Playground rules.

Here’s something I see more often these days — a lament for dangerous playgrounds. Frequently the argument has an undercurrent of hostility; I recall one by a father of two that basically boiled down to, these kids today could all use a few more broken arms, but I’m sorry, I can’t find it now. Most of the people advocating it seem well-intentioned enough, although I note they tend to live in the land of the anonymous “some” who are ruining childhood, but not for attribution.

That many of the Some may be made of straw and live in the Land of Oddly Articulate Taxi Drivers occurs to me, yes.

Here’s how the argument goes: Children’s playgrounds are being, or have already been, ruined. By lawyers, by — finger quotes — experts, but mostly by Some, who want to take all the risk out of childhood, and hence, all the fun.

There’s some truth to this, at least to the bare fact of ruination, although I wonder how much it has to do with risk and how much with money. But I’ve seen some pretty wan playgrounds in my time. The one at a nearby elementary school in Fort Wayne had a single piece of equipment on it — something that looked like a folded slice of Swiss cheese, with a total height of maybe five feet. I gather you climbed on it. Not that I ever saw a child do so.

But something else happened along the way, and playgrounds started getting fun again. When I was a kid, I played at the elementary at the end of my block. There were four or five different playgrounds, sized for the range of grades, and if I remember correctly, they were basic — swings and monkey bars and slides and see-saws, anchored to asphalt. If you fell, you fell hard, although that was rare. But it happened. My major dread of the playground was being dumped from the high position on the see-saw; I had a friend who specialized in it, with a truly perverse timing that suggests she had a bright future in torture of all sorts.

By the time Kate was born, the playground had changed. The “playscape” had come on the scene — sprawling constructions that mimicked kid-size castles, with spiral slides, swinging footbridges, climbing walls and all manner of things you could swing on, jump from and otherwise exhaust your energy and imagination.

A few of our favorites: Planet Westerville, near my sister’s house in suburban Columbus; Kids Crossing and Foster Park’s playground in Fort Wayne; and a Kids Crossing clone here in Grosse Pointe Woods’ Lake Front Park.

One thing all these playscapes had in common was some sort of soft footing underneath, usually wood chips, although I’ve also seen sand and shredded rubber. I honestly never gave these a thought, other than to be grateful for them. It seemed like, oh, progress, the way a padded dashboard is progress, and seat belts, and bike helmets.

I’m now informed I was all wrong. Modern playgrounds destroy children’s natural risk-taking impulses:

When seesaws and tall slides and other perils were disappearing from New York’s playgrounds, Henry Stern drew a line in the sandbox. As the city’s parks commissioner in the 1990s, he issued an edict concerning the 10-foot-high jungle gym near his childhood home in northern Manhattan.

“I grew up on the monkey bars in Fort Tryon Park, and I never forgot how good it felt to get to the top of them,” Mr. Stern said. “I didn’t want to see that playground bowdlerized. I said that as long as I was parks commissioner, those monkey bars were going to stay.”

His philosophy seemed reactionary at the time, but today it’s shared by some researchers who question the value of safety-first playgrounds. Even if children do suffer fewer physical injuries — and the evidence for that is debatable — the critics say that these playgrounds may stunt emotional development, leaving children with anxieties and fears that are ultimately worse than a broken bone.

Excuse me, but New York Times? What a crock of shit. I can go a long way with this movement — yes, kids must take risks to grow; no, playgrounds shouldn’t be made entirely risk-free — but when you need to tuck “stunted emotional development” in there, hiding behind that big “may,” I’m going somewhere else to play.

The story goes on with the usual reporting; a Norwegian psychologist consults her clipboard and identifies “six categories of risky play” and then we get to the inevitable sources for these types of it-seems-one-way-but-it’s-really-not stories — an evolutionary psychologist. The more bullshit I find in the world, the more I can trace back to evolutionary psychology, the talk radio of soft-science scholarship.

“Risky play mirrors effective cognitive behavioral therapy of anxiety,” they write in the journal Evolutionary Psychology, concluding that this “anti-phobic effect” helps explain the evolution of children’s fondness for thrill-seeking. While a youthful zest for exploring heights might not seem adaptive — why would natural selection favor children who risk death before they have a chance to reproduce? — the dangers seemed to be outweighed by the benefits of conquering fear and developing a sense of mastery.

“Paradoxically,” the psychologists write, “we posit that our fear of children being harmed by mostly harmless injuries may result in more fearful children and increased levels of psychopathology.”

I always wanted to use “posit” as a verb. So here goes: I posit that all this hand-wringing over too-safe playgrounds is perpetrated by a handful of people who really don’t like children all that much. As I said before, it’s important that kids take risks and try new things, but this barely disguised yearning for them to fall from the top of the monkey bars and break bones is deeply hostile. To them I say: OK, your kid goes first. And if you don’t have any, shut up.

Somewhat related, an old treat found while Googling: Sweet Juniper’s Jim on the unique nature of Detroit playground culture.

Let’s hop to the bloggage, so I can get dressed for weights class:

I do not use special soap on my crotch. There, I said it! Nevertheless, Vagisil would like to sell me some, using some lamely “provocative” viral videos they want everyone to post on their Facebooks and be outraged by. I look at these and think, More good voice work for actors. Huzzah.

I used to be lonely, in my discussions with fellow Elmore Leonard fans, when the topic of film adaptations would come up. “Of course, ‘Get Shorty’ was the best adaptation of a Leonard novel,” someone would say, to nods all around. No! No! I screamed inwardly. “Get Shorty” was a huge improvement over all that came before, and a breakthrough, but no way it’s the best, because that title belongs to “Out of Sight,” and this guy agrees with me, so er’body just shut up.

So, two videos:

You wanted to tussle; we tussled. My favorite scene from “Out of Sight”:

And a video I worked on with my summer interns. I’m not much of a video producer, and it’s hard for me to teach this stuff, because I barely have a handle on the technology, and what I see in my head is so different from what appears on the monitor. Still: The assignment was to do a slice-of-life video aboard a Mackinac racer. We were invited out for a Thursday night of fun-type racing. Took two small cameras, the Flip and the GoPro, mostly handled by the interns. And virtually all the audio turned out like that in the first 10 seconds — spoiled by a persistent roar of wind. (Cheap mics are the bane of cheap cameras.) I fixed it by going back a few nights later with my good USB mic, going belowdecks, and reconducting the interview in acoustically cleaner conditions. My critique of the video is: Too many cut-off heads, too few detail closeups to cut away to, not enough of a narrative arc — it plays like a sketchbook. On the other hand, given the raw materials, I don’t think it turned out too-too badly. Tell me what you think, and have a great weekend. Stay cool.

Posted at 10:45 am in Detroit life, Media, Movies, Popculch |

98 responses to “Playground rules.”

  1. Deborah said on July 22, 2011 at 11:01 am

    I enjoyed the video but was kind of distracted by the constant cigarette. The guy said he wanted to live long enough to sail the Mac 100 times. Maybe he should quit smoking.

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  2. Bob (not Greene) said on July 22, 2011 at 11:30 am

    Nance, the heat must be getting to you. Two rants in two days! Never fear, relief is on the way. Giant thunderstorm moving through Chicago and on its way east. Should cool things off to at least 90.

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  3. Heather said on July 22, 2011 at 11:42 am

    Ah, the Jennifer Lopez that could have been . . .

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  4. prospero said on July 22, 2011 at 12:01 pm

    Unlike other poptarts that have tried (get straight Lindsey, and ditch your parents for good), Jennifer Lopez is an accomplished actress (thanks, Wayans bros), and Out of Sight is a tres bon movie. There’s palpable sexual energy between the leads. JLo is superb in a movie called The Cell with Phillip Seymour Hoffman playing a psychopath, that is one of the creepiest, most unnerving movies I’ve ever watched. She’s very convincing as a physically tough chick, as in when she kicks the mofo wifebeater’s ass in Enough.

    3:10 to Yuma (both versions), Stick, Joe Kidd, Valdez is Coming. All very enjoyable adaptations, particularly the latter with Burt Lancaster. But I’m a sucker for hard-bitten westerns. 52 Pickup is pretty good, with Roy Scheider. And I liked Be Cool a lot better than Get Shorty. And Mr. Leonard himself is the main source of the Get Shorty bias. Unfortunately, he never had the good fortune to have a masterpiece adaptation made. Raymond Chandler did, several times over. George V. Higgins, the great newspaperman noir novelist (Friends of Eddie Coyle). Don’t know if any of y’all have watched Justified, but it’s superb, and apparently Mr. Leonard is very happy with it. First season is available from Netflix.

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  5. Jenine said on July 22, 2011 at 12:14 pm

    The hotel bar with snow coming down… it’s good to know that movie scene exists in the world.

    I just watched Be Cool the sequel to Get Shorty. It is deservedly forgotten — stay away. But I give Travolta credit for his performance. He just didn’t get any writing to help him out.

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  6. Jenine said on July 22, 2011 at 12:15 pm

    @ Prospero, just read your comment. You can have Be Cool, I’ll take Get Shorty and everybody’s happy.

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  7. nancy said on July 22, 2011 at 12:36 pm

    Yesterday wasn’t a rant,was it? It didn’t feel ranty, anyway.

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  8. Bob (not Greene) said on July 22, 2011 at 12:52 pm

    I don’t know, I thought the tattoo/ear gauge part was kind of ranty — not that I mind! I’ve been known to get my rant on. I like rants.

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  9. Julie Robinson said on July 22, 2011 at 12:57 pm

    My take on the video: the women are doing all the work.

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  10. beb said on July 22, 2011 at 1:02 pm

    Yesterday Nancy did tell the young’n’s not to get tats that they might regret in 20 years (or 20 days) so I’d call that a rant.

    On playgrounds I’ll not get into the philosophical underpinnings of risky playgrounds. I don’t think learning to master one’s fears has anything to do with it. Kids at the age are fearless because they don’t know that they can be hurt. But I do find the bubblewrapafication of playgrounds kind of sad.

    After our daughter was born we started going to the Metro Beach Park a lot because it had a large “Tot Lot” for her to play in. Swings, playscapes, sand (not in boxes, though) and so on. One of the things she really enjoyed in later years was the tire swing. This was clearly a imminent threat to health and safety — of toddlers who didn’t know better about getting close to the swing. But it was enjoyed by kids so much that as adults our task was as much to determine who had been on the swing long enough.

    It was sad when the tire swing was removed but I could see the point to that. What I couldn’t understand was what they did to the “pirate ship” A series of railroad ties had been set in the ground, pointing up, to form the outline of a ship. The ties were cut from about 16″ above the ground to about 3 feet. In the center, on a pole was a small “crow’s nest” maybe 5 feet off the ground with a fireman’s pole on one end to slide down. The crow’s nest was taken away and the ties were lowered by 16 inches. I never saw any kids hurt there or even playing in a reckless manner. And yet the thing was virtually taken away.

    It’s the pussification of America.

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  11. Maggie Jochild said on July 22, 2011 at 1:06 pm

    All right, adding “Out Of Sight” to my watch ASAP list, and adding “You wanted to tussle” to my under-the-breath endurance mottoes beside The Bloggess’s “Knock, knock, mofo”.

    I first checked out Elmore Leonard when Bill Clinton said he was his favorite writer, back when Clinton was in office and still untainted by a Neocon smear job. I zoomed through his books in a reading ecstasy, then began re-reading them as a writer, trying to learn how he constructed dialogue and a never-intrusive plot arc. When I get stuck in writing a conversation, no matter the characters, I think about what Leonard would do with it. All too often, the answer is “Leave it out.”

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  12. moe99 said on July 22, 2011 at 1:10 pm

    I have been a member of a private summer swim club in Seattle for the past 18 years. When I first went there as a guest, they had a diving board in the deep end that had a high dive. When I joined the high dive was gone and when we rebuilt and renovated the pool 5 years ago, we did away with the board entirely because the insurance was too expensive. There was a bad accident at another pool in the state resulting in a quadriplegic injury which the insurers used to raise the rates beyond what we could afford. So we installed a curvy slide. The little kids love it and I think that we will all adapt. But it has not been easy.

    Here’s another nifty boat story:

    Have to say that I cringe when I see folks smoking these days, especially those involved in sporting endeavors. It’s very hard, even in an outdoor setting, to be around cigarette smoke. My lungs just seize up.

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  13. prospero said on July 22, 2011 at 1:14 pm

    The let’s have painful playgrounds because pain builds character jerks remind me of many sadistic football coaches I have known and despised. Of course, much of the safer playgrounds ethic is born out of dread of litigiousness, but still advocating for not protecting kids from pain is sociopathic, no matter what justification people claim.

    Those people who used hand puppets for talking vaginas, were wussing out. Haven’t they ever seen a mussell? Looks more like vulva than any other thing in nature. Could have been a stop action masterpiece. Sorry if that’s nasty, but those videos are incredibly lame. And what about the one that looks like the Zuul parts of Ghostbusters? “Men have fought for it”? Hell no, that’s not sexist.

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  14. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on July 22, 2011 at 1:43 pm

    I love the line “evolutionary psychology, the talk radio of soft-science scholarship,” but I’ll reserve the right to say the article might have a point even if the way the article tried to make it was full of earwax.

    The real issue is why kids aren’t outside, roaming about, and the answer to the response “because of risk,” which is tricky, but not impossible to answer — starting with a challenge to the idea that the hazard of random kidnapping off the street (which *does* happen, I admit) may actually be less than the cumulative hazard of indoor-cooped couch potatoism reinforced by parental anxiety which is itself reinforced by smaller family size (parents being much more risk averse with one than they are with five, which simply makes sense, but has a social ripple effect).

    I’m no fan of “risky” playgrounds, whatever those are — I’m not sure, other than a tall slide story, what that would be given the article’s odd meandering. But wholesale removal of anything that might thrill (high slides, jungle gyms) is different than advocating for soft surfaces, which I can’t imagine anyone objects to. Bookend that with the generation of hyper-intense, highly mediated, profit-based thrills at amusement parks, which combine wild physical experiences (3Gs, 100 mph, vertical drops of 300 ft) with security that would strike a Mercury program astronaut as excessive.

    Then season even that with what, given the numbers involved, is a nearly inevitable once a month story of a tragic death on a thrill ride, which usually involves unexpected unconsciousness or an unintentional release of the safety harness by the rider.

    Said this a couple of weeks ago: I keep seeing families of wide children, who can barely afford school clothes in the fall, trekking three times to a park where they fork over all their cash (Lord knows from where) to end up drinking from jugs of fizzy through a straw as they spend the entire day standing in slow moving lines to ride three or four ninety second encounters with the beyond.

    Not meant as a rant, just as a redirection from the NYT squib; there’s an issue about play and the outdoors that I think is real, but thrill per se isn’t the answer — that’s the business of the $47 per person entry parks now, and you can’t top their experiences. I’m more concerned about empty parks in general . . . but not today. I’d love to send the three boys I have in the house out (“you can go over to Mr. Gill’s and play with his son; he just sits there in the kitchen and types when he’s home!”), but I don’t have the heart to do it today.

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  15. Bruce Fields said on July 22, 2011 at 1:49 pm

    Another complaint from someone who attempted to track down some of the referenced research:

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  16. ROGirl said on July 22, 2011 at 1:49 pm

    I couldn’t stand more than a few seconds of those ads. The outrage isn’t over racism, but the sheer stupidity. I guess the fact that we’re engaged in this discussion is proof that they have captured a lot of attention. The ad agency must be so proud of their work.

    “Hello from vaginaland” will become this generation’s “Where’s the beef?”

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  17. prospero said on July 22, 2011 at 1:51 pm

    WSJ blames cops for hacking because they didn’t catch News Corp breaking the law. Hilarious. read comments by sow fool called just4thefax. Even funnier.

    Diving Boards: I’m an expert, sort of, having been a successful competitive diver for years as a kid and through high school. I have hurt myself many times on diving boards, and I’d say most people should keep their distance. I was diving from a 3 meter board at a swim club in Birmingham once when I was about 12. I came out of 2-1/2 somersaults to see someone diving from the side of the pool directly into my path. I knew what I was doing so I made adjustments in middair and avoided a collision. No way a lifeguard could have stopped this, and if we’d ever crashed head to head we would both have been dead or forever brain-damaged. Diving boards are in very slippery environments (duh) and they are really for people that know what they are doing. That episode scared the shit out of me, and I also remember two summers in a row having kids slip of the 3-m ladder with fractured skulls resulting in both cases. I guess those kids grew up with a lot of character for having faced fears of the dreaded high board.

    Jeff, when I was a kid, nobody thought twice about all the neighborhood kids playing tackle football in our yards. We built treehouses at rediculous heights off the ground. We jumped bikes and skateboards (the old ones with no trucks and metal wheels) over ramps. I know that I never sustained an injury. Outdoors for kids these days for kids in many parts of the US means 3 and 4-wheeled motorized vehicles, and lots of those kids end up with closed-head trauma. Kids around our house have backyard trampolines, which I personally think is great exercise but otherwise a horrendous idea.

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  18. prospero said on July 22, 2011 at 1:56 pm

    Another irresponsible attempt by the GOP to relegislate settled
    policy the craven shitheels voted FOR previously

    In the wake of the light bulb joke, more utter crap from a prominent Republican. I imagine Coburn’s plan will get an amendment that prohibits using recycled metal in his new coins.

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  19. nancy said on July 22, 2011 at 1:59 pm

    Excellent rumination there, Jeff. I’ve been thinking about nonfiction book possibilities, and one that I keep coming back to is roller coasters. I’d love to embed with a design team at Cedar Point or one of the other big parks when they take on the next big coaster project. I’m amazed at how bifurcated our fear centers are these days; kids can’t be allowed to walk half a mile through a safe suburb to play with their friends, but once they’re there, they’ll plunge into video games featuring dismemberment, or plan their visit to a theme park, where they’ll be launched 400 feet in the air at multiple G-force speeds.

    And thanks, Bruce, for the link. I thought it was just me.

    My park still has a three-meter board. Surrounded — on the deck — by thick foam pads. It terrifies me. And so do roller coasters.

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  20. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on July 22, 2011 at 2:09 pm

    I forgot to mention the piece, which I enjoyed, doubly so on having just returned from Mackinac Island (ok, we stayed in Mack City, we’re low end tourists; ferry riding fudgies are we). Deborah’s point notwithstanding, I could have almost laughed off the self-parody cig dangling from the cap’n lip, until — just as he’s discussing “personality conflicts” — he flicks his butt into the water. C’mon, you call yourself a freshwater sailor? That’s so ’60s. I couldn’t hardly listen to him after he threw his trash into the wake like that.

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  21. nancy said on July 22, 2011 at 2:11 pm

    That’s funny that you noticed. One of the interns was a smoker, and asked where to put his butt. Tim said to throw it overboard, but I objected. He explained his policy: He throws them overboard in the Detroit River, because it’s full of pollutants. But upriver and on the lakes, he field-strips them and puts them in his pocket. Made no sense to me, either, but there you are.

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  22. prospero said on July 22, 2011 at 2:17 pm

    It didn’t take long for the fight to begin. Republicans in Congress are angry over a temporary new rule that would require gun dealers to report multiple sales of semiautomatic weapons. Just one day after the new rule was announced, U.S. Rep. Denny Rehberg (R-Mont.) introduced an amendment to the fiscal 2012 Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies appropriation bill to pull funding from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

    What reasonable human being, even an NRA loonytoon, could object to this rule?

    And those thick foam pads may prevent a skull fracture, but it’s not gonna prevent spinal damage. I’ve seen enough to figure anything higher or more springy than a typical motel diving board should require training and a license. Rope swings into lakes and rivers are one hell of a lot safer. And I thought what the Cop’m was smoking looked like a mini-spliff, also not a performance enhancer. Although, I’ve been reading the Pynchon noir, Inherent Vice, and I wouldn’t have minded some Humboldt’s finest while I was reading.

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  23. Little Bird said on July 22, 2011 at 2:20 pm

    The guy in The Cell was Vincent D’onofrio, and he seems to be one of the more versatile actors out there.
    As for playgrounds, I played on them all as a kid. I don’t really think it made a difference either way. Except that now I’m a bit more aware of where things are in relation to where my head is these days. I had a literal run in with a see saw that left quite an impression.

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  24. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on July 22, 2011 at 2:26 pm

    Lake Erie thanks him. Or, in a more PC mode: we are all downstream, sucka.

    Prospero – if you can find a hotel with a diving board, it would have to be the Broadmoor or something both retro and pricey enough to hang on to one. “No Diving” is the usual in large or small hotel pools, and frankly, I’m fine with that. Too many wheelchair narratives start with “we were all diving and . . .”

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  25. Mr. JoodyB said on July 22, 2011 at 2:40 pm

    A nice video. Clean. A GoPro on top of the mast would have made it an instant classic.

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  26. mark said on July 22, 2011 at 2:49 pm


    You have certainly been touching on a number of interesting topics. Kudos to you. Playgrounds, obesity, tats, etc. All timely and all, I think, inter-related. In general, I yearn somewhat for the good ol’ days, but with softer surfaces and fewer sharp corners.

    I agree with those who opine that we are moving children into adolesence earlier, and keeping them there longer, with few positive results from the change. For youth, physical activity today is highly regulated and almost constantly observed and supervised. Non-physical activity is almost always spat out of a machine, promoting passive participation in increasingly unrealistic and self-indulgent fantasies and providing instant reinforcement/encouragement of any thought.

    Childhood is a little more dull than it used to be (I suspect), and particularly dull in comparison to the barrage of “adult fun” depicted on TV and the typical facebook page. The secret to happiness is often portrayed as simply stringing together as many selfishly pleasurable experiences as possible.

    Big generalizations, I know, and not intended as commentary on any particular child or parent.

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  27. moe99 said on July 22, 2011 at 3:10 pm

    good points, mark.

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  28. Tori said on July 22, 2011 at 3:59 pm

    Anyone who loves Out of Sight will forever be a friend of mine. I have raved about this film to legions of people and for the most part, been ignored. Is it the J.Lo factor?

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  29. Dexter said on July 22, 2011 at 4:16 pm

    The first “Imagination Station” playground I remember was at Fuller Park in A2. This had to have been in the late 1980s into the early nineties. We used to bring my daughter and her friends there to play once in a while if we were already in Toledo anyway; it’s a short expressway fast-lane hop up to Ann Arbor from there.
    In 1994 the community organizers called for volunteers to build one of these playgrounds in Bryan, where I live. The whole thing was done on one Saturday, with hundreds of volunteers.
    I lasted until 2010 when an arsonist torched it. Six months later it was re-built.
    When I cycle past playgrounds with rubber cushioning material, I get a sick feeling. Tires are nothing but compressed serious chemicals, and I keep hearing in the wind, little comments as to how carcinogens are in the ground rubber.
    I simply would tell my grandkids not to play in that stuff.
    Chemicals found in rubber tires are:

    Benzene Carcinogen, Developmental Toxicant, Reproductive Toxicant
    Phtalates Suspected Developmental Toxicant, Endocrine Toxicant, Reproductive Toxicant
    PAHs Suspected Cardiovascular or Blood Toxicant, Gastrointestinal or Liver Toxicant, Reproductive Toxicant ,Respiratory Toxicant,
    Manganese a neurotoxin
    Carbon Black Carcinogen
    Latex Causes allergic reactions in some people
    Benzothiazole: Skin and eye irritation, harmful if swallowed. There is no available data on cancer, mutagenic toxicity, teratogenic toxicity, or developmental toxicity.
    Butylated hydroxyanisole: Recognized carcinogen, suspected endocrine toxicant, gastrointestinal toxicant, immunotoxicant (adverse effects on the immune system), neurotoxicant (adverse effects on the nervous system), skin and sense-organ toxicant. There is no available data on cancer, mutagenic toxicity, teratogenic toxicity, or developmental toxicity.
    n-hexadecane: Severe irritant based on human and animal studies. There is no available data on cancer, mutagenic toxicity, teratogenic toxicity, or developmental toxicity.
    4-(t-octyl) phenol: Corrosive and destructive to mucous membranes. There is no available data on cancer, mutagenic toxicity, teratogenic toxicity, or developmental toxicity.
    Zinc: There is a very large amount of zinc that is added in the manufacturing of tires and therefore there is a great deal of zinc.

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  30. Linda said on July 22, 2011 at 4:42 pm

    Hmmm. Re: children needing to be less safe. How about some actual statistics–not this speculation crap–that safety makes it more likely for kids to live to be adults? Like a 40% drop in accidental deaths? Tierney is an ass–someone who now uses “science” as his soapbox for social conservatism. Science is what it is, not a weapon. Sometime, Roy Endroso ought to properly eat him for lunch.

    As for my fave scene in Out of Sight,
    it’s gotta be the tub
    w/Clooney. I can’t believe somebody gets paid to do that, while I get paid to settle bets for drunks and help kids with their homework.

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  31. Judybusy said on July 22, 2011 at 4:42 pm

    Finally joining in, a little late….growing up on a farm, it was all unsupervised play, all the time. My sibs also got to handle heavy machinery from a rather young age. (As oldest girl, I learned how to cook for 6-10, depending on how many hands there were.) This unrestricted play was the best part of my childhood. We played on the rock pile, read, built forts in the woods and the hay mow (this is what we called the top of the barn. I have absolutely no idea how this is spelled.) We ran with our dogs and looked for kittens in the barn. Since it was Minnesota, we went to “the lake” nearly every day; we’d all taken swimming lessons. We ice skated on the slough. My brother and friends played with Estes rockets out in the fields (an early predictor of his engineering career.) My other sibs all had BB guns. Organized summertime sports may have happened for the town kids, but even if we’d shown interest, getting us there wasn’t going to happen for a number of reasons. It was dangerous. And it was fun.

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  32. Deborah said on July 22, 2011 at 5:03 pm

    Mr. JoodyB, I didn’t know what a GoPro was so I googled it. For those of you out there who are as ignorant as I am, you’ve got to see this

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  33. paddyo' said on July 22, 2011 at 5:07 pm

    Hey Dex @ 29: When you say “cushioning material,” are you talking about loose ground-up former tires/rubber/etc., or do you mean those fancy-cushy-bouncy surfaces (usually light green or some other “parky” color) that are an actual, well, I guess “system” would be the word (as in “child playground protective system”), installed like a floor? I s’pose those could use recycled tire rubber and such, too, but I’ve seen such systems (a regional park back home in Reno has some in a couple of its playgrounds) and they seem pretty cool.

    ‘Course, when we were playgrounders, all the ones I played in had some covering of sand. It seemed to me a pretty effective shock-absorber-fall-breaker, but I realize sand can be hard and can wear thin in spots. In grade school, we used to get to school half an hour, 45 minutes before class just to go to the younger kids’ playground (parochial school, grades 1-8) to commandeer the swings, crank back and forth and fliiinnnnggg ourselves out into space in a contest to see who could jump the farthest. We landed in sand. But then, that’s probably at least one factor in my late-teenage beginnings of osteoarthritic knees and, today, two artificial joints.

    I also recall those old playground merry-go-rounds-of-death that were made out of metal, with circular corrugated steel platforms and hang-on-for-life bars that radiated out from the spinning center. They always seemed to be slightly off-center, so that at one end the spinning platform would be very close to the ground/dirt/sand, while the opposite side was higher than normal. The low end, of course, was where kids might snag a hand or a foot. Unpleasant.

    I’m with Jeff @ 14 on the concept of “play” and especially how it’s changed. Richard Louv wrote an excellent book on the outdoors aspect of this, “Last Child in the Woods,” and the concept of “Leave No Child Inside” and “nature deficit disorder.” And apropos of nothing except fear-of-injury, I’ll simply add that rarely a summer went by in my childhood where there was not at least one kid on my busy block (30-some kids, that being the Baby Boom era) walking around with an arm or forearm in a plaster cast. It was just how it was then — but it doesn’t have to be that way now.

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  34. prospero said on July 22, 2011 at 5:17 pm

    Dexter, before any of those materials get to a playground they have put througha hammermill, sterilyzed and otherwise subject to all sorta rays. Reconstituded tires ppose no health rhreat. Neither do reconstituted Mountain Dew bottles. Unless it’s got to dew with caffeine. They are more dead biologically that might threaten you, than the shingles on your house. Making the landing area more copacetic. That just makes fucking sense. Make the kids walk off a scrape, I say that is sdults acting like assholes. Not on my watch. My bother Mark almost had his brains blown out. It was his first noght out as a frosh. One of my three best friends. I remember that basement with the ground=level lights. Underground. I remember, you wouldn’t consider.

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  35. coozledad said on July 22, 2011 at 5:27 pm

    Judybusy: I built some Estes rockets as a kid, but never had much opportunity to play with them them until my wife and I moved to the country, and a friend of mine moving to LA sold me a huge cache of kits and engines. He even had the one that took pictures (I dropped that sucker on our rural neighbor’s roof from about 600 ft when the chute failed to deploy. They were watching television when it hit and were deaf to it, but I’m sure they must have found the wreckage later when they were cleaning the gutters, and knew “that little bastard” had something to do with it).
    A friend came up to visit one week, and we decided to launch some of the more complicated multistage rockets after we’d had numerous drinks. The Saturn V kit was too heavy, and left the launch pad headed in our direction. It was almost like the thing was set upon our annihilation.
    But these guys are the real rocket nerds.

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  36. Rana said on July 22, 2011 at 5:36 pm

    When I think back to the playgrounds and playspaces I enjoyed as a kid, the softest surface I can remember being around was tanbark (great for throwing at people). Everything else was dirt, grass, or asphalt. And the equipment was made of metal (hazardous to bare legs in the California summer sun) or wood (splinters). My favorites were the jungle gyms (which led me to my first (and so far only) experience of having the wind knocked out of me) and trees and the various forts my brother and I constructed out of scavenged boards.

    Now, I was not a particularly daring child (unlike my brother, who once climbed to the top of a three-story sequoia!), but none of this seemed unreasonable, and the worst I ever got was a scraped knee or a splinter.

    That said, I don’t think the problem is with safer playgrounds, but with the larger expectation that life itself should be safe. I am reminded of the college students who don’t know how to entertain themselves if they’re not enrolled in a specific activity, young adults who party drunk in foreign countries and expect no consequences, people who expect that their SUVs protect them from the need to drive defensively, and of the toddlers who get asthma because their homes are too sterile. I am in favor of reducing risk – food safety regulations come to mind, as do seatbelt laws – but there does seem to me to be a danger of failing to teach people how to adapt to changing situations, assess risks, and to cope with the aftereffects.

    In other words, I’d be more sanguine about playground safety if I felt that padded playgrounds were operating in an environment of gradually teaching children how to handle risk (like training wheels) rather than part of a culture that insulates people from danger while growing up, then suddenly dumps them into the real world without any coping skills.

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  37. Linda said on July 22, 2011 at 5:43 pm

    Rana, you may be on to something, especially in the last sentence. As much as I think Tierney is full of it, I think about the hikers that got swept away after they climbed over a fence separating them from A FAST MOVING WATERFALL. I looked at it on teh internet, and thought, what were they thinking? Maybe people are too isolated from danger to think anything is dangerous–quite the opposite of the thrust of the article.

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  38. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on July 22, 2011 at 6:11 pm

    Linda, I think that might have been where the writer was trying to go, but got caught in an eddy. If they’d just heard about the Yosemite tragedy before typing, that might well have been a secondary frame for what I *think* they were trying to say. Same as with any National Park Service unit and the idea that help IS and/or should be a cell call away, so who needs precautions? Those kinds of maroons have always tinged the landscape, but the attitude seems a bit more prevalent, and little more blithe.

    At Hopewell Culture NP south of us, I was on a hike when the ranger noted that there were rattlesnakes likely along the trail up to the hilltop enclosure were going to see (rocks, north slope, shade, cool morning and hot day coming), and there was conversation back in the group as we walked around “you’d think they’d have done something about that.”

    Which is bad enough, but when folks go past fences with notices tacked clearly on the top rail, what can you do? Catholic moral theology calls it “invincible ignorance,” which is a protection in the afterlife, but a real hazard in this one.

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  39. beb said on July 22, 2011 at 6:34 pm

    I like what both Rana and Judybusy have to say about playgrounds, childhood and safety.

    Dexter, most of the things your worried about in tires have to be ingested or inhaled as smoke to cause any trouble. Shreded tired laying in the ground isn’t going to be much of a problem.

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  40. brian stouder said on July 22, 2011 at 8:39 pm

    I think that might have been where the writer was trying to go, but got caught in an eddy.

    I agree with Linda and Jeff.

    And, times being what they are, I cannot resist pointing out that a large, exceptionally reckless political impulse in our country today very much embodies that very same “you’d think they’d have done something about that.” line of recklessness; that detachment from any sense of real danger and genuine consequences for foolish acts.

    It is no overstatement to say that America’s 21st century Fort Sumter moment is upon us, right now. We are about to learn whether all three branches of our government are motivated to govern, or whether one of them is set upon blithely ripping and tearing and vandalizing the full faith and credit of the United States of America, and triggering an economic crisis that could easily (and quickly) dwarf the economic crisis that befell us when Lehman was allowed to go broke. (It seems to me that some in congress have decided to hit the default button just to SEE what happens next. If that’s truly the impulse, then even if the current crisis is averted, I am compelled to think that we’ll be right back at this precipice before the decade is over – just as Andy Jackson successfully faced down South Carolina in the nullification crisis in the 1830’S, only to leave the issue smoldering and burning for the next 30 years – when it exploded catastrophically)

    It is interesting, isn’t it? – how one event, amidst a complex and highly interconnected set of other events (such as Lehman’s collapse, or the assassination of Archduke Ferdinand, for two examples) can begin a cascade of events that no one can control, as things plunge? Actions – and inactions – have consequences, and they cannot be wished away. And, true enough, bad things can happen even despite prudent action….which is to say, recklessness in high places is all the MORE inexcusable

    But – we digress!

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  41. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on July 22, 2011 at 8:56 pm

    If I let the ball drop, the pinball machine is probably going to give me another free play. I think I’m close, and I’ve been playing a while. There is one more bonus on this machine, isn’t there? Isn’t there? [smack]


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  42. coozledad said on July 22, 2011 at 9:54 pm

    Boehner’s drunk-ass performance this evening reminds me there are certain districts in Ohio that should be reapportioned to include the occasional stray sentient being. He’s just Buz Lukens with a more pliant press corps and a remastered FBI.
    Could it be the pugs selected Boehner because he’s got nicotine dick, and couldn’t get a date with a fleshlight?
    That boy’s mudflaps are a mess of cigarette burns.

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  43. Jolene said on July 22, 2011 at 10:32 pm

    I’m with you, Brian. The tea party segment of the Republican party seems to be willing to push the economy off the cliff, even though the one absolutely certain consequence would be higher interest rates, making the deficit worse.

    And the idea that it is OK to cut Medicaid, but not to tax the rich is beyond outrageous. I am so tired of this made-up vocabulary. Job creators! Bleccch. Business owners and operators create jobs when there is demand for their products and services; taxes are secondary, if that.

    There is so much real trouble in the world. Why do they have to make up more?

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  44. brian stouder said on July 22, 2011 at 10:38 pm

    Cooz – well said.

    I confess that, up until tonight, Boehner evoked a little bit of sympathy from me. He’s got an immensely difficult job – “leading” his Republican majority in Congress.

    There is a daunting number of fire-eater/Obama-hater/social Darwinist/know-nothing nativists within Bohner’s ranks, who seem to take their marching orders from the flying monkeys of the right-wing airwaves. Guys like Sean Hannity and Glen Beck learned (thanks to the tub of lard who issues edicts from his Florida compound for three hours every day) that there is CUBIC MONEY to be made in right-wing lip-flapping, when you’re a popular lap-dog for vested interests and oligarchy in general.

    But as the president said (and as Boehner acknowledges, at least tacitly), there’s a difference between being a multi-media lip-flapper or a single-issue lobbyist, and being a real live national leader with actual responsibilities to the United States.

    If Boehner wanted the deal that was on the table – if he believed that it was in the best interests of the nation – then he should have told Cantor (et al) to support it, or else find someone else to call “Speaker”, and let that person reap what is being sown.

    We’re down to the end now. Surely Boehner knows that if this enterprise crashes, his picture will be in the history books, as the iconic (and “sadly misunderstood”) bumbler and boob – a latter-day James Buchanan, if you will – who could have done more to avert it, but didn’t.

    edit – Jolene, I have been trying not to become yet another old guy who mutters obscenities at the TV, but damn it all if this stuff hasn’t got me doing just that, lately!

    Eric Cantor and Paul Ryan never fail to make me groan and mutter (and lately, reach for the poker). Those guys strike me as the real, fire-eating leaders of the “tea-party” wing. But maybe Boehner will prove me wrong

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  45. coozledad said on July 22, 2011 at 10:40 pm

    Jolene: It’s not just the tea party segment. When they had the Presidency and both houses and the Supreme Court, they jacked up the debt. They always do. It’s OK to blow other people’s money if you’re a career coke-huffing prick who does the Jesus-shimmy.

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  46. Jolene said on July 22, 2011 at 10:41 pm

    My God! I just checked in on the news from Norway and saw that the number of kids killed at that camp on the island has gone from 10 to 80. Am sure you all know this, but just had to express my shock somewhere. Such sorrow. The whole country must be weeping.

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  47. brian stouder said on July 22, 2011 at 11:00 pm

    Jolene – I have been “out of the loop” for most of today*, and had not heard anything about Norway. So, off to CNN I went, and learned about the “blond Norwegian man” bomber/shooter.

    The bottomless cruelty of some human beings never ceases to surprise me. Attacking a “political youth camp”? This guy sounds like a Norwegian Timothy McVeigh – but we shall see.

    *colonoscopy was today; clean bill of health. It was an altogether singular experience, quite different from anything I had imagined or feared.

    Edit – I loved the sailboat video; very lively; something is always happening. I’d say “immersive”, but that may not be the best way to refer to an excellent piece of nautical journalism.

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  48. Dexter said on July 23, 2011 at 12:16 am

    My bicycle mechanic also works as a maintenance man at our local tire factory. I asked him once, five years ago, about the ground up tires that are being used as playground fodder. There are no processes at all used to purify the tires from their nasty chemicals, they are just defective tires that are shredded and carted to playgrounds and dumped.
    I have a helluva time with inhaled fumes, which trigger my asthma; even a scented candle will force me from a room, and just riding a bicycle past a pile of newly dumped shredded tires has me choking. Mysteriously, my asthma waited until I was 54 years old to kick in, but many children have asthma today. So it strikes a chord with me, as I have strong feelings that the awful stinking fumes certainly must be wreaking havoc with the small children’s lungs.
    paddyo’ : yes I mean that black tire mulch.
    beb, maybe, maybe…but I think those tires are just releasing toxins by just being there.
    This link hopefully will take you top a Facebook page depicting the Great Kendallville Tire Fire.
    And finally this from Tire Review: “America’s longest-burning tire fire blazed for two and a half years – from August 1998 until December 2000 – and consumed some 7 million tires at a dump in Tracy, Calif. Eventually, Sukut Construction Inc. was brought in to help put out the fire, a process that took 15 days.

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  49. Crazycatlady said on July 23, 2011 at 12:39 am

    When I was a kid back in the stone age, our Detroit city parks had teeter-totters, and even merry-go-rounds where you could run as fast as you could spinning the platform, jump on the and ride like the wind. It was pure fun and pure joy.And if the adults helped push, it would go even faster! I never ever recall falling off. They are all gone now. Is it any wonder that childhood obesity is skyrocketing? Parks are boring!

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  50. Little Bird said on July 23, 2011 at 3:02 am

    FYI: the storm here right now is nothing short of amazing. The water in the walk way between my building and Deborah’s is ankle deep. It’s actually kind of scary here right now. Flash flood warnings abound. And the cars going north on Lake Shore Drive are sending up HUGE plumes of water.

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  51. Bob (Not Greene) said on July 23, 2011 at 8:47 am

    The Guardian is reporting that the Oslo killer is a right wing Christian fundamentalist with a hatred of immigrants and the government. What a total surprise.

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  52. coozledad said on July 23, 2011 at 9:01 am

    Bob(Not Greene): As a country, we’ve got to recognize all that feelgood multi-culti crap was a farce, and start rounding up the sleeper cells here for immediate deportation. Gadsden flags are the giveaway.

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  53. prospero said on July 23, 2011 at 9:33 am

    “of fire-eater/Obama-hater/social Darwinist/know-nothing nativists ”

    THThat’s some interesting way of explaining the ” Black guy can’t be the President” syndrome on the part of the GOP and their owners, the Koch Brothers. IS anybody happy with those twisted ancient Nazis running the country?

    Little Bird, Weather is a gift. Hurricanes always bypass us for really boneheaded places like Myrtle. Beach. Who does anybody think, you have to be kidding.

    Crazycatlady. Those were the best. You left off the part about running as fast as you could and jumping on at the last moment. and hanging your head off the platform. Best ever. I see Cooz remembers the same thing. But maybe there are some adults that want to spin kids off to buid their character,so they get abraded by asphalt. Not crazy, and cats are cool, but they aren’t dogs. Why aren’t ther crazydogladies? It would seem more natural. Seriously, I like cats almost as well as dogs. Cats like dogs, frequently and vice versa. Why do humans make a dichotomy?

    Little Bird. Maintenant. And yeah that was Vincent D’Onofrio in The Cell, and He’s perfect at playing psychos, Private Pyle.

    And Brian Stouder, you see the best in everyone, apparently, But Boner? He’s a creep devoid of principles. And Republican opposition to Obama seems about 1% policy, 15% policy, 35% politics and the rest, bald-faced racism.



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  54. Jolene said on July 23, 2011 at 10:20 am

    The Norwegian shooter published some of his thoughts on a public Internet forum. I didn’t read all of it, but it’s kind of fascinating to see his obsession w/ the same things that worry the lunatic fringe here–multiculturalism, Islamicization, the decline of authoritarianism in religion, liberal university professors, and, last but not least, “a world without borders ruled by the UN.” You have to use Google Translate to read it, of course.

    I am finding particular (mean) satisfaction this AM in seeing the complete intellectual irresponsibility demonstrated by Jennifer Rubin, my second least favorite WaPo writer (even more odious is Marc Thiessen), who, by 5 PM yesterday had not only confidently attributed the events in Norway to Islamic jihadists but also drawn conclusions about how proposed cuts to our defense budget would increase the risk of such attacks in the U.S. Guess she missed that part of journalism school where learn about getting confirmation before publishing. Also, apparently, the part about issuing corrections when you were flat out wrong.

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  55. coozledad said on July 23, 2011 at 10:38 am

    Jolene: I can’t see Kaplan Test Prep issuing any corrections for its kneejerk gated-community racism. It’s been the editorial stance of the paper for years now, and they’re probably still hoping for some angle in the story to emerge that will validate their assumptions. I expect it to be along the lines of “A right wing attack of this nature can only occur in a country emasculated by socialism”. In fact, I’d be willing to bet on it.

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  56. Jolene said on July 23, 2011 at 10:53 am

    Oh, I don’t agree w/ that, cooz. The Post publishes lots of liberal and center-left columnists and bloggers. To tell you the truth, I don’t always even read the editorials. I’m more interested in a column with a name attached.

    I just don’t understand why their conservative writers have to be so mean and humorless. Thiessen is pretty much an idiot, so I suppose he can be forgiven. Rubin doesn’t seem to be a complete dope, but there is pretty much no length she won’t go to find a conservative truth in whatever happens. And you really have to be suffering from a failure of imagination to come to the kind of firm conclusion that she did w/ the information that was available at the time. She wasn’t alone in that. I suspect that many of us first thought of Islamic terrorism when we heard the news, but most of us didn’t rush to publish our first thoughts w/o so much as an “If this turns out to be Islamic extremism . . .” to indicate that much was still unknown.

    Moreover, she was writing in an online blog. She doesn’t have to wait for the next day’s paper to correct herself.

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  57. coozledad said on July 23, 2011 at 11:08 am

    Jolene: I can’t get beyond Fred Hiatt’s embrace of all things Bush administration, or his sinecure with the Foreign Policy Initiative. He’s a simple, stupid creature, and the paper suffers for its association with him.
    EDIT: I have to confess to a mental tic that does not permit me to distinguish Fred Hiatt from Mark Halperin. I tend to think of them as the thing with two heads.

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  58. brian stouder said on July 23, 2011 at 11:15 am

    Jolene – precisely.

    And not for nothing, but crazed white guys, acting in defiance of invisible (and imaginary) plots and conspiracies isn’t exactly a new thing under the blazing sun.

    Aside from McVeigh in Oklahoma City, there was the guy who flew his private plane into a US government building in Austin, and the guy who sprayed automatic weapon fire into a crowd at a Tuscon supermarket (including a member of Congress)….so that even if a person is avid to jump to conclusions, nobody with any news-sense (let alone “common” sense) should be surprised when one of these terrible stories breaks, and the malefactor turns out to be a lone white male.

    Or, to be vulgar, if news again breaks about a passenger jet hitting the Pentagon, it won’t surprise me if the terrorist perpetrators have names like Timothy or Jarod or David.

    The nihilistic siren songs almost always appeal to lonely males; beyond that, no particular race or religion or even social/economic status appears to have an edge in this race over the cliff.

    The Washington Post is devalued by graffiti-journalism like that

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  59. beb said on July 23, 2011 at 11:50 am

    Not only was the mainstream media determined to declare the Oslo terrorism an act of Islamicism but now that it’s been revealed that the terrorist was a christian fundamentalist the media has totally ‘disappeared’ that christian part. As if Christians have been responsible to millions of deaths over the centuries.

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  60. Maggie Jochild said on July 23, 2011 at 11:50 am

    Nihilistic lone white males have always existed, true. But when they hold the reins of power, we are all trying to living beneath the arc of their gunfire. And if they find easy validation on the airways, in the dogwhistles of our alleged leaders, they drive us into the sea to escape them.

    I live on $952 month disability plus the kindness of strangers, in Rick Perry’s Texas (which was actually eviscerated by Dubya before him). This month I was informed my food stamps are being terminated because I earn too much “income”. My Meals On Wheels caseworker was here yesterday trying to intervene on my behalf, but finally he said my best recourse is to wait a month and reapply. However, the march toward elimination of any social contract will have advanced toward the cliff edge a measurable amount by then.

    As far as I am concerned, Boehner, Ryan, Norquist, Perry — they are the lone white males who believe g*d approves of my elimination. The good news is I have a voice, and I am much loved, much defended.

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  61. prospero said on July 23, 2011 at 2:13 pm

    Maggie, not gonna happen. I’ll send you dinner on dry ice from HHI airport if necessary. I’m a very good cook. Or ride it there on my bike. And those aholes are the angry white lonewolf male party. It’s entirely possible Paul Ryan’s never been laid without Rohypnol. As a firm believer in the doctrines of Jesus, it’s repulsive to me these people call themselves Christians, and claim this a Christian country. They want it to be Rome and they want to be Caligula. These pro-lifers don’t want to fund prenatal care nor WIC. How twisted is that? Life begins at conception and ends around 20 weeks of gestation.

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  62. prospero said on July 23, 2011 at 2:46 pm

    This is a comment on an Oslo story at LATimes:

    We weren’t wrong moron, we predicted that nationalist reactionaries would start attacking Western European countries who are turning their countries over to Muslims. And that’s what happened.

    WTF is wrong with people?

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  63. prospero said on July 23, 2011 at 2:56 pm

    Game of Thrones peeps.

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  64. brian stouder said on July 23, 2011 at 4:21 pm

    I never heard the name Amy Winehouse before I saw it here at NN.c; thereafter I became aware of her music and could definitely hear the beauty that propelled her into stardom (and indeed, one could hear the tragedy, too, in some of her autobiographical[?] lyrics).

    This CNN piece –

    makes an arresting point:

    Winehouse died at the same age as four other music legends. Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin and Jim Morrison each died of drug overdoses when they were 27. Kurt Cobain was 27 when he committed suicide, soon after his release from rehab.

    The hope (and the lament) within the standard “May She Rest in Peace” applies 100% in the case of her all-too-short life.

    edit: Dexter – indeed

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  65. Dexter said on July 23, 2011 at 4:22 pm

    How timely, tat-discuss and now Amy Winehouse dead at 27, same as Joplin, same as Morrison…

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  66. Jeff Borden said on July 23, 2011 at 4:30 pm

    I just read that if the lunatic shooter in Norway is convicted, he would serve only 17 years. Norway prohibits both the death penalty and life in prison.

    Meanwhile, I can only echo what others have said about people like Jennifer Rubin and the damage they do to the reputations of publications like the Post. I’m pretty much in Cooz’s camp that the Post I worshipped while a journalism student during the Watergate hearings died a long time ago.

    I cannot bear to watch Fox News, but I am wondering how they are handling the Norwegian carnage since the killer is a blonde, white, male right-wing Christian fundamentalist and not a dirty, swarthy, turban-wearing Mooslim. Gotta be tough on a news organization when the killer looks a lot like your target demographic.

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  67. prospero said on July 23, 2011 at 6:40 pm

    Jeff, Norway is civilized. And Dexter, not in the same universe other than being an human being.And I know that ‘n’ is correct because I’m published author. She wasn’t untalented, but the overhype was spectacular. She was a fairly talented singer,, and it’s a sad thing she did herself in. And I think Piece of my Heart is nice par ecxellence, you can be a dick and claim her odious take on Zummertime .Shit that was horrible

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  68. beb said on July 23, 2011 at 7:03 pm

    Amy Winehouse, RIP? How sad, but how predictable. I never heard her music all I know if her is how she was wasting her talents through drugs and alcohol. Fame is a harsh mistress.

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  69. MichaelG said on July 23, 2011 at 7:29 pm

    This has always been Amy Winehouse for me.

    I used to play it late at night after I broke up with my wife. Half drunk, tears in my eyes like a teenager.

    I always kind of guessed it would end this way. Poor kid. I hope she finds some peace now.

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  70. coozledad said on July 23, 2011 at 8:16 pm

    Via Marcy Wheeler, CNN hireling Eric Ericsson demonstrates the shortcomings of putting bloated racist hicks on the payroll. I assume this is intended to provoke outrage, and he succeeded with me. Trash like this should be spat on in the street.
    “First, those of us on the right who point out the now fairly common ties between terrorists and Islam do so largely because the secular left has become willfully naive. The fact of the matter is violence and Islam may not be very common among American muslims, but internationally it is extremely common and can fairly well be considered mainstream within much of Islam. Read Andy McCarthy if you suffer on the delusion that it is not mainstream.

    With Christians, it is rather rare to see a self-described Christian engage in heinous terrorist acts. In fact, in as much as there is an Arab Street filled with muslims more often than not cheering on the latest terrorist act of radical Islamists, you will be very hard pressed to find a Christian who does not condemn the act regardless of the faith of the person doing the killing.

    But then why is the left so gleeful that the Norwegian is a “conservative Christian” and why do they feel it so necessary to rub it in when they’re downright apathetic and hostile to the notion of radical Islam being rather mainstream within Islam when terrorist Christianity is largely nonexistent except among a few crazies?

    Not to put too fine a point on it, but the Bible is quite on point about this.

    Secular leftists and Islamists are both of this world. Christians may be traveling through, but we are most definitely not of the world. In fact, Christ commands us to throw off our ties to this world. But the things of this world love this world and hate the things of God. That’s why secular leftism can embrace both activist homosexuals and activist muslims when the latter would, when true to their faith, be happy to kill the former”.

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  71. Linda said on July 24, 2011 at 3:09 am

    Coozledad, these people are not even man or woman enough to own their stuff. The reflexive stance of conservatives in the last 40 years is to never act embarrassed or to say you are sorry. In the past, such a stance made them seem more self assured and resolute than liberals, who tended to give away knee jerk apologies like breath mints. But when you really have something to apologize for, you just look like a damned fool, and you fool nobody. Admitting you are wrong when you really are is just the mark of a grown person. Rubin and Eriksson just have their loserdom hang out on them like shirttails.

    Jim Morrison of the Doors, Brian Jones of the Stones, and blues guitarist Robert Johnson all died at the age of 27, too. As somebody pointed out on Lawyers, Guns and Money, it’s a good age for basketball players, but a bad one for singers/musicians.

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  72. ROGirl said on July 24, 2011 at 5:49 am

    Europeans can get pretty high and mighty about what they view as American extremism, intolerance, violence, racism, gun love, etc. Yes, they’re civilized and take care of their citizens, but history shows that they can turn against the “other” very ruthlessly and with a lot of support from their own.

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  73. prospero said on July 24, 2011 at 6:39 am

    Linda, sorry, but knee-jerk should be memorialized in perpetuity for right-wing wankers. Death Penalty is unquestionably idiotic and barbaric. And American proponents of it are generally drooling and toofless hillbillies, Republicans, or both. And they claim, inadvertantly, to be Christians. Sorry, you aholes. Jesus doesn’t kill anybody.

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  74. prospero said on July 24, 2011 at 8:57 am

    ROGirl: And so? Executing people makes sense? Or there’s some moral imperative? I’d say no. This happens in the so-called real world pretty frequently. The death penalty is bullshit One way or another, No matter how you look at it.

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  75. prospero said on July 24, 2011 at 9:02 am

    Real people don’t kill people. It’s a crime against our being.

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  76. Jolene said on July 24, 2011 at 9:36 am

    The BBC has several brief first-person accounts of what happened on the island in Norway. They are worth listening to for their content and the powerful emotions they convey, but what is really remarkable about them is how well the people speak English.

    Since I began watching al Jazeera during the Egyptian revolution, I have been amazed over and over again by how widespread knowledge of English is–and not only among the incredibly well-educated such as the stars of the future* that were at the camp in Norway. The AJ reporters seem to find English-speaking people all over the world at every level of society. What a break to have acquired the world’s dominant language w/o having to study it as a second language. I wonder how many more generations of Americans will have this advantage.

    *DailyKos has a good article that emphasizes the significance of the island shootings as an attack on Norway’s future political leaders.

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  77. Linda said on July 24, 2011 at 9:38 am

    Prospero: Lots of real people kill–in the heat of anger, in desperation. Our nature is good, and evil, and self-and-mutually destructive. It it takes a special monster to dehumanize other people until you have the mentality of Lenin, who said you have to break eggs to make an omlette, and other people are reduced to being potentially unfortunate eggs.

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  78. coozledad said on July 24, 2011 at 10:52 am

    Apparently Breivik was a frequent contributor to Pam Geller’s tits & spittle Atlas Shrugged.
    I think warrantless wiretaps are in order for Pammy, as well as the folks who book her to scream on television.

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  79. moe99 said on July 24, 2011 at 12:23 pm

    The Norway massacre coupled with the bugfuck crazy of the Republicans on the debt ceiling has me more stressed than I enjoy this weekend. I keep wondering what is going to happen to the market (read 401Ks) and if we will be able to recover from this plunge into idiocy.

    I thought this description of the Republicans’ strategy by John Cole back in 2009 is apt for their behavior today:

    I really don’t understand how bipartisanship is ever going to work when one of the parties is insane. Imagine trying to negotiate an agreement on dinner plans with your date, and you suggest Italian and she states her preference would be a meal of tire rims and anthrax. If you can figure out a way to split the difference there and find a meal you will both enjoy, you can probably figure out how bipartisanship is going to work the next few years.

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  80. prospero said on July 24, 2011 at 1:29 pm

    Moe, and that amounts to Brown guy in White House. Murricans are the least taxed wealthy people in the history of mankind, and they bitch more about taxes. They claim, at the top of their lungs to be Christians, but insist they shouldn’t do for the least of their brethren. Ain’t that exceptional. This pisses me off, and that “greatest generation” shit pisses me off more than anything. Assholes dreamed up the VietNam war, but they didn’t do the GI Bill and free houses and college educations for the canon fodder that kept that economy moving.

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  81. prospero said on July 24, 2011 at 1:37 pm

    How did you ever hear of Pam Geller? I seriously wish I hadn’t. I do like to think people are good. And Nancy Grace does have adders for hair.

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  82. prospero said on July 24, 2011 at 5:39 pm

    Lets cut WIC and insist we’re exceptional. Seriously? Ahole Murricans? Exceptional assholes. I love my country Maybe not so much. It is the most racist country not Israel, Kinda obvious, What a racist joke.

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  83. prospero said on July 24, 2011 at 5:46 pm

    He could take Tejas and walk?? Bye byee Rick, Bad hair. What does Tejas have to offer the union anyway, but fucking nitwits like yourself?

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  84. prospero said on July 24, 2011 at 5:55 pm

    What an unseemly turd. He ain’t Dusty. And Stevie Ray wanted to be Dave Alvin, but he wasn’t And ain’t none of them Townes.

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  85. prospero said on July 24, 2011 at 6:03 pm

    And Warren Zevon came from California you idiots, And Tejas is bullshit.

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  86. prospero said on July 24, 2011 at 6:15 pm

    And when youu came from fromWHATEVER ?

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  87. nancy said on July 24, 2011 at 6:16 pm

    The last seven comments are from you, Prospero. Who are you talking to?

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  88. brian stouder said on July 24, 2011 at 6:16 pm

    Prospero – that’s a very nice Warren Zevon link, which also lead me to this one –

    but there’s something….missing from this version of Lawyers, Guns and Money

    edit: Nance – as Otter was told, in National Lampoon’s Animal House – “Forget it, he’s rolling!”

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  89. Dexter said on July 24, 2011 at 7:23 pm

    Moe, this is for you. It’s from Craig’s blog. (Craig Crawford dot com)
    Careful What You Ask For, GOP
    By craigcrawford On July 22, 2011

    “In my 25 years covering Washington I don’t recall anything more politically stupid than today’s Republicans holding the debt ceiling hostage and passing a bill in the House to privatize Medicare.

    In just a few weeks you’ve managed to antagonize grass-roots seniors and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

    The GOP would be on common ground with many more, if not most, voters had they stuck to calls for less government that detailed something different. Abolish some Cabinet departments. Cut foreign aid. Whatever. Anything other than targeting retirees or creating default panic would have given them political momentum.

    Instead, Republicans risk being seen as simply unbalanced by the weight of their right wing and ceding the reasonable ground to President Obama – who can hug the center (or even the center-right) because no one is challenging him from the left for his nomination.”

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  90. Deborah said on July 24, 2011 at 8:26 pm

    Moe, I am depressed, the triple whammy of the debt ceiling, the heat and the Norwegian right wing whacko has left me in a funk. We went to St. Louis this weekend for a family reunion of my husbands extended family. Saturday evening I got on line on my iPhone to get the news etc and I just had to turn it off. My stress levels were rising and I wanted to be able to sleep. Fat chance. I need to figure out something I can do to alieviate this depression. We already give money, I need to find some political action that I can participate in directly to calm me down.

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  91. Linda said on July 24, 2011 at 9:01 pm

    Deborah, a lot of people are feeling you. I would be doing more direct if I didn’t have an elderly mom to help with, but I feel have been calling more politicians, and if I can, may be working the phones to kill SB 5 in Ohio, designed to deprive me of my rights to collective bargaining. In Wisconsin, a Democrat who ran away rather than get rolled by Republicans was returned to office by a 2 to 1 margin, and the bogus strategies to hold onto the state senate may just delay the inevitable for a few weeks. The right may have reached their high noon, and may be recalling these as the good old days in a few years.

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  92. moe99 said on July 24, 2011 at 9:44 pm

    Two very good articles. But not happy, I’m sorry to say. The first on the debt ceiling madness:

    The second on US right wing terrorism published the day before the Norway attacks:

    I wish some Republicans would read these, really read them. But instead I get reactions like, “what do you mean ‘home grown?'” This is incredible.

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  93. LindaWe said on July 24, 2011 at 11:57 pm

    Well, a Tory in England finally said what conservatives in the U.S. cannot. We are in the midst of ideology-bending and changing of a sort that happened from the early 70s to the mid 80s. It will be interesting.

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  94. Linda said on July 25, 2011 at 12:04 am

    Well, a Tory in England finally said what conservatives in the U.S. cannot. We are in the midst of ideology-bending and changing of a sort that happened from the early 70s to the mid 80s. It will be interesting

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  95. Deborah said on July 25, 2011 at 5:10 am

    Moe, excellent articles. And you are right, not happy.

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  96. coozledad said on July 25, 2011 at 8:12 am

    Something about Breivik’s militarist cosplay and his manifesto’s wistful evocation of a happy Europe busting at the seams with squareheads taking communion, reminds me of the yokels parading around in kneebritches and tricorner hats. These are people who look in the mirror and don’t see anything until they climb into some drag. There isn’t a damn thing to see, in fact.

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  97. Jolene said on July 25, 2011 at 8:29 am

    I’ve seen that comparison–to the tea party–in several commentaries, and it links, I think, to this one, which argues that his political views are, essentially, a vehicle for the expression of his inadequacy–his failure to cope, to find a place for himself in the modern world. I believe that’s true of the tea party peeps too. All the yammering about the Constitution, the Founders, and fiscal responsibility is really a reflection of their sense that the world as portrayed in Father Knows Best has gone away.

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  98. coozledad said on July 25, 2011 at 8:54 am

    Jolene:That curious affinity for silly dress parties seems to be part of the bag of authoritarian hangups. Even Mao had the whole country wearing pajamas to work slapping tanks together out of pig-iron. And Hitler got 3/4 of the Germans to dress up like boy scouts.
    It should raise suspicion.

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