Today’s In-No-Way Creepy News

A downed 100-year-old oak tree in New Haven turned out to have a human skeleton tied up in its roots.

One hypothesis:

The skeleton could belong to a victim of smallpox, interred in what amounted to a “mass burial site.”

As evidence, he cited a passage in the New Haven Green chapter of the book, “Historical Sketches of New Haven.” The book describes how some notables, beginning with Martha Townsend, were buried in the walled-off cemetery behind the Center Church on the Green. Others were buried in the rest of the Upper Green, apparently with great density.

“Sometimes, at the dead of night, apart from the others, the victims of smallpox were fearfully hid here,” the book reads. “The ground was filled with graves between the Church and College Street; sixteen bodies having been found within sixteen square feet.”

The last bodies were buried there in the 1700s, Greenberg said. In 1821, the stones were moved to the Grove Street Cemetery, and the ground was raised to level off the Green. The bodies remained behind.

Happy Halloween.

Hey, Will?

I don’t want to overstep my bounds or anything, but I just want you to know that…

Muschamp rage

…there are plenty of decaffeinated brands that taste as good as the real thing.

I’m late on this, but…

…if you’re not checking in on Grantland’s Rembert Explains the 80s feature, you’re missing out.

The idea is this:

Every so often, we’ll e-mail 25-year-old Rembert Browne a video from the 1980s that he hasn’t seen. Rembert will write down his thoughts as he’s watching the video, then we’ll post those thoughts here.

Madcap hilarity ensues. Seriously. Some topics Rembert has tackled:


Nothing like new toys to reinvigorate your picture-taking

Observe my 2012 photo folder:


The top box encloses the 12 events between June and early July wherein I took pictures.

The bottom box starts when I bought a new camera (to replace the one stolen in early September), and encloses the 20 events between early July and late October.

As should be obvious, I’m still pretty darn happy with the Olympus.

Posted in Pix

If I had any human decency, I wouldn’t show you things like this

But, as it turns out, I am a terrible, terrible person.

Yes, that was Rip Taylor. And just when you think they were done being awful, well, . . . just stay through 4:00 and see.

(Via Mefi. There is, of course, lots more where this came from.)

(PS: Best comment at YouTube: “What if, due to some horrible accident, this video were the only surviving record of our time for future historians to study.” Indeed.)

Who Death Was, and Is

On the left, an actual photo, from 1989, of a woman named Cinamon Hadley. On the right, Mike Dringenberg‘s drawing of Death, whom he co-created with Neil Gaiman.


That the former was the inspiration and model for the latter is not a matter of conjecture. Dringenberg apparently drew her often. Even Neil says so.

Now in her earlier forties — just like the rest of us — she’s returned to Salt Lake City, but I was surprised to learn that, for a while, she lived here in Houston. Weird.

Things we noticed about football today


In reviewing the upcoming conference slate, we realized that Ole Miss could win its second conference game in a row for the first time since 2009.

Six is a magic number

Auburn has lost six games in the last seven weeks; Alabama has lost six games since December of 2007 (UF on 12/6/08; Utah on 1/2/09; USCa on 10/9/10; LSU on 11/6/10; Auburn on 11/26/10; LSU on 11/5/12).

Notwithstanding our success so far, traps are traps

Mississippi State is undefeated so far this year, but their schedule was frontloaded with softies both in (Auburn, Kentucky, Tennessee) and out (Jackson State, Troy, South Alabama, Middle Tennessee) of the SEC. Tellingly, even with that early slate, they’ve given up 2 or more touchdowns three times already.

I’ll be in my bunk.

Porsche is letting journalists see its new hybrid supercar, the 918 Spyder.

First, the bad news: it’ll cost a million bucks when it’s introduced next year. But, oh my God, this car…


The 4.6-liter dry-sump V8, mid-mounted in the chassis, generates 580 horsepower at 8,500 rpm and 370 pound-feet of torque at 6,500 rpm. Redline is 9,000 rpm. Mounted to the V8, actually bolted together to form a single drive unit, is a 95 kW (127 horsepower) electric motor. The centrally located engine and motor send their power through a seven-speed PDK dual clutch gearbox, rotated 180 degrees on its longitudinal axis (lowering its mass closer to the pavement), driving only the rear wheels. . . . But there is more to the powertrain, as the 918 Spyder is actually all-wheel drive. Mounted on the front axle is an 85-kW (114 horsepower) electric motor, sending power to both front wheels completely independent of the rear powertrain.


Add up the output from the one combustion engine and the two electric motors and the 918 Spyder’s total system power is 795 horsepower and 575 pound-feet of torque. According to Porsche, the 918 will rocket to 60 mph in fewer than three seconds and reach a top speed in excess of 200 mph in its most aggressive setting. On the famed north loop (Nordschleife) at the Nürburgring, one of Porsche’s 918 Spyder concepts ran a 7:14 less than two weeks ago (for comparison, Porsche’s limited production Carrera GT, introduced in 2004, circled the same loop with a best time of 7:32). When it hits showrooms, the 918 Spyder will be one of the fastest street-legal vehicles in the world.

The performance numbers are impressive, but keep in mind the 918 Spyder is a hybrid – Porsche says it is capable of a scarcely believable 78 mpg on the highway.

Because Twitter Hates You, That’s Why

A few have remarked that the Heathen Twitter feed is no longer showing up on the right-hand side of the page. This is because, near as I can tell, Twitter hates us. Remember, we’re not their customers; we’re their products. They’ve changed (read: broken) their old APIs, and nothing I try seems to work. This is by design.

Even, I should note, their much-ballyhooed new embedded timeline bullshit. Which would be irrelevant, since that option forces compliance with their bizarre display rules, which mandate the inclusion of the goddamn avatar. I just want the fucking tweets.

Twitter is doing this because they want absolute control over the Twitter experience so they can force you to look at ads, like Facebook. Which is one reason I spend very, very little time on Facebook. Allowing simple, easy, unauthenticated syndication of a user’s public timeline is antithetical to this, even though you can just go to my Twitter page and see all my activity in a browser without any authentication or tokens or whatever.

So, yeah, this isn’t likely to get fixed.

Think about this before you buy another book from the Kindle Store

Rights mavens will point out over and over that you don’t really own anything on your Kindle, but it’s easy to dismiss as the ravings of paranoids.

Until it happens to someone. Amazon is refusing to explain why it’s closed this woman’s account, wiped her Kindle, and kicked her to the curb. After several questions, the final word from Amazon? “We wish you luck in locating a retailer better able to meet your needs and will not be able to offer any additional insight or action on these matters.”

Lots, and lots and lots of people should hear about this. This is what could have happened with music, too, if MP3 hadn’t become the default. Movies and video are locked up, too, but it’s easy to transcode a DVD and store it as something that’ll play widely, so there’s an “out” there, too. By far the worse rights management regime, though, is in books. And Amazon holds the keys.

BoingBoing has more.

On Ryan’s complaints re: the size of our Navy under Obama

Apparently, during his debate with Biden, Ryan whined that our Navy is now smaller than at any point since before World War I.

I have no idea whether that’s true or not, but let’s assume it is. (Given the aforementioned tactics of the GOP, this is clearly not a safe assumption, but go with it.)

What do we need a Navy for today? What is its job? Naval battles as decisive military engagements are basically a thing of the past. Countries don’t maintain ships of the line anymore. At this point no Navy in the world has an active battleship. Ever since Midway, the name of the game has been force projection and air power, and that means carriers.

During the Cold War, we sort of pretended we needed a big Navy, but really it was already the carriers (and submarines) that mattered the most. And that’s still true. And here’s the other part: You don’t need very many of either to have a decisive advantage over pretty much everybody else, and I’d say we have that pretty well in hand.

Of the ten nations that have carriers, seven of them have only one (and China’s isn’t usable). We, on the other hand, have twenty, eleven of which are giant-ass supercarriers, with more (of the Ford class) coming.

One thing you discover if you start reading about American naval power and carriers is that sources disagree on what counts as a carrier. The GlobalSecurity graphic I linked above counts basically all flattop vessels to arrive at 21, but most other sources just count the 11 supercarriers. Even if we go with that figure, though, the comparisons to the rest of the world are just as amazing: nobody else has more than 2. Our navy, all by itself, far exceeds the naval power of the rest of the nations of the world put together.

I’m probably pretty on board with us having dramatic, overwhelming, shock-and-awe level force advantages over any possible antagonist, but it seems kinda unlikely that we really need to maintain this kind of margin. We could drop by 30% and still have that, for example.

Romney’s Fuzzy Math and the Right’s Issues with Truth

By now you’ve seen the clever DNC site (if you haven’t, check it out). It’s a pithy bit of campaigning, and it’s completely fair to tweak the candidate for failing to provide any specifics for his very pie-in-the-sky plan. There’s a reason he won’t provide any numbers, and that’s because they don’t add up. At all.

What’s more fun, though, is to have someone actually try to run the numbers; they just don’t work. There’s no way his stated goals can be met without raising taxes on the middle class. What’s more, he must know this to the be case, and just figures nobody will call him on it, and that folks will give him a pass on this cornerstone of his campaign should he make it to the White House.

What’s amazing to me is the degree to which the GOP sticks to this fact-free script. Actually, “amazing” is the wrong word; it’s been clear since the mid 1990s that the modern GOP cares more about winning than governing, and will do or say anything they think they can get away with if it hurts their opponents, or helps them.

The press has been seriously complicit in this by refusing to call out blatant falsehoods when these nincompoops try to trot them out, preferring instead to present both sides of any given issue as equally legitimate, even on questions of settled science.

Fortunately, there’s at least a little evidence that some members of the press are pushing back, at least a little, which (if nothing else) forces the liars to double down explicitly, on the record, for later ridicule. Hey, it’s something.


Right, so, a few notes from yesterday:

  1. I really, really thought the Longhorns would give Oklahoma more of a run for their money than this. Good Christ, what a whoopin’.

  2. Welcome to the SEC, bitches. Mizzou drops to 3-4, and remains winless in SEC play. Miss the Big 12 yet, boys?

  3. Also winless in conference? Auburn, who dropped to Ole Miss. The Rebels’ last SEC victory was in 2010. This was a game where I really kinda wanted both to lose — Rebel losses make all the right people sad in my home state, though with a little collateral damage — but I’m more than happy with this outcome. The AU boosters treated a perfectly good coach poorly, and while Chiz did get them a crystal football, it’s coming with a mighty big hangover. And that hangover is only gonna get bigger, because Chiz negotiated one hell of a buyout clause so they can’t afford to fire him yet.

  4. Speaking of that perfectly good coach, it turns out West Virginia is exactly who we thought they were when they needed 70 points to outrun powerhouse BAYLOR a week or two ago. Tuberville’s Texas Tech smacked ’em good (49 to 14, in public and in front of their mamas), and now we all know how tough the Big 12 isn’t.

  5. C’mon, Steve, can’t you do one thing right here? Now the sports press is all about how LSU is “back,” but brother, that didn’t look like “back” to me. Miles continues to win ugly, and it seems to me that Saban is likely to come to Death Valley loaded for bear.

  6. Oh, A&M, you really did try to lose this one, didn’t you? 59 to 57 is an embarrassing win when you’re playing out of conference, Aggs.

  7. Stat of the day: Big-time games saw not one but TWO defensive two point conversions. First Texas blocked a PAT attempt by Oklahoma and ran it back for two, and then the Aggies did the same thing vs. Louisiana Tech. This will be a trivia answer someday.

  8. Finally, fuck you, Irish.

At the end of the day, here’s the new top ten:

  1. Alabama (unanimous)
  2. Oregon
  3. Florida (now sitting pretty as the only undefeated team in the SEC east)
  4. K State
  5. Irish
  6. LSU (highest 1-loss team)
  7. Ohio State (irrelevant due to sanctions)
  8. Oregon State
  9. South Carolina
  10. Oklahoma

Florida and South Carolina play next week. Oklahoma plays the Irish in two weeks, but has already lost to K State. Oregon and Oregon State will obviously play in the Civil War game (11/24).

And Alabama? We play LSU on November 3.

Snapshot: Five Years Ago

Alabama Gaga Over Overrated Saban” is completely hilarious in retrospect.

Some bits:

The citizens of Alabama never have been rational when it comes to college football, but the state has gone absolutely Lindsey Lohan over the arrival of Saban from his forgettable stint with the Miami Dolphins. How else to explain an overflow crowd of more than 92,000 showing up for the Crimson Tide’s spring game this year? Even by Alabama standards, that’s nuts.

The Crimson Tide went 6-7 last season and has not won a national championship in 15 years. Yet a number of Alabama fans truly expect Saban to have a 10-victory team this season and be in the BCS title game within three years. And those are the rational fans.

There is no need for Tide fans to roll out the red carpet for Saban, because in their mind, he walks several feet off the ground anyway. Upon his initial arrival in Tuscaloosa, one exuberant woman at the airport grabbed Saban around the neck and kissed his cheek. Children are being told stories about the wonderful Saint Nick that have nothing to do with Christmas.


The question is, why are Alabama fans so enamored with Saban? He is certainly a very good coach, with a national championship ring to prove it. Tuberville can’t say the same (although he did lead Auburn to a perfect 13-0 record in 2004).

But Saban’s arrival is being treated in these parts like the second-coming of Paul “Bear” Bryant. Or at least Gene Stallings. You would think from the reaction that Alabama had landed one of the two or three best college coaches in the nation, a perception that simply is not backed up by the numbers.


The fact is, Saban has won more than nine games in a season only twice. His record during his first four seasons at Michigan State was 25-22-1. He went 8-5 during his third season at LSU. It is hard to imagine Alabama fans who are thinking national championship by year No. 3 being happy with 8-5.


Yes, Saban has won a national championship, but a number of coaches have a single title to their credit. Winning multiple championships is a rarity, especially these days. Despite his years of national success while at Florida, Spurrier managed only one title. Lou Holtz, Vince Dooley and John Robinson are among the coaching greats who were one-and-done when it came to national championships. The legendary Bo Schembechler never won a title, and Frank Beamer is still without one.

Since the beginning of the BCS in 1998, the only coaches to pick up a second championship are Bobby Bowden (who won his first in 1993) and Carroll (who shared the title with Saban’s LSU team in 2003 and then won it outright in 2004).

What this means is if Saban ends up with multiple championship rings, he will go down as one of the greatest coaches in the history of the sport. And to this point, there is nothing in his record to indicate that he will reach such lofty heights.

Not to be a dick, but it does seem worthwhile to point out that while Saban’s Tide did start a little slow in his first season (2007, when they went a disappointing 7-6), by 2008 he was on fire (12-2, and the team’s first number one regular season ranking since 1980).

In 2009 — the “year No. 3” referenced by the author above — he delivered. 2010 was a bit of an off year (10-3, ending with a smackdown of Michigan State in the Capital One Bowl), but he returned to form in last year with another title.

So there’s that.

Your Modern Republican Party

All that stuff I was taught about evolution, embryology, Big Bang theory … all that is lies straight from the pit of Hell..”

As Tomorrow notes, this man sits on a key congressional science advisory committee. He is also a medical doctor.

He has since tried to distance himself from the remarks, claiming they were “off the record,” which to me sounds like “I didn’t think anyone would hear about them.” If he wants to disavow them, let him do so clearly and unequivocally.

This guy gets better and better: Since he’s clearly of the raving-nutbird-looney wing of fundamentalism, it should of course surprise you not at all that he’s been married four times.

(That sigh? Me being relieved this chucklehead isn’t from Texas.)

Dept. of Things That Could Not Be More Awesome

So (pun intended) Peter Gabriel played the Hollywood Bowl the other night, doing the entirety of the record I made a joke about at the beginning of this sentence.

As you may recall, especially if you’re about my age, that album includes a song from a particularly iconic scene in late-eighties cinema.

With the scene now set, we take you now to the Hollywood Bowl, 2 nights ago, and 23 years after Lloyd and Diane.

(PS: Note also that, apparently, Gabriel himself shared this fan-shot footage on his official Facebook, which is kind of rad all on its own.)

(Also, the video was shot was a consumer-grade camera actually intended for still photography. Miracles and wonders, people.)