Bad news on the doorstep.

We’ve had a missing-child — children — case going here for about a week now, although everyone is now pretty much resigned to the fact it will not end well. As far as I can tell, as much as I can stand to read about it, the case involves an estranged couple and three little boys, 5, 7 and 9. Last weekend there was an Amber Alert issued with extreme prejudice, with a warning that the kids were in “extreme danger” in the company of a woman who had taken them at their father’s request. The father intended to commit suicide, and didn’t want them to see it. So he said.

A couple days later, the alert was canceled, and the police said there was never any woman. They also said they didn’t expect the search to end well. The father, who had been on a 72-hour psychiatric hold, was released and immediately arrested. Having beaten bushes all around the rural landscape near where the family lived, now searchers are combing the St. Joseph River. And every day, the faces of the three kids appear on the front page of the newspaper. Presumably dad killed them, but he appears to have been flattened by depression, and isn’t saying anything.

I wish I had a wider point to make here, but I don’t except to note, once again, that there’s no squalor like rural squalor, and there’s no soul more lost than the uninvolved parent in a case like this. I recall a similar one in Fort Wayne, a father killing his children and then himself, leaving his ex-wife to find the carnage — and that is the only word for it — when she arrived to pick them up after custody weekend. She issued a statement about the third day afterward, telling everyone they were wrong about her ex, that he was a “wonderful father.” Of course people responded the only way they knew how — by showering her with money. She paid for the funerals, and spent the change on a tattoo. It was on her back, and depicted her two little boys as angels. I know this because my neighbor was the tattoo artist; he worked from their school pictures.

I had far more interesting neighbors in Indiana — I’ll say that. Now I live surrounded by management consultants. And I wonder why our block parties are so boring.

I’ll say this, too: We certainly are well-acquainted with violence in this country. Two details from the story of the Ronni Chasen murder case in Hollywood, which took a turn yesterday when a “person of interest” wanted for questioning committed suicide. First detail:

(A neighbor) said she heard a pop about 6 p.m. that she mistook for a car backfiring.

Second detail:

When she went downstairs at 8 p.m., she said she got a brief glimpse of the lobby before the police hurried her out the door. “There was blood all over the floor, and it looked like brain matter,” she said.

When was the last time you heard a car backfire? I think I’ve heard that sound once in my life, and it was more than 30 years ago. In a city where real gunfire rings out daily, where every other movie and TV show features hails of bullets, someone actually hears some, and thinks: Car backfire. The car backfire is to shootings what freight trains are to tornados, and in this case something for witnesses to tell the police and excuse why they didn’t call 911. And yet, the same woman, in the very next paragraph, speaks authoritatively on what was in the gore spilled on the floor of the lobby of her apartment building.

Let me tell you something: I have heard gunfire many times in my life. (It didn’t sound anything like how I remember a car backfire sounding.) But everything I know about brain matter I learned from watching Quentin Tarantino movies.

Want some fun? Google the phrase “sounded like a car backfire.” Seven hundred thirty results. Seven hundred thirty-one, now.

Well, we are certainly circling the drain this morning, ain’a? Let’s do some bloggage:

And the lawyers took their third: Google pays couple $1 for putting their house on Street View. Looking at the picture, I’d say that’s the most glory that humble little abode every got, or will get.

eHow answers your question: How to stop a car from backfiring. First lulu: It’s a “common problem.” Second: Check your carburetor, then your distributor cap. I haven’t seen either one of those since I peeked under the hood of a 1975 Camaro.

I want to see “Black Swan,” but it looks like it has too many dirty parts for my teenager to accompany me. Someone who gets to these things on opening weekend, please report.

Now must run. Have a great weekend. I intend to try.

Posted at 9:17 am in Current events |

63 responses to “Bad news on the doorstep.”

  1. coozledad said on December 3, 2010 at 9:29 am

    I used to get some of my artwork framed at a stoner shop, where the guys did beautiful work, very slowly.
    One day when I was there picking up some stuff they’d matted, one of the guys looked out in the parking lot and winced. “Fuck.” He said.”It’s the Borings. And they ARE, man. They’ll be here all afternoon.”

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  2. brian stouder said on December 3, 2010 at 9:30 am

    I recall a similar one in Fort Wayne, a father killing his children and then himself, leaving his ex-wife to find the carnage

    I remember that one, too. The news-printed detail that seared my soul was that it was a Saturday morning, and the young corpses had bowls of cereal near them, with cartoons on the tv.

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  3. Dorothy said on December 3, 2010 at 9:52 am

    That story is one of the top stories on the news here, too, Nancy. It’s only a matter of time before they find those little boys’ bodies. I can’t recall seeing even a photo of the mother. Maybe she has some dignity and won’t put herself before the t.v. cameras.

    Having grown up in Pittsburgh I was accustomed to (if one can get “accustomed”) news stories about murders. It just seems like it’s part of living in a big city. But now that I live in a town of 16,000 people or so, it seems like we’re insulated somehow from those kind of occurrences. Then the story of the kidnapping of a 13 year old girl, and the murder of her brother, mother and friend of the family exploded in Mount Vernon a month ago. And it just consumed the town. You could not get a haircut without opinions and theories swirling around every single conversation. I was at the dentist yesterday and the hygienist told me that a woman in her office has a son who worked for the tree trimming company that cut down the tree where the bodies had been stuffed. Everyone knows someone connected to the case by varying degrees: I’d hear: my cousin went to school with Stephanie Sprang; a friend says they worked out at the same gym where the murderer used to belong; my neighbor knows the person who entered the house and saw the blood before the State Police even saw it! That kind of thing. Even if you wanted to not discuss it you could not escape the fog of fear, disgust, bewilderment, etc. that enveloped the whole town. I hope I will never have to get caught up in something like this ever again. Even in sleep I could not get away from it because it sometimes crept into my dreams.

    Your story made me smile, Cooz. Thanks!

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  4. Mark P. said on December 3, 2010 at 10:20 am

    This is what happens when you have a world with almost seven billion people and the capability to report on anything that happens anywhere, with video. Events with vanishingly small probabilities occur, and we hear about them, so we begin to think they are commonplace. Sometimes I wonder if that capability really serves us very well. In what way am I better off knowing about things like this? How many tragedies occur as echoes of a widely-reported tragedy. Does knowing things like this help anyone avoid them?

    Oh well. This is our world.

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  5. 4dbirds said on December 3, 2010 at 10:21 am

    I too have seen the pictures of the three boys on the TV and I have a gut feeling they’re dead. I know depression, intimately. It’s the family illness and my mother’s family has been subjected to every current treatment from lobotomies, shock treatment, ending up in an institution and now Prozac. Yet with all that, I don’t understand the deep dark hole that would make one kill their children. Kill yourself yes, your children never.

    Several years ago in our area, a well off man shot his wife, two children and himself. All died immediately except one 11 year old daughter who lingered for a week or so before she too died. He left a note, where he explained that he was financially ruined and he couldn’t leave anyone alive knowing his shame. I thought, WTF? Your shame? Well just kill yourself asshat. I told my husband that if ever felt that we (the rest of the family) couldn’t bear his shame, rest assured we could.

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  6. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on December 3, 2010 at 10:24 am

    Cf. “La Dolce Vita,” and the character Steiner.

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  7. brian stouder said on December 3, 2010 at 10:38 am

    But on the brighter side of Bad News on the doorstep, there’s this story, about a car-jacking out of a gas station, that could have been terrible, but instead went all Hollywood Action Figure well! :

    Leaving their car running to keep their daughter warm, the Richmans stepped away from the car briefly to talk to their relatives. It was just long enough for a man wearing a hooded sweatshirt to jump in the driver’s seat of the car and pop it into reverse. Melanie Richman’s mother yelled “Go! Go! Go!” when she saw what was unfolding, and the chase was on. What happened next was caught on the gas station’s security cameras. Melanie Richman, 22, cocked her right elbow in an attempt to break the passenger-side window. Aaron Richman, also 22, gave his wife the push she needed to provide the force to break the window. As Melanie was being dragged by the moving car, Aaron jumped through the open passenger window and confronted the carjacker.

    You can guess the rest

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  8. Peter said on December 3, 2010 at 10:39 am

    4dbirds, I agree with you. I bet if any of those family victims were ever allowed to, most of them would say that they’d like to try a chance of living with the shame instead of a getting a fast exit.

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  9. Deborah said on December 3, 2010 at 10:55 am

    Jeff (tmmo) Felini’s message of overwhelming despair in the midst of the good life was a downer for sure.

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  10. MarkH said on December 3, 2010 at 11:24 am

    Actually, I didn’t guess it entirely, Brian, but a good story nonetheless.

    The Ronni Chasen episode is unfolding like a bad Lifetime movie. Or, maybe a decent Law and Order episode.

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  11. Connie said on December 3, 2010 at 11:35 am

    I hear gunfire here quite regularly as I drive by the Detroit Gun Club regularly and on weekends the gun blasts are constant.

    The pic of the google house is side on so it’s hard to judge the size. But probably not as large as the total garage space.

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  12. nancy said on December 3, 2010 at 11:36 am

    That’s how you know you’re in the country, Connie — when outbuilding square footage exceeds that of the main house.

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  13. Dorothy said on December 3, 2010 at 11:52 am

    Didn’t anyone else catch that the couple in the Google/house story are named Christine & Aaron Boring? Must be the folks who stopped by stoner’s place in Cooz’s story (#1).

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  14. John G. Wallace said on December 3, 2010 at 12:20 pm

    Obama is at Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan after a secret overnight trip. no doubt a byproduct of the latest WikiLeaks release.
    i’m not going to debate the right or wrong, but personally I think they are doing what mainstream journalists are afraid to consider. Tell the truth, print the facts and let the people think. Spare me the “this puts our troops in danger bullcrap – we did that fine on our own between the Pakistani and Afghan allies.
    I’ll give you one guess who is behind the DDOS attacks. I know 20 year olds who could do a better hack down with all the resources the NSA has.
    And for the friday fun news forecast – if Assange lives long enough and their servers hold up the next round of documents will be government files on U.F.O.’s. I think we’ll hear that the X-37B (nice toy for the USAF) and a hypersonic drone were a few of them, but a lot of the recent stuff like O’Hare, Phoenix, and China wasn’t our doing.

    As Flounder in Animal House observed, “ohhh boy, isn’t this great.”

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  15. Jason T. said on December 3, 2010 at 12:41 pm

    Cooz@1, Dorothy@13:

    Yes. And here’s today’s headline on the website of WTAE-TV, Pittsburgh’s ABC affiliate:

    Google Admits Trespassing In Allegheny,
    Pays Boring Family $1

    Says a former newspaper cow-orker of mine: “They should get out more.”

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  16. LAMary said on December 3, 2010 at 12:43 pm

    There’s a store here called the Boring Jewelry Company.

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  17. moe99 said on December 3, 2010 at 12:45 pm

    I need levity today. Lots of it.

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  18. Catherine said on December 3, 2010 at 12:51 pm

    Coozledad, I think you’ve created the history textbook chapter title and subtitle: “America in the Early 21st Century: On the Brink of Irredeemable Chronic Shitheapery.” (from yesterday’s comments)

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  19. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on December 3, 2010 at 12:57 pm

    Moe — you can’t beat the classics.

    and of course:

    The last one is funny more for the look on Gene Wilder’s face than anything else . . .

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  20. alex said on December 3, 2010 at 1:08 pm

    Speaking of murder-suicides, my father’s godmother was a professor of chemistry in Hungary who once hosted a very large dinner party. This was during WWII. I’m sure you know where I’m going with this. Fortunately for my dad and his immediate family, they already had other plans that day.

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  21. Julie Robinson said on December 3, 2010 at 1:14 pm

    Agreed, Moe. It’s been a long dreary week outside with sinus crud inside, and I just can’t read any more stories about kids being murdered.

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  22. paddyo' said on December 3, 2010 at 2:07 pm

    Thanks, Moe, for slushpilehell . . . I particularly enjoyed the Oct. 11 entry. I L’d M F’ing A O . . .

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  23. moe99 said on December 3, 2010 at 2:18 pm

    A friend from Mpls must’ve read my mind. She sent me this today:

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  24. Catherine said on December 3, 2010 at 2:55 pm

    Speaking of dreary, as I walked the dog in the *dark* this morning, I reminded myself that it’s only 18 days to the solstice. Joyous Yule, everyone!

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  25. Jolene said on December 3, 2010 at 3:08 pm

    Here’s another way to brighten your day.

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  26. MarkH said on December 3, 2010 at 3:10 pm

    Jason T. (and Dorothy) — I think Boring is a fairly common Allegheny County name. In my original neighborhood as a kid, East McKeesport, now North Versailles Twp., near you, Jason, we lived near a Boring family. The son, also named Mark and about my age, worked for my uncle delivering the Pgh. Press in the late ’50s. In the small world dept., 30 years after that, Mark and I both found ourselves working and living here in Jackson Hole. Not only that, but his sister and brother in law were living in my grandparents’ old home on Greensburg Pike (Rte. 30).

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  27. Dexter said on December 3, 2010 at 3:21 pm

    I have been following the search hourly, as it’s epicenter is just north of me about 17 minutes. It’s so damn sad because there are just no traces. Two days ago ponds were searched, “a shot in the dark, basically” was one quote…no results.
    Hope springs eternal, yes, but it’s running thin now.
    The names are different , but the spirit that is waning is here in this song.

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  28. Harrison said on December 3, 2010 at 3:50 pm

    Nancy, you said:

    I had far more interesting neighbors in Indiana — I’ll say that. Now I live surrounded by management consultants. And I wonder why our block parties are so boring.

    Look at the bright side: During your block parties in Michigan, you won’t get shot.

    Mark H., two things:

    1. Regarding the Chasen shooting…the Law and Order franchise has a new show this season on NBC. It’s set in Los Angeles. Maybe they might have an episode on something like it before the season is up.

    2. By the way, an artist for the Superman comic book in the 1940s and 1950s was Wayne Boring.

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  29. LAMary said on December 3, 2010 at 4:23 pm

    Catherine, maybe it was dark earlier but now it’s 70 and sunny. Not that bad.
    My maiden name is a gerund as well. Not as funny as Boring but the source of many unoriginal jokes. My maiden name is Sinning.

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  30. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on December 3, 2010 at 4:30 pm

    But are you more sinned against?

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  31. brian stouder said on December 3, 2010 at 4:36 pm

    If your middle name was Trouble, it would all be just too much

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  32. LAMary said on December 3, 2010 at 4:38 pm

    Jeff, I used to be. Not for the past 23 years though.
    My grandmother’s maiden name was Sinner. My maternal grandmother.

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  33. ac jones said on December 3, 2010 at 5:45 pm

    This is true. I know a woman whose last name was Born. She married a man with the last name of Gay. They got divorced. So, she tells folks she was Born, then she was Gay and now she’s Born again.

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  34. LAMary said on December 3, 2010 at 6:08 pm

    There is a town in Oregon called Boring. Imagine. Boring High School, Boring Fire Department, Boring library…
    And this:

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  35. 4dbirds said on December 3, 2010 at 7:14 pm

    I know someone who was from Boring Oregon. Since this thread also includes death, I’ll share that my friend’s sister committed suicide and the family put her little dog to sleep so she could have company in the casket. I was floored.

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  36. DellaDash said on December 3, 2010 at 8:14 pm

    I want to see ‘Black Swan’ too. If Aronofsky can have fanboys, my not-so-much-of-a-baby brother is one. It was a good roadtrip topic, but I didn’t realize this latest is a ballet pic. That it’s also a horror flic captures my reaction to two documentaries I tried to watch this past year, but couldn’t make it through to the end. Maybe the French ballet is still okay, but contemporary Russian prima ballerinas are famine-emaciated sticks with ghoulish-grey complexions, who double over gasping for air after every grand jete, it seems. Anorexia has snatched the vitality out of this exquisite, yet athletically demanding art form. I won’t say it’s heartbreaking, not with missing children on the newsfront, but it is horrifying.

    One more thing. Sexual ballet is an oxymoron.

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  37. Bitter Scribe said on December 3, 2010 at 9:08 pm

    Most people I’ve heard compare gunshots to firecrackers, not car backfire. And when I’ve heard gunshots on tape (I’ve never heard them live and hope never to), they sound like firecrackers to me, too.

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  38. Dexter said on December 3, 2010 at 9:37 pm

    It was easy to make old forklifts and carburetor cars and trucks backfire at will. It was great fun to drive up towards someone concentrating on his factory job , cut the ignition switch for a second and a half and turn it back on…BOOM.
    I did it with my old pickup trucks too. After a while it became boring.

    Sometimes I think I can discern, gunshot or firecracker?…car backfire or WTF was THAT?…but with echoing and the sound filtering through tree leaves and the atmosphere, I can’t always be sure. In Vietnam one of the first lessons was to learn the difference, incoming mortar round or outgoing? I learned damned quickly. I have a scar on my thumb from diving into a sand-bagged bunker just as an incoming mortar round landed maybe thirty yards away, blowing up a jeep to kingdom come. Damn, I had fun.

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  39. alex said on December 3, 2010 at 9:48 pm

    Dex, I used to cut the ignition on an old ’70s Chevy because it sounded like a sonic boom and shook windows.

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  40. Kirk said on December 3, 2010 at 10:34 pm

    There is a little burg in northwestern Ohio called Dull.

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  41. Denice said on December 3, 2010 at 10:49 pm

    In my hood I bloody well know the difference between a backfire and a gunshot. I hear gunfire frequently around here. The worst part is I’m used to it. I fear what will happen some day if I get careless.

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  42. brian stouder said on December 3, 2010 at 11:56 pm

    And just when you think Helen Thomas is all done destroying her reputation, she finds a way to burn it down some more!

    Wayne State University will no longer offer an award named in honor of one of its most famous alumni, former White House Press Corps member Helen Thomas, officials announced today. The Helen Thomas Spirit of Diversity award will no longer be handed out because of controversial statements Thomas, an Arab American, made during a conference in Dearborn on Thursday that resurrected a controversy from earlier this year.
    Thomas told a crowd at a diversity conference that “Congress, the White House and Hollywood, Wall Street are owned by Zionists. No question, in my opinion.”

    That “spirit of diversity” of Helen’s seems to have gone to hell in a handbasket

    btw, one of my brothers and his lovely Buckeye wife live in Pioneer, Ohio. Somewhat disconcerting to see that place in the middle of the unfolding atrocity discussed earlier

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  43. Dexter said on December 4, 2010 at 12:56 am

    Helen has been a much-loved favorite, for decades, of those, especially in the Washington, D.C. area, who have hope that the zionists will go back to Europe and abandon the settler state of Israel.
    She has always been this way. She just may have gotten tired of covering up her true feelings enough to not rile the public like she has done this year.
    Yes , she has lost a lot, her media agent (book promoter, speech organizer Diane Nine) dropped her like a fiery coal, her writing partner Craig Crawford backed away from her too, but she has never backed off her anti-zionist stance and she never will. She has valid points , too; this has been her whole life. She still has my respect.

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  44. Dexter said on December 4, 2010 at 1:27 am

    alex, great fun!

    Kirk, I wonder what Dull looked like in its hay day, because now it appears to be just one house, a chicken coop and a barn.

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  45. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on December 4, 2010 at 8:40 am

    Perversely, gunshots in my experience (mostly crappy little cheap .22 pistols) sound like a champagne bottle being uncorked. The audio effect you hear with larger caliber weapons on TV is usually more to do with an echoic quality of a discharge in an alley or between buildings, which they use even when firing is taking place out in an open field.

    But it’s mostly various intensities of “pop”. Rifles are more of a “crack” which is the sound barrier raising an objection; I’ve only had the latter aimed at me and fired, and it was the impact on nearby surfaces that got my attention, never heard the first two shots. The next couple were distractingly insignificant sounds, but I was under a tree trunk at that point. In boot, they fired M-16s overhead, and I was amazed to find that unsilenced they were still pretty quiet. Just a modest “ker-rack.”

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  46. alex said on December 4, 2010 at 9:12 am

    Wasn’t aware of Helen Thomas’ heritage. Reflecting on Danny and Marlo, I wonder if Thomas must have been one of those names appropriated by the Lebanese the way Harris and Martin became Russian Jewish favorites.

    I can sympathize with Helen Thomas to the extent she was no doubt frustrated that the media and politicians didn’t have the balls to explain why 911 really happened and instead indulged in the fiction that Arabs resent the American lifestyle and seek to strip us of our freedoms and force their religious laws upon us.

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  47. alex said on December 4, 2010 at 9:18 am

    Well, well, well. Charles Blow of the NYT has ripped off an original NN.C conceit.

    You’d think a hat tip would be in order, no?

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  48. coozledad said on December 4, 2010 at 10:10 am

    So, in addition to the failures of the Bush administration, the left is responsible for Sarah Palin?
    I didn’t realize Blow was such a miserable hack; as Hunger Tallest Palin said over at Roy’s, it’s one thing to have your head deep up your ass, it’s quite another to admire the view.

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  49. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on December 4, 2010 at 11:22 am

    Isn’t he doing what he’s mocking? Isn’t there a word for that? Paralipsis, I think. Or is it proslipsis?

    A problem with the otherwise enjoyable idea that Blow is verging on plagiarism here:

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  50. alex said on December 4, 2010 at 11:41 am

    Heavens to Rosenstock-Hussey, Jeff. I recently came across one of my own original coinages on the Urban Dictionary web site. Or so I thought it was. Maybe it took on a life of its own outside the small circle of friends I’d shared it with while cocktailing and talking dirty in Chicago back in the ’90s. Or maybe someone else thought up exactly the same thing. Who knows?

    On edit: Just came across the Urban Word of the Day for November 19, 2010, and laughing out loud.

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  51. brian stouder said on December 4, 2010 at 12:04 pm

    I can sympathize with Helen Thomas to the extent she was no doubt frustrated that the media and politicians didn’t have the balls to explain why 911 really happened

    I find this point intriguing; it strikes me as having the ring of truth, or as somewhat objectionable, depending on how you view it.

    When Helen Thomas says “Congress, the White House and Hollywood, Wall Street are owned by Zionists. No question, in my opinion.” the inclusion of “Wall Street” especially, is all too easy to connect to Henry Ford-style, early 20th century American anti-Semitism.

    But indeed, the 9/11 attackers very specifically targeted both World Trade Center towers (along with the Pentagon and presumeably the White House itself, or another Washington DC symbol, such as congress) – ‘unquestionably’ the symbols of American economic power in the world.

    Now, we could have a big debate about that worldview, but as Alex implies, it DOES encapsulate our nihilistic enemy’s worldview.

    Afterall, they could have destroyed the Statue of Liberty, if the message was “we want to impose Sharia Law”; or they could have smashed a Superbowl (or some other cultural event) if the message was “you’re all infidels”.

    That said, though – Helen is still wrong, just as the nihilists were.

    Of all the things I might be tempted to think, when considering what abstract, unfying core belief might be shared by “Congress, the White House and Hollywood, [and] Wall Street” – “Zionism” ain’t it!!

    I’d be much more tempted to guess money/materialism/selfish comfort would be the unified theory for that set of people.

    A Red Ferrari and a playful, well endowed companion on a private beach with icy cold Diet Coke….now THAT we could get consensus on!

    I don’t think “Zionism” would make that set of people’s Top-100 wish list.

    Semi-non-sequitur, regarding Americans of Arab descent in Michigan: I never stopped to realize that Bobby Rahal (and his racer son Graham) fits that category. He was my fave American open-wheel racer for years; I remember a Michigan-500 at MIS 15 years ago or so, where he scraped the wall and was out of the race. In his post-incident interview, he matter-of-factly related how the car was under-steering, so he would stab the brake so as to pitch the nose down a enough to get a little more bite out of the aero set-up of the car, so that he could make the turns. That trick worked for him for a dozen laps or so, he said, and he was surprised when it failed on that last go round. Mind you, the car was travelling 230 mph (or a little more) down the main straight, every lap.

    From that time on, I thought of him as one of the bravest men in shoe leather (as Derek Daly might say)

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  52. MichaelG said on December 4, 2010 at 12:31 pm

    I’ve heard lots of weapons of every caliber – far too many of them fired in my direction. I still hear shots fired at night here in the hood. The difference between the sharp sound of the round breaking the sound barrier as it passes by and the lower sound of the weapon being fired is easy to discern. None of them sound like a backfire.

    We used to do the shut off the ignition thing when we were kids – just for a bang. Nyuk, nyuk. It was especially fun to do while going through an underpass.

    Krugman has a devastating column.

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  53. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on December 4, 2010 at 1:50 pm

    What Americans of all angles hate to come to grips with is that much of the world sees US-variety capitalism as a totalizing world view in the same sense as Soviet communism. We like to think we’re not only right, but we’re a choice, while Communism is always (the narrative says) imposed from above, or at the point of a gun.

    The view of most of the globe is that we impose our economic system and social values no less than the Comintern. That’s what Qutb saw, through an admittedly warped set of lenses, but when he went through DC and Colorado and California in the 50’s, and he began what he considered a necessary process of organizing an Islamic resistance to that avalanche of Americanism.

    You don’t have to agree with Qutb & the Islamic Brotherhood to get what it is they think we don’t get about our own system, and how it spreads; you can even still like/prefer our system, but the idea it’s entirely up to free & democratic processes as it spreads like a jam stain across the Global South — that isn’t going to go over in the tea shops and madrassahs of South Asia etc.

    I *hope* that’s what the preceding comments meant, anyhow. If the point is that Bush’s even dumber brother set the gelignite in WTC 1, 2, & 7, count me out.

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  54. alex said on December 4, 2010 at 1:58 pm

    MichaelG, I saw that and thought Krugman’s sentiment that Obama might as well have been wearing a “kick me” sign on his back was pretty dead-on. What on earth is he thinking? He’s at his best when he calls that pack of liars out on their shit and he ought to be doing so relentlessly.

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  55. MichaelG said on December 4, 2010 at 2:27 pm

    Absolutely, Alex. It pretty well sums up why I’ve come to dislike the spinless Dems almost as much as the Reps. Between the two of them we’re absolutely screwed.

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  56. alex said on December 4, 2010 at 3:25 pm

    Jttmo, I probably shouldn’t have even waded into those deadly waters, but my point was simply that if one could be objective and put him/herself in Helen Thomas’ shoes, she probably finds it insufferable to have to listen to people demonizing Arabs while shilly-shallying around Arab-Israeli conflict as the proximate source of the terrorists’ animus toward the U.S. Her animus toward Israel, however, I find indefensible.

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  57. MichaelG said on December 4, 2010 at 3:33 pm

    Is Helen a Moslem or a Christian? Danny and Marlo were/are Lebanese Christians.

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  58. brian stouder said on December 4, 2010 at 4:34 pm

    but the idea it’s [US/western-style capitalism] entirely up to free & democratic processes as it spreads like a jam stain across the Global South — that isn’t going to go over in the tea shops and madrassahs of South Asia etc.

    I really like the image of a “jam stain across the global south” (I envision grape jam, oozing irrevocably onward).

    I don’t think it’s putting too fine a point on it to note Formula One racing expanding into glittering new, palatial entertainment facilities in Abu Dhabi, Bahrain, Singapore and Malaysia (and leaving aside the more northerly Korea and India); or the World Cup in 2022 in Qatar. (Nate Silver has an interesting look at the “astonishing” FIFA decision regarding Qatar;

    it takes him 11 paragraphs to get to “economic development” – which I read as “there’s barrels of money over there, for us to relieve them of” – and then he dismisses it out of hand, and remains puzzled.)

    I think, at bottom, and despite even the fondest hopes of both hungry capitalists and chucklehead nihilists, when there’s lots and lots of money to be made, then there will be blood.

    And by the way, Time magazine had an interesting single-page article about the fallacy of looking at macro indicators like the Dow Jones Industrial Average (ie – those “zionists” on Wall Street) and drawing inferences with regard to the economy of the United States. There simply is not a direct relationship anymore – when GM sells more cars in China than in the US, or when Corning glass has evolved from kitchenware to fiber-optic cable to screens for plasma tv sets.

    Hello, new global paradigm; just as violent as the old mercantile one

    edit: here’s that Time article:,9171,2032129,00.html

    An excerpt:

    The result of the decoupling of U.S.-listed companies from the U.S. economy is that corporate and national growth rates have also diverged. While the U.S. economy will be fortunate if it can eke out 2% to 3% growth this year and next, the S&P 500’s third-quarter earnings grew by an astonishing 31% (year over year), down from an even more astonishing 51% in the second quarter. Granted, that was coming off a very weak 2009, but over the past decade, companies have on the whole grown much more quickly than the economy itself. And this isn’t purely an American phenomenon. After all, is Nestlé really a Swiss company, Siemens a German company — it employs 60,000 Americans — or Samsung a Korean company? Companies inhabit Corporate Land, which may not have a seat on the U.N. Security Council but surely exerts as much influence as any of the five permanent members do.

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  59. moe99 said on December 4, 2010 at 4:56 pm

    I thought this was an interesting observation about Nate Silver and many currently practicing the craft of journalism (or as Atrios calls it, journanimalism :

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  60. brian stouder said on December 4, 2010 at 5:05 pm

    Moe – thanks for the link; an interesting article. I used to wonder how a Nate Silver becomes a Nate Silver (and I had heard of the online poker before)

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  61. coozledad said on December 5, 2010 at 11:34 am

    Don’t laugh. I hear he’s got Brian Wilson lined up to produce the album:

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  62. MichaelG said on December 5, 2010 at 1:11 pm

    Cub fans, Ken Levine demonstrates how to write an obit (scroll down to Fri, 12-3)

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  63. ROgirl said on December 6, 2010 at 6:21 am

    According to Wikipedia, Helen Thomas was raised in the Greek Orthodox church. She has really veered off into classic anti-Semitic territory with her recent comments. Maybe her age is a factor, but it seems that she no longer censors her true feelings. Criticism of Israel is one thing, but her statement about Zionists puts her in league with the hard-core anti-Semites who believe in the Zionist Occupation Government and the Protocols of the Elders of Zion.

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