Don’t Even Think About it, You’ll Never Be Able to Open Champagne Like Alton Brown


From Daily DotMike Fenn writes: If there is anyone who would know how to open a bottle of Champagne like a boss, it would be Good Eats and Iron Chef America personality Alton Brown.

“…under no condition do I advocate you attempting to undertake this desperately dangerous display of panache.”

In a May 7 YouTube video, Brown explains a method of popping open a bottle of bubbly that has not been seen since the days of Napoleon: ditching the corkscrew and instead using a saber. Yes, Brown enthusiastically endorses “sabering” a bottle of Champagne. Read the rest of this entry »


Saudi Arabian Court Orders 1,000 Lashes and Ten-Year Sentence for Website Editor


Severe sentence comes after Kingdom criticized Norway’s human rights record

For The IndependentHeather Saul writes: A Saudi Arabian court has sentenced the editor of a website that discussed religion in the ultra-conservative Islamic kingdom to 10 years in jail and 1,000 lashes.

Raif Badawi, who started the “Free Saudi Liberals” website, was arrested in June 2012 and charged with cyber-crime and disobeying his father – a crime in the Arab state, local media has reported.

His website included articles that were critical of senior religious figures such as Saudi Arabia’s Grand Mufti and allegedly insulted Islam and religious authorities, according to Human Rights Watch.

Prosecutors had demanded Badawi be tried for apostasy, a charge which carries the death penalty, but this was dismissed by the judge.

Badawi was originally sentenced to seven years in prison and 600 lashes in July last year, but an appeals court overturned the sentence and ordered a retrial – which then earned him a more severe sentence. Read the rest of this entry »

The Great Society at Fifty


What LBJ wrought

For The Weekly StandardNicholas Eberstadt writes: May 22, 2014, marks the 50th anniversary of President Lyndon Baines Johnson’s “Great Society” address, delivered at the spring commencement for the University of Michigan.

[Below: On Jan. 4, 1965, President Lyndon Johnson outlined his goals for a Great Society in his State of the Union. You can watch and read his entire speech at]

That speech remains the most ambitious call to date by any president (our current commander in chief included) to use the awesome powers of the American state to effect a far-reaching transformation of the society that state was established to serve. It also stands as the high-water mark for Washington’s confidence in the broad meliorative properties of government social policy, scientifically applied.


No less important, the Great Society pledge, and the fruit this would ultimately bear, profoundly recast the common understanding of the ends of governance in our country. The address heralded fundamental changes​—​some then already underway, others still only being envisioned​—​that would decisively expand the scale and scope of government in American life and greatly alter the relationship between that same government and the governed in our country today.

In his oration, LBJ offered a grand vision of what an American welfare state​—​big, generous, and interventionist​—​might accomplish. Difficult as this may be for most citizens now alive to recall, the United States in the early 1960s was not yet a modern welfare state: Our only nationwide social program in those days was the Social Security system, which provided benefits for workers’ retirement and disability and for orphaned or abandoned children of workers. Johnson had gradually been unveiling this vision, starting with his declaration of a “War on Poverty” in his first State of the Union months earlier in 1964, just weeks after John F. Kennedy’s assassination. In LBJ’s words,  “The Great Society rests on abundance and liberty for all. It demands an end to poverty and racial injustice, to which we are totally committed in our time. But that,” he said, “is just the beginning.”

The Great Society proposed to reach even further: to bring about wholesale renewal of our cities, beautification of our natural surroundings, vitalization of our educational system. All this, and much more​—​and the solutions to the many obstacles encountered in this great endeavor, we were told, would assuredly be found, since this undertaking would “assemble the best thought and the broadest knowledge from all over the world to find those answers for America.”

Memorably, Johnson insisted that the constraints on achieving the goals he outlined were not availability of the national wealth necessary for the task or the uncertainties inherent in such complex human enterprises, but instead simply our country’s resolve​—​whether we as a polity possessed sufficient “wisdom” to embark on the venture.
Read the rest of this entry »

So Long, Suckers: Common Core Backlash Claims New Political Casualties


Michelle Malkin writes: All politics is local. So Republican politicians with national ambitions better pay attention to what grassroots parents are saying and doing about the federal education racket known as Common Core. In bellwether Indiana this week, anti-Common Core activists won a pair of pivotal electoral victories against GOP Gov. Mike Pence.

Pence’s attempt to mollify critics by rebranding and repackaging shoddy Common Core standards is fooling no one.

Tuesday’s Republican primary elections in the Hoosier state resulted in the landslide defeat of two establishment incumbents running for statewide re-election. Pence had endorsed GOP State Rep. Kathy Heuer over challenger Christopher Judy. Pence’s Lt. Gov. Sue Ellspermann had endorsed GOP State Rep. Rebecca Kubacki over challenger Curt Nisly. The incumbents enjoyed the support of the Common Core-promoting U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Read the rest of this entry »

Federal Government Approves $20 Billion Presidential Helicopter Replacements


Marine One-to-be: An artist’s rendering shows what Sikorsky’s proposed ‘VXX‘ presidential helicopter might look like

For  Mail Online, David Martosko reports: The Department of Defense awarded a contract on Wednesday to a Connecticut company that will build a fleet of helicopters to replace the Marine One fleet that ferries U.S. presidents short distances.

The contract, given to Sikorsky Aircraft Corporation, will cost an initial $1,244,677,064 ‘for the engineering and manufacturing development phase of the Presidential Helicopter Replacement program.’ For that price the U.S. Navy will get six test aircraft and all the necessary research & development.

The Pentagon made a similar attempt to replace the aging fleet of Sikorsky choppers, spending $3.2 billion on a landing pad to nowhere.

Adding in the likely $17 billion price tag for the new project – a numberestimated by the Congressional Budget Office – the $20 billion total makes the fleet the most expensive helicopters ever built.


Seeing double? If the current fleet of presidential choppers looks a lot like the new one, it’s because the same company will build them, and it was the only firm to bid on the project

The CBO reports that the projected cost also ‘does not include costs to keep the 19 existing presidential helicopters in operation until they are replaced by new helicopters.’ Read the rest of this entry »

The Banality of the Celebrity Profile and How it Got to Be That Way

Anne-Helen-PFor The Believer, Ann Helen Peterson writes: At its best, the celebrity profile fosters a feeling of warm intimacy. We read the profile, and we feel we have been granted access not just to the contents of the celebrity’s overnight bag but to the contents of his or her heart. Yet this same profile simultaneously manages to reveal no new information. We love it because it confirms our best beliefs. No other form so seamlessly constructs the necessary components of celebrity, exploiting the desire to see our idol as both “just like us” and nothing like us, as both the girl next door and a goddess above. It is, in other words, spectacularly banal.51XFv1MDGOL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_

[Pre-order Ann Helen Peterson‘s upcoming book: Scandals of Classic Hollywood: Sex, Deviance, and Drama from the Golden Age of American Cinema from]

Yet the celebrity profile serves a crucial industrial function: it sells the media products in which the celebrity appears; it sells the magazine that publishes the profile; but, most important, it sells the celebrity’s image and the values that image is made to represent. A profile of Robert Downey Jr. labors to reinforce the central tenets of his image (the phoenix-like return, the affability, the specter of his party-boy youth); a profile of Jennifer Lawrence convinces us that the joking, off-the-cuff, cool-girl charisma we see in her post–Oscar win interviews is not a performance but her authentic self. Each profile is almost eerily on message: Ryan Gosling is introspective; George Clooney is charismatic.

“Historian Charles Ponce De Leon dates the emergence of personality journalism to the development of the ‘public sphere’ in the late eighteenth century…”

The trick, of course, is to make it look like the profile is not selling anything. It’s just a chat between friends, or a nonchalant trip to the desert to get tipsy, engage in some “real talk” that article_petersensets forth the celebrity’s most winning attributes, and meander to a discussion of his or her upcoming project. This elision is crucial to the celebrity process writ large: we want to believe that these celebrities give of themselves willingly, not because of economic imperative.

“…A man needn’t be a member of the aristocracy or even from a well-to-do family; he just needed to be public.”

These tensions within the celebrity profile—selling oneself versus erasing evidence of the sale, generating intimacy while disclosing nothing—have structured the profile for decades. And the profile of the late twentieth and early twenty-first century enacts a return to the publicity style of classic Hollywood, when the studios found raw “star material” in the form of pliable young talent, packaged it, labeled it with prefabricated type, and sold the star in a meticulously mediated bundle to the American public. Read the rest of this entry »

Five Chinese weapons of war America should fear

China Daily Mail

Chinese Soldier Chinese Soldier

American bimonthly The National Interest asks in its recent article titled “Five Chinese Weapons of War America Should Fear” –  “China’s economy is on the rise – and so is its military. Should Washington be concerned?” and says:

In the last twenty years, China has quickly ascended from a regional to global military power. A generation ago, the People’s Liberation Army was armed with antiquated weapons and oriented towards a manpower-intensive “People’s War”. In the intervening period China has gone from a green to blue water navy, the air force is actively developing so-called fifth-generation fighters, and the army has been extensively modernized.

A vast array of new Chinese weapons are under development, some alarming in their potential.

China’s neighbors and the United States are observing China’s buildup with interest and concern. China is showing itself to be particularly interested in projecting military power in support of…

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Condolences to Harry Reid


“The Editors would like to extend our condolences to Senator Harry Reid and his family as they go through this difficult time. While we can only guess at the exact nature of the psychiatric or neurological trauma the Senate majority leader has suffered, we assume that it is severe, judging by his symptoms, the most prominent of which is his new habit of taking to the Senate floor to deliver speeches that sound like they ought to be coming from a man wearing a bathrobe in front of a liquor store in Cleveland…”

(read more)

National Review Online

Templeton Rye Distillery in Iowa is Raising Pigs to Taste Like Whiskey


“This is something somebody is going to do, and we want to be at the cutting edge of it, and I think we are.”

— Distillery co-founder Keith Kerkhoff

TEMPLETON, Iowa, May 9 (UPI) — Just when it seemed like there was no way to make eating bacon an even more excessive experience, some folks in Iowa came up with a way.

The Templeton Rye Pork Project was started at the Templeton Rye Distillery in the hope of raising pigs that will taste like whiskey.


The 25 purebred Duroc pigs in the project were born in January 2014 and they are subsisting on a diet that incorporates distillery grain into their food. “As a group who appreciates both flavor and quality, we thought it would interesting to bring to market a selection of heritage breed pigs fed a diet using spent Templeton Rye mash,” according to the project’s website. Read the rest of this entry »

4.7-Inch iPhone 6 Confirmed for Sept 2014 Release Date as Apple Orders 50M iPhones from Pegatron

More voices were added to the snowballing iPhone 6 discourse, its 2014 release date supposedly gaining more ground as a new render and fresh details defining the hotly-anticipated handset came out. (Photo: Nikola Cirkovic)

More voices were added to the snowballing iPhone 6 discourse, its 2014 release date supposedly gaining more ground as a new render and fresh details defining the hotly-anticipated handset came out. (Photo: Nikola Cirkovic)

For International Business TimesErik Pineda  writes: The iPhone 6 release date is fast shaping up to become real on September 2014 as mass production of the 4.7-inch version is reportedly already underway, according to new reports.


Reports coming from Taiwan and Japan, which according to MacRumors were picked up by Industrial & Commercial Times and MacOtakara respectively, appear to indicate that Apple manufacturing partner Pegatron has started production activities for the tech giant’s 2014 iPhone thrust.

Pegatron is one of the iPhone maker’s two major mobile device assemblers from Asia. The one is Foxconn, which according to Apple Insider is slated to take up some 85 per cent of iPhone production duties this 2014.

Read the rest of this entry »

Vintage Comic Book Cover of the Night: Fantastic Adventures May 1940 Vol. 2 No. 5


Fantastic Adventures 
Vol. 2 No. 5
Ziff-Davis Publishing (USA)
May 1940

The Whispering Gorilla 

Cover art by Stockton Mulfordvia

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