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Oh, Christmas tree, oh, Christmas tree, how do you string the lights right?

Oh, Christmas tree, oh, Christmas tree, how do you string the lights right?

12/16/11 04:03PM

The other day at my house, we brought home our Christmas tree. In New York City, this usually means buying one from a stand on the corner -- the same Vermont guy has sold us a tree for eight years running -- and then carrying it home, everybody taking a turn with the heavy end.For reasons that don't matter and we'd just as soon forget, we had to put the lights on three times before we got it right. That meant passing the strands of lights around the tree, starting at the top, and going from hand to hand, around and around, three times. read more

Etta James got a hold on us

12/16/11 01:57PM

Rachel, who we assumed was off reading about the nine-bill spending omnibus, just sent us this email:AP story says today that etta james is terminally ill and her doctor is asking for prayers.if you are not familiar with the miraculous force of nature that is etta james, watch this and just say to yourself... 1962.  1962!  dear christ this is her in 1962.  until 1:43 on this clip, it is simply not possible that it's 1962. read more

Ron Paul, typography nerd?

12/16/11 01:30PM

Some political observers (including Rachel at 7:30 in this clip) have interpreted the style of a recent Ron Paul ad as an allusion to the F-150 Ford truck TV commercial. I have an alternate theory: Ron Paul is a typography nerd.What I see in both the Ron Paul ad in question and the F-150 ad is the (celebrated virally at the time) 2007 kinetic typography rendering of the "What does Marsellus Wallace look like?" scene from Pulp Fiction. (NOTE: Contains curses! read more

Low Pressure

12/16/11 12:30PM

Gloriously rumpled Wilco frontman Jeff Tweedy showed up at the WGN studios in Chicago yesterday to--what else?-- deliver the seven day weather forecast. Down side? The crossed streams of alt rock scruff and smiley local news may have ripped a hole in the space time continuum.Here's Tweedy's other day job: read more

Crosstab conjecture - Part 2 - Ahhh-loozah

Crosstab conjecture - Part 2 - Ahhh-loozah

12/16/11 11:30AM

At the end of 2008, as President Bush was on his way out, bloggers on the left made some hay of an incidental poll finding that fewer people would admit to voting for Bush than the vote total shows actually did.Since then I've seen at least one poll make a similar case about President Obama during a patch of unpopularity. read more

Who's in charge in Benton Harbor

12/16/11 10:30AM

 For anyone who cares about the story of Benton Harbor, Michigan, the new feature in New York Times Magazine is worth savoring. Benton Harbor is the first town in Michigan to have its local democracy essentially shelved under the revamped emergency manager law. read more

After long bad week, Haley endorses Romney

12/16/11 09:11AM

South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley endorsed Mitt Romney for president today. She told Fox he's "someone who knows what it's like to lead and make a decision, not just to take a vote."Governor Haley has been a conservative and Tea Party favorite, but it's hard telling what that endorsement will be worth. She's having a quite bad week in South Carolina. read more

Official statements in response to problems with the Hanford Site Cleanup

12/15/11 08:40PM

Bechtel National, Inc. statementBechtel National, Inc. (BNI) is firmly committed to the mission of safely designing and building the plant that will immobilize 56 million gallons of radioactive waste stored in Hanford's aging underground tanks.Safety and quality are BNI's top priorities. We expect and encourage our employees to identify and raise any and all concerns, and we are serious about evaluating and addressing each and every issue. We do not tolerate retaliation or harassment in any form against anyone who raises a concern. read more

You know what the US drone in Iran story reminds me of?

12/15/11 07:04PM

I don't now how many people remember this given the date it happened, but the story of the drone crash in Iran kind of reminds me of the US plane that crashed in China in 2001. There are some obvious differences, not the least of which is that there were American lives at stake (the crew of the plane) in the 2001 incident, but the resulting "oh crap, they have our spy gear" feeling is similar, as is the awkward follow-up (here's the 2001 apology from the Bush administration). read more

Victory a dish served cold in Iraq

Victory a dish served cold in Iraq

12/15/11 07:00PM

Rachel Maddow reports on the end of the Iraq war and tells the story of some dinner plates believed to have been taken from one of Saddam Hussein's palaces and are now being returned to Iraq and its new government. watch