Don’t assume.

Brother Rod Dreher comes in for a certain amount of abuse in this space, but when he’s right — or at least in the ballpark of right — I have to give him his due.

I saw this excerpt from She-Who’s recent interview with Barbara Walters, demonstrating her awesome foreign policy skilz:

“I believe that the Jewish settlements should be allowed to be expanded upon, because that population of Israel is, is going to grow. More and more Jewish people will be flocking to Israel in the days and weeks and months ahead. And I don’t think that the Obama administration has any right to tell Israel that the Jewish settlements cannot expand.”

The editor in me saw She-Who’s signature trait, the intellectual insecurity that leads her to blather, in the belief that if you throw a whole lot of words into an answer, it sounds more thinky. Before he was famous, Dave Barry occasionally worked as a writing teacher to private businesses, and he said something funny about memos — that they’re like balloons, and the game is to bat them around the room so that they land somewhere other than your desk. You bat them by adding a few more words and sending them on their way. Take a look at She-Who’s answer again, and take out the extra air:

“I believe that the Jewish [Israeli] settlements should be allowed to be expanded upon, because that population of Israel is, is going to grow. More and more Jewish people [Jews] will be flocking to Israel in the days and weeks and months ahead [future]. And I don’t think that the Obama administration has any right to tell Israel that the Jewish settlements cannot expand.”

Part of this is the difference between speaking and writing — tell them that instead of tell them, for instance. But it’s that “days and weeks and months” I find so telling; why not “days and weeks and months and years and decades and centuries,” Mrs. Maverick? Because she was following the rule of three; three puffs of air into the memo balloon and off it goes to become someone else’s problem. But also, well, let’s let Brother Rod pick it up from here:

When I heard that, I thought, oh, here we go.

Really? Why? He goes on to quote from a report on She-Who’s meeting with Billy Graham, from whom she wanted “his take on what the Bible says about Israel, Iran and Iraq,” according to his son Franklin. Dreher goes on:

What the Bible says about Israel, Iran and Iraq. That’s a tip-off that she reads the Bible as a guide to geopolitical events in the End Times. This is very common among a large portion of Evangelical Christians — according to a leading expert, between 50 and 60 million Americans hold Palin’s belief about the Jewish ingathering to Israel in advance of the Apocalypse — but can you imagine an American president making her foreign policy based on a belief that “The Late, Great Planet Earth” is a reliable source of information about the future?

I confess, I was so busy feeling smug and superior about She-Who’s speaking style I didn’t even consider what she was saying, beneath the surface, anyway. A lot of Christian conservatives lurve Israel and all that she does, even her fringiest residents, and I know that they consider certain events there key to their beliefs about the end of the world and the return of Christ, but I guess I didn’t know they thought it was coming so soon, in the days and weeks and months ahead. So for pointing that out to me, I’m grateful to Crunchy Rod.

I thought a lot of this millennial nonsense was swept aside by 9/11. I’ve spoken before in this space about Gershom Gorenberg’s marvelous “End of Days,” a book about the way the Big Three monotheistic faiths converge upon a single plot of land — the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. But his book was published around the time of the millennial turn, the fears surrounding which look pretty silly compared to planes flying into buildings.

Or maybe not, when the person holding them has aspirations to high office.

I never read the “Left Behind” books; did I miss anything?

Well, as some of you have indicated, news that it’s my natal anniversary seems to have leaked to the world. Kate and Alan just left on a mysterious errand, and I’m guessing they’ll return with a cake. In the meantime, I still have some housecleaning to do, and then the real fun starts — the Wednesday-night pie-baking before the feast. Expect light-to-nonexistent posting for the remainder of the weekend, but rest assured, I am enjoying the celebration.

Posted at 11:42 am in Current events |

85 responses to “Don’t assume.”

  1. 4dbirds said on November 25, 2009 at 11:50 am

    Happy birthday. You give me a gift everyday with this wonderful blog.

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  2. brian stouder said on November 25, 2009 at 11:54 am

    rest assured, I am enjoy­ing the celebration.


    (and I shall avert my eyes from news of the looming Sarapocalypse)

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  3. coozledad said on November 25, 2009 at 11:54 am

    The will to believe the whole end of days thing seems to come down to the level of infantalism you are willing to deploy against your fear of death. Are you vain enough to believe that you are among the chosen, and confident you’ll be raptured up?
    I’d like to get the take of the West Bank Palestinian Christians on this shithouse sophistry while they’re being evicted from their land.
    You can hardly blame the grifters for latching on to these dupes and bleeding them for every dime they’ve got.
    You don’t find free money every day.

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  4. derwood said on November 25, 2009 at 11:55 am

    Happy Birthday Nancy.


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  5. MichaelG said on November 25, 2009 at 11:59 am


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  6. Julie Robinson said on November 25, 2009 at 12:03 pm

    Happy Birthday, and I second 4dbirds.

    The Left Behind books are scorned by my denomination for crappy theology and even crappier writing. I’ve never understood evangelicals’ support of Israel, since Jews reject Jesus as Messiah. Maybe JeffTMMO can ‘splain it to us?

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  7. Joe K said on November 25, 2009 at 12:12 pm

    First off, Happy Birthday. Mine is coming up in Dec, big 52.
    One who doesn’t speak write or spell correctly, is not necessarily dumb.
    I admire the Israelis due to the fact they have a kick ass air force and take no shit off of anyone.
    Happy thanksgiving.
    Pilot Joe

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  8. LAMary said on November 25, 2009 at 12:15 pm

    I think Bush was a big fan of the Left Behind books. It explains a lot.

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  9. John said on November 25, 2009 at 12:15 pm

    A. Jews are going to Hell.
    B. However, Jews are God’s Chosen People.
    C. In order for the Second Coming/Rapture, Jews need to build the New Jerusalem Temple.
    D. Second Coming/Rapture occurs, Christians ascend to Heaven.
    E. Jews’ fate, see A.

    Based up my southern experience growing up, this is my understanding of the End Timers thinking. Please forgive the pejorative term “Jew”. Also, there are some sub-steps not mentioned which include “B2. Jews are going to Hell” and “C2. Jews are going to Hell.”

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  10. Jolene said on November 25, 2009 at 12:21 pm

    Jeff Goldberg, who worries about all things related to the fate of the Jews, has consulted an expert re what SP was saying and, more generally, the role of Jews in end-times theology.

    I think it’s fair to say that he did not come away delighted w/ what he learned, but he did get a reasonably good explanation as to why American evangelicals are so devoted to Jews and the welfare of Israel.

    Hint: It’s not because, you know, they respect Judaism or care about the fate of individual Jews.

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  11. coozledad said on November 25, 2009 at 12:22 pm

    Joe K: they definitely didn’t take any shit off of the US during the Six Day War, when they strafed an American naval vessel flying the colors. Yay Israel! Boo US!

    Oh, and Nancy: Mr crabby ass wishes you a happy birthday and the household an Eric Sloane worthy Thanksgiving.

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  12. nancy said on November 25, 2009 at 12:25 pm

    As one preacher put it in “End of Days”: “The Jews believe they’re in a three-act play. We know it’s four.” Fourth act: Jews cast into pit of hell, etc. But first they have to rebuild the Temple.

    That’s really an entertaining book. When you open it up and see “Chapter 1: Cattlemen of the Apocalypse,” you know you’re in for some fun. (For the unenlightened: There’s a group in Texas trying to breed a flawless red heifer with no more than three white hairs, necessary for the burnt offering that sets everything in motion.)

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  13. Lex said on November 25, 2009 at 12:30 pm

    I read that quote and knew immediately what she was talking about. This stuff has had powerful adherents in government at least since the Reagan years.

    For a pretty clear explanation of all this (as well as some excellent deconstruction of other fundie crap), I highly recommend “Stealing Jesus: How Fundamentalism Betrays Christianity,” by Bruce Bawer.

    And Happy Birthday to our hostess!

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  14. Sue said on November 25, 2009 at 12:36 pm

    “I never read the “Left Behind” books; did I miss anything?”
    A whole lot of mediocre writing. My nephew liked them and so I read the first one; it has a kind of sixties Arthur Hailey feel to it.
    I knew immediately what Sarah was referring to; I wish someone would get her to publicly discuss that aspect of her philosophy, especially if she does decide to run for Pres. Putting someone who sincerely believes that the world is going to end soon into a position that gives her the tools to help end the world should be an important discussion point.
    Happy Birthday, Nancy. I notice you don’t bat an eye in mentioning housecleaning on your Big Day. Not what it used to be, huh.

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  15. coozledad said on November 25, 2009 at 12:43 pm

    We have a flawless dun steer. Does this mean Jesse Helms can rise up and distribute cigarettes to minors?

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  16. ROgirl said on November 25, 2009 at 12:51 pm

    In practical terms, the Temple would have to be rebuilt at the site where the Dome of the Rock currently stands. Maybe the Evangelicals are hoping that will start the Apocalypse.

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  17. leigh said on November 25, 2009 at 1:01 pm

    Probably all you wanted to know about the evangelical/Israel linking is at Christians United for Israel; There was a fairly informative bit about them on Bill Moyers a couple yrs back, no doubt this is archived somewhere on the pbs site. I think their figurehead is Hagee. Like John, I was exposed to this in my youth, pre-Left Behind, and I’m more or less used to it by now. I distinctly remember a reference to the End Times showing up in a very religious Moody Press novel that was written in the late 1940s. People have been loopy about this for a while now.

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  18. Peter said on November 25, 2009 at 1:08 pm

    Well, how about a summer camp birthday salute (sung to the Volga Boatmen..)
    Happy Birthday
    Happy Birthday
    People dying everywhere
    Misery is in the air
    Happy Birthday
    Happy Birthday

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  19. paddyo' said on November 25, 2009 at 1:19 pm

    Happy birthday to The Queen of This Place from the Queen City of the Plains (no gay reference there, it’s the old nickname before “Mile-High City” came into use) . . . I agree, this column and its commenters are the daily gift for all of us.

    Pilot Joe, I, too, admire the Israelis for not taking any shit. Unfortunately, they deliver entirely too much of it to the West Bank and Gaza, and the unendingly aggressive push by their “settlers” to colonize lands that morally are not theirs is just plain reprehensible — as is their government’s blind eye and delay-delay-delay in taking any meaningful action.

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  20. brian stouder said on November 25, 2009 at 1:29 pm

    Say – speaking of World Affairs (etc), here’s a little birthday/holiday bon bon: a test of how well you know your geography

    The dang thing rushes you along, and makes snarky comments when you’re wrong (“You do know this is Earth, right?”) and cloying ones when you’re right
    (I’ll show you my score, if you show me yours)

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  21. beb said on November 25, 2009 at 1:35 pm

    Happy b-day.

    There much be several versions of the Volga Boatmen’s birthday song. The version I heard was

    It’s your birthday,
    it’s your birthday
    Another year,
    Death is Near,
    It’s your birthday.

    Isreal is a painful mess. OOn the one hand they were promised, the British all the land from River Jordan to the sea but ended up with considerably less than that. So I feel that they deserve all the disputed lands on the west bank. But that’s not going to happen and these efforts to colonize lands that disputed only inflames the people already living there.

    … but can you imag­ine an Amer­i­can pres­i­dent mak­ing her for­eign pol­icy based on a belief that “The Late, Great Planet Earth” is a reli­able source of infor­ma­tion about the future? I’m pretty sure Pres. Bush, or his advisors already were followers of that book.

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  22. derwood said on November 25, 2009 at 1:47 pm


    Level 5
    Traveler IQ 89


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  23. nancy said on November 25, 2009 at 1:48 pm

    I knew immediately what Sarah was referring to; I wish someone would get her to publicly discuss that aspect of her philosophy, especially if she does decide to run for Pres.

    You’d be surprised how ignorant big-city reporters can be about conservative Christians and precisely what they believe. I learned this during my year in Ann Arbor. A lot has to do with how they’re raised, where they went to school and the people they live among, which is why I believe a year abroad — with abroad translated as “Fort Wayne, Indiana” — would do many of them a world of good.

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  24. Julie Robinson said on November 25, 2009 at 1:54 pm

    *hysterical laughing*

    Talking amongst friends from tiny Sycamore, Illinois, I remarked that I didn’t know sex education was controversial until I moved here.

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  25. nancy said on November 25, 2009 at 1:58 pm

    Pts. 191,914
    Level 6
    Travelers IQ: 93

    Not enough to continue to the next level. I’m embarrassed. Would have made it but for a couple of huge misses — Malta and Suriname, to be precise. And I’m a mess with China.

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  26. John said on November 25, 2009 at 1:59 pm

    Holy cow! You’re good at this!

    Your Final score: 348,798
    Your Final level: 10
    Your Traveler IQ: 108

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  27. Jolene said on November 25, 2009 at 1:59 pm

    Fun, Brian. Except, as you say, for the snarky remarks.

    Final Score: 343,627
    Level 10
    Traveler IQ: 108

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  28. moe99 said on November 25, 2009 at 2:04 pm

    Hey, here’s some Christmas shopping ideas courtesy of the TSA: they’re selling what they bag at the airports on ebay.

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  29. Jolene said on November 25, 2009 at 2:04 pm

    Re being a mess wrt to China, I thought I was doing pretty well to know that all those Japanese cities were, in fact, Japanese cities. Placing them on the map was another thing entirely.

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  30. Sue said on November 25, 2009 at 2:10 pm

    Hah, if it’s a geography quiz I’m not going near it, let’s just assume I’m:
    Final Score: 0
    Level: 0
    Traveler IQ: 0
    So, what are Sarah and her like-minded associates going to do when, in the coming days and weeks and months, Jewish people don’t start “flocking” to Israel? I know a few (they’re rather scarce around here); as far as I can tell no one’s going anywhere and would be surprised to know they’re expected to hit the road.

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  31. paddyo' said on November 25, 2009 at 2:23 pm

    Level 6
    IQ 91
    Tough to place with any degree of precision . . . closest I got on a couple were about 30 kilometers . . . but great fun. Thanks, Brian!

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  32. MarkH said on November 25, 2009 at 2:27 pm

    Moe, I don’t think that seller is TSA. It appears to be someone else(?) in Vegas who got a hold of said items. Do you think TSA would be smart enought to market them and display them so pleasingly? However, I am scouring the listings for a small expensive knife of mine they confiscated at the Boise airport in August.

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  33. derwood said on November 25, 2009 at 2:36 pm

    If I remember correctly, I think the TSA turns the items over to whatever state they are confiscated in and then many of the states sell the items on ebay. Not sure if that is what’s happening in those particular listings.


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  34. moe99 said on November 25, 2009 at 2:56 pm

    Ah, well I was mislead by the “NTSA” part of the title in the ebay page.


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  35. Jean S said on November 25, 2009 at 3:32 pm

    happy bday, Nancy!

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  36. garmoore2 said on November 25, 2009 at 3:38 pm

    Pts: 398,135
    Level 10
    Traveler IQ: 113

    Beats working.

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  37. James said on November 25, 2009 at 3:42 pm

    I’m just too blind to see their teeny-tiny map:

    For this game you earned a Traveler IQ of: 93

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  38. LAMary said on November 25, 2009 at 3:47 pm

    level 7
    travel iq 97

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  39. Dave said on November 25, 2009 at 4:12 pm

    She who. She who? Why was this phrase rattling my brain, then I remembered the blog about the troubled marriage and how the writer always referred to his spouse. Seems so long ago, now.

    She who is scary and the local afternoon radio moron just keeps going on about her, sounding more foolish to my ears by the day.

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  40. LAMary said on November 25, 2009 at 4:15 pm

    It was the PBS series about the lawyer…something of the Bailey. He referred to his wife as she who must be obeyed.

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  41. LAMary said on November 25, 2009 at 4:16 pm

    Rumpole of the Bailey.

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  42. LAMary said on November 25, 2009 at 4:17 pm

    I was hoping Whatsermukluks would catch on.

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  43. Sue said on November 25, 2009 at 4:20 pm

    Rumpole of the Bailey, referring to Rider Haggard?

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  44. Kirk said on November 25, 2009 at 5:54 pm

    Final score: 377,785
    Final Level: 10
    IQ: 111

    Now I have to edit a story slugged “Uganda gays.”

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  45. Dexter said on November 25, 2009 at 8:04 pm

    Was it a cake? Probably a round one to break up the monotony. That square cake surely looked good the other day. How could A & K improve on that for your birthday?

    Heading out to Columbus in a few hours…everyone have a great holiday.

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  46. Dave K said on November 25, 2009 at 8:21 pm

    Happy Birthday Nancy, and Happy Thanksgiving too. I’m not jumping the gun, just six time zones ahead, visiting my daughter and grandchildren in Landstuhl, Germany. I hope you all have a wonderful day.

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  47. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on November 25, 2009 at 9:22 pm

    Just got to Indianapolis & the in-laws — have birds to eviscerate, apples to core, etc., but: to be fair to most premillenials*, the most common school of Rapture-ready thought, their assumptions are indeed rooted in a triumphalist, supercessionist set of propositions, but they include an understanding that most ethnically Jewish people will convert, albeit after the Rapture, during the Tribulation years, and be on the correct side for the Final Conflict, which will usher in a Thousand Year Reign of Jesus as Benign Ruler Over All. So the reiterated glee in “Jews go to Hell” is not, strictly speaking correct. Jews who don’t confess Jesus as the Moshiach, yep: they toast up nicely along with all the other unbelievers and pagans and mainline Protestants, according to the standard premillennial script.

    *Pre-millennials — Rapture and Tribulation and Second Coming ™ all happen before the Millennium of Christ’s Reign. Oddly, most of these folk will happily allow that the 1,000 years of the Millennium is symbolic, not to be taken literally. Don’t try that trick with the seven days of creation or the age of Methuselah, they don’t like it.

    Post-millennials — The ingathering/upgathering of all the faithful and & Final Judgment come at the end of the 1,000 year reign of Christ on Earth, which begins with the Second Coming ™, unless it doesn’t — some post-mils call for the Church Militant to “bring about the millennium” by living out the Kingdom, at the fulfillment of which Christ will come in glory, straighten out some incidental plot points, and then gather up the faithful. These folk, fewer in number, are the real hazard in terms of thinking that blowing up the Dome of the Rock/Mosque of Omar could actually move along a cosmic script by enabling the Jewish ritual practitioners to build the Third Temple. Not to worry, they think that most of those Hebrews, deluded as they still are with an unhealthy obsession with ritual purity, will convert at the last step when Jesus appears as the heavens roll up like a scroll. Stiff-necked Jews who don’t convert at the last end up in the same dumpster with National Council of Churches staff and Planned Parenthood contributors.

    A-millennials — No, seriously. There is a conservative/fundamentalist school that has their own non-Darby/non-Scofield way of reading Ezekiel, Daniel, and Revelation (plus one anomalous chapter of Matthew), with the Second Coming ™ and Final Judgment occuring at some point during the fulfillment of the Millennium, but with some centuries of millennialness yet to go “for the enjoyment of the saints.” Then all fly away.

    Emil-ennials — a creation of Garrison Keillor on Prairie Home Companion, these are followers of an Emil Tollefson who believed that the Millennium had already come, Rapture too, and we were working on a new version of the Kingdom under the guidance of Emil.

    Hope that all helped . . . time to boil yams. A taste of final judgment, perhaps?

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  48. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on November 25, 2009 at 11:10 pm

    Couldn’t resist, and i’m not making the mashed potatoes, anyhow —

    Final score: 421,585
    Final level: 10
    Travel IQ: 116

    That’s a *tiny* map. Dang, i wanted to see what Level 12’s questions would be. Stupid Mali.

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  49. Dexter said on November 26, 2009 at 12:17 am

    JMMO…I know where those cities are, but the map said I missed them by , say 145 km when my pinpoint was dead-on. So I quit. The map needs a zero-in feature.

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  50. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on November 26, 2009 at 12:22 am

    Yeah, there were some i was guessing by a full watershed or mountain range, and it would ding up “52 km” but when, by my eye, i had Serenissima Venezia pegged right in the Plaza San Marco, it would say “463 km.”

    Wasn’t even close on Mali or the Solomons, and i put the [Blank] Bay, Australia on the wrong coast, so i guess i’ll never see Level 12.

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  51. moe99 said on November 26, 2009 at 10:43 am

    Well, all I got to was level 5. Grumble grumble.

    For a free game, it’s pretty darn fun.

    Oh, and I thought these holiday shopping tips were pretty darn good:

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  52. brian stouder said on November 26, 2009 at 12:01 pm

    First time I played – didn’t make it past level 8 (I forget the rest of the score – but IQ was just above room temp!); second time around – after I was “on to” how the map worked, I scored 253,227, crapped out on level 8, and had an IQ of 100.*

    I missed Burkina Faso by 6,000+ km; ditto on another place I can’t even recall the name of; plus in my haste I clicked Iran instead of Iraq.

    Re Second Coming folks and cattlemen of the appocalypse and pro-settlement types(et al) – if you can manufacture the conditions for the Second Coming, then the Gofd they really believe in is more Diest/clockmaker than Supreme being and Judge, eh?

    * subsequent plays of the geography game are different from previous plays.

    Happy Thanksgiving, all; I’m off to play Tigris and Euphrates (if I can talk ’em into it) or else a card game called Phase 10, which technically never actually ends

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  53. LAMary said on November 26, 2009 at 2:08 pm

    My college student son got a level 10, iq 118. Not bad for a nineteen year old product of the LA public schools. He spends a lot of time on Google Maps which probably has something to do with it.

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  54. Jolene said on November 26, 2009 at 2:44 pm

    Pretty good, Mary. Congrats to your son. After playing a couple of times, I increased my IQ to 113, but still didn’t get out of Level 10. As Brian said, you can play again and again. There’s some overlap in questions, but many new ones too. A bigger map would, indeed, be a real plus, but even better would be a more detailed map in my head.

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  55. moe99 said on November 26, 2009 at 3:27 pm

    John Cleese on She Who….

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  56. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on November 26, 2009 at 7:50 pm

    The line “this is an ex-parrot, it is deceased” comes to mind . . .

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  57. Dave said on November 27, 2009 at 12:01 am

    Here I am, clear at the bottom but the rest of it finally registered with me.

    I was thinking of, “She Who Must Not be Named”, and she was the wife of a blogger who was blogging about his disintegrating marriage, a blog that our hostess put us onto several years ago, I believe it was the first blog that I ever read with any regularity, which I guess means I think of this as more of a continuation of the columns I used to read in the paper and not a blog.

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  58. moe99 said on November 27, 2009 at 12:50 pm

    Remember that fellow in Europe who has been in a coma for 23 years and it was reported that he is communicating now? Well, this doctor has some doubts:

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  59. deb said on November 27, 2009 at 7:40 pm

    jeff TMMO, you rock. that is the funniest explanation i’ve ever read of the end-times scenario. your remark about jesus coming to reign in glory and “straighten out some incidental plot points” made me laugh out loud. (and i’m not hatin’; i’m a practicing catholic who grew up surrounded by end-of-days protestants. happily, there aren’t a lot of end-timers in my ultra-liberal parish.)

    anyway, thanks for weighing in. if you ever feel like deconstructing the unbearable “left behind” series, i’m there.

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  60. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on November 27, 2009 at 11:45 pm

    Pilot lusts after stewardess, loses ticket to Rapture; he, she, and a cast of myriad other not quite ready for Prime Time Faith players fight an increasingly cliched set of stand-ins for evil until facing the Anti-Christ himself, who turns out to be Ban Ki Moon’s Transylvanian cousin, Nicolae. Armed with wicked piloting skills suitable for never-to-be-made video game platforms (or maybe there’s a Tribulation Force series for X-box i’ve blessedly never seen), and high technology that has remarkable tech support (apparently no geeks or nerds are Raptured), and the well-timed arrival of the Lord On High, the apotheosis of inerrancy is reached when the slaughter of Armageddon *literally* (yes, that is actual literal literally) generates blood flowing as high as a stirrup, so that no poetic turn of phrase from the Psalms can go unfulfilled.

    Then the Big Sort, Sheep and Goats, the Beatific Vision, and a remarkably flat, uninspiring ending; with a concluding perverse attempt to imply a possible sequel, since the 12 books of “Left Behind” are all selling well, and yet Jesus still hasn’t come again. Can’t wait to read a suspense thriller set in the Heavenly Jerusalem . . . but as in so many things, Robert Heinlein already wrote that one. Try “Job, a Comedy of Justice.”

    There you go, deb — greetings to any other NN.Cers who were at the Monument Circle lighting tonight in Indianapolis; i’m caffeined to my eyebrows, so this seemed like a challenge worth attempting . . . full disclosure: I read book one, parts of two and three, skimmed the remainder, reading the last half of the final book with growing dismay and bemusement leaning on an end cap at a B&N, steadily pounding on the shelving moaning “No, no, no, oh crud, no . . .”

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  61. deb said on November 28, 2009 at 10:34 am

    jeff TMMO, you made my morning. thanks for turning the ridiculous into the sublime.

    i got through the first two books, then bailed. i think my dismayed moans started at the mass-execution scene that seemed to borrow heavily from “the manchurian candidate.” the books ranked among the worst-written dreck i’ve ever read. and i’ve supervised newspaper interns.

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  62. Julie Robinson said on November 28, 2009 at 12:41 pm

    It’s kinda how I felt about the Twilight series: listened to the first one, Wikipediaed the rest.

    LAMary, your sweet potato and apple in cider recipe was a big hit at our Thanksgiving table, thanks for the idea. It’s also great poured over leftover turkey that is beginning to dry out. Yum!

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  63. LAMary said on November 28, 2009 at 1:47 pm

    I’m glad it worked for you Julie. I had good intentions to make the squash puree recipe from the Atlantic website but I ran out of oven space. There’s just so much that can be made ahead of time, and the sweet potatoes, stuffing, roasted brussels sprouts and cauliflower au gratin took all the space. The turkey was in there too.

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  64. Deborah said on November 28, 2009 at 7:32 pm

    I’m back in Chicago after spending Thanksgiving in New Harmony, IN. I saw something on the road trip down there and back that I’ve never noticed before, thought you guys might help me out here. There were a lot of houses in the southern part of Illinois and Indiana that had these big stars on them, 5 pointed, dimensional, faceted, or I think the term for the form is crenelated, the thickest part in the middle. They were often an undetermined color, couldn’t tell if they were metal or wood or what? Are they just decoration? Or is it a military thing or a Christian code thing that designates something? Odd.

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  65. Dexter said on November 28, 2009 at 9:09 pm

    Deborah: Good question…I grabbed this off of a blog:
    “Blue 5-angel star= Family member currently serving in a War
    Gold 5-angel star= Lost a Family member in a War
    Red 5-angel star= Family member wounded in combat
    Brown 5-angel star= Veteran of the military

    These are commonly misunderstood for decorative items but they do have meaning.”

    PFC McGarvey
    United States Army Infantry” ”
    However, I see this
    PFC McGarvey has spammed the internet with this message, so who knows?
    I see all kinds of other explanations are on the ‘net, too. The damn things are all over Bryan, Ohio , I know that.
    OK, I just called my kid in Columbus and asked her because she has a large star hanging in her living room. She said it has “no significance”, but gee, when the damn thing is huge and hanging outside on someone’s wall of their house it must mean something.

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  66. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on November 28, 2009 at 9:42 pm

    They’re folk kitsch. They’re everywhere, and the meanings noted have no more standing than the “meaning” of each of the 13 folds of the American flag which i get fwd’ed to me at least once’t a week.

    It’s a way to bring instant county, historic charm to a featureless broad wall on a rural home built in the last twenty years.

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  67. basset said on November 28, 2009 at 10:35 pm

    Back to she who must not be named for a minute – her book is already at thirty percent off at Barnes & Noble in Nashville, lined up on shelves near the front of the store with nobody I saw paying it much attention.

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  68. Dexter said on November 29, 2009 at 12:42 am

    Just in case there are any Arlo Guthrie fans out there, here’s a 57 minute interview with him, by Ron Bennington.

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  69. crinoidgirl said on November 29, 2009 at 3:45 am

    Every once in a while I look at the reviews on Amazon for Silky Pony’s book.

    The “Customer Communities” linked with the book are:
    Sarah Palin

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  70. MichaelG said on November 29, 2009 at 3:11 pm

    Those stars must be a Midwestern thing. I’ve never seen one around here (Northern CA).

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  71. Deborah said on November 29, 2009 at 4:07 pm

    “It’s a way to bring instant county, historic charm to a featureless broad wall on a rural home built in the last twenty years”

    Sounds about right. We noticed they only appeared to be in the southern parts of the states so it must be a southern midwestern thing.

    When I googled it one post said it originated from barn stars.

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  72. moe99 said on November 29, 2009 at 5:54 pm

    Pink Glove Dance.

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  73. Deborah said on November 29, 2009 at 6:01 pm

    Moe, just watched that pink glove video, fabulous! Worth an exclamation point.

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  74. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on November 29, 2009 at 9:01 pm

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  75. brian stouder said on November 29, 2009 at 9:05 pm

    What Deborah said, Moe; good stuff indeed. (now we’ll have to see Mary’s hospital do a ditty)

    After seeing some of the more terrible news over this past holiday weekend, I’m inclined to stay with the sillier stuff.

    For example, if any normal mortal amongst us smashed our car into a tree (at 2:30 in the morning – when NOTHING good happens) and then a fire hydrant, and our spouse worked to smash out two car windows with a golf club, and a neighbor called the police – I think we’d get to spend the weekend in jail, and explain it to the judge Monday morning; none of this “I don’t choose to speak to the police; check out my web-page” stuff. At the absolute least, “domestic disturbance” calls like that would likely result in a ride downtown – if you’re not a billionaire.

    And – this evening I watched C-SPAN and saw none other than Jayson Blair (helpfully identified on the screen as “Former New York Times Reporter Jayson Blair” by C-SPAN) deliver a truly bizarre lecture on ethics in journalism, to a class of students at Washington and Lee University. (No, I’m not kidding)

    He was clearly very, very nervous; he gamely took questions – and one hardball question after the next sailed in at him. I found that I was grimacing and squirming, as I watched him grimmace and squirm.

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  76. LAMary said on November 29, 2009 at 9:32 pm

    Hey Brian, that is one of the hospitals in the company I work for. I found that video on Jezebel last week and sent it around to colleagues. The pink glove dance is from St. Vincent’s in Portland, part of Providence Health and Services, as is the place where I work. The nurse manager of oncology here said she wanted to transfer to that hospital and work with those folks. We’ll see what sort of enthusiasm we generate here when our new cancer center opens in a few months. I hired a fabulous clinical director last Wednesday and I think it’s going to be a great place. Traditional and nontraditional therapies will be offered, as well as counseling for patients and patient families.
    I’m sound like the PR department, sorry.

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  77. alex said on November 29, 2009 at 10:35 pm

    The “barn stars” are actually a rip-off of a colonial feature, a cap used to pretty up the ends of steel support rods that keep the walls of old masonry buildings from buckling.

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  78. basset said on November 29, 2009 at 11:39 pm

    I was gonna post that and Alex beat me by two minutes… they are indeed often structural, you can see a threaded rod poking through the center with a nut holding the star in place.

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  79. Dexter said on November 30, 2009 at 1:18 am

    This HBO party in New York is great…if you are a veteran of 20th Century rock and roll. I am catching a late feed of it right now, it’s been wonderful. I used to chase CSNY around the Midwest in the 1970s and they had about twenty minutes onstage. All the stars were there…I don’t know when the taping was.

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  80. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on November 30, 2009 at 8:53 am

    Hate to argue with Alex, but there’s two kinds of “barnstars,” and they each have an actual history, versus the instant history of rural Midwestern country living stores.

    One kind is the end cap of tie rods on brick buildings of a pre-1880 vintage — here in Granville, we have an 1824 two story with an “A” and an “S” as the end caps, the initials of the occupant when the rods were added in the 1840s. They’re about six inches to a foot across, and come in many shapes, but a star gives a natural grip to five or more bricks where a gear wheel type might only pull back against three or four.

    The other kind has a German carpenter sort of history, a bit of showing off to no good purpose, much as gingerbread edging echoes English stonework from the old country but is just proof that your lathe and keyhole saw technique is top drawer. The German barn star is three to five feet across, and is a bit of joinery with bevels and mortising to make a three-dimensional five-pointed star. There are old ones in eastern PA, something akin to hex signs, another old Deutsch/PA Dutch tradition with obscure roots that has been garbled up into consumer goods with multiple imputed meanings that have little to do with the original intention . . . which, as far as i know, no one knows much about, except that there are a bunch of old ones still visible showing that they actually existed.

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  81. Jolene said on November 30, 2009 at 9:31 am

    Speaking of cancer treatment, the director of the Cancer Center at Georgetown, had an interesting article in the Post this past weekend about the limited effectiveness of all the money that we pour into treatment and the need for new forms of research and expanded participation in clinical trials. Worth a quick read, and there’s a web chat re the article at noon today.

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  82. alex said on November 30, 2009 at 10:10 am

    Late-breaking news on Huffpost. And to think we learned about it on NN.C first:


    Interesting about the German barn stars. Didn’t know that. Started seeing stars on tract houses around here a few years ago and they seem to be catching up to fake window shutters in popularity.

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  83. brian stouder said on November 30, 2009 at 10:43 am

    Crass thought of the morning: If Mike Huckabee were a Democrat – such as Howard Dean or Deval Patrick…or Kathleen Sebelius*** – how many milliseconds would have elapsed before Fox News and all their flying monkeys began LEAPING into gyrations about domestic terrorism being AIDED AND ABETTED by the weak-kneed/Quisling/cowardly Democrats?

    My guess – .0003

    As it is, when the dewey-eyed demagogue Beck (or the dough-boy demagogue Limbaugh, et al) take to the airwaves today, when the subject turns to the ‘larger meaning’ of the horrible attack on the police in Washington state, all one will hear will be


    *** Bonus Points for her!! Then, President Obama could be accused of having ‘blood on his hands’ – by extension! Damn the luck anyway, that it was Huckabee that commuted the shooter’s 95 year sentence!

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  84. Rana said on December 1, 2009 at 4:50 pm

    Belated Happy Birthday!


    Traveler IQ score:

    Level 10
    IQ 107

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  85. brian stouder said on December 1, 2009 at 10:50 pm

    Rana – you rule!

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