Nov 112013

Performance artist Pyotr Pavlensky went to Moscow’s famed Red Square on Sunday during lunchtime, stripped, and nailed his scrotum to the cobblestones. He was taken to the hospital an hour later but declined to be admitted, and was subsequently taken to the police station. As Buzzfeed noted this is not Pavlensky’s first performance that involves self-harm—he previously sewed his lips together after the jailing of two members of Pussy Riot and wrapped his naked body in barbed wire.

via Man Nails Scrotum to Pavement – The Daily Beast.

Nov 112013

This is an extremely brave woman, and the more people who know she is missing, who know the story, the better off she is. One can only hope that world public opinion can still have some effect in the new/old Russia.


On Wednesday morning, Petr Verzilov, the husband of Pussy Riot’s most famous member—Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, nicknamed Tolokno—finally heard about his missing wife. A source called him from the depths of Siberia with news that Tolokonnikova, who has disappeared without a trace in the country’s prison transportation system for 18 days, was being transferred the IK-50 women’s prison, a jail in the remote region of Krasnoyrak.

via Is Pussy Riot’s Nadia Tolokonnikova in a Siberian Gulag? – The Daily Beast.

Nov 022013

WASHINGTON (AP) — More than 47 million Americans who receive food stamps will see their benefits go down starting Friday, just as Congress has begun negotiations on further cuts to the program.

Beginning in November, a temporary benefit from the 2009 economic stimulus that boosts food stamp dollars will no longer be available. According to the Agriculture Department, that means a family of four receiving food stamps will start receiving $36 less a month.

The benefits, which go to 1 in 7 Americans, fluctuate based on factors that include food prices, inflation and income. The rolls have swelled as the economy has struggled in recent years, with the stimulus providing higher benefits and many people signing up for the first time.

via Food Stamp Cuts Kick In As Congress Debates More.

Nov 022013

One of the jailed members of the Pussy Riot protest band has vanished from sight since she was moved to a new prison 10 days ago, reports from Russia say.

The husband of Nadezhda Tolokonnikova told a US news website he had not received any news about her and her current location was being kept secret.

She had been on hunger strike at a penal colony in Mordovia.

via BBC News – Pussy Riot: Tolokonnikova ‘out of sight’ since jail move.

Oct 102013

This boy was killed in Afghanistan in 2009, serving in the British Army. He was 17 when he died. The UK Independent has just published a sequence of letters he wrote home, including this one, which he wrote to be mailed to his mother after he was killed. Brave boy, terrible but vital English (eccentric, living prose), a voice from beyond, sad, sad, sad, sad, sad.

Cyrus Thatcher was killed on 2 June 2009. This is the letter he wrote to be delivered to his family if he died:

Hello its me, this is gonna be hard for you to read but I write this knowing every time you thinks shits got to much for you to handle (so don’t cry on it MUM!!) you can read this and hopefully it will help you all get through.

For a start SHIT I got hit!! Now Iv got that out the way I can say the things Iv hopefully made clear, or if I havent this should clear it all up for me. My hole life you’v all been there for me through thick and thin bit like a wedding through good and bad. Without you I believe I wouldn’t have made it as far as I have. I died doing what I was born to do I was happy and felt great about myself although the army was sadly the ending of me it was also the making of me

Read all the letters at ‘Hello mum, this is going to be hard for you to read …’ – Home News – UK – The Independent.

Oct 092013

Savage Love Cover

A review of Savage Love by Jonathan Ball in The Winnipeg Review that also contains, parenthetically, one of the most hilarious summations of the work, although the reference is a bit obscure to non-Canadian readers:

Glover reads like a crack-addled David Arnason — take that as a compliment to Arnason and Glover both. If you took The Circus Performers’ Bar apart, added crystal meth, and put it back together, you might wind up with something like Savage Love.


At times, Glover mocks the conservatism of other authors openly:

Someone had replaced the Price Chopper muzak with a Stevie Ray Vaughan selection. Shelby loosened his scarf. He said something about the magical charm of atmospheres how things might change for no reason except that you suddenly felt better, because of Stevie Ray Vaughan and a little 420 action in Price Chopper and customers turning into people, against all odds, and holding conversations. Although you could never write a story like that.

Almost every one of Glover’s stories is, in some way, “a story like that” (not to mention, of course, this particular story of repeating love triangles), in which an atmosphere of harried terror is at the selfsame time a sort of comic respite.

via ‘Savage Love’ by Douglas Glover | The Winnipeg Review.

Oct 032013

Aren’t you glad NC is ad free? (This non-ad is sponsored by Friends of NC, all contributions are taxable, cash in unmarked envelopes slipped under the door preferred.)

…the study hints at an even more cynical possibility: Women can feel bad about themselves at any time! Particularly, the study finds, when they are stressed, sick, or crying. Good news: This means there are great opportunities for brands all week long—if only they could know when a woman is stressed, sick, or crying, perhaps as evidenced by the texts of their chats and emails.

via Is This the Grossest Advertising Strategy of All Time? – Rebecca J. Rosen – The Atlantic.

Oct 032013

Although would we have really wanted Albany?

“Defence Scheme No. 1,” as it was called, was created in 1921 by James Sutherland “Buster” Brown, Canada’s director of military operations and intelligence. In many respects it was the opposite of War Plan Red: In the event that an American attack was imminent, Canadian forces would strike first, attacking and occupying key cities such as Albany, Minneapolis, and Seattle.

Unlike with War Plan Red, these cities wouldn’t be annexed or even occupied for any longer than was absolutely necessary. The idea was to knock the U.S. off balance, then retreat back into Canada, blowing up bridges and destroying roads and railroads along the way in the hope of delaying the inevitable American counterattack until British reinforcements arrived. The plan received mixed reviews from the Canadian military: One general called it a “fantastic desperate plan that just might have worked”; other officers thought Brown was nuts. It remained on the books until 1928, when it was scrapped as impractical.

via MINA Breaking News – US Had drawn plans to attack Canada.

Sep 022013

Pullman Strike

Pullman strike

Above, images from the 1894 Pullman strike when Grover Cleveland sent the army against American workers. Below, Paul Krugman on the origin of Labor Day. (Images via History Matters, Axia Consultants, and Covering Delta.)

Here’s how it happened: In 1894 Pullman workers, facing wage cuts in the wake of a financial crisis, went on strike — and Grover Cleveland deployed 12,000 soldiers to break the union. He succeeded, but using armed force to protect the interests of property was so blatant that even the Gilded Age was shocked. So Congress, in a lame attempt at appeasement, unanimously passed legislation symbolically honoring the nation’s workers.

via Love for Labor Lost –

Aug 242013

I dunno. Why do we assume humans won’t act like humans?

National Security Agency officers on several occasions have channeled their agency’s enormous eavesdropping power to spy on love interests, U.S. officials said. The practice isn’t frequent — one official estimated a handful of cases in the last decade — but it’s common enough to garner its own spycraft label: LOVEINT.

via NSA Officers Sometimes Spy on Love Interests – Washington Wire – WSJ.

Aug 232013

Two things: 1) At NC, we are only interested in whether NSA surveillance counts on our stats as hits. Yes or no? If they are reading manuscript drafts going back and forth via email, that should count as a hit, right? Follow-up question: As long as they are reading this stuff, would they mind doing a little copyediting now and then? Just to help out. 2) A poet lurks in the upper echelons. Someone is making up really cool names for these programs.

It has been almost three months since the first revelations about the activities of the National Security Agency appeared in The Washington Post and The Guardian. And while the initial scope and particulars of the programs revealed were major news, information about the NSA’s surveillance continues to come out.

via A Guide To The Latest Flurry Of NSA Revelations | TPMMuckraker.

Aug 222013

NC legal experts disagree with Orly Taitz. If you take three separate points and tot them up side by side, this is what you get. Born in the U.S.: Obama yes, Cruz no. American father: Obama no, Cruz no. American mother: Obama yes, Cruz yes. Obama has a significant one-point lead on Cruz. Statistically, Obama is 2/3 American, Cruz is 1/3. Nuff said.

“Clearly there is an issue of eligibility,” crusading skeptic of President Barack Obama’s birth certificate Orly Taitz told U.S. News. “It’s basically the same issue as Obama has.”

Cruz was born in Calgary, Canada, in 1970, according to the document. He automatically acquired U.S. citizenship through his American mother, but he also likely gained automatic Canadian citizenship.

“He’s a Canadian” too, Stephen Green, a past chairman of the Canadian Bar Association’s Citizenship and Immigration Section, told the Dallas Morning News.

via ‘Birther’ Orly Taitz: Ted Cruz Has ‘Basically the Same Issue as Obama’ – Washington Whispers (

Aug 212013

At least we know NC has a couple of readers in the NSA.

Today, the Wall Street Journal reported that the N.S.A. administers programs capable of sweeping up not just data like IP addresses and email addresses, but also the actual content of 75 percent of Americans’ email traffic and Internet phone calls. They have James Bond code names like Lithium, Stormbrew and Blarney.

via Drip Drip: More N.S.A. Revelations –

Aug 202013

A person giving up citizenship must be Canadian, prove they are or will become a citizen of another country, not live in Canada and not be a security threat. They must also explain in writing why they don’t want to be a Canadian any more.

A non-refundable C$100 ($96) fee is payable in advance.

via Reuters Next — Senator Cruz may have to wait eight months to stop being Canadian.

Aug 192013

NC legal experts (yes, we have a large panel of over-educated, under-sourced pundits, none of whom are actually, um, lawyers) say current Texas resident Ted Cruz is in a spectacularly good position to lead both countries out of their current state of liberal-socialist-communist-narco paralysis and degradation into the Promised Land and help prevent cross-border infiltration.

WASHINGTON — Born in Canada to an American mother, Ted Cruz became an instant U.S. citizen. But under Canadian law, he also became a citizen of that country the moment he was born.

Unless the Texas Republican senator formally renounces that citizenship, he will remain a citizen of both countries, legal experts say.

That means he could assert the right to vote in Canada or even run for Parliament. On a lunch break from the U.S. Senate, he could head to the nearby embassy — the one flying a bright red maple leaf flag — pull out his Calgary, Alberta, birth certificate and obtain a passport.

via Canada-born Ted Cruz became a citizen of that country as well as U.S. | – News for Dallas, Texas – The Dallas Morning News.

Aug 052013

My hometown — Port Clinton, Ohio, population 6,050 — was in the 1950s a passable embodiment of the American dream, a place that offered decent opportunity for the children of bankers and factory workers alike.

But a half-century later, wealthy kids park BMW convertibles in the Port Clinton High School lot next to decrepit “junkers” in which homeless classmates live. The American dream has morphed into a split-screen American nightmare. And the story of this small town, and the divergent destinies of its children, turns out to be sadly representative of America.

via Crumbling American Dreams –

Jul 302013

New studies clearly indicate that intra- and extra- marital sex is safer than getting mad. NC’s health desk medico suggests that if you feel like you’re going to lose your temper, channel that emotion into passion for the nearest available partner. Actually, this is not the NC health desk medico. I am an intern in charge of filing and photocopying. But my advice is as good as anyone’s.

The data consistently show that “men are the major victims” of sudden deaths occurring during extramarital intercourse, and that any underlying heart condition further raises a man’s risk of an early death, according to the authors.

The stress of illicit sex may increase blood pressure and heart rate significantly, they warned, “resulting in sudden death or cardiovascular events.” Even so, the risks appear to be very low, they added — “far less than that associated with anger and unaccustomed physical exercise.”

via Sex after a heart attack: New guidelines provide first formal ‘how to’ on resuming sex after heart disease | National Post.

Jul 262013

And my dog, Lucy, is definitely from another planet (not the same one I came from).

No matter how conservative or optimistic we are, the statistics tell us that something like an astonishing one out of every seven stars must harbor a planet similar in size to the Earth, and at roughly the right orbital distance to allow for the possibility of a temperate surface environment. In other words, roughly 15 percent of all suns could, in principle, be hosting a place suitable for life as we know it.

Since our galaxy contains at least 200 billion stars, this implies a vast arena for the universe’s ubiquitous carbon chemistry to play in — a process that, as here on Earth, might lead to the complex machinery of life. Indeed, there is a 95-percent confidence — give or take a few percent — that one of these worlds could be within a mere 16 light years of us. That’s a stone’s throw, practically our galactic backyard.

via A Universe Full of Planets –

Jul 252013

OTTAWA—Canada’s police services are once again reporting fewer crimes, a continuing trend that has cut the national crime rate to its lowest level since 1972.

Statistics Canada says the police-reported crime rate fell by three per cent in 2012 compared with the previous year.

The severity of crimes committed was also down by three per cent in 2012, according to StatsCan’s Crime Severity Index (CSI).

via Canada’s crime rates drop to lowest since 1972 | Toronto Star.

Jul 242013

And, for that matter, what retirement phase? Was I taking a nap when they called that group?

One of the largest transfers of wealth between generations is starting to occur in the U.S. As baby boomers enter the retirement phase, the next generation of workers, Gen Y or the Millennials (those born in the 1980s and 1990s), are now entering the workforce and beginning their prime earnings phase.

According to research firm Iconoculture, Gen Y comprises over 76 million people with almost $900 billion in spending power. In contrast the baby boomers, also numbering 76 million, have $2.5 trillion in spending power.

via Why Generation Y fears the stock market – J.J. Zhang’s Winner Take All – MarketWatch.

Jul 222013

A study published in Nature Geoscience by researchers, from Imperial College London and their academic partners shows that 5-3 million years ago in the Pliocene, the last time it was as hot as it is going to be in this century, antarctic ice shelf melting caused a sea level rise of as much as 20 meters (65 feet).

At 65 feet sea level rise, we basically lose Louisiana and most of Florida, according to this useful intractive map:

via Bye, Bye Florida: Scientists find the last time it was this hot, Seas rose 65 feet | Informed Comment.

Jul 212013

While the overall homicide rate in the U.S. is declining, “homicides in self-defense nearly doubled from 2000 to 2010, driven by states with ‘stand your ground’ laws.” After Florida enacted its SYG law, ALEC (American Legislative Exchange Council) used the Florida statute as a model for states across our nation.

via Daily Kos: Stand Your Ground Laws Implemented As Privatized Vigilantism & Legalized Hate Crime Murders.