I’m telling you, if you’re not following the news from Mexico these days, you’re missing one hell of a story:

DURANGO, Mexico — Two gunmen stormed into a drug rehabilitation center in the northern city of Torreon on Tuesday, killing 11 people and wounding two.

…Drug cartels are known to use rehab centers to recruit addicts, leading rival gangs to attack the centers. Dozens of people have died in shootings at centers across Mexico. The worst incident left 19 people dead in Chihuahua city last summer.

Eleven people, justlikethat. And this sort of thing happens pretty much weekly. A later paragraph gives the total body count since President Felipe Calderon started the drug war in 2006: 35,000.

Which sort of set me up for the next story I read this morning, from a dateline closer to home:

Adrian — Ed Schmieding was known for his high-quality flowers, his skill with all things planted and potted. Together with his wife Linda, they sold flowers, Queen Anne’s lace, sunflowers — even ornamental grasses — to local florists. Out in the country northwest of Adrian, the Schmiedings’ property was a hub of horticulture: four greenhouses, dozens of acres over three plots of land, tractors, irrigation — everything a green thumb would want.

But several years ago, things began going poorly. Linda’s back went out, neighbors said, and Ed got throat cancer. They pleaded poverty to the local township, asking for a break on their property taxes.

“He had cancer and he wasn’t making any money from his flowers,” said Al Boggs, Rome Township supervisor. “He went to a cash crop, eh?”

State police now believe Ed and Linda Schmieding, both 60, had one of the largest marijuana production facilities ever discovered in the Lower Peninsula, using their greenhouses and rolling 23 acres to harvest more than 8,000 pot plants, estimated to have a street value of at least $8 million.

The odor of the plants “glistening with THC” was so strong, the story says later, that you could smell it from the road. But it also states that after the Schmiedings scaled back their flower business and presumably went into a better-paying crop, they didn’t ask for any more hardship exemptions on their property taxes. The Schmiedings said they sold to medical marijuana dispensaries, but of course they were in violation of the law, which strictly regulates that stuff. I disapprove of most drug use, but I ain’t gonna lie to you: I hope the Schmiedings beat the rap. Or, at the very least, avoid prison. Michigan spends enough on prisons already. A nice couple from Adrian has no business there. (Assuming they’re nice. One newspaper story doesn’t mean anything, and it may well be that Ed and Linda have a mass grave on those 23 acres, just like the Mexican cartels. I’m just going with a hunch here.)

When does this insanity end? The urge to self-medicate is as old as humanity. We know this. We also know some do it better than others. And we know that some people’s medicine will find a way to them, no matter what its legal status. A lot of those 35,000 corpses in Mexico were in the game — as we “Wire”-heads like to say — but a fair number weren’t, and what of them? What else were the Schmiedings to do? Sell their acreage and move to town, I guess, and sign up for Medicaid when the money ran out. They chose to grow pot.

Y’all know my feelings on the subject:

But good grief, it’s a plant. There has to be a better way.

I still have real work to do this morning, and I’m bound and determined to get to the gym for weights class, so I have to skip early. But let’s see what we have in the way of bloggage:

Nice profile of New York Post columnist Andrea Peyser, shrieking harpy to wandering wee-wees everywhere.

I asked Kate if she wanted feather extensions. “NO,” she informed me, rather firmly. Not a camp follower, this one. Good to know that if she changes her mind, we can always raid her father’s fly-tying supplies.

Ninety-four degrees yesterday, the same for today, maybe a smidge higher. Friday’s high: 70. Welcome to crazytown, but right now, I gotta go.

Posted at 9:59 am in Current events |

44 responses to “Casualties.”

  1. coozledad said on June 8, 2011 at 10:17 am

    When they catch Peyser’s husband paying to have sex with an actual hominid, will she burst into flames?
    I didn’t know that was her at the press conference. I thought Breitbart had just dislocated his man pussy.

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  2. prospero said on June 8, 2011 at 10:26 am

    The thing about Peyser’s shit is she repeats this idiocy about 21-year old women being young girls. Same as Blowsisnki. Does anybody buy this crap? Do normal 21 year old women find this offensive? Is this related to the phenomenon of 45 year old Republican members of Congress making youthful errors in judgement when they engage in extramarital affairs, like Dan “Scumbag” Burton and St, Henry Hyde? Monica spoke publicly about making sure her thong was exposed to Presidential view, and there is the infamous knee-pads going away party, like she was trained in Oval Office insurgency at Pepperdine. How does this work?

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  3. moe99 said on June 8, 2011 at 10:38 am

    At least with the domestic production of marijuana, we’re a little less under the thrall of the Mexican drug lords. I’d like to see marijuana legalized and taxed, taxed, taxed. The quality would be regulated and the hypocrisy that allows these medical marijuana outfits to dispense to generally anyone who can find a willing physician, would be gone as well. But you know who are the biggest lobbyists against legalization? The private prison industry and the law enforcement industry. They lose their ‘cash crop,’ so to speak. It’s like their only reason for being is to continue to grow, not to help develop a vibrant, law abiding society.

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  4. Deborah said on June 8, 2011 at 10:41 am

    97 degrees yesterday in Chicago. About the same today, although my walk to work this morning was not as bad as yesterday. The temp is supposed to drop 30 degrees by tomorrow, thank god.

    My husband saw one of those flash mobs that have been in the news lately. Not the good kind of flash mobs where people break out into song and dance, no these are the bad kind. Young people show up in droves at a determined location, usually having gotten there via public transportation, they wreak havoc for awhile then disappear down the subways or wherever. My husband said the violence in the air was palpable, he said the word “flash” was accurate. Mayor Emmanuel is going to have to do something about this soon.

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  5. Suzanne said on June 8, 2011 at 10:53 am

    Those Chicago “flash mobs” are scaring me. My husband and I were thinking of taking a day trip soon to the Windy City, but now, I’m thinking not.

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  6. Dorothy said on June 8, 2011 at 10:59 am

    Speaking of this record heat – Josh Radnor is filming a movie on campus here and employees were asked to volunteer if they wanted to be an extra. I imagine many people did, and some got called and some didn’t (that would be me). A woman who sits near me, though, is out in this sweltering heat and she just popped in with a flushed face and a blouse that’s sticking to her. She was trying to find her son (who works here too) to go buy her a tee shirt since she’d sweated through her top. He should have bought her 3 or 4 shirts as this is supposed to go on until 7 PM tonight. And we too are supposed to hit 97 degrees.

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  7. Bob (not Greene) said on June 8, 2011 at 11:00 am


    I was going to ask you about the flash mobs and whether you’ve seen any. I used to work at the Hancock Building, which is not far from the attack near the MCA. I used to just wander all over the place at lunchtime without a care in the world. I wonder how I’d feel now. I also took the el a lot and got off at the Chicago red line stop by that seedy McDonald’s where there have also been problems. It’s such a strange phenomenon. I mean, it’s like something out of Clockwork Orange.

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  8. A.Riley said on June 8, 2011 at 11:24 am

    I think the flash mobs are an evenings & weekends phenomenon, but if I’m wrong, please correct me.

    Second City Cop blog has been talking about this kind of thing for months. It’s only just now that it’s made the papers.

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  9. LAMary said on June 8, 2011 at 11:44 am

    An activity for you to share with Ruby:–amazing-high+flying-bunnies-jump-like-horses

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  10. alex said on June 8, 2011 at 11:52 am

    This weekend heading to Chi-Town for Midsomerfest in Andersonville. Glad to know the weather be cooling down a bit.

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  11. Jeff Borden said on June 8, 2011 at 12:13 pm


    I’m a former police reporter. I knew the score as a 23-year-old rookie at the Columbus Dispatch. Murders, shootings, robberies, etc. in black and poor white neighborhoods were routinely dispatched by me in three paragraphs if there were no fatalities, maybe four or five if there were. But a stabbing in lily-white Bexley, well, that was the equivalent of the nuclear meltdown in Japan. A beating in all-white Worthington? Call in more troops. The murder of a white girl? Bring in the army. It was the way of the world then, it’s still pretty much the way of the world.

    The simple fact is these attacks are big news because they are extremely rare. We have an ungodly murder rate in Chicago –though it is far lower than a few years ago– but those killings are concentrated in a few neighborhoods where poverty, gangs, drugs and alcohol, negligent parenting and any number of other factors create an explosive cocktail that can ignite in a heartbeat. And, finally, those areas are getting more media coverage, which is incredibly heartbreaking stuff. I have teared up many times at the stories of a little girl jumping double-dutch on the sidewalk in front of her house being slaughtered by a fucking gang banger aiming at someone else. Or the recent story of a standout high school basketball star with a pretty bright future shot in the parking lot of a party center, which was filled with 400 kids celebrating someone’s birthday.

    But this I honestly believe: If you are going to avoid our wonderful city because of this news about roving asshole thugs, I honestly believe you are making a mistake. Tourism and conventions are a $9-billion industry in Chicago, a significant contributor to our revenues. The new mayor is not going to let this stand, the cops are not going to let this stand, the prosecutors are not going to let this stand. Already, three punks have been arrested and charged and the cops have leads on others.

    Violence is as American as apple pie. It can strike in the wealthiest suburb and the shittiest ghetto. I never go anywhere without my wits about me. I’ve been burgled three times in my life (twice in Columbus and once in Chicago) and had my car stolen and stripped once (in Charlotte), so it’s not like I’m a Pollyanna.

    If you are aware of your circumstances and employ common sense, this remains the most wonderful summer city in America.

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  12. Heather said on June 8, 2011 at 12:14 pm

    I’m a regular reader of a Chicago cycling site and for the past year or so, people have reported groups of youths hanging out around the lakefront (last year it was around the south side) lunging at cyclists as they ride by and generally being intimidating. I always keep my U-lock handily accessible in my bike basket just in case I need it for something else besides locking my bike.

    Edit: Hear, hear, Jeff!

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  13. nancy said on June 8, 2011 at 12:23 pm

    One street-survival practice I learned here: If your kid is at one of those party centers, roller rinks or what-have-you, pick them up 20 minutes before closing, because the bad shit always happens when everyone is kicked out and milling around the parking lot.

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  14. MarkH said on June 8, 2011 at 12:49 pm

    Jeff Borden, that was one fine post at #11, really adding a perspective for the rest of us who may get all lathered up reading just the headlines or individual stories.

    BTW, adding my best wishes for rapid post-surgery recovery. We 60-year old coots gotta stick together, ya know?

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  15. Deborah said on June 8, 2011 at 1:22 pm

    Jeff B, I totally agree with you, don’t stay away from this fine city, It’s popping up in the news right now but stuff like this has been going on for awhile and not much comes of it that’s serious. Sorry if I alarmed anyone. The reason Mayor Emmanuel has to clear it up soon is because of the perception not the reality. After meeting one of his former students yesterday evening around 8:30 my husband was walking home from the Starbucks on the corner of Chicago Ave and Wabash, there were kids on the south side of the street when a fight broke out among them, it spilled out into the street stopping traffic. Then kids from the north side of the street ran across into the fray. Everyone else, like my husband was hightailing it out of there. And by the way, it was a mix of black and white kids he said. The incident was on the Trib late breaking news blog this morning. A couple of kids got taken away in a squad car, very minor injuries were reported (like a bloody lip on one of the kids). All in all it involved about 20 or so kids my husband said. The blog said fewer. It won’t stop me from walking everywhere, but I will stay alert as always.

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  16. Suzanne said on June 8, 2011 at 2:12 pm

    All this Chicago perspective is good to know. We used to live in the ‘burbs and I go back several times a year. We’ve never had any trouble, and love to stroll the lakefront on a nice day, and wander the streets on less nice days. We usually go with no clear plan but to see what we can find and visit stores and restaurants we’ve never visited before. I love Chicago and would hate to not visit, but I was getting a little creeped out.

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  17. Deborah said on June 8, 2011 at 2:35 pm

    One more thing about kids on the street in general. There are probably just more of them out on the street these days because school’s out and hardly any summer jobs are available to them. I don’t know if that’s true, just my opinion, something needs to be done to keep the kids occupied.

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  18. Dorothy said on June 8, 2011 at 2:45 pm

    My husband and son are looking forward to a weekend in Chicago in August when they’ll attend a Sox game and a Cubs game. It was Josh’s idea that they have a father/son weekend after Mike’s cancer surgery earlier this year. They are both extremely psyched to go and wish it was happening sooner.

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  19. Jeff Borden said on June 8, 2011 at 3:09 pm

    Thanks, guys.

    I am passionate about this place, which I worked my ass off for years to reach. It can indeed be a maddening place and there are days when I want to scream in frustration over the bureaucracy, the corruption, the cronyism and, yes, the crime. But it is an amazing place with so much to offer and the many public splendors of the summer –from the giant music festivals on the lakefront to the literally scores of neighborhood festivals– are fair compensation for hunkering down through the winter.

    Deborah makes an excellent point. The kinds of jobs we picked up after school, or when we were home from college, don’t exist. Or, they have been filled by guys like me, who find it next to impossible to find a regular job. The number of middle-aged sales clerks in stores like Best Buy, which were once the province of twentysomethings, is pretty startling.

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  20. prospero said on June 8, 2011 at 3:52 pm

    I was aware of the flash mob crap from reading my (almost) hometown paper, the Boston Globe, the last of the national liberal press. Developments in Boston are extremely distressing because the disturbances seem to be prearranged gang confrontations at Carson Beach, in Southie, a battleground from the bad old days of busing, the National Guard, and Mother proto-Teabagger Louise Day Hicks. (That evil bitch would eat $Palin’s lunch.) I have found no indication that any of this is race-based, but I’m sure it’s Teabagger influenced. What’s really scary is how quickly this sort of shit can metastasize on the city’s extensive subway system. Boston cops have a decades-old, pisspoor reputation for dealing with public crowds and the black community in general, and it’s well-deserved. Too bad the mobs didn’t run into the Palin caravan and its media entourage. Would love to have heard Griz’ comment on that. Although , she might have shot a bystander. I’d go and take the bullet if it were non-fatal. I’d sue for all their ill-gotten gains, and nobody would ever hear of the virago again.

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  21. Jeff Borden said on June 8, 2011 at 3:57 pm

    So. . .I’m reading about this kerfluffle up Detroit-Windsor way, where hundreds of homeowners were panicked when they found eviction notices pasted to their front doors. One elderly homeowner almost needed to be hospitalized.

    It turns out they are the handiwork of Americans for Prosperity, the so-called grass roots effort that actually is a division of the infamous Koch Brothers, who have ties to the guy who owns the Ambassador Bridge. And the director of the Michigan office of AFP says they worked because they were meant to “startle” residents. I expect behavior like this from the whores who labor in the front lines of protecting American billionaires. The fun stuff comes from the bio of the director of the Michigan office, who so loves Ayn Rand he has named one of his five kids Dagny. Can these people get any more weird and sick?

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  22. Connie said on June 8, 2011 at 4:14 pm

    Part of the ongoing bridge shenanigans. The Ambassador Bridge from Detroit to Windsor is privately owned. The governor and Canadian officials want to build another bridge. The owner doesn’t want the governments to do it, and is spending his millions lobbying against it. He wants to build and own the second bridge. In addition to the eviction notices to which Jeff referred,he has somehow fenced off a Detroit city park that butts up against the base of his bridge and covered the fence with fake homeland security signs. An activist group broke the park open recently.

    EDIT: Here’s a blog post with more info.

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  23. brian stouder said on June 8, 2011 at 4:29 pm

    The Republican/Conservative complaint, which – many (many) years ago – I used to find altogether reasonable and true, was that “those Democrats” always scared the old folks and said the Republicans would gut their Social Security/Medicare.

    And now, activists within the Republican/conservative base actively and purposefully emulate and lionize the Simon Legree/robber baron ideal?

    Handing out eviction notices?

    One wonders how complete the meltdown at Fox News, et al, would be – if (for example) ACORN (aka -“people of color”) pulled anything remotely like this stunt, and scared a bunch of white people.

    I mean, wow.

    (And not for nothing, but just how stupid was I, back in the day?)

    (Don’t answer that)

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  24. Jeff Borden said on June 8, 2011 at 4:37 pm


    Amen, brother. One of my pals who reads this blog said I was getting a little carried away several weeks ago when I described modern conservatism as Dickensian in its treatment of the poor, minorities, immigrants and others who are not white and well-born. But the bastards keep plumbing ever downward. . .looking for the subterranean sleaze jackpot. I honestly don’t understand why they have decided to be so blatant. . .maybe those fucking teabaggers demand it. . .but they unmask themselves on a daily basis as heartless stooges.

    You know, I’m sure the Koch brothers see themselves as big patriots. The fuckers have more in common with the czars than the Minutemen. They represent everything that is wrong with American capitalism, but perhaps they are the unwitting assholes who will finally unleash the built-up anger of average Americans who have seen their nation strip-mined by the rich and powerful. It would be a sweet treat to see.

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  25. brian stouder said on June 8, 2011 at 5:05 pm

    Well, when President Obama wins re-election, THAT will be fairly sweet.

    ‘Course, we know the political argument can never be “won”.

    The other day, our local talk-radio lip flapper referred to the president as a “Marxist”, just before I snapped the radio over to Rock-104. The temptation was to call his fat ass up, and ask him whether he thought that the GM truck plant we have here in Allen County, and which is hiring additional people and which is in the running for major upgrades and yet more hiring, strikes him as an example of “Marxism”….but Super Tramp was just beginning “Long Way Home” – and I thought to hell with it.

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  26. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on June 8, 2011 at 5:22 pm

    Re: pot. My vote — decriminalize, don’t legalize. There’s a distinction I think worth making. Sorry, no time to elaborate, but I wanted to offer that intermediate step.

    Part of my busy — bath salts. We’re still all trying to figure out where the heck *that* one came from. We’d just gotten atop the whole Spice/K2 deal (no biggie, self-medication as Nancy says, but with amusing legends attaching to it for juveniles about beating drug tests with it). A mild problem, but low grade. Then suddenly there’s a whole raft . . . flotilla of reports coming in from PDs and ERs on kids who have been sniffing, snorting, even injecting as well as smoking bath salts.

    Whatever the trigger mechanism was, the sustain pedal for it is the same as any other drug: I want to feel differently than I do, how do I do that? But bath salts seem to have found a blank page in the symphony, and is sawing away at a new tune.

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  27. Jeff Borden said on June 8, 2011 at 5:45 pm

    I’m old enough to remember when people were smoking banana peels in an attempt to get high and, of course, I’d heard of the huffers, who preferred inhaling gasoline, aerosol sprays and all manner of other substances. A guy I knew in high school used to buy bottles of Romilar when it still had codeine and was available over the counter to give him his buzz.

    The first I’d heard of bath salt highs came out of West Virginia, where some sorry looking goof was caught having sex with a goat or a donkey or somesuch. He also claimed to be loaded on bath salts.

    Maybe we all have some trigger in our brains we want to tickle once in awhile and perhaps that trigger is larger in some than others. I remain pretty “hands off” to what folks want to do to themselves so long as they do not drive, handle dangerous machinery or steal my stuff to pay for their high. But bath salts? Where will it end? Snorting Dial? Chugging hand cleansers?

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  28. Dexter said on June 8, 2011 at 5:50 pm

    Since no one here has posted it yet, I won’t either. The money shot has gone viral since about 7:00 A.M. And I mean it’s everywhere. Hint: Gawker has it, direct one-click link.

    What a twisted series of events lead to its release.

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  29. paddyo' said on June 8, 2011 at 5:52 pm

    Ever tried wasabi, Jeff?

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  30. Jeff Borden said on June 8, 2011 at 6:29 pm

    I like it on my sushi, Paddyo, but I prefer it remain there. I’m enough of a low-brow to have seen the first “Jackass: The Movie,” where the gang of idiots visited Tokyo and one of them snorted a huge blob of wasabi off the counter of a sushi bar. He immediately began heaving. . .a very ugly but hilarious little vignette.

    Are there other ways to get a buzz from the disconcertingly coolish looking hell paste?

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  31. paddyo' said on June 8, 2011 at 6:33 pm

    That’s exactly the link I embedded in my previous comment, JB . . .hilarious indeed.

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  32. prospero said on June 8, 2011 at 6:38 pm

    Acorn and the Great Registration Fraud Canard

    Dead giveaway: Republicans do not give a shit about democracy or about the USA. For all intents, vote fraud does not exist in the USA. What examples of Donald Duck and Fred Flinstone reservations Republicans have identified were attempts to defraud registration contract employers and were reported by Acorn and other groups themselves. The idea that Tinker Bell is going to be able to show up at a polling place and vote fraudulently is so freaking stupid it’s hard to believe even a Teabagger would believe it. The entire voter fraud pretext is intended to establish barriers to legitimate voters castin votes. GOPunks argue that requiring a picture ID is not difficult for anybody. If that were true, in the virtually perfect abscence of vote fraud, why would the bastards spend money lobbying for an ID requirement?

    It’s scurrilous to mock anybody’s religious beliefs (except for magic u-trou, I’m sorry), but Michele Bachmann’s biblical eschatology seems to me to be directly dangerous to the USA, and I think you’d have to pretty confident in the VP nominee to vote for a Pres that thinks she may be hoovered into heaven at any moment.

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  33. mark said on June 8, 2011 at 7:14 pm

    It’s pretty clear now that Weiner is a seriously troubled individual. He should resign. “Following” 16 year-old girls on Twitter? We are fortunate this guy was exposed before he acted (any further) on his impulses.

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  34. Dexter said on June 8, 2011 at 7:59 pm

    I don’t know…Mac, VW…smart phone…

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  35. Deborah said on June 8, 2011 at 8:33 pm

    If I were Weiner’s wife, I’d leave the bum. How humiliating this must be for her. She’s such a smart professional, and then to find out her husband is such a jerk. Sad.

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  36. Deborah said on June 8, 2011 at 8:41 pm

    OMG I just looked at something on CNN that said that Weiner’s wife is pregnant. That poor woman.

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  37. Connie said on June 8, 2011 at 8:46 pm

    Turns out Weiner’s wife is pregnant.

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  38. Mark P. said on June 8, 2011 at 9:11 pm

    Dexter, I was worried at first because I have Mac, VW and iPhone, but fortunately I do not have any of the other things that identify a hipster. I mean, not being a hipster is a good thing, right? Isn’t it?

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  39. Dexter said on June 8, 2011 at 11:16 pm

    Well, Mark P., I am sorry to inform that you may be a hipster. That is not cool, some say. However, I say “they” are full of shit! After all, I wear hoodies, I wear a jacket over graphic tees, and graphic tees plain, and I wear flannels and I have since way before I heard of the immortal Kurt Cobain.
    I drove a Jetta for three years. I once bought ten pairs of Chuck Taylors at a sidewalk sale by a shoe store, and I have two, not one, nerdy Black friends. But really, I am no hipster, too old. But I can spot one. Actually this video is confusing…I thought all hipsters came from Brooklyn.

    And…I don’t mean this to sound racist in any way, but Huma Weiner always reminds me of an Arab Angelina Jolie. Now, with the baby-news, more than ever. God Bless The Child.

    Lawrence O’Donnell is reporting on the Opie and Anthony story of the photo of Weiner’s genitals.

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  40. alex said on June 8, 2011 at 11:50 pm

    Still have a Mac, used to have a VW, never had an iPhone. I’ll be fully into old fogeyhood and uncoolness next time lightning strikes.

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  41. Dexter said on June 9, 2011 at 12:38 am

    Today’s Google Doodle is the coolest ever. It’s Les Paul’s 96th birthday (he passed away already), and the GOOGLE is a guitar and it … plays! It is awesome.

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  42. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on June 9, 2011 at 7:54 am

    For anyone not recalling who Les Paul is other than as a guitar maker:

    Plus the immortal story that he was in a car accident, and when the doctors went to re-set his severely broken arm, he had them set it not in the standard, most convenient angle for everyday life, but so he could still play.

    It’s an odd meander from Les Paul to Prince, but track by track, there you go.

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  43. Mark P. said on June 9, 2011 at 8:11 am

    I wondered about Huma’s origins, and it turns out she was born in the US of parents of Indian and Pakistani descent, if one is to believe the all-knowing Wiki.

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  44. Dexter said on June 9, 2011 at 8:51 am

    JMMo: A blogger-buddy in Belgium reports to me via Facebook that the locals are excited in Brussels and Ghent, as Prince is coming July 6 for a concert “Prince will be touring Europe. I had heard about his 3-night concert series at North Sea Jazz, but earlier today an open air concert in Ghent got announced.

    2011/07/06 – Live at the Sint-Pietersplein in Ghent, Belgium…”-END-

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