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Be Less Stupid
Updated: 23 min 17 sec ago

New York City, October 12, 2017

Fri, 2017-10-13 17:42

★★★ A gentle, exhausted rain fell on the walk to school. By the time the shouts of morning recess were carrying over the street, the edges of the sidewalk squares were drying out and low shreds of gray were flying under higher, sun-whitened clouds. Somewhere in there was a gap or two of blue. The wind was coiling around and whipping. Then the clouds broke apart and the sun was warming where it came through. It was a mistake, but not a serious one, to head out without a jacket.

It's A Metaphor

Fri, 2017-10-13 14:23

Jared Kushner Doesn't Get Inoculated

Fri, 2017-10-13 14:05

Image: Fort George G. Meade Public Affairs Office via Flickr

JARED and IVANKA are lounging around in pajamas. Their DAUGHTER is the shadow President per a coup last week in which she cast the deciding vote for herself. Her first order of business, after she ushered her grandfather into an assisted living facility, is to change the dress code. Onesies if you have them. Most pajamas are flame retardant, she explains sensibly as she distributes the new policy, acknowledging that she understands STEVE BANNON set booby traps, many of them involving fire, before he departed the White House. GARY COHN is rubbing Cheez-it crumbs on his gums like they’re cocaine. GENERAL KELLY is definitely not resigning. He’s playing the piano with GENERAL MATTIS and they’re singing “Sister Christian” to KUSHNER DAUGHTER like they’re Archie and Edith. KELLYANNE CONWAY walks in with DR. BEN CARSON, who is rolling a cart of syringes and carrying many bags. 

IVANKA [wearing an IVANKA-branded onesie and expensive jewelry]: Secretary Carson.

THE GENERALS [in unison, and excitedly rising from the piano, wearing onesies depicting all of Ken Burns’s documentaries]: Is the Twenty-fifth Amendment vote happening?

KUSHNER DAUGHTER [wearing a Wonder Woman onesie]: I determined it was actually less dangerous to America’s housing and urban development if Ben administered flu shots and not run HUD.

[There are audible gasps and crosstalk.]

KUSHNER DAUGHTER [declaratively but happily]: This administration now ascribes to the Germ theory of disease. And we certainly ascribe to herd immunity. [KUSHNER DAUGHTER passes out copies of The Hot Zone to all STAFF.]

[KELLYANNE CONWAY, wearing a Pat’s King of Steaks onesie, begins weeping, as JARED scuffs over to DR. BEN CARSON, his sneakers, still squeaking. JARED is wearing a ThunderCats onesie.]

JARED [tracing his fingers along his forehead and to his temples]: So I have these headaches.

[DR. BEN CARSON is so immersed in his flu shot cart, finally doing a job that aligns with his skill set, that he doesn’t hear JARED. He is wearing scrubs, not a onesie.]

GARY COHN [wearing an Odell Beckham Jr. onesie]: It’s just sympathy CTE. I get them too.

[KUSHNER DAUGHTER texts “chronic traumatic encephalopathy = Dad??” to herself. She also texts “What happens if we leave NAFTA?” to HILLARY CLINTON.]

GARY COHN [wisely]: You were watching the game last night. That’s probably why.

JARED [grimacing]: The Nationals?

GARY COHN [pithily but wrong]: What? Fuck no. Baseball is for people who read The New Yorker and worship their fathers.

IVANKA [powerfully]: He does neither of those.

BEN CARSON [pointing the syringe like it’s the world’s tiniest assault rifle]: Who’s first?

KUSHNER DAUGHTER [leading from behind]: The generals and I have come up with a ranking of who is most likely to catch the flu this year. We’ll just do it in order, if that’s okay with everyone? I’m in charge, but it’s also important that my authority is derived from consensus and not from the threat of state violence. [KUSHNER DAUGHTER hands DR. BEN CARSON the ranking.]

BEN CARSON [reading from the list]: Jared, you’re up first. I’ll just need a form of government ID. [He looks to KUSHNER DAUGHTER who nods approvingly.]

KELLYANNE CONWAY [interrupting]: To be clear, the only people the federal government should be in the business of identifying are Democratic-leaning voters in Milwaukee, Detroit, and Philadelphia. So we can purge them from the voter rolls.

[JARED looks helplessly to IVANKA, because she already shredded all of his paperwork.]

BEN CARSON [bureaucratically]: A driver’s license would work.

KUSHNER DAUGHTER [unabashedly]: He doesn’t drive.

BEN CARSON [bureaucratically]: What about a passport?

GARY COHN [winking]: Globalists don’t really need those.

BEN CARSON [looking to KUSHNER DAUGHTER]: Does he have an insurance card at least?

[KUSHNER DAUGHTER’s phone pings. She reads that her grandfather has gutted one more Obamacare protection, this one adversely affecting employees of small businesses.]

KUSHNER DAUGHTER [crossly]: No one wants that. Can someone explain to me how the President is still signing executive orders? I thought he was in an assisted living facility?

GARY COHN [nostalgically]: Livia Soprano inflicted so much havoc from a hospital bed.

KUSHNER DAUGHTER [sensibly]: Gary, look at me. I’m six. That show ended two years before I was born.

IVANKA [warmly]: If anyone spoils the ending of “The Sopranos” for my daughter, so help me.

KUSHNER DAUGHTER [pressing her temples]: Dad, can you get me a coffee? Now I have a headache.

JARED [weakly]: I didn’t get my shot yet.

KUSHNER DAUGHTER [to DR. BEN CARSON]: Can I just sign an affidavit that he is who he says he is? And you can give him the shot when he gets back.

[DR. BEN CARSON smiles at KUSHNER DAUGHTER’s reasonableness. He sticks the syringe behind his ear like it’s a pen.]

GARY COHN [decisively]: Fuck it. Do me then. I need three though. One for each arm. And then do one right in my face. [GARY COHN points at his nose, closes one nostril and snorts.]

[KUSHNER DAUGHTER holds up her right index finger at DR. BEN CARSON and mouths, “Only one.”]

GARY COHN [nostalgically, again]: The last time I was sick from work I was at U.S. Steel. Ten months at U.S. Steel. One sick day to interview on Wall Street. And then straight to the top. [GARY COHN shoots his hand up to the ceiling.]

IVANKA [sarcastically]: Your pivot from manufacturing to finance helped us win Ohio.

BEN CARSON [agreeably]: Can I do Gary next?

[KUSHNER DAUGHTER scans her ranking and sees that GARY COHN is in fact next. She nods. DR. BEN CARSON reaches into a leather satchel for two more syringes.]

GENERAL KELLY [bounding across the room]: No! That bag is the nuclear football

GARY COHN [confused]: The nuclear football is a murse?

GENERAL KELLY [exasperatedly]: It used to be inside a real football but whenever your grandfather saw it, he’d yell at it, and then he’d keep yelling. Support the anthem, support the police.

GENERAL MATTIS [clutching the nuclear football]: Sometimes for hours.

GENERAL KELLY [mimicking TRUMP]: Why is the football on the ground? Is the football kneeling?

KELLYANNE CONWAY [bemusedly]: Last week we thought he was going to give himself a stroke. He couldn’t think of the word for “football” or for “anthem” or for “kneeling” so he was just screaming sounds. My mother always said, you learn something new every day, and that day we learned that using words helps deliver oxygen to the President’s brain.

KUSHNER DAUGHTER [sternly]: Help me understand here, Kellyanne. If it being a football was going to cause a stroke, why—[to IVANKA] can I swear, Mom?

[IVANKA nods.]

KUSHNER DAUGHTER [powerfully]: Why the fuck didn’t you keep it a football?

[IVANKA smiles at her daughter as the GENERALS deliberately and carefully move the nuclear football away from DR. BEN CARSON. KUSHNER DAUGHTER taps out an office wide email that going forward and as long as she is the shadow President, the nuclear football will be referred to as the nuclear purse.]

How Literal Fuck Hats Saved the Peregrine Falcon

Fri, 2017-10-13 12:26

Lester Boyd, Inventor of the fuck hat. Photo: Peregrine Fund of Boise, Idaho, 1977

The Peregrine falcon, the fastest animal on earth, was saved from extinction thanks in part to a specially designed hat that proved to be an innovative, if unusual, method of artificial insemination. Essentially, it’s a fuck hat.

In the 1950s, the number of wild Peregrine falcons had diminished drastically due to the reckless and widespread use of dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane, or DDT. This toxic pesticide didn’t kill Peregrine falcons outright, but it did weaken their eggshells to the point of making incubation unviable. By the 1960s, there were no wild peregrine falcons in North America east of the Rocky Mountains, and only a handful to the west.

Tom Cade, a Professor of Ornithology at Cornell University, is credited with being the first to discover there might a Peregrine problem. However, it was only after speaking with other experts at a 1968 conference in Madison, Wisconsin, that Cade knew for sure the birds were in danger. To counter the devastation a potential loss of species would have had, Cade and about a half dozen other men formed The Peregrine Fund in 1970. It began in Ithaca, NY, though the organization is now based in Boise, ID.  Armed with donated birds from concerned falconers the world over, Cade and a handful of others embarked on the most ambitious captive breeding program in history.

Of course, there were simply too few Peregrine falcons left to leave their recovery to natural propagation. As Mike Garets of The Peregrine Fund says, “A handful of falconers repopulating two or three birds a year was never going to replenish the population.” Instead, The Peregrine Fund had to employ several methods of artificial insemination to ensure the species’ successful and speedy recovery.

“Everyone wants to know the magic formula for success—how to get all eggs fertile, all eggs hatched, and all chicks raised,” writes Tom Cade and James Weaver in Falcon Propagation: A Manual on Captive Breeding. “There is no magic formula, but success is proportional to the intensity of interest, the personal involvement, and the amount of hard work that go into a breeding effort.”

One of those initial intense efforts Cade and Weaver refer to was a manual masturbation technique that requires three adult humans to perform. It’s a three-man falcon handjob, essentially. The first person holds the falcon face down on a foam surface and assures its safety. The second person pulls the falcon’s legs apart, leaving room for the third person who uses their middle finger and thumb to massage the falcon’s papilla and eventually collect the bird’s precious and endangered semen.

There can be difficulties with this approach. Some birds don’t want to be approached and have to be caught in a net and hooded before palpation. Furthermore, it can be extremely stressful to both the falcon and the falconer. What’s more: sometimes this method doesn’t even work.

The second artificial insemination method for Peregrine falcons is the fuck hat.

The copulation hat, as prudes might call it, was first designed by Lester Boyd, a falconer from Pullman, Washington, who created the hat in response to the potential extinction crisis of the 1960s. The fuck hat method was soon adopted by The Peregrine Fund and included in Cade and Weaver’s official propagation manual.

To the untrained eye, the hats resemble rubber turbans, or maybe even pith helmets. A “donut” rings the head where the male falcons, or tiercels, perch during copulation. On top is a non-toxic, honeycomb-patterned silicone catacomb structure that acts as the semen receptacle. The fuck hat comes in over a dozen colors, including something called “safety yellow,” and costs around $300.

“We call it the semen hat,” says Brad Wood, a falconer from Olympia, Washington, and the former owner of Northwood Falconry, America’s Foremost Falconry Outfitter Since 1984. “I bring it with me whenever I do falcon education events for the public. I would say about 98% of people don’t know what the hat is used for. It’s an always interesting conversation.”

Wood, 63, says there are only a handful of falconers like him out there ‘making a living’ out of breeding falcons this way. Though he has been in this line of work for 25 years, it is anything but routine and even requires daily work in courtship and bonding.

“Breeding falcons this way is very intense. I get more anxious than the birds do,” says Wood. “They only breed from the beginning of March until the end of May and you have to be in there with them on a daily basis… You know, I lead a fairly normal life meaning I have a family. I have a wife. I value my human relationships. It can be difficult to act like a falcon every day for three months. You can’t just casually do it whenever you want to.”

Indeed, a falcon won’t fuck just any old hat. The birds need to be romanced a little bit first. They need to be courted. To achieve this, a falconer must maintain consistency. The propagation manual suggests always wearing the same clothes throughout the breeding season, and that “the [fuck] hat should be worn at all times so the bird learns to accept it as part of your normal appearance.”

Communication is also crucial. Falconers are instructed to mimic the female falcon’s chirp and even bow their head in a rocking motion similar to what a mating female might do. An interested male falcon will then show his interest in a variety of ways, including reciprocating vocalizations, or performing ledge displays. An interested falcon may even take on a frozen body posture of paralyzed anticipation.

When it’s time to make the magic happen, the falconer turns his back to the falcon before kneeling on the ground. A ready bird will then mount the hat, flap its wings wildly, perhaps make a chittering noise, before pressing its abdomen against the hat, and concluding with “a noticeable shudder” during ejaculation.

Afterwards, falconers often reward the birds with a bit of food and end the session with a “chup” vocalization. Once outside of the Peregrine’s chamber, the falconer uses a capillary tube to collect the semen from the hat, maybe only a drop or two, which is then taken directly to a female falcon and deposited into her oviduct using the same capillary tube from the collection.

As truly weird as this sounds, it worked. This totally absurd process, repeated thousands of times over the next three decades, ultimately saved the Peregrine falcons from extinction.

Not surprisingly, Wood gives a lot of the credit to his fellow falconers. “It wasn’t just biologists and public officials,” says Wood. “It was falconers who had a passion who devoted their time and money to make sure the birds would be around for future generations.”

Illustration: Falcon Propagation: A Manual on Captive Breeding

Bob Collins of The Peregrine Fund echoes this sentiment, describing those early days of the program when falconers would hesitantly donate their birds to Cade and the other ‘founding fathers’ of The Peregrine Fund. “Sometimes they would give their only birds, not knowing if they would ever see a falcon again in their lives, all to save the species.”

In the end, the falconers had no need to worry. The Peregrine Fund’s captive breeding program successfully bred and released over 4,000 birds back into the wild.  In 1999, the Peregrine falcon was officially removed from the Endangered Species List. The raptors have since repopulated almost all of North America, including a few unlikely places, such as New York City, which is home to at least 50 peregrine falcons, the most per square mile of any place on Earth. The fuck hats worked.

Humans very nearly lost Peregrine falcons through years of fucking over nature. It seems all that was needed to save the species, though, was to let nature fuck a human.

Why Tweet?

Fri, 2017-10-13 12:12

Maggie Haberman says: “Before you post, ask yourself: Is this something that needs to be said, is it something that needs to be said by you, and is it something that needs to be said by you right now? If you answer no to any of the three, it’s best not to rush ahead.”

Is there really any reason to tweet now? (Was there every any reason? A primer.) Twitter has become such a hellscape, with Nazis and broken news sandwiched between the commander-in-chief’s signature There’s Always An Old Tweet™ tweets and his newer, more unhinged signature Taunt™ tweets designed purely to arouse the ire of his politically opposed spectators. The new New York Times social media guidelines are, as you might expect, fairly reasonable, if somewhat exhausting—like a rule-loving little gray lady with newspaper wings sitting on your shoulder, not even whispering anything but just raising her eyebrows over her bifocals. For those of us who participate in Twitter mostly for real-time-only jokes and to dopily announce that we have Written A Thing, these rules mostly make us remember we are not Maggie Haberman, and you have to wonder if there’s any point to saying something when you could just as easily…not. What do you really get out of Twitter besides repeated dopamine hits and very good blog posts from The Awl? If you’re looking for a nicotine patch of sorts, I highly suggest the paperclip game. It is a great reminder of how engaging but ultimately pointless everything on the internet is.

Makeness, "Loud Patterns"

Fri, 2017-10-13 10:06


I can’t believe how long the week was and I can’t believe how next week I’ll look back at the relative briefness of this week with longing and nostalgia and I can’t believe how the week after that I’ll be all, “I can’t believe how long the week was and I can’t believe how next week I’ll look back at the relative briefness of this week with longing and nostalgia.” I guess I should start believing more. Anyway, here’s music, enjoy.