Pig flu! Panic!

The newspaper meltdown has moved beyond tragedy and well into farce. Michael Miner at the Chicago Reader reports on a journalism awards banquet in that great city. One of the winners, Melissa Isaacson, had been laid off two days previous. She heard her name called, went up to collect her plaque, and found…

…(By) the time she made her way up front to accept her plaque it had disappeared. That’s because (still-employed Tribune managing editor Jane) Hirt had hopped up from the Tribune table next to the dais to claim it for the Tribune. “My friends asked me later if I got to bask in any of the applause,” says Isaacson, “but there was no basking. I had to go find my award.”

I think Isaacson got the best part of this deal. She lost a plaque, but gained a much better story she can tell for the rest of her life. The plaques I gathered in my cursed career are all in a box in the basement somewhere, and the most good any of them did me was when we used one of Alan’s AP awards to prop open a window with broken sash cords. It was a little bust of Mark Twain, and was just the right height to do the job. (This was in our home office, and I found inspiration in his little golden face, holding up my window on warm days. Twain would have appreciated it, too.)

And I remember when the debate over journalism awards was about Gannett, famed at one time for buying great papers, turning them into pale imitations of their former selves, and then buying ads that claimed all its papers’ Pultizers for itself, even those won before under previous ownership. (Gannett is now famed for surviving into the current era.) Times have changed.

The understatement of the year, that.

So how is your week going? I’ve been tracking swine flu. This is part of my night-shift job, editing health-care news. It leaves me both optimistic and, well, not. The optimism comes when I reflect on what a marvel our public-health system is when it works well, and so far, I think it’s working well. You’re already hearing the usual naysayers, pointing out that tens of thousands die from the flu in a normal year, that most people are recovering from this particular variety just fine, that once again, the government is spreading panic, etc.

I would advise these folks to read past the second paragraph. The public-health emergency declared over the weekend, as was pointed out in nearly every story, was mostly a formality. The comparison was to declaring a tropical storm a hurricane; it frees up money and staff to work on it, and is not even close to a cry to run for the hills. A global pandemic, even of a viral illness most will sail through with little more than lost time from work, is nothing to sneeze at. (Sorry.)

The discouragement comes from the realization that despite all these professionals and this modern information-dissemination system, we really remain incredibly ignorant of some pretty simple things about our health. You know how many stories have moved assuring people that they cannot get swine flu from eating pork? I’ll tell you: Scores. The confusion comes from something Alan used to harp about all the time when he was a health reporter: We don’t really know what flu is. It’s a respiratory illness. It affects the lungs. You get it when people cough their germs in the air nearby, and they fly over to you and make themselves at home. But because we’ve christened every case of stomach upset “stomach flu,” it’s probably natural that some will figure it comes from something you ate.

Anyway, it’s probably a good time to short your pork futures.

In health journalism, as in all things, there’s a huge gap between the best and the rest. The best are incredible; my shift covers publication of the Wall Street Journal, New York Times and USA Today, and all three have ace health reporters who not only know their beats, but can explain them capably to the average reader. And then there’s the rest:

“It’s a fine line between educating people and frightening them,” said Dr. Marvin J. Tenenbaum, the director of medicine at St. Francis Hospital on Long Island. He has been making the rounds of patients and responding to their concerns about the outbreak, concerns that he said had been amplified by patients’ watching cable news in their hospital beds.

Even as news anchors preach caution and pledge that they do not want to cause undue anxiety, the sheer demands of the 24-hour news cycle of cable news and the Internet have amplified the story. Typifying the sometimes overheated coverage, a Fox News Channel commercial on Wednesday exclaimed that “swine flu plagues the nation” and urged viewers to tune into prime-time coverage.

And you know what? The reporting was probably OK. But when you try to boil a story down to a phrase in the promo department, you come up with “plagues the nation,” and the good work goes down the drain.

All I have to add is: Wash hands frequently. Avoid Mexico for now. And read the good newspapers.

I’m late today, so just brief bloggage:

It’s true that editorial cartoons in newspapers are true relics of a time gone by. In an era when anyone can be a Photoshop cartoonist, when Get Your War On shows the hidden humor in MS Word clip art, there’s something just sooo 19th century about the sketch at the top of the ed page. On the other hand, there are still a few truly gifted practitioners still at it. The times that editorial cartoons have made me laugh, chances are the artist was Mike Peters.

Happy hump day, all.

Posted at 10:53 am in Media |

68 responses to “Pig flu! Panic!”

  1. moe99 said on April 29, 2009 at 11:06 am

    We talked at worship committee last night, how a pandemic would affect church. No more passing of the peace. And communion could be affected to. At the worst, we could be asked by the health authorities to hold off on church services entirely.

    Here’s a fascinating look at tracking diseases:


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  2. Connie said on April 29, 2009 at 11:06 am

    I told my office mates not to worry, I had my swine flu shot. Now mind you, Gerald Ford was president at the time. I lined up on campus with hundreds of students getting their free shot. And now I read it may still be working! Great piece on All Things Considered yesterday about the non-pandemic swine flu of 1976.

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  3. alex said on April 29, 2009 at 11:32 am

    I had my swine flu shot in fall 1975 when I was away at boarding school. I became extremely ill that same evening and spent a week in the campus infirmary. I’ve never tried influenza vaccine since.

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  4. nancy said on April 29, 2009 at 11:35 am

    Having been handed the perfect straight line by Alex, she replies: “If only you took that lesson away from your first hangover.” Rimshot, please!

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  5. Catherine said on April 29, 2009 at 11:48 am

    My niece is a pediatric resident at County-USC here in LA, where she has pretty much seen it all. She is very concerned about the potential for pandemic.

    Maybe my earthquake kit will finally get a workout.

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  6. Jason T. said on April 29, 2009 at 11:49 am


    Rip Rense wrote a great newspaper novel a few years ago about a failing daily (based on the L.A. Herald-Examiner) in which he describes almost the same thing happening — a reporter who’s about to be fired wins a journalism award and isn’t allowed to collect it.

    (The novel is called The Last Byline. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll recognize every character.)

    Newspapers don’t have the corner on cruel and thoughtless management, but they did elevate it to an art form.

    Rense, sadly, nails the dysfunction inside the typical newsroom … as Isaacson’s story unfortunately demonstrates.

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  7. Julie Robinson said on April 29, 2009 at 11:58 am

    At the grocery store this morning the sanitizing wipes by the carts were very popular. It feels like all we can do. But I’m thrilled to know that shot I got back in ’76 may still have some effectiveness. All I had at the time was a sore arm.

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  8. jeff borden said on April 29, 2009 at 11:59 am

    Ah, the wonderfulness that is the Chicago Tribune. It’s a laughable looking newspaper these days, like a 70-year-old dowager trying to be cool by dressing like a high school sophomore. And it sure did work well. The paper’s circulation fell 7% since the ghastly redesign debuted, probably because anyone looking for a serious daily newspaper dropped it like a bad habit. The great minds brought in by Sam Zell –including two of the largest villains in the destruction of commercial radio, Randy Michaels and Lee Abrams, now working their sick reverse magic on newspapers– have succeeded only in making the New York Times indispensable in Chicago.

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  9. Gasman said on April 29, 2009 at 12:02 pm

    I see that all of the jack booted thugs at FauxNews are content to shovel out the hatespeak regarding the swine flu. They know its cause! It’s the illegal aliens! FauxNews informs us that there would be no swine flu if we had the cajones to close the border to all those Mexicans! Isn’t wonderful how they all march in lockstep formation? It’s just too damn bad that those American Catholic school kids had to mess up the Faux Facts. Damn you reality!

    Beck, however, has his own feverish take on the swine flu. He thinks that it was all a ploy to get Sebelius confirmed as secretary of Health and Human Services more quickly! Who knew that the Mexicans were so keen on Sebelius that 160 (and counting) were willing to commit suicide just to speed her confirmation! It worked! Sebelius made it! Someone should really tell the Mexicans that they can stop now. Dedication is a wonderful thing, but they are really taking this thing too far.

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  10. LA Mary said on April 29, 2009 at 12:14 pm

    Something to help you forget the pig flu:


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  11. Sue said on April 29, 2009 at 12:16 pm

    “Dedication is a wonderful thing, but they are really taking this thing too far.” Gasman, if this thing gets worse, what you saw on Fox will look like polite discourse. The ugliness will ratchet up in direct relation to the American death toll.
    Do any of you remember about 10 years ago a researcher (not a medical scientist, I think a statistician or something) speculated that the 1918 flu epidemic was so bad in part because of undiagnosed tuberculosis? It was fairly common at the time, yet deaths from TB dropped drastically in the years following the pandemic. A factor that might not be considered in the current concern, and one that indicates that if there is a pandemic, undeveloped and underdeveloped countries could be hit even harder.

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  12. beb said on April 29, 2009 at 12:42 pm

    I don’t drink much but today has been very stressful; I could use a drink. Why I might drink all of a half bottle of beer!

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  13. Michael said on April 29, 2009 at 12:44 pm

    How does a editorial cartoonist make fun of Jesse Jackson’s open mike comment threatening to emasculate Barack Obama during the Presidential campaign in a family newspaper? Here is one of my all time favorites from Mike Luckovich of the Atlanta Constitution. http://z.about.com/d/politicalhumor/1/0/-/C/2/jesse-goes-nuts-lk0711ad.jpg

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  14. jeff borden said on April 29, 2009 at 12:50 pm


    Didn’t you get the word from Rep. Michelle Bachmann (R-Lunatic)??? The swine flu only comes calling when (dum dum duuuuuummmm) a Democrat is in the White House, as she excitedly told the Oxycontin Kid yesterday. Of course, a simple Google search would have revealed to our favorite unmoored wingnut that the last outbreak occurred during the Gerald Ford administration. Sheesh, how is this pathetic pseudo political party ever going to rise from the ashes if they cannot even use the Internet?

    I rather like the idea that the real path to a return to power lies in being even more conservative, so that the departure of Arlen Specter must be seen as a good thing as it keeps the strain of true conservatism more pure. Yeah, that’s the ticket.


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  15. Sue said on April 29, 2009 at 12:59 pm

    Now that the Arlen Specter euphoria has died down (that didn’t take long), can anyone explain to me why it’s such a fabulous thing? He gets up there and states that his views now align more closely with the dems. Ok, that makes sense. Then he states that he refuses to try to be elected as a Republican given the likely primary voter bloc and spends some time discussing what he will NOT do for the dems. And the dems turn somersaults and promise support and money including campaign appearances by the president.
    I do not get it. Apparently at least two qualified candidates are going to have to take one for the team and back off so Arlen can mosey on over. Arlen who is making it clear that he does not intend to be a team player. If the Republican primary voters were probably going to choose an easily-defeated insane winger, what’s the benefit to the dems? Why not just run their own candidate? It’s either a smack at the Republicans or another example of a party infested with the Pelosi-Reid “rollover for the repubs” mindset, with a twist. Either way it sure looks short-sighted and small-minded to me.
    Don’t get me wrong, I don’t have a problem with an independent-thinking politician and I disagree with the idea of toeing the line to the detriment of the people you are elected to represent. But my idea of an independent is Russ Feingold, who for example stood almost alone on FISA without grandstanding or attempting to score political points.

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  16. Bob said on April 29, 2009 at 1:05 pm

    The Republicans lost Arlen Specter, who became a Democrat, but the Democrats lost Cynthia McKinney, who became Republican Michelle Bachmann.

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  17. jeff borden said on April 29, 2009 at 1:09 pm

    Right on, Bob!

    Man, if you locked McKinney and Bachmann in a room together, the earth might go off its axis. Two loonier loons have rarely roosted in Congress.

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  18. Gasman said on April 29, 2009 at 1:10 pm

    I’m waiting for FauxNews to start blaming the Jews. It would seem to be the next stop on this train they’re riding.

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  19. Catherine said on April 29, 2009 at 1:11 pm

    Sue, I agree. It’s making Specter look more like an opportunist than anything. I’ve read that his winning the Dem primary is not a sure thing, and that some candidates won’t in fact back off. In some ways the whole situation exposes the downside of the 2-party system and party-only primaries. Go Greens!

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  20. jeff borden said on April 29, 2009 at 1:17 pm


    I think the explanation is the proverbial “bird in the hand” argument. As an incumbent, Specter will have a lot more going for him in the general election than a newcomer facing off with Toomey, who will likely be able to tap a boatload of rightwing money from his association with the Club for Growth. I’m no fan of Specter, either, but this seems like a logical explanation. Additionally, the Dems need his vote NOW, as they press onward with far larger agenda items such as health care reform. I share your desire for more progressives in Congress, but this looks like a fairly logical play by both sides.

    By the way, from the Department of You Can’t Make This Up, it appears that Rush Limbaugh is now facing the ire of gunowners. Below is a small story from the Moonie Times in D.C.

    Rush Limbaugh’s new pet project — fighting animal cruelty for the Humane Society of the United States — is riling sportsmen from coast to coast, prompting fears that the talkster typically supportive of gun rights is aiding a group they say has a secret agenda to end all hunting in America.

    Twenty-eight groups representing millions of hunters and sportsmen are demanding that the conservative radio commentator end his collaboration with the HSUS and stop “helping them to mainstream their image in the minds of reasonable people.”

    “Despite a few programs designed to attract support from the general public, HSUS is in fact an organization that opposes hunting, fishing, and trapping,” the groups, including Ducks Unlimited and the U.S. Sportsmen’s Alliance, wrote in a letter last week to Mr. Limbaugh.

    “Its leadership has a long and established history of promoting legislation, litigation, and referenda to restrict the rights of American sportsmen and women.”

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  21. alex said on April 29, 2009 at 1:36 pm

    “Its leadership has a long and established history of promoting legislation, litigation, and referenda to restrict the rights of American sportsmen and women.”

    So the Humane Society wants to restrict the rights of women. I guess that doesn’t come as such a shock after hearing they would choose El Rushbo to be their mascot.

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  22. vince said on April 29, 2009 at 1:50 pm

    Last night Brian Williams on NBC News said something like ‘the government has asked us to stop calling it the swine flu. it’s more accurate to call it the H1N1 flu.’ The on screen graphic said both. “Swine Flu H1N1”

    If it is more accurate, NBC disregarded it. Throughout all its following stories it only used one name: ‘swine flu.’

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  23. JRG said on April 29, 2009 at 2:05 pm

    Jeff B.’s observation re getting Specter’s vote now is probably the best reason for Dems to be happy about having him switch parties. Had he not switched, I think the most likely outcome would have been for him to lose the primary and the likely winner, the very conservative Pat Toomey, to lose the general. In which case, as Sue says, we’d have had a new Democratic senator, likely one more likely to be a reliably Democratic voter. And there were, at least, three fairly strong alternatives–two current members of Congress and one other guy.

    If the 79-year-old Specter weren’t so arrogant, he’d retire. I thought his announcement was outrageous in that he said he was “unwilling to have his 29-year Senate record judged by the current Republican primary electorate in California.” Well! La, di, da. It wouldn’t be that hard to think up a few phrases along the lines of, “My polling shows that I have broad support among the voters of Pennsylvania, and I want to continue to represent the interests of those citizens, as I already have. I hope that Republican voters who share my view that the right course for America lies in working constructively with Democrats will join my campaign.”

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  24. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on April 29, 2009 at 2:10 pm

    Hey, Gasman — edging towards a Godwin’s Law citation.

    Sen. Magic Bullet will complicate life for whatever caucus he visits before heading out to do another press conference. Now with the 60 votes, the Senate can vote to declare waterboarding illegal! I agree with JRG: this really isn’t good for Dems. Trust us Republicans, you don’t want him. Good luck in the primary, Joe Sestak!

    Happy Hundred, y’all, and don’t hate me if i watch “Lie To Me” tonight. (ahhh, i’ll probably watch the press conference. can’t help myself, his dog is just sooo cute…)

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  25. LA Mary said on April 29, 2009 at 2:43 pm

    Lie to Me is okay, Jeff. Tim Roth rises above the sort of crappy writing. (Brace yourself for LAMary namedropping) He was the assistant coach of my son’s AYSO team and he’s a very nice guy. His kids are named after Hunter Thompson and Cormac McCarthy.

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  26. jeff borden said on April 29, 2009 at 3:02 pm

    Hey Nancy,

    Good to see the purity of the Republican Party is being upheld by the GOPers in your fine state. I found this on John Cole’s site:

    “Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr.’s appearance at a Michigan county Republican Party event was scrapped this week after the county chairwoman said that hosting the moderate Utah governor would mean abandoning the party’s conservative principles.
    Kent County Republican Party Chairwoman Joanne Voorhees abruptly canceled the party fundraiser scheduled for Saturday.
    “The voters want and expect us to stand on principle and return to our roots. Unfortunately, by holding an event with Governor Huntsman, we would be doing the exact opposite,” Voorhees wrote in an e-mail quoted in The Grand Rapids Press.
    Voorhees did not specify which issues she felt were contrary to the party’s principles and did not return messages left at the party headquarters and on her cell phone.
    The group Campaign for Michigan Families praised the cancellation, attributing it to Huntsman’s support of civil unions, and urged the Oakland and Kalamazoo county parties, where Huntsman is also scheduled to speak this weekend, to do the same.”

    Sheesh, Huntsman is the Republican governor of blood red Utah, where he enjoys an 84% approval rating among voters. But he’s not conservative enough to pass muster up in Michigan.

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  27. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on April 29, 2009 at 3:09 pm

    [Bows to the west] That’s delightful to hear, Mary; you can’t help but wonder what kind of person lurks under that fascinating persona he plays (and some creepier ones he has played to a well done turn). Joking about politics aside, the LW and i have been kind of sucked in to “Lie To Me,” and yes, (he said, wondering what friend of LAMary’s he’s about to offend) it is despite the writing. The supporting cast is quite good, too; when they get into a second cycle of scripts and leave behind the standard six (which they’ve got to be past by now, even allowing for the anti-six obligatory plots), i’m hopeful they can do some interesting things with their central conceit. Having just done the obligatory ex-wife plot with Jennifer Beals (i trust she bags your groceries between roles!), it feels like the real plots may be soon to come . . . or never will, but we’ll still watch.

    They are absolutely marvelous about the political bipartisanship of the stills they use at commercial breaks as the facial twitch du jour is limned. A good show — and i suspect Fox may well flinch at the last minute and go with the press conference.

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  28. LA Mary said on April 29, 2009 at 3:11 pm

    I have no TV writer acquaintances, so no worries. Tim Roth seems to frequently play creepy people, but honestly, he’s sort of sturdier and more down to earth in person.

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  29. MitchAlbomFan said on April 29, 2009 at 3:17 pm



    I know you aren’t the brightest flame, friend, but those “Catholic Kids” are tied directly to a visit to Mexico.

    It’s Mexico. It’s Mexico. It’s Mexico.

    Did you get that? Or do I need to try again phonetically.

    Just like the last two Salmonella outbreaks, this flu is sourced directly to Mexico.

    Gasman, just because somebody wakes up in the morning not believing what you believe, that does not REALLY make them a racist. Sorry.

    When you call EVERYBODY who disagrees with you a racist, you diminish the shaming potential of the word. (**coughNancycough**)

    News flash, not every black person is perfect. Not every aspect of black culture is evolutionarily healthy to a sustainable dominant culture. Saying so is not racist. It’s truth.

    News flash, there’s still a large third-world component of Mexico that has substandard sanitation and culture of ignorance about cleanliness issues. Saying so is not racist. It’s truth.

    News flash, there are quite a number of foreigners in this world who want to kill us (and by “us” I mean “you”) for a myriad of reasons, and one of the primary ways they can accomplish that goal is to send a biologically engineered disease over a porous border. Saying so is not racist. It’s truth.

    All your hate and eye rolling (**coughNancycough**) or love of cartoons that eschew logic for hate and eye rolling, doesn’t actually bend reality to your world view, no matter how emphatic either.

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  30. Hoosier said on April 29, 2009 at 3:36 pm

    MitchAlbomFan – whoa, did you get up on the wrong side of the bed today? F-news wanted to close the boarder TO Mexicans. The Catholic school children just VISITED Mexico. What Gasman quoted was correct. So take your vitriol and stick up your-you-know-what!
    jeff borden, I may have been asleep, but I’m not sure what you want Palin-Jindal to run for in 2010.

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  31. Sue said on April 29, 2009 at 4:05 pm

    Seriously, did you just use 22 words to say “dirty Mexicans”?

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  32. jeff borden said on April 29, 2009 at 4:12 pm


    I’m the one who must be half-asleep. Of course, I mean PALIN-JINDAL 2012!!! Though, maybe we’d have even more fun with a PALIN-BACHMANN 2012 campaign. Good catch. I never claimed to be no copy editor.

    MitchAlbomFan is indeed a cranky fellow. Perhaps he was listening to Michael “Savage” Weiner, who suggested to his audience of poo-flingers that the swine flu could be a terrorist attack from Mexico. Or the little rage imp Michelle Malkin, who also is convinced them durty Messicans is a-pourin’ over our borders with their filthy flu germs just to sicken the patriotic teabaggers.

    It’s sad enough to be a Mitch Albom fan. Sadder still to be a cracker who doesn’t recognize himself as a cracker.

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  33. coozledad said on April 29, 2009 at 4:14 pm

    Actually, the way we’ve actually planned to sap the vitality of Americans involves no diseases, pyrotechnics or anything remotely expensive. Sheesh. We’re Mexicans, after all.
    We’re slowly killing you with that polka stuff you hear at the restaurants. It’ll take time, but we love it and it drives you crazy. Win win.

    The Provisional Government of Aztlan

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  34. James said on April 29, 2009 at 4:26 pm

    So… MitchAlbomFan, you understand that influenza is caused by viruses, and not sanitary conditions…

    … and that part about blacks and being “evolutionarily healthy to a sustainable dominant culture,” uh… dude, your sheet is showing…


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  35. Sue said on April 29, 2009 at 4:27 pm

    Coozledad: I live in Wisconsin, as you know. The Milwaukee Brewers 7th inning stretch consists of Bernie Brewer coming out to help everyone sing “Roll out the Barrel”. The town I live in has a radio station devoted to polka music (WTKM, the Polka Place). The state is only moderately crazy, and we prefer our salsa mild. Your insidious plot is not working here because we beat you to it, so to speak.
    Personally, I would be suspicious of all those colorful blankets the tourists are bringing back with them. Biological warfare, indeed.

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  36. alex said on April 29, 2009 at 4:40 pm


    Feels good gettin’ that loogie outta my craw.

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  37. Gasman said on April 29, 2009 at 4:43 pm

    MitchAlbomFan/ a.k.a. Dwight,
    I’ll have to respond quickly before nancy spams you.

    I see that you’ve stocked your closets full of strawmen and red herrings. In your post you uphold your usually rhetorical standards.

    You knew damn well I wasn’t denying a connection with Mexico. I was mocking FauxNews for insinuating that the spread of swine flu had anything to do with illegal aliens. I’d say the FauxNews coverage reeks of bigotry as does your response. There are no instances of illegals spreading the recent outbreak of swine flu. How about the instances of swine flu in other countries like New Zealand? Did the Mexicans swim across the Rio Grande and land in Auckland?

    Your posts are utterly predictable and tiresome. However, if we removed your lies, bigotry, ad hominem attacks, strawmen, and red herrings, there would be nothing left at all.

    Dwight, you a sniveling coward. You have the temperament of a toddler and the intellectual rigor of a monkey flinging its own shit. Show a little more maturity and maybe we’ll let you sit at the grown-up’s table sometime.

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  38. Gasman said on April 29, 2009 at 4:53 pm

    Jeff (tmmo),
    You disappoint me. Last week you tangentially sought to excuse torture and now you seem to be defending the bigoted demagoguery employed by FauxNews.

    Oxford’s on-line dictionary defines fascism as:

    extreme right-wing, authoritarian, intolerant views or practice.

    How is that not appropriate when considering FauxNews? I should refrain from accurately portraying their actions?

    I would also remind you that the Senate does not need to declare waterboarding illegal; it already is.

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  39. LA Mary said on April 29, 2009 at 5:20 pm

    That “newsflash” conceit impresses me every time. I know I’m in for some learnin’ when I see that.

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  40. Scout said on April 29, 2009 at 5:42 pm

    MitchAlbomFan informing Gasman that he’s not the brightest flame was a truly breathtaking display of irony. Starting with the handle…

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  41. Dexter said on April 29, 2009 at 6:18 pm

    on a lighter note…that Mike Peters ‘toon linked by our host is priceless…a keeper!
    I passed it along the blogosphere….

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  42. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on April 29, 2009 at 6:22 pm

    Gasman, not defending FoxNews or FauxGnus (hee hee, i am just so clevah), just busting your chops on going with a comment implying “Jews” and “trains” are next. Sounds like a Godwin’s Law penumbra to me . . .

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  43. jeff borden said on April 29, 2009 at 6:37 pm

    Peters is great, but the finest editorial cartoonist working today is Mike Luckovich. One thing I’ll miss –and it’s about the only thing– from the Bush Administration is the brilliant depiction of W. by Luckovich. He did a mean-assed Dick Cheney, too.

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  44. moe99 said on April 29, 2009 at 6:37 pm


    Can’t call it swine flu either. Not kosher.

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  45. 4dbirds said on April 29, 2009 at 6:43 pm

    The army required us to get flu shots every year. I missed one the year I was pregnant with my daughter and sure enough I came down with the flu that winter. Oh.my.gawd. I thought I was going to die. If one has to ask “Is this the flu?” you have never had the flu. I’ve never missed a flu shot since. I know the shots don’t guarantee immunity but I take no chances.

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  46. Gasman said on April 29, 2009 at 6:43 pm

    Jeff (tmmo),
    So, in order to avoid the invocation of Godwin’s Law at all costs, we must refrain from ever using comparisons to fascism or the Nazis. What if a given person or persons are aping that kind of conduct?

    I’ll go one better: FauxNews is not only fascist, but Orwellian as well. They spout party line lies, they hype bigotry, they actively hype and sponsor party approved events, then they actively excise inconvenient truths from their transcripts. Godwin’s Law or not, how is my characterization of FauxNews (an accurate and truthful moniker) less than fair and balanced? Under what possible pretense can they be considered a “news” organization or journalists?

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  47. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on April 29, 2009 at 7:46 pm

    Godwin’s Law simply states that when Nazi comparisons are invoked, a comment thread has reached the end of its useful life. You argue, as have many before you, that your invocation of blame the Jews and call up the trains is different because it is valid.

    I’m just saying that Godwin’s Law, like Murphy’s, is not mocked. And i don’t have to defend FoxNews (which a review here and elsewhere will show that i don’t) to say you need a stiff drink and a major inhalation to put more oxygen into your outlying tissues, because you’re sounding hypoxic when you talk about them. As an eight track of mine once said to me, “Breath deep the gathering gloom, watch lights fade from every room.” (Or something like that.)

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  48. Gasman said on April 29, 2009 at 7:47 pm

    Jeff (tmmo),
    Where have I erred in my assessment of the phony “news” organization that you are not defending? I hope you are not asserting that I am blaming Jews or calling for trains.

    Is it OK if the phonies say “Mexicans” instead of Jews?

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  49. LA Mary said on April 29, 2009 at 7:58 pm

    Oh no Jeff TMMO, you had an eight track of the Moody Blues?

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  50. coozledad said on April 29, 2009 at 8:06 pm


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  51. Gasman said on April 29, 2009 at 8:15 pm

    If we could have a brief respite from the Dwight/Jeff (tmmo) tag team drubbing of moi, I thought the contiguous juxtaposition of these two headline/links on CNN.com more than just a little ironic:

    Craigslist suspect’s fiancee: ‘I still love him’
    Hunting for the secrets of a happy marriage

    Maybe the fiancee should read the second article. I’ll not vouch for the linked stories, I just found the two headlines somewhat mutually exclusive.

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  52. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on April 29, 2009 at 8:23 pm

    Who’s drubbing? (Nice attempt to tie me to Dwight, dude.)

    “Well, you can do whatever you want to us, but I for one am not going to stand here and listen to you badmouth the United States of America.”

    (LAMary, admit it, you had an eight track of the Moodies, too, didn’t you?)

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  53. basset said on April 29, 2009 at 9:37 pm

    I spent a few minutes today unsuccessfully trying to explain Hawkwind to one of my younger co-workers. That’s my Seventies music reference for the day.

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  54. coozledad said on April 29, 2009 at 10:00 pm

    My favorite music history is the evolution of logical positivist acid-heads Gong into the bar-trashing, muttonchopped, Motorhead. It’s like a cautionary fable batiked onto a Moebius strip.

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  55. Gasman said on April 29, 2009 at 10:01 pm

    Jeff (tmmo),
    Retract your claws. It was an attempt at levity, nothing more.

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  56. brian stouder said on April 29, 2009 at 10:16 pm

    I recall that in 1977 – when my buddies and I started driving to South Side High School, one fellow had the coolest 8-track; when you got where you were going, you could slide it out, and put it in the trunk (of his Ford Maverick), and then it wouldn’t get stolen!

    As we rolled westward down Oxford Street toward good ol’ South Side, one group we always seemed to have playing on the removeable 8-track was the Doobie Brothers….good stuff!

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  57. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on April 29, 2009 at 10:34 pm

    (“Dude” means i don’t take it personally, so it’s all good. Thanks, though!)

    So is it eight track, or 8-track? Anal retentives need to know (or is it anal-retentive?).

    Oh black water, keep on rolling, Mississippi moon won’t you keep on shining on me . . . yeah, keep on shining your light, gonna make every thing, gonna make every thing all right . . . and I ain’t got no worries, ’cause i’m in no hurry at all . . .

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  58. basset said on April 29, 2009 at 11:20 pm

    Cooze, what’s the connection there? Steve Hillage’s version of “It’s All Too Much” is still one of my favorite Beatles covers.

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  59. Danny said on April 29, 2009 at 11:40 pm

    That “newsflash” conceit impresses me every time. I know I’m in for some learnin’ when I see that.

    Mary, I’m way too busy to contribute these days, but that comment cracked me up! I’m still laughing as I type this. Chat at ya later…

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  60. Jack said on April 29, 2009 at 11:49 pm

    big disaster, I think. My brother come back from Mexcio yesterday, and get the flu, I hope it is not big flu

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  61. Danny said on April 30, 2009 at 12:01 am

    I have a DVD of the Moodies! And several CD’s!

    Hey, Brian, the reason that the one group you always seemed to have playing on the removable 8-track was the Doobie Brothers was because that was the one that got STUCK in the 8-track player. Removing it would have destroyed it and the player.

    Good thing you liked them. Could’ve been worse….

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  62. Dexter said on April 30, 2009 at 12:29 am

    Post 45. 6:43 PM

    I remember a plague shot I got during army training. I got “the plague” from it…delirious, sweating, head spinning, sure I was dying, fever…what to do? Just toughed it out after that sleepless night, and was never sick like that again until December, 1999, when I had a three-week serious flu that left me flat on my back for 15 days , voiceless, coughing, could not eat for days, lost thirty pounds…what a hard flu.

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  63. Rana said on April 30, 2009 at 2:29 am

    I don’t normally get sick beyond a cold maybe once or twice a year, so when I get sick, I get sick. Last winter’s flu was a really bad one. I always get flu shots because I teach, and college campuses, especially after breaks, tend to be great incubators of all kinds of viruses.

    Anyway, this particular flu just dropped me. All I did for three days was drink soup and sleep, as I was too weak to do anything else. Even after I was well enough to come back to class, it was an effort just walking from one end of the building to the other. I remember thinking that I’d never known that the buildings on campus were that far apart!

    Most of my students were in the same boat, and we all walked very slowly for several weeks after that. I am very much hoping that I don’t get something like that again anytime soon!

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  64. Dexter said on April 30, 2009 at 2:53 am


    This looks like the backdrop for Obama’s presser last night…

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  65. coozledad said on April 30, 2009 at 7:45 am

    basset: Gong and Hawkwind shared band members and drugs for awhile. Lemmy left Hakwind because he disliked acid, but was a dedicated Motorhead. He wanted a band so dirty that “if they moved next door to you, your lawn would die”.
    I still find it hard to keep all the folks in the Cambridge music scene in their appropriate niches. Mostly because there weren’t any, but partially because Gong used aliases. I’m also surprised a lot of those folks are still breathing. Particularly Lemmy.

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  66. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on April 30, 2009 at 7:54 am

    Dex, don’t go in the Red Room. Seriously. Don’t do it.

    “Letters I’ve written, never meaning to send; beauty I’d always missed, with these eyes before — just what the truth is, I can’t say anymore.”

    The Moodies got the internet, didn’t they?

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  67. basset said on April 30, 2009 at 8:01 am

    I thought Hawkwind fired Lemmy for getting caught with drugs at the Canada/US border… didn’t know about the aliases, though. and it looks like various Hawkwind reunions and survivors are still limping along out there.

    meanwhile… just put some representative excerpts from “Space Ritual” on a thumb drive, we’ll see how those go over.

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  68. Sue said on April 30, 2009 at 8:27 am

    Have you guys heard the definition of baby boomer? Someone who knows all the words to “American Pie” but can’t remember where she left the car keys.

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