Miss? Another cocktail.

One of the things I like about my Russian teacher is that she’s a bit older, retired after 30 years in the public schools, and unlike my UM grad-student TA, we share a common initial reference point for Russia — the old Soviet Union. She shares her library of Soviet-era books with me, and understands what I’m asking when I wonder whether young Russians ever call one another tovaritch (comrade), you know, ironically. Some things seem to have made the transition from Communist Russia to oligarchical Russia intact, however. Take the national airline, Aeroflot:

It is normally a moment of cheery reassurance when an airline pilot greets passengers during preparations for take-off. But Alexander Cheplevsky sparked panic on flight Aeroflot 315 when he began to speak.

His slurred and garbled comments ahead of a flight from Moscow to New York convinced passengers that he was drunk. When he apparently switched from Russian into unintelligible English, fear turned to revolt.

It gets better. After the airline sent reps to calm the passengers, they offered this comforting rationalization:

One sought to reassure them by announcing that it was “not such a big deal” if the pilot was drunk because the aircraft practically flew itself.

And then the pilot finally came out of the cockpit to face his accusers:

Mr Cheplevsky did little to ease passengers’ fears by refusing to leave the cockpit to show that he was sober. When he was finally persuaded to face them, witnesses said that he appeared unsteady on his feet and had bloodshot eyes.

“I don’t think there’s anyone in Russia who doesn’t know what a drunk person looks like,” Katya Kushner, one of the passengers, told the Moscow Times, which had a reporter travelling on the flight.

Well, they can’t all be Chesley Sullenberger, I guess. That last quote made me giggle — vodka is to Russia what gin was to Victorian England, i.e., what crack cocaine was to late 20th-century urban America. Remember crack? Remember crack babies? America was birthing a generation of monsters, we were told, a zombie-youth corps that would doom our already impoverished cities to true nightmare status. I believed it. You probably believed it. And guess what? It’s not true. While smoking crack during pregnancy isn’t harmless to infants, and while it’s true that babies can be born addicted to drugs, the lifelong effects are about roughly equivalent to…well, let the NYT nut graf tell the tale:

Cocaine is undoubtedly bad for the fetus. But experts say its effects are less severe than those of alcohol and are comparable to those of tobacco — two legal substances that are used much more often by pregnant women, despite health warnings.

All of this is leading to something you probably already read — it’s gotten a lot of circulation in the last few days. I normally hate “the speech he should have given” pieces, but Radley Balko’s thoughts on what Michael Phelps should have said about that bong picture breaks the bounds of the genre by being actually readable and, um, true:

I take it back. I don’t apologize.

Because you know what? It’s none of your goddamned business. I work my ass off 10 months per year. It’s that hard work that gave you all those gooey feelings of patriotism last summer. If during my brief window of down time I want to relax, enjoy myself, and partake of a substance that’s a hell of a lot less bad for me than alcohol, tobacco, or, frankly, most of the prescription drugs most of you are taking, well, you can spare me the lecture.

It goes on, and it’s worth reading. I generally object to drugs on more practical grounds, i.e., does the world need more stupid people pinned to their couches, laughing at “Jackass”? But it’s a free country, and you don’t have to join them, and Balko’s argument is sound. When it comes to drugs that really take a toll on society, it’s hard to top alcohol. This isn’t an argument for prohibition. We already had it, and we lost, or rather we scrambled to some sort of Gaza/partition deal, where alcohol is OK but other drugs aren’t. So the swimmer who earned 14 Olympic medals has to grovel and pretend what he was photographed doing is precisely the same as injecting a speedball into his arm. While somewhere halfway around the world, the dark comedy of Aeroflot and its drunken pilot unfolds as farce.

I don’t get it, either. But I appreciate it.

And so we come to the news I’ve been avoiding so far: Amy Welborn, my ex-neighbor in Fort Wayne, lost her husband suddenly yesterday. Michael Dubruiel went for a run at the Y, collapsed and died of sudden cardiac arrest. They had recently relocated to Alabama and were loving their new home (even while their old one sits like a rock on the moribund Fort Wayne real-estate market). Besides Amy, he leaves behind two little boys and all the usual holes in many other lives. This is the third time in a year that someone I’ve known has died and left little children without a parent. Worst year ever.

Posted at 9:53 am in Current events |

57 responses to “Miss? Another cocktail.”

  1. jeff borden said on February 4, 2009 at 10:59 am

    Condolences to you on the death of your friend. We lost two great pals over the past couple of years who were only in their mid-40s: one to a stroke that led to a brain anuerism that killed him and the other to a heart attack. Allan had remarried for a second time just two years earlier and left behind a 7-month-old daughter. I cried as much at his funeral as I did at those of my mother (84) and father (86). They had led long, good lives and were ready for the next phase. Allan (who left the baby daughter behind) had everything to live for and was only 45. I still mist over when I think about that little one never being able to remember what it was like to be held by her dad.

    Re: Phelps. The drug policies in this country are insane. There are some 600,000 Americans in prison for marijuana-related offenses. Are some of them bad folks who deserve to be there? As Sarah Palin would say, “You betcha.” But most are no threat to society. Yet we act like these guys are the embodiment of the Purple Gang. Driving while stoned should get you the same treatment as driving while drunk, but I’m at a loss as to understand how society is threatened if friends sit around passing the pipe while watching “Harold and Kumar Go To White Castle.”

    Then there’s the racially cockeyed way we impose justice.

    A black teen on the West Side of Chicago gets caught with a couple of rocks and he is heading for prison. A white teen in the northern suburbs gets caught with a gram of powder and he heads for counseling and then a return to school. Why is smoking coke worse than snorting?

    And we haven’t even broached the REAL problem — the increasing use of prescription drugs. Lots of kids are getting a buzz from the pills they find in Mom and Dad’s medicine cabinet.

    Nancy, you alluded to Prohibition. Most historians and criminologists find the nationwide roots of La Cosa Nostra in the rich payday that befell those mobsters who circumvented the law with illegal hooch. . .a pursuit so profitable it was worth killing rivals to protect. We face a similar situation today, but the gangsters are not so discerning as those who worked for the Mafia, who tended to kill each other. Today, if there are five innocent children near your intended target, well, that’s just collateral damage to your modern gangbanger.

    It’s still political suicide to even broach the subject of revisiting drug laws. The inertia benefits no one but the gangs, who just get richer and more violent by the year.

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  2. Dorothy said on February 4, 2009 at 11:01 am

    Oh my goodness, how sad about Amy’s husband. Her family will be in my prayers. I had forgotten about the other lady you mentioned in the link, but Ashley Morris would be a third person to leave so suddenly. What a world…

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  3. LA Mary said on February 4, 2009 at 11:03 am

    There was Ashley as well. He had some little guys, didn’t he?

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  4. nancy said on February 4, 2009 at 11:08 am

    Yes, I forgot he was in the last 12 months, too. I’ll fix that.

    Hana Morris is furthest down this road, and from her blogs of late, it doesn’t sound like she’s having an easy path.

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  5. Gasman said on February 4, 2009 at 11:31 am

    My deepest sympathy and empathy. My wife’s cousin, 50 years old, died a couple of weeks ago. He had a massive heart attack in his sleep and never woke up. He had no symptoms and no warnings. We are still a bit numb. The sobering reality is that increasingly we feel like survivors as our relatives, friends, and contemporaries start falling around us. Let us honor their memories and toast them fondly with happier memories and beverages of our choice.

    Bon voyage, mes amis!

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  6. Catherine said on February 4, 2009 at 11:37 am

    I will keep Amy and her boys in my prayers. I lost my mother when I was about their age. All I can say is, it sucks.

    What Jeff said about drug policy, and what Nancy said about alcohol being more toxic in the womb than cocaine or tobacco. If you’ve ever worked with a child with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (I had one in a Sunday school class), it’s just… such a shame. The odd thing is (according to my sister the OB) that it’s difficult to predict which children are going to be born impaired. If you’re drinking while pregnant, the odds of a FAS baby are something like 1 in 4. The placental barrier really does work its magic in many cases. And in other cases, much less drinking still leads to FAS — hence the warnings about drinking while pregnant — but honestly, is there any other legal, non-prescription, ubiquitous substance that can cause such fetal damage?

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  7. coozledad said on February 4, 2009 at 11:52 am

    I remember reading a similar story about a Russian journalist who was on a passenger train heading not quite to Siberia. The engineer walked back to his car bearing a couple of bottles of vodka and offered him a drink.
    “But who’s driving the train?”
    “This leg is another eighteen hours, and besides, the damned thing’s on rails. Chill.”

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  8. brian stouder said on February 4, 2009 at 12:30 pm

    The funny thing about death is its (altogether counterintuitive) power to astound us, at any time. The surprise never gets old.

    Aside from that, if an Olympic champion WERE to lecture us that “during my brief window of down time I want to relax, enjoy myself, and partake of [an illegal] substance… well, you can spare me the lecture.”

    I would take the deal and spare him the lecture.

    And I would ask that, in return, the rest of us boring law-abiding folks should likewise be spared the lecture (from ‘open-minded’ cultural scolds and the like) about how it’s just nonsensical and unfair that sponsors aren’t banging down his door to give him the millions he thinks he would have gotten, if his actual behavior matched his All American good fella image (other than, say, Zig Zag)


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  9. Hoosier said on February 4, 2009 at 12:41 pm

    No Brian death does not always surprise one. Sometimes one prays for the pain and suffering of a loved one to end. And when it does, its a releif; a joy that the suffering is over.

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  10. Rana said on February 4, 2009 at 1:05 pm

    Nancy, I’m sorry about your friend.

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  11. Jeff Borden said on February 4, 2009 at 1:09 pm


    No lectures from me. By the same token, I have zero problem with a 23-year-old athlete acting like a typical 23-year-old, particularly given the hellish training schedule he endures for most of the year. Those who want to tar this exceptional competitor because he smoked some dope and drank some beer –particularly those who do it as they sip a double Scotch or a martini after work– probably would be well-served to look back to their own youthful discretions before they fit the kid for his prison stripes.

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  12. whitebeard said on February 4, 2009 at 1:17 pm

    I lost my two brothers, years apart, but both were 58 years old, one a heavy smoker, suddenly as he walked downstairs to his car, and the other on dialysis and everything else failing, peacefully in his sleep. It seems unfair that one’s younger brothers should die first; there was so much more to talk about.
    So my prayers go out to the widow and her young boys.

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  13. Deborah said on February 4, 2009 at 2:08 pm

    I’m in my late 50s. A couple of weeks ago I had a close friend die, aged 64, and 2 acquaintances died a bit before that, one was my age and the other a couple of years older. So I guess this will continue to happen as I age. I don’t think I’ll get used to it.
    Regarding drugs, I totally agree that we have a system that’s totally broken. I had a large beverage company as a client once, they make bourbon and a bunch of other adult beverages. They spend a ton of money on lobbying, I don’t think things are going to change easily. Alcohol.Firearms.Tobacco.

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  14. nancy said on February 4, 2009 at 2:15 pm

    I didn’t want this to become a mourning thread. While I like Amy and knew Michael a little, we’re not close and weren’t friends beyond reading one another’s blogs, corresponding about this and that, and them coming to a Christmas party at our house a few years back. (At which their son, who was then about two, took the baby Jesus out of the Nativity scene and showed him to us. He dropped the figure to the carpet and the dog, who as usual was being driven INSANE by our party guests with all their FOOD, lunged for B.J. and we nearly had an incident. I think they were mortified, being far, far more religious than us. I thought it was just funny. Stupid dog. Ha ha ha.)

    Anyway, I think what’s happening to me/us this year is simply that we’ve reached That Age, when the phone calls that come aren’t necessarily good news. I’m at the point where when I receive e-mail with the subject line Big News, I no longer assume it’s about a great new job, a pregnancy or other glad tidings. It’s just as likely to be about tumors, illness and death. “The age of grief,” Jane Smiley called it in one of her books. That’s it.

    When these things happen I inevitably pause to reflect on how bad others have it. There was a man in Fort Wayne who lost his brother at the World Trade Center, and both his children in a single car accident a year or two later. None of us live in Iraq. Imagine being a woman in Darfur when the janjaweed blow into town. Most of us have pretty good lives, which we’ve worked hard to get, so we can sit around at our computers through the day chatting with strangers. Bad things happen, but we’re mainly spared real catastrophe.

    My parents made a bunch of new friends in their 50s, and commenced a social whirl of fun that sustained them until they reached assisted living. I think maybe that’s the answer to the age of grief. Keep passing the open windows, you know?

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  15. jeff borden said on February 4, 2009 at 2:48 pm

    I will change the subject. Readers of NN.C. How immoral am I for wanting Dick Cheney to keel over as soon as possible? How rotten am I as a person for wishing this blight on America would go off to whatever eternal punishment he so richly deserves sooner than later?

    In his latest pronouncements on how President Obama is endangering us by scrapping the lawless methods of interrogation favored by him and his fascist buddies Addington, Libby, Yoo etal., you can discern his fervent wish that more Americans die in a terrorist attack so that the filthy work done by him and his pack of jackals is justified.

    It’ll be good for Republican electoral prospects, too.

    Is there a politician in modern times more awesomely monstrous than this pseudo-patriotic, five-time draft deferring chickenhawk S.O.B.?

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  16. Sue said on February 4, 2009 at 3:08 pm

    Ok, before this comment board explodes re Jeff Borden’s comment, I would just like to say that my husband and I have decided that we are going to send an email to companies that drop their Michael Phelps endorsements. The emails will all begin with the following sentence: “Dude. That was haaaarsh…”

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  17. beb said on February 4, 2009 at 3:09 pm

    Jeff B. — Not good enough of an effort to change the subject, alas.

    I was reading the other day about some researchers who made biodiesel out of used coffee grounds. It seems that ever after being used to make coffee, the gorunds are still about 10-15% oil, which can be squeezed out and make into diesel fuel. It’s said to smell a bit like a cup of coffee. As opposed to the biodiesel made from used fryr fat that smells like french fries. So save your coffee grounds, folks, they may be worth something some day!

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  18. Jeff Borden said on February 4, 2009 at 3:20 pm


    Sheesh, what’s a guy have to do, lol? I should be immune to that creep after eight years, but Cheney’s santimony and smugness always push my buttons. One more exhibit, I guess, in my emotional retardation.

    We drink a lot of coffee around here, but I wonder how much more we’ll have to consume to do our fair share for energy independence.

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  19. LA Mary said on February 4, 2009 at 3:23 pm

    Can I add Rush Limbaugh to the list of people I have no desire to ever hear of , from, or about again? He’s a rich drug addict who deserves no attention, no respect.

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  20. Dexter said on February 4, 2009 at 3:23 pm

    Linden Nelson was very interesting on the Frank Beckmann Show on WJR this AM…’tis true: the movies are coming to The D.

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  21. Dexter said on February 4, 2009 at 3:26 pm

    Hey! Is that a pair of pigeons in your pants or are you just happy to see me?

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  22. brian stouder said on February 4, 2009 at 3:42 pm

    Jeff – agreed.

    edit: Mary – Agreed!!

    The NY Times still hasn’t posted their red-pencil (or blue?) quiz answers…and it was a DIFFICULT quiz.

    It became apparent (to me, anyway) that the more you try to “fix” things, the more things appear to need fixing! – quite difficult.

    Anyway, I just wanna know whether the ‘just’ gets the red pencil in the first problem. If I got nothing else correct except just that one thing, than I’ll be happy as a pig in mud!

    btw – Just found out that our W2’s are all incorrect, and they will be re-issued. As it happens, we were awaiting other documents anyway; but we came that close to Daschleing our taxes all to hell! (A buddy told me that Wesley Snipes is going to be nominated to an administration position…)

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  23. Gasman said on February 4, 2009 at 5:44 pm

    One more attempt at subject change.

    This might be the one headline from CNN.com that I get printed on a T-shirt:

    “Healthy kidney removed through donor’s vagina”



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  24. nancy said on February 4, 2009 at 6:03 pm

    That wasn’t all that amazing to me. My BFF just got her uterus removed the same way; it’s just a few extra inches of reach.

    Liked the Slate headline, however:

    Vaginal Innard Course

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  25. brian stouder said on February 4, 2009 at 6:32 pm

    A post script on the traffic sign link Nance posted the other day:


    …in Indiana’s Hamilton County, the electronic message on a board in Carmel’s construction zone warned drivers of “RAPTORS AHEAD — CAUTION.”And signs in Austin, Texas, recently flashed: “NAZI ZOMBIES! RUN!!!” and “ZOMBIES IN AREA! RUN.” Officials in Illinois are concerned the rewritten signs distract motorists from heeding legitimate hazards down the road. The hacked sign on Tuesday originally warned drivers of crews replacing guardrails.

    And the punch line is:

    In Illinois, tampering with an official traffic control device is a misdemeanor punishable by up to a $250 fine — half what a culprit might have to pay in Texas if caught. If convicted in Indiana, a culprit faces up to a year in jail and $5,000 in fines.

    If’n you get froggy in Indiana, be warned: Homey don’t play dat shit!

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  26. JGW said on February 4, 2009 at 6:34 pm

    Aeroflot, wow where to begin. I’m an airliners nut and divide my time between here and A.net (airliners.net). I love the old Russian metal, like IL-62, Tu-154, etc. Wish I could fly on one sometime. Their famed for the use of overhead recovery, basically a military approach to approach and landing. You basically fly toward the airport pretty much at an altitude above 10,000 feet. Then you spiral down in a very tight pattern, not like a standard pattern here. They dive in to land because that’s how the Russian air force taught them, helps to avoid SAM’s. I think my favorite Aeroflot story involved an Airbus, not a Soviet era jet. On a long leg over Siberia the pilot decided it would be OK to let his teenage son fly the plane (it was on autopilot). The pilot showed him how to adjust heading and speeds, etc. At some point the son accidentally nudged the controls and the plane progressed from an almost inperctible turn to a high G death spiral. The had to yank the kid out due to the G forces and they couldn’t get control back and ker-splat. They also had a controlled ditching in the 1960’s while testing a new Tupolev. The gear wouldn’t come down and they flew around until fuel became an issue. Then they decided in practical terms that they should take the fire axe and chop trough the floor, hoping they could get to the gear and drop it manually. They hacked the crap out of the cabin floor, no luck on the gear, so they landed in a river. A Soviet Sully.

    That story and more Russian fun is on tap at:


    On another topic – Am I the only one spooked by Cheney’s crap about a nuclear terrorist attack. If that happens it will likely be from the bomb hidden under Cheney’s tool shed. What bothers me is that long before 9-11 the government played up Bin Laden as evil incarnate and to me it was smelling like a telegraphed punch.

    Heck he’s still footloose and fancy free, quaking in his sandals, but not in a cave. I’ve heard well sourced rumors he is on ice and has been since 2004. He’s more useful as a goblin than a martyr.

    I still say those moron Saudis and Bin Laden couldn’t crash a car into a falafel stand yet alone pull this one off without someone seeing it coming. Tom Clancy spelled out the basics ten years before 9-11 in Debt of Honor. I lost two friends on 9-11 and my family spent 8 hours thinking my cousin’s wife was dead. Her last call was “I’m still on the 17th floor and it’s starting to come down.” She was OK but my aunt had a lot to deal with that afternoon.

    So if a city gets nuked I say look at the Occam’s Razor answer. And those bastards will go for NYC….. Eliminate the liberals in a quick stroke and hit the reset button.

    OK, I’m starting to sound like Caliban but I found Cheney’s remarks to be scary, it was just like the OBL scare everyone warmup in the late Clinton years and the early Bush days.

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  27. jeff borden said on February 4, 2009 at 6:37 pm

    After losing three clients in the past six weeks and with little or no prospect of replacing them in the foreseeable future, I am pondering a career change.

    Henceforth, I will be called Tom the Plumber.

    Like my role model, Joe the Plumber, I am actually not a licensed plumber. And like my role model, Joe the Plumber, my first name is not really Joe. Unlike my role model, Joe the Plumber, I do not have any tax liens against me, but if this year continues, perhaps I can accomplish that feat, too. I also intend to bang my head against the wall for as long as it takes to lower my IQ substantially to the level of my role model, Joe the Plumber.

    Thus, I should be well-positioned to be a pundit, a campaigner, a war correspondent, an economic adviser to the Republican Party and a cosmic star to which conservatives will be drawn like moths to flame.

    I mention this because I see that my role model, Joe the Plumber, is calling the stimulus package “welfare” and saying that the only thing Republicans need to do in the face of the worst economic downturn since the Depression is “cut bills and kick ass.” And he is drawing cheers and huzzahs from the GOP.

    If this portly bald loser from Northwest Ohio can do it, I believe a skinny bald guy from Chicago can, too.

    Thank you for your time and consideration.

    Tom the Plumber

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  28. Deborah said on February 4, 2009 at 6:44 pm

    “but we came that close to Daschleing our taxes all to hell!” A new term is born – Daschleing your taxes. Sounds like a keeper. It’s got sticking power.

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  29. MichaelG said on February 4, 2009 at 6:55 pm

    I’m already tired of the Obama admin kissing Republican ass. Read Josh Marshall or don’t if you don’t want to get depressed. More. And the situation her in Calif is rapidly approaching the cliff and the geniusesses (what is that plural anyway?) under the dome are just whistling. They lack the talent to fiddle. I think I’ll turn to drugs. Maybe I can bum a hit from Phelps.

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  30. paddyo' said on February 4, 2009 at 7:15 pm

    “Raptors ahead” . . . ahh, I’ve passed “EAGLES ON HIGHWAY” on I-70 in eastern Utah many times driving home to Nevada to visit family and friends, and often wondered how come that rock band never wandered out there to do the obligatory album cover photo shoot alongside those diamond-shaped yellow warnings . . .

    As for reaching “that age” when folks start dying all around you — or, at any rate, when you start noticing it more — yes, a friend and fellow recovering newspaper reporter took ill over the weekend after Thanksgiving while visiting family, got home to Philadelphia and apparently died right there, alone, in his house. A big attack on an oversized (literally) heart.
    Fortunately, Larry and his sister exchanged a daily e-mail and she was able to get friends/ex-colleagues from the Inky to go by to check on him before too long. (A very good reason for those of us who are single to do the same, no?) He was a year or two older than I, but not yet 60.
    For some reason, that one really registered. I expect that sensation will only become more common . . .

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  31. Jeff Borden said on February 4, 2009 at 7:18 pm


    I also have been disappointed with the O-man, but then I have to remind myself it has been exactly two weeks since he took office. I also have to remind myself that many times during the campaign I thought he was off in the wrong direction and each time he surprised me.

    My guess is he has adopted this strategy for a reason. . .probably to paint himself as an accommodating leader who is trying to live up to his rhetoric about moving beyond partisan labels. . .but also to isolate the Republicans as petulant, obstructionist partisans who would rather see millions of Americans suffer and our economy collapse rather than cooperate.

    It is truly hard for me to understand how the GOP has reached this state of moribund intellect, where the only thing the party knows how to do is demonize its rivals. Just as it is hard for me to fathom how W. and Cheney emerged as great protectors when the worst terrorist act in our nation not only occurred on their watch, but was preceded by actionable intelligence months before 9/11.

    A dead rattlesnake can still inflict a bite. An almost dead political party apparently can do the same thing. And both deal in poison.

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  32. alex said on February 4, 2009 at 7:32 pm

    What Jeff B said. The new head of the Republican Party (the fat white one, that is) has a lower approval rating than Jeremiah Wright or Bill Ayres, according to this:


    Whodda thunkit?

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  33. joodyb said on February 4, 2009 at 7:45 pm

    paddyo’: your story is especially instructive following the demise of that poor fellow in the book depository. such a basic thing, to be aware of those in our daily midst. those gladys kravitzes among us have their purpose in the world.

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  34. MichaelG said on February 4, 2009 at 7:46 pm

    I hope you’re right, Jeff. It just looks like a familiar old pattern to me.

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  35. brian stouder said on February 4, 2009 at 8:07 pm

    Alex, that was a GREAT article about Uncle Rush! I especially liked this:

    Limbaugh was the least popular of the all the political figures the firm polled. He polls seven points lower than Rev. Jeremiah “God Damn America” Wright and eight points below former Weather Underground domestic terrorist William Ayers.


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  36. LA Mary said on February 4, 2009 at 8:20 pm

    Stephen Colbert really went after Rush last night. I was more aggressive than he usually gets.

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  37. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on February 4, 2009 at 8:40 pm

    Purely personal kvetch, borne of great weariness — i feel, in real-world space, let alone blogospherically, caught between fellow worshipers who think creationism is not only fine, but normative, and fellow professionals who think belief in any kind of spiritual reality is the source of every sorrow in the world.

    Likewise, i feel politically caught between those who think a Human Life Amendment would result in cupcakes and puppies for everyone, except abortionists who should crackle in McD style deep fryers for longer than it takes me to read a 1040 manual, and folks who really do believe Cheney wants to eat puppies like cupcakes, using the Constitution for parchment muffin liners because he really just wants to make a fortune for his Satanic buddies, while BusHitler tortures Gitmo captives with excess carbs.

    I just want a month in New Zealand, preferably by Hawkes Bay, mornings picking kiwi fruit, and afternoons at the beach with a stack of Dickens and O’Brian and Davies and Irving novels. (John or Washington.) Sundays i’ll just preach to the koalas among the eucalyptus trees.

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  38. MichaelG said on February 4, 2009 at 8:53 pm

    Teens who `sext’ racy photos charged with porn

    Feb 4, 3:38 PM (ET)

    CHICAGO (AP) – Though youth is fleeting, images sent on a cell phone or posted online may not be, especially if they’re naughty.
    Teenagers’ habit of distributing nude self-portraits electronically – often called “sexting” if it’s done by cell phone – has parents and school administrators worried. Some prosecutors have begun charging teens who send and receive such images with child pornography and other serious felonies. But is that the best way to handle it?
    “Hopefully we’ll get the message out to these kids,” says Michael McAlexander, a prosecutor in Allen County, Ind., which includes Fort Wayne. A teenage boy there is facing felony obscenity charges for allegedly sending a photo of his private parts to several female classmates. Another boy was recently charged with child pornography in a similar case.
    In some cases, the photos are sent to harass other teens or to get attention. Other times, they’re viewed as a high-tech way to flirt. Either way, law enforcement officials want it to stop, even if it means threatening to add “sex offender” to a juvenile’s confidential record.
    “We don’t want to throw these kids in jail,” McAlexander says. “But we want them to think


    This is incredible. Does that numb nuts prosecutor have any idea what charging kids with child porn can do to them? Forever. What is he thinking? Whence this perennial impulse to criminalize kids? Allen County, IN must be the most peaceful, crime free place on earth if this is all the DA’s office has time to do. It must be wonderful. No murder, no rape, no robbery. No white collar crime. Gosh. What a utopia. Nothing but those awful hormone ridden kids.

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  39. beb said on February 4, 2009 at 9:41 pm

    Dog forbid that a prosceutor ever be seen as soft on porn. So, yes, even though it could ruin a kid’s life, they will attempt to punish these kids for sending dirty pictures of themselves. This Chicago story isn’t first. It’s dumb for kids to do that But that’s kids for ya.

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  40. brian stouder said on February 4, 2009 at 9:50 pm

    I think it’s a helluva problem, really.

    Think about it. Once these under-aged nude photos are created and sent, they are in the ether forever. If the policy is that kids won’t be prosecuted, then the (adult) sharks will exploit that loophole. (how much imagination does it take to conjure up some scumbag loading his kiddie porn files onto a phone that is nominally his kid’s? etc)

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  41. JGW said on February 4, 2009 at 11:08 pm

    Note to Tom the Plumber –
    Yesterday I randomly descended to the place obscure computer parts go to die. My wife calls it the basement. I was looking for a DVi-VGA adapter. It’t not relevent to the story.
    I went down there to find a pinhole leak from my water heater. Debated fixing it myself to avoid Apostolic landlord grief. Due to a very tight clearance between the hot and cold lines instead of cutting out the T, I called the landlord. Took him less than an hour or work minus three trips to Lowes.

    Since the electric water heater got wet I left the breaker off for 24 hours. This morning I went to turn it on and my gut said, at least go look. Well how about 6 inches of water at about 37 degrees and a powerful jet spraying from the main.

    Seems the landlord tightend a drain relief on the main valve, and he cracked it. It burst sometime after he left and I enjoyed my bathroom after 10 hours of “If it’s yellow, let it mellow.”

    Today the landlord enjoyed 7 hours in the chilly basement. I had lunch in Fort Wayne and waited until my 17 year old called with an all clear message….

    If it was only warmer and filtered I was close to the indoor pool I desire.

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  42. MichaelG said on February 4, 2009 at 11:15 pm

    I’m not quite sure what you, Beb and Brian, mean here. Are you in favor of prosecuting these youngsters for what are extremely serious crimes, in the interests of somehow maybe possibly hopefully preventing the further dissemination of pictures that are already out there? Please clarify. I see some irony with Beb but none with Brian.

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  43. MichaelG said on February 4, 2009 at 11:22 pm

    Lord, JGW, I know. I’ve also replaced water heaters a day after they should have been replaced. I was lucky that the last one was in the garage so clean up was minor. We brought the new water heater back from Home Depot in a Geo Metro. Yep, one of those little shit boxes. I dropped the rear seat, ran the front passenger seat all the way forward and reclined the back all the way. Then I cut a piece of plywood to fit. The new water heater lay on the plywood and the hatch even closed in the back. We had to take two cars. Pretty lucky. They had plum trees on sale that day and I stuffed one down the sunroof on the Ford.

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  44. JGW said on February 4, 2009 at 11:51 pm

    Have to shame myslef. In a previous post I basically used the word basically as if I was basically Caroline Kennedy (would not hit it) saying “You Know.” Well you know.

    EDIT – In a previous life I associated with a NJ lawyer and asst. prosecutor who had Cape Cod roots and he and his brother divided their practices between NYC, NJ, Cape Cod, and Palm Beach. Tough life. The brother of my associate was involved in the nephew raper case. What stuck with him is for all of their Kennedy money and power, the famed mansion there has no central air, and they have window units, and some rooms just have fans in the window. Sounds like my house. With less booze and guilt.

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  45. Dexter said on February 5, 2009 at 12:00 am

    Yahoo has a video up…a snake’s remains have been found in Colombia, related to the boa constrictor…snakus giganticus or something like that…goddam thing was 45 feet long and snacked on crocs and could have eaten a COW.
    Sweet dreams 🙂 😉

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  46. moe99 said on February 5, 2009 at 1:02 am

    Ok, here’s my Russian vodka story.

    In 1995 the head of the Antitrust section of the Washington Attorney General’s office spent a year in Belarus, teaching lawyers and other government officials about the laws of competition in the US and Europe. When his year was over, he got the governor to pay for a delegation of Belarussian officials to come over to the US for a several week visit (with their KGB handlers too). When they arrived at the SeaTac airport, they set off all the dogs in security, because along with the copious amounts of vodka in their suitcases, they had packed large quantities of pig fat which they believed, if they ate before drinking their vodka, enabled them to drink that much more vodka.

    Well two other couples and my ex and I hosted the group for dinner one night and they brought vodka, lots of vodka with them. They opened the refrigerator and the stove to make sure that they were real (they’d been told that American’s houses were stuffed with fake appliances). Then they got down to eating our grilled salmon and drinking their vodka neat, which they did with furious and singleminded abandon, toasting all of us numerous times, and singing loud, long Russian songs. We’d been warned about drinking, so all but the ex husband took very tiny sips to nurse our one shot glass for most of the evening.

    The ex (the current Treasurer for the state of Washingon) was two sheets to the wind as a result of his attempts to keep up with the Russians, and very vocally and extensively sick thereafter (I have blackmail pictures somewhere).

    But they left 3/4 of a bottle of vodka with us as a parting gift for the evening, and I put it in my freezer and it lasted for almost two years. It was extremely good. I still have the bottle and the top name on it in cyrillic is ‘rapevka’ only the e is backwards and the v is upside down. and there are two dates to either side of that: 1893 on the left and 1993 on the right. The number 100 is prominently displayed in silver under the other name on the vodka bottle which looks like ‘kpbiwtavb’ again with the v upside down.

    PS. The other good story to come out of their visit (at least the one that is printable generally) was when they went to Costco and were being shown around. The first question from a group member to the Costco representative was, “But what do you do when you run out of all this stuff?”

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  47. nancy said on February 5, 2009 at 1:20 am

    That first name is, transliterated, “garelka,” and what I can find via Google says it’s Belorussian vodka — don’t know if it’s a brand name or just their own dialectal word for the stuff.

    The second word is “krishtal,” which sounds like “crystal” and is likely some designation of its quality. 100 sounds like the proof, or, given the dates, maybe a designation of its century mark.

    Vodka itself is a diminutive of “voda,” the word for water. Putting the “ka” ending on it implies mischief — Russians have more ways to make diminutives and endearments than any other language. So Mikhail Baryshnikov is Misha to his friends, Mishenka to his lover, and Mishka when he’s misbehaving.

    You see why so much great poetry was written in Russian. All those harsh Ks and glottal sounds, but rhyme after rhyme in its endings.

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  48. Catherine said on February 5, 2009 at 1:35 am

    So when my cousin calls me Katrinka, is that a nice thing?

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  49. Dexter said on February 5, 2009 at 2:48 am

    Good story, moe99. I used to be friends with an old man who was a WWI veteran. He had a keen interest in the world, and he subscribed Soviet Life Magazine for me for several years. I learned a lot from that magazine, but the claim they made that Russians always drank water glass sized tumblers of vodka for breakfast, to wash down their pickled cucumbers , turned out to be not universally true. Most Russians drink a glass of yogurt for breakfast, and have a hunk of sour rye bread and maybe have tea.
    If you want a primer on Russia, this is as good as I have found:

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  50. whitebeard said on February 5, 2009 at 2:53 am

    The coldest capital is not Moscow, to get really cold the Russians must travel to Ottawa and experience the Canadian air masses first hand. I expected warmer weather when I moved to Connecticut years ago but we have had the coldest January in 15 years and the temperature now is zero and the bathroom pipes have frozen again (about the 10th time this dreaded winter of winters).
    I am running the electric fan/heater in the bathroom to thaw the pipes and thinking of the 45 degrees forecast for Chicago next week when I am there for the auto show press previews.
    I am not too worried about leaving the house for Chicago because we have our handyman living with us in the depths of winter while his house nears foreclosure and the Grand Old Public utility has cut off his electricity.
    Isn’t this depression great, just what we needed to cleanse the economy, the markets, the hedge funds and the obscene bonuses from our system.
    Katrinka has a nice ring to it, with a hint of mischief in the air.

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  51. Dexter said on February 5, 2009 at 3:15 am

    whitebearduka, I feel ya on those effin’ pipes…my upstairs faucet is running a solid stream and I am about to check it again.
    It’s cold here, too…must be zero again, but no wind until daylight, I think the man said. Saturday cannot get here quickly enough…I have to bust-up that ice dam on top of my eavespouting.
    I have been one of the crazy-old-guys-on-a-bicycle-in-the-winter for over thirty years in this town, but not this winter.
    Since this stellar season visited its damnation upon us, I have cycled exactly 1/4 mile. Ice everywhere, snow piled high, it seems it’s always about 8 degrees…
    well sir, Gasman doesn’t like me staying up this late, he gave me hell last night, told me to GO TO BED !
    I am scared he will chastise me again…off to Facebook and Twitter a while!
    Eddie Schwartz has died in a Chicago nursing home. He was a media junkie and long-time radio personality, and he was great on the radio…dead at 62.

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  52. brian stouder said on February 5, 2009 at 8:26 am

    Well, hell. I comprehensively failed that editing quiz


    but the unkindest cut is that they just could not care less about the word “just” in the first problem. I fooled and fooled with that paragraph, and do you know what the sum total of their fix was?

    1. The last sentence includes a so-called comma splice: two independent clauses joined only by a comma. A semicolon or perhaps a dash would work.

    That’s it! There ain’t no more! I now admit to myself that copy editing isn’t in my future (let alone my ‘present’!)

    btw MichaelG – all I meant about the sexting thing was that I DO want a vigorous official (criminal justice) response or interest in these cases, so as to keep it rare. I’m all for flexibility within that response, but in essence this seems to reduce to “sexting” = “child sexploitation”

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  53. Kirk said on February 5, 2009 at 8:50 am

    Brian, kudos to you for having the courage to put your editing quiz answer out there for all to see. Believe it or not, I would have changed that comma to a semicolon and left the “just,” too, but I have been paid for a long time to figure out such things “Just” is overused, but it serves a purpose there, I think.

    I didn’t get serious about answering the others, but I did give them a look, and they’re definitely tough ones.

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  54. LA Mary said on February 5, 2009 at 10:54 am

    I have done the same errand in a 1980 Dodge Colt. Water heater in the Colt and an olive tree in the other car, which was a 1974 Karmann Ghia. There must be something in the water here in CA.
    Speaking of which, where’s Danny been lately?

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  55. brian stouder said on February 5, 2009 at 11:25 am

    Alex would say (and he begins to sway me!) Danny has been leaving his mark here under a nom de plume

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  56. Ricardo said on February 7, 2009 at 4:08 pm

    I say to the critics of Michael Phelps: Next time you go to the Olympics instead of Michael Phelps. You better come home with multiple gold medals, otherwise keep quiet.

    As for pot, it comes out of the ground and you smoke it or ingest. What could be more natural than that? How many ingredients and how much processing does it take to make scotch?

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  57. Gasman said on February 7, 2009 at 8:42 pm

    It takes three ingredients to make Scotch: water, malted barley, and yeast. The ingredients are strictly regulated and you can be sure that any Scotch you buy is going to be free of unknown impurities.

    Unless you grow your own dope you have no idea what the hell you are smoking. You assume that the growers aren’t adding nasty-ass chemicals like fertilizers and such. That is foolish. The crop, after all, is illegal. It’s not like producers have much to fear from the FDA.

    Scotch is health food compared to dope.

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