Marie Noe’s babies

In the 60s, a Philadelphia family became famous for losing all 10 of their children almost immediately after the babies came home from the hospital. I was surprised by the end of the story, maybe because of how it was written or because I am naive. In any case, this one takes a long time to get through, and it's not easy. The author turned over their investigation notes to the police who reopened their case. See here conclusion.

The Noe files are remarkably rich, with personal details going back over 50 years. The material is often excruciatingly personal, including many facts the Noes could not possibly know themselves. What their relatives, friends and neighbors really thought about them. What their doctors really thought about them. There are also autopsy reports on most of the children, but they raise more questions than they answer. The early ones carry definitive causes of death that any competent pediatric pathologist would now consider unlikely, if not impossible. Most of the later autopsies simply list the cause of death as “undetermined.” But as Dapena points out, “When an adult suffocates a baby by doing this” — putting her hand over her own mouth to demonstrate — “the autopsy shows nothing, zero.”

Mad Men Season 7 Episode 4

Mad Men Art
Every week, Chris Piascik (@chrispiascik) illustrates a moment from the episode and I write up a recap.

Episode title: "The Monolith." Monoliths are either large blocks of stone or monuments, or "advanced machines built by an unseen extraterrestrial species" from Space Odyssey. Maybe Don's the block of stone and the computer is the advanced machine?

Episode date: Around April 18th, 1969. Don was reading a newspaper with a headline alluding to Nixon's announcement that planes surveilling North Korea would have protection. This, following North Korea shooting down a spy plane on the 15th, killing 31 crewmen. Don's been back at SCP for 3 weeks making the timing of episode 3 around April 1st or so. I couldn't find any clues last week. Lastly, the Mets did win the game Don wanted to go to with Freddy.

At the beginning of the episode, Pete runs into a former client/colleague from Vick's. He found out Trudie's father had a heart attack, illustrating how out of touch he is with his forner life. He also gets the opportunity to pitch Burger Chefs, a chain founded in the 50s that rose to 1050 locations through the 60s before starting to crumble. Something with a heyday in the 60s not doing so well against new competition? You don't say.

Harry Crain is getting his computer, but for some reason, it doesn't make him any less insufferable. I must have missed the episode where he did something remarkable to think so highly of himself. In any case, the computer is taking over the former creative lounge and the creative team is (rightly?) spooked. I'm not sure how a computer is supposed to take over for creative, but try telling Ginsberg that. "The other one's full of farts." "They're trying to erase us." It's obvious the computer is a metaphor, there's even the line of dialogue, "These machines can be a metaphor for whatever's on people's minds." Later on, there's a conversation where Lloyd is explaining the difference between his company and IBM. It's dripping with symbolism and references to Don. IBM is selling the always new. Lloyd is more trusting of the older machines, more willing to let them hang around and keeping doing their job. "They have a great product, but they don't trust it." SCP used to do things the old way and Don fit in. Now they're pushing the new, new, new, so maybe there's no room for him anymore? There was more to the conversations between Lloyd and Don, but there was so much, so fast, it was hard to keep track. It was basically a conversation about human vs machine, art vs science (counting stars), and old vs new. Once drunk Don returns, he tells (paraphrasing) Lloyd his company doesn't need an ad campaign because he's got the new, what everyone wants.

Normally, I'd wait until the end to note the song used in the credits, (On a Carousel by The Hollies), but it seems extra important to me. This is the second reference in two weeks to 'the Carousel scene,' a Kodak pitch Don crushes. (Last week was Ken Cosgrove telling Don he always thinks of him when they go to the carousel.) I wouldn't say this was the last time Don was on his game, but he sure was firing on all cylinders then. "Do the work." Freddy's pep talk sets Don right. Maybe we're to see this as him realizing he's got a long way to go to come back. Maybe I need to watch last season again to see how bad it got for Don and SCP, but it's hard for me to believe Don would get knocked this far down. They clearly didn't want him back, but I'm not sure they would have made Lou privy to that. I don't know. My brain's a little scrambled on this. And just to give Freddy his due. He recognizes what Don has and that he's throwing it away. He sees the partners are messing him and he tells Don to mess with them right back by doing the work. Super short, but great scene.

"Let the man be a man." Lou gives Peggy a raise and then makes her deal with Don. This gave us a chance to see the unlovable Peggy, the one who forgets what Don did for her. I guess she doesn't owe him anything, but would it have killed her to be less smarmy? I don't recall Don being unfair with her (too often anyway), so I'm not sure why she handled it the way she did. Especially because, as she discussed with Joan at the end of the episode, she clearly knew they were trying to make her deal with Don because they couldn't. "They" being the partners in this situation. Joan's probably right, though, in thinking the partners probably didn't think about it at all. That said, Lou definitely did. Don's death stare when Peggy gave him the assignment to come up with 25 tags was amazing with a capital ah.

Don finds the pennant Lane bought for his son (I think) during a visit at some point. As Bert Cooper gleefully points out, Don is back and in a dead man's old office. Lane's a ghost, and they expect Don to be one soon. It's pretty messed up! Bert wants him gone so badly he's not even interested in the opportunity of the new business Don developed. I'm still confused about the implications of Don's partnership status and the new stipulations. Not confused, more like concerned. I know Don will be OK, it just seems crazy it would be so easy for the partners to kick him out. I shouldn't feel sorry for him.

Lastly, Roger, Mona, and Margaret. I'm sorry, Marigold. Margaret has run off to a hippie commune. For years, we all thought it'd be Sally experiencing the late 60s for the sake of the show, but instead, it's Margaret. She runs off to a commune leaving her son behind. It's an interesting juxtaposition because Roger's been expanding his own mind lately. Something flips for Roger when Margaret sneaks off in the middle of the night. Not sure exactly what the trigger was, but he tells her she needs to come home, and she says I learned it from watching you, dad, I learned it from watching you. There was something funny about the car ride with Roger and Mona where Roger mentions the last time he saw Margaret she was cruel, serene, a little bit philosophical, and Mona seems to agree, "I thought she was happy."

“Bees are cows without fences”

I guess stealing bees is a thing. Beekeepers rent out their hives to farmers all over the country, and they actually make more rental income than honey income. From time to time, they have to deal with thieves making off with their bees. Also, I guess Weather.com has a long form section?

Bees are unique when it comes to agricultural property. When almonds get stolen by nut-nappers (yes, the actual term for nut thieves), the farmers still own the trees and can rely on the crop next year. If farming equipment gets stolen, it’s a hassle to replace, but at least the farmers still have their crops. But bees are everything to beekeepers. They are the employees, the equipment and the product. Honey is stored in the hive, as are the eggs that will populate the hive in the future. Without beehives, a beekeeper has lost his livelihood.

Paris Review interview with Matthew Weiner

Here's a long interview from the Paris Review with Matthew Weiner. Pretty interesting. I liked this answer below, sorry for the long excerpt.

INTERVIEWER

You worked on three seasons of The Sopranos before you went back to your Mad Men pilot. Did that change your conception of your show?

WEINER

Mad Men would have been some sort of crisp, soapy version of The West Wing if not for The Sopranos. Peggy would have been a climber. All the things that people thought were going to happen would have happened. Even though the pilot itself has a dark, strange quality, I didn’t know that that was what was good about it. I just wanted an excuse to exorcise my demons, to write a story about somebody who’s thirty-five years old, who has everything, and who is miserable.

The important thing, for me, was hearing the way David Chase indulged the subconscious. I learned not to question its communicative power. When you see somebody walking down a dark hallway, you know that they’re scared. We don’t have to explain that it’s scary. Why is this person walking down a dark hallway when he’s on his way to his kids’ school? Because he’s scared about someone telling him something bad about his kids. He’s worried about hearing something that will reflect badly on the way he’s raised his kids, which goes back to his own childhood. All that explanatory stuff, we never even talked about it. And I try not to talk about it here. Why did that happen? Why do you think? You can’t cheat and tell people what’s going on, because then they won’t enjoy it, even if they say they want it that way.

You know how sometimes I give you a note that says, Why don’t you do X? and you say, That’s the thing I wanted to do? That’s what I learned at The Sopranos. That’s the note I try to give to everyone who writes here. Take the risk of doing the extreme thing, the embarrassing thing, the thing that’s in your subconscious. Before The Sopranos, when someone said, Make it deeper, I didn’t know what they meant. Or really, I knew in my gut—but I also knew that it was the one thing that crossed my mind that I wasn’t going to do. To have Peggy come into Don’s office after he’s had the baby and ask for a raise and be rejected, and look at the baby presents, so we know she’s thinking about her own baby that she gave away, and then to have her tell Don, “You have everything and so much of it.” There is something embarrassing about that. A scene that was really just about her getting turned down for a raise became a scene about her whole life. That was the sort of thing I learned from working with David Chase.

Another thing that happened when I began writing on The Sopranos was I noticed that people were always telling me anecdotes. They would throw out a line of dialogue they’d heard somebody say or that someone had said to them—and that was the story. I did not know how important that shit was. There’s an episode where Beansie and Paulie are reminiscing and Tony dismissively says, “‘Remember when’ is the lowest form of conversation.” And it’s devastating. David Chase had witnessed that actual statement. Now I have a ton of stuff like that I’ve saved, things people have said to me that are concise and devastating and sum up some moment in their lives. When I’m talking to some woman on an airplane, and she says, I like being bad and going home and being good, that is very useful.

“I have fallen through the side of a whale up to my chest”

Celebrating (no, that's not the right word) two blue whales washing up on the coast of Newfoundland, The Atlantic has A Brief History of Exploding Whales.

The world now knows that blowing up whales on purpose is best avoided. However, dead whales can still detonate on their own. In 2004, for example, the carcass of a sperm whale was being towed through the streets of Tainan City, Taiwan, when its belly burst, splattering blood and guts on nearby people, cars, and storefronts.



If you're curious about how much pressure might cause a whale to explode, you're in luck? Incidentally, The Royal Ontario Museum will be collecting and preserving for study the Blue Whales that washed up on Newfoundland.

Capturing El Chapo

A compelling story about how one of the most powerful drug dealers in Mexico was captured.

Guzmán had other weaknesses. “He loves the gourmet food,” a D.E.A. official told me. From time to time, he would be spotted at an elegant restaurant in Sinaloa or in a neighboring state. The choreography was always the same. Diners would be startled by a team of gunmen, who would politely but firmly demand their telephones, promising that they would be returned at the end of the evening. Chapo and his entourage would come in and feast on shrimp and steak, then thank the other diners for their forbearance, return the telephones, pick up the tab for everyone, and head off into the night.

“The feds saw…a bird go up in flames every two minutes”

Various types of solar energy are great because they reduce the use of fossil fuels, that said, they sometimes create a 'mega-trap' cooking entire food chains in the extreme heat they create.

The feds saw what appeared to be a bird go up in flames every two minutes, according to the report. The birds killed at Ivanpah include a peregrine falcon, a red-shouldered hawk and an ash-throated flycatcher.



Via @noahWG

This is perfect

During a 2010 deposition, a lawyer and an IT professional got into a discussion about what is a photocopier. This Op-Doc from Brett Weiner depicts the discussion verbatim, with dramatic flair. It is brilliant.

In this short film, I sought to creatively reinterpret the original events. (I’ve not been able to locate any original video recordings, so I’m unsure how closely my actors’ appearance and delivery resembles the original participants.) My primary rule was the performance had to be verbatim -- no words could be modified or changed from the original legal transcripts. Nor did I internally edit the document to compress time. What you see is, word for word, an excerpt from what the record shows to have actually unfolded. However, I did give the actors creative range to craft their performances. As such, this is a hybrid of documentary and fiction. We’ve taken creative liberties in the staging and performance to imbue the material with our own perspectives.