Beware the Ides of March.

This is the final week of deadline madness, so expect even more spottiness and fly-by updates, but hell, while I’ve got you…

I’m still amazed at how little coverage the Mexican drug wars are getting north of the border, but maybe this latest story will goose something along. An American consulate worker — pregnant, no less — and her husband, gunned down in their car while their infant wailed from the back seat. From what I’ve read of the killers, I’m amazed they left the baby alone. The numbers are astonishing: Ciudad Juarez had 2,000 murders last year, the highest in the world. The weekend’s death toll alone was 20.

It wouldn’t surprise me if this isn’t our next stupid military excursion — south of the border. How fun that will be.

Elsewhere in the Bad News for the Forseeable Future front is a story we’ve been seeing in fits and starts for a while — call it Our Crumbling Infrastructure, Water Division. A few months before New Year’s Day, 2000, a 23-inch water main broke in Fort Wayne, and drained a big chunk of the city for a few hours before they could get it fixed. This was during the great Y2K scare. Remember, apocalyptic fantasies are never a hard sell in Indiana, and rather than doing what they might have done — cope with a little hardship for half a day, or use it as an excuse to go out to dinner in another part of the city — instead residents fell out for their local groceries to strip the shelves of bottled water. Shoving matches broke out in store aisles; it was all a little unsettling.

That story points out what our paper did back then — these pipes are old. The main in Fort Wayne was made of cast iron, for cryin’ out loud. The one in the opening anecdote of the story dates from the invention of the light bulb. And while cast iron is sturdy and our water infrastructure has certainly done its service, well, nothing lasts forever:

Today, a significant water line bursts on average every two minutes somewhere in the country, according to a New York Times analysis of Environmental Protection Agency data.

Falling freeway bridges, crumbling infrastructure (much of it effectively ignored for a century), crazed murderous drug lords — have I brought you down enough on this dreary Monday? Yes? Well, maybe we need a kitten picture:


See you folks — with my red, glowing eyes — later.

Posted at 10:06 am in Current events |

38 responses to “Beware the Ides of March.”

  1. coozledad said on March 15, 2010 at 10:17 am

    What’s wrong with a little shit in the drinking water? Small price to pay for freedom.

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  2. judybusy said on March 15, 2010 at 10:29 am

    This was in our local paper yesterday, and may help explain why we’re not hearing so much about the drug wars:

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  3. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on March 15, 2010 at 10:43 am

    Judy, my parents live 7 months of the year (as in right now, while the snow flies off of Lake Michigan) less than ten miles from that story, and they insist to me that there’s nothing going on there, well, not much, and when will you bring your family down to visit while we’re here? McAllen-Pharr TX is even more in denial of what’s going on across the bridge in Reynosa, and sometimes on the bridge.

    “But we have a grapefruit tree, and never have to shovel.” They don’t have to shovel snow, true, but I worry they will have something else to shovel on their side of the border, and it’s as likely to be brown as red.

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  4. Julie Robinson. said on March 15, 2010 at 10:51 am

    Some lovely members of our church have a timeshare in Acapulco and last year they invited visitors along. While taking a day trip in one of those minibuses they were pulled over by some scary guys with very big guns wearing police uniforms. Those ladies will never cross the border again.

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  5. moe99 said on March 15, 2010 at 11:14 am

    Ok, this is off topic, but Jeff tmmo put me on the scent and while it is worth sharing, it also requires the use of shovels.

    Remember when Newsweek published some tripe about the quiet dignity of Rielle Hunter?

    Well, when that article was being written, Miss Hunter (whose birth name was Lisa Druck) was talking with GQ about her travails, and that finished product is out. The photos and her interview show her to be nothing more than a tart. I feel sorry for their child.

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  6. Jeff Borden said on March 15, 2010 at 11:25 am

    My parents’ generation left us with a world-class infrastructure, but we have let it deteriorate into the kinds of crumbling structures we associate with emerging or third-world nations. The anti-tax movement coupled with the outright cowardice of elected officials in facing these issues almost guarantees we are going to see more incidents like the collapse of the interstate bridge in Minnesota. The governor, Tim Pawlenty, who put the kibosh on infrastructure improvements in the name of ideological purity is considered a contender for the GOP presidential nomination, so clearly there is no political price to pay.

    One of my fondest hopes for the Obama administration was the economic stimulus, which I prayed would address the tens of thousands of public works projects that not only would put many of our fellow citizens back to work, but would improve our country in many ways. Now, I recognize my naivete. It’s not going to happen.

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  7. coozledad said on March 15, 2010 at 11:39 am

    Jeff Borden: We’ll come crawling back to a kind of Nixonian social contract after the Republican poseurs complete our Anschluss with China.
    By that time, the dookie-drawers who bought the teabagger infomercial will be eating their belts and shoes.

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  8. LAMary said on March 15, 2010 at 11:56 am

    Between September 1 2009 and October 6, 2009, we had thirty water main breaks here in LA. The map at this link is from November, and there have been at least ten since then.

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  9. Jeff Borden said on March 15, 2010 at 11:59 am

    It can’t happen soon enough, Cooz. The national GOP is a virulent cancer and we’re running out of white blood cells.

    BTW, can I mention here how glad I am that I graduated from high school more than 40 years ago and thus never had to read a history book as dictated by the loons from Texas? My God, they are dropping Thomas Jefferson from history texts in favor of John Calvin. Great work, Lone Star State!

    Please secede. Please, please, please just go away. Let Rick Perry rule your little country and leave the rest of us alone. We’ll both be so much happier.

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  10. Joe Kobiela said on March 15, 2010 at 12:03 pm

    Totaly off subject, but while waiting in Holland for freight Fri night I picked up a book about Mich. I never knew that 1,000ft below Ms Nancy’s feet are working salt mines. They are still mining salt under Detroit and after seeing the pictures it is amazing how big the rooms are. They use to give tours, but don’t anymore. The workers say it is amazingly white and a constant 60 degrees. The Machinery is taken apart and lowered down a shaft and put back together under ground. They are still using the shafts that were dug in the early 1900’s to reach the mines.
    Pilot Joe

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  11. Jeff Borden said on March 15, 2010 at 12:40 pm

    Similar tunnels extend out under Lake Erie from Cleveland. We used to be told that salt from that location was spread on the roads untreated, which made it even more corrosive to our cars. Never knew if that was true.

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  12. beb said on March 15, 2010 at 12:48 pm

    Last Friday my wife volunteered to foaster a mother cat and her six babies. The kittens are about 2 weeks old. We already have tons of cute pictures for anyoe who needs a break from the bleekness of Mondays! I think my wife has already posted some on her facebook account. As I am a cranky old man, I’ve shunned facebook so she’ll have to add the link later.

    I think I heard that some of the water lines in NYC are so old that they’re made out of wood! As for Coolzedad’s suggestion “What wrong with a little shit in the water?” Bad! Bad, Coolzedad! City water is not only chlorinated but tested throughout the system to determine a) if the water as a chlorine content and b) for the presence of E. Coli. You’ll be boiling your water if a little e. Coli shows up!

    But yeah, replacing or rehabbing old water lines is one of those “Shovel-ready” projects that the Feds ought to be funding.

    Water pipes mostly break because of ground movement. Here in Detroit it’s hte weather mostly that breaks pipes. I suppose in LA it’s more the ground moving from all the rain you had last year.

    Moe, a question from the weekedn thread. Isn’t $150,000 that that Utah guy paid for his under-age nude hot-tubbing partner, awfully high for her silence.

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  13. moe99 said on March 15, 2010 at 12:54 pm

    Beb–yeah I would say the $150K was high, specially since it only got 7 or so years of silence (it was paid in 2002)

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  14. Sue said on March 15, 2010 at 1:02 pm

    Off topic also:
    Can the tea partiers among this group explain where the people come from for all these rallies and conventions? Some of the events go on for days. Who can afford all that travel? Maybe some people I know can afford to go to the State Capitol for an afternoon rally on a weekend, but the events during the week? Who can get off of work or afford the trip if they aren’t working?
    Here’s the latest, three weeks, in Washington, to push killing health care reform:
    How the hell are you guys doing it?

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  15. Jeff Borden said on March 15, 2010 at 1:16 pm

    Without engaging too deeply in stereotypes, it is pretty clear most of the teabagger crowds are older and contain many retirees with the time and resources to attend these events. The younger ones? Zealots always find a way. BTW, I see now that the wife of one Clarence Thomas, the second wackiest supreme in the land, is now an official tea party leader with her own movement. Let’s see if poor, put-upon John Roberts gets as weepy and upset about this breach of protocol as he did when President Obama rightly chided him and the other SCOTUS wingnuts for selling our democratic process to the highest-bidder in Citizens United.

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  16. Deborah said on March 15, 2010 at 1:55 pm

    Moe, thanks for the link about Rielle Hunter. I’ve said here before that I’m kind of obsessed with that scandal. It doesn’t sound like she has a clue about what a jerk she is. And Edwards is a super slime. Poor Elizabeth, she had to know that about him. What is it with men like that?

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  17. Kriesa said on March 15, 2010 at 2:52 pm

    @beb: I don’t know about NYC, but I live in upstate NY. We have had a few water main breaks where it turned out that there were still large segments that were made of wood. I didn’t know whether to be impressed or apalled.

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  18. brian stouder said on March 15, 2010 at 3:44 pm

    Well, it’s been a fun-fun Monday for me. Burned a day-off, slept late, went down to the library to hear Dr Michael Burlingame give a talk about his 1994 book “The Inner World of Abraham Lincoln”, lunched with the lovely wife, and now look forward to this evening’s McMurtry Lecture by Burlingame, titled “Abraham Lincoln; a Biographer’s Quest”

    To me, the disinteration of the United Mexican States seems now to passing into a critical (terminal?) stage; if the outright warfare is going to occur in the tourist areas like Acapulco, then the game is over and lost. Beirut was apparently a glittering city, within my lifetime (I think it comes up in an early James Bond movie) before the implosion of Lebanon and the resultant remorseless internecine war.

    THAT’s depressing, and indeed – it foreshadows extensive US military activity down there….and whaddaya know – they’ve got oil!

    Oy! now I’m ready to plunge back into the 19th century (the problems then were just as cataclysmic, but I know how they come out!)

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  19. Jolene said on March 15, 2010 at 3:50 pm


    Re who pays: The web site you linked to indicated that at least some of the proposed events are sponsored by FreedomWorks, which is the organization led by Dick Armey, Arid Schaefer et al.

    I’m not sure whether there are rules governing what such organizations can pay for, but it’s likely that they are footing at least part of the bill as well as providing organizational energy.

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  20. moe99 said on March 15, 2010 at 4:22 pm

    Deborah: more for you.

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  21. nancy said on March 15, 2010 at 4:27 pm

    Anyone who’s ever seen a magazine photo shoot knows it’s not exactly like having your senior picture taken. Only in America can someone get away with a statement that ignorant — as though she wasn’t there when they were taken — and be confident a fair number of people will take her at her work.

    I generally save the c-word for women who actively work toward the detriment of other women. Hunter surely qualifies.

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  22. Jeff Borden said on March 15, 2010 at 4:59 pm

    C’mon, Nancy. She was “going with the flow.” I’m trying to think of any circumstances in my days as a reporter/photographer where I might’ve gotten away with asking an attractive woman to remove her pants to “go with the flow.” I suspect the only flow that would have occurred would have been blood from my broken nose if I’d tried. Ms. Hunter is not an honest woman. . .apparently about anything.

    I’ll bet that photo shoot took the better part of a day. A good photographer will take hours to arrange lights and filters just so, then expose several rolls of film (or the digital photography equivalent). It is beyond absurd to now claim she was stunned by the photos.

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  23. Laurie said on March 15, 2010 at 5:31 pm

    I’m obsessed too. Why? Maybe because of the breathtaking narcissism and self-delusion on both sides of this sorry duo; its sick culmination of celebrity worship, New Age, letting it all hang out, and charges of “abuse”; the manipulativeness (don’t tell me she didn’t know ‘John’ was really ‘Johnny Reid,’ or that either of them was after–and may still be, for all I know–anything more than a ****); and the lies (e.g., the “soft” approach, the sympathy for Elizabeth). I guess it is also surprising to hear a contemporary woman be so forthright as to how she worked and works this stooge (in flagrante, a candidate for the Democratic nomination for president).
    I threw up a little as well at how much the GQ author was completely taken in, even enchanted by, the ex-Lisa Druck. I’d love for an objective and charmprooof writer to do a piece 12 months after these yoyos marry. But what does she care? She is financially set for life, which is probably what had her at hello. She probably regrets taking off as much as she did allegedly for free here.
    As was said of Kramer on “Seinfeld”–they are loathsome, offensive brutes, yet I cannot look away.
    Nancy, glad to hear that you are turning the corner with da bug. My boss was recently out for a week with something very similar, and it’s extremely rare for her to miss even a day.

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  24. jcburns said on March 15, 2010 at 5:58 pm

    We had wood ‘pipes’ in Atlanta that dated back to before the turn of the 19th->20th Century, and a mixing of sewage and storm water that was as unsanitary as it was illegal. We paid enormous water bills for about five years (and will for a while to foot the $4.1 billion price tag) but it’s almost completely in my neighborhood. When we have downpours, it mostly does what it’s supposed to do. Infrastructure is good. Painful to pay for in big chunks, but good.

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  25. prospero said on March 15, 2010 at 6:11 pm

    Here’s something that’s right up the alley of az bunch of sophisticates like the Nancy Nall crowd.

    Last year’s winners.

    And can politics get any funnier than Lindsay Graham (regrettably the most nearly sane one of my allotment of two senators) threatening that Republicans will be less cooperative if health care reform passes? Less?. Seriously Senator, as Billy Preston says, Nothing from nothing leaves nothing.

    The most sure thing in Teabagger politics is that some nitwit will insist on keeping government’s hands off their Medicare.

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  26. Dexter said on March 15, 2010 at 6:17 pm

    I was nervous as a parent could be when my daughter honeymooned in Mexico in January, but they did OK.
    Years ago I was in a border town bar and the Federales stormed the place and shook everybody down…pat-search, empty pockets on bar or table…one poor sumbitch had a little block of hash in his pocket and they marched him outside and worked him over and hauled him away. They confiscated my tiny pocket knife but I started begging them and told them it was a gift from my poor old dad who was now long gone…all lies, but the young officer said “Oh, senor” in a way that indicated he didn’t want to hear my bullshit, and then he slid my knife back across the table at me and told me to vamoose the hell out of the place, which I did, and never went back to Mexico after that trip. The way things are going today,it appears we would have simply been shot dead.
    Reynosa, Nuevo Laredo, both extremely dangerous. Stay the hell out of there.

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  27. Dexter said on March 15, 2010 at 6:22 pm

    This is pretty damn big news in The Motor City tonight: (and I can’t believe Caliban let it go with no comments)

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  28. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on March 15, 2010 at 6:27 pm

    Faber College’s Physical Plant motto — “Infrastructure is good.”

    I’d be happier about the Stimulosity Bill if more of it was going for that. On the very-barely-slightly brighter side, yellow poplar actually gets stronger with age and moisture, which is why the first cabins, blockhouses, churches, and schools across the Great Lakes & Ohio Valley were built of Indiana’s state tree. Problem being within 20 years all the big ones were cropped, so we have hardly any older than 100 years, but in the right conditions, they’re the Midwest’s redwoods. No limbs below the canopy, and those glorious spring blossoms of peach and pink and yellow that occasionally drop to give you a hint of what’s going on a hundred plus feet above your head.

    But a tulip poplar “pipe” probably has a longer effective lifespan than cast iron when buried in the ground.

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  29. prospero said on March 15, 2010 at 7:13 pm

    Stooges were decidedly mediocre in person. The point was much more to see what young James would do to hurt himself, more than any actual musical talent. If there’s a Detroit band from that era that belongs in the HOF, it’s obviously MC-5. SRC, Bob Seger System, Third Power, Frost, Rationals were all considerably better than Iggy’s band. In fact, without MC-5, it’s hard to consider the Hall credible.

    Ciudad Juarez is certainly the murder capital of the Western hemisphere, probably the world. Detroit used to pretend to that distinction, but the Mexicans hired Roberto Bolano to publicize their claim to the title in a novel something like 7000 pages long. (Not really, about 900, and it’s extremely good, but not quite as good as The Savage Detectives.) It is amazing that only the deaths of gringo and gringa make a media ripple. Maybe only the gringo. Most victims in Juarez are women. Given it’s proximity to Tejas, it’s not unlikely that this results from some sort of El Paso redneck bloodsport right of passage.

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  30. prospero said on March 15, 2010 at 7:17 pm

    Oh, and Mitch Ryder and His Detroit Wheels were way better.

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  31. coozledad said on March 15, 2010 at 8:00 pm

    I remember reading somewhere that Iggy didn’t think too highly of the Stooges’ basic coping skills. I can’t remember how he put it exactly. They couldn’t keep goldfish? They were confused by food?
    I’m probably alone in thinking Iggy could just as easily had a frat band, but the genre was pretty much dead by then. They would have loved the self-mutilation, though.

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  32. Deborah said on March 15, 2010 at 8:09 pm

    “… loathsome, offensive brutes, yet I can not look away” – indeed. Did you watch the video? Really sickening. The smirk on her face was hideous. I’m sure she’ll end up laughing all the way to the bank.

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  33. Joe Kobiela said on March 15, 2010 at 10:35 pm

    Larry, Curly, and Moe in the R.R. hall of fame. It’s about time.
    Pilot Joe

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  34. Jean S said on March 15, 2010 at 10:41 pm

    “my name is Johnny”….oh please. Go away now.

    And I am so troubled by the news from Ciudad Juarez that I don’t know where to start. I keep thinking about that baby, for one thing…..

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  35. del said on March 15, 2010 at 10:54 pm

    This Stooges song’s pretty good.

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  36. jcburns said on March 15, 2010 at 11:44 pm

    We’re counting on the kindness (and durability) of Tulip Poplars (liriodendron tulipifera, the first tree latin name Sammy taught me.) Two big ones could still take a whack out of our house if they decided to fall north.

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  37. Dexter said on March 16, 2010 at 12:41 am

    Good luck jcburns. We had three mature maples standing on our terrace. In 1994 one was blown over by moderate winds and smashed my pickup truck to smithereens. Two trees still stood. In 1998 another one fell right square on top of my house, cracking it open just as you would crack an egg. We spent four months in a bad motel courtesy of the cheap-ass insurance company. Finally we moved back in. After that, I wrote letters to the city (terraces are the responsibility of the city here) and I made phone calls every day until the chainsaw crew finally cut the last one down. It was in terrible shape, too, and surely by now would have ruined something else or killed someone.
    In ’94 I had my 2 year old grandson with me , and we had just exited the truck three minutes before the pancaked truck was all that was left of it. In 1998 I had just walked where the second tree fell thirty seconds before my house was destroyed. Oh yeah…roof to ground, all tree there.

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  38. Dave said on March 16, 2010 at 3:42 am

    Yes, Dexter, our daughter and her new husband also honeymooned in Mexico, in July, for crying out loud. We made every not-so-subtle suggestion and hint we could but they were determined they wanted to go to Cancun. In July. As our hostess used to put in her newspaper column, if memory serves me correctly, “I ask you”.

    BREAKOUT. Mitch Ryder and the Detroit Wheels. Great album.

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