Orbital Matters

Saturn Smith
Editor’s Pick
MARCH 16, 2012 9:49PM

"This American Life" offers Painful, Necessary Retraction

No kidding: The retraction broadcast (transcript in PDF) of This American Life's "Mr. Daisey and the Apple Factory" story has some of the most uncomfortable, long silences I've recently heard. It's a squirm-worthy story, listening to host Ira Glass interview Mike Daisey about his fabrications. These… Read full post »

Editor’s Pick
MARCH 14, 2012 2:13AM

Post-Mitt-Mortem: It's beginning to look a lot like Reagan

Ah, the South: Kicking expectant presidential candidates in the balls since 19… whatever. OK, with the GOP, that's not always true. Though early-voting South Carolina and Georgia can be a little fickle, the rest of the states -- when they don't have a local boy in the race -- tend to… Read full post »

Editor’s Pick
MARCH 13, 2012 12:18AM

Doonesbury strip pulled to avoid confusing Georgia readers

In case your newspaper isn't running Doonesbury this week, here it is. Just as interesting is the moderated discussion being posted under "Blowback" at the Doonesbury site, which ranges from touching stories about personal encounters to promises to pray for the artist's pro-murder soul.

Agreeing or… Read full post »

Editor’s Pick
MARCH 11, 2012 3:54AM

The good news about the Kansas Caucuses

Here's something to feel a little more cheery about after hearing tonight's Kansas GOP caucus results: Of the approximately 1.7 million registered voters in Kansas, just under 30,000 showed up to tonight's caucuses. That means that only 1.7 percent of those registered to vote participated today, and… Read full post »

Editor’s Pick
MARCH 9, 2012 4:44PM

Fake chicken (and Mark Bittman) to the rescue?

I'm very interested in the way that the New York Times has decided to elevate the value of food writers in the last year. Frank Bruni, the former restaurant reviewer, is also there, tackling topics as diverse as the 2012 election and Whitney Houston. Sam Sifton, the restaurant critic after Bruni,… Read full post »

Hillary Bill Chelsea Clinton Al GoreThis sounds like a show I'll definitely put in the queue next fall (via Alyssa Rosenberg):
I’ve been saying repeatedly how excited I am for Political Animals, the USA Network’s six-hour show this summer about a First Lady turned divorced Secretary of State, and the trend of womenRead full post »

Edited to include full text! Sorry, anyone who's reading, I didn't realize this was cross-posting this way.

I finally finished my time warp read of the week, Game Change, yesterday. Nothing was really new in the book -- I felt like I'd already read and read about all of… Read full post »

Editor’s Pick
OCTOBER 9, 2011 2:52AM

Dump Biden for Hillary in '12? History Says....

OK, haha, there was a Bloggingheads three-minute "discussion" of whether President Obama should trade Joe Biden to the Oakland A's for Hillary Clinton as Vice President in 2012.

This happens every four years like political scientist fantasy clockwork. Someone looks at the incumbent president and go… Read full post »

Editor’s Pick
JULY 7, 2011 3:03PM

Is lower immigration from Mexico a good thing?

A story in The New York Times yesterday discussed how immigration from Mexico to the United States has actually fallen to the lowest level since the 1950s. Someone, somewhere, is surprised about why:

The extraordinary Mexican migration that delivered millions of illegal immigrants to the United St… Read full post »
Editor’s Pick
JULY 5, 2011 3:47PM

The Newest X-Man: Rick Perry

I'm fairly certain that Texas Governor Rick Perry is trying his best to read former President George W. Bush's mind here:



It is heartening to know that I'm not the only one who enjoyed the newest X-men movie, even if I suspect Gov. Perry and I have… Read full post »

Editor’s Pick
JULY 2, 2011 1:57AM

I'm all for unzipping the Founding Fathers, but...

One of the most popular stories on the Newsweek/Daily Beast site right now is the debut column of Simon Schama, a professor of history at Columbia University. Part of the column's popularity no doubt comes from its title, "The Founding Fathers, Unzipped," and part comes from the promise of controvers… Read full post »

Editor’s Pick
JUNE 16, 2011 3:54PM

Democrats "win" as Weiner resigns: Party business as usual

000D4BCB-0DFE-4BA2-8004-57EACA7A7207.jpgFormer House Representative Anthony Weiner

More and more, I find the differences between the parties in actually policy to be small, while the difference in the character of the two parties is large.

Democrats, who are willing to compromise on the House or Senate floor, "make up" for this per… Read full post »

Editor’s Pick
MAY 26, 2011 2:30PM

John Edwards May Face Criminal Charges

Photo of John EdwardsJohn Edwards.

Well, this is a little unsurprising:

After reports emerged that the Justice Department had decided to bring criminal charges against Mr. Edwards, his lawyer, Gregory Craig, issued a defiant statement saying that the government was operating only on an untested “theory&rdq… Read full post »

I'm watching a near-constant scroll of reactions to Osama bin Laden's death roll past on various blog sites, Facebook and Twitter, and I'm alarmed at the number of folks I see who want "proof" of bin Laden's death. The news that he's been buried at sea has been met with a… Read full post »

Editor’s Pick
MAY 2, 2011 1:23AM

Bin Laden is Dead: What Does it Mean?

Flag in front of White House 5-1-11

It is an ending like all meaningful endings, an ending that leaves us with more questions than answers. What will it mean? What was it all for? Why now? Why then? What happens next?

Somewhere, in a million-dollar complex in an apparently secure and quiet suburb of the capital… Read full post »

Editor’s Pick
MAY 1, 2011 11:23PM

Liveblog, a bit: Bin Laden Dead, Obama to Speak

ObamaSpeaks from White House site

What is there to say about this? I find it hard to cheer for the death of any human being, particularly, and I don't believe that the death of any single man will change or even seriously alter the problems that America faces in the world. Yet the announcement that's expected… Read full post »

Editor’s Pick
APRIL 28, 2011 2:52PM

In Defense of Wanting to Watch the Royal Wedding

There's a handy GOOD flow-chart making the rounds of the Twitterverse at the moment, the lesson of which is that only a nihilist would care about the Royal Wedding. This is because, I gather, it is impossible to care about one's family, one's national politics, and one's suffering world while simulta… Read full post »

Editor’s Pick
APRIL 22, 2011 5:49PM

Mortenson's Money Troubles Should Be No Surprise

broken tea cup
Flickr: Nanon | CC License

The reports that parts of Greg Mortenson's co-written autobiographical story, Three Cups of Tea, have been condensed for effect, embellished, or flat-out made up are both saddening and not particularly surprising. Reports that Mortensen has been misusing/… Read full post »

Editor’s Pick
APRIL 21, 2011 12:59AM

Confessions of a Library Thief

Funny pictures you have some overdue library books


You know those heart-warming stories you hear about someone finding a book fifty years after they first checked it out, a book they thought had been lost in a move or drowned on the Titanic or burned by a spurned lover? Then the book gets found and… Read full post »

APRIL 18, 2011 4:47PM

American Taxes Could Be Worse: So?

Matt Yglesias posted a familiar graph on Friday, showing how low American taxes are compared to those paid in other 1st-world countries. Basically, if you live in Norway, Denmark, and Sweden, other than enjoying a recent rebirth of your countries' mystery-novel exports, you spend your time sending qu… Read full post »

Editor’s Pick
APRIL 16, 2011 2:53AM

California May Require Teaching of American History

California Rainbow Flag Via Democratic Underground

This is the worst headline I've seen in a while: "California May Require Teaching of Gay History." Here's the start of the story from the New York Times:

In California public schools, students are required to learn about black history and women’s history. And if a bill approved… Read full post »
Editor’s Pick
APRIL 10, 2011 8:34PM

Climate Change Hits North Dakota, Again (and Again)

Record temperatures in the arctic have been linked to the snowstorms this year that are currently causing the fourth-worst flood of all times in Fargo, North Dakota. Last year, they had the fifth-worst flood of all time, and two years ago, the worst ever. It's been that kind of decade for… Read full post »

Editor’s Pick
APRIL 8, 2011 5:38PM

On the Shutdown: Sometimes, Courage Means Looking Foolish

elephantElephant! Flickr: nickandmel | CC License

Representative Blake Farenthold did an interview with TalkingPointsMemo today about how cutting funding from Planned Parenthood would make it easier for him to go home and explain to his district why he hadn't fulfilled a ridiculous pledge to cut $100/… Read full post »

APRIL 2, 2011 7:12PM

The Wisconsin Response

43E635B9-72D7-42D5-A4ED-0A36CD29811F.jpgUW Chancellor Biddy Martin

Who else is ready to move to Madison? Check out the Chancellor's response to the public records request:
Scholars and scientists pursue knowledge by way of open intellectual exchange. Without a zone of privacy within which to conduct and protect their work, scholars… Read full post »

Qu ran jmcphotos
The Holy Qu'ran at the Pergamom Museum, Berlin. Flickr/JMCPhotos/CC License.

What can one even say about this? "Afghans Angry Over Florida Koran Burning Kill U.N. Staff":

Stirred up by a trio of angry mullahs who urged them to avenge the burning of a Koran at a Florida… Read full post »