balloons and airships, how to lie like a rabid weasel and stop the recovery, stories that are short,

Vue d’optique shows the balloon launched by the Montgolfier brothers ascending from the Palace of Versailles, France, before the royal family, September 19, 1783. They apparently did not have much confidence in the safety of said ballon as the passengers were a sheep, a duck and a rooster. Hand-colored etching.

Collecting cards with pictures of events in ballooning history from 1783 to 1883.

Book illustration shows five early balloon ascensions in France. The figures show two Montgolfier balloons (Fauxbourg St. Antoine and St. Germain); a 1784 balloon of Jean-Pierre Blanchard; and a Charles and Robert balloon being inflated at Champs-de-Mar and ascending at Versailles on September 19, 1783. The illustration is a combination etching and engraving.

Mr. Lincoln Beachey in Thomas Scott Baldwin’s airship at the St. Louis Exposition – 1904. Not pretty or practical. The passenger had to sit in the exposed frame.

Panoramic view of the front section of the Shenandoah dirigible. The Shenandoah disaster, Sharon, Ohio, September 3, 1925. The Shenandoah was a Navy dirigible. It was launchdd from  New Jersey, on September 2, 1925, with the intention of flying both to St. Louis and Detroit. There was a crew of 36.  When they reached Ohio when they flew into a severe electrical storm at around 4:00 A.M. They tried several times to maneuver out of the storm with changes in altitudes between 1,800 and 7,000 feet. It is thought the combination of air pressure and frame twisting that the ship started to come apart. There was a crew cabin attached to the underside, that detached and fell to the ground, leaving 14 casualties. including the Captain, Lieutenant Commander Zachery Lansdowne. A report on events leading up to the crash concluded they could probably had avoided the weather that caused the crash with better meteorological information. A morbid factlet: many bystanders rushed to the scene of the crash and stole pieces as souvenirs, including the ship’s logbook. There is a very good related post here, Dreaming in Dirigibles: The Airship Postcard Albums of Lord Ventry.

Leave it to Herman Cain ( the Most Unctuous Black Man Alive?) to come up with the most compelling reason against an Obama second term,  6 right-wing claims about a second Obama term

3. And he’ll ban pizza
TIME recently asked former Republican presidential candidate and ex-Godfather’s Pizza boss Herman Cain if it’s “worse to imagine a world without pizza or one in which Obama gets a second term.” A second Obama term would be worse, Cain replied, “because with Obama in a second term, there will be no pizza. For anyone.” Okay, “you heard it here first,” says Max Read at Gawker: “Obama will ban pizza in his second term.”

So to this very good list of things students and everyone else should not do – 12 Things Students Should Never Do on Social Media, I would add, never wear your tin-foil hat too tight and never fly your black helicopter too close to power lines.

The Fire Last Time

Dean Baker has exactly the right metaphor for journalists asking the really dumb “are you better off” question:

Suppose your house is on fire and the firefighters race to the scene. They set up their hoses and start spraying water on the blaze as quickly as possible. After the fire is put out, the courageous news reporter on the scene asks the chief firefighter, “is the house in better shape than when you got here?”

Yes, that would be a really ridiculous question.

A serious reporter asks the fire chief if he had brought a large enough crew, if they enough hoses, if the water pressure was sufficient. That might require some minimal knowledge of how to put out fires.

Obama came to office in the midst of the worst economic crisis since the 1930s. The question should be how well he dealt with that crisis — and in particular whether the man seeking to replace him would have done better.

Maybe a better question that journalists should be asking, or at least as good as the better off question, is name the ways that conservatives at the federal level blocked the recovery (5 Ways Republicans Have Sabotaged Job Growth) and how they were aided by conservative governors and legislators. A follow up question might include something about those who would describe themselves as patriots thinking their highest priority should be maliciously stalling the recovery in order to increase their chances in the election.

Some short fiction, “Frida” by Peter Vilbig

She will ignore you, by the way, and you’ll decide to wait till evening, thinking it makes more sense, and it’s true: there will be red slashes and parrots whose cries will wake you in the morning, and when you go back into the square, damp clouds will be hung in the jacaranda trees, and you will find the yellow shawl of Frida Kahlo, negligently thrown over the wooden chair.

Thomas Jefferson, 1818 vs. The Education Platform of the Republican Party of Texas, 2012. Guess which one wrote this,

…..which focus on behavior modification and have the purpose of challenging the student’s fixed beliefs and undermining parental authority.