Wild kingdom.

Lazy morning, watching the bunny hop around. While Ruby will never claim her place in the pet hall of fame, it has been interesting having her live with us. Humanity’s deal with companion animals has always been that we’ll share our bounty in exchange for something of theirs — mousing ability, a nose that can find game or just a wagging tail when we come home after a brutal day among the other primates. I’m still figuring out what we get from Ruby, although Kate is thrilled every time she sees her slammin’ cuteness or strokes her cloudlike fur. I enjoy carrying on squeaky-voice conversations with her and hand-feeding her pieces of apple and banana. But on a quiet morning when I’m alone in the house, sometimes I just enjoy watching her explore her world.

Despite their ability to use a litter box, rabbits make mediocre house pets, at least for people with nice houses. They’re too inclined to destruction, and while intelligent, they don’t really possess the brainpower to make the chew-this-not-that distinction dogs do. I’d hoped by this point Ruby would have lost her natural wariness around us, but she’s still one of the world’s tastiest and most abundant prey animals, and if I’m stroking her on my lap in the office, all it takes is the sound of Kate bounding up the stairs to send her under the bed for 20 minutes of trembling. The fading light in evening is always my cue to round her up and put her back in her cage, because otherwise she’ll pick her hiding place for the night and refuse to come out for love, money or carrot greens.

But one reason we keep animals in the house is to see the world through their eyes. Who isn’t thrilled by the dog who stares into the darkness outside the glow of the home fires and growls deep in his throat? To a rabbit, all the world is meadow and moor, the highest place in it is a vantage spot to watch for predators, the lowest a burrow for digging. I threw a couple of cheap blankets on the guest-room bed for her amusement, and she’s pleased to root through them for an hour at a time, pushing them with her nose and paws into a landscape that suits her. If I join her there with the laptop, sometimes she will put her twitchy nose up against my ear and kiss me.

It’s hard not to anthropomorphize, though. Note how I just turned a sniff into a kiss.

I’m starting to think we gave her the wrong name. Kate was commenting on her smoky-eye markings, and sang the Maybelline jingle. And I thought Maybelline would have suited her perfectly. She grooms more often than most supermodels.

God, I’ll be glad when this week is over. Funny how losing just one more hour of sleep at night can bollix up your productivity but good. Bloggage? A little:

Jim at Sweet Juniper keeps a Polaroid camera in his car for feral-dog shots. and has a new collection up today. I think I’ve seen that brindle pit bull bitch before. Or else one of her sisters.

Are salaries like Scott Simon’s the dirty little secret of public broadcasting? I’ve known a few people in broadcasting, and a few more in public broadcasting, and the model is the same in both places — a few bloated “personalities” at the top get a big pile of cash, while the rank and file work second jobs to afford studio apartments. But if I knew the guy was making $300K, I wouldn’t give them my $50, either.

If bloggers are going to do the work of paid journalists, they’d better grow some thick skins, as some learn what the people they cover really think of them. Living in Portsmouth (pronounced “Pors’muf” locally) should be good preparation, though.

If no one has used the term “Polanski-palooza” yet, let me be the first. If only I could collect a royalty — I think it’s a winner.

Have a good rest of the day. I’m getting going any minute now.

Posted at 11:42 am in Current events, Same ol' same ol' |

55 responses to “Wild kingdom.”

  1. Jason T. said on October 1, 2009 at 12:00 pm

    I think the fact this blogger routinely depicts the mayor of Portsmouth as a (literal) skunk probably has something to do with the mayor’s reaction.

    That said — mayor what’s his name never heard the saying “kill ’em with kindness” … or, ironically, the other saying, “never get into p-ssing matches with notorious skunks.”

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  2. MarkH said on October 1, 2009 at 12:00 pm

    Simon’s NPR income certainly is an eye-opener. I sometimes wondered what those people make. I’m sure coozledad will have an opinion on Simon being overpaid, based on a previous post. But, Simon laughing at a steak knife through Rove’s heart might soften his take (a little). 🙂

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  3. Jeff Borden said on October 1, 2009 at 12:17 pm

    A friend of mine who worked as a producer for a very highly rated radio program in a prime day part here in Chicago quit to return to graduate school. Her salary at the time of her departure –and this is a woman in her late 40s who had been there for many years– was less than $30,000. The duo she produced earn a reported $400,000 between them.

    It’s an ugly business. Like newspapers, radio stations have been drained of any and all creativity and provincialism by the likes of the bean counters and buffoons. Well, the greed, the mediocrity and the numbing sameness of radio drove me deeply into the arms of XM/Sirius some five years ago and now I cannot imagine living without it. Whether listening to rock, blues, reggae, jazz, classical or country, I’ll hear more new music by more interesting artists in a single
    day than a year listening to broadcast radio.

    I believe Pilot Joe is a big fan of XM/Sirius. It’s a boatload cheaper than cable and the sound of our receiver through the excellent stereo system in the car is just wonderful to experience.

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  4. Joe Kobiela said on October 1, 2009 at 1:05 pm

    Big fan, but I think xm was much better before the merge.
    Pilot Joe

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  5. Jeff Borden said on October 1, 2009 at 1:25 pm


    I totally agree. The one channel I’m getting that has resonated with me is Little Steven’s Underground Garage, but otherwise, I prefer the programming of XM. I guess we’re lucky we have this since the combo still isn’t making money. Man, if satellite radio goes dark, I will be lost. I recently figured a way to hook up my car unit to the tuner in the living room. Previously, I had only a Delphi boom box in which the unit played. The sound is amazing through a decent stereo system.

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  6. Julie Robinson said on October 1, 2009 at 1:35 pm

    Our local NPR station put their music on a weak signal that I can’t get at home and used the good signal for all the talk radio. Blech, so they lost me.

    As I’ve previously mentioned, I use my son’s Napster subscription to access a wide variety of music, which I can transfer onto my not-an-Ipod. This has turned out to be a happy compromise for me, since I can try out albums (yep, I’m old, I still call them albums) without purchasing them.

    This has saved me from some big disappointments, such as the new Barbra Streisand recording mentioned a couple of days ago. It’s pretty enough, but the tempo is universally glacial and the arrangements are cookie-cutter. Babs, where is your creativity?

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  7. Rana said on October 1, 2009 at 1:51 pm

    There’s something to be said for the experience of having a creature that’s not a human sharing one’s living space – I find myself much calmer when I have some other live thing about the house, even when the cat’s sleeping upstairs and I’m downstairs.

    I don’t know what it is, exactly. Half the time I’m struck by how odd it is to have this animal sharing our space, food, and lives; the other half it seems surprising that we don’t all live surrounded by creatures (not counting insects and arthropods). Before we got the cat I was an avid bird-feeder; I seem to need a critter fix and if it’s not being filled by pets I have to make do with wild ones.

    I suppose the biophilia people would argue that human beings evolved in environments in which they were surrounded by other animals all the time, so it’s not surprising that we’d want to re-create that in our homes. Whatever it is, I know I’m happier when there’s an animal in the house.

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  8. brian stouder said on October 1, 2009 at 2:05 pm

    Psssst – Julie; tonight Harold Holzer is at IPFW, delivering a (free) lecture titled “The Education of Abraham Lincoln”.

    I think I have Shelby talked into coming with me, and I’m twisting Grant’s arm to come, too. (I think he can be bribed)

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  9. whitebeard said on October 1, 2009 at 2:10 pm

    Haven’t had one as a free-wandering house pet, but when a rabbit kisses the proprietress, you know there is some love still left in unexpected places. Our old cat, now gone, brought us two baby bunnies to look after and one survived for months before my wife released him(?)into the wild again. Later she swore she would see him checking her out but he never came forward for a munch of fresh-cut carrot that he used to love in the house in the cage.

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  10. LAMary said on October 1, 2009 at 2:16 pm

    Last week I had a very ugly 24 hour stomach flu and when the worst of it passed and I crawled into bed until I felt human, it was the company of my Lab that made me feel cared for. I didn’t need anyone hovering over me. Just Smokey lying on the blanket chest at the foot of the bed sometimes laying his head across my feet.

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  11. Sue said on October 1, 2009 at 2:45 pm

    And then there’s the downside: how can a cat who weighs less than a newborn take up SO MUCH sleeping area in the bed? And how come every cat can do the intricate math that allows them to find the exact middle of the bed, then do some kind of physics magic that gives them the gravity pull of a black hole? You know what I’m talking about – just try to pull a cat out of a spot he doesn’t want to leave.
    Sweet little pumpkins, every one.

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  12. Kim said on October 1, 2009 at 2:47 pm

    My daughter had a rabbit for about 7 years. I had many extended stints of bunsitting while she was in college. Other than that smell from the buns and her existence (which was there no matter how clean the cage), she was a lovely pet. The one thing that I laugh about now was the summer she did a pretty good number on the 90 year old woodwork in my spare bedroom. I was POed at the time, but you know, she always preferred the finer things. She chewed through any number of electrical wires, too.

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  13. velvet goldmine said on October 1, 2009 at 2:50 pm

    Mary, that’s exactly right. In our house, when fevers rise, so do the cats — they jump on the bed and nestle behind the crooks of our knees, or on the neighboring pillow. When we start to feel a little better, they seem to feel free to walk around.

    I recently heard an interview, I think with Mary Tyler Moore, in which she said her dogs could tell when she needed an insulin shot even before she did. The theory is that they can smell the changes in the body and they know from experience when certain scents equate with illness.

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  14. Jenflex said on October 1, 2009 at 2:52 pm

    This is how our ancient Bichon earned the name “Nurse McFurry.”

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  15. Rana said on October 1, 2009 at 2:55 pm

    velvet goldmine, they’ve done studies that show that dogs can be trained to detect cancer, too. Pretty amazing.

    Re: cats sleeping – what I’m always impressed by is the way that an 8 pound cat can somehow manage to shove a human 15-20 times heavier to the edge of a bed. That, and the way that they seem able to sleep on any number of lumpy and uncomfortable-seeming surfaces. Plus the contagious nature of their sleepiness – in my family we often referred to cats as “emitting sleep thoughts” as a way of describing that effect.

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  16. LAMary said on October 1, 2009 at 3:06 pm

    There are dogs trained to sense imminent seizures for epileptics as well. Growing up with a brother who had grand mal epilepsy, I think this would a huge help.

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  17. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on October 1, 2009 at 3:08 pm

    Oh, for pity’s sake. I can’t believe Scott Simon had to apologize for that. And i like Karl, shook his hand once, let him completely upstage me in a speaking engagement another time. But Lorrie was making a perfectly novelistic point — i could walk across the room and change history in a moment, the wrong way, and not doing so brings a certain awareness of your place in a moral universe. The laughter was . . . oh, please.

    When it comes to salaries, we’ll have justice in that sphere when day care providers who offer love and discipline and make happy memories get six figures, and the ability to craft either a well-balanced sonnet or a wrought iron fireplace screen across an anvil by hand both make about what a guy does for hitting a ball three out of ten reachable pitches. But i don’t see that happening, so better Scott than many others. On my Saturday mornings that allow it, he earns at least that much in reduced blood pressure and (hopefully) extended lifespan.

    (Of course, that makes my last hundred hours of volunteer time at PBS/NPR stations worth . . . oh, never mind.)

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  18. Jeff Borden said on October 1, 2009 at 3:15 pm

    An even worse job than writing Sarah Palin’s 400-page memoir for her? How `bout being the book editor at the Moonie-owned Washington Times reviewing the new book by the ol’ weirdo. It will come as no surprise the reviewers just luvs it.

    By Carol Herman


    By the Rev. Sun Myung Moon

    The Washington Times Foundation,

    347 pages

    Reviewed by Carol Herman

    The Rev. Sun Myung Moon, founder of The Washington Times, is celebrating his 90th birthday this year. The year also marks the release of his autobiography, “As a Peace-Loving Global Citizen,” published by The Washington Times Foundation. A best-seller in his native Korea, the book, now translated into English, gives Western readers an opportunity to learn more about a man whose deeds and goals have been the subject of international attention for decades.

    In the book’s foreword, the Rev. Moon writes about his wish to “bring about a world of peace” but adds that his pursuit of that goal over a long life has not been without setbacks. He writes, “I am a controversial person. …The world … has associated many different phrases with my name, rejected me and thrown stones at me.”

    He adds: “I have been unjustly imprisoned six times in my life – by imperial Japan, in Kim Il Sung’s North Korea, by South Korea’s Syngman Rhee government, and even in the United States – and at times I was beaten so hard that the flesh was torn from my body. Today, though, not even the slightest wound remains in my heart.”

    Nevertheless, he notes, “Recently, a growing number of people have been seeking to know more about me. For the sake of those who are curious, I have looked back on my life and recorded my candid recollections in this volume.”

    Divided into eight chapters, the book recounts details of the Rev. Moon’s childhood and education; his calling to religion (which included crossing the 38th Parallel, starting a church and surviving Heungnam Prison); his life and the growth of the church in the shadow of the Korean War; the foundations of his global outreach; his marriage to Hak Ja Han Moon and the importance of family in life; and his aspirations for a unified Korea. In the final two chapters, he looks ahead to the future and delivers a message expressly crafted for young people.

    Faith, family, freedom and service are the pillars of the Rev. Moon’s worldview and work. Through this canvas of often dramatic incidents and his personal observations, this reader came away with a better understanding of the Rev. Moon and his ongoing efforts on behalf of world peace, including the creation of enterprises such as New Hope Farms in Brazil, established to help eradicate hunger.

    The Rev. Moon’s commitment to nature conservancy and the world’s water supply are given ample and interesting attention. His discussion of the possibilities for an International Peace Highway linking Korea and Japan through an underground tunnel and a restructuring of the United Nations undoubtedly will lead to fruitful debate and work in the years to come.

    But it is the Rev. Moon’s candor when addressing the most difficult times of his life that one remembers, notably his imprisonment in the federal correctional institution in Danbury, Conn., on July 20, 1984, and the events leading up to it.

    There is much interesting information throughout the book, and it is difficult to select which anecdotes and observations to include. However, many of the most vivid images that remain with the reader come from the Rev. Moon’s descriptions of his childhood in the opening chapters of the book:

    “I would often fall asleep in the hills after playing there. My father would be forced to come find me. When I heard my father shouting in the distance, ‘Yong Myung! Yong Myung!’ I couldn’t help but smile, even as I slept. My name as a child was Yong Myung. The sound of his voice would awaken me, but I would pretend to still be asleep. He would hoist me onto his back and carry me home. That feeling I had as he carried me down the hill – feeling completely secure and able to let my heart be completely at ease – that was peace. That is how I learned about peace, while being carried on my father’s back.”

    In a book that is notable for its imagery and poetry, this remains.

    Carol Herman is books editor at The Washington Times.

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  19. Dorothy said on October 1, 2009 at 3:39 pm

    Did anyone else see “Law & Order: SVU” last night – not the show, but a commercial during the show. I can’t even remember what product they were advertising. But there was a couple driving around with the windows open, squeezing squeaky toys, trying to find their lost dog. Both of my big boys were transfixed, moving towards the television, cocking their heads to and fro, trying to find out the source of the squeakiness. Augie looked genuinely sad when the commercial was over.

    Before I hit “Submit Comment” I visited You Tube and found this:

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  20. nancy said on October 1, 2009 at 4:21 pm

    Jeff, if he made half that — $150k or thereabouts — I’d have no problem. That’s still a great deal of money for being the weekend gigglebox on NPR. Public radio is a tradeoff. You earn less, but you get to do far, far better work. If you value the latter, you happily take the former. If money is your thang, you leave for CNN. And if you’re Cokie Roberts, you try to do both, sell your soul to the devil and end up bleating platitudes about politics ain’t beanbag. Three hundred thousand smackers is a lot of fund drivin’.

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  21. Danny said on October 1, 2009 at 4:29 pm

    Psssst — Julie; tonight Harold Holzer is at IPFW, deliv­er­ing a (free) lec­ture titled “The Edu­ca­tion of Abra­ham Lincoln”.

    I think I have Shelby talked into com­ing with me, and I’m twist­ing Grant’s arm to come, too. (I think he can be bribed)

    One day at the beach here in So Cal would cure them of this penchant for culturally superior meanderings. Uncle Abe just can’t compete with Uncle Danny (provided that surf and sand are part of the latter equation).

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  22. mark said on October 1, 2009 at 4:46 pm

    Sorry to go backwards, but I wanted to comment on brian stouder’s post yesterday, wherein he raised the question “what must those people (the Vietnamese) think of us?” My short, Princess Brideish, response is: I do not think they think what you think they think about us. The Vietnamese like us. A lot.

    You can assure your daughter that most young Vietnamese would put a chance to visit her here in the US very high on their wish list. More than half of the 80 million Vienamese are under 30, born after what they refer to as the “American War.” They listen to American music, watch American TV shows in the cafes and clubs and follow American fashion. “In my dreams I would like to visit America” is a comment I heard so often that I wondered if it was taught in the schools, where 6 years of English language study is required for secondary school students throughout the country.

    More than half of the Vietnamese in the South and many in the North have immediate family who are Viet Kieu (Vietnamese living elsewhere), with the largest and wealthiest group residing in the US. While receipt of money from outside VN is still illegal (at least as of 2006), it occurs routinely and many VN have meager incomes supplemented with regular gifts from family elsewhere. Even the over thirty population has close ties to the US.

    The war left a missing generation in Vietnam. The absence of middle-aged men is striking, both in the North and the South. They find it remarkable and admirable that we continue to employ tens of thousands of Vietnamese to literally sift through dirt to search for the remains of a few hundred still-unaccounted-for American GIs, while something like 2 million Vietnamese remain missing and undoubtedly dead. (This program and the repatriation of children of US servicemen were the earliest post-war diplomatic initiatives and spoke highly of us to the Vietnamese.)

    I spent considerable time over 5 years (2000-2005) in both the South and the North (where the oppressiveness of communist rule is more tangible) and I have never been treated better in any other country. They are hard-working, family-oriented, well-educated and spiritual. And overwhelmingly underemployed or unemployed. They want jobs. They welcome American investment. We are viewed as better, more-trustworthy employers and business partners than the Chinese, South Koreans, French and Australians, who are also actively investing in VN.

    While the official line on the war is still a harsh one, it focuses as much on our involvement as a misguided effort to continue French colonialism as a misguided effort to fight communism. The VN were nationalists at heart, communists of necessity. The typical Vietnamese know that Ho Chi Minh implored Eisenhower to pressure the French to leave VN long before the massacre at Dien Bien Phu and long before Ho turned to the Soviet Union for help. Indeed, there is a reasonable argument that the war would have been avoided if we had been willing to tell the French that they were no longer a colonial power.

    They know that the “Hanoi Hilton” prison was built by the French to imprison the Vietnamese and that thousands were tortured there long before it was used to imprison (and torture) several hundred Americans. Even the French, though, are well-received by the Vietnamese today. The worst sin for a visitor is to be mistaken for a Russian, although “Nyet” and a dismissive hand wave is handy to escape the most persistent of the child beggars. It simultaneously signals that you won’t give and almost certainly don’t have.

    When Clinton visited in 2000, he was received like a rock star. Although his motorcade from Ton Son Nhat airport to the New World hotel made the trip after midnite, the crowds were literally ten or more deep for the entire 10 mile route. To the embarassment of the VN government, it is estimated that 200,000 small American flags were waving in that crowd and a friend who was in the motorcade tells me it was a sea of flags from start to finish.

    Brian, when your daughter is ready to start seeing the world, I hope you consider a trip to VN. Europe is nice, but it represents her past. Her future is with countries like VN.

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  23. Julie Robinson said on October 1, 2009 at 4:49 pm

    Darn, I have another church meeting tonight, but fortunately it’s on a positive subject this time, hiring additional staff. I’d trade either for a day at the beach. This time of year it’s hard not to feel the wall of darkness closing in on us.

    Edit: Mark, what do you know about children that were sired by American soldiers during the war? Not children anymore, obviously, but at one time they faced terrible prejudice for not being racially pure.

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  24. brian stouder said on October 1, 2009 at 5:04 pm

    One day at the beach here in So Cal would cure them

    bikinis and speedos would surely turn their heads (maybe mine, too!)…but then at the end of the day – off to see the scholar, eh?

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  25. Colleen said on October 1, 2009 at 5:15 pm

    300 grand would more than pay for all of the programming costs where I was formerly employed. (The place that pissed Julie off….) In fact, that would be not quite a third of the annual budget.

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  26. LAMary said on October 1, 2009 at 5:17 pm

    No Speedos on the beach, Brian. Board shorts. And don’t listen to Danny. We’re not all beach bums out here. I think CA has more Nobel Laureates than any other state. I live closer to Cal Tech than I do to the beach, and there are great lectures and family events there.

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  27. alex said on October 1, 2009 at 5:34 pm

    Julie Robinson–

    You mentioned yesterday receiving a nasty, politically charged message from a certain real estate agent. Said agent’s name wouldn’t happen to rhyme with “stank,” would it?

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  28. Rana said on October 1, 2009 at 6:03 pm

    We’re not all beach bums out here.

    Yeah, what I think people fail to realize about living in California is that when the beach is near and the weather is good most of the time it tends to fade into background noise. Except for the handful of years when I lived literally a stone’s throw from the beach, I almost never bothered going there. It was too much fuss, for something that was always there and wasn’t going to disappear anytime soon. It’s like living in any place with a famous tourist attraction – how often do the locals visit it, when they don’t have out of town guests?

    Of course, I’ve always been more of a foggy coast and deserts and mountains person than a sunny beach person anyway.

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  29. MarkH said on October 1, 2009 at 6:14 pm

    mark, thank you for that post and the perspective. Some of it is not new to me, as one of my wonderful nieces is married to the son of VN refugees/immigrants. Hung (yes, that’s his name, had to get it out of the way) is a first rate guy, smart as a whip and with their two children, he and Jen make a beautiful family. I’ve had two occasions to meet his family, and yes they do echo your assessment: they like us a lot. They have assimilated well in the US and been rewarded. One quick story: they live in NOLA, survived Katrina, maybe better than most (certainly lower 9th ward), but were almost un-critical of what our government did or didn’t do in the aftermath. Hung told me they kept the magnitude of the devastation in perspective and moved forward, as rebuilding would be a hard slog for everyone, gov’t. aid or not.

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  30. Judith said on October 1, 2009 at 6:41 pm

    Julie, Have you tried 94.1 for classical music from NPR? That’s WBNI’s new music station.
    My nephew married a wonderful girl whose parents are from Viet Nam.

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  31. Danny said on October 1, 2009 at 6:50 pm

    I think CA has more Nobel Lau­re­ates than any other state.

    Yeah, duh! Because of the beach! {/Napoleon Dynamite}

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  32. Danny said on October 1, 2009 at 6:57 pm

    Rana, totally agree with you about the fading into background noise. And it is easy to take it for granted, but we live about 10 miles inland and are easily within 15 minutes from uttering the word “Beach?” in our living room to being in the sand. And it helps to have the car perennially packed with beach gear.

    We don’t do this often, but last night we did a spur-of-the-moment, moonlit beach walk followed by a light dinner. Robin thought I was ambitious for suggesting it on a school night, but I explained that “hey, that’s why we live here.”

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  33. LAMary said on October 1, 2009 at 7:03 pm

    The only time I would be less than an hour from the beach would be at maybe two am. Although it’s only about 20 miles away and I can in fact see the ocean from the top of my hill, the traffic between there and here is awful.

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  34. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on October 1, 2009 at 7:44 pm

    Julie, blessed art thou — a mainline Protestant congregation that’s adding staff? Y’all are doing something right. Do you know what the denominational health ins package is? The Disciples of Christ family non-largest deductible plan is around $16K per annum. Every few years for a couple decades there’s a hue and cry about “why don’t we pool with other mainline/NCC denoms to make a church-wide plan?” and the study results come back “it would just make it worse.”

    Clergy health ain’t what it ought to be. Then add in small congregations steadily dropping their newer younger clergy off for private plans or spousal plans, and you have a race to the overweight elderly end of the pool.

    Nancy, of course Scott Simon makes too much. I just can’t quite let it stop me from re-upping my membership, which was where a number of other comments were going. OTOH, his “in private industry” defense — dude, where else can you find a comparable job? Because if you’re saying obliquely “hey, i make a tenth of what Hannity and Levin and Limbaugh make,” you really are being silly. Comparable is “what other radio job, besides yours, Liane’s, and Garrison’s, could you even apply for?”

    I seem to recall he spent a brief stint on Weekend Today and gave it up when, in his own gracious and self-deprecating words, they mutually agreed that his visual demeanor didn’t fit the tone of the program.

    Meanwhile, between writing these comments here, i wrote more free content for our local PBS station. Yes, it did make me think as i typed, about the zeros, and the zeros, and more zeros, but i still hit send, sucker that i am.

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  35. MichaelG said on October 1, 2009 at 8:21 pm

    I was in Barstow yesterday. The beach is pretty big there. So big I couldn’t see the water.

    What mark said. I was in Vietnam a few years ago (Saigon). The people are wonderful, the city is big, clean and alive. Don’t worry about not speaking the language. I don’t and had a wonderful time. I could live there. The food is fabulous and despite our best efforts to destroy the country (my efforts included), they love us. That astonished me. It seems like everybody with whom I spoke had a relative in Orange County or Sacramento. It’s a great place but it’s changing fast. Go soon before Ho Chi Minh City turns into L. A. West.

    I can’t get fired up about what Scott Simon makes. I always think it’s not that somebody is making too much but that the rest are making too little.

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  36. mark said on October 1, 2009 at 9:57 pm

    Julie R.

    I know a little about the program. My friend with the Foreign Service was one of a small group (4 or 8, I think) tasked with the interview process. He was based in Thailand and spent two weeks out of every five in either Hanoi or Ho Chi Minh City. This was the early nineties and relations betwen VN and the US were otherwise pretty non-existent. As I recall, they (the interviewers) went in pairs and were pretty all alone while in country. Those were still scary times.

    Yes, the children (and their mothers) were outcasts. They were almost always very poor and they were not educated or eligible for medical care through the government. Much of this was racial prejudice and there is still something of a taboo against marrying outside of the race. It’s pretty common in much of Asia, though sometimes motivated by ethnocentricity (Japan) and other times by class or caste system (South Korea), which can have the same practical results.

    Children of black soldiers generally fared worse than children of caucasian soldiers, I was told.

    Mistreatment or neglect of the children was also something of a government policy. The North was pretty harsh with those who collaborated with the US and SVNG. The prostitutes were not excepted.

    My friend was proud of the program and his role in it, but grew cynical toward the end. The US was very generous and the program allowed extended family admittance to the US as well, with considerable financial assistance. As this became widely known in VN, something of a black market in children of US servicemen, or those who looked like they might be, emerged.

    Wealthy families were paying lots of money to associate with these “children” and to fabricate documents and photographs that would establish their family status. The number of bogus claims rose dramatically. My friend told me of one instance where the young man lookd like he might be the child of a GI and was the proper age, etc., but he looked nothing like the large family that came with him.

    They offered a “family photo”, supposedly from several years earlier, showing them all together. He said it was a photocopy of a photo of the family from years earler to which a small (and current) photo of the young man had been squeezed in. This portion of the interview went something like:

    Friend (to translator): This is not a real photo. It’s fake.

    Family (through translator): They don’t understand. They say Hai is their family.

    Fr: In this photo Hai is the same age as he is now. The rest of you are much younger.

    Fa: They don’t understand.

    Fr: Hai’s head and torso are twice as large as everyone else’s. The photo is a fake.

    Fa: They don’t understand.

    Fr: In the photo, Hai has no legs. Everybody else has legs.

    Fa: They had problems with the camera.

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  37. brian stouder said on October 1, 2009 at 10:11 pm

    Jeff – very nice piece; thanks for sharing the link.

    MichaelG – agreed about other people’s salaries. I will say that I was told by a person who works for a very large chemical company that they were all asked to voluntarily take two week unpaid vacations. Many of them did, but the older employees – people who were within a few years of retirement – flatly refused (thereby attaching a somewhat risky “kick me” sign otp their own backs). But the amount of retirement one gets is based on your last three year’s salary – and they (rightly) didn’t want to take a permanent hit.

    But the kicker? The kicker is that this very large company’s CEO makes a relatively modest $500,000 annual salary, and she DID take the voluntary 2 week cut.

    Of course, if that sacrifice of hers affected her $7,000,000 bonus/incentive/options package last year – it probably served to fluff it a bit more, since it made their black ink a little bit blacker!

    edit – and Harold Holzer’s talk this rainy evening was marvelous; he drew a good crowd, with lots of familiar Lincoln Museum faces. And – ol’ Shelby* liked it, too (although Grant resisted the bribe)

    Here’s Shelby’s school picture


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  38. MarkH said on October 1, 2009 at 10:12 pm

    Jeff tmmo great post there for WOSU on how a national park movement found its way locally to benefit Newark. But, remember, in spite of what you say, the “idea of a national park” certainly did start with the establishment of Yellowstone in 1872, as opposed to the implentation of the NPS, which was started in 1916 when officials realized the needed to establish authority to protect the parks. And, while the Buffalo Soldiers’ story of protecting Yosemite is a great one, and so eloquently told by Shelton Johnson, it was General Phil Sheridan who in 1886 first had the idea of using the army to protect what was supposed to be protected. He saw the looting, littering and land grabbing going on in Yellowstone, especially by Grinnell and Co., and proceeded to use his command to stop it. Too bad the “tourists” soon figured out the soldiers had no arrest authority, and so it continued. Even though the Buffalo Soldiers’ uniform more resembles the modern ranger garb, Sheridan’s army would more correctly be the first park rangers.

    BTW- Tonight’s episode of Burns’ series is especially close to my heart as it tells of the establishment of Grand Teton National Park. I am blessed, blessed, blessed to live where I do, ten miles for the park entrance and 50 miles south of Yellowstone. The view out my front window to the west is spectacular. Yesterday was former Wyoming governor and senator Cliff and Martha Hansen’s 75th wedding anniversary. He figures prominently in the establishment of the park: he, and others, fought it vigorously. He lost, of course, much to his (and our) relief today as he knows how right the idea was and how wrong they were. Watch tonight and be further fascinated by the story. I still see him occasionally at the local post office; he’s getting on at 90+ years, but he always has a friendly greeting.

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  39. Jolene said on October 1, 2009 at 10:20 pm

    mark: I know that story isn’t supposed to be funny, but, well, it is.

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  40. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on October 1, 2009 at 11:45 pm

    MarkH, Cliff Hansen was pretty prominent tonight (albeit in b/w, which seemed like an accidental decision and not an artistic one, but who knows); will enjoy hearing your local viewpoint. I didn’t know about the legal demand of Wyoming to have the Antiquities Act unapplied to them in exchange for easing up on the Jackson Hole wars.

    The fact that the “national park ideal” predates the founding of the National Park Service itself in 1916 is one of the wonderful teaching moments of the Burns special — if i didn’t get that across clearly in my essay, i’ll blame having about 20 minutes between hearings to write this at Scott’s request. His wife used to be my editor back when both she and i got paid to string words together informatively. She’s now a librarian and i’m a mediator, but for Scott, i’ll write anything.

    This Scott, i should note, makes about a tenth of what Scott Simon does. And probably works three times the hours.

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  41. crazycatlady said on October 2, 2009 at 1:16 am

    Cats. They soothe the soul. It’s amazing how they alone decide when to be with you and when to ignore you. They either flop on the bed or walk on your head without concern for your comfort. And yet, I miss them if they aren’t there. Gentle companions, fly stalkers, silly kittens. Love them.

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  42. LA Mary said on October 2, 2009 at 1:29 am

    cclady, you would have loved my old cat Edith. She lived to be 22+, all good years. When she was young she brought in every gopher, mole and tree rat on the block, dead and delivered on my kitchen doormat. When she was older she went deaf and used to stomp the piano keys in the middle of the night oblivious to the noise. She died when my son Pete was pretty young, and I told him she was our cat guardian angel now. He said no, she is a cat goddess.
    Her role in the household is now being filled by three cats, Albert, Anna and Amelia. They come close, but not quite.

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  43. MarkH said on October 2, 2009 at 3:29 am

    Jeff, the Wyoming exemption from the Antiquities Act made my jaw drop. I knew all about the fight and Wallace Beery and Cliff and all that, but, didn’t know about that part of the compromise. Had that not been the case, there are other areas near here, such as the Wind River Range and Wyoming Range, under oil and gas development threats, that could have been monuments by now. But the Forest Service has begun to pull leases in these beautiful areas anyway.

    And, yes, what was up with the reversion to b&w for Cliff’s comments? I’ll have to find out from one of my local photographer friends who may have been involved.

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  44. brian stouder said on October 2, 2009 at 8:27 am

    And NOW we know that the REAL trailer trash (albeit, amongst really nice trailers) was David Letterman, and not the family of the half-baked Alaskan


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  45. Julie Robinson said on October 2, 2009 at 9:27 am

    Mark, thanks for informing us about modern day Vietnam. We know a family whose son married a woman from Japan and their daughter faced similar problems due to her so-called mixed race status. They also had to deal with the American grandpa who had served in WWII and still referred to the dirty Japs. Not easy for anyone, and sadly, they eventually divorced.

    Alex, the realtor didn’t stink but he may be smartin’ for business in the future.

    Judith, we can’t get 94.1 either and we don’t live way out in the sticks; we’re near IPFW. I believe station management has allowed that they were snookered when they bought that signal, and it’s my understanding they are trying to sell it and only broadcast online for classical. Maybe Colleen can set me straight on that. But they’ve already lost most of their audience, who, like me, have found other sources of content. Colleen, I wish you happiness in your new career. I wasn’t so much PO’d as saddened by the decision.

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  46. del said on October 2, 2009 at 10:36 am

    David Letterman had sexual relationships with more than one woman he worked with. Yawn.

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  47. John said on October 2, 2009 at 10:54 am

    Even Bob Barker was nailing the help.

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  48. Sue said on October 2, 2009 at 10:55 am

    What is this IPFW of which you speak? Sounds suspiciously like a commie union or something.

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  49. nancy said on October 2, 2009 at 11:01 am

    [Swimmy visuals and glissando harp FX]

    IPFW is the branch campus of both Indiana University and Purdue University at Fort Wayne. First reference in the newspaper: Indiana University Purdue University-Fort Wayne. At least it was the last time I was responsible for making sure it hewed to style, as it changed regularly. When I started it was “IU-Purdue University, Fort Wayne,” then “IU-Purdue, Fort Wayne,” then nine or 10 other variations on it. It’s always IPFW on second reference, which is what everybody calls it.

    Used in a sentence, by a friend whose daughter was underperforming at a small, expensive private college out of state: “If you don’t shape up, I have four words for you: I. P. F. W.”

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  50. Sue said on October 2, 2009 at 11:05 am

    Speaking of acronyms, the Wisconsin Tourism Federation just changed its name to the Tourism Federation of Wisconsin.

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  51. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on October 2, 2009 at 11:07 am

    I’m not yawning, but . . . akin to our Scott Simon discussion, i wonder if the Letterman story is also part of what you get in a workplace when there are big Kahunas who are paid in a GDP range of zeros, and the bulk of the longtime, hard working staff are barely able to afford rent-controlled apartments.

    The blackmailer is swine and deserves whatever Morgenthau throws at him, but the fact that a CBS producer tried to haul $2 million out of Dave makes we wonder . . . well, it also makes me wonder how much Dave’s made in payouts to keep women quiet ex post coitus.

    At least Obama used the cool sat phone on Air Force One to talk to McChrystal. Two conversations with multi-tour guys in the last week and i’m sure i have no idea what we should do, but leaving 4% of the population to help the thugocracy of the Taliban to get back in the driver’s seat just seems like a bad move, plus it’s our best angle of leverage on the unstable semi-state of Pakistan and its stock of loosely wired nukes.

    But from what i’m being told, they aren’t looking for a surge so much as a second shift to keep things quiet nights while at least half the troops sleep, and not just let the Taliboys back into the village for pillage during the wee hours.

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  52. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on October 2, 2009 at 11:09 am

    Sue, courtesy of my denominational publishing house — http://www.chalicepress.com/WTF-Wheres-the-Faith-C14.aspx — you gotta see the cover.

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  53. del said on October 2, 2009 at 11:40 am

    The Scott Simon thing’s a tough one. Sure he’s paid a lot but his program’s so good it generates a lot of donations too. I remember when Simon interviewed Pat Buchanan during one of his presidential runs. Buchanan had been coming off as ridiculously tough on poverty, immigration, etc, during the interview so Simon threw him a softball to let him at least seem human, setting the scene for him: Let’s say you’re gathered with your family around the Thanksgiving dinner table and someone (from one of Buchanan’s disfavored groups) shows up on your doorstep hungry, how do you respond? Buchanan still doesn’t get it, and responds by lecturing the guy about America’s values and sending him on his way . . .

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  54. brian stouder said on October 2, 2009 at 12:27 pm

    Fort Wayne booster mode on

    Regarding IPFW – let me just say that the place has moved up in the world over the past decade or two. Its student population is above 16,000, and over the past several years they added many, many dorms and student housing. Also – they have added many new facilities, not least of which including the marvelous auditorium that has drawn me again and again, for various things (the next Omnibus Series lecture will be by James Galbraith – on our late economic crash – and I am very much looking forward to that).

    By way of saying – one could easily do much, much worse than attending IPFW

    FW booster mode still on!

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  55. joodyb said on October 3, 2009 at 9:06 pm

    Jeff tmmo@51: that sounds like a pretty fair summation of the situation from this wire ed’s standpoint.

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