On the uncomfortable business of calling for torturers to stand trial

NYT said this today http://www.nytimes.com/2014/12/22/opinion/paul-krugman-putin-neocons-and-the-great-illusion.html?ribbon-ad-idx=5&rref=opinion&module=Ribbon&version=context&region=Header&action=click&contentCollection=Opinion&pgtype=article&gwh=0E2D619DE844691421810B414F88E772&gwt=pay&assetType=opinion

FW’s Roger Williams said this last week, where he called for Florida’s own Porter Goss and James Mitchell to go before the court: http://fortmyers.floridaweekly.com/news/2014-12-17/Opinion/American_strength_American_justice.html

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Hot Sauce Challenge

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Workers Comp Rates Could Be Trimmed

Speaking from first-hand experience, this is good news (although it would have been nice to see a 7-8 percent decrease rather than the 2.9 percent drop the construction industry is expected to receive. Inflated Workers Comp rates for builders have been oppressive, particularly for small businesses wanting to operate within the strictures of the law. This seems like a good step toward making the rates more reasonable.

CBS Miami

TALLAHASSEE (CBSMiami/NSF) – Florida employers could see the first overall reduction in workers-compensation insurance rates in four years.

An overall 2.5 percent decrease has been proposed by the National Council on Compensation Insurance, the state announced Friday.

The decrease is expected to be discussed during a public hearing in October.

Manufacturers could see the biggest drop, 3.2 percent, under the proposal.

The contracting industry is lined up for a 2.9 percent decrease, and office and clerical services would get a 1.3 percent drop, according to a statement from NCCI.

The proposal, if approved by the state Office of Insurance Regulation, would take effect in January.

Last year, the overall rate grew 0.7 percent, which was slightly lower than a proposed 1 percent increase. The approval followed annual increases of 6.1 percent, 8.9 percent and 7.8 percent in the three previous years.

“The News Service of Florida contributed to this report.”

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My #Breaking Bad Thing (celebrations, predictions and spoilers)

If you’re a man, you’re spending this weekend reading about and watching clips, streaming reruns and having conversations about the TV show “Breaking Bad.” Even if you are not a man, surely you have seen us, hunched over our laptops and iPads, awkwardly craned in obtuse angles, with eyes on our screens, scooping food into our mouths in a manner such as to avoid dripping crumbs or salsa onto our devices and/or bed sheets.  Like Walter White (the sociopathic, everyman antihero of the TV Show) we will not be denied this. This is the Breaking Bad weekend that we will remember years hence, in the form of TV shows and authorless Internet articles titled The Top 25 TV Villains and Best TV Shows of All Time clip shows on VH1.

To celebrate this historic occasion, I have bought a bottle of Pinch (the kind Walt swigged in the penultimate episode) and I’m encouraging my son (20, a man, but something of a teetotaler) to take shots with me tonight during the show’s finale. He’s dressing in a hazmat suit. I’ve shaved my head and I’ll be carrying around a mock-up IV drip while my cat has been painted a shade of radiant Heisenberg blue. If you’re a man, you get it.

It’s worth noting that I don’t do shit for football or baseball teams, I don’t belong to any professional organizations, don’t go to church and I’ve never been a card-carrying member of a political party. Breaking Bad is all I have.

What will happen?

Part of Breaking Bad’s appeal is that  it’s a shared cultural moment at a time when we’re so fragmented, so pulled in divergent directions, that it’s the one thing we can all safely worry about together: What will happen to Walter White?

An intimidating, confusing health care law is being implemented, the Tea Party is threatening to let the government shut down and default, the NSA may be reading my e-mails, Lake Okeechobee could overflow any day and in the meantime its waters are killing the Caloosahatchee and St. Lucie Rivers, oh yeah, and people are shooting the hell out of each other everywhere you look. So Breaking Bad, as harrowing as it is, is only a fiction, a diversion, an entertainment made for its time.

During a recent conversation, a man-friend of mine asked me what I thought might happen. I told him it was futile and counterproductive to guess.

“They have a staff of the most brilliant writers in television sitting there for weeks on end, creating this puzzle. Why am I going to sit here and conjecture for a few minutes on what these writers have made their life’s work to create. Let it just flow over you and enjoy the ride.”

He chastised me for missing the point of a cultural moment like this. “Part of the fun is everyone trying to guess.”

I disagreed. Until I found out there was money to be made if I could guess whether or not Walter White will die tomorrow night.

Esquire Weekly did its Breaking Bad thing, an entire issue devoted to the show. As part of their coverage, there were pictures of women in their underwear of course, but there was also an article about BetOnline and its taking odds on the question, (odds are high he’ll die).

What will happen.

I’m not a betting man. I’m not comfortable spreading money around. Just yesterday, I was standing in line at Subway calculating if it made more sense to buy the 6-inch at $3.75 or to splurge for the five-dollar footlong. But this weekend, I’m celebrating Walter White. I’m putting down $50 (the maximum bet allowed) on Walt staying alive. Real men put it on the line. There are no half-measures. All or nothing, baby.

Walter White has already been punished for his crimes. He spent a year in Siberia, New Hampshire, alone with his thoughts and cancer and DVDs of the worst movie you’ve ever seen Dustin Hoffman in. It was torture — sure a small price to pay for the thousands of lives he’s wrecked, the murders he has committed, in the name of his family and ego — but it’s punishment nonetheless. (If you believe Stephen Marche’s take on the show, we all live with the blemish of being subjects of the marketplace, whether it be crystal meth or tomatoes picked in Immokalee — so who the hell are we to sit around in judgment.) At any rate, Walter has sat out his sentence and now, it’s time for his comeuppance, his final play. In the final episode, these things will happen:

–       Walt will rub his bald head.

–       Jessie will cry.

–       Todd will kill that uptight symbol of corporate hypocrisy, Lydia, then violate the corpse.

–       Todd, that symbol of the dead-eyed, unflinching American consumer, will be killed by Jessie, who will tea-bag him. (Google it, it’s what gamers do when they kill people on screen.)

–       Walt will use an M-60 to kill the neo-Nazi dirtbags.

–       Walt and Jessie will reconciliate. They’ll “cook” something together — maybe Meth, maybe those jalepeño/onion burgers you can buy in packs of four at Costco. They’ll share a few laughs. Jessie will get a sack of cash and he’ll use it to buy stock Virgin Galactic. A flash-forward scene shows him and Sir Richard Branson high fiving just as they lift –off into outer space.

–       Walt will remotely detonate a nuclear weapon in the city center as a diversion, while a splinter branch of Yakuza ninjas kidnap his wife and kids and whisk them away to a secret resort in Guadalajara where Walt (who was in cahoots with the ninjas all this time)  will join them in a tearful, final scene. They will group-hug. Walt Junior will make a wisecrack, “Hey Dad, you’re breaking my ribs, bad.” They all laugh. Freeze frame, roll credits.

… So there you have it. Go place your bets and may you and yours enjoy the rest of your Breaking Bad weekend.

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Proof that #Proof of Heaven may in fact be the work of a deluded genius with a history of manipulating facts

It’s strange that this week, I’ve heard more about a #Sharknado (whatever the hell that is — I honestly still don’t know) than about the story of Dr. Eben Alexander, the author of #Proof of Heaven. With a neurosugeon’s precision and care, Luke Dittrich has done a phenomenal job of debunking Alexander’s story for #Esquire. Here’s what Editor-in-Chief David Granger had to say about it. You can click his quote to read the story.

Dr. Eben Alexander’s Proof of Heaven: A Neurosurgeon’s Journey into the Afterlife has sold nearly two million copies and remained on best-seller lists for over 35 weeks. But a months-long investigation of Dr. Alexander’s past and some of the book’s claims reveals a series of factual omissions and inconsistencies that call significant parts of Dr. Alexander’s story into question. Before he was a celebrated “man of science” who visited the afterlife, Dr. Alexander was something else: a neurosurgeon with a troubled history and a man in need of reinvention.

This is the first time we’ve asked online readers to pay for a story, but for good reason: Because stories like Dittrich’s matter and they don’t come along often. Because great journalism—and the months that go into creating it—isn’t free. So, besides providing the story to readers of our print and digital-tablet versions of the August issue, we are offering it to online readers as a stand-alone purchase. Thank you. —DG

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The next Hip-Hop earbug… (earworm? earwig?)

This is “Collard Greens” by Schoolboy Q, a vulgarity-laden playful summertime rap with a hypnotic flow and and a groove that might make you feel stoned even if the closest you’ve ever come to Herb was when Burger King asked you to look out for this guy …burger_king_herb

Thanks to NPR’s All Songs Considered for turning me on to this one (and several others)

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Pope Francis is cool

He has said that he believes priests should be “shepherds with the smell of the sheep” and he is living that way. He has, pointedly, not moved into the papal apartments, remaining at a cheap hotel where reportedly he eats breakfast with ordinary people. He refuses to take the papal limousine, traveling by minibus instead. More significantly, on Good Friday this year, Pope Francis became the first Pope in history to wash the feet of a woman. Not only did he wash the feet of a woman, but that woman was a Muslim. Not only was she a Muslim woman, she was a female inmate at a local prison. He has become famous in Rome as the “chatty” Pope, stopping to embrace children with disabilities. Recently after a kid with Down’s syndrome pointed to the Popemobile, Francis gave him a free ride around Saint Peter’s Square. He has a sense of humor, too. He’s been known to give blessings to groups of Harley Davidson bikers.

Read more: Pope Francis Awesome – Pope Francis Is Kind of Great – Esquire
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So I crapped a bit on my Catholic church yesterday while explaining sainthood to my buddy Steve McQuilkin. Here, Stephen Marche helps me redeem myself with a quote from his piece about what makes Pope Francis so cool. Read the whole article here:
Read more: Pope Francis Awesome – Pope Francis Is Kind of Great – Esquire

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