Live Through This

¡Freak Flag Fly!


Question Are state same-sex marriage policies associated with a reduction in adolescent suicide attempts?

Findings This difference-in-differences analysis of representative data from 47 states found that same-sex marriage policies were associated with a 7% reduction in the proportion of all high school students reporting a suicide attempt within the past year. The effect was concentrated among adolescents who were sexual minorities.

Meaning Same-sex marriage policies are associated with reduced adolescent suicide attempts.

(Raifman, et al.)

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Flapjack disambiguationIt’s one of those things that gets lost in translation. I don’t know which movie it was, but at some point during the Harry Potter saga, I had to look up the word “jumper”, because it clearly didn’t mean the same thing in England as it does in the States. And so it goes. Lorry, flat, lift, jumper … flapjack?

A school has banned triangular flapjacks after a pupil was injured by one.

Dinner staff at Castle View school in Canvey Island, Essex, were told to cut the treat into squares or rectangles following the incident.

It is understood that the triangular version was banned after one was thrown, hitting a boy in the face.

Americans reading those sentences will naturally be aghast: How th’fuggidy get hurt by a flapjack? And, naturally, there is an answer.

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Stating the obvious

The Catholic Church's chief exorcist says the Devil resides in the VaticanThe thing is

Father Gabriele Amorth said people who are possessed by Satan vomit shards of glass and pieces of iron.

He added that the assault on Pope Benedict XVI on Christmas Eve by a mentally unstable woman and the sex abuse scandals which have engulfed the Church in the US, Ireland, Germany and other countries, were proof that the Anti-Christ was waging a war against the Holy See.

“The Devil resides in the Vatican and you can see the consequences,” said Father Amorth, 85, who has been the Holy See’s chief exorcist for 25 years.

—you don’t need to sell me on the shards of glass in order to convince me the Devil resides in the Vatican. Just like we really don’t need the endless scandals to convince me the Church is gay.

‘Nuff said.

Trenchtown Keystone? The great sand heist

Excuse me, but how do you steal a beach? Okay, Rory Carroll explains this for us, courtesy of The Guardian:

Thieves in Jamaica have embarrassed police and triggered a political row by stealing a beach – and making a clean getaway.

Hundreds of tonnes of white sand vanished from a planned resort on the island’s north coast in July but three months later there is no sign of suspects nor sand.

An estimated 500 truck-loads of sand were removed from the Coral Spring beach in Trelawny and were believed to have been sold to rival resorts, a hefty logistical feat which has stumped police.

“It’s a very complex investigation because it involves so many aspects,” Mark Shields, the deputy commissioner for crime at the Jamaica Constabulary Force, told the BBC.

“You’ve got the receivers of the stolen sand, or what we believe to be the sand. The trucks themselves, the organisers and, of course, there is some suspicion that some police were in collusion with the movers of the sand.”

And while Carroll notes that Jamaican police have received much criticism of late, especially for its investigation of cricket coach Bob Woolmer’s death, he also notes that last year thieves stole a Hungarian resort.

So it’s not just Jamaica, jah?

(A tip o’the hat to Jonah at Slog.)

Rowson: “I’m still going to miss the dumb son of a bitch”

British editorial cartoonist Martin Rowson (The Guardian) reflects on the Bush era:

In 2004 the re-election of George Bush filled almost every atom of my being with dismay, despair, fear, loathing and disgust, at what this implied about the future of America and the world. I say almost every atom, because deep down in my reptile brain, the cartoonist in me knew that four years of Dubya could never be enough.

This highlights several of the fundamental contradictions contained within satirists. Obviously, if our satire worked and all those creeps we lampoon just stopped, the world would be a perfect place, we’d have nothing left to satirise and I’d be painting kittens in teacups, probably on velvet. But worse than that, quite often cartoonists get caught in a kind of satirical Stockholm syndrome, where we come to love the things we seek to destroy. In other words, Bush was just a joy to draw.

Infuriatingly, Steve Bell established the Bush-as-chimp shtick before any of the rest of us, and it’s considered bad form to nick other cartoonist’s tricks. Even so, Bush still offered more than any caricaturist could dream possible: there’s the eyebrows writhing round his crinkled forehead like demented chinchillas, and beneath them eyes so close together they seem in constant danger of fusing into cyclopism; then there’s the mouth, offering either a dumb, Mad magazine shit-eating grin or elongating into a truly simian pant hoot as he tried to articulate human speech. Add to that his pointy ears and flattened, beaky nose, and even if he’d been a Nobel Peace laureate of impeccable liberal credentials, we’d still have loved drawing and stretching every single feature.

Martin Rowson on Bush, Iraq, and five years of war.
Rowson acknowledges that there is not much Bush can do about his appearance, that he received much criticism via email from the President’s supporters, and even suggests that such direct lampooning “was more than justified by the way he behaved”. And there is a certain merit to this argument. After all, there is a vicious streak in American political tradition, and the British are known to often be raucous about their own affairs. At home in the States, “peanut farmer” is a disparaging term, and while there is a certain distaste about noting Reagan’s senility, he was followed by the shrimp vs. the wimp, Bubba, and the chimp. All in good fun, so to speak.

The challenge facing political cartoonists in this sense seems a difficult one. I’m brought to mind of an old Doonesbury strip, an episode from the travails of the Doctor Whoopee enterprise when recounting the world’s miseries with AIDS and other diseases: Things are looking good? Afraid so. On a Monday before a fateful Tuesday in November, 2004, Daily Show host Jon Stewart pleaded with viewers to make his job more difficult. Certainly, then, we can understand when Rowson writes, “But either way, while honing up on McCain and Obama, in preparation for the delivery of fresh meat, I’m still going to miss the dumb son of a bitch.”