Caffeine and bloggage.

A final busy day in a very busy week means today’s entry is all caffeine and bloggage. Caffeine and bloggage, people! I know you’ll be OK with it, because when it comes to a discussion, you folks rock the house. I thought yesterday’s comment thread was tremendous, by the way; thanks to all who contributed. Besides, we have ourselves plenty to talk about today:

OID: Tow truck driver spots what he thinks is an abandoned car, calls police and waits for permission to hook it. Permission never comes. So he calls 911 with the same information, waits two hours, no one shows up. Then:

Two weeks later, on Jan. 24, after several calls from neighbors, a police officer finally came to the site. Inside the SUV, the officer found the body of James Mullen of Oak Park, riddled with bullets.

Well, good thing it’s winter.

I can’t tell you how often I read stories like this in the paper. Later on, a deputy chief describes the situation as “confusing.” I’ll say. So many unanswered questions. Were the windows tinted? Was the corpse in the driver’s seat, or stowed in the cargo area? Where, exactly, was the car parked? The story was based on testimony offered at a Board of Police Commissioners hearing, and I guess no one asked.

Some of you got to this yesterday, but I’m just now reading about $P’s comment about the “Sputnik moment” passage in the SOTU speech, and I’m, well, speechless. Combined with Michele Bachmann’s retelling of our founders’ commitment to diversity, I’m wondering if this particular wing of the right-wing dog-and-pony show isn’t some sort of performance art piece. Nothing else explains it.

We won’t have Mike Pence to kick around, come primary season. Alas, Hoosiers, you’ll still be stuck with him.

First Tunisia, now Egypt. I have nothing to contribute to this discussion, other than to recall a story from the dark ages of journalism, when second-tier diplomats would make the rounds of newspaper editorial boards, for coffee and discussion about foreign policy, with an eye toward guiding the opinion-mongers in their opinion-making. I know — crazy, right? Anyway, if the diplomat was important enough, and there was a chance he’d say something newsworthy, sometimes a reporter was invited to sit in, because hey, you can’t ask an editorial writer to do a news story. It’s beneath their dignity. This was in Columbus, by the way.

So one day some Israeli undersecretary stops by, and my colleague Ted draws the reporting duty. The discussion was about negotiations with Egypt. Anwar Sadat had just been assassinated, and succeeded by someone named Hosni Mubarak. The editor of the paper, a twinkly pipe-smoking gent already coasting toward retirement, had a question for the diplomat.

“What about this McBurke? Can he bring peace?”

The Israeli blinked a time or two, trying to remember when the Egyptians had installed a Scotsman in the president’s office. “What? Who?”

“McBurke,” the editor pressed. “The new president.”

But the diplomat was diplomatic. “Oh, you’re speaking of Mr. Mubarak,” he said, and the moment passed, but Ted told us all about it. All the young people, whose brains had not yet started farting at inappropriate moments, got a good laugh out of it. This was when Bob and Doug McKenzie were doing their “Great White North” routine all over, and so we decided the Egyptian Scot’s first name should be “Hoser” and ever since, I’ve thought of the president of Egypt as Hoser McBurke. The other day I heard a statistic that half the Egyptian population had never known another president.

Boy, do I feel old.

Have a great weekend, all.

Posted at 9:05 am in Current events, Detroit life |

91 responses to “Caffeine and bloggage.”

  1. Kim said on January 28, 2011 at 9:35 am

    Folks, the robust discussion and thought-provoking linkage is almost too much. I may have to quit my job. Hank’s link from yesterday is one for the ages, meaning if you’ve ever spent time off Planet Earth (like Planet My Dad Died or Planet My Marriage is Falling Apart or Planet Addiction or insert your undesired destination here) you have to read it. Thanks, all. Now off to my job to do some work before the comments start rolling in.

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  2. coozledad said on January 28, 2011 at 9:36 am

    I think yesterday’s discussion touched on this, but there’s a decline in community standards that can probably be traced to the insularity and disaffection of contemporary life. Our problems are nurtured in isolation, away from the watchful eyes of any meaningful community. For example, in the not too distant past, this would have been a community matter, and the locals would have taken turns helping to assuage the difficulties of this young couple. Not these days. It’s all violent video games and internet poker.

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  3. Randy said on January 28, 2011 at 9:36 am


    Your mention of “caffeine and bloggage”, along with the McKenzie Brothers reference, compels this SCTV fan to provide a Schmenge Brothers link:

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  4. Judybusy said on January 28, 2011 at 9:57 am

    In contrast to what Cooz describes, regarding the insularity of modern life, let me offer this small anecdote: I’ve lived on the same block for about 15 years, and have acted s block club leader for about ten. I stepped into an easy role, as the block was pretty well-established. There’s been some turnover, but every newcomer gets a visit and is added to the email list. We of course do National Night Out every year. The area has experienced a string of burglaries in recent months–three on my block alone–but we are watching out for each other and working with the local precinct.

    Minneapolis has one of the highest numbers of organized blocks, and I really think it helps us keep connected. Most of my friends live in the city as well, and nearly everyone says their block is the best. However, this is the nice part of town–the north side, with the highest concentration of poverty, not so much. There are pockets that are getting better, but it’s dire. Many shootings, foreclosures, etc. I don’t know if the city has any sort of plan to deal with this, either.

    I throw this last in to say it’s not all bread and roses, but it’s not all as horrible as we like to believe, either. There are things that people can do to really make a difference. Sue, I was so impressed with your tenacity in getting that principal outta there! It should not have to happen that way, though.

    Just hope to “aspire” all of you to do your bit! (Which I think a lot of you do, already!)

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  5. alex said on January 28, 2011 at 10:39 am

    I’d like to aspire She Who to continue refudiating radical conservatism with her every word.

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  6. Julie Robinson said on January 28, 2011 at 10:47 am

    Me too Alex!

    Pence’s announcement was positively dripping with the royal “we”. He’s not running for governor, he’s running for king.

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  7. deb said on January 28, 2011 at 10:48 am

    I remember that Hoser McBurke story. I’m so glad you got out of Columbus.

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  8. brian stouder said on January 28, 2011 at 11:10 am

    (Any guy named Hoser McBurke should have a limerick, no?)

    Ode to Hoser McBurke

    There once was a guy named McBurke
    Who, compared to Sadat, did no work
    But then one day
    They blew Sadat away
    And now, we wish McBurke would shirk

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  9. coozledad said on January 28, 2011 at 11:12 am

    Al Jazeera, live (H/T) Roy. Can you imagine Wolf Blitzer et. al in the same situation?

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  10. moe99 said on January 28, 2011 at 11:14 am

    I shared Hank’s link with lots of folks yesterday. Combined with the other links supplied on the thread it gives me lots of ammo to refudiate some charter schools supporters that drive me crazy.

    Currently I am in a debate with some hoser about this sign:

    His riposte? Comparing Obama to Jesus? You libs need to get a grip.

    It gets worse from there….

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  11. Joe Kobiela said on January 28, 2011 at 11:19 am

    If you have a momement today, take time to give out a quick prayer or thought to the Challenger astronauts. It was 25yrs ago we lost them. Also Yesterday was the 44th anniversery of the pad fire that killed Gus Grissom Roger Chafee and Ed White. How soon we forget.
    Pilot Joe

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  12. Chris in Iowa said on January 28, 2011 at 11:39 am

    I don’t get here every day and I missed yesterday’s discussion. Will go back and read it this weekend. Thank you for posting the link again today to the Dear Sugar column. I’m glad I took time today to read that.

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  13. Mark P. said on January 28, 2011 at 11:41 am

    Huntsville, Al, (home of Marshall Space Flight Center) has schools named in honor of the shuttle and the astronauts. The test of how soon we forget will be when people wonder where those names came from.

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  14. Dave said on January 28, 2011 at 11:42 am

    Tow truck story, with no one paying attention to the calls, is interesting. Meanwhile, on North High Street, by the OSU campus, tow trucks are also in the news for being too, ah, dedicated.

    I’ve found much about Indiana silly for as long as we’ve lived there.

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  15. Jeff Borden said on January 28, 2011 at 11:55 am

    I doubt few tow truck companies can match Lincoln Towing in Chicago for sheer obnoxiousness. They use spotters with walkie-talkies to ID cars pulling into lots they service and have been known to hook vehicles containing pets and passengers, which are rocketed to a tightly-guarded little lot in Uptown surrounded by razor wire. You get your car back after dealing with large, monosyllabic men behind bulletproof glass that must be three inches thick. They used to demand cash payment only, but now take credit cards, I’m told. Some years ago, there was a story that they entered a parking lot, put up their towing signs, then hooked every freaking vehicle in the lot. Questioned by the media, the company claimed someone had torn down their signs. Whatever, the scores of drivers who returned to find empty spaces where their cars had been were still out $160 apiece.

    They are referred to in legend and song as the Lincoln Park Pirates. I’ve lived in Chicago almost 22 years now and have never, ever heard anyone say a good word about them.

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  16. prospero said on January 28, 2011 at 11:57 am

    I’m wondering if this particular wing of the right-wing dog-and-pony show isn’t some sort of performance art piece.

    We used to think it takes brains to act that stupid, convincingly. I guess a gerbil gnawing a sweet potato in the netherest part of one’s digestive tract will produce the desired effect. Maybe this is what produced the steady progression of gas-faces from Orange Leader Boner during Obama’s speech. It looked like that podium was going to need serious Febreeze. Karen Finley should infiltrate the Teabaggers, as a spiritual adviser.

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  17. Jolene said on January 28, 2011 at 11:58 am

    Joe, I saw many references to the Challenger disaster on the Internet and in the news yesterday, so I don’t think it’s been forgotten at all, although, of course, there are many people alive today who have no personal memory of it.

    Do you all know about the CIA World Factbook? It’s a great way to get an overview about other countries–demographic, political, economic, topological.

    Scanning the info re Egypt, I found that the median age was estimated to be 24. In the US, the median age is 36.8, a huge difference.

    It’s mind-boggling to think about the government shutting off cell phone service and the Internet, but that’s what has happened. Apparently, the government is also trying to jam TV satellites.

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  18. 4dbirds said on January 28, 2011 at 12:00 pm

    I hate tow truck companies and the companies/apartments/associations who hire them (don’t tell me there aren’t kickbacks going on). Legalized theft.

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  19. 4dbirds said on January 28, 2011 at 12:08 pm

    The protests in Egypt reminded me of something I read about polygamy. Was it here at that I read the net losers of polygamy are men not women? Since men and women are basically 50/50 in number, in countries that practice polygamy, rich men have several wives and poorer men increasingly have none. Women and their families don’t mind if they’re the second/third/fourth wife since joining a posperous family is better than joining a poor one. Poor men face a future with no hope of companionship or a family of their own making them resentful and despondent.

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  20. 4dbirds said on January 28, 2011 at 12:10 pm

    I will never forget Challenger. Our family was in Berlin, Germany eating dinner when the Armed Forces Television switched over to the explosion. There was no immediate explanation but to my husband and myself, both soldiers, we thought “incoming!!!” and assumed we were being attacked.

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  21. Jolene said on January 28, 2011 at 12:16 pm

    Hundreds of cars were towed in the DC area Wednesday night. Many, many people simply abandoned their cars on roadways, complicating efforts to clear away snow.

    There are several amazing “what happened” stories on the WaPo web site. I was, I’m happy to say, tucked in at home while all this was going on, and had no idea until afterward that all this misery was taking place.

    Hillary Clinton making strongly worded statement re Egypt right now.

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  22. prospero said on January 28, 2011 at 12:19 pm

    Commentary on North Africa.

    The events of Tunisia also have a lesson for western governments allied to these countries: the idea that these regimes are stable or are bulwarks against extremism has been proven wrong. Western interests would be best served by more open political spaces, more accountable government, greater social equality and economies where wealth creation is not siphoned off by those close to power. Events in the weeks ahead are likely to make that point forcefully.-Published 27/1/2011 ©

    No telling what chickens may come home to roost.

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  23. Sue said on January 28, 2011 at 12:21 pm

    Judybusy, it wasn’t me. That’s Moe’s heroics. I’m one of the many left dispirited at the end of an unsuccessful effort.
    Re Sarah and Michele and company, I’m beginning to think they’ve peaked. Constant screwups have taken their toll. Michele can’t get the support of Republican leadership for the posts and positions she wants even with her strong tea party backing and Sarah’s not generating the fear that used to keep her protected. Although Sarah will always have a really strong base, it won’t be enough – she’s not going to know what hit her when her protectors do a cost/benefit analysis and either drop her or go on the attack. Open speculation is starting – not about whether she’ll run for president but if she’s keeping the question open to keep selling books and appearances.
    I can’t help feeling that people are waking up a little, and maybe getting a little nervous about what’s been put in place.

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  24. Jeff Borden said on January 28, 2011 at 12:40 pm


    I’ve been postulating the theory for quite awhile now that SheWho has absolutely no intention of running for any political office. Ever. But by maintaining the appearance that she might someday decide to run, she can keep fleecing the rubes. She lives like a rock star without doing much work and, Lord, given her thin skin, any political race would reduce her to a few quivering nerve endings withing weeks. So, like Sally Rand, SheWho will offer a few tantalizing glimpses to her large but sad band of acolytes, but never actually do the deed.

    Newt Gingrich has this down to a science. I read a story recently about the tiny pittance of money sent to him by supporters used to challenge or alter the political debate. Instead, the largest proportion by far goes to ensuring that Newt and Callista stay in the finest five-star hotels, fly in private jets and ride in chauffeured limos. It’s all perfectly legal, if utterly immoral.

    One last point: Lots of Americans are not overly bright and they have no problem voting for nincompoops. How else to explain why genuine dunces like Diaper Dave Vitter keep getting reelected. Or that drooling goober down in Texas, Louie Louie Gohmert, who has been championing the “terrorist anchor baby” line for months. I would not let those guys mow my lawn, but their constituents keep sending `em back to D.C.

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  25. Mark P. said on January 28, 2011 at 12:41 pm

    I was a graduate student at Georgia Tech when the first shuttle disaster happened. The crowd gathered around to watch the news included a number of foreign students. The Chinese students didn’t understand why the American students were so affected by the event. The European students and some from Latin America seemed to get it. That was an interesting lesson in cultural anthropology.

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  26. prospero said on January 28, 2011 at 12:49 pm


    Isn’t that what slimeball Newt has been doing since he was run out of Congress? Still doing it 15 years later.

    When Challenger blew up, my friend Regis and I had ditched work at about 10:30 and gone around the corner to the Eliot Hotel Lounge (Commonwealth Ave. and Mass Ave.)to watch the shuttle lift-off. Needless to say, we didn’t go back to the office.

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  27. beb said on January 28, 2011 at 12:54 pm

    Jeff Borden is right, I think about Sarah Palin. She is like Glenn Beck, a first and foremost a huckster. She quit the governorship to make more money as a pundit. Running for president would mean a staggering pay cut if she were (god forbid) to win.

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  28. Kirk said on January 28, 2011 at 12:58 pm

    Newt is here in Columbus today at a big anti-abortion meeting, where he is screening a film about how Pope John Paul II helped Poland out of the commies’ mitts.

    In discussing a possible run for president, he noted that he’s trailing right now. “Romney’s the front-runner in fundraising, Palin is the front-runner in celebrity status and Mike Huckabee of Arkansas is the front-runner in polling data.”

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  29. Jolene said on January 28, 2011 at 1:05 pm

    Jeff, Rachel Maddow had a piece last night about the business of being a candidate, the idea being that as long as you are a potential candidate, people will pay to listen to you, take a cruise with you, or read your entirely banal books.

    I share your view that $P is a short-timer. She won’t run because she won’t be able to get enough support, and, when it becomes apparent that she’s out of the fray, she’ll quickly lose her appeal as a commentator. That statement re Sputnik was about as ridiculous as anything that’s ever been said on TV. Republicans who’ve actually run for office and tried to accomplish something have found her embarrassing for a long time. She may still have a following, but she has few high-profile defenders.

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  30. Sue said on January 28, 2011 at 1:05 pm

    Jeff Borden – I’ve been saying almost since she quit the governorship (so she can fight even harder for you!) that Sarah was not going to run. She would have to spend money rather than rake it in if she ran, campaigns are expensive you know even with the Chamber of Commerce helping you. Plus she would have to talk to someone other than a Fox New employee at some point.
    What I’m saying is that in the last several weeks I’ve noticed if not a pile-on, at least a backing off of the automatic defense of Sarah when she says something out there. It became more noticeable after her blood libel speech.
    Maybe it’s just wishful thinking. But when your life amounts to a high school clique, you expect behavior right out of Mean Girls when your star becomes tarnished.

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  31. Jeff Borden said on January 28, 2011 at 1:05 pm

    Oh, how lucky you are, Kirk, to have such an esteemed statesman and best-selling author in Columbus. Is that looney mega-church that had been holding rallies in front of the Statehouse a couple of years ago involved?

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  32. Suzanne said on January 28, 2011 at 1:06 pm

    Speaking of what is not in the news much, or I missed it, is the report on the financial melt-down.
    Headline says it all:
    “Crisis Report Pins Blame on U.S. for Global Bust”
    Still waitin’ for the wealth to trickle on down…

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  33. nancy said on January 28, 2011 at 1:10 pm

    [Fade in teletype FX]

    I’ve just been handed a wire from the news desk … Taco Bell is fighting back against allegations its beef is grosser than haggis, with full-page ads in major newspapers today, as well as a statement.

    As this blog poked the fun, we must link the defense. That is all.

    [Fade out teletype FX]

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  34. ROgirl said on January 28, 2011 at 1:23 pm

    Is the beef Taco Bell uses that slop that gets stripped from the carcasses and reconstituted with ammonia and whatever other chemicals are mixed with it to provide food for the masses? Thoughts of soylent green bubble up.

    Jeff, there’s an old Steve Goodman song called “The Lincoln Park Pirates.”

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  35. deb said on January 28, 2011 at 1:33 pm

    jeff @24, love the $P/sally rand analogy. titter.

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  36. moe99 said on January 28, 2011 at 1:37 pm

    Nancy, Laura Lippman has been nominated for an Edgar for her latest mystery!

    Let’s break out the champagne and Cassis and make kir royales!

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  37. Jakash said on January 28, 2011 at 2:04 pm

    I saw that Taco Bell ad in the Chicago Tribune today, and, I have to say, I think it was pretty effective. I haven’t eaten at Taco Bell in years, and I’m not going to defend the quality of their (or any) ground beef, in general. But the idea, with that list of ingredients, that there would only be 36% beef in the mix doesn’t make any sense. 88% (with 12% other stuff) sounds about right, whatever one thinks of the other things they throw in there.

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  38. Rana said on January 28, 2011 at 2:11 pm

    I’ve long thought of that “meat” that goes into Taco Bell tacos as the human equivalent of canned pet food. McDonald’s burgers are about the same. No need to chew; just swallow it down.

    Nancy, your teletype sound effects made me laugh. Then I realized that my husband’s and my generation may be the last that remembers that sound, as I don’t think they do it in broadcasts anymore. (Though I tend to avoid television “news” programs, so I may well be wrong.)

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  39. Rana said on January 28, 2011 at 2:22 pm

    Looking at that Taco Bell ad, I have to say that whoever the copywriter was, he or she is simply brilliant at positive framing, misdirection, and weasel words.

    Some of the things I noticed:

    The beef is “100% USDA inspected” – which, in practice, could mean anything. All meat is inspected, including the stuff that’s declared inedible.

    Then there’s this big litany of the supposed percentages involved in their ingredients – lots of tasty, normal sounding things like chili powder – with “other ingredients that contribute to the flavor, moisture, consistency, and quality of our seasoned beef” coming only at the tag end (note again the repetition of “quality” there).

    Immediately after that listing of ingredients followed by percentages, they declare, “We stand behind the quality of our seasoned beef 100%” which, on a quick skim, gives the impression that (a) it’s of 100% quality and (b) makes up 100% of the ingredients.

    It’s both very careful in its claims, and quite manipulative in its effects. I stand impressed. (Though no more persuaded to eat their food.)

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  40. Judybusy said on January 28, 2011 at 2:34 pm

    Oh, Sue thanks for correcting me–and kudos to Moe for her fighting the good fight!

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  41. Dorothy said on January 28, 2011 at 2:38 pm

    Thanks, Sue, for your entry @ 23. I’m wildly busy at work today and should NOT be sticking my nose over here. But I did recall that Moe linked yesterday to the story about getting rid of the principal. Then saw Judybusy give credit (today) to you for the story. My head is spinning! Back to work!!

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  42. ROgirl said on January 28, 2011 at 2:41 pm

    “Natural flavors” is label-speak for MSG.

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  43. prospero said on January 28, 2011 at 2:50 pm

    Coen Bros. interview.

    Gladys Horton of the Marvellettes died Wednesday. Great video, Don’t Mess With Bill, with superbly slinky choreography.

    Joan Crawford, one tough broad, until she ran into Baby Jane Hudson.

    Never had food from Taco Bell. Lord knows what’s in the chorizo I buy at the Mexican market, but it’s mighty good.

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  44. prospero said on January 28, 2011 at 3:11 pm

    Regarding the Taco Bell ad: Nothing adds “flavor and quality to beef like oatmeal”.

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  45. brian stouder said on January 28, 2011 at 3:38 pm

    From Prospero’s (excellent, marvelous, and incisive) Coen brothers link:

    “The ambition when doing a period movie is not to sand the edges off the past,” says Joel. “In our minds, we never got real close to thinking about it in terms of the western. We weren’t thinking: let’s shoot it in widescreen like Sergio Leone.” “Sergio Leone has this weird western opera thing,” Ethan interrupts, “and it’s definitely not opera. And it’s definitely not that John Ford tragic thing. Our sensibility has nothing to do with that.” “If anything,” Joel continues, “we were thinking about it more in terms of Alice in Wonderland. She goes across the river into a place where she sees all these weird things, weird landscapes – ” “Yeah,” Ethan says, nodding.

    I was thinking in terms of the Wizard of Oz (Wicked Witches, strange allies, and climactic confrontation), but whatever. I especially love where they say they don’t want to sand the edges off the past. Good stuff, indeed

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  46. Kirk said on January 28, 2011 at 3:44 pm

    The wife-abandoning political turd who is named for a salamander is appearing at a gathering of the euphemistically named Ohio Right to Life group. Who knows what wackos might be involved?

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  47. prospero said on January 28, 2011 at 3:48 pm

    Here’s a public education morality playbeing staged in Memphis that has all of the class, racial, and economic aspects under discussion yesterday. Obviously “white flight” and its ramifications are in play here.

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  48. Jakash said on January 28, 2011 at 3:55 pm

    I don’t know why I’m defending Taco Bell here, as I surely have no fondness for either the food or the company. Frankly, though, I was surprised that the list of ingredients wasn’t scarier when I saw that post the other day. Not that they’re all wholesome stuff you’d find in the pantry, but I bet there’s a lot worse stuff out there. And as far as the oatmeal is concerned, I don’t think the tastiness of the beef product that results is the question. Millions of people seem to love it, for some reason or another. (Granted, cheapness is probably pretty high up the list.)

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  49. Catherine said on January 28, 2011 at 4:07 pm

    Moe, I too loved your PTA tale from yesterday. Quite the detective yarn, and with a happy ending!

    Prospero @47, great story that shows what a mess most school district governance is. Where I live, the school district is chartered by one city (Pasadena), but encompasses another city (Sierra Madre) and a county municipality (Altadena). Makes cooperation between city and school governing bodies extra complicated. Meanwhile Altadena is trying to secede from the district, and some feel that they should go, already, and take the majority of the kids from group homes in the district with them (that’s not why they want to secede). And I have to ask, how is any of this improving instructional quality and outcomes for our kids?

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  50. prospero said on January 28, 2011 at 4:14 pm

    Backstory of Miami’s own bushwhacked piano.

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  51. Kim said on January 28, 2011 at 4:41 pm

    I mentioned this the other day, but reading Jonathan Safran Foer’s “Eating Animals” would probably make many of you change your habits to eat only what you grow or catch yourself. The reason food is cheap (like the 99-cent menu or whatever it is at Taco Hell, which is what I have to call if after having worked next to one and its odors for four years) is because of factory farms. This goes for poultry, pork, beef and fish. “Organic” and “free-range” are almost always meaningless descriptions, certainly not in the context we read them. Our food is stuffed with chemicals. And no, I am not a vegetarian or vegan.

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  52. brian stouder said on January 28, 2011 at 4:45 pm

    And then there’s this exceptionally troubling article; apparently Arizona is no country for old men or young ones, either:

    an excerpt: “Straw buyers have as much blood on their hands . . . as the ones who pull the trigger,” said Bill Newell, special agent in charge of the Phoenix ATF. All of those indicted are U.S. citizens or legal residents…For instance, according to the indictments, defendant Joshua Moore bought six AK-47 and similar rifles from a gun store in Prescott in 2009. Three days later, he bought two AK-47s from a gun store in Glendale. Seven days later, he bought 10 from the same store. Two days later, he bought five more there. Less than a month later, he bought 20 from the same store. Three months later, he bought 10 more from the Glendale gun store. The purchases themselves are legal; nothing in the law prohibits citizens who pass background checks from buying long guns, such as AK-47s, or handguns. But authorities say Moore lied on federal firearms applications by declaring that he was buying the guns for himself when he was really supplying them to cartel front men. Newell said the guns were traced back to buyers only after they were seized by customs inspectors at border checkpoints or after being used in crimes in Arizona and Mexico, including immigrant smuggling, kidnapping and drug dealing. A chart illustrating seizures in the largest of the five cases showed that 372 guns were recovered in the United States and 195 in Mexico.

    All I can say is – wow. The shooter at the Safeway was only the canary in the coal mine, in Arizona

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  53. alex said on January 28, 2011 at 5:02 pm

    I’m sick and tired of the bogus NRA argument that gun control doesn’t keep guns out of the hands of criminals anyway. It’s obvious here that it’s the lack of gun control that’s responsible. The recent Arizona tragedy also dispels the NRA’s other big lie, that if everyone were packin’ everyone would be safe. There were armed people present and they didn’t draw their weapons because they didn’t want to be mistaken for the perpetrator.

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  54. Deborah said on January 28, 2011 at 5:08 pm

    Prospero, I think they should have left the piano where it was on the sandbar. It could have become an attraction.

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  55. Sue said on January 28, 2011 at 5:21 pm

    alex, I’ve said it here before and I will probably say it again because I can see what’s coming. The NRA and the Republican party know the extreme importance of not giving an inch on gun control because Republicans are very effectively using the opposite tactic with regard to reproductive rights. Take away things by inches and before you know it you’ve got ever-more-creative legislation around the country and federally too. That’s how a conscience clause results in a pharmacist questioning a health care provider about a prescription for bleeding; that’s how one case of a woman entering a bizarre agreement with a man to beat her so she’ll miscarry results in the introduction of a bill for the whole state that could make miscarriage a felony if a woman can’t prove she didn’t do it on purpose (prove a negative, yes); and most recently, that’s how legislation is introduced that suddenly redefines rape. Screw you, so to speak, if you get pregnant by a rapist and didn’t fight hard enough because you were drugged or something; you will have that child because even private insurance that dares to cover abortion will be affected by the amendment.
    So you have to fight for your gun rights – they could be easily taken away if no one’s paying attention.

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  56. prospero said on January 28, 2011 at 5:24 pm

    Agreed, Deborah. I don’t think there’s anything in a piano’s construction that presented an environmental hazard. The photos look like a Procul Harum album cover to me.

    American gun dealers are apparently arming the Sinaloa narco armies. You buy guns legally, walk into the parking lot, toss the weapons in your trunk, and your an instant gun show, and you can sell to anybody without background checks or permits. Or, you can just enhance your income as a freelance straw buyer.

    Now that’s American exceptionalism. Foolish me, I always thought this term was intended at least in part sarcastically, to refer to jingoist, nativist, racist, no-nothing-and-proud-of-it buffoons.

    Far and away, the most entertaining book review I’ve read in years, and the book sounds good too. Excellent title, for one thing.

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  57. brian stouder said on January 28, 2011 at 5:53 pm

    Sue – your theory may indeed capture the (limited) mindset of some, on the political right.

    If they thought about it, though, even if there was absolutely no law at all with regard abortions, the direct effect upon other citizens when a person exercises those rights, is approximately zero; whereas that Arizona article points to a situation wherein we effectively have no gun control law at all, and we have raging gun battles between rival drug cartels, and all sorts of direct (negative) effects on otherwise uninvolved citizens

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  58. nancy said on January 28, 2011 at 6:20 pm

    The photos of the piano are very striking, true, but take it from a boater — sooner or later it will fall apart and become floating debris, something you don’t want to hit. It’s a hazard. Cute trick, but Johnny needs to go clean up his toys now.

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  59. prospero said on January 28, 2011 at 6:34 pm

    It’s already cleaned up, Nancy. And those waters are populated with cigarette-hull yahoos that terrorize actual boaters, like Sonny and Rico.

    Juan Cole on events in Egypt. This guy seems to know more about what goes on in the Middle East than any other American, and is a very reliable source for news and commentary. This is all fascinating, considering the mindless demonization of elBaradei by the Shrubs and their orc minions.

    Super Bowl news: Best Owner (easily) in professionals sports, and Pittsburgh native, Mark Cuban says Steelers are going to “kick Green Bay butt.”

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  60. alex said on January 28, 2011 at 7:17 pm

    I’ve never thought Republican pols were genuinely interested in outlawing abortion. If it were a settled issue in their favor, most of their base would stay home on election day. As long as they’re always inventing new ways to be seen as chipping away at it, they can count on a strong turnout.

    Likewise, with regard to guns, they’re always chipping away at any restrictions on the books and need to be perceived by the base as diligent in this endeavor also.

    It seems to me that the politics of anti-abortion and pro-guns actually have more in common than not. Both represent inflexible, “won’t give an inch” positions. The reason Republicans are largely united regarding both while the Dems are largely divided and do a lot of mushy equivocating is simple. The gun industry shovels a shitload more money into campaign coffers than do knocked-up women who can’t afford another mouth to feed.

    Thus we have tepid gun control laws and an equally tepid right to abortion.

    I think Brian’s right re: There’s a lot more collateral damage inflicted by guns than by abortion.

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  61. Deborah said on January 28, 2011 at 7:32 pm

    I used to go sailing in Biscayne Bay as a teenager, hard to believe when none of us knew what we were doing, at all. I got whapped in the head countless times while preparing to come about. And I could barely swim, again hard to believe how one could grow up in Miami and barely swim, but it’s true. There was always lots of debris floating around in the bay and did I mention sharks! Piano bits seem tame in comparison.

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  62. brian stouder said on January 28, 2011 at 11:21 pm

    It seems to me that the politics of anti-abortion and pro-guns actually have more in common than not. Both represent inflexible, “won’t give an inch” positions.

    Agreed; and indeed, on one hand one can say that God Almighty is on their side, and that should end any debate; and on the other, the Constitution is unambiguously on their side, and that should end any debate.

    In fact, I’m almost ready to believe that for these folks, whatever meaning they can shoehorn into the US Constitution actually trumps whatever anyone (else) thinks are God’s instructions for humanity. (Of course, their own beliefs never seem to conflict with God or the Constitution)

    Afterall, “Thou Shall not kill” is pretty unambiguous, yes? (not even to mention “whatever you do to the least of these, you do to me” – but whatever)… But to hell with that; I got my rights!, right?

    And my sacred rights are not limited just to guns like our Founders had when they wrote the Second Amendment – muzzle-loading, single-shot long-rifles; but instead, small automatic weapons with enough ammo loaded into them to wipeout a city bus or a marketplace or a schoolyard, in a matter of seconds

    Hell, once you get used to being a Constitutional Scholar, you can use it to show that all your prejudices are really just Constitutional scruples – even when it comes to opposing bike paths!

    an excerpt:

    So maybe it’s no real surprise that Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-Calif.) invoked the constitution when asked about his new role on the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. He told Tanya Snyder of Streetsblog Capitol Hill this:

    “And I kind of like the fact, frankly — it sounds kind of corny — but the constitution talks about having a military and being able to pay for your postal roads. It’s one thing Congress does and it’s nice to be able to do something constitutional here. It’s actually backed up and actually it’s in the constitution. I like that.”


    Streetsblog: I was just in an [Environment and Public Works] Committee hearing and there was some talk about the fact that some small amount of money in the [transportation] reauthorization historically gets used for things like bike trails. Some people think that’s waste; some people think biking is a mode of transportation. What do you think?

    Duncan Hunter: “I don’t think biking should fall under the federal purview of what the Transportation Committee is there for. If a state wants to do it, or local municipality, they can do whatever they want to. But no, because then you have us mandating bike paths, which you don’t want either.”
    SB: But you’re OK with mandating highways?
    DH: “Absolutely, yeah. Because that’s in the constitution. I don’t see riding a bike the same as driving a car or flying an airplane.”
    SB: How is it different?
    DH:”I think it’s more of a recreational thing. That’s my opinion.”

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  63. Kirk said on January 28, 2011 at 11:33 pm

    To them, the Constitution is like the Bible: You can find anything you want in either.

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  64. Jakash said on January 29, 2011 at 1:06 am

    It seems to me that the core principles of Christianity as contained in the Gospels and the core principles of unfettered capitalism are essentially irreconcilable. Nobody, particularly among those on the far right in this country, seems to want to talk about that much.

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  65. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on January 29, 2011 at 10:22 am

    On the contrary, it gets discussed all the time; a quick trawl thru my bookmarks under “Christianity & capitalism” (yes, I have a folder for that, which makes the point itself) offers up:

    The point you may want to make is that the tension between the two is still unresolved. There are some who want to make a facile connection between the two, and there’s usually a political angle to that. But in general, Christians and conservatives from a religious viewpoint see themselves in an ongoing discussion of the subject. The whole conversation got a very salutary boost from welfare reform debates in the mid- to late-1990s, as the question of dependence versus community was very actively considered, and is still itself unresolved. If you work directly with the poor, you see enough “payout seeking” behavior to feel cautious about focusing too much on an entitlement approach to aid, but you also know that somewhere in the intersection of mental illness, socially limited/developmentally disabled*, and cultural dysfunction is a significant population that cannot “compete in the markets” and should not be expected to. We can use the market sometimes to create effective aid (sheltered workshops for the diagnosably developmentally disabled being a great example), but as individual actors, that’s an incoherent expectation from either a faith or a free-market perspective.

    Meanwhile, we’re still working out how to re-boost cash assistance/aid to needy without just facilitating the users who are smart enough to game the system.

    Anyhow, I disagree with the statement “Nobody, particularly among those on the far right in this country, seems to want to talk about that much.”

    *There’s a goodly population I see every day, officially or otherwise, who cannot meet diagnosis standards for being “officially” developmentally disabled, but are so unable to hold a job or work with others that there seems to be a need for a new definition. Underclass is a term I avoid, since it’s usually a sloppy catch-all for criminality, low-income, and struggling family units, usually geographically defined more than by any other objective standard. But there are folks I worry about just sending checks to, yet who just can’t make daily work work out. Don’t quite know how to serve those folks better than we do now, but they’re a huge contingent at food/clothing/baby pantries that churches/faith groups provide.

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  66. beb said on January 29, 2011 at 1:41 pm

    The irony of the Taco Bell thing is that they nearly qualify as a vegetarian restaurant. Their meat product would an wful lot like meatloaf, what with the oatmeal and all, and there’s nothing wrong with meatloaf? It’s not like TB is claiming that they’re serving steak in their tacos.

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  67. Jakash said on January 29, 2011 at 2:01 pm

    Okay, Jeff, that was a nicely delivered and mild-mannered smackdown of my second sentence, which was well-deserved. It was simply stupid of me to say that this doesn’t get discussed, and I wish I’d chosen a different out-line. As a cranky, infrequent blog commenter, I certainly concede that argument to someone such as yourself who is actually “in the arena” dealing with these issues on a daily basis. As for the point attempted in my first sentence, I’m glad to read that it was also made by the Faculty Member of the Year at Colorado Christian University, even though it got him fired, apparently. I haven’t checked out the other links yet, but will shortly.

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  68. Jakash said on January 29, 2011 at 3:30 pm

    Here are a few selections from Mr. Novak’s interview, linked by Jeff (tmmo):
    “We need to move the poor into the middle class.”

    “But poverty doesn’t have causes; it is the normal state of most human beings everywhere. What does need explaining is how to create wealth in a real and steady way. In the real world, that is the practical question. But religious figures so often want to make an ideological point, without actually studying what will help the poor in practical terms.”

    “John Paul II believed that the creative activity of the entrepreneur and the use of the market system are the best available means to lift up the poor. That doesn’t imply perfect compatibility with the Gospel — only that nothing better is available. Neither capitalism nor democracy makes for the Kingdom of God, but as existing systems they are closer to the ideal than any other.”

    My point is about the teachings in the Gospels, not whatever has evolved into Christianity or Catholicism today. I’m not really arguing about what is most practical. It seems to me that there is not a whole lot about economic development in the Gospels, because that’s not what they were about. Even Novak seems to concede that. Does one read the Gospels and think that we need to move the poor into the middle class? That seems irrelevant. They would suggest that you need to make sure the poor are saved in eternity and that’s all that matters. “Blessed are the poor.” Certainly there’s nothing in there about creating wealth in a real and steady way. I understand that this doesn’t offer much in the way of an agenda for how to best manage economic matters in the 21st century, but that’s the point.

    I believe that you, Jeff, and many Christians are working to best apply the values of Christianity to ensure a more equitable society for all. I’m impressed that you maintain a file just for this topic. Clearly, I’m in over my head.

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  69. Linda said on January 29, 2011 at 4:30 pm

    I’m sorry, but Novak seems to fix the game for unfettered capitalism as the best way to lift up the poor, and ignores or belittles evidence that it does not. He dismisses Sweden, for instance, a country with much less poverty than the U.S., because “it was gloomy” and he didn’t like their attitude, somehow. I thought the issue was how to help the poor. Clearly, when you look at the rate of poverty in the U.S. vs. Sweden, they are onto something that we are not, but Novak really doesn’t want to hear it. He conveniently quotes John Paul II as a proponent of capitalism, but explains away the pope’s apparent support for some aspects of the welfare state. None of the conservative Christians referred to seem to deal with the conflicts of capitalism and Christianity so much as rationalize or explain them away.

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  70. Kirk said on January 29, 2011 at 4:49 pm

    Off topic, but in case anyone is interested, al-Jazeera’s English service is streamed free on the web, and its Egypt coverage is insightful and wall-to-wall.

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  71. brian stouder said on January 29, 2011 at 5:01 pm

    Jakash said:

    It seems to me that the core principles of Christianity as contained in the Gospels and the core principles of unfettered capitalism are essentially irreconcilable. Nobody, particularly among those on the far right in this country, seems to want to talk about that much.

    And mild mannered Jeff, in disagreeing with that, pointed to reasonable people who do indeed think and write about this very thing.

    I think Jakash’s original point remains unanswered though, as the reference was “particularly among those on the far right in this country”.

    I interpret “the far right in this country” as the furthest right opinions from people who have won national elective office, such as Rep Paul Ryan, who delivered the national Republican response to the president’s State of the Union Address.

    Ryan referred to the idea of a national safety net – popularly understood to mean a buffer against the certainty of a crash landing for citizens who have fallen upon hard times – as a “hammock”. That sounded like go-to-hell conservatism to me; and it is on the ascendancy on the right.

    The larger point about the disconnect between actual gospels, and the gospel of “I got mine” capitalism, seems (to me) to be the idea of life as a meritocracy.

    Christianity teaches us that life isn’t a meritocracy at all; that you cannot earn salvation, but only accept this (specifically unearned) gift. “Unfettered Capitalism”, on the other hand, doesn’t ask the super-rich “How”, but instead “How much?”, and applauds the self-evident virtue of that particular entreprenuer; while looking at working men and women as dupes or suckers or con-artists, who may never again get out of their “hammock” if we try and assure that they have a living retirement program like Social Security; or a way to deal with doctor bills and health insurance; or if we try and provide for when the plant where they work shuts down, or their job is out-sourced.

    Let me hasten to add, I always respect (even if I don’t always like) the verdict of voters. If, for example, Wisconsin voters prefer Rep Ryan, or Arizona voters prefer Governor Brewer, then that’s that. Put them into the seat they earned, and let them deal with the responsibilities they earned, and then face the voters again.

    I do think that “the (elected) far right” has gone too far, and that they aspire to go much further; and that in so doing, they increase the distance between themselves and any sort of Christian (or eternal) view of life, or any coherent conception of moral right and wrong.

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  72. alex said on January 29, 2011 at 6:55 pm

    After listening to conservatives “blaming the victim” these last couple of years, particularly those who through no fault of their own have lost employment in this wrecked economy, I thought these a-holes were surely making a huge mistake. The unemployed can and do vote, and if I were in their shoes I’d certainly be registering my displeasure. And yet we just witnessed a big rout by the very sort of politicians preaching this nonsense.

    This sort of rhetoric has a subconscious appeal to those who have been unaffected by misfortune. It sends the message that if others are less fortunate than you then they must be somehow morally defective, and people eat this shit up. It gives validation to people who are actually feeling quite threatened by uncertainty.

    When I hear people mouthing this shit, I want to say there but for the grace of God go you. Don’t piss him off.

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  73. coozledad said on January 29, 2011 at 7:16 pm

    The mouth breathers don’t even read their own damn book. It may as well be the gospel according to Nathan Bedford Forrest.
    “And the Lord said, behold he who has been here for three damn servings of loaves and fishes. Verily I say his name is moocher, and he shall be padlocked from the sanctuary before I whip up my delicious banana pudding!”

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  74. Dexter said on January 29, 2011 at 7:46 pm

    Well, Pilot Joe, while the Challenger happened at such busy time in my life that it didn’t leave much of an impact on me, the pad fire that killed Gus Grissom , White, and Chaffee did. That was a shock, a horrible fire. That the program could recover and place a man on the moon just 31 months later is a tribute to American dedication.
    Grissom was from Mitchell, Indiana , a little town similar to the towns I grew up in and hung around. I thought of him every time I heard those weather reports from Grissom AFB in Peru. Of course it had been called Bunker Hill AFB before the re-naming.
    Things that happen during a person’s formative years remain ingrained in memories. I was a high school senior when the fire happened…no, not as shocking and earth-shaking as 11-22-63, but it was a dark day , especially for the kids who loved and followed the space program closely.
    I still remember with clarity the day Alan Shepard successfully flew a sub-orbital, 15 minute flight into space. That was nearly 50 years ago. I was 11, and that was exciting.

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  75. Kirk said on January 29, 2011 at 8:15 pm

    Dexter, for every one of the Mercury flights that occurred on a school day, we were herded into a room to which a teacher had brought a portable black-and-white TV and sat there, riveted. It definitely was a huge buzz.

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  76. beb said on January 29, 2011 at 8:29 pm

    to Prospero at 59. It’s no surprise that Juan Cole gives some of the best commentary on the middle east. Look at his profile on wikipedia
    He’s a U of M professor on Middle-East affairs!

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  77. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on January 29, 2011 at 11:40 pm

    Jakash, didn’t mean to smack you down a’tall. And I wanted to not just cite folks who made us’ns on the right look all nice an compassionate; the links were meant to just show off a quick pan and scan of the range of discussion — which anyone is allowed to say is muddle-headed at any point.

    Novak isn’t my go-to thinker, but he accurately reflects a big chunk of what “the right” is doing when it talks about government assistance and “creating opportunity.” I think it’s too easy to slam that viewpoint as callous and unfeeling — there’s usually some pretty close-to-the-action involvement underlying their take — but it still leaves even me with the impression that they think people fall into a small number of easy to categorize piles. Of course, that’s my problem with lots of governmental initiatives: they shove people into a limited number of tidy piles, and restrict the flexibility of judges or social workers or probation staffs or case managers in the name of “fairness.”

    Jakash, you’re nowhere near over your head; we all have to duck sometimes for what’s thrown at us, but it’s good to bat these issues around here. Rarely is a mark left, as it were.

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  78. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on January 29, 2011 at 11:50 pm

    Brian (and Cooze, who probably could quote this from memory, albeit KJV) — here’s one for all the “I’ve got mine” folks:

    Matthew 20 (NIV)

    The Parable of the Workers in the Vineyard

    1 [Jesus said] “For the kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out early in the morning to hire workers for his vineyard. 2 He agreed to pay them a denarius for the day and sent them into his vineyard.

    3 “About nine in the morning he went out and saw others standing in the marketplace doing nothing. 4 He told them, ‘You also go and work in my vineyard, and I will pay you whatever is right.’ 5 So they went.

    “He went out again about noon and about three in the afternoon and did the same thing. 6 About five in the afternoon he went out and found still others standing around. He asked them, ‘Why have you been standing here all day long doing nothing?’

    7 “‘Because no one has hired us,’ they answered.

    “He said to them, ‘You also go and work in my vineyard.’

    8 “When evening came, the owner of the vineyard said to his foreman, ‘Call the workers and pay them their wages, beginning with the last ones hired and going on to the first.’

    9 “The workers who were hired about five in the afternoon came and each received a denarius. 10 So when those came who were hired first, they expected to receive more. But each one of them also received a denarius. 11 When they received it, they began to grumble against the landowner. 12 ‘These who were hired last worked only one hour,’ they said, ‘and you have made them equal to us who have borne the burden of the work and the heat of the day.’

    13 “But he answered one of them, ‘I am not being unfair to you, friend. Didn’t you agree to work for a denarius? 14 Take your pay and go. I want to give the one who was hired last the same as I gave you. 15 Don’t I have the right to do what I want with my own money? Or are you envious because I am generous?’

    16 “So the last will be first, and the first will be last.”

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  79. moe99 said on January 30, 2011 at 12:06 am

    For Brian, Lincoln’s other Mother:

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  80. prospero said on January 30, 2011 at 3:41 am

    Jeff, and there is the great commandment, You shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. Republicans conveniently forget this part when they invoke WWJD. I;m Catholic, so I’m part of some demonic sect, according to a large number of these died in the wool Christian legislators, even though we were Christians first. How does anybody make this shit up anyway? I believe in God. I’m pretty sure, I know that’s senaible. Why not? It makes as much sense as not. Makes as much sense as everything happened by accident. How do I know God is not Bokononon? or Kurt Vonnegut? I don’t. That would all be fine. I’d like everything to be all wrapped up and cleaned up, but things don’t end up that way. Try to make sense of nonsense.

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  81. Ted Wendling said on January 30, 2011 at 9:54 am

    Nance: Thanks for the Wayback Machine vignette on Hoser. I’d completely forgotten about it (I have early-onset senility). I got to spend the next half-hour fondly reminiscing about “Man Fixes Clocks for 35 Years” and the other good times we had at the Big D.

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  82. brian stouder said on January 30, 2011 at 11:33 am

    Moe – thanks for the link to that excellent article.

    Last year I went down to the Lincoln Boyhood Home at Little Pigeon Creek, and found it to be surprisingly touching, and of course this brought to mind that poem of A. Lincoln’s, which is quoted in the article.

    Seeing Lincoln’s grave sight in Springfield is quite different (rather less affecting), than the simple marker of his sister Sarah (and her infant), in the cemetery of the still-active Little Pigeon Primitive Baptist Church; or of his mother Nancy, a half mile away, near the sight of the old cabin.

    Not to be morbid, but over the past few weeks we’ve sort of blundered into looking at our family’s history. Yesterday, in fact, we loaded up and drove to Roanoke (about 20 minutes down the highway) to see the gravesights of my grandfather and mother, and some aunts and uncles (I had never seen them).

    This turned out to be suprisingly compelling – as is always the case when the (mostly ignored) past gets the attention that it deserves

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  83. prospero said on January 30, 2011 at 12:11 pm

    onnegut? I don’t. That would all be fine. I’d like everything to be all wrapped up and cleaned up, but things don’t end up that way. Try to make sense of nonsense. I suppose that’s faith. Buy the ownerss? Not in a million years. Look at the case of Robert Edwards, who went to the pro-bowl and got his knee trashed. Pats fucked that guy over.

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  84. moe99 said on January 30, 2011 at 1:16 pm

    Bill Maher has some interesting comparisons to make between football and baseball:

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  85. Deborah said on January 30, 2011 at 1:17 pm

    Brian, I don’t find your story about the graveyard visit morbid at all. I find visits like that to be quite uplifting. I find them mostly to be peaceful places, moving and enlightening. I enjoy them even when I don’t know a soul who’s buried there. I’ve been to some fascinating ones like Père-Lachaise in Paris and Skogskyrkogården in Stockholm, also the Brione cemetary, a private family’s plot in Italy designed by Carlo Scarpa. There’s something about the military ones with rows and rows of perfectly gridded white stones or crosses that I find mesmerizing. I’ve done tombstone rubbings on really old stones with primitive carvings. Taking your children to see the family plot is a great thing to do, and good for you for doing it.

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  86. MichaelG said on January 30, 2011 at 1:48 pm

    Re Jeff @78: Hence the birth of the hourly wage. Also what happened the next time the guy wanted help in his vineyard?

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  87. brian stouder said on January 30, 2011 at 5:41 pm

    Deborah, I think it was Gary Wills’ book about Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address where I first learned that cemeteries used to be purposefully designed as shady, welcoming places where a family might go and have a Sunday picnic, and walk the grounds and remember their departed family members and friends. Possibly they still are, although that isn’t the way I have traditionally viewed them.

    In my (blinkered) experience, all they amounted to were gated places that you drive past. Here in Fort Wayne, we live within a mile of Lindenwood Cemetery, which is a very large, beautiful place, and which is also (practically speaking) a superb arboretum. The kids and I have visited it a time or two, when they had leaf collections to work on. But agreed about the military cemeteries; those places never fail to affect me greatly, and especially all of the “unknowns” that one sees.

    A few years ago, my mom was cleaning out old photos and so on, and I looked through the stacks and came across a photo of a beautiful baby in an ornate bassinet. When I asked who that was, she matter-of-factly said “That’s Janice – your aunt. She died at birth”.

    Boom. Just like that, an 80+ year old heartbreak reached right across the decades and struck me.* I had heard about my dad having lost his older sister, but I’d never seen her. I vaguely recalled – many years ago – that we drove out to where she was buried, and left flowers at her marker. But she was not buried where my grandparents (her mom and dad) are now; in fact, her gravesite doesn’t seem to exist anymore (many suburban homes have taken over the area). I know that it makes no difference, really, but it would be nice to find if her remains were moved; and it would (somehow) be nice if she could be moved to where her parents are.

    I would never have thought this, even 10 years ago, but with age, one’s perspective begins to change(!!).

    *searching on Google (which will probably always retain the ability to utterly astound me), I found a public record about Janice, and actually viewed a pdf of a handwritten, official coroner’s report about her death. It was a single page, barely legible –

    and I learned what the word “atelectasis” means.

    I printed that page, and brought it to my mom, who was similarly fascinated by it. She pointed out that Janice was the last home-birth in the Stouder family; they went to the hospital each time after that. And I learned something else I didn’t know – which was that my mother was herself a homebirth, in Brooklyn, New York! It may be trendy to do home births now (amongst some), but I’m not seeing the glitter in that.

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  88. Deborah said on January 30, 2011 at 7:08 pm

    Amazing Brian, a deceased baby in a bassinet reaching across the decades like that. Sad that she didn’t end up with her mom and dad.

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  89. prospero said on January 30, 2011 at 10:21 pm

    I had a brother, Matthew, that died when he, and I, were very young. Of Leukemia. He’s got a headstone with a lamb on it, very white. I love visiting his grave. My gramma is buried there too, beneath an ostentatious Celtic cross she’d find obnoxious. It’s a very beautiful place. My mom and dad are buried side by side near Sanford Stadium, where the Georgia Bulldogs play. I will be too, one of these days. Damn Good Dawg. Clyde Edgerton got this stuff right, about graveyards in the south. Pretty good writer too. Not Walker Percy, but decent. Nobody is Walker Percy. I maintain a belief that Pynchon and Joyce and TC Boyle, Roddy Doyle and Tom McGuane, and maybe Tom Robbins and John Crowley, write poetry, and they approach Yeats but don’t get there. It’s the concision. But Walker Percy? That is sublime prose. The Second Coming, Love Among the Ruins, Thanatos Syndrome, these are the finest novels written by an American.

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  90. Julie Robinson said on January 31, 2011 at 8:22 am

    Brian, I wonder if Janice was premature and her lungs weren’t fully developed yet. Home births never appealed to me either, just so much that can go wrong.

    After my grandfather died I learned that Hanken was not his birth name, and I also learned yet another sad family story. His father, Henry Fruesmer, had acute abdominal pain and was put on the train to Chicago, a two day journey from tiny Monticello, Iowa. On the journey his appendix burst and he died at the age of 27. My grandfather was only two and his mother was left truly destitute. She remarried and my grandfather took his new father’s name, only no one ever thought to legally change it. Fortunately his attorney discovered this when grandpa drew up his first will sometime in his 60’s, and took care of filing all the paperwork. By this time he had become a wealthy farmer in the best American tradition of self-made men.

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  91. brian stouder said on January 31, 2011 at 8:41 am

    Julie, it IS interesting (and affecting) to learn these stories, so that the people in our black and white (or sepia) photos become real to us, isn’t it? (I can see why some people do the geneology thing, although I don’t think I’ll meander much further down that road…at least for now!)

    It’s not entirely a joke to wonder what our great grand children will think of us, when they google up all the facebook (etc) stuff that we will leave behind

    edit – and NOW – the weather terrorists are in full-throated “ALERT!! ALERT!!” mode, hereabouts. Yesterday, only a few outlets were sounding the alarm, but now speculation is all across the dial, and all across the board – 4″? 6″? 10″? 22″? Ice and sleet on top?

    Take your pick – place your bet – someone’s sure to win!

    (The snow doesn’t bug me, but I’d vote against the ice, if I could)

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