. The center of resistance to the invading Anglo-Saxons may well have been the Christian kingdoms in the north, Strathclyde and Dal Riada, which are likely centers because they had logistical support from areas the Anglo-Saxons never penetrated, and a proven naval trade relationship with Ireland that would have remained undisturbed during the Saxon invasions. Since the evidence of graves suggests a reverse-migration of Saxons back to the mainland during the latter part of the Arthurian period, we have reason to think that the campaign was broadly successful for a couple of decades. That implies a powerful resistance, which is also in line with the legends, not a rag-tag band of guerrillas. Such a resistance needs a strong logistical base.

Après Hillary, le déluge

Ugly news always follows the Clintons, but rarely derails them.  This has been an especially trying week, though, with reports of Secretary Clinton's using official State Department travel as donor-maintenance junkets to the foreign governments with whom she supposedly was negotiating on behalf of the United States, and conducting most if not all of her official State Department business on a private email account, for the apparent purpose of avoiding the need to respond to FOIA requests and in an equally apparent disregard for the continued security of classified information.

Bill Scher at Politico is beginning to entertain the unthinkable:  what will happen to the 2016 race if Hillary Clinton drops out?  The assumption is that at some point this press will become so disabling that Ms. Clinton's hand will be forced.  Will it, though?  Imagine what would have happened if John Ehrlichman had been in charge of the U.S. press in the early 1970s.

Sixty Days Hence

Climate disaster forecasts are very often pushed far enough out that it's hard to believe them -- much like the 1930s claims about how we'd be colonizing Saturn by now. Here's one that is not far out at all: in two months, a city of 20 million people will run out of water.
The city of Sao Paulo is home to 20 million Brazilians, making it the 12th largest mega-city on a planet dominated by shortsighted humans. Shockingly, it has only 60 days of water supply remaining. The city "has about two months of guaranteed water supply remaining as it taps into the second of three emergency reserves," reports Reuters.

Technical reserves have already been released, and as the city enters the heavy water use holiday season, its 20 million residents are riding on a fast-track collision course with severe water rationing and devastating disruptions.
Of course, one city is not 'climate,' just 'weather.' A drought is a drought. Except, the article goes on to say, it really is about a change that affects water-poor regions in general.

Don't expect the government to save you, it goes on to say.
We're often tricked into believing the government will solve all these problems for us. Yep, some Americans foolishly believe the same government which just issued $1 trillion in new debt to pay the interest on its existing debt is somehow really, really good at planning for the future instead of mortgaging it away. [2]

If fresh water were a bank account, the world's spending deficit against that account would be deeply in the red and approaching a tipping point of default. And in precisely the same way the U.S. government borrows money to cover today's expenses with no intention of ever paying it back, human society is also borrowing water to cover today's water demands with no intention or capability of ever paying it back.

Right now in California and around the world, farmers are pumping water out of the ground that should have remained there until the year 2030. As they keep pumping the aquifers dry, they'll be reaching ever more precariously forward into the future, using up water in 2015 that should have lasted until 2050 (or beyond).

In this same way, aquifers that should have lasted 100 - 200 years will be bone dry in the not-too-distant future. Farms that once produced food will instead produce a new Dust Bowl. Populations that depended on cheap food to afford basic living expenses will find themselves starving and bankrupt (and living on government food stamps, with the accompanying loss of freedom that always follows government handouts). The world's governments -- all of which rely on food affordability to keep populations relatively docile -- will find themselves facing mass revolts and social chaos.

You are about to watch a milestone event in the history of our world.
Maybe so. Either way, we only have to wait a couple months to see.

Your program guide for the S. Ct. arguments

This National Review article is the most comprehensive but concise statement I've seen so far on the tangled statement of the arguments to be this week in King v. Burwell.  It even sorts out the confusing state of the many decisions below, most of which are being held in abeyance pending the Supreme Court's decision in the case that is being argued this week.  There is more information than in most articles about the sorry history of the making of the IRS regulation (recall that this lawsuit challenges IRS rules that violate the law; it doesn't challenge the law itself).

The article passes lightly over Congress's intent, as is right in a case where there is no statutory ambiguity, but here is another article that lays out quite clearly how absurd it is to argue that there is any real question that Congress considered versions of the law that did and did not restrict subsidies to states that implemented their own exchanges, and in the end was able to pass only a law that did restrict subsidies in that way.  To the extent the IRS rule has a shred of validity, it can only come from the argument that it has discretion to implement rules consistent with a law's "purpose" even if the statutory language is ambiguous.  If this language is ambiguous, we might as well throw out all of our laws--which, come to think of it, is pretty much what our current administration is up to.

For our Austen Fans

I know we have several! I am not among them, although it sounds like this might be a part of Austen's corpus I could really enjoy.
Edward Bond once wrote, “I write about violence as naturally as Jane Austen does about manners”. Bond may be surprised to know that Austen was interested in violence and began her writing career pushing at the boundaries of what was acceptable and tasteful in literary fiction. As Kathryn Sutherland writes in her introduction to a splendid new edition of the “juvenilia”: “Jane Austen’s earliest writings are violent, restless, anarchic and exuberantly expressionistic. Drunkenness, female brawling, sexual misdemeanour and murder run riot across their pages”.
Perhaps it's too bad she grew up! A sad fate for many of us, it could be.

Good Question

'What are you talking about? Bullying the world, or ruling it through civilization?"

H/t: She Who Knows.

How Far We've Fallen

Headline, with bitter irony: "Leader of the free world speaks to joint session of Congress."

Oyster recipes

Some of my favorites:

Sangrita Oyster Shooters

24 oysters, shucked
2 cups tomato juice
4 serrano chilis
2 limes, juiced
1/2 white onion, peeled & chopped
hot sauce

Shuck oysters and keep well chilled.  For the sangrita, combine all other ingredients in a blender and puree well.  Allow this mixture to chill for one hour.  Put each oyster in a shot glass (best to choose very small oysters) and cover each with the sangrita.  Salt the rim of another set of shot glasses, then fill them with a good silver tequila.  Each guest should lick the rim of a tequila shot glass, down the sangrita/oyster mix from the other shot glass, then down the tequila.

Oysters with Cilantro-Chili-Lime Sauce

24 oysters, raw, on the half shell
6 large garlic cloves, minced
3 T cilantro, minced
4 green onions minced
1/2 cup Asian chili paste
2 T sugar
1/2 t lime zest, minced
1/3 cupe lime juice, freshly squeezed
1/3 cup Vietnamese fish sauce
1-1/2 T pickled ginger minced

Line a baking sheet with rock salt and nest the oysters in their shells in the salt.  Refrigerate until ready to use.  Combine the reserved oyster liquor and all the remaining ingredients in a large bowl or food processor.  Whisk vigorously or blend well, then let sit at room temperature for an hour.

Preheat the oven to 350 F.   Spoon sauce over each oyster and bake for 15 minutes or until the sauce is bubbly and the oysters are curled around the edges.  (We often just grill the oysters until they're done enough to pop open easily, then spoon the sauce on top.  It doesn't need to cook.)

Oyster Pan Roast

4 T unsalted butter
1/2 cup onion, finely chopped
1/2 cup fresh fennel, finely chopped
1/2 cup leek, finely chopped
1/2 cup celery, finely chopped
1 t thyme, chopped
1 t sage, chopped
2 T white flour
1/2 cup white wine
1 cup oyster liquor
2 cups cream
1 T Worcestershire sauce
1 t Pernod or similar anise-flavored liqueur
1 pint oysters, shucked
salt & pepper to taste
toast points and wilted spinach (optional)

We usually skip the spinach, and bite-sized chunks of any good fresh bread will do instead of toast points.

In a large saucepan, melt the butter and add the onion, fennel, leek, celery, thyme, and sage, stirring, for about 10 minutes.  Stir in the flour and cook for another 2 minutes.  Whisk in the white wine and oyster liquor and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer for about 5 minutes.  Whisk in the cream, Woo sauce, and Pernod.  Allow to simmer for about 10 minutes; season with salt, pepper, and hot sauce to taste.  Stir the drained oysters into the sauce and bring back to a boil.  Cook just until the edges of the oysters curl.  Spoon the sauce over toast or bread and top with spinach, if desired.

Perhaps more later!


Nidal Hasan was sentenced to death by a military court, for the Ft. Hood shootings.  It was a unanimous decision by thirteen senior officers, but it requires approval by the President as commander-in-chief.

Can God Lie?

An interesting article on Medieval and Early Modern inquiries into the question of whether the divine might lie.
There was one problem with these philosophically-minded defences of God’s essentially honest and transparent nature: scripture suggested otherwise. Robert Holkot, a 14th century Dominican theologian, popular in his day, now unjustly neglected, suggested there were any number of places in the Bible where God deceived demons, sinners and even the faithful. He deceived Abraham, father of the Jewish people, when he ordered him to sacrifice his son Isaac, only to revoke that order at the last moment, as Abraham held the knife over his rope-bound and trembling son.

Two centuries later, John Calvin reached the same conclusion while reflecting on the passage in I Kings in which God ‘wills that the false king Ahab be deceived’, sending the Devil to fulfill this wish ‘with a definite command to be a lying spirit in the mouth of all the prophets’.
What do you think? Can God lie? If he can, would God lie? If he would, why?

April 1st, eh?


The Cow Joke...

...with only capitalist variations.

I miss the communist and socialist versions, but I suppose those systems are dead and discredited now. Take note, DC.

Isn't It Time That Competence Returned to the White House?

Secretary Clinton: one savvy character.
Federal law requires government officials to conduct business communications on official media, for lots of good reasons. First, it allows for archival without the officials in question having an opportunity to “sanitize” the record. Second — and this is pretty important for the diplomatic corps — it allows the government to protect against intrusion from other nations and entities. Hillary’s practice of doing business through private servers bypassed both of those key protections....

According to the New York Times, Hillary Clinton never used the official e-mail system at all. When the time came to produce e-mails for the Benghazi probe, her aides “found” 300 or so that they chose to reveal years after the event — with no guarantee that these represent the entire record, or even a significant portion of it....

Chances of this being an oversight are nil:
Hacked emails indicate that Clinton used a domain registered the day of her Senate hearings.

— Chris Cillizza (@TheFix) March 3, 2015
The day of her Senate confirmation hearing? Give her this much credit: her strategy to avoid oversight and transparency may be the most coherent and well-executed strategy from State in the entire Obama era.

I never would have said it that way...

But I think they have a point:
How Walmart Made Liberals Turn Right

The short of it is, Conservatives have long made the argument that a perpetual welfare state is destructive to virtue, and saps the willingness of the otherwise abled to do the right thing and work for a living.  Now the Liberals are making the same claim about Walmart.  If pays too little to its workers, goes the claim, because the welfare safety net allows its workers to live on the meager wages offered by Walmart (i.e. Walmart is therefore subsidized by the welfare state).  And if only those lazy, greedy Walmart fatcats would be forced off of their welfare subsidies, they'd have to actually pay their workers better.

Useless Knowledge

Aristotle said that metaphysics is useless, in the sense that it's not for anything: every other sort of knowledge is for it. It is in metaphysics that we approach ultimate truths, the nature of being as such. Of course we don't pursue that so we can use it to make better pancakes: we make better pancakes so we can have the strength and leisure to reflect on the truth of the reality we encounter daily.

Here is a very pleasant article that makes similar claims about pure math. It's distinct from applied math, which means math that you can use for something. The article gets around to asking the question Aristotle doesn't ask, as he assumed you'd have to make a living doing something useful in order to pursue metaphysics:
Q: So if “applied” means “useful,” doesn’t it follow that “pure” must mean…

A: Useless?

Q: You said it, not me.

A: Well, I prefer the phrase “for its own sake,” but “useless” isn’t far off.

Pure mathematics is not about applications. It’s not about the “real world.” It’s not about creating faster web browsers, or stronger bridges, or investment banks that are less likely to shatter the world economy.

Pure math is about patterns, puzzles, and abstraction. It’s about ideas. It’s about the other ideas that come before, behind, next to, or on top of those initial ones. It’s about asking, “Well, if that’s true, then what else is true?” It’s about digging deeper.

Q: You’re telling me there are people out there, right this instant, doing mathematics that may never, ever be useful to anyone?

A: *glances over at wife working, verifies that she’s not currently watching Grey’s Anatomy*


Q: Um… why?

A: Because it’s beautiful! They’re charting the frontiers of human knowledge. They’re no different than philosophers, artists, and researchers in other pure sciences.

Q: Sure, that’s why they’re doing pure math. But why are we paying them?

A: Ah! That’s a trickier question. Let me distract you from it with a rambling story.

Oysters triumph again

Oyster night was smashing fun, as always, even though the drizzle kept us from what is many ways my favorite part of the evening:  retiring downstairs to the firepit and getting lost in the music in an ecstatic haze during my one night of dispensation during Lent.  Though the oyster-tequila shooters were a reliable path to more riotous party territory, it's just not the same indoors with the lights on; the party tends to break up earlier than I'd like.  Still, my husband's oyster magic was right on, and I always love the gathering of clan and neighbors and out-of-town friends to stay the weekend.  Before our houseguests left, they dragged a ladder out to the citrus trees and helped us finally harvest all the rest of the fruit, and just in time, for the new blooms are beginning to set.

A neighbor who celebrated her 94th birthday earlier this week brought a killer grapefruit pie, using fruit from our tree.  Having had it before, I knew to recommend it to unfamiliar and skeptical guests.  All evening I watched them take a bite, get a surprised and delighted look on their faces, and make a beeline to my neighbor's comfortable spot to exclaim over her pie.  This is high praise considering that another neighbor brought her key lime tarts, which are fierce competition in the died-and-gone-to-Heaven dessert category.

We're still trying to finish up the oysters (I'm looking at you, lurking neighbors who didn't come over to help eat them last night--but luckily other neighbors picked up the slack!), so the NPH made oyster nachos per a recipe from Jeffrey's in Austin, and they were if possible better than even the many wonderful offerings from the night before:

If you're going to fry an oyster, I can't recommend a buttermilk/flour dredge too highly.  We didn't use homemade yucca chips, which we've tried before without outstanding success; a good fresh corn tortilla chip with a nice crunchy crumbly feel is all you need.  This dish covers all the hot-sour-salty-sweet bases along with creamy-crunchy-chewy-bite-size thrown in.  The habanero cream and mango salsa can be made ahead of time, leaving not too much last-minute craziness for a dinner party.

American Sniper

Tonight I finally was able to get a night with my wife where we were both free to go see a movie. American Sniper was released on 16 January. Tonight is 28 February. The local theater is still playing it, and the theater was packed. There were perhaps four empty seats among the crowd. I don't know how many people in the audience had seen it before, but except for two elderly people who began to leave when the credits rolled, everyone else stayed silent in their seats until the screen went black.

I won't say much about the film in case some of you haven't seen it, except that it's a great film. There was a lot to recognize in it. Only a small amount of Hollywood BS was present, mostly for the sake of giving a general audience the kind of story they knew how to hear. Eastwood did a good job.

To Chris Kyle.
He lived long, and prospered.

Those darn smidgens

My husband and I often argue, as Tom does here as well, about the ancient "Quis custodiet ipsos custodes" dilemma.  I sure don't know the answer, other than to say that no law is self-enforcing, and words on paper don't protect anyone unless people undertake hardship and risk to insist on the meaning that underlies them.

Meanwhile, most grist for the mill:  Congress grinds toward something like enforcement of the laws against a lawless IRS despite the oft-repeated claim that years of "investigation" have not uncovered a smidgen of corruption.  I appreciated one Washington Post commenter's formulation:  "Smidgens keep popping up all over."

Not getting hung up on words

Thomas Miller at AEI passes on some legislative history shedding light on the plain meaning of the ACA re subsidies, on the assumption that anyone still cares.  Or shall we just let the government do whatever seems best in the moment?
The first Senate version of what was to become the ACA was reported from the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (“HELP”) on September 17, 2009, as S. 1679, the Affordable Health Choices Act. In that bill the States were given a 4-year period following enactment to establish a “Gateway”—a Health Insurance Exchange. If a State failed or refused to establish a “Gateway” at the end of that period the Secretary of Health and Human Services was directed to establish and operate a Federal Fallback “Gateway” in that State.
Expressly stated in S. 1679’s Federal Fallback established by the Secretary was a direct stipulation that the residents of that State “shall be eligible for premium credits” to pay for qualified health plans under certain conditions. See S. 1679, proposed Public Health Service Act section 3104(d)(1)(D). The bill explicitly tied the availability of the premium credits to the Federal Fallback “Gateway” and closely expressed then what is now only imagined to be included in the statutory text at issue in King v. Burwell.
That clear and explicit authorization that premium tax credits were also available through a “Gateway” established by the Secretary of Health and Human Services was subsequently not included in the version of the ACA later reported from the Senate Committee on Finance on October 9, 2009, as S. 1796, the America’s Health Future Act. The Senate Finance Committee version only authorized the establishment of Exchanges by a State and the availability of premium tax credits through Exchanges “established by the State”.
. . . Pertinent to King v. Burwell, the Senate Amendment was a deliberate “merger” of the two committee proposals consisting mostly of the Finance bill and adding the HELP federal fallback but without the premium credit tie-in language.
The issue in King v. Burwell initially is all about whether the Court can read into a law any statutory language that was earlier considered by the Congress but was not adopted in the subsequently enacted final version of that law. The Supreme Court has said in the past that there are few principles of statutory construction that are more compelling than the proposition that Congress does not intend to enact as statutory language provisions that it has earlier discarded in favor of other language. See Doe v. Chao, 540 U.S. 614, 622 (2004).
There's a appealing nostalgia in reading words from the days when the "exchanges" would be openly called "Gateways."  That was when Obamacare proponents were more willing to admit that the point of the exercise was to establish a narrow gate between you and your healthcare insurance, which they would guard assiduously.  An "exchange," now, that summons up all kinds of illusions of choice, almost market-like.  I'm also charmed to be reminded that an earlier version of the bill was called the "Affordable Health Choices Act."  Because it's all about the choice!  Isn't the real freedom being limited to the one right way, because it's good for you?

In a discussion at Megan McArdle's column, the usual complaint was made that evil Republicans won't say what they would replace the ACA with (as if they hadn't published a zillion alternative proposals, but never mind).  One answer given was:  "We'd replace it with the same thing we replaced slavery with:  nothing."

I'm following this statutory interpretation argument with professional interest.  I understand the statutory interpretation arguments on the plaintiffs' side, which are fairly traditional.  I'm less clear about the argument for the defendant, which basically amounts to saying "The language must not say that, because it would contradict overarching principles, which is to say that there might have been explicit trade-offs, and that never happens."  Not even my shaken confidence in the probity of the Supreme Court allows me to entertain the notion that they would adopt such a shoddy argument.  I'm guessing that, if they punt this thing, they'll do it by invoking the lack of standing.  That's a cowardly approach, but one with a more Court-like pedigree.

Oh, oysters, come and walk with us

Our annual Oysterfest is tomorrow, so we are in mad prep mode.
“I think oysters are more beautiful than any religion," he resumed presently. "They not only forgive our unkindness to them; they justify it, they incite us to go on being perfectly horrid to them. Once they arrive at the supper-table they seem to enter thoroughly into the spirit of the thing. There's nothing in Christianity or Buddhism that quite matches the sympathetic unselfishness of an oyster.”

Mystery solved

From Bookworm Room:

Champagne on ice

Christian Schneider on "wage theft" laws:
During Chuck Nevitt's undistinguished NBA playing career, he earned the nickname "The Human Victory Cigar," as he only made it onto the court after his team was ahead by an insurmountable margin. . . .
In Wisconsin politics, the billionaire Koch brothers have now become the Republican human victory cigars. When the left has exhausted every talking point and political strategy, it trots out uncles Charles and David Koch as a last gasp.
Hearing the word "Koch" from a Democrat means something he really doesn't like is about to happen, and he is powerless to stop it. When it is invoked, there is likely a Republican and a bottle of champagne chilling nearby.
Such is the case with this week's right-to-work debate as legislative Republicans are poised to send a bill to Gov. Scott Walker's desk.

A 2-L llama, that's a beast

Llamas being llassoed on the streets of Phoenix, film at 11. As Ace says,
Video of the great llama chase here. Actually, it's just the lassoed llama being led through the streets, like Hector being dragged behind Achilles' chariot. 
Thus all heroes.

What IS the Free Market

I think far too often, we get wrapped up in terminology and concepts and we lose sight of the simple truths of things.  When we discuss supply and demand, we think in very nebulous terms.  We don't think of the simple, natural, human interactions that these terms encompass.  We think of markets, and stocks, and companies, and not of the people that make up these things.  And I think we lose sight of how each item we touch in our day to day lives exists because of, not in spite of, the free market.

As such, I present to you a short video, only about six minutes long (if you don't stay through the credits) which I believe helps show how even the simplest item is the product of a web of humanity that, without considering it, makes everything possible.  I submit to the Hall... the pencil:

Nothing To See Here

The U.S. Department of State slammed the reported Islamic State siege of several Syrian villages and subsequent abduction of 150 Christian men, women and children, calling it an act of “evil” and insisting such violence needs to stop — but that most terror victims have been Muslims.

The department also fell shy of labeling the terror attack and kidnapping as rooted in anti-Christian sentiment, suggesting it was simply one of several that the Islamic State had conducted against those of all faiths — especially Muslims.
If ten men got sent to prison and four of them were black, this same administration would cry racism (as black men don't make up 40% of the population overall, but are 40% of prisoners in this example). Somehow that argument, which seems so clear to them when applied to American society, just isn't available when talking about a society in which the vast majority are Muslims -- but somehow religious minorities seem to suffer disproportionately.

Somehow. But certainly not because of "anti-Christian sentiment" on behalf of the so-called "Islamic State."

We don't need no stinking media

From Jim Gerraghty's email newsletter this morning:
To play the [popular video game "Ingress"], you join a side, either the Enlightened or the Resistance, and walk around to various [real world] landmarks and claiming them for your side. By claiming three landmarks, you create a triangle, and your side “controls” the people within that triangle.
* * *
Maybe you’re one of the folks who have heard of this; the fan base is global. But the game went open to “general release” in December 2013 and I had heard absolutely nothing about this. I asked Flint and a couple other folks involved in the game if I had missed it from media coverage, and they chuckled that Google doesn’t need media coverage for its projects. I felt as if I had asked why they hadn’t chiseled any stone tablets to spread the word.
Think about this; as we on the right argue about the mainstream media’s power over the electorate and how we can counter it, Google -- admittedly, an institution with enormous resources and technical know-how -- is demonstrating that a small team can build something massively popular, with millions of participants, with almost no one in the media noticing.
* * *
Never mind the question, “Are the mainstream media still powerful?” In some corners of our national or global life, are the mainstream media even a factor at all?

Atlanta's James Bond

Lewis Grizzard, mentioned in the comments below, explains a car theft in our capital city. Stop after that if you don't like bawdy humor.