In Botswana Where the Queens Rule

Even though Botswana has a thriving metal scene, it’s the boys who get most of the attention. But one photographer wants to change that…

South African photographer Paul Shiakallis has produced a series of photos, “Leathered Skins, Unchained Hearts”, of the “queens” of Botswana’s heavy metal subculture, called “Marok,” which translates to “rocker” in Setswana. The portraits were shot in the Gaborone, the capital city, and feature the women as their “queen” alter-egos, going by names like Onalenna Angelovdarkness, Amokian Lordess and Phoenix Tonahs Slaughter.

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The North Texas Christmas Tornadoes

I’ve had to reassure my fiancée that spending Christmas with me is not this adventurous.

We spent roughly 2 hours inside of Wal-Mart in Garland, TX on Saturday evening, 12/26/2015. Not because we’re big fans of the place, but because we had 2 tornado warnings issued. If you’ve ever wondered what Wal-Mart’s severe weather protocol is, it’s this: make an announcement informing customers that they should head to the back of the store. For us, that was layaway, near the shoes. I suppose it could also be the auto center with some store layouts, but either way, it’s a central location away from windows, which is what you want.

We soon found out that others weren’t so fortunate. Our hearts were broken when we saw the news detailing the destruction around us. We were only 15 minutes away from one of the hardest hit areas.

Most gut-wrenching of all? Watching first response vehicles from communities around North Texas headed east on President George Bush Turnpike, their lights flashing.

As of Sunday afternoon, the death toll stands at 11, and many more have lost their homes. The National Weather Service has classified the tornado that touched down in Garland as an EF-4, only the second one since 1927 1950 to hit Dallas County, and another in Rowlett as an EF-3. For those not familiar with tornadoes, “EF” stands for Enhanced Fujita scale and it goes to 5.

I’m keeping an eye out for ways folks can help and I’ll keep updating this blog post with links I find. If you have any, let me know in the comments section or on Facebook and I’ll add them.


The best place to start would be this page on the Dallas Morning News’ website.

Many pets got out last night. If your faithful companion is missing, you can peruse the pictures on these Facebook pages or contact them directly.

Finally, Refuge on Call will be heading out to the Garland/Rowlett area to cook for first responders. You can make a donation to them here

Update, 12/27, 6:23PM:

I’ve updated the initial blog post with information that this is the second EF-4 tornado to hit Dallas County since 1950.

It’s an old link, but this tweet may be useful:

Also this:

Update, 12/28, 9:04 AM:

The Dallas Morning has an article today that provides tips on how to not get ripped off by roofers or contractors.

Update, 12/28, 5:12 PM:

Beware of fake GoFundMe and Kickstarter campaigns set up to help families affected by the tornados.

Update, 12/28, 9:00 PM:

Feeling hungry? These restaurants are donating 100% of their proceeds to tornado relief.

What I Love Most About Christmas

There’s one thing I love most about Christmas. And it’s not what you think.

It’s not the gifts.
It’s not the food.

Nope, the thing I love about Christmas the most…is the mess. But that’s because it’s not just any old mess.

I’m talking about the kind of mess that you can only get from mounds and mounds of wrapping paper, of cardboard boxes and tape, of tissue paper and gift bags. Of big pots and pans, and of cookie crumbs.

I think it has to do something with why those messes are made and who they’re made with. That’s what makes it so special.

I celebrated Christmas with my family today. And when my nephew comes over on Monday, we get to do it all over again.

I can’t wait to see what kind of mess we make.

On Leaks in the Daily Fantasy Sports World

Ownership percentage is one piece of the puzzle that can be useful in skillfully setting DFS lineups, especially in guaranteed prize pool contests. Top players try to predict ownership percentages, and data about past ownership percentages can be dissected for information.

— Chris Grove, DraftKings Lineup Leak Rocks Daily Fantasy Sports Industry: Questions And Answers

I’ve long wondered how these sort of leagues can do what they do, given that sports betting isn’t legal in these United States. Data leaks like this won’t help the cause either; the commnetary I’ve read suggests this is something akin to insider trading, even though it appears no advantage was gained.

Sports Thoughts

In hindsight, I feel that the final play of the game was a sensible call, given the Patriots’ ability to stop the run and the success Seattle had with that very slant play. I do feel like the best option would’ve been a counter to Lynch or a designed bootleg run for Wilson, something to spread out that defense. Or, shoot, even a play-action pass.

I gave tennis another shot last week with the Murray/Berdych match at the Australian Open. I didn’t watch all 3-4 hours, but the glimpses I caught intrigued me. Tennis, as it turns out, is all about rhythm and position. At least that’s how I saw it. Very fluid. I think I need to sit down and watch a match.

I’ve got a good feeling about the Texas Rangers’ upcoming season. Of course, that’s easy; last year was so horrendous that I pined for the lean years when expectations were always set low…even with a certain $250 million shortstop in town.

Here’s hoping FC Dallas can take the next step this season. The preseason is already underway.

Bearded Bob Ley or Shaven Bob Ley? I prefer the beard, myself.

The Literary 10 – Number 3

3. Nobility of Spirit: A Forgotten Ideal

I’ve been sitting here racking my brain for the past 45 minutes, trying to remember where I first heard about this 116-page book. What I can tell you is that it’s a powerful little book.

In an age when everyone seems to be running scared from what they hear in the news and from corridors of power, this little book is perhaps the most powerful weapon against such mania. It begins with dinner at New York’s River Cafe with Thomas Mann’s youngest daughter and ends with the exhortation to be brave. Along the way, we listen in on conversations with Socrates, discussions held in the Swiss Alps, and ruminations on Europe’s future in the listless days following World War I.

This is a must-read for anyone committed to the power of ideas and imagination, and for those who want to thrive in a world hostile to free thought and nonconformity.