Volume 1 of the Autobiography of Mark Twain just hit our door, all $35, 760 hardcover pages of it – in small type. But guess what? It’s all free, and legible, here.


Jackie Greenberg: ‘[With respect to yesterday’s item on Tom Lehrer], I thought you might like this new version, where Harry Potter (well, actually Daniel Radcliffe) does Lehrer’s periodic table on British telly. I guess he aced Potions class. My nomination for Lehrer song of the week might have been ‘National Brotherhood Week’ (National Smile at One Anotherhood Week).’

☞ Who can fail to love ‘National Brotherhood Week’? And here you actually get to see him perform it. Meanwhile, this version of The Elements Song saves you yesterday’s 89 cents (what was I thinking?!) and provides a video that lists the names of all the elements as he sings them. This one, in Japanese, shows the elements themselves (or their namesakes).

Peter Baum: ‘My Thanksgiving treat for my mother: my 8-year-old niece and nephew are going to sing Lehrer’s Be Prepared for her. They don’t know what almost any of it means; they just know that all the adults howl in laughter when they do. ‘Don’t solicit for your sister, that’s not nice / Unless you get a good percentage of her price’ will work wonderfully since they’re twins. Of course, Mom knows how funny this joke is. She did the same for us when we were kids.’


Gabe Kaplan: ‘Time to sell Korea Fund? This has a been a great investment.’

☞ It’s overwhelmingly not in the interest of either Korea to go to war, so they probably won’t. The time to sell is generally when people AREN’T afraid. But it could certainly dip a lot further first (and there’s always the chance of some crazy miscalculation). Meanwhile, Heckman Global still sees Korea as attractively valued relative to other markets.


Eduardo Fernandez: ‘Excellent video [asking people on the street in Colorado Springs when they chose to be straight]. It proves to me that what I have always thought about people. A PERSON, a single solitary person, is a reasonably intelligent entity that can use logic and will accept it when shown they are wrong. PEOPLE, on the other hand, are panicky groups that can be herded whatever way you want just by throwing some hatred, conspiratorial and paranoid thinking at them and letting them react as a whole while you cheer them on further down the path you pointed them at. What a problem we have in this country. There are just too many that will not stop and think for themselves.’

☞ Why listen to scientists or serious journalists when you can listen to Rush Limbaugh and Fox News? Karl Rove and Frank Luntz pull the strings.

Not to say this all goes one way and that we on the left are all independent thinkers. But I believe some things are objectively knowable (aka, ‘facts’) and that our side generally sticks closer to them. Iraq did not attack us on 9/11 even though a majority of Bush re-elect voters believed it did; President Obama is not foreign born, even though 41% of Republicans doubt this; he is not Muslim (though what if he were?), even though 70% of Republicans are not so sure about that; the ‘vast majority’ of the Bush tax cuts did not go to ‘people at the bottom of the economic ladder’ even though Bush insisted they would; borrowing $700 billion to fund an extension of the Bush tax cuts on income above $250,000 is not a smart way to stimulate job creation or reduce our deficit.

And the 68% of Republicans (and 40% of Democrats) who reject the Theory of Evolution are less likely to be right than the overwhelming majority of scientists who accept it. ‘In the U.S., only 14 percent of adults thought that evolution was ‘definitely true,’ while about a third firmly rejected the idea,’ according to one study. ‘In European countries, including Denmark, Sweden, and France, more than 80 percent of adults surveyed said they accepted the concept of evolution.’ And such is the state of our educational system, and our regard for science and logic, that the proportion not accepting evolution has been rising. Three of the Republican candidates for president in 2008 raised their hands at a debate to affirm that they didn’t accept evolution.


They reject, you decide.

Happy Thanksgiving!

We have hot water! And TV and cell phones and power-steering and aspirin and no fear of hunger! At least most of us do. A far cry from what the Pilgrims had to give thanks for in 1621. Thank you, thank you, thank you.


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