And now everyone can please shut up about Georgia, too.

What is there to say but Roll Tide?

Alabama is now ranked 2nd in the AP, behind only Oklahoma, who will doubtless fall to #5 Texas before too long. (USC, bless their overrated little hearts, is down at 9 — still ahead of Georgia, though, which seems unfair; I’d swap ’em and put USC down at 11.) The top five is now: OU, UA, LSU, Mizz, Texas. LSU is also the only game Alabama can lose and not cause grumbling (i.e., based on the fact that Saban’s only in year 2). If they take the Tigers, though, they could run the table IF Saban can keep their intensity up.

By the way, the AP poll features SIX SEC squads: Alabama, LSU, #11 Georgia, #12 Florida, #13 Auburn, and #19 Vandy (who are still undefeated after 4 games, including conference foes the Gamecocks and the same Ole Miss squad who beat Florida this week). That’s half the conference (left out are the two usually-helpless Mississippi teams, Arkansas, Spurrier’s Cocks, Kentucky, and Tennessee; of those, in any given year the Vols and the Razorbacks are typically rankable at some point).

Creampuff Watch: Who the hell really believes Penn State deserves to be #6? They’ve played 4 creampuffs and allowed 3 TDs and a field goal against Illinois. WTF?

CNN grows balls

After Palin refused to allow actual reporters to a series of meetings with world leaders, they pulled their camera crew.

NEW YORK (AP) — Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin, who has not held a press conference in nearly four weeks of campaigning, on Tuesday banned reporters from her first meetings with world leaders, allowing access only to photographers and a television crew.

CNN, which was providing the television coverage for news organizations, decided to pull its TV crew, effectively denying Palin the high visibility she had sought.

Heathen Reminder: Pyrex isn’t Pyrex anymore

In 1998, Corning sold the Pyrex brand to World Kitchen, and it appears that around then Pyrex sold in the US stopped being made out of borosilicate glass; instead, now it’s conventional soda lime glass. Borosilicate composition is the sine qua non of Pyrex; Pyrex was Pyrex — which is to say, able to go from oven to cooktop to freezer with no danger of breakage — because it was borosilicate, not normal tempered glass. Pyrex made form conventional glass just isn’t the Pyrex we all came to know in the years prior to 1998.

It’s a worse problem, actually, than the obvious, i.e. a sudden drop in quality. People buy Pyrex pan with the expectation that they can bake a chicken in it, but the new Pyrex pans just might spontaneously shatter (with some force!) under such heating. Needless to say, both Corning and World Kitchen would very much like everyone to shut up about this, but thankfully Consumer Affairs hasn’t, and won’t.

Bottom line: Do not buy Pyrex. Find a supplier who actually make borosilicate glass if you want what Pyrex used to be.

One reason we still have a Drug War

It enriches law enforcement. You see, law-enforcement organizations are able to seize and use assets from drug raids — even in the absence of charges being filed, let alone convictions. Happen to like to keep cash around? Better hope nobody calls in a false report on you, because the cops will take it and you’ll have to sue them to recover it.

The Birmingham News, of all places, points out why this is a terrible idea.

God, apparently, hates Chase

Check out this shot of Downtown Houston’s Chase Tower, which sustained bizarrely heavy damage during Ike; from the linked post:

This view is from the south, showing the southwest and southeast sides of the building. The topmost missing window is on the 47th floor. From about the 30th floor down, all of the windows on the southeast side are missing.

It’s really striking, but more striking is the fact that no other building in downtown Houston sustained this kind of damage at all. I drove downtown on Monday after the storm, and was hard pressed to see more than a random window or two broken in buildings that weren’t Chase. Weird.

Yet another Right-wing smear

No, Barack Obama is not an arab. Jesus.

LIMBAUGH’S LATEST SMEAR…. I don’t want to alarm anyone, but it appears that Rush Limbaugh is blisteringly stupid when it comes to race and ethnicity.

Rush Limbaugh baselessly asserted of Sen. Barack Obama: “Do you know he has not one shred of African-American blood?” Limbaugh continued: “He’s Arab. You know, he’s from Africa. He’s from Arab parts of Africa…. [H]e’s not African-American. The last thing that he is is African-American.”

Limbaugh concluded his little rant by telling his audience, “Everything seems upside-down today in this country.”

The irony was rich.

As Media Matters reported, this “Obama is actually Arab” line has been making the rounds in right-wing circles, and has been featured in a variety of conservative settings. It’s also demonstrably ridiculous.

First, it’s probably worth noting that Obama is not “Arab” “from Africa,” he’s American from Hawaii. (You know, the place Cokie Roberts mocks for being “exotic.”) Second, his father is from Kenya, and Kenya isn’t an Arab part of Africa. Third, “African American” generally refers to black people in the United States of African lineage. “The last thing that he is is African American”? Please.

But let’s not overlook the point here — far-right hacks aren’t quite done with the smear. The efforts to label Obama “Arab” is just the latest twist in a larger effort launched by those motivated by fear and bigotry.

If the GOP thought they could beat Obama by getting surrogates like Limbaugh to call him “n—-r” on-air, you know they’d fucking do it in a heartbeat.

(Hat tip to Frank.)

You’ll forgive us if we’re a bit overwhelmed.

I’m not feeling particularly moved by the Heathen spirit, for reasons that should be obvious. It’s been a shitty fucking week. Even so, here are a few things I might’ve gone on longer about given the absence of Ike, or the continued presence of Cary:

Mrs Heathen: “You’ve got to be kidding me.”

It never rains, right? From the Chron: “Tiger reported loose on Bolivar Peninsula, judge says

GALVESTON — Texas authorities busy trying to clean up after Hurricane Ike have a new problem on their hands: There’s a tiger loose. A county official said today that the animal somehow left its enclosure at an exotic pets center in Crystal Beach. Animal experts are coming in to try and catch the tiger. Galveston County Judge Jim Yarbrough put it this way: “Turns out there’s a tiger, and I understand he’s hungry … so we’re staying away from him.” Crystal Beach is on the Bolivar Peninsula. The area is one of the hardest-hit by Ike. The news follows reports of a lion holed up in a Baptist church with its owner on Bolivar Peninsula as well as livestock and other animals roaming amid Hurricane Ike’s wreckage.

(Note for non-Texans: for reasons lost to time and known but to God, the chief executive at the county level is called the County Judge. Despite the implications of the title, they are executive, not judicial, positions.)

Who McCain was, and who he has become

Finally, it seems, the media is noticing the profound and craven about-face McCain has undertaken in his dogged pursuit of higher office:

From the latter:

McCain has turned ugly. His dishonesty would be unacceptable in any politician, but McCain has always set his own bar higher than most. He has contempt for most of his colleagues for that very reason: They lie. He tells the truth. He internalizes the code of the McCains — his grandfather, his father: both admirals of the shining sea. He serves his country differently, that’s all — but just as honorably. No more, though.

I am one of the journalists accused over the years of being in the tank for McCain. Guilty. Those doing the accusing usually attributed my feelings to McCain being accessible. This is the journalist-as-puppy school of thought: Give us a treat, and we will leap into a politician’s lap.

Not so. What impressed me most about McCain was the effect he had on his audiences, particularly young people. When he talked about service to a cause greater than oneself, he struck a chord. He expressed his message in words, but he packaged it in the McCain story — that man, beaten to a pulp, who chose honor over freedom. This had nothing to do with access. It had to do with integrity.

McCain has soiled all that. His opportunistic and irresponsible choice of Sarah Palin as his political heir — the person in whose hands he would leave the country — is a form of personal treason, a betrayal of all he once stood for. Palin, no matter what her other attributes, is shockingly unprepared to become president. McCain knows that. He means to win, which is all right; he means to win at all costs, which is not.

Wild, Wacky Stuff

Over the weekend, the most interesting SEC contest had to be Auburn and Mississippi State. Despite 300+ yards vs. State’s 116, the final score was a bizarre and nearly unprecedented 3 to 2, with Auburn on top thanks to a second quarter field goal.

Dept. of Weddings

George Takei and Brad Altman, his partner of 21 years, married over the weekend in California:

Walter Koenig, who played navigator Pavel Chekov in the original Star Trek cast, and Nichelle Nichols, who portrayed communications officer Lieutenant Uhura, served as “best man” and “best lady,” Asianweek said.

Best Star Trek wedding EVAR.

Today’s Ike Quote

“Why are YOU sucking up all the God love?” — Joie Brun, in re: the testimony of some random Ike survivor and their conviction that “God’s taking care of us.”

Ranking Wanking

The new polls are out, and (no surprise) have USC in the top spot again — but Georgia has dropped to 3, behind Oklahoma, of all people. I find it impossible to even entertain the thought that OU could beat UG, but whatever; we’ll see how it shakes out later in the season. USC, as we pointed out, made clear Ohio State remains a joke playing in a joke conference — but the SEC has beaten the Buckeyes as soundly as USC just did in two championship games in a row. Further, USC is a game behind Georgia in play. If all three teams continue to win, and the powers that be put Okahoma into the title game, we’ll be among those calling bullshit.

Actual rankings here; we are amused and pleased that fully half the AP top ten are SEC squads (#3 Georgia, #4 Florida, #6 LSU, #9 Alabama (!), #10 Auburn). No, I’m not entirely convinced Alabama should be that high, but it’s nice people have confidence.

Alabama Shows Up

The Tide rolled Western Kentucky, 41 to 7. After an embarrassing game against Tulane last week, Saban’s boys managed to remember how to play the game yesterday, even well enough to get some bench playing time. In fact, Saban’s gripe about yesterday says volumes:

With a chance to get a look at young players and subs, Saban did find some fault in the offense’s performance.

“I wish we wouldn’t have kept the ball so long, because there were some defensive players we wanted to see a little more,” he said. “But it didn’t work out that way.”

Oh, also, a tiny bit of vindication: the Tulane squad Saban had so much trouble with last week very nearly stole a game from East Carolina yesterday — EC only pulled it out late in the 4th quarter. Maybe those smart fellers are actually playing football this year after all. They’re still 0-2, but it’s two very solid games they lost.

Welcome to Camp Ike

Houston, as you may have heard, has recently had some Weather.

Heathen Central escaped fairly unscathed from an existential point of view, but with some fairly basic spiritual failures: namely, the unimpeded flow of electrons into the household has been, well, impeded. Further, attempts at the usage of electrons to communicate with the outside world, in any media whatsoever, fails utterly. Additionally, the lack of incoming electrons has prevented the communication with the satellite entertainment overlords, which completes a sort of trifecta of failure, and there we are.

In the face of these problems, we’ve decamped to Camp Ike, in the bizarre Heights area of Houston. Wild and untamed, the Heights are chockablock with Cottage Folk, Neovictorians, and snooty yuppies, but also turns out to be the home of longtime Heathen associates Joie Brun and Karl Ludwig, whose union is in some small way the fault of Heathen Central. (It’s a long story we will no doubt someday relate to their charming pair of tykes.) Somehow, these fine folk have managed to find themselves among the tiny, tiny minority of Houstonians (sub 5%) for whom the free flow of electrons remains unimpeded. They, too, are unable to communicate with the satellite overlords, but the presence of incoming electrons means the conversion of heat to cold continues unabated, and the Intarwub remains accessible.

Consequently, not only have Mrs Heathen and I packed our bags for bizarre Heights environs, but also the Ear o’Corn clan, Rhymes-with-Schloachim, and the dynamic duo of Ultilopp and Mama Nia. Joined in our adventures by Papa Brun — on loan from his usual clan in Florida — we will empty freezers, make cocktails, play Rockband, and fight crime from this ersatz Hall of Justice until further notice.

It might be fun to build a table of length-of-acquaintance for this little party, but it’s complex and wacky and I’m not gonna do it right now. I will note that multiple of these relationships date back to 1989 at least, and Ear O’Corn and I have been co-conspirators since 1986. Ultilopp and Mama Nia are relative newcomers, but they fit in like custom parts. Camp Ike may not be ideal, but goddamn I’m sure it’s gonna be fun, and it’s hard to conceive of a group of folks I’d rather be inconvenienced with (or that we’d rather inconvenience).

And all hail Joie and Karl for their generosity. Photo documentation is, we suspect, inevitable.


Ike Report

We’re fine. No damage, but no power either. We’re at a friend’s house; they are, unaccountably, among the 4% of Houston who still have power.

Michelle’s got a movie you should watch

From my friend (and Mobile native) Michelle Richmond’s blog, in a post about a documentary film making the rounds called The Order of Myths, about (the original) Mardis Gras in Mobile:

In The Moviegoer, Walker Percy’s classic novel about searching and longing in Louisiana, Binx Bolling, himself a less-than-enthusiastic participant in the better-known Mardi Gras of New Orleans, says that to see one’s own city on the big screen is, in a way, to have one’s own place and time validated, made real. I’m a long way from Alabama. It’s fair to say that, for a long time, I have not considered it home. In one of the stories in my first book, The Girl in the Fall-Away Dress, the narrator, Gracie, who has also left Mobile, remarks on how ill-at-ease she feels every time she returns there: “Some Mobilians don’t know that the party has long-since ended, clinging hard-heartedly to the notion that the Confederates won the war.” I was 25 years old when I wrote that, close enough to home to despise it, too young to understand the subtler nuances that Brown captures in The Order of Myths. This is a film for Southerners who’ve left home, and for those who have stayed, and for anyone who wants to reach a deeper understanding of a place and a culture that has been by turns mocked and mythologized for decades.

There’s a trailer.

No surprise here

A year after taking their ball(s) and going home, NBC Universal programming is once again available in iTunes. Turns out they need Apple more than Apple needs them. No surprise there; making it hard for your customers to see your programs they way they want to see them is never a good plan; NBC’s bullheadedness here certainly sent Heathen to the Torrents to catch up on Battlestar last year, after they foolishly pulled the show from iTunes without having DVDs in the channel.


Jesus Fuck, Nicky, what the hell was that? You beat the everliving tar out of #9 Clemson, and then look like a goddamn AA squad against a non-conference private school like Tulane that’s presumably hampered by actual admissions requirements? You go three entire quarters against their D without an offensive TD? Sure, the punt return team bagged two in the first half, but special teams points shouldn’t be the backbone of your offense, dude. ESPN used words like “listless” to describe the Tide on Saturday, and that’s being KIND. 172 total yards (to Tulane’s 318), four allowed sacks, and two — TWO! — missed field goals will NOT make the faithful happy about your gold-plated contract, Nicky.

Good Christ. A win is a win, but the Alabama-Tulane game was a fucking embarrassment in every other way that mattered. I’m frankly shocked the Tide didn’t drop in the rankings this week, instead of rising (2 spots, to 11 — HA! — in AP; only one notch in USAT, to 16). Good thing Saban’s got another non-con next Saturday before the big Georgia game. Some folks need some ass whippin’ at practice these two weeks.

Speaking of which: Georgia’s still only number 2, behind perennially-fellated USC despite the fact that the Trojans were OFF this week while Georgia played. At least the pollsters are split; Georgia got 23 first place votes to USC’s 33 in the AP poll. Ohio State drifts south this week on the “strength” of their weak win over Ohio, and in the final shakeup it turns out the AP and USAT agree on the top ten: USC, UGa, Oklahoma, UF, OSU, Missouri (ha!), LSU, Texas, Auburn, and Wisconsin.

Oh, and the fucking Irish won their opener. Ick.

Our Hero This Week

Carl Malamud. Who is he? He’s the guy who is, essentially, daring states to try to assert copyright over their laws.

Yeah, read that again. Some states are actually claiming that their laws are copyrighted, and that reproducing them without permission — and without paying the state! — is a violation of copyright law. Obviously, this is a terrible idea — the states should instead be making it as easy as possible for citizens to read the laws that govern them. So Mr Malamud is publishing them online via scanned copies for any and all to read, download, print, etc., for free.

And he’s hoping very much that his home state sues.

The Party of Hate

Check out what Doug Rushkoff has to say about the RNC’s week-long Two Minutes Hate, and about Giuliani’s speech in particular.

Last night, the Republican Convention made it clear they prefer war. They see the world as a dangerous and terrible place. Like the fascist leaders satirized in Starship Troopers, they say they believe it is better to be on the offensive, taking the war to the people who might wish us harm than playing defense. It is better to be an international aggressor – a bulldog with lipstick – than led by the misguided notion that attacking people itself makes the world a more dangerous place.

And more:

Republican party representatives are proud today that their convention has finally produced the “same level of energy and enthusiasm” as the DNC’s last week. And while it may have produced the same level of excitement, the excitement was of a very different character. It’s much easier to get people riled up but inviting them to hate a man – particularly one who they haven’t been allowed to hate for traditional reasons. Giuliani’s job – much like his job as mayor of NYC – was to give the Republicans in attendance permission to hate Obama and the potentially intelligent society he represents. It’s not about city vs. country or educated vs. military. It’s about thought vs. violence.

Where the DNC’s show talked about policy, and about what we can accomplish together — which is what “government” is supposed to be in a Democracy — the GOP took another path.