Acting childishly.

The Free Press ran a story this weekend that said a customer boycott of British Petroleum “won’t accomplish much.” It will hurt independent station owners, who have zero power and influence over the corporate policies that have led to so much misery in the Gulf of Mexico. Leave it to an academic to lay it out:

Michigan State University economics professor Charles Ballard said a boycott “will have very little effect” on BP.

“For one thing, not all of BP’s products are bought by American consumers of gasoline,” Ballard said this week. The public would be better off supporting a tough congressional examination of the April 20 explosion and stricter regulations on offshore oil operations, he said.

Hmm. Well. Can we put a dollar value on the satisfaction it gives me to drive past the BP on the corner — a station I have patronized many times — and give my business to the Shell down the street? If so, I’m putting it at one hillion jillion dollars, and I’m going to keep doing so until I get tired of my imaginary money piling up. If it hurts the independent operator, I’m sorry, but at this point it is the sole concrete action I’m capable of at the moment to express my rage at this colossal fuck-up, so, there it is.

I’m also encouraging all cultural portrayals of BP as a bunch of arrogant, incompetent numbnuts. Yes, I have signed on as a follower of BPGlobalPR, the joke Twitter account:

Best part of the BP Memorial Day Picnic? The custom made oily dunk tank! So far we’ve dunked 4 ducks, a dolphin, 2 otters and @bpTerry!

Due to public outcry, our “Spill Or Be Spilled” flash game will be taken off our BP Kidz Klub website. “Smack the Greasy Manatee” stays.

Yes, I intend to heap ridicule and scorn upon BP, its staggeringly clue-free management team and anything else I can think of. I know it’s silly and possibly hypocritical — I still drive a car, don’t I? — but at the moment, it’s what I can do. It’s all I can do.

What do you call a boatload of BP executives sinking in oil-covered seas with no lifeboats, each one leaping into the vile mix of crude and salt water, flailing to stay afloat before their lungs fill with the poisoned mixture and they sink to the bottom to be eaten by oil-mutated bottom-feeders?

A good start!

Two boatloads?

A GREAT start!

If that makes me un-American, well, screw you, Rand Paul.

I hope you all had a pleasant Mem Day weekend. I was struck by this comment by MichaelG, late yesterday:

My father served during WWII, I went to Vietnam twice, my son in law will be leaving for his second trip to Afghanistan in July and my daughter will be a single mom again for a year. I am righteously offended by fatuous assholes who have never served urging me to “remember the troops this Memorial Day.” Sorry. I’ll get off my soap box now.

Funny. Alan’s father was a decorated combat infantryman in World War II. He got the shit shot out of him en route to winning three Purple Hearts, a Bronze Star, the works. You know what he told his son as he grew to manhood? “Keep playing that trumpet. Get good enough so that if you get drafted, you can play in the Army band. Those guys never see combat.” I find it fascinating that of the whole Bush administration hall of shame that got us into this shitstorm in Iraq, the one guy who had serious doubts was the one guy who actually went to Vietnam and didn’t work deferment after deferment, or get a National Guard post keeping the homeland safe from Canadian invasion.

Have I got some bloggage for you:

First, related to the above: What Gold Star families want you to know. No. 1: Don’t say “closure” unless you’re talking about a door.

Mom says giving birth while driving was “no big deal.” In a Chevy Cobalt? It most certainly was.

Time to make Kate’s lunch and push forward into a new week. But a short one. Enjoy yours.

Posted at 7:47 am in Current events |

55 responses to “Acting childishly.”

  1. beb said on June 1, 2010 at 8:11 am

    When authorities say that no local protests, like a boycott of BP, will have a meaningful effect on the corporation it seems to me that that just encourages people to consider actions that will have a meaningful effect on BP — like bombs or assassinations. It’s not a good direction to go. Authorites ought to encourage local, if meaningless, protests because it discourages more dangerous kinds of response.

    Looking at the mess the finance industry got us into and now what BP has gotten us into, it seems to me that we need to have more effective punishment for bad behavior. Part of this, I think, should begin with a more commonplace definition of criminal behavior by CEOs. BP swore they were capable of handling a bigger oil spill than this. Obviously they were lying. Lying in a contract with the US government. Surely that deserves jail time, as well as punitive damages over and above the cost of the clean-up. Just like if banks are selling investments that are sure to implode the whole lot of them need to go to prison.

    If white-collar crime was treated as harshly as selling crack cocaine there would be a lot less white-collar crime (Or a lot more white guys in prison).

    If the US government really wanted to honor those who have died for our country the best way would be to get out troops out of places like Afghanistan and Iraq where we have no business being and for which there is no good outcomes possible. The best way to honor our roops is to stop killing them.

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  2. Linda said on June 1, 2010 at 8:26 am

    Well, if boycotting BP does no good, that kind of shoots Milton Friedman all to hell, doesn’t it? Do you notice that his concept that the free market responds to purchasing decisions (if you don’t like pencil A, buy pencil B) is pushed by free marketeers until consumers are really pissed at a big company, and want to boycott them? In which case, consumers are denounced as “childish” and their boycotts ineffective? These people are working hard to make socialism look good.

    “If white-collar crime was treated as harshly as sell­ing crack cocaine there would be a lot less white-collar crime (Or a lot more white guys in prison).

    B-b-b-ut that would be terrible. White collar crime is victimless! If you don’t believe me, ask shrimpers in Louisiana. And the families of the dead rig workers.

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  3. Kim said on June 1, 2010 at 8:36 am

    I think the best reaction to (insert global mess here) is to be informed and, if you have kids, talk about it. Maybe we can raise a generation who cares and behaves like the world does not revolve around their immediate desires.

    So if that means driving past the BP, hell yeah, and explain it as you go. If kids pay attention to/understand anything it’s their parents’ outrage. At least that has been my experience with my own and their peers.

    MichaelG, right on. Those who serve, and that includes the families left behind to do their daily, give on a scale most of us couldn’t even comprehend if we took a moment to consider what it takes. I am grateful. If your daughter is still in VA know there is a solid, compassionate network of people who understand where she and her family are and will be looking out. If she’s not feeling that, send her my way.

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  4. Julie Robinson said on June 1, 2010 at 9:39 am

    Here’s what I don’t get: the number of pundits pushing nuclear as a safe and clean alternative to avoid more oil spills. Excuse me? We still have no long term storage strategy for nuclear waste. I still drive a car, too; in a town like the Fort life is very unpleasant if you have to rely on the bus system. But I’m continuing to look for ways to reduce energy use in my personal life.

    Playing the trumpet in the Army band no longer means you stay out of combat. A classmate of our son went into the Army band with that understanding, but his clarinet is stateside and he’s in Iraq doing intelligence work. No matter what the recruiters say, once you’re in they own you and can send you anywhere they want.

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    • nancy said on June 1, 2010 at 9:43 am

      Of course they can and do send trumpeters to the front. I think his point was this: War is hell. It’s very easy to put a picture on your website, add some embedded patriotic music and a flag or two, and “honor their sacrifice” with platitudes and Palinisms. Whereas anyone who’s actually fired a weapon in battle knows it’s about something else entirely. And no one who has wants his children to do the same.

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  5. MichaelG said on June 1, 2010 at 9:44 am

    BP has a record of shoddy maintenance and operation. Look at the Houston refinery blow up a few years ago. Look at the Alaska pipeline problem a year or so ago. Look at all the citations BP has received from oil friendly oversight agencies. It’s clear that they did a lousy job of constructing the casing and well head of the blown out well in the Gulf of Mexico. It’s clear they didn’t install or maintain the blow out preventer properly. A dead battery. Give me a break. There were warnings a day or two before the blow out and BP ignored them. See a pattern here? I wonder how many other wells are on the verge of disaster.

    The Feds are complicit here. There is no standard spec for constructing well heads, casings or blow out preventers and no standard spec for the materials used. The type of concrete to use and the method of installation are widely debated. Where’s the research? This is the stuff the Feds should be on top of. There are no regulations and no inspections. I don’t know how you would inspect these things but they should know.

    Worse, it has become clear that neither the Feds nor BP had any plan to deal with a disaster and no back up to their no plan. Today, 6 weeks or so after the blow out both BP and the Feds are stupidly, blindly fumbling around trying to fake a solution. Neither knows how to stop the well and neither knows how to clean up the spill.

    Here is where I would hold Obama accountable. The day after the blow out he should have appointed a Czar and convened an ongoing symposium to develop solutions to the leak problem and to the spill problem. He should have recruited people from the North Sea, from the Middle East, from Asia, from colleges, universities, labs, consulting companies, oil companies, geologists, oil service people from countries all over the world. There is a lot of brain power out there and there are a lot of experienced people with lots of ideas and all I see is Thad Allen and those dweebs from BP. Then when solutions presented themselves they should have been applied with no time or expense spared. They could worry later about settling up with the oil companies involved and not bother at all to worry about stepping on toes. Instead, I see nothing. I don’t see any sense of urgency or any sense that anyone is really trying to fix things. This is where Obama has failed us.

    That Kos article to which Catherine linked is interesting, if a bit profane. I missed the connection to Ms Judd, though.

    “The best way to honor our troops is to stop killing them.” Absolutely right, beb.

    Thanks, Kim. The Daughter and the Sergeant and the kids moved to a suburb of Austin, TX a month or so ago. He’s at Ft. Hood in a helicopter maintenance company. He’s the First Sergeant, so I’m crediting him with enough sense to know how to watch out for himself. They’re already beginning to deploy and the Company Commander is going with the first group. Son in law will stay at Hood until just about everybody is gone and then he’ll bring up the rear with the rest of the troops.

    Cooz, we miss you.

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  6. Deborah said on June 1, 2010 at 10:18 am

    ““The best way to honor our troops is to stop killing them.” Absolutely right, beb.” So true MichaelG and Beb. My husband a Viet Nam vet was really pissed when on our return from our NM vacation a flaky flight attendant made a smarmy announcement about “thanking the troops for saving our freedoms”. I was reading and not paying attention to what she was saying, but my husband was livid. He gave her an ear full on the way out. I’m sure she meant well but it rankles my husband to no end when people who don’t know anything about what their saying spout off inane platitudes in a sanctimonious way. Especially when what they are trying to do is sell something (like airline tickets or whatever).

    Regarding the other topic of the day, I’ll have to recuse myself from commenting because those guys are my client right now. Have been for a couple of years. Awkward.

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  7. Linda said on June 1, 2010 at 10:29 am

    What especially gets my goat is the email that floats around all the time re: how soldiers have done more for freedom of religion than ministers, or more for freedom of speech than writers, etc. Would it be rude to point out that countries like Iran and North Korea are chockablock full of soldiers, and yet have no freedom?

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  8. brian stouder said on June 1, 2010 at 11:02 am

    Here is where I would hold Obama account­able

    Of course you’re correct, and between you and I, there is no disagreement. But generally speaking, and given the absolute lusty eagerness of the right wing noise machine to call this “Obama’s Katrina”, I think the president is doing just fine. The whole Katrina metaphor is, it seems to me, willfully malicious. Afterall, the storm itself was not blamed on President Bush; he was not criticised for not somehow stopping or diverting the hurricane. The storm came, and passed, and then had to be dealt with. To me, the spectacle of hundreds and thousands of Americans panting for lack of drinking water (drinking water!!) at the convention center (where they were told to go) in one of America’s greatest cities, a full week after the skies cleared, ended the Bush administration. Leaving aside the damning (and damnably complex) issues about the Army Corps of Engineers and the years of neglect and so on – what absolutely put me off was the sight of throngs of good citizens doing what they were told – just as our youngs folks and I would have done, in their situation – and then being forgotten about.

    I remembered when Florida got hit with one hurricane after the next just before the 2004 election. President Bush and his brother literally rolled up their sleeves and helped chuck cases of water off of trucks at the designated points where people were lined up to get it. But in New Orleans, we couldn’t even get bottled water to the Convention Center, a full week after the storm was over. It is almost true to say that those contrasting images (not for nothing – mostly white Americans getting water, and mostly black Americans being reduced to miserable neglect and thirst) alone informed me that the Republican party had pitched me off of the turnip truck.

    By way of saying, if Katrina is the paradigm, this cat-5 BP shitstorm is still raging, and we have to weather it before getting to a real response.

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  9. alex said on June 1, 2010 at 11:10 am

    If Obama offered up his own frigging corpse to plug that damn hole it wouldn’t be good enough for some people. What the fuck is he supposed to do?

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  10. Jeff Borden said on June 1, 2010 at 11:17 am

    Boycotts do work, but they often hurt the smallest operators most. I’ve no doubt a boycott of a BP gas station will be felt most by the poor guy who has the franchise. Still, they do work.

    Passage of SB 1070 in Arizona is a prime example. The drumbeat of meeting and convention cancellations continues and it will deeply bruise the hourly workers who count on hotel, restaurant and transportation jobs for a living. Yet the possible outcome of a continuing boycott is very real and quite grim. The mayor of Phoenix is warning of an economic calamity in his city and the goofy governor is devoting a quarter-million dollars to a media campaign designed to blunt the boycott, so you know politicians understand how it works.

    Meanwhile, the clueless CEO of BP is really acting like Marie Antoinette. He was heard on a sound bite moaning that nobody wants the well capped more than he because he wants HIS life back. It’s rather astonishing that a multi-national company that must spend tens of millions on public relations every year has not done a better job of teaching poor Mr. Hayward that those kinds of statements infuriate people.

    I heard on the radio this morning about a 1979 explosion of a deep sea oil rig off the coast of Mexico and operated by the national oil company. It took something like six months to eventually halt the flow of oil. . .and that well was only a few hundred feet below the surface, not the 5,000 feet of the Deepwater Horizon. Two things really stand out: First, this is not an unprecedented event. There have been other underwater oil disasters. Second, technology has not evolved enough to make this kind of drilling safe for both people and the environment. BP is just improvising and hoping something will work.

    Now. . .wait until a hurricane blows into the Gulf. Won’t that be fun.

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  11. Joe Kobiela said on June 1, 2010 at 11:30 am

    Michale G.@6,
    Tell your Sarge to keep up the good work, one of my best friends son is a pilot at Hood getting ready to go for the 2nd time. We all know that the pilot is just borrowing the helicopter, it belongs to the maintance crew.
    Pilot Joe

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  12. Jeff Borden said on June 1, 2010 at 11:39 am

    Well. . .I guess this figures. From Raw Story:

    As if the water wasn’t deep — or oily — enough around British Petroleum’s public relations, the company has hired a former spokeswoman for Vice President Dick Cheney to be its public face for the disaster.

    Anne Womack Kolton, former head of public affairs at the Department of Energy and Cheney’s onetime campaign press secretary, will take the baton from BP this week.

    While at Cheney’s side, Kolton defended the secrecy of the Vice President’s Energy task force, a group which held secretive meetings with energy company executives. When the General Accounting Office — the research arm of Congress — sued the Administraton for records relating to Cheney’s meetings, Kolton (then Womack) was at his side.

    “We are ready to defend our principles in court,” she said. “This goes to the heart of the presidency and to the ability of the president and vice president to receive candid, discreet advice.”

    A blogger at the liberal web site Daily Kos notes that BP was reportedly among one of the companies that Cheney met with.

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  13. brian stouder said on June 1, 2010 at 12:20 pm

    By the way, yesterday’s pie looks marvelous! Hopefully the young lady got a piece in that lunch you packed. (Yesterday, we had easy stuff; fresh-sliced strawberries plus short cake and reddi-whip [the young folks LOVE the Reddi-whip spray can], and a Wicks sugar cream pie, amongst other things)

    How many school days left, in D-town?

    Here in the Fort, I believe “Montessori Madness” (aka – field day) is tomorrow; but school continues into next week (I think we have 7 days left – but don’t quote me)

    EDIT: the “BREAKING NEWS” is that Al and Tipper Gore are headed for divorce??!! Knowing nothing more than that headline, I’ll bet a case of icy cold Diet Coke that Al was “Acting Childishly” (as today’s header says), and his wife finally hit the tipping point.

    After 40 years, only a man could be stupid enough to wreck a marriage, I think – but we’ll see

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  14. beb said on June 1, 2010 at 1:07 pm

    “The best way to honor our troops is to stop killing them.” –credit for this line to due to Atrios at He said it first this morning. I echoed his comment, because they are so true, without thinking to give him credit.

    Rachal Maddow had a segment on the 1979 oil rupture about a week ago. Her complaint was: it’s 30 years later and nothing has changed?

    At this point the best idea I’ve heard yet comes from Louisana Governor Bobbie Jindal, who wants the Army Corp of Engineers to dredge the gulf and built a series of barrier islands to stop the oil from getting to the marshes. Price tag is reported $340 Million. that’s a lot of money but at the moment I can’t think of a better way to keep the oil off shore.

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  15. MichaelG said on June 1, 2010 at 1:23 pm

    That scheme with a bunch of tankers out there sucking up oil seemed to work in the Persian Gulf. Maybe it would work here. Those pictures of dozens of little fishing boats and shrimpers trying futilely to make a dent in the tide of oil break my heart. This is the best the US can do? We’d be a laughingstock if there was anything to laugh at.

    Thanks, Joe.

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  16. 4dbirds said on June 1, 2010 at 1:26 pm

    I did take some time to remember those that served. Particulary my dad who rests in Los Angeles National Cemetary. The military, particularly the army is a way of life for my family. My father, brothers, my sister, two of my sons, two nephews various uncles, cousins and I all spent some time in the military. Growing up on army bases throughout the world was a pretty nice life. The exception being when my father was stationed in Vietnam and we listened to the body counts every night on the news. As a young teen, that was particulary unnerving for me. There are benefits to serving, the usual ones like the GI Bill and home loans but also more valuable ones. Working with all kinds of people and under all kinds of situations taught me not just patience but how to slog through a thankless task, bite my lip and just get done with it. I had some real mutha-effing bosses and I couldn’t quit, I had to learn to deal with them. I learned I could do a lot on not much sleep. I learned that not everyone grew up in a nice two-parent family or had access to the wonderful Department of Defense schools. I met people who joined the army because they were poor and their teeth hurt them so bad joining the army was the only way they could see a dentist. I also learned that people are resources and valuable and that everyone with a thinking brain is capable of learning something. I also learned that if you want to stay alive, you have to share your knowledge and training. I also learned that you don’t have to like someone but you have to trust them and if you can’t, stay clear of them.

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  17. nancy said on June 1, 2010 at 1:34 pm

    Post V-Day observation: Alan was off yesterday, and HBO was playing war movies, so I half-watched both “Patton” and “Black Hawk Down” back to back while I was working. Two more different war pictures you cannot imagine, but man, BHD is intense. Every time I see it my opinion of it goes up. And I’m not a huge Ridley Scott fan. But that is a great, great movie.

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  18. brian stouder said on June 1, 2010 at 1:45 pm

    Last night I got pulled into Patton on one of the no-commercials movie channels; it was introduced by the current head of the studio, who detailed the interesting story of how Francis Ford Coppola came to be the script writer, and the hurdles he had to clear when the studio wanted to dump him and his new-fangled story-line ideas.

    I hadn’t really thought about it before, but considering Appocalypse Now and Patton – Coppola’s war pictures are, in a word, definitive.

    FFC really encapsulates an American vision of war – and he deftly weaves brutal realism with the fantasies or delusions of his all-too-human characters

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  19. 4dbirds said on June 1, 2010 at 1:46 pm

    Brian, you and I are of the same mind. Al Gore is most likely creeping.

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  20. brian stouder said on June 1, 2010 at 2:04 pm

    Al Gore is most likely creep­ing.

    that use of “creeping” reminds me of Gordon Lightfoot; something about sometimes he thinks it’s unfair, when he finds that you’ve been creeping ’round, up that stair.

    (Unless I have always misunderstood his lyric)

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  21. MarkH said on June 1, 2010 at 2:06 pm

    Can the AP be trusted? They claim to have obtained a chain of emails to, and among, the Gores’ friends claiming “there was no affair” and the “growing apart after 40 years” line. It will be a while before we really know, won’t it?

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  22. Dorothy said on June 1, 2010 at 2:23 pm

    A hearty hello and notice that my vacation in Missouri was fantastic. We had a wonderful time at the Laura Ingalls Wilder home(s) and (speaking of acting childishly!) we both cried when we saw Pa’s fiddle in the museum. It just so happened there was no one else in the room except for the curator, my daughter and I when that happened, and after we recovered by blowing our noses and wiping our eyes, I asked the curator how often that happens. She said, “Oh, about every other visitor I’d say!” This lady, it turns out, met Mrs. Wilder before she died in 1957. She was a young school teacher in Mansfield and Mrs. Wilder came to talk to her class. What a treat to meet someone who’d met her!

    Best of all, though, was Laura taught me how to knit socks this weekend. I’m beyond excited to finally be knitting a sock after several years of admiring how she did them. A memorable vacation and ever so glad we finally made the time to do it. (And it sure caused my husband to appreciate me even more; he’s acting all gaga about me being back and he missed me so much, he’s asking me to make this our last separate vacation ever. So that’s an added bonus to the trip!)

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  23. Julie Robinson said on June 1, 2010 at 3:01 pm

    Pretty sweet, Dorothy. Now that my DH has finally mastered the ATM, maybe I won’t be missed so much when I go away!

    I was also very moved by seeing Pa’s violin, thinking about its use not just for entertainment but to lighten the family’s spirits during the bad times. Did you see the writing cabinet Almanzo made for Laura? I don’t remember if it was in Mansfield or one of the other locations. It seems as though the violin and desk were the emotional touchstones for her.

    It sounds like best of all was the time spent with your daughter, which I can sure relate to. Ours just left after being home for a week, and already the house feels empty and sad. She makes us better people for being around her

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  24. Sue said on June 1, 2010 at 3:15 pm

    Anyone know if the china shepherdess is still around?

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  25. Dorothy said on June 1, 2010 at 3:27 pm

    Julie I said I could have just laid down in the middle of that room and made myself at home so I could read and look at each and every artifact that was in the display cases. Yes I saw the desk Almanzo made. I was thrilled to see a tablet with her handwriting in it, a page from “By the Shores of Silver Lake”. A first draft, actually, because I’m pretty sure it wasn’t in the book in those exact words. We liked seeing the dresses she made, some crocheted doilies, that sort of thing. Comparing the original farmhouse to the Rock House was also amazing, since it seemed like Buckingham Palace in it’s size compared to the original one. I want to go back someday with my husband, mostly because he’ll be thrilled to go to the Baker Creek Seed Company. We stopped there and bought some truly wonderful seed packets. We’ll be buying more next year for our garden (

    Sue – that was the first thing I asked after getting over my excitement of seeing the fiddle. The curator told me no one knows where it is. Ma would have had it in her possession, and it might have gone to Carrie or Grace. But it’s not around. Which made me sad, but after all, there was so much other stuff to look at it, I didn’t need to dwell on it.

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  26. Julie Robinson said on June 1, 2010 at 3:27 pm

    I don’t recall that, Sue.

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  27. Dexter said on June 1, 2010 at 3:28 pm

    I saw “Patton” was on but I found something much better, “Kelley’s Heroes”. I first saw in at a drive-in movie in Salinas, California, just a few weeks before I left for Vietnam. I still love that movie. Don Rickles as “Crapgame” and Donald Sutherland as “Oddball” steal their scenes. While watching it again last night for the first time in many years, I was struck by how much it seemed that Quentin Tarantino tapped into the spirit of “Kelly’s…” to make “Inglourious Basterds”. “Kelly’s Heroes” is a great war movie, the kind that makes you smile.
    It was all part of the 80th birthday salute to Clint Eastwood, who played Kelly in that movie. After the movie TMC showed a long biopic of Eastwood’s career. It was well worth it.

    I wish we could punish BP by boycotting their gasoline, but they closed down our local station in 2003. The hatred for BP reminds me of the hatred stirred up by the UAW in the early 1980s, against foreign cars. I was in a class at IU Bloomington during our UAW summer school, and the class instructor got all worked up and urged us to run foreign cars off the road. I swear to God he said that. Of course, he was an idiot, and that was his opinion and not the official mantra of the UAW…but it was close to the UAW stance. There was a foreign dealership not far from that classroom…I wondered why, if the hatred ran so deep, not a protest march and a disturbance at that dealership? But no, nobody wanted any part of that. We were indoctrinated into just not buying.
    Four years later I took my parents and my family to D.C. to see the big fireworks and tour the monuments. We were told to park in The Pentagon lots for a great view of the fireworks. Dad and I took a walk and of the hundreds of cars parked there in the secured employees’ lot, about 95% were foreign cars. Buy American? Meaningless , I figured out.
    But back to gas, there have been many, many protests and proposed boycotts of Shell gasoline. It always started out in the literature as “Dutch-owned Shell…”

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  28. Dexter said on June 1, 2010 at 3:49 pm

    4birds @17: Thanks for that post. I read it twice. Good stuff there. You have a special knowledge of military life; I was touched by the part about people having teeth that hurt so badly they joined the army to see a dentist.
    But I have a question. Were illegal aliens allowed to join the army during the Vietnam War time? I was in Army medic school in San Antonio and a guy in the next bunk could only speak a few words of English, and he said he was from Reynosa, which of course is in Mexico. I know recruiting was tough then…did you ever hear of Mexican nationals being allowed to serve in Uncle Sam’s army?

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  29. nancy said on June 1, 2010 at 3:55 pm

    My Russian teacher used to teach in a Latino charter school in Detroit, and said that was a prime pitch by the military recruiters who came through from time to time — amnesty upon enlistment for illegal immigrants.

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  30. Jen said on June 1, 2010 at 3:56 pm

    It’s horrible to hear about the oil spill in the Gulf. I just saw on CNN that the first tar balls and puddles of oil just reached Dauphin Island in Alabama. When I was a kid, my family spent many spring breaks in Gulf Shores and Mobile, Ala.; Pensacola, Fla.; and the surrounding areas (the so-called Redneck Riviera), and it makes me sick to think of that beautiful, friendly area getting hit with all this oil. They weren’t hit by Katrina quite as bad as New Orleans, but they still had a lot of problems down there, and now this. It kills me, and there’s nothing I can do about it.

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  31. Jolene said on June 1, 2010 at 4:11 pm

    Re convening experts from throughout the world, MichaelG, that is happening. There’ve been several reports of people from the various companies working on the problem, offers of aid from various countries–some of which have been accepted. The scientific “war room” is in Houston.

    The guy who’s been advocating the flotilla of supertankers is once again on TV. That idea sounds intuitively reasonable, but I think there are a lot of problems w/ it, not the least of which is that this is not a surface spill so the oil is much harder to capture. If the solution (i.e., “cut and cap”) that they’re readying now works, it’ll be funtionally equivalent in that it’ll be sucking up oil as it’s released rather than shutting down the well.

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  32. 4dbirds said on June 1, 2010 at 4:19 pm

    I’m not sure if illegals (I hate that word used with humans) were allowed to enlist but non US citizens were. I knew several. I think they’re fast-tracked for citizenship. Now that I think about it, I knew a German guy who enlisted as a German citizen in Germany. He could only go infantry but when he received his US citizenship, he went into intelligence (I know, jumbo shrimp) which is where I met him.

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  33. LAMary said on June 1, 2010 at 4:25 pm

    Ditto on the illegal aliens joining the army. The recruiters hang out around high schools in the Latino parts of town here. At least one kid who was in school with my older son got posthumous citizenship.

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  34. Jolene said on June 1, 2010 at 4:27 pm

    Dorothy, your description of your vacation makes me want to read the Wilder books again. I think I read them when I was 10-12 years old–a loooooong time ago–and few details have stayed with me.

    Several years ago, I toured the Alcott home in Massachusetts and had a great time. But the tour guide makes all the difference. On my first visit, we had a wonderful guide–lively, amusing, and knowledgable. Was so much fun that I returned later with other out-of-town guests, and the second visit was nowhere near as much fun.

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  35. Dorothy said on June 1, 2010 at 4:35 pm

    Jolene the very thing happened between the first house and second Wilder home (the one their daughter had built for them) all in the same day! The first guide was rather monotonous and not fun to listen to. She seemed bored, but I didn’t care – I was just thrilled to be there. But at the Rock House the next guide was fun and lively and told a few extra stories about how Almanzo did not trust indoor plumbing and continued to use an outhouse even though they had indoor plumbing. He also didn’t trust refrigerators, so he kept their milk, eggs and things in a spring house at a corner near the driveway of the house that was sheltered by many trees and quite cool.

    Totally OT but this weekend I read in the St. Louis Dispatch about this group of young Bosnian immigrants who were graduating from high school, and they made this wonderful movie. They interviewed family members who have memories of the war (they were all babies when they fled Bosnia) and the movie is the interviews. I have only watched the first few minutes but plan to watch the rest soon (very busy at work today!).

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  36. moe99 said on June 1, 2010 at 4:37 pm

    Might think twice about concealed carry laws.

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  37. paddyo' said on June 1, 2010 at 4:58 pm

    beb @ 15: Yep, $340 mil IS a lot of money . . . about one-third of what BP reportedly has spent/lost so far on its little Gulf mess. $340 mil would be a very small price to pay for protection against more of this . . .

    And hey, don’t the oil-lionaires of the Middle East build lavish islands for real-estate purposes, too? BP should be familiar with all this . . .

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  38. brian stouder said on June 1, 2010 at 5:06 pm

    moe – there are any number of easy jokes to make about that guy who shot his balls off at Lowes, and your link made me laugh out loud.

    But your point about these ‘concealed-carry’ laws is the salient one. They say “no charges will be filed” – but I think he recklessly endangered every other person in the store.

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  39. Dexter said on June 1, 2010 at 5:20 pm

    Thanks. I wonder if the guy I knew was recruited down across the border…I wouldn’t be surprised if that went on, either. I do remember that Rosario was about the only guy there who was elated to be in the US Army.

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  40. Sue said on June 1, 2010 at 5:36 pm

    I read and reread the Wilder books almost constantly until I was twenty, no kidding. Looking back I understand that they provided me with some stability I was missing in my life. These books and the Anne of Green Gables series provided role models that were more real to me than what I was actually experiencing and lots of lessons in How Good People Behave. I loved those people and still do.
    Funny thing though, reading the Little House books as an adult brings a different perspective. Ma was probably incredibly repressed but at the same time not too different from a lot of women of her time. Pa, great as he was, strikes me as selfish and a little immature – sorry, Ma, I donated all our cash to a church bell fund but I knew you’d understand, by the way, you don’t mind if we move again, do you? Good thing Laura totally accepted the “suck it up, we’re pioneers” school of child-rearing, since she didn’t have much choice.
    And yet, those people just soared, didn’t they? Laura became a famous writer because her daughter was a famous writer FIRST, determined to make her own way and breaking barriers all over the place. Laura hauled herself all over the place, leaving her family and finally settling at Rocky Ridge after she took a “violent fancy” to the land (weren’t those Almanzo’s words?).
    The adult me hasn’t changed her opinion about Anne Shirley and is still in love with all those Canadians over Prince Edward Island way, though. I think L.M. Montgomery saw more humor in everyday things and I relate to that better. I still read “Chronicles of Avonlea” and “Further Chronicles…” about once a year, just to be back among those people.

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  41. cliff said on June 1, 2010 at 5:42 pm

    Nancy — have you read the Black Hawk Down book? It’s a remarkable piece of reporting, and it had an insightful assessment of how the entire Somalian misadventure influenced both military and foreign policy.

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    • nancy said on June 1, 2010 at 6:06 pm

      I have. It’s an astounding piece of work. But I don’t reread it the way I rewatch the movie.

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  42. coozledad said on June 1, 2010 at 6:05 pm

    Dexter: I don’t know for certain about Mexican nationals, but you’ve definitely got Philippinos serving as recently as the first gulf war. It seems I’ve read somewhere that foreign nationals often serve in an advisory capacity, or they get junior grade officer combat training in situ. My wife says she’s also seen references to military service as a path to citizenship.

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  43. Julie Robinson said on June 1, 2010 at 6:19 pm

    Sue, I reread the Little House and Green Gables books frequently along with Chronicles of Narnia. All have great lessons to impart, but they are also just good writing, good stories to lose yourself in. Plus, I have a deep love for children’s literature. Pa Ingalls definitely had wanderlust which was hard on his wife, and the portrayal of native Americans is just unfortunate.

    Back when our daughter was wrapped up in all things Ingalls I did a little research, and it appears that Laura’s writing benefited from her daughter’s heavy editing, some would say ghostwriting. Some periods of their life are not covered at all or glossed over–there was a baby boy born who died less than a year later. Maybe this was just considered inappropriate for children to read. Whatever; there are still many truths to be gleaned from their pages.

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  44. LAMary said on June 1, 2010 at 6:36 pm

    Citizenship via military service:

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  45. Dorothy said on June 1, 2010 at 9:31 pm

    Julie and Sue: I bought this a couple months ago and finished it very quickly. You both might really like it. I just lent it to my daughter during our weekend trip.

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  46. brian stouder said on June 1, 2010 at 9:36 pm

    One thing about Somalia and “The Mogue” and all that, was that President GHW Bush inserted us into that war AFTER he had lost the presidency and BEFORE Clinton’s inauguration. That always struck me as the absolute worst example of a hand-off of a shit sandwich, from which Clinton was forced to take a bite. Our CJCS (Adm Mullen) in 2010 thinks nothing of voicing reservations about the actions of the United States Congress, with regard to DADT repeal, but nobody at the top had anything to say about a lameduck president blithely shucking the US military into a god-foresaken failed-state on the horn of Africa? There’s just gotta be more to that story.

    I would say I only very rarely re-read a book, but that’s sort of hogwash since I read multiples on the same subject (more or less).

    Rick Atkinson has written some interesting books, and I enjoyed Packer’s Assassin’s Gate and West’s Strongest Tribe (less so); but I very, very much enjoyed Wright’s The Looming Tower. That is a book I will re-read; I think I’ll save it until we kill al Qaeda’s #1 guy (Sammy), or, when they open the new tower in 2012.

    Rachel Maddow had an excellent piece from there during Geek Week last week; I didn’t realize the new One World Trade Center was actually rising right now. It’s about 80′ tall, so far, and at the top of it you already get a tremendous view of the footprints of the Twin Towers, which are becoming memorial parks

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  47. Sue said on June 1, 2010 at 10:11 pm

    Oooh, thank you Dorothy, I’ll check it out.
    Anyone read West From Home? It’s a collection of letters. I think Laura even mentioned some of the manuscript editing in one of the letters.
    Rose Wilder Lane was an excellent short story writer. I found a collection once, and although I’m not a real fan of short stories, I liked hers. Some were creepy and she had a knack for small town scenes. I only know of one book that she wrote, Let the Hurrican Roar (they renamed it and reissued it when Little House mania was in full force). I wasn’t fond of it, same story only from an adult viewpoint, I think, but somehow not exactly riveting.
    And every time I see Michael Landon as Pa, with his hair and open shirt and being all prettier than Ma and stuff, I want to throw something at the tv.

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  48. Julie Robinson said on June 2, 2010 at 8:09 am

    It looks like there have been several new biographies written that I’ll have to catch up on. Thanks for the heads up, Dorothy.

    I did read West From Home as well as the Rose books and I understand that Rose had quite a bit or writing that was never published. My theory is that Rose & Laura together were much stronger writers than they were individually. The First Four Years was discovered and published after both had died and it suffers from the lack of Rose’s loving editing.

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  49. Dorothy said on June 2, 2010 at 8:44 am

    Sue you cracked me up! I never thought of it that way but you’re right. However when you see the pictures of the real Caroline and Charles, Ma was no beauty. I read West From Home a long time ago so can’t recall it specifically. But after reading the biography I linked to (@ #47 above), I don’t have a real high opinion of Rose to be honest. She was a gifted and talented editor, but I got the impression she was a little envious of her mother’s success. Some people think there is some controversy over who actually wrote the Little House books because Rose had such a big hand in editing them. And “Let the Hurricane Roar” was based on Charles and Caroline’s story and Laura, I think, was slightly resentful that Rose “stole” the idea of writing about them when she knew her mother was planning to write their story, and her own. This could be speculation on the part of the writer of the biography. Still, it was a new angle I had not heard of before. Shed new light on the whole situation for me.

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  50. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on June 2, 2010 at 10:02 am

    Reading too much about Laura & Rose is like reading Frank Schaeffer’s “Portofino” and “Saving Grandma,” after which you can never read about L’Abri or evangelical conservatism in quite the same way.

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  51. Sycamorebaby said on June 2, 2010 at 10:20 am

    Anybody see the WSJ commentary today about what the oil spill means to the Obama administration? Interesting stuff.

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  52. Dave said on June 2, 2010 at 10:24 am

    Gold Star families never get over it, I’ve probably mentioned my uncle killed in WWII before. My grandparents never got over it, especially my grandmother, although with my grandfather, you just knew from comments made from time to time. You can’t get over the loss of a child, truly has to be one of the worst things that can happen to a family.

    It would be very hard to lose a child to this war when none of it makes any sense to me.

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  53. Sue said on June 2, 2010 at 10:53 am

    Dorothy, Julie etc: Apparently Rose would have been a big Rand Paul fan. According to Wikipedia, “She [Rose] is noted (with Ayn Rand and Isabel Paterson) as one of the founding mothers of the American libertarian movement and is also considered one of the seminal forces behind the American Libertarian Party.”
    Who knew?

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