Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Belle Knox - Duke Student Porn Controversy (2014) - Deleted Wikipedia article

The wikipedia article on Belle Knox was deleted from Wikipedia today after a contentious discussion. Below is a cache of the article as it appeared on March 18, 2014.

Belle Knox

Belle Knox
Born 1995/1996 (age 18–19)[1]
Nationality American
Other names Lauren, Aurora[2]
Occupation Pornographic actress, full time college student
Known for Being outed for working in the adult industry to pay for her Duke University tuition

Belle Knox (born 1995/1996)[1] is the stage name of an American pornographic actress and Duke University student. She is known for being outed [in 2014] by a fellow student for performing in online pornography, and the ensuing events that include her confronting the situation directly, and in the media.[3][4][5]

Knox started doing pornography in 2013 to help pay for her $60,000 per year tuition costs. After the discovery, she has publicly defended her decision to do the work, defended her choices about discussing the situation, and how it has impacted her life.[3][4] She believes her experiences are indicative of the rising costs of higher education in the United States.[6][7]

Contents
1 Career
1.1 Outing and harassment
1.2 Response
1.3 Media appearances
2 Personal life
3 References
4 External links

Career

Knox chose the name "Belle" from Belle from Beauty and the Beast and the character of Belle from Secret Diary of a Call Girl and the name "Knox" from Amanda Knox, the former roommate, and a chief suspect in the murder of Meredith Kercher cases.[8] She decided to enter into the online pornography industry because she enjoyed sex and pornography, and compared it to her previous work as a waitress for a boss who treated her poorly, with a schedule that interfered with her studies, and she earned less than $400 a month after taxes.[9][10] Doing the porn work allowed her to control the scheduling, and she could make about $1200 per scene.[8] Knox had tried to apply for government loans but was told that she was ineligible, and did not want to apply for regular student loans as she did not want to "strap her family with debt."[9] She began working in online pornography in November 2013, flying out to Los Angeles while on school breaks to perform in the films.[6]

Outing and harassment

Knox faced harassment after a male Duke student, who watched online porn, recognized her, and outed her to fraternity brothers of Phi Delta Theta during a rush event.[11][12][13][14] He stated it was Knox who revealed her work to him; upon which point she asked him to keep it private, which he agreed to do.[13] That evening, however, he shared her secret, and the news quickly spread through the Greek system.[13]

After returning to campus from winter break, Knox discovered that her personal Facebook account had received more than 230 friend requests.[15] She did not initially think anything of the requests until fellow students in a "rapid influx" started following her porn persona's Twitter account, at which point she realized that her porn career had been discovered.[15][13] Shortly thereafter posts began to emerge on the anonymous college discussion board CollegiateACB under the thread title “Freshman Pornstar.”[13] Knox received threats of violence and death, as well as harassing messages via social media sites such as Twitter and Facebook, with some individuals endorsing people raping, and beating her.[13] Other posters also stated that they would like Duke University to expel Knox.[13] Knox's identity, contact information, and location, were posted as well.[16]

Knox gave an interview to the campus newspaper, The Chronicle, in which she used the pseudonym "Lauren A.," and referred to her stage name as "Aurora" to avoid identifying herself.[13] She expressed frustration over her treatment stating, "I feel like girls at Duke have to hide their sexuality. We’re caught in this virgin-whore dichotomy."[13] She posted similar sentiments in blog posts on XoJane.[15] Knox reported that she received additional harassment after posting her initial blog post through XoJane, which prompted her to write a second post where she revealed her stage name.[17] She detailed some of the threats and messages of harassment, violence, and rape against her, but the reports, according to Knox, were largely "belittled or ignored by the police."[16][18] Media outlets noted the trolling as slut-shaming, and characterized it as relentless, with the comments said she "'deserves to get raped,' blasted her appearance and demanded that she use her real – rather than her stage – name in porn."[1] Knox also has discussed what she, and others in the industry see, as a double standard sex workers face from those who seek their services, according to critic, and former sex worker, Eric Barry, "It's impossible to separate those trying to violate sex workers' right to privacy, from those who believe sex workers somehow deserve to be devalued."[18] Elizabeth Stoker, in The Week, noted the "reprehensible and personal" comments of threats and harassing through social media are "odious and inexcusable," and characterized them as unjustifiable, as well as being "disproportionately aimed at women in the public sphere."[19] In an interview in early March 2014, with Playboy magazine regarding her experiences, she noted, in regard to just disclosing her stage name, that "I'm scared, because I've already been getting stalked and threatened."[20] In her interview on TMZ Live she detailed a few of the threats, and together with TMZ staff talked of the hypocrisy of the consumers of porn being some of those who outed, and threaten her.[21]

Response

The Poynter Institute newspaper commented on the reception for Knox's story, stating that it "[presented] a lesson in crowd behavior," and noted, "While her critics were loud and destructive, advocating that people call her dad to let him know his daughter is a porn star, no one suggested a phone campaign to inform the mother of the frat boy who outed her that her son is watching porn."[22] A journalist for TIME magazine expressed skepticism over Knox's comments stating that she viewed her pornography career as empowering.[23] The journalist continued that while shaming her was wrong, Knox "doesn’t know how to process her newfound fame," and that her decision, "will likely haunt [her] for the rest of her college and professional career."[23] Elizabeth Stoker, in The Week criticized Knox's statements, noting the sex industry did not have a trade union, and male sexual desire would ultimately dictate, and oppress, what women would do on camera.[19]

The male student who outed Knox, was offered $10,000 to perform in an X-rated film by Mike Kulich, who had also previously offered Amanda Knox money to appear in a pornography film.[12] Kulich told the Huffington Post, "There's a saying in porn: 'People j*** off with the left hand and point their finger with the right. I want people to know that porn stars have families and they're just trying to make a living. If you're enjoying their work, why ruin their lives?"[14]

A representative for Duke University has issued a statement saying that while they would not comment on specific cases, the college's community standard did not have any restrictions concerning off-campus employment.[24] Of Knox's allegations that campus police did not take the threats against her seriously enough, the representative remarked, "We are committed to protecting the privacy, safety and security of our students. Whenever we identify a student in need of support, we reach out to them and offer the many resources that we have available on campus to assist them."[24] Knox has been asked to speak in Duke classes about being a sex worker.[25]

Media appearances

Knox has made numerous appearances, and interviews with national media regarding her experiences. In March 2014, Knox appeared on Piers Morgan Live on CNN to discuss her choice to enter the adult industry.[26] She has also done interviews with Playboy magazine, and TMZ Live. These were followed by appearances on the talk show The View on March 17, and on HuffPost Live on March 18.[27][28]

Personal life

Knox is pursuing a major in women’s studies and sociology and has expressed interest in becoming a women’s rights, and civil rights lawyer.[9] Knox is a College Republican and considers herself a sex-positive feminist and libertarian.[13] She is also bisexual.[13] Knox has taken a sanctioned leave of absence from Duke University, but plans to return.[29]

References

  • 1. a b c Belle Knox: How the porn star student from Duke University became bigger than Justin Bieber
  • 2. Duke porn star reveals face and film name on Playboy, xojane websites". News Observer. Retrieved March 8, 2014.
  • 3.a b Heck, Laura (March 5, 2014). "Duke student reveals porn identity, responds to backlash". KTVU. Retrieved March 5, 2014.
  • 4. a b Kingkade, Tyler (March 4, 2014). "Duke Porn Star Reveals Her Identity". Huffington Post. Retrieved March 5, 2014.
  • 5. Why death threats won’t keep the ‘Duke porn star’ from doing what she needs to do to pay tuition
  • 6. Stone, Zak (March 4, 2014). "Meet Belle Knox, the Duke Porn Star (As You Might Have Heard)". Playboy. Retrieved March 6, 2014.
  • 7. Li, David. "Duke porn star has 9 videos under her belt". New York Post. Retrieved March 8, 2014.
  • 8. a b Morgan, Piers. "How I selected my porn name". CNN. Retrieved March 7, 2014.
  • 9. a b c Dillon, Nancy. "Duke porn star Belle Knox says she wants to help sex workers after bankrolling law degree with sex". NYDN. Retrieved March 7, 2014.
  • 10. Rajghatta, Chidanand. "US girl stars in porn flicks to meet college fees". Times of India. Retrieved March 7, 2014.
  • 11. MacIntosh, Jeane. "Student who outed Belle Knox has $1K-a-month porn habit". New York Post. Retrieved 17 March 2014.
  • 12. a b Goldstein, Sasha. "Porn big offers frat boy who outed Duke porn star 10G to appear in his own flick". NYDN. Retrieved March 8, 2014.
  • 13. a b c d e f g h i j k Fernelius, Katie. "Portrait of a porn star". Duke Chronicle. Retrieved March 7, 2014.
  • 14. a b Moye, David (March 7, 2014). "X-Rated Offer For Duke Student Who Outed Porn Star Classmate Belle Knox". Huffington Post. Retrieved March 7, 2014.
  • 15. a b c Knox, Belle. "I'M THE DUKE UNIVERSITY FRESHMAN PORN STAR AND FOR THE FIRST TIME I'M TELLING THE STORY IN MY WORDS". XOJane. Retrieved March 7, 2014.
  • 16. a b Knox, Belle (March 4, 2014). "I'm Finally Revealing My Name and Face As the Duke Porn Star". XoJane. Retrieved March 5, 2014.
  • 17. Duin, Steve. "Belle Knox, the Duke 'porn star,' puts a face on her story". Oregon Live. Retrieved March 7, 2014.
  • 18. a b Why Belle Knox's Anonymity Was So Important, As Told by an Out Sex Worker
  • 19. a b Stoker, Elizabeth. "Sorry Belle Knox, porn still oppresses women". The Week. Retrieved March 8, 2014.
  • 20. Stone, Zak. "Meet Belle Knox, the Duke Porn Star (As You Might Have Heard)". Playboy.com. Retrieved March 12, 2014.
  • 21. 'Basketball Wives' Star to New Parents -- Kill Your Cats, "And, Duke University's porn star student Belle Knox joins us to discuss the utter hypocrisy behind the death threats she's been receiving since being discovered." TMZ Live, (10:20-15:46 min. At 11:40 mark, "I've had people threatened to kill me, I've had students threaten to throw trash on me, I've had students threaten to "kick me in the face," so it's really really vicious.")
  • 22. McBride, Kelly. "Outed Duke student presents lesson in crowd behavior". Poynter Institute. Retrieved March 7, 2014.
  • 23. a b Dockterman, Eliana. "The Duke Porn Star Isn’t as Empowered as She Claims". TIME. Retrieved March 8, 2014.
  • 24. a b Willingham, AJ. "Duke reacts to student's 'outing' as porn star". HLN. Retrieved March 8, 2014.
  • 25. Herbert, Geoff. "Duke University student reveals she's a porn star, stirs drama in college newspaper". Post-Standard. Retrieved March 8, 2014.
  • 26. Staff. "Duke student: My porn career is 'freeing'". CNN.com. Retrieved March 12, 2014.
  • 27. Staff. "Duke student porn star reveals she has watched adult films since the age of 12 and feels 'empowered' but admits school life is 'hostile' since X-rated career was outed". Daily Mail (UK). Retrieved 17 March 2014.
  • 28. staff. "The 'Duke Porn Star' LIVE". Huffington Post. Retrieved 17 March 2014.
  • 29. Lawrence-Turner, Jody (March 12, 2014). "Duke University freshman, porn star graduated from Gonzaga Prep". The Spokesman-Review. Retrieved March 17, 2014.

External links


Categories: Duke University people Living people American female pornographic film actors American libertarians American feminists Bisexual women

Friday, February 07, 2014

People Tweeted About The "Ring Malfunction"

At exactly 8:24pm Sochi Time (or 11:24am EST in United States), one of the Olympic rings at the Sochi opening ceremony failed to open. Here are the first ten people to tweet something about a "ring malfunction" at that moment. Kudos to StevenX (@DVDVR_DFA) for also referencing the 2010 Vancouver opening ceremony torch fail at the same moment of this fail, a truly stunning example of pop-culture referencing on the fly.  photo ring10_zpsf2f7d65e.png Kudos to @julianminksi, @yarnpiggy, @breannajaade, @dawno317, @hosea24hours, @emilytjames, @aizuhas, @sarahcastic, @DVDVR_DFA, and @__BlankFile for their lightning fast reflexes.

Tuesday, February 04, 2014

Here Is An Absurdly Detailed Bridgegate Chronology

Last updated February 6, 2014 6:30am PST

Note: As of now, there is no direct evidentiary proof that Christie himself was aware of the lane closures. However, there is evidence that top Christie staffers including Bridget Kelly and Michael Drewniak were aware, and were in close contact with David Wildstein (who orchestrated the closures) before and during the entire fiasco. Indeed, it appears that Bridget Kelly directed David Wildstein to get the closures done. So its entirely possible that Christie knew. As we wait for more evidence, reporters keep trying to parse Christie's various statements on what he knew, but unless he gets entirely tripped up, it seems likely he can plead ignorance unless written proof of his knowledge appears.

YOUR PRIMARY CAST

 photo cast_zpsae88506d.png

References to Exhibit numbers are to documents produced by the NJ Transportation, Public Works and Independent Authorities Committee unless otherwise noted.

PRE-AUGUST 2013 EVENTS AND BACKGROUND

  • 1931: The George Washington Bridge (GWB) opens between Fort Lee, New Jersey, and northern Manhattan

  • 1962: Lower deck lanes are added at GWB

  • Since at least 1981:Three tollbooths are coned off in the morning to handle local traffic entering the bridge from Fort Lee. (This is per Fort Lee police, Deputy Chief Timothy Ford said in December 2013 that its been that way the entire time of his 33 year tenure. (WSJ cite))

  • January 19, 2010: Republican Chris Christie takes office as Governor of New Jersey, replacing Democrat Jon Corzine.

  • February 19, 2010: Republican NJ State Senator Bill Baroni is appointed by Chris Christie to be Deputy Executive Director of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. Traditionally the Governor of NJ appoints the Deputy Director, and the Governor of New York appoints the Executive Director.

  • May 2010 - David Wildstein is hired as Director of Interstate Capital Projects, the 2nd highest ranking Christie official at the Port Authority. Wildstein was a long-time behind the scenes political operative in NJ, and was the founder and anonymous head of the PoliticsNJ (later PolitickerNJ) website, and was not outed until he took this new position. (See March 2012 Bergen Record profile of Wildstein, in depth).

  • June 5, 2010: David Wildstein outed as Wally Edge. (Timing here is unclear, vs. prior entry, as to exactly when Wildstein started at Port Authority). PolitickerNJ's tightly guarded secret is out (NJ.com, June 5, 2010)

  • 2010 - Bridget Anne Kelly, longtime staffer for NJ Assemblyman David C. Russo, take position with Christie administration as Director of Legislative Relations.

  • Late 2010, maybe 2011:: Wildstein makes comments to Cedrick Fulton, head of Bridges, Tunnels, and Terminals for the Port Authority, about the three local lanes. "What about the three lanes? How long have the three lanes been in effect?" This is according to Fulton's testimony on December 9, 2013. (Fulton Testimony, p. 20). Robert Durando, General Manager for the GWB recalled similar comments. (Durando Testimony, p. 83)

  • November 1, 2011: Patrick Foye becomes Executive Director of Port Authority, Cuomo appointee. Former high powered lawyer from Skadden Arps law firm

  • December 2011: Bridget Kelly files for divorce from husband of 16-years, local golf pro Joe Kelly. They share custody for their four children (Ages 17, 14, 10, 7 as of January 2014).

  • September 2012: Kelly turns 40. Shot of Gov Christie attending birthday party is tweeted by Christina Renna Genovese, another Christie staffer.

  • November 25, 2012: Christie announces he will run for second term as Governor. (link)

  • April 2013: Kelly moves up to position as Deputy Chief of Staff (for Legislative and Intergovernmental Affairs) to the Governor. (Good Jan 8, 2014 profile of Bridget Anne Kelly at nj.com)

BRIDGEGATE EVENTS

    August 2013

  • Tues Aug 13, 7:34am: Bridget Kelly (from private yahoo account bridgetannekelly@yahoo.com) emails David Wildstein (to his private gmail account, david.wildstein@gmail.com): "Time for some traffic problems in fort lee."

  • 7:35am: one minute later, Wildstein responds: "Got it". Note that the very nature of this communication, using private email accounts, shows that Wildstein and Kelly are familiar with each other, and seem to understand what is being contemplated.

  • Mon Aug 19, 7:23 - 7:35pm: Wildstein texts a photo of Rabbi Mendy Carlebach to Bridget Kelly. In exchange of texts, Kelly comments "We cannot cause traffic problems in front of his house can we?" Wildstein responds "Flights to Tel Aviv all mysteriously delayed." (ADDED to this timeline on Feb 27, 2014, when this document was publicly released)

  • Wed Aug 21: Wildstein talks to Robert Durando, Gen'l Mgr for GWB. Wildstein asks whether there was any documentation in place for the segregated local lanes, with the intent of going to one lane, but Wildstein wanted to know if there was any agreement counter to that. (Durando testimony, p.85-86)

  • Wed Aug 28, 2013, 5:08pm: David Wildstein email to Bridget Kelly: "Call when you have a chance re: Ft. Lee - can wait for tomorrow"

  • 6:11pm: Jose Rivera, Chief Traffic Engineer for the Port Authority, emails Peter Zipf (Chief Engineer of the Port Authority) with a 3 page pdf showing three scenarios for handling George Washington Bridge local lane traffic. The first shows normal mid-day operations, where no lanes are coned off. The second shows normal morning operations, where three lanes are coned off for local traffic. The third options shows the three local lanes merged into two lanes. (Exhibit A, p. 2) (Peter Zipf started with the Port Authority in 1985 and was appointed Chief Engineer in Nov 2010 (Aritcle on Zipf)) (Jose Rivera joined the Port Authority in 1983 and became Chief Traffic Engineer in 2007, per his linkedin profile.)

  • 6:19pm: Peter Zipf emails the above Rivera email and pdf to David Wildstein, cc'ing Rivera. Zipf writes that "As requested, here is a suggested modification. Jose will certainly work out the details/further development with GWB as needed. One additional scenario could be a merge down to one lane, if needed." Note: The last sentence shows Zipf seems to anticipate that Wildstein really wants to squeeze down the local lanes as much as possible.

  • Thur Aug 29 12:54pm: Continuing above email thread, Jose Rivera emails Zipf and Wildstein an updated pdf with a fourth scenario: squeezing down local traffic to one lane. (Ex A p. 11) At 6:09pm, Zipf thanks Jose by email for the updated pdf.

  • Fri Aug 30, 2013, 3-3:30pm: Emails exchanged between Kelly and Wildstein Re planning to talk later that day, in followup to the Ft. Lee email of Aug 28.

    Friday September 6, 2013

  • 8:11am: Peter Zipf emails Jose Rivera, continuing thread of their Aug 29 email: "Jose, I was advised that on Monday TBT [Tunnels, Bridges, and Terminals] plans to implement the plan per sheet 4 (neck down to one lane)." Asks whether Traffic can be in touch with what ramifications will be. (Ex A, p. 900)

  • 8:22am: Peter Zipf forwards thread and email immediately above to Cedrick Fulton (Port Authority's Director of Tunnels, Bridges, and Terminals (TBT)), "This is what I called about - I just wanted to make sure that you were aware of the below plan. ..." (Ex A, p. 900)

  • 8:31 am: Email from Cedrick Fulton to Peter Zipf and others, following chain immediately above. Says he "just spoke to Bob Durando. He will involve Jerry Quelch." (Ex A, p. 899-900) (Gerrard Quelch is Supervisor of Planning & Operations for Port Authority) (Robert Durando is General Manager for the GWB, has been in that position since July 2002. Has been with Port Authority since 1997.)

  • 8:51am: Mark Muriello (Assistant Director of TBT Dept) response to above email.

  • 9:39am: Gerrard Quelch email, from Blackberry (he was on vacation) to above thread. "If this configuration is during the peak hour it will have a direct impact on the local approach. We typically give 3-4 toll lanes to Ft. Lee in the AM." (Ex A. p. 898-99)

  • 10:00am: Muriello responds to above thread. "It will affect peak hour significantly."

  • 11:02am: Gerrard Quelch email responding to above, only to Mark Muriello. Gerard says he got an "email and long string" from Raheel about the issue, says "TE" is involved already, and he had responded that Victor should work with Raheel. "Don't know why the 15th floor is involved?" (meaning the executive suite of the Port Authority).

  • 11:18am: Email from Gerard Quelch to Victor Chung, Mark Muriello, and Daniel Jacobs: Re what traffic count data may exist. (EX A, p. 884)

  • 11:24am: Victor Chung (GIS (Geographic Information Systems) Coordinator for Port Authority) email responding to above email: "Assuming best case scenario of this one lane only implementation, there will still be substantial queuing just by the Fort Lee demand." (Ex A, p. 884)

  • 2:50pm: David Wildstein (private) email to Bridget Kelly: "We are ready to do this," then reference to Mayor Springfield, another project.

  • 3:17pm: Victor Chung email followup to 11:18am email above -- Says 2011 EB (eastbound traffic?) study did not include local count, and that Traffic Engineering is aware of that. (Ex A, p. 879)

  • 3:44pm: Victor Chung email to Mark Muriello et al. Says he just got a call from Raheel Shabih at Traffic Engineering, who says Jose Rivera just spoke by phone with Bob Durando, who says one lane modification will be implememented Monday morning. (Ex A.p, 878)

  • 3:59pm: Port Authority of Port Authority Police Department emails Asst Chief Norma Hardy (cc to others) informed that the Robert Durando had informed her that Wildstein has directed change in traffic on Monday, and that Wildstein will visit on that date. "This measure could impact the volume of traffic from the local street." At 4:04pm Asst Chief Gloria Frank responds to Licorish only: "Thank you, I will keep you updated with any information regarding his visit." (Ex F, p. 9)

  • 4:14pm: Daniel M. Jacobs (General Manager for Transportation & Revenue at Port Authority) reply to 3:44pm email above: "Is there really no way to convert this plan into a two lane configuration, one cash and one E-ZPass? The volumes are such that we could probably handle this volume in just two lanes with only limited spill-back ... What is driving this?"

  • 4:37pm: Gerald Quelch reply to email thread: "This is my question as well. A single toll lane operation invites potential disaster. Even with a three lane operation, motorists experience 5-10 min each morning. It seems like we are punishing all for the sake of a few. Very confused." (Ex A, p. 878).

  • 5:01pm Victor Chung email to Mark Muriello, attaching summary for one lane analysis. (Ex A, p. 875-76) The analysis show that the three toll lanes at issue, on May 7, 2013, handled over 400 cars per hour every hour between 5am and midnight. With over 1000 per hour during rush hour. But the maximum capacity of a one lane operation will be 400 cars per hour. Even if only Fort Lee originating cars used the lanes, demand is going to far exceed capacity. In other words, it was pretty clear exactly what was going to happen.

    September 7 - 8, 2013

  • Sat Sep 7, 2013, 9:43am: Wildstein email to Bridget Kelly "I will call you Monday AM to let you know how Fort Lee goes." Bridget responds at 10am: "Great I called you yesterday to talk PATH." Wildstein responds at 10:09am: "Will call you in 5 minutes."

  • Sun Sep 8, 10:09am: Wildstein emails Robert Durando, "Will be at bridge early Monday am to view new lane test." (Ex A, p. 13.)

  • 10:22am: 13 minutes later, Durando responds to Wildstein email immediately above. Durando says he will be there too ("So Will I."). He says "Police are aware that they will be controlling traffic in the intersections for the extended rush." This must mean Port Authority police, since Fort Lee police did not know of lane change in advance. Also, Durando advises they will have a collector in on overtime in case the collector in the one lane "needs a personal." (Note: Normally if a toll collector needs a break, its not a problem, but if only lane is going to be open, it would be a complete shutdown during the break.) (Ex A p. 14.)

  • 10:48am: Wildstein responds to email immediately above "Thanks". Wildstein also forwards Durando's email at the same time to Bill Baroni, without any comment. (Ex A, p. 15-16).

  • 10:53am: Email from Robert Durando to Cedrick Fulton, forwarding his 10:22am email to Durando, and adding "Took a shot. He didn't bite." (EX A, p. 831.) Seems like Durando was trying to get Wildstein to back down?

  • 12:19pm: Liet. Thomas Michael of Port Policy emails Darcy Licorish "Is there going to be a new traffic pattern installed for Monday the 9th?". At 12:23, Licorish replies: "This is to compled by the maintenance personnel." At 12:23 Micheals replies: "Understood. Will this affect our normal rush hour operations?" Licorish response at 12:26: "Most likely. Concerns were made to no aval locally." (Ex. F, p. 8)

    D-DAY: Monday September 9, 2013

  • 6:00am: Fort Lee local lanes are reduced to one lane only. (Durando testimony, p. 91-92)

  • 6:52am: Text message: "Want to meet in parking lot?" (Ex A, p. 903), response "Come in lobby I'm with bob"

    Note: This probably means Bob Durando.

  • 8:14am:: Robert Durando email to Cedrick Fulton et al. "Traffic remains heavy on all approaches." Note s two irate calls so far. "They were advised that we're testing a new traffic pattern and referred to the General PA as per DW. [David Wildstein]" (Ex A, p. 832)

  • 8:31am: Robert Durando email to Cedrick Fulton: "DW has left the building. He'll be 'checking back' with me later to discuss how this morning went." (EX A, p. 873)

  • 8:45am: text message, "I may have idea to mak this beter."

  • 8:57am: Port Authority police alert email: "GWB reports there are delays on local streets due to heavy bridge volume." (Ex. A. p. 17)

  • 9:10am: Robert Durando emails David Wildstein, cc to Cedrick Fulton and Dianneae Ehler. (EX A, p. 18). Reports that he just got off phone with Fort Lee police department chief. Says no one told them or mayor "about testing a new traffic pattern." Was advised to have mayor call Bill Baroni. Durando "also, at their request, met with them at the facility and advised them of the same in person. They advised that the mayor would be calling Bill this morning."

  • 9:29am: Matthew Bell at PA emails Bill Baroni re Mayor Sokolich calling about "urgent matter of public safety in Fort Lee." At 9:41am, Baroni forwards this to Wildstein's private email account. At 9:48am, Wildstein sends it to Bridget Kelly's private email account. At 10:06am, Bridget replies "Did he call him back?" At 10:13am Wildstein replies: "Radio silence His name comes right after mayor Fulop". Bridget reply at 10:14am "Ty" (Thank you). Note: Steven Fulop is the Democratic mayor of Jersey City. Fulop has since claimed the Christie administration cancelled meetings with him after he refused to endorse Christie's re-election bid.)

  • 10:50am: Text message, "Hudson terr south traffic has broke. Ft lee from martha wash still heavy" (Ex A, p. 903)

  • 11:24am: Tina Lado (Director of Government & Community Relations at PANYNJ) emails Bill Baroni and David Wildstein from her Blackberry, cc to Cedrick Fulton subject "Ft Lee". Says Peggy Thomas, [Fort Lee] Borough Administrator, called her about increased volume and congestion of AM rush traffic due to lane adjustment. Peggy says two incidents occurred that Ft Lee PD and EMS had difficulty responding to "a missing child (later found) and a cardiac arrest." Peggy also noted that the Borough and police department had no advance notice. (Ex A, p. 19, copy at p. 834)

  • 12:06pm: Lisa Herrera emails Robert Durando re "Angy Patron" -- a wife complaining about husband being 40 minutes late to new job after being out of work for a year. (EX A, p. 874)

  • 12:09pm Durando forwards email above to Cedrick Fulton and others. "Fyi, so you get a flavor of the complaints. We've gotten a half dozen calls + or -" More Durando emails follow. (Ex A, p. 801-802)

  • 12:53pm: Mark Muriello responds to email 12:09 pm above "Is the operation still in effect?"

  • 12:55pm: Robert Durando responds to above: "It is, no delays at this time. DW is supposed to check in with later to talk traffic numbers." (EX A, p. 874).

  • 1:08pm: Cedrick Fulton responds to above email: "I am sorry. Is there a plan for tomorrow?" (EX A p. 836)

  • 1:13pm: Robert Durando responds "DW is supposed to call [m]e later to discuss ...." with more details. Notes Ft Lee police noting grave concerns about safety. (Ex A, p. 836).

  • 2:05pm: Robert Durando email to Cedrick et al forwarding "raging mad" email and commenting that Wildstein advised him that the Mayor Sokolich had called Bill Baroni. "BB will get back to the Mayor 'at some point.' " Wildstein has directed operation to continue "so that we can make a business decision with regard to how to proceed. Mark's folks are looking at numbers." (Ex A, p. 837)

  • 2:23pm: Darcy Licorish of Port police emails Asst Chief Gloria Frank, that Robert Durando had just told her the traffic pattern would continue. At 2:35pm, Frank responded to tell Licorish to let the Ft. Lee Inspector know that the traffic pattern will remain in place. "I contacted the chief earlier and will provide him with an update." (Ex F, p. 11)

  • 5:24pm: Robert Durando email to Cedrick Fulton asking whether he'd talked to Wildstein about advising Fort Lee that test will continue. (Ex Ap. 839)

  • 6:03pm: Cedrick Fulton responds to above email: "We spoke. The test will continue. Good luck." at 6:04pm Robert responds: "Ok. I'll make the necessary notification." at 6:07pm Cedrick writes: "Just to your staff -right?" And Robert responds at 6:09pm: "Yes. All my staff are aware." (EX A, p. 839)

  • 6:07pm: Cedrick Fulton forwards an email to David Wildstein "that Bob's field staff fielded." The email below appears to be from Fulton to "Bob" says "Dr. Fried called asking to speak to you regarding the change in traffic" notes he is demanding an explanation. This is Dr. Richard Fried, a northern Bergen County resident. (Fried was intereviewed in Bergen Record story on Dec 18, 2013 about his call: article)

  • 8:46-47pm: Text: Wildstein texts Bill Baroni: "911" "call me"

    DAY 2: Tuesday, September 10, 2013

  • 8:04am: Text messsage. Copies Sokolich text to Baroni. Follows at 8:05am "Is it wrong that I am smiling"
    8:05 Person 2 response: "No"
    8:05 Person 1" "I feel badly about the kids."
    8:06 Person 1 "I guess"
    8:11am Person 2: "They are the children of Buono voters"
    8:13am Person 2: "Bottom line is he didn't say safety." (EX A. p. 906)

  • 8:33am: Text message "Rt 95 trafic broke", response 8:33am: "At 8:30?", 8:39am: reply: "Yup." "Local ft lee trafic disaster."

  • 11:25am: Email from Robert Durando to Cedrick Fulton, "Just got off the phone with DW. He'd like to continue the test of tl 24 through tomorrow." (EX A, p. 840)

    DAY 3: Wednesday, September 11, 2013

  • 9:20am: Email from Robert Duranddo to Mark Muriello, Cedrick Fulton, et al. Comes up with annual cost of overtime toll collectors - about $600K. Will also try to get sense of additional police coverage cost. (Ex A, p. 823)

  • 12:13pm>: Robert Durando email to Cedrick Fulton et al: "Just spoke with DW and we will be continuing the test tomorrow." (EX A, p. 826.)

    DAY 4: Thursday, September 12, 2013

  • 11:45am: Emails regarding more customer complaints (Ex A, p. 816)

  • 12:44pm: Mayor Sokolich sends letter to Baroni pleading for end to closures. Three minutes later, 12:47pm, Baroni forwards it to David Wildstein's private email account. Five minutes after that, 12:52pm, Wildstein forwards the letter to private yahoo accounts of Bill Stepien and Bridget Kelly (EX A, p. 646-49)

  • 1:17pm: John Cichowski, Road Warrior reporter for the Bergen Record, emails Chris Valens, a Port Authority spokesman, forwarding an email complaint he got about the closures, and asking for a response. Complaint appears to date from same day, and notes that for the past two days the commuter had driven to another GWB entrance to avoid the lane closures. (EX A., p. 21)

  • 1:40pm: Chris Valens forwards above email to Robert Durando and others, asking for "details on the inquiry from our good buddy below?" (Ex A., p. 21)

  • 1:58pm: Cedrick Fulton forwards Road Worrier inquiry to David Wildstein. (EX A, p. 21).

  • 3:11pm: Wildstein forwards to Bridget Kelly and Michael Drewniak the 1:17pm inquiry from Cichowski. (EX A, p. 702)

  • 3:18pm: Wildstein email to Bridget Kelly and Michael Drewniak - press statement on lane closures. (Ex A, p. 703)

  • 6:27pm: Ron Marisco, Assistant Director/Media Relations for Port Authority, sends "Nightly Media Activity Report" for the day to senior Port execs. One of the bullet points is Cichowski's inquiry from the Bergen Record. Report says "We told the reporter that the Port Authority is reviewing traffic safety patterns at the GWB and that PAPD has been in contact with Fort Lee PD throughout the transition." This is probably how New York side executives found out about the problem.(Ex A, p. 22)

    DAY 5: Friday, September 13, 2013

  • 6:01am: Patrick Foye emails Robert Durando, "Please call me after 6am". At 6:04 am, Durando fowards this as an FYI to David Wildstein. Wildstein responds at 6:13am "Let's me know what he says, thanks."

  • 6:46am: Robert Durando email to David Wildstein: "He asked about the test. He asked why he wasn't told." At 7:01am, Wildstein responds: "His staff knows, but bb will to him." (Ex A, p. 790)

  • 7:44am: Patrick Foye email to Cedrick Fulton, Robert Durando, cc to Bill Baroni and others. This is the long mail where he reverses the test and complains strongly about it, saying it is illegal and very wrong. (Ex A, p. 784-85).

  • 8:04am: Robert Durando responds to Foye declaration saying that 3 lanes have been restored to Fort Lee. (Note: Only 20 minutes after Foye ordered the test ended, it was over!)

  • 8:11am: Port Police Inspector Darcy Licorish emails Asst Chief Glorida Frank (and others) that she has just learned via Robert Durando that he had received instructions to return traffic pattern to normal. (Ex F, p. 4)

  • 9:05am: Bergen Record Road Warrior story "Closed tollbooths a community disaster" goes live. Reporter John Cichowski notes that people calling him were speculating it was punishment to Sokolich either for failing to endorse Christie for re-election, or for promoting a 47-story highrise near the bridge, or not supporting the last round of toll hikes. An unnamed source is quoted: "Those two tollbooths were purposely closed without notice to anyone." "There is absolutely no legitimate traffic-safety rationale for this change."

    .
  • 11:24am: Daniel Jacob emails powerpoint based on "Fort Lee Trial" to Mark Muriello (Ex A, p. 858). Among other interesting observations, including that the traffic delays were as they predicted, he notes that annual revenue loss would be $250K by keeping configuration, because Fort Lee delays will cause more people to pay off-peak toll rates.

  • 11:44am: Wildstein emails Bridget Kelly: "The New York side gave Fort Lee back all three lanes this morning. We are appropriately going nuts. Samson helping us to retaliate." At 11:47am, Kelly responds "What??" At 12:07pm Wildstein responds "Yes, unreal, Fixed now."

  • 1:30pm: Steve Coleman emails Patrick Foye, Bill Baroni, others including David Wildstein re media inquires on Fort Lee toll booths, and requests guidance "on how we can address these inquiries". (Ex A. p. 51).

  • 1:36pm: Bill Baroni responds to group on email above, "Steve I shall get guidance and get back to you" (Ex A p. 52)

  • 1:37pm: Port Police Inspector Darcy Licorish sends email to Louis Koumoutsos, Chief of the Port Authority. Email outlines chronology of what happened as she knows it. (Ex F, p. 3)

  • 3:10pm: Bill Baroni further responds to email about press inquires (see 1:36pm email) with short press statement about it being a traffic study. Statement says: "The Port Authority has conducted a week of study at the George Washington Bridget of traffic safety patterns. We will now review those results and determine the best traffic patterns at the GWB. We will continue to work with our local law enforcement partners." (Ex A. p. 53).

  • 4:02pm: Tina Lado gets email letter from U.S. Congressman Bill Pascrell re lane closures. (Ex A, p. 23-24). Pascrell references Bergen Record Road Warrior report "Road Warrior: Closed tollbooths a commuting disaster."

  • 4:05pm: Tina Lado forwards above email/letter to Bill Baroni and David Wildstein. (Ex A, p. 25)

  • 5:00pm: David Wildstein forwards above two emails to his gmail account (Ex A. p. 25)

    Monday, September 16, 2013

  • 12:19pm: Steven Coleman emails Patrick Foye, Bill Baroni and others (including Wildstein) re inquiry from Wall Street Journal reporter Ted Mann. Ted claims some WSJ editors were caught in delays last week, and didn't know what was happening until they read John Cichowski's stories in the Bergen Record. (Ex A, p. 36).

  • 12:19pm: (within one minute of above email): Wildstein fwds above email to Baroni with comment "I call bullshit on this" (Note: Guessing he thinks Foye or other enemies are putting press on the story.) (Ex A, p. 36)

    Tuesday, September 17, 2013

  • 9:45am:Text message between Bill Baroni and David Wildstein. Wildstein: "....someone in the face. Right now you are taking punches." Baroni: "That's not helpful." Wildstein: "I don't know what to tell you." Further texts redacted.

  • 1:33pmBaroni sends message from Mayor Sokolich (referred to as "From Serbia") to Wildstein: "We should talk. Someone needs to tell me that the recent traffic debacle was not punitive in nature. The last four reporters that contacted me suggest that the people they are speaking with absolutely believe it to be punishment. Try as I may to dispel these rumors I have am having a tough time. A private face-to-face would be important to me. Perhaps someone can enlighten me as to the errors of my ways. Let me know if you'll give me 10 minutes. Regards Mark"
  • 1:34pm: Wildstein sends Sokolich information to Bridget Kelly. (Ex A, p. 755)

  • 1:57pm: Text from Wildstein to Baroni "Have not heard back fr Bridget" Baroni responds: "Fck" (EX A, p. 779)

  • 1:57pm: Wildstein texts Bridget Kelly: "Please let me know instructions." (Ex A, p. 755)

  • 1:58pm: Wildstein forwards to Baroni a text from Bridget: "Just finishing a meeting" Wildstein follows with "So we will speak soon." At 1:59pm Baroni responds to Wildstein: "We could sched a meeting to stave off reporters then pull a faps." (Note: What is a faps? This was among the questions later asked Wildstein by the legislative committee, though Wildstein took the 5th and did not respond.). Wildstein responds "Like for Monday?" Baroni responds: "Too cute. Tuesday or later next week." (Ex. A, p. 779).

  • 2:28pm-2:34pm: Wildstein texts to Bridget Kelly "Baroni crazed so let me know when to call" and "WSJ just called my cell so I need to speak with you" (Ex A, p. 755)

  • 2:42pm: Bridget Kelly to Wildstein: "I am calling your office. No answer" at 5:13 she writes "I spoke to Mike" (Probably Mike Drewniak) (Ex A, p. 755)

    Rest of September

  • September 18, 2013, 4:54am: Wildstein emails Bill Stepian, Christie's campaign manager, a copy of Ted Mann's WSJ story "Bridge Jam's Cause A Mystery"

  • 5:16am: Stepian responds to Wildstein: "It's fine. The mayor is an idiot, though. When some, lose some."

  • 5:30am: Wildstein responds: "I had empty boxes ready to take to work today, just in case." "It will be a tough November for this little Serbian," referring to the Fort Lee Mayor.

    October 2013

  • October 2, 2013 3:45pm: Baroni text to Wildstein: "Comella, didn't think much of the story. Said nobody paying attention. Oh lol." Wildstein responds 3:45: "Bridget same." (Christie's communications director is Maria Comella)

  • October 4, 2013 7:25pm: Wildstein text to Baroni: "Did you hear from Charlie?" (Ex A, p. 780). (Charles McKenna = Christie's chief counsel, and helped lead Christie's internal investigation of bridgegate)

    November 2013

  • November 5, 2013: Christie re-elected governor in a landslide.

  • November 25, 2013: Baroni testifies before a New Jersey legislative committee to justify lane closure "Study".

    December 2013

  • Mon Dec 2: Christie jokes at a press conference that he moved the cones, but that seriously he had nothing to do with it.

  • Wed Dec 4: David Wildstein and Michael Drewniak (Christie staffer) have dinner. (Ex A, p. 651)

  • Thur Dec 5, 8:26am: Wildstein emails Drewniak "Thanks again for all your sound advice last night, I always appreciate your friendship. Spoke with O'Toole this morning and he will talk with you later today." Drewniak responds at 8:59am, "Same to you, David, and thanks for a great dinner." (Note: O'Toole is Kevin O'Toole (R-Essex), Senate Republican and Christie ally)

  • Fri Dec 6: David Wildstein resigns. "“My plan was to leave the agency at some point next year, but the Fort Lee issue has been a distraction, and I think it’s better to move on earlier" (Bergen Record report)

  • Mon Dec 9:: Democrats call for Baroni's resignation. Patrick Foye, Cedric Fulton, and Robert Durando testify.(Bergen Record story)

  • December 12, 2013: Bill Baroni resigns.

  • December 13, 2013: Print date on released version of of Aug 13, 2013 email, "Time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee." This must be when Wildstein was gathering materials in response to the subpoena directed to him.

    January 2014

  • Tues Jan 7:Bill Stepian, Christie's campaign manager, announced as pick to lead state GOP.(NJ.com story, Jan 7)

  • Wed Jan 8:: Intial public records including "Time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee" email are released. (Bergen Record Jan 8 story)

  • Thurs Jan 9:: Christie gives two hour press conference about scandal. Bridget Kelly fired. Bill Stepian nomination rescinded. (NJ.com Jan 9 story)

  • Thurs Jan 9 later: David Wildstein takes 5th amendment when called to testify before NJ Assembly Transportation Commitee.(link>)

    February 2014

  • Feb 2: Christina Genovese Renna, director of governmental relations for Christie, and who had reported to Kelly, resigns.

  • Feb 3: Bridget Kelly invokes fifth amendment (And fourth amendment), refuses to testify or turn over documents.

  • Feb 5: Port Authority eliminates position that David Wildstein held (so that he is the only person ever to hold it).

Friday, December 06, 2013

We Are All Where We Belong (Atheist Rock?)

When I find out about a "new" band via NPR, I can be pretty sure its not exactly "new", and if its actually good music I feel slightly depressed by the confirmation that I am inevitably falling behind the times. Perhaps its time to actually buy those Birkenstocks that my friend Slainte always envisions me wearing.

Yesterday's NPR piece about the Austin, Texas band "Quiet Company" was actually quite worthwhile. Their 2011 album "We Are All Where We Belong" is about the the lead singer's loss of faith in God. Hence an "atheist rocker" label that has been applied to the band.

For An Ex-Christian Rocker, Faith Lost Is A Following Gained (NPR, December 5, 2013)

The NPR piece also played a few excerpts of this song "The Black Sheep and the Shepherd" which is melodically up my alley (slightly beatles-esque in a sgt. pepper's vein), but the lyrics also deliver. Plus the singer's slightly southern accent reinforces (for me at least) that he really did grow up in a place where being evangelical Christian is all kids know. The kind of kids who tweet about loving Jesus inbetween their selfies.
NPR said: The refrain from the album title — "where we belong" — is at the heart of Muse's problem with Christian theology. He says he was taught from the Bible that good Christians don't store up treasures on earth: They're supposed to store up treasures in heaven. "They're always making the statement, 'This is not your home, this is not where you belong,' " Muse says. "I wanted to make a record that said, 'No, actually, this is where you belong. This is your one chance to make your life into what you want it to be. This is your one chance to make the world what you think it can be.'
Powerful stuff for thought. I believe in a God, but I also believe we are where we belong. What do you think?


(check out the video itself for the full lyrics)
Oh I tried, and I tried to achieve belief
But maybe there is somethin' wrong with me
But I've been feelin' fine
In fact, often better than fine
But now both my shoulders have started hurtin'
From walkin' around under such a burden
To reconcile everything that we've learned
With everything that we were taught
But with all we know now, how can you say:
"Oh you just gotta take it all on faith
And don't think too much, just hush and pray
Exactly as we've always done"?
Hey! I just noted that the youtube video of the song (uploaded in July) only has 962 views. Maybe I'm not the last person to hear about this band!

Discussion thread of this post on Anchor Cove forums

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

How Evil Corporations Created The Myth That Tryptophan In Turkey Makes You Sleepy on Thanksgiving

May the effects of trytophan spare you from having to hear conversations about the effects of tryptophan
Thanksgiving is this week, and in the time-honored tradition of lazy journalists everywhere, you are sure to see scads of articles decrying the myth that tryptophan in turkey causes post-Thanksgiving drowsiness. Just see today's Huffington Post, among many others. (If you need a good, science-based debunking of the myth, see Dr. Aaron Carroll's short video from this week. Play it for your disbelieving relatives tomorrow as well.)

The Annual Tradition: Google trends data for "tryptophan" 2005-2013:
journalists giddibly writing about tryptophan, i can't wait for the 2013 data to include this article.

But where did this myth come from? It hasn't existed forever, to be sure. If Marty McFly cracked a tryptophan joke when he traveled back to 1955, you can be sure that no one would have gotten the joke -- the myth didn't exist yet. In fact, coming from 1985, its questionable whether Marty himself would have made the joke. By 1995 he certainly could have.

Thanks to mattress manufacturers and a Japanese chemical company.

The Origin of the Turkey Tryptophan Myth

Prior to the mid-1970s, the amino acid known as "tryptophan" was rarely mentioned in the press, and never in connection with sleep. For example, a 1952 report suggested that low tryptophan levels might help prevent paralysis from polio. (Yes, this was back when awful common diseases like polio were still around and scared everyone witless.) And in the late 1960s, some folks said they wanted to genetically increase the supply of the chemical in corn to up its protein content. Yum? Also, by the early 1970s, the Japanese were gung ho about using tryptophan-rich plankton for food. Double Yum! Interestingly, whether tryptophan was even in turkey seemed to be in question -- one doctor in 1968 reported that a turkey diet might be a cure for psoriasis because tryptophan "is found in all meats except turkey". Needless to say, no one was making "tryptophan-haze" jokes as an excuse to not help clean up the Thanksgiving table in 1968.

In 1975, however, a Tufts University study found that tryptophan, at least given in tablet form, appeared to make study participants fall asleep faster and sleep more soundly. This was cited at the time as evidence supporting the old claim that drinking a glass of warm milk before bed might have some truth to it. And in 1977, an Associated Press article reported that not only milk, but other high protein foods with tryptophan could also induce sleep. The Miami News version of that article was amusingly titled "New cure for insomnia - hamburgers". photo hamburgers_zpsbaa4b872.png

But people didn't start joking that their Big Macs were lulling them to sleep. Into this nascent area of sleep research stepped our good friends, big corporations. At the same time this early research about tryptophan and sleeping was coming to light, the American mattress industry formed a group known as the "Better Sleep Council". Though this ostensible non-profit group claimed to only want to aid humans in their pursuit of sleep, and thus have more satisfying lives, its real purpose was to, of course, SELL MORE MATTRESSES. Getting people to think more about how they sleep, and how to sleep well, is one of the goals of the group, because this might GET YOU TO BUY MORE MATTRESSES. Of course, the "Better Sleep Council" couldn't just demand we "buy mattresses" and nothing else. They had to come up with "studies" and "reports" that looked scientific, and address other things that maybe could effect sleep (INCLUDING NEW MATTRESSES).

ITS THE TURKEY

So, for Thanksgiving 1978, the Council released a report to entice holiday-related coverage from lazy journalists. "The traditional Thanksgiving dinner, a sumptuous gathering for fine food and family communion, can also be the answer to an insomniac's prayer, according to the Better Sleep Counsel." Oh yes. "Turkey contains a high concentration of tryptophan, an amino acid that induces sleep." Now, of course, there had been no studies of whether turkey itself induced sleep; the Council was just highlighting turkey since it was Thanksgiving. And while the Council did note that other foods are also "good sources" of tryptophan, it left the impression that turkey was better.
not their real logo, which shows someone stretching after a good night's sleep on a NEW MATTRESSThe Council also recited a number of other things that might possibly help one sleep, before concluding that a "good bed with a firm mattress" might be the real solution. (YOU DON'T SAY!) And benignly enough, the Better Sleep Council would continue to include turkey and tryptophan among its list of potential cures for insomnia through the 1980s.

But mattress manufacturers are not the only party to blame here.

Health Food Stores: How Many Thing Do They Sell That Can Kill You?

Tryptophan also began to be sold in tablet form in health food stores by the early 1980s as an insomnia cure. And since turkey was one of the foods frequently mentioned as containing tryptophan, and since people do get sleepy after gorging themselves on Thanksgiving, this became "evidence". Though there were some naysayers. For Turkey Day 1986, for example, the "National Turkey Board" (GOAL: EAT MORE TURKEY!) assured Americans that its the big meal, not the tryptophan, causing sleepiness.

As the claim that tryptophan tablets could cure insomnia continued to spread, the Japanese chemical company Showa Denko greatly stepped up its production of tryptophan in the late 1980s. In fact, the majority of tryptophan tablets sold in the United States all originated from the company, and to keep up with demand, the company made many changes in its manufacturing process to boost production. Like removing the step of removing impurities. Oops. What's the worst that could happen, right?

Well, you could kill people. Which is what happened. Over 25 deaths and many cases of serious illness from Eosinophilia-Myalgia Syndrome (EMS) resulted from taking the drug. At the time, the fact that the production was probably contaminated was not known, and calls to ban the drug permanently as the cause of the disease outbreak were sounding by Thanksgiving 1989. A ban was put in place. Showa Denko ended up paying $2 billion to settle lawsuits arising out of its conduct.

All this news coverage of tryptophan and its claimed effects actually served to spread the theory that eating turkey on Thanksgiving would make you drowsy. By 1992, newspapers could run an article with a headline like this:
A turkey dinner can lull you to sleep; its tryptophan that goes to your head

This November 26, 1992 piece in the Lakeland Ledger is a high-water mark example of the tryptophan-turkey-sleep connection. It claimed that the tryptophan in turkey will make you sleepy, and also that all those carbs you eat will "accelerate" the process! Even though a Butterball Turkey spokesperson told the reporter than you'd have to eat 21 ounces of turkey (7 servings) to get sleepy, reader were told that adding those carbs make will "it happen faster." Wow! Its science!!

By the mid-1990s, direct refutations of the turkey-tryptophan myth began to appear in the press, but it was already too late. Of course, there would be no need to refute the myth, if the news media hadn't already help create it. But for every article saying "don't blame the turkey", there would be other articles lazily restating the basic story as a probable truth. And casual references to turkey-tryptophan-induced sleepiness became common, without reference to whether or not it was true; it was now accepted. As snopes.com notes, a November 1997 episode of Seinfeld was able to casually mention the tryptophan claim over a turkey dinner. Everyone knew it.



Since at least 2004 (and some earlier examples), every serious article to look at the subject is adamant to debunk the myth. But the myth is now so firmly ensconced in our culture that its now an annual ritual of Thanksgiving to write articles debunking the myth. Just as it will be a ritual for your Uncle Walter to declare that the tryptophan's effects are settling in on everyone. Articles promoting the link still pop up from time to time. It's all in how the article is slanted. A November 2006 report on CNN claimed "there may be more at work than just tryptophan" although "Experts say it has a calming effect that can make you sleepy." These sorts of stories perpetuate the myth.

What will we have to tweet about tomorrow otherwise?

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

The Richard Cohen Interracial Marriage Non-Troversy

A somewhat big political news story yesterday was a pile of baloney. Washington Post columnist Richard Cohen, a cranky old fart who regularly says stuff to get people going crazy, wrote a column about why Ted Cruz (or someone of his douchebaggy ilk) will beat Chris Christie in Iowa in 2016. Frankly, the fact that Chris Christie will do poorly with tea party voters in rural states is obvious. Can he be the 2016 GOP nominee? Who knows. Ask me in early 2016, when it actually is something you might intelligently guess. So this November 2013 column should just be another boring turd of irrelevant opinion everyone can avoid.

But to spice up the turd, Cohen inserted an awkwardly worded claim that conservatives hate gay marriage. Wait, did i say gay marriage? No, I meant interracial marriage.

Gawker article

Today's GOP is not racist, as Harry Belafonte alleged about the tea party, but it is deeply troubled — about the expansion of government, about immigration, about secularism, about the mainstreaming of what used to be the avant-garde. People with conventional views must repress a gag reflex when considering the mayor-elect of New York — a white man married to a black woman and with two biracial children. (Should I mention that Bill de Blasio's wife, Chirlane McCray, used to be a lesbian?) This family represents the cultural changes that have enveloped parts — but not all — of America. To cultural conservatives, this doesn't look like their country at all.

So this has generated a ton of stories about Cohen being racist (which seems dumb because he's not referring to himself and his own views). Its also generated a bunch of claims that conservatives don't actually oppose interracial marriage.

Weigel

So, Cohen's trolling got the clicks and news coverage he hoped for, I guess.

The reality of his claim -- assuming we can ever understand what he means -- is a bit more complicated. It wasn't until 1997 that a majority of Americans said that they supported gay marriage. 1997! By 2011, Gallup found 86% approval, but the approval rating in the South was a bit lower at 79% (Midwest was 86%). It was also 79% among "conservatives", 77% among Republicans, and only 66% among those over 65. You look at these numbers a bit, and you can suspect its indeed possible that a majority of tea party republicans in some regions of the country are opposed to interracial marriage. To wit, a 2011 poll of Mississippi Republicans found that 46% thought interracial should be "illegal", and Sarah Palin had a high net favorable rating of +17 among those people as compared to those who thought interracial marriage should be legal.

Ultimately I don't think Cohen was even saying a "majority" of conservative republicans oppose interracial marriage. He is suggesting they do accept it, even if it makes them uncomfortable. BUT, there is no interracial couple running for the GOP nomination, so why he would focus on this issue is wholly unclear. Chris Christie is simply less "conservative" on many issues that tea partiers care about, that is his problem, not interracial marriage. Cohen's analogy of interracial marriage was more awkward than insane.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

More Wikipedia Weirdness From Petraeusworld

In followup to yesterday's post about how Paula Broadwell's wikipedia page was edited in January 2012 to hint she was having an affair with General Petreaus, I stumbled across this post at Boing Boing a few hours ago with another interesting wikipedia find:

About two weeks after the Broadwell edit, on February 6, an editor from an IP address associated with the United States Central Command made an edit to the entry for Arcadia University to add Jill Kelley to its list of notable alumni. (Kelley is the Tampa woman to whom Broadwell later sent reportedly threatening emails) The edit read:

Jill Kelley, amateur ambassador and chess player

A few days later ", B.S.C." was added after Kelley's name as a mocking suffix of her degree by the same editor. The addition remained, unnoticed, for months! It was only removed a few days ago, after the scandal broke. The ambassador reference, of course, is a joke about Kelley's unofficial (read: made-up) "social liaison" status for MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa -- which is where the US Central Command is headquartered.

Reviewing the editing history of this IP address a bit further, I also noticed that seven minutes after the first Arcadia edit, the same person edited the wikipedia entry for ambassador to add:

"Occasionally, in some cultures, people can self-appoint themselves as "''ambassador''" by simply writing it to thier bio."

This is obviously another crack about Kelley. The edit remained for 10 days (someone helpfully corrected the misspelling) before it was removed as "preposterous".