Why an Amish bishop could spend the rest of his life in prison

'The Bergholz Boys,' led by Sam Mullet (not pictured) sitting in court in October. (Via The Daily)

‘The Bergholz Boys,’ led by Sam Mullet (not pictured) sitting in court in October. (Via The Daily)

Earlier this year a federal court convicted Sam Mullet, an Amish bishop, of orchestrating a series of hate crimes. Mullet, his sons, and other members of their community attacked other Amish sects nearby in Ohio and forcibly shaved the beards off men and cut the hair of women. For the Amish, that amounts to an embarrassment equated to castration.

Mullet was also accused of ruling his 120-follower Amish community through methods of intimidation that one former follower compared to the methods used before the Jonestown Massacre. The bishop allegedly offered sex counseling for Amish couples, although the therapy sessions reportedly amounted to Mullet telling the man in the relationship he’d be going to bed with his wife.

The Daily published a phenomenal interview and in-depth analysis of Mullet’s methods, the reaction, and how the Amish leader – who is up against a life sentence – is holding up in prison.

An excerpt from A Bishop Behind Bars follows, click here for the rest.

Among his fellow inmates at Northern Ohio Correctional Center, the towering 67-year-old with wire-rimmed glasses, pudding-bowl haircut and retro facial hair is known simply as “O.G.”

While the term — street shorthand for “original gangster” — was unfamiliar to Mullet, he could sense that it was a compliment bestowed from across cultural lines.

“They’re calling me O.G.,” he said, smiling. “I don’t know what it means, but I guess it means something good.”

Unexpected honorific aside, he didn’t pretend to be comfortable in his new home. “I’m a stranger here. Plus Amish to boot,” he told The Daily last month in the first in-depth interview he has ever given. “How would you feel coming to Amish country and being locked up? You see guys in here with all kinds of dress and all kinds of hairstyles, but I’m the one that’s weird and sticking out.”

He told of having trouble falling asleep in his early days behind bars, kept awake by obscenity-laced banter that went on well into the night — and how his response stunned and charmed his fellow prisoners.

“At night when we had lockdown, they turned out the lights and some of the guys would holler back and forth, sometimes just cussing and screaming and carrying on for hours,” he said. “I couldn’t sleep.”

He began to feel an irrepressible longing to drown out the noise with the songs he had been singing since his boyhood.

“I decided I’m going to sing,” he said. “I didn’t know how they’d take it, and I was ashamed at first. And the first time I sang very low.”

In the dark prison, he began singing traditional Christian songs. One of his favorites was “Rank Stranger,” a tune about a man trying to get home but who finds himself lost in an unfamiliar land where he doesn’t recognize a soul.

To his surprise, the response of his cellblock mates was not abuse or mockery.

“They heard me singing softly, and then they wanted me to sing louder,” he said. “Now some of the guys come to my cell and they want me to sing every night. They’d come into my cell and listen to me just before we had lockdown. They said it made them sleep good.”


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Improve your Wifi connection with a beer can


[Via Mashable]

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History of ‘The Blues Brothers’ in Vanity Fair’s comedy issue


Most of the attention on Vanity Fair’s comedy issue deservedly focused on the magazine’s oral history of Freaks and Geeks. Among the unsung stories of the issue, on newsstands now with previews available to read online, is the genesis of The Blues Brothers. The Dan Aykroyd side project turned Saturday Night Live skit became one of the most loved comedies of the era, but John Belushi’s spiraling cocaine abuse and the bill for the movie’s action sequences almost made the project impossible.

Excerpts from Ned Zeman’s article are available on VF’s website but it’s worth picking up the magazine for the whole story. At the time Belushi was a superstar in Chicago, where The Blues Brothers was being filmed. Zeman wrote of how everyone in the city wanted to tell their friends how they did a line with Bluto Blutarsky:

A trip to Wrigley Field, home of the Chicago Cubs, was “like being with Mussolini in Rome,” director John Landis tells Zeman. Belushi, having entered one of the stadium’s crowded bathrooms, smiled and shouted, “O.K., stand back!” Everyone retreated from the urinals. Belushi did his business and then, zipping his fly and beaming, said, “O.K., back you go!” Glazer recalls, “John would literally hail police cars like taxis. The cops would say, ‘Hey, Belushi!’ Then we’d fall into the backseat and the cops would drive us home.”

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ESPN president admits amount of Tebow coverage has been a mistake

ESPN’s overwhelming Tim Tebow coverage looks to be trending downward after network president John Skipper said he told producers to take it back a notch following criticism from Doug Gottlieb


Former ESPN analyst Doug Gottlieb evidently lit a fire under current network president John Skipper when he ripped ESPN’s policy of constantly covering Tim Tebow for ratings. Gottlieb appeared on the Dan Patrick Show to describe his stance on the strategy to effectively trade in journalistic integrity for the sake of ratings, telling his fellow ESPN alumnus, “I was told specifically, ‘You can’t talk enough Tebow.’”

Skipper addressed the critique and the internal change it inspired during an interview with Sports Business Daily:

“The quote that I hated was from Doug Gottlieb. … I didn’t love that. I want people to think about what works for the next 10 minutes might not be the best thing for us for three years. That one hit home with me,” Skipper said before referencing the lampooned decision to over-cover the Jets training camp with not just Sal Paolantonio, but an entire crew.

“Training camp was fine. The guy’s very popular. In our business, we do want to drive ratings. You’ve just got to keep long-term, short-term in mind.”

How Skipper described the network’s plan to shape up and stop annoying SportsCenter audiences with reports on Tebow’s birthday:

“We’ve had some good discussions internally about trying to be careful. In some ways, the more difficult internal conflict is between long-term story telling and ratings. We all know that if you focus on the Tebow story, for the next 10 minutes you’re going to do better. But the question is trying to take a long-term perspective and saying, ‘Guys, let’s not get over excited about one story and hyping it.’”

Gottlieb’s revelation joined the chorus of jeers from Patrick’s show, Awful Announcing, and other outlets but certainly not one watching closer than Deadspin. Last month the site ripped ESPN for over-saturating the Tebow talk in favor of transparency. ESPN Senior rite Lynn Hoppes was busted plagiarizing from Wikipedia, SportsCenter anchors read copy lifted word-for-word from a Yahoo! sports report, and the network’s failure to address the Sarah Phillips scam all made targets out of the global sports brand.

The Tebow phenomenon—that is, the sustained celebrity of a football player of only moderate ability—says as much about ESPN as it does about the quarterback himself. For the better part of a decade, the narrative about ESPN has held that the integrity of the news operation is subordinate to the Worldwide Leader’s business concerns. (Just think back to The Decision or to the Bonds on Bonds docuseries before that, the one that ceded editorial control to the Giants outfielder and left Pedro Gomez, ESPN’s Bonds beat guy, pressing his nose up against his own network’s window.) Given that ESPN has deals with nearly every major league—and ignores the ones with which it doesn’t have deals—the question has become inescapable: How can the company produce honest journalism when it’s in business with, well, everybody?

ESPN has proven it can—the coverage of the replacement-ref fiasco in the wake of the Green Bay-Seattle Monday night game was a high point—but in recent months something began to shift. There was Tebowmania, of course, but more quietly there were several incidents of journalistic malpractice that were notable not for the egregiousness of the crimes but for ESPN’s total indifference to them (about which more later). We weren’t the only ones to notice. A member of the newsroom was just as baffled as we were by the silence of a media company that blankets the office in memos at the drop of a zipper.

Now that Skipper has gone public about the misdirection hopefully he leads ESPN more in the direction of 30 For 30 over following Skip Bayless down the gutter.

[h/t Sports Business Daily & Deadspin, Image via Golstream]

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Judd Apatow on pure comic rage

There’s something inherently funny about watching someone lose all semblance of self-control when they flip out. Comedians like Chris Farley and Adam Sandler made careers on playing people who might (hysterically) lose it at any moment and Bill O’Reilly’s freak out gained so much steam online that he eventually had to address it on his show.

During an interview on Bullseye with Jesse Thorn this week Judd Apatow admitted his affection for pure comic rage, and the idea that it’s something everyone has lurking beneath their exterior, was a driving influence behind his new movie, This is 40.

“When people start snapping it makes me laugh. I like showing terrible communication skills – you can love someone so much and just be the worst fighter and say the most hurtful things…The first sketch that people saw Will Ferrell in was him at a barbecue screaming to just get off the shed,” Apatow said. “That always makes me laugh. I think that people – my therapist used to call it getting fragmented – but people going off the rails is always amusing to me, and what comes out when you stop censoring yourself and all your little demons start talking directly to the other person. Everything you should keep quiet spills. I like those kinds of scenes and I think in the history of romantic comedies people try to smooth out those rough edges and make it seem creamy and romantic…but I like when things go into painful truth.”


Here’s the clip of Apatow on Bullseye:

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Cities installing shady surveillance on public transporation

Bus Surveillance

Next time you’re thinking about buying drugs while riding on public transportation stop for a minute and ask yourself, “What city am I in?” you might want to re-think your plan if the answer comes back as:

San Francisco, California

Traverse City, Michigan

Athens, Georgia

Hartford, Connecticut

Columbus, Ohio

Eugene, Oregon

Baltimore, Maryland

…then you might consider that your conversation is probably being monitored. Law enforcement officials are installing microphones in city buses (and on San Fran streetcars) and will sync the conversations they overhear with footage from the camera systems already onboard. The recorders they use will store data for up to 30 days. Police claim that the basically warrantless wiretapping will help them fight crime but, as you can probably imagine, privacy advocates are pissed.

The Daily reports:

Some transit officials say the systems merely provide a useful way to resolve complaints from passengers. “From my standpoint, the use of audio is a lifesaver for the drivers,” said Joel Gardner, executive director of Ozark Regional Transit in Arkansas. “We can review audio and negate these false accusations.”

But surveillance technology experts say the audio systems can easily be used for other purposes.

“Given the resolution claims, it would be trivial to couple this system to something like facial or auditory recognition systems to allow identification of travelers,” said Ashkan Soltani, an independent security consultant asked by The Daily to review the specs of an audio surveillance system marketed to transit agencies. “This technology is sadly indicative of a trend in increased surveillance by commercial and law enforcement entities, under the guise of improved safety.”

Searching for audio surveillance gear, some transit officials make clear their desire for fly-on-the-wall powers. In Eugene, Ore., for example, transit officials demanded microphones capable of distilling clear conversations from the background noise of other voices, wind, traffic, windshields wipers and engines. Requesting a minimum of five audio channels spread across each bus, they added, “each audio channel shall be paired with one or more camera images and recorded synchronously with the video for simultaneous playback.”

[Via The Daily & Wired]

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Growing up with the Great Bambino

We all know who Babe Ruth is but in the age of steroids in baseball and paychecks that’d make the Lehman Brothers blush the Colossus of Clout is often painted as a hot dog-scarfing alcoholic who simply called his shot. Earlier this year Jane Leavy wrote an article for Grantland about his daughter Julia Ruth Stevens, who saw him not as a skirt chaser but as a man who enforced her curfew and cooked BBQ. Now in her 80s, Ruth adopted Ms. Stevens when she was 12 years old and he was at the height of his career. Despite spending her youth with a different father, Stevens said of Ruth, “It seems like he’d always been there.”

He was the Babe, the Bam, the Big Bam, and the Great (and Bulby) Bambino (or Slambino); the Barnstorming Babe, the Bazoo of Bang, the Behemoth of Biff and Bust; Blunderbuss, and the Modern Beowulf. He was the Caliph and Colossus of Clout and Club, the Circuit Smasher and Goliath of Grand Slam, Homeric Herman and Herman the Great. He was the High Priest of Swat, and before that the Infant of Swategy. Also: the Kid of Crash, King of Clout/Diamonds/Swing, and, until Roger Maris, Hank Aaron, and the steroid marauders came along, the Home Run King. He was the Maharajah/Mauler of Mash, the Mauling Menace, Mauling Monarch, Mauling Mastodon, as well as the Mastodonic Mauler, Bulky Monarch, and Monarch of Swatdom; the Prince of Pounders, Rajah of Rap, Sachem of Slug, and Sultan of Swat; Terrible Titan, Whazir of Wham, Wali of Wallop, Wizard of Whack. And, not to be outdone, Damon Runyon added: “Diamond-Studded Ball-Buster.”

The priests at St. Mary’s Industrial School, the Xaverian reform school on the outskirts of Baltimore to which he was consigned at age 7, called him George. The parents who didn’t visit called him Little George. The boys incarcerated along with him called him Nigger Lips. The Red Sox called him the Big Baboon and sometimes Tarzan, a name he liked until he found out what it meant. The Yankees called him Jidge.

Julia Ruth Stevens, his sole surviving daughter, calls him Daddy.

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