• Don't you just love the smell of Republican civil war in the morning? Actual Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is desperate to show everyone just how grown-up and leadership-y and Get Things Done he can be, but Not-Actual Senate Majority Leader Ted Cruz has other ideas, and he's not wasting any time enlisting senatorial newbies to help him show those wimpy RINOs who the REAL boss of everyone is:

    Cruz has reached out to freshman Republicans, whom he helped in last year’s elections, in hopes they will join his effort to pressure Republican leaders to pursue what he calls a “bold agenda.”

    “We should follow through on our commitment to provide big, bold positive ideas responding to the very real economic hardship that so many millions of Americans are feeling,” he said.

    Cruz said he has targeted that message to the new freshman class, which comprises more than a fifth of the GOP’s 54-member majority.

    “What I have encouraged everyone of them to do is to urge all of us to honor our commitments. What I’ve urged everyone of them to do is answer questions in January the same way you would have answered them in October on the campaign trail,” he said.

    Cruz is merely reminding the incoming class of 2015 that good conservatives are perfectly happy to shut down the government on a whim, just to teach that uppity thinks-he-so-the-president Obama fella a lesson. There's no reason they should turn into wimpy McConnellesque RINOs now, just because they are senators who ostensibly have a job to do, which does not include holding their breaths until they turn blue. (No, really, we checked the job description. It isn't in there.) It doesn't matter whether McConnell might have other ideas -- like trying to avoid doing that because, gosh, that wouldn't look very good for him. But ha ha, too bad, like Cruz cares about making McConnell look good. He has more important priorities.

    The differences between Cruz and McConnell over how aggressively to use their leverage could come to the fore next month, when a short-term law funding the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) expires.

    Cruz suggested Wednesday that if the department shuts down because the president vetoed a funding bill that included language halting his executive order, Obama would bear responsibility. [...]

    When asked if it would be worth shutting down the Homeland Security Department in response to a veto, Cruz said, “that is an excellent question for you to ask the president.”

    Wink. Wink. Would hate to have to shut down the government, of course, but if Obama is going to MAKE THEM do it, well, Ted Cruz isn't afraid to be a bold pretend majority leader. Too bad, so sad for you, Mitch. Hey, good luck with that whole internal battle for the "soul" of the Republican Party, fellas. We'll be over here munching our popcorn.

  • So this is one way to respond to Sen. Barbara Boxer's announcement that she's retiring from the Senate:
  • Time for another round of the New York Times telling us why we must, MUST, MUST!!! get married:

    A new economics paper has some old-fashioned advice for people navigating the stresses of life: Find a spouse who is also your best friend.

    Social scientists have long known that married people tend to be happier, but they debate whether that is because marriage causes happiness or simply because happier people are more likely to get married. The new paper, published by the National Bureau of Economic Research, controlled for pre-marriage happiness levels.

    It concluded that being married makes people happier and more satisfied with their lives than those who remain single – particularly during the most stressful periods, like midlife crises.

  • Rejoice, Californians, we get to eat foi gras again!

    Sorry, uni. Your reign as California's supreme culinary luxury is over. Foie gras has reclaimed its rightful throne after 2 1/2 years of exile.

    U.S. District Judge Stephen Wilson of the Central District of California on Wednesday afternoon struck down the state's ban on the sale of foie gras, which took effect in July 2012 under a 2004 law. Sales may resume immediately and restaurant chefs across California jubilantly announced that they would start serving the fatty duck or goose liver, an emblem of traditional French cuisine, at dinner that very evening.

    Chef Ken Frank, an outspoken opponent of the ban for years, said that he would be offering foie gras with persimmons as an appetizer, and foie gras and truffle-stuffed capon as an entree at his restaurant La Toque in Napa on Wednesday night. [...]

    Wednesday's ruling stems from a lawsuit filed against California Attorney General Kamala Harris by foie gras producers in New York and Quebec, along with a California-based restaurant group, the day after the ban took effect.

  • Brace yourselves, science nerds, for some of the awesomest news ever:

    Neil deGrasse Tyson is getting his own show.

    The astrophysicist and TV personality, who fronted Cosmos in 2014, has nabbed a late-night series on National Geographic Channel called Star Talk.

    Cosmos allowed us to share the awesome power of the universe with a global audience in ways that we never thought possible,” said Tyson. “To be able to continue to spread wonder and excitement through Star Talk, which is a true passion project for me, is beyond exciting. And National Geographic Channel is the perfect home as we continue to explore the universe.”

  • This is actually pretty amazing. Someone followed up with some of the biggest victims/recipients of public shame and humiliation on the Internet:

    Remember that woman who tweeted something about Aids before getting on a plane to Africa? Or the guy who was arrested for a joke about blowing up an airport? Or that girl, dear me, who tweeted a smiling selfie outside Auschwitz concentration camp?

    Me neither. I stopped thinking about them long ago. I certainly couldn’t tell you any of their names. But of course the facts are easy to check. [...]

    We don’t need to ask where these torrents of scorn come from because we create them ourselves with our clicks and shares. If we had the proper context we might not laugh, so we don’t want context, and don’t get it. Nor is it likely to ever stop.

    But afterwards? While the rest of us forget, what do the forgotten do?

  • Here, have a baby panda:

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