The Spectacle Blog

Breaking: Airplane Mystery Solved!

By on 3.21.14 | 1:57AM

You read it here first, folks. The airplane puzzle has been solved. No, not the fate of Malaysian Airlines Flight 370, or the "zombie plane," as CNN has speculatively dubbed it. Not even the timeless stumper as to whether Joey has ever seen a grown man naked. I'm talking about a mysterious small aircraft that has been incessantly circling a neighborhood in Sacramento for the past few weeks. News 10, Sacramento's ABC affiliate, has the scoop. Through some intrepid sleuthing, a college student--who chose, perhaps wisely, to remain anonymous--found out that the planes use the FBI's callsign, "Jenna."

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Get Well Soon, Aroldis Chapman

By on 3.20.14 | 6:51PM

I just saw the video of Cincinnati Reds closer Aroldis Chapman getting struck in the face by a line drive off the bat of Kansas City Royals catcher Salvador Pena during a spring training game last night in Surprise, Arizona. 

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The Fate of the Westboro Baptist Church

By on 3.20.14 | 5:52PM

By now you have likely heard the loud sigh of relief from just about every American other than those of the Westboro Baptist congregation in Kansas. Their founder and pastor Fred Phelps passed away on Wednesday, according to his church and family.

Phelps founded the infamous church in 1955 and pastored there until he died at 84 of a mysterious illness, leaving a legacy of abominable hatred behind him.

His own son, Nathan Phelps, abandoned his father’s heretical congregation thirty years ago and wrote of him: “Destroyed by the monster he made.”

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Crushing Rocks

By on 3.20.14 | 3:23PM

Ryan Anderson is a dangerous man. 

So says the student body and administration of Stanford University, one of America’s “premiere” institutions of “higher education.” Anderson is one of a few intellectuals brave enough to make the case that marriage is the union of one man and one woman. Though nationalized same-sex marriage by judicial fiat will likely come upon us in a very short time, nevertheless the best and brightest of the Millennial generation at Stanford cannot tolerate Anderson’s willingness to stand on the “wrong side of history.” After all, his clarity, logic, humility, poise, and courage might reveal the hollowness of what is arguably the most successful social movement in American history.

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Court Rules Feds Must Recognize Voter ID Laws

By on 3.20.14 | 1:30PM

“I’m sorry, can I see your ID?”

I shuffled through my purse and pulled it out, slipping the plastic card across the table. The woman read my birth date and turned me away.

“I’m sorry but you have to be 18 to get a library card without a parent’s signature,” the librarian informed me.

It was a month before my eighteenth birthday and I needed resources for my 40-page senior thesis, but I couldn’t check out books without Daddy’s signature.

Fast forward a year. I’m standing in line to cast my very first vote while I was home from college. When it came to my turn the gentleman asked me for my name. He scrolled down the list. He asked for my address. I rattled it off. Then, with a friendly smile, he handed me my ballot.

You know what’s wrong with this picture. You need to present your ID at the airport, the hospital, to buy Advil or Nyquil at CVS, to withdraw money at the bank, to buy alcohol, cigarettes, and lottery tickets, to rent a car, etc., etc., but you don’t need an ID to vote. At least, in many states, until now.

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Thank You for Your Support

By on 3.20.14 | 1:19PM

Allow me to be the first to wish TAS readers a happy vernal equinox. Folks in the Northeast particularly could do with a little more vernal just now. With some sunshine and a coat of pollen on the family car, perhaps radio stations from Arlington to Caribou would no longer be deluged with requests for that Bing Crosby classic, “White Easter.”

The first day of spring always lightens my heart a bit because it means Opening Day is just around the corner (so far around the corner as to be this weekend from Australia). It also reminds me of that amusing Bartles & Jaymes commercial from 1986. Too bad the product wasn’t nearly as good as the commercials. (Or isn’t nearly as good — is it still around? I’ve never actually seen anyone with a bottle of B&J.)

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Morning Round-Up 3-20

By on 3.20.14 | 10:12AM

Feature of the Day: Meet G4S, the Contractors Who Go Where Governments and Armies Can’t—Or Won’t

Morning Headlines


Associated Press

  1. Winter’s Snowy Barrage Hammers US Road Budgets


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Hillary Distances Herself From Obama Admin on Iran…Sort Of

By on 3.20.14 | 1:11AM

On Wednesday evening, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton continued to take a hawkish tone in her speech while distancing herself from the Obama Administration. A fortnight ago, she invoked Hitler's actions in Czechoslovakia in 1938 when commenting on Russia's annexation of Ukraine's Crimean Peninsula.

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Alexandria Bike Wars

By on 3.19.14 | 4:22PM

For the first time in my life I became a community organizer over the last few months. It’s not an experience I’ll want to repeat any time soon. With a group of neighbors I took on City Hall and a rag-tag group of bicyclists who wanted to replace on-street parking with dedicated bike lanes on the most dangerous street in my city of Alexandria VA. 

King Street, Alexandria is very steep (a 5 percent grade) and a major city artery (Virginia Route 7) with 13,000 cars and trucks that speed by each day, mostly well over the speed limit. It’s also only 29 feet wide, which means that when the bike lanes are installed and two city buses pass each other, they’ll have zero leeway unless they move into the bike lanes.

It’s the dumbest place in the world for bike lanes, in short, an attractive nuisance, an accident waiting to happen. But that didn’t seem to matter to anyone, and that taught me something about municipal politics.

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Evolutionary Biology Does Not Explain Morality

By on 3.19.14 | 3:43PM

David Brooks rightly holds that the evolutionary picture of human nature is inadequate:

[The] strictly evolutionary view of human nature sells humanity short. It leaves the impression that we are just slightly higher animals — thousands of years of evolutionary processes capped by a thin layer of rationality. It lops off entire regions of human possibility.

According to Brooks, evolutionary biologists have reduced human nature to two distinct systems, one “to procreate or strut or think in certain ways” and another focused on reason and consciousness. Although biology depicts this dual nature, Brooks recognizes that morality mostly consists of reason ordering our more animalistic impulses:

Deep down we are mammals with unconscious instincts and drives. Up top there’s a relatively recent layer of rationality. Yet in conversation when we say someone is deep, that they have a deep mind or a deep heart, we don’t mean that they are animalistic or impulsive. We mean the opposite.

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