Burned up.

Bill McGraw had a heartbreaker in the Freep today, about a fatal fire in southwest Detroit last week, one where the two closest pumpers were out of service for “staffing reasons.” They weren’t in service because the city couldn’t pay firefighters to staff them. A third pumper, also closer, was taken out of service permanently three years ago, for the same reason. You want to read some chilling statistics? How about these:

In May, the Free Press reported that 22% of the city’s 66 firefighting vehicles either were unavailable to answer alarms or were working with broken equipment.

On the day Marian Rembis died, 27% of the fire vehicles were out of service or working with acknowledged defects — such as ladder trucks with ladders that won’t rise. Ten rigs in good condition sat idle in their quarters that day because the department couldn’t staff them.

The problems play out every day, though mostly beyond public view.

Battalion chiefs, who supervise at fire scenes, sometimes can be heard on the radio begging dispatchers to send them a truck with a functioning ladder, even though their bosses discourage them from speaking so explicitly over public airwaves.

On Feb. 6, the first ladder truck — Ladder 10 — to arrive at the scene of what became a five-alarm fire at the Forest Arms apartment building near Wayne State University did not have a working ladder, but it was not needed to perform immediate rescues. Ladder 10’s ladder has been broken since at least early January, firefighters said.

If a city has any business collecting taxes at all, job one is public safety. Police and fire. In recent years it’s become fashionable for city government to venture into economic development, and I have no objection, but only as long as they’re still covering the basics. In some respects, the city’s police department has all the money they need, certainly enough to give the mayor a publicly funded security entourage that’s said to be the biggest in the nation for a mayor. I went out to dinner with the girls the other night, and one was talking about a Democratic fundraiser in Grosse Pointe Farms. The governor, a woman, showed up with one state police officer working as driver and escort. The mayor of Detroit, Kwame Kilpatrick, arrived a few moments later in a black Cadillac Escalade with a full complement of muscle. Because the GP can be a pretty dangerous place, I guess.

A few weeks ago, Metro Times columnist Jack Lessenberry chided those of us who were giggling over the text-message scandal, saying it was only lurid cover for real tragedy, the ongoing tragedy of Detroit and, in a larger sense, all of rustbelt urban America, and I’ve come to see he’s right. This is like the comic relief in Hamlet, but while you might smile at the Poor Yorick scene, there’s no denying the stage will be covered with bodies at the final curtain. It takes an event like this fire to remind us that one of the bodies will be a 37-year-old Down Syndrome victim, too scared to run out of a burning house and too far from a fully staffed fire station to get help in time.

The Metro Times lays out its case for resignation in this week’s issue, by the way.

Forgive me the late posting today. I’m having one of those days. The Committee has been working overtime this week, and I simply could not get over the hump without some extra morning sleep today, which I accomplished by skipping the morning coffee and going back to bed once Kate had been shuffled out the door. I got my sleep, but woke up with a caffeine-deprivation headache, which is pretty absurd when you think about it — you can’t sleep because you haven’t had any coffee. Also, my rededication to the gym this week reveals, once again, just how stiff and out of shape I am. So here I sit, headache-y, muscle ache-y, ache-y break-y. In a few minutes I’m going to get a shower, then head off to Starbucks for some medicine. An ibuprofen latte, please (aka triple espresso).

Hearing William F. Buckley Jr. has died is having no effect on my day, Danny. I can’t say anything bad about him. He started something, and others are ending it now, and I’ve got to think he’d disapprove of what’s become of his beloved conservative movement. Never cared for his twee affectations, but give him this: The man died in the saddle. At his desk. Writing something. That’s how I want to go. (If this headache gets any worse, that may well be my fate.)

Granted, a lot of what he wrote was crap, but Michael Jordan missed a lot of baskets, too.

What I’m mainly dreading is the reaction. After reading Ann Coulter’s eulogy for her daddy — Now Daddy is with Joe McCarthy and Ronald Reagan. I hope they stop laughing about the Reds long enough to talk to God about smiting some liberals for me. — I can only imagine what they’ll say about Bill. I’m virtually certain we can expect a goo-fest from Tim Goeglein. He was a regular weekend guest on Bill’s piece of Connecticut waterfront. Huh — so was Rod Dreher:

Just this past weekend, Julie and I were talking about the time we went to the Buckleys’ Connecticut house on the water, and we were both kind of intimidated by the indomitable Mrs. Buckley. Then she sat down next to Julie and they started talking about gardening, and the evil of squirrels. Pat, with her smoker’s cackle, said she used to lie in bed upstairs at their place and take aim with her .22 rifle at the little bulb-eating bastards in the yard. It was hilarious to hear her this locked-and-loaded socialite talk about her adventures in gardening with gunpowder. Julie and I laughed in recalling the humanity of the Buckleys. That’s how they are.

Proof Dreher isn’t the Right Sort: Well brought-up girls have been taught hunting skills by their daddies for generations. Ask Ann Coulter.

Anyway, I never met the old gasbag, but I did meet his son, Christopher, who was easily one of the nicest and most charming fellows I’ve ever had the pleasure of making small talk with. Whatever part of that he owes to the old man, he couldn’t have been all bad.

Posted at 1:37 pm in Current events, Detroit life |

45 responses to “Burned up.”

  1. sue said on February 27, 2008 at 2:00 pm

    Ahhhh, sleep. Since I work two jobs now, it is a commodity to kill for, and anyone calling before 10:00 a.m. on a Saturday had better have a very good reason. I love sleep – have you heard that saying “I’m very good in bed; I can sleep 12 hours straight”? That’s me. I’m probably the only mom in the world who never had a problem with her kids sleeping in. They just roll their eyes and say “yeah, mom, I know: ‘Sleep heals'”.

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  2. Danny said on February 27, 2008 at 2:13 pm

    Sorry you are feeling crappy, Nance. Sleep deprivation sucks.

    A couple of other headlines caught my attention today:

    Sixteen-foot scrub python stalks family dog for days before swallowing the silky terrier-Chihuahua crossbreed whole in front of two horrified children.

    I hate snakes. Anyone who “owns” a sixteen-foot python has questionable mental balance.

    Congress asks Justice Department to investigate whether Roger Clemens lied under oath to House committee reviewing steroid use in baseball.

    This should make michaelj Barry Bonds supporters happy(ier). It does bring some equity to the situation.

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  3. alex said on February 27, 2008 at 2:14 pm

    The fey Mr. Buckley called Gore Vidal a “fag” to his face on live television in 1968. The two flaming sissy patricians were serving as commentators during that year’s presidential campaign coverage. O, for the days when a gay marriage meant a respectable arrangement like his and Pat’s.

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  4. Jonathan said on February 27, 2008 at 2:25 pm

    How can you have “10 rigs in good conditions” sitting idle, while a broken one is in service? How hard could it be to swap out on of the broken ones for one of the idle, good condition ones?

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  5. Dexter said on February 27, 2008 at 2:38 pm

    alex…wanna hear it? First, here’s a 22 minute “debate” between Buckley & Vidal..,


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  6. Julie Robinson said on February 27, 2008 at 2:39 pm

    Buckley was too full of himself, but my Mom always loved reading him. Sad to say they were in lockstep. But Mom (who was valedictorian back in high school) admired his vocabulary. She said it was a rare column that didn’t drive her to the dictionary. So for that, and how her love of words and reading rubbed off on me, I will salute him.

    Christopher’s writing is more to my taste. There are no sacred cows he won’t take on, and he’s funny. We need all the funny we can get.

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  7. Dexter said on February 27, 2008 at 2:42 pm

    alex, it’s on this page , on the right, in a box….


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  8. nancy said on February 27, 2008 at 2:47 pm

    Living at a latitude with virtually no poisonous ones, I’m a snake agnostic. But Danny, please — you gotta believe that watching a python take on a silky terrier/chihuahua cross would be awesome.

    How do they know the snake “stalked” the dog for days? That implies upper-level predatory thinking skills.

    On Isle Royale, Alan spotted a garter snake midway through swallowing a toad, just off the trail. We both watched for a while. Hypnotic.

    And as for the fire-department travails, Jonathan, the temptation is to throw up hands and say, “Forget it, Jake. It’s Chinatown.” But that would be a cop-out. My guess is, it comes down to petty turfism. The firefighters become attached to their rigs and don’t want to loan them out, maybe? I hear a certain superstar journalist keeps his newsroom keyboard under lock and key when he’s not using it. Just likes the way it feels, and it’s his, dammit.

    Buckley also advocated “tattooing the buttocks” of people with AIDS. I always wanted to ask him, “But what if you’re a bottom? Or like to warm up with some fellatio? You might not see it until it’s too late!” Just to get the party started.

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  9. Dexter said on February 27, 2008 at 2:50 pm

    I sometimes watched Buckley on TV on weekend afternoons many years ago…I was a politically astute teen, as that goes, but the high-falutin’ Buckley used words an Indiana paper boy would never understand, and his trademark flipping of his longish hair was annoying.
    As he aged and I could begin to understand him, his physical appearance declined badly.~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    And what about Willy Cunningham on WLW-AM 700 and XM 173?
    Rather stepped on it, eh? But , c’mon now! His words yesterday literally echoed the sentiments McCainites have about “Barack Hussein Obama” which Willy kept repeating. That’s Cunningham’s schtick and I can’t believe McCain’s people didn’t know it—Cunningham has been walking that line and drinking the Kool-Aid for decades on WLW.

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  10. Dexter said on February 27, 2008 at 2:54 pm

    I understand the “it’s mine and keep your goddam hands off my STUFF!!” attitude. When I drove a forklift I had to scrub tobacco-spit-juice off the steering wheel and seat area for 15 minutes before my shift started. Then I hid the key. That didn’t fly at all with the boss who needed parts moved. Sometimes we have to be nice children and share.

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  11. Dexter said on February 27, 2008 at 2:57 pm

    20 foot pythons , 250 pounds each, will dominate a third of the US soon as global warming continues. It made my day, Yahoo! News a couple days ago.

    And then comes CLOVERFIELD !!!

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  12. brian stouder said on February 27, 2008 at 3:00 pm

    My dad always liked WFB; got me reading his syndicated columns in the good ol’ News-and-Sentinel; but my tastes shifted to John Roche – who had been in the Johnson administration (I recall a column of Roche’s where he described blithely advising the president to move a carrier battle group through some strait or another – in reponse to some pressing thing….and then, when the president took his advice, sweating out a sleepless night, ’til the carrier battle group made it through without incident. …a nice ‘where the rubber meets the road’ bit of punditry.

    Anyway – I recall reading a Buckley book about sailing, which was a wonderful book. It had belonged to my dad, who had probably been dead for 10 years by the time I read his Buckley/sailing book. Dad was a 4-pack a day man (and, one supposes that most folks who are ‘4-pack a day” people get referred to in the past tense), and as I progressed through the book, odd bits of fluffy grey dust would turn up on the pages, and on my hands…cigarette ashes!; which was oddly… affecting (ashes to ashes, and dust to dust, indeed)

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  13. Danny said on February 27, 2008 at 3:08 pm

    I believe this Cunnigham fellow was mentioned here a long while back. The one quote I read that really disgusted me was when he said that the media would “peel the bark off Barack Hussein Obama.”

    Apparently this was a reference to some connection with a fundraiser convicted of a felony, but it sounds like he really wanted to say something like “lynch” instead of “peel the bark.”

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  14. Danny said on February 27, 2008 at 3:13 pm

    Brian, indeed.

    Reminds me of a friend of mine who is reading his deceased father’s book collection. His dad would put a letter grade at the back of each book and ocassionally a comment.

    So, my friend has taken to reading the books first and assigning his own grade before seeing if he and his father would have agreed.

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  15. Kirk said on February 27, 2008 at 3:45 pm

    Bill Cunningham is getting what every other third-rate radio entertainer covets: free pub for his idiotic time-wasting. Very calculated in a Clear Channel kind of way.

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  16. Dorothy said on February 27, 2008 at 4:01 pm

    William F. Buckley & Myron Cope on the same day. Wow.

    For the uninitiated:


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  17. Jeff said on February 27, 2008 at 4:04 pm

    Brian — Don’t get me started on Roche, but let’s just say he took the whole patriarchal narrative sequence in Genesis a little too seriously. For starters, but i ain’t gonna start. Willy Cunningham is . . . ah, why even go there? He’s like the John Birchers insisting that Eisenhower was a liberal.

    WFB should be read through the lens of Whittaker Chambers, and if you don’t have the patience for “Witness,” i won’t try to twist your arm. But they both understood and lived out the old saw “if you’re not a liberal when you’re young you have no heart, and if you’re not more conservative as you age, you have no brain.” Buckley was effective because he understood the very real reasons of the heart for looking into Communism and Socialism as solutions to the cruelties and injustices of the world, but asked us to consider along with him a few of the problems of application when it came to the solutions of the Third International or the IWW. If it wasn’t for Buckley, i wouldn’t have watched or still loved “Reds” so much, and Chambers helped me feel it, right winger though i may still be.

    And Nancy, could it have been a black racer with a yellow belly stripe (blue/black upper body, solid color or striated)? Garters eat frogs, but small ones and not often. Racers would make sense for up on the Isle.

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  18. michaelj said on February 27, 2008 at 4:36 pm

    Well damn, Alex, Buckley actually called Gore a “goddamn queer” and threatened to punch him in the face, but only after being called a “crypto-Nazi” at least twice by Mr. Vidal. This all somehow happened with no tape delay on live TV. I was watching (and I think I’ve got the slurs right). Wait, here it is.

    The funniest thing about it was hearing that sanctimonious dickhead Howard K Smith (who evidently came back as Wolf Blitzer and Brit Hume) swallowing his tongue and gurgling “gentlemen, gentlemen, there’s no need to resort to name-calling”. I truly despised Howard K. at the time, because about two months earlier, he’d anchored coverage of the California primary, and spent the evening denigrating Bobby Kennedy, right up until the time Sirhan pulled the trigger. I was hoping Vidal and Buckley would jump the moderator and beat him to a pulp.

    Buckley ended up suing Vidal and being counter-sued. It’s interesting that both guys were founders of magazines at radical poles of the political spectrum, but Vidal had it all over Buckley by virtue of his participation in the infamous Bob Guccione production of Caligula.

    The exchange was part of my formative years, maybe the Yorick scene to add irony to two assassinations, and avid personal participation at the Chicago convention. (Very nice, Nancy.)

    By the way, If any of you are fans of John Doe, Wilco, or both, npr
    has both streaming live from some club in Washington tonight at 8p est.

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  19. nancy said on February 27, 2008 at 4:40 pm

    Jeff, I defer to your amateur herpetology. Probably, yes, a racer. I tend to think of all small, harmless snakes in our area as garters, even while I know most of them aren’t. (Don’t they also pee on you when you pick them up?)

    As for Myron Cope, I think the best any of us can hope for is an obit with a lede like this:

    Myron Cope, the much-decorated master of the written word, the ever-celebrated sand-blaster of the spoken word, and a pre-eminent Pittsburgh symbol of not only our selves but of our hopes and our innate joyfulness, died today.

    It goes on:

    Mr. Cope was 79. He had been in declining health since even before his 2005 retirement from the Steelers broadcast booth, where he spent 35 years. The cause of death was given as respiratory failure.

    The picture shows him yapping away to a microphone, gesturing with a cigarette. Looking innately joyful.

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  20. nancy said on February 27, 2008 at 4:52 pm

    I heard WFB interviewed a few years ago, and he was asked about his fondness for what the NYT called “ten-dollar words.” He pointed out there are nuances to words considered even close synonyms, and he likes to pick just the right one. Mentioned “regal” and “kingly” as two examples, and I couldn’t help but agree. A writing-teacher friend of mine does an exercise where he writes the word “fat” on the blackboard and has the class call out synonyms until they can’t think of any more, and then they break down each one and how you might use it.

    That said, there’s another school of thought that says you should never say “obese” when “fat” will do, and I respect that, too.

    I had a triple espresso with a big glop of whipped cream on top, by the way. Feeling much better.

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  21. michaelj said on February 27, 2008 at 4:54 pm

    William Frank Buckley, Jr.
    Requiescat in pace
    Superciliously Sesquipidalian to the Denouement

    I believe that middle name must have caused him borborygmus, which is what you live with when you’re a scion of that privileged class that’s never afflicted with actual flatulence.

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  22. nancy said on February 27, 2008 at 4:54 pm

    Oh, one last note: In re Buckley and the conservative movement, read this.

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  23. Sue said on February 27, 2008 at 5:05 pm

    Speaking of ten-dollar words, the other night I accidentally had Dennis Miller on the radio, and before I could switch I heard the word(?) “troglodidian”.

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  24. Jeff said on February 27, 2008 at 5:26 pm

    Elegiac on WFB’s behalf, Wolcott nicely worked Dick Gautier and Kaye Ballard into his closing para. There’s something unseemly about the tendency to paint neoconservatives as purely warmongering thugs. They may be wrong, but they have a Weltanschauung that makes sense of the world in a particular, secular way; they’re Puritans who got the fallenness of humankind without stopping to pick up a bucket load of redemption on the way out. As Wolcott rightly points out, Buckley was a committed Catholic; as he wrongly implies, he didn’t take from it a lock-step mind-set, but a willingness to forgive and a desire to participate in the redemption of the world that was anything but bellicose . . . just ruefully aware that the road to peace would still pass through a great deal of conflict.

    And i say again, it was Buckley (and Chambers) who helped me understand the visceral and practical allure of Marxism, which was nothing but a mystery to me as a middle class college kid. Buckley explained the idealism of Communism (and the flaws of collectivism) in a way that made Communists not the enemy, but as dialogue partners who *must* be convinced of the error of their ways, for their own sake as well as our own. But conquered, not so much.

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  25. Crabby said on February 27, 2008 at 5:34 pm

    And here is WFB’s last article, about words.

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  26. Kirk said on February 27, 2008 at 5:43 pm

    And don’t forget he smoked dope on his yacht — legally, he said, because he went outside the three-mile limit. Now how it got there, I don’t know.

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  27. john c said on February 27, 2008 at 7:19 pm

    I didn’t care for Buckley’s politics or his affected way of talking. I will say this, though, he was a great sailor and a great writer about sailing.

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  28. brian stouder said on February 27, 2008 at 7:51 pm

    I agree with Jeff; the Wolcott article Nancy pointed to was generally good stuff. Back in the early ’80’s I was a National Review subscriber, and it was pretty good stuff. D Kieth Mano always had good stuff, as did WFB. In those pre-internet days, it was interesting to see the feature where WFB reprinted correspondance with various people (sort of a very-slow-motion version of NN.c)

    R Emmett Tyrell was the lunatic fringe in those days – I could never get into his American Spectator (I recall sending an old-fashioned, stamped letter to Nancy Nall, care of the News-Sentinel, answering back something she had said about one of Tyrell’s syndicated columns, which drew a funny response from her about how that guy railed against curb cuts for the handicapped!).

    And then one day a lengthy letter to the editor in National Review was printed, by “Rush H Limbaugh III” – and that was it – I was done with that magazine.

    Limbaugh – moreso than Podhoretz – strikes me as the phony, or the usurper. Limbaugh never cast a single vote for Ronald Reagan, for example; all he is, is a lip-flapper and a huckster.

    But I digress.

    Wolcott’s civil expression of affection for WFB is the sort of classic respect amongst political adversaries that people like Senator Obama seems to personify, and which guys like Limbaugh overtly detest

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  29. john c said on February 27, 2008 at 8:01 pm

    I remember seeing Buckley speak at Boston College in the early 80s. It was a controversial visit as a protester was dragged from the room. But the line I recall went something like this. Someone in the audience – obviously not a conservative – asked Buckley to comment on a recent report that 40 percent of children in Cleveland (not sure I’m remembering the number or the city, but it doesn’t matter) aren’t given “a living diet.” Buckley’s first response, which drew jeers, was “Why aren’t they dead?” I don’t care for the callous joke at the expense of the poor. But as a matter of language usage, he had a point.

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  30. joodyb said on February 27, 2008 at 8:54 pm

    Bill Cunningham, pressed and pressed again by Robert Siegel this afternoon to admit it was actuallly McCain himself and not the media who threw him under the Straight-Talk Express, had to confess he wouldn’t reject Hillary for President. If that didn’t underscore his utter pandering paul harveyness, i don’t know what could have. he had tried to posit that referring to Obama by 3 names is common with presidents or would-bes and that he regularly cites his erstwhile candidate as John Sidney McCain III. what a bonehead. Queen Citians must be proud.

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  31. Michael said on February 27, 2008 at 10:04 pm

    Nancy, you are correct about the charming Christopher. I have had the pleasure on several occaisions to share a cocktail hour with him. I will also say, that in addition to charm, and witty rapport, he provided value. I once used him as a dinner speaker for a large event. He arrived before any of my guests, and was the last to leave, as the hotel staff vacuumed around us. I have to say, I believed he enjoyed my event as much as the donors and supporters who were there to hear him speak. It even crossed my mind today to send him a note, which completely overstates any friendship I can imagine I had with him. The thought only goes to confirm the ability he had to connect with each of us. And for that, some credit can be placed with his father.

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  32. nancy said on February 27, 2008 at 10:12 pm

    That was pretty much exactly my experience. When we were leaving, he gave me his card. Not a business card (he was editor of one of the Forbes books at the time), but his personal calling card, the one with his name, home address and home phone number. I still have it stuck in my copy of “Thank You for Smoking.”

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  33. Dexter said on February 27, 2008 at 10:15 pm

    Brian St.:
    Your tale of “ashes to ashes” was a moving tribute to your dad.
    My life is filled with little things that are souvenirs of long-ago times, like the one dollar baseball from 1964 , worthless except to me, because it has Indiana native and my personal patron saint of baseball’s Gil Hodges autograph on it. I had him sign it in Chicago that year, and it has a dirt smudge from the Iowa Field of Dreams first base area. I’ll also do dumb stuff like pick up a small smooth stone from ocean beaches and mark them and save them.
    Decades ago I was friends with a WWI vet, who was the smartest man I ever met…he knew every US President and could rattle off every member of every one’s cabinet…well, he was just very intelligent. My momentos of his life are “The Intelligent Woman’s Guide to Sociaism” and his shaving mug and shaving brush.

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  34. Dexter said on February 27, 2008 at 10:23 pm

    Oh…believe it or not, Amazon has two copies of that book by George Bernard Shaw that I mentioned…


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  35. Jeff said on February 27, 2008 at 11:24 pm

    Y’know, conservatism doesn’t need more idiots on the bus, and i could wish that Madame Blogmistress and others of y’all were too harsh by half on Mr. Goeglein, but the sad fact is that in this symposium on National Review Online, Tim has the Trite-o-meter pegged beyond the red line — http://article.nationalreview.com/?q=OGQxYzFjODY5Zjc4MTFhNmI3MjJjY2YyNDE0NTA4OTE=

    Vindication for your prediction, although i suppose it could be succeeded by an even worse iteration in the Fort’s print venues.

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  36. nancy said on February 27, 2008 at 11:53 pm

    Ah-yup. Only a certain type of conservative could write this…

    Friendship, I think, can have a spiritual nature. Perhaps that is what Aristotle meant when he said the highest kind of friendship is rooted in virtue, a kind of moral excellence where a person loves his friend for his own sake, wishing him well because of who he is and not with any expectation that something is wanted in return. This attitude is reciprocal, a love of benevolence.

    …but still frown on the idea that a person might want to have sex outside of a religiously sanctioned marriage. Reading Tim talk about his spiritual friendships makes me think of a tent in the woods, two schoolboys, the furtive rustling of a sleeping bag, and then…moral excellence!

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  37. Dexter said on February 28, 2008 at 2:36 am

    A few thoughts pertaining to Brian St.’s dad’s four-pack consumption:
    I knew two people who smoked five packs, and also I remember reading that Jackie Gleason smoked five packs.
    One man was my friend’s dad, and he died of lung cancer when he was 52 years of age. He smoked filters. A friend smoked five packs of non-filters per day. He had a massive coronary at 46 , still smokes filtered cigarettes, and is now 61.
    I used to smoke 2 packs a week,and quit 26 years ago.
    My point is this: if you smoke non-filters now, you get nicknamed for it.
    I listen to XM radio, and on the Opie & Anthony Show a character is “No Filter Paul.”

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  38. Dexter said on February 28, 2008 at 2:41 am

    On the topic of synonyms, I object heartily to the inclusion of the word ginormous into the American lexicon.
    It just seems wrong. Now it’s an official entry in the dictionaries.

    I also do not understand the demise of the semicolon, my favorite punctuation mark.


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  39. brian stouder said on February 28, 2008 at 8:04 am

    Dexter: Winston 100’s – gold pack with red writing. If dad was awake, he was smoking, and he was dead at 53 (which I am 6 years away from).

    And my favorite punctuation is (are?) parenthesis, and their cousin – the dash. But semicolans are pretty cool, too

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  40. alex said on February 28, 2008 at 8:20 am

    I got all Aristotelian and altruistic this morning so gonna be late for work. But I don’t care. The best moral excellence always happens at sunrise in this house.

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  41. Jeff said on February 28, 2008 at 8:34 am

    You guys . . .

    Reminds me of the story about the woman who was shopping with her child and husband who had not wanted to go along at first, but then kept turning aside and hanging back, saying “Just a sec, Mom'” and “Hey, hold on a sec, i wanna see this.” Needing to move along and get into a checkout line before a clot of people got there before them, she urged her crew forward, to which one muttered indistinctly “In a sec, hon.”

    To which Mom said loudly “Secs, secs, secs, i’m tired of secs — can we just finish shopping first?” And the entire front of the store turned towards the baffled mother, looking stunned . . .

    . . . and then all the women at the registers and in line began to applaud. And the lady in question, after a thoughtful delay, blushed furiously.

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  42. Jeff said on February 28, 2008 at 8:47 am

    Before we flip to today’s post, here’s the best WFB overview/tribute, with something for respecters and despisers alike, from the editor of the NYTimes Book Review —

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  43. Kim said on February 28, 2008 at 9:38 am

    “The problems play out every day, though mostly beyond public view.”

    I got that far in the story and thought: Whoa. What a stupid thing to write/say. I get the impression the fire dept. keeps quite busy protecting — or trying to protect — the public. The fact that this has played out in public view but nobody’s noticed says quite a bit more. To me, anyway.

    Nancy, the “moral excellence” bit has me laughing aloud.

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  44. Danny said on February 28, 2008 at 10:03 am

    Nancy, the “moral excellence” bit has me laughing aloud.

    Me too. That is if “laughing aloud” could be a euphemism for “groaning inwardly.”

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  45. LAMary said on February 28, 2008 at 1:26 pm

    He not only smoked dope, he took Ritalin forever. Speed. I saw him once on one of his boats, anchored in Stirling Harbor, Shelter Island, NY. He appeared to be very drunk, but that’s what rich guys on yachts do in places like that.

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