Such a freakish October we’ve been having so far. Summerlike temperatures, absolutely perfect weather, and the Lions are 5-0. This is what you might call a textbook lesson in “things that will not last, but should be enjoyed while they do.” Normally I do groundwork for the week ahead on Sunday evenings; instead I had dinner with the Hare Krishnas. I should be at work inside all day today, but odds are, I’m going to get a long bike ride in there somehow. And sooner or later the Lions will lose, but for now? I join my fellow Detroiters in celebrating their winning streak.

I generally confine my criticism of Mitch Albom to his weekly forays into the non-sporting world, mainly because I don’t read his sports columns, mainly because I don’t read sports coverage, period. I had a brief period of reading it, when I was on the copy desk in Fort Wayne, and handled the early-closing pages, i.e., business and sports. My takeaway was that I’d been wrong to feel any sympathy whatsoever for sportswriters who objected to the traditional newsroom moniker for their corner — the Toy Department. For every Frank DeFord or…who’s that funny guy at ESPN? Bill Simmons? Yeah. For every sportswriter like them, with talent and wit and insight, there were two score hacks who earned a living presenting high-school football rivalries as the latter-day equivalent of the Peloponnesian War. Sometimes a very good living. Having edited my share of his columns, I can tell you the downfall of Stephen A. Smith from his sinecure at the Philadelphia Inquirer was one of the very few times in recent memory I thought newspaper management got it right. (EDIT: OK, I was too harsh here. There are many fine sportswriters, and even the hacks work pretty hard, traveling constantly, not seeing their families for days on end. My hat is doffed to their brother- and sisterhood, but there are still plenty of lousy ones.)

So I check in on Mitch’s sports output rarely, but hey, the Lions’ unlikely streak is a bonafide talker outside of sports, so what the heck, and whaddaya know:

Change. On a sports night of epic proportions — playoff baseball team in action, undefeated football team on national TV — it was the Lions who provided the exclamation point, staying perfect by taking down the rival Bears, 24-13, the way they’ve taken down a lot of teams this year, emerging at halftime, righting the sails, sinking the battleship.

“Change” is Albom Trick No. 34, the Dramatic Repetition of Faux-Profundity, right before he swerves off Metaphor Highway and into the Ditch of Hackitude. Of course it was a sports night of “epic proportions,” because like fights of the century, they happen every few months or so. (Note to Mitch’s editors: Epic, in this usage, generally means long. If the Tigers had been playing at home, it’s a word that would have applied to the post-game traffic jams. Then they provide an exclamation point by righting their sails (and as a sailor, I have no idea what that even means) and sinking the battleship. OK, whatever. I bet they all gave 110 percent along the way, too.

No, but this:

From the jump, the human amplifiers in Ford Field were dialed to the point of explosion. The whole first quarter had the feeling of a building on fire. The stands were 5,000 volts of nervous energy. Players soared and crashed furiously. Yellow flags flew so fast you thought they were being thrown by Kevin Bacon at the riotous end of “Animal House.” Stay calm! All is well!

And we move on to exploding amplifiers, burning buildings, 5,000 volts, flying penalty flags, Kevin Bacon (six degrees!) and “Animal House.”

I have sympathy for these guys, I really do. Pity the modern sportswriter, tasked with reporting news everyone already knows — the Lions won in front of a crazy-excited hometown crowd on the first “Monday Night Football” to visit their venue in 37 years. (Wait a minute. Mitch says it’s the first MNF to play in “our city limits” in that time. Surely they made it to the Pontiac Silverdome sometime in that time.) You have to do one of two things — find an angle or story within that no one else is reporting, or convey the man-that-was-a-game feeling of bros at the water cooler the next morning. But he doesn’t have the ease of a Simmons (or the space), and he’s not the craftsman DeFord is, but he’s too much of a superstar to take a risk. He’s used to them holding Page One for him, or a room that falls silent when he enters. He’s Mitch, and we’re not. And so we get this. Well, he was on deadline.

You know what? Today would be a great day to Occupy something. There’s a local protest scheduled, but not until Friday. When it will be raining.

Occupy Detroit — it’s sort of a joke, isn’t it?

Speaking of occupying Detroit, I see today is Elmore Leonard’s 86th birthday. Best wishes to a true Detroit gem, and OMG, it just occurred to me that he won’t live forever, and when he goes, Mitch Albom will write something about him.

Hold me.

Have a happy Tuesday, all. I’m off to ride my bike.

Posted at 10:35 am in Detroit life, Media |

82 responses to “Rocktober.”

  1. Deborah said on October 11, 2011 at 10:44 am

    Nancy, another great post and the ending had me laughing out loud at work again.

    Today’s my birthday and it marks one year left for me here at the office I work in. I told my husband I’d work for the man until I’m 62 and that’s one year from today. My office mates gave me a bowl of circus peanuts, it used to be my favorite candy, now it just tastes like orangish sugar. What was I thinking? It has either changed over the years or I have. I remember it having a sort of banana-ish taste.

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  2. Dexter said on October 11, 2011 at 10:45 am

    Another mention of nance’s Sunday night prompts me to post this:

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  3. Sue said on October 11, 2011 at 10:59 am

    You want good football writing? I highly recommend “The Dallas Titans Get Ready for Bed” by Karla Kuskin. Read it after that bit of crap from Mitch and you’ll feel all better.
    My kids are all grown up but that book will remain on the favorites shelf forever.

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  4. Sue said on October 11, 2011 at 11:00 am

    Happy birthday Deborah!

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  5. Dexter said on October 11, 2011 at 11:01 am

    It has been 30 years since the night the Pontiac Silverdome hosted Monday Night Football and the Lions played a game that is still being kicked around the water coolers…the Lions and QB Eric Hipple destroyed the mighty Chicago Bears, and I watched it in a Bears bar, wearing my Lions gear, and I had the time of my sports life. I was a bit of an obnoxious drunk in those days and I took the drubbing my Lions were layin’ on Da Bears to a level that would have gotten me kicked out of the place had I not been spending so much buying celebratory rounds of shots and beers for everybody I knew…man, what a night that was…and then last night, me being a total baseball nut, I totally forgot the football and watched a total slaughter as the Saint Louis Cardinals killed Milwaukee in the playoffs…oh well.
    Gotta give a shout out too, since sports is sort of the topic today: Fort Wayne’s Ben Smith’s facebook posts are always good for a laff-a-day.
    Here’s a little background on that 1981 game.

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  6. coozledad said on October 11, 2011 at 11:04 am

    Players soared and crashed furiously
    Like Burt Lancaster in The Gypsy Moths? Or are they doping again?

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  7. Julie Robinson said on October 11, 2011 at 11:10 am

    Happy Birthday Deborah! I hope it’s beautiful in Chicago too. I remember those circus peanuts from my grandma’s house but they probably have a different recipe these days.

    My dad started as a sportswriter because he couldn’t play most sports after he lost an arm in a farm accident, and it was a way to still be around the games. I wonder how many sportswriters are frustrated ex-athletes.

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  8. MarkH said on October 11, 2011 at 11:17 am

    All of them, Julie, to one degree or another. Or just frustrated non-athletes. Nancy, I would point you to your college buddy Peter King at SI for terrific football writing. He merely touches on his acumen on NBC Sunday nights. Monday morning it comes full force in his online column.

    EDIT – Happy Birthday, Deborah!

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  9. Dorothy said on October 11, 2011 at 11:17 am

    My turn – happy birthday Deborah! I liked those orange peanut candies, too, but one or two satisfies an occasional craving. To me they taste the same as they used to – which was, of course, orangeish sugary something. I think they came in an alternate banana flavor, too.

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  10. brian stouder said on October 11, 2011 at 11:19 am

    Happy birthday, Deborah! And – the aroma and texture of those circus peanuts always reminded me of new gym shoes. Aside from that, I thought today’s closer was gently thrilling:

    and when he goes, Mitch Albom will write something about him.

    Hold me.

    So, if the Elmore Leonard day arrives before the end of Albom (or of us), and if nn.c still exists, we should have a contest to see who gets to comfort the proprietress!

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  11. caliban said on October 11, 2011 at 11:20 am

    Outre: weird beards.

    Perfect song for today. And this always has struck me as an autumn song. Ray Davies is close to supreme as a poet lyricist in rock ‘n’ roll music. He gets summer perfectly in Holiday and Sunny Afternoon, too.We had two rainy, very windy days and today is supposed to be another, but it’s brightening every minute. Bike and beach day coming. We do have brand new rain gear packed in our paniers to try out if tempests arise.

    I imagine Mr. Leonard shares your feelings about Mitch, Nancy, if he’s ever even considered him. I wonder whether he couldn’t get some sort of court order against him ahead of time. I’ve got three lawyer brothers, whose time I would volunteer. Righting the canoe or kayak, maybe. Righting the sails? No way, nohow.

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  12. caliban said on October 11, 2011 at 11:40 am


    Happy birthday. Moi aussi on quitting for good at 62, but I still have 26 months and a lot of hard work to take back Congress from GOPers and DINOs, before I sleep.. I used to love circus peanuts too (inherited from my dad). I think the flavor fell victim to cheap corn syrup as a sugar replacement.

    On sportswriters, it could be worse than Mitch, believe it or don’t. Chicago used to have Jay the Jock Sniffer Mariotti, who thought it was cute to call the future HOFer Frank Thomas the Big Skirt, while he was beating up women. LA has the bumbling idiot Bill Plaschke and the mentally and English challenged TJ Simers. Sports illustrated employs Rick Reilly who either taught or learned everything he knows about sportswriting at the Albom School of Appalling drivel. Great current newspaper sportswriting, NYT (Rhoden, Vecsey), BG (Ryan, Gammons), WaPo (Boswell, Sally Jenkins). Wilbon is good.

    edit: That was Mariotti beating his girlfriend, not Big Frank, the Big Hurt, who is clearly an admirable and refined gentleman, despite going to farm school at Awbun.

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  13. MichaelG said on October 11, 2011 at 11:46 am

    Happy Birthday, Deborah! And have a sip of some nice champers. May you retire at 62. I think I missed the boat on that one.

    You can add Bruce Jenkins of the SF Chron to the ranks of good sports writers.

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  14. caliban said on October 11, 2011 at 12:03 pm

    Oh, and Jackie McMullen (bought out by the Globe, works for ESPN) too, who was actually a very good college hoops player at UNH. And Ailene Voisin of SacBee, a very good BB writer. And I used to follow the career of Lisa Olson, to whom a bunch of boorish NE Pats players exposed themselves in threatening fashion (just one more reason to despise Belichik’s team, though it was before his time).

    A great birthday drink: ice cold champagne with a splash of Chambord. Slainte. May the good Lord take a liking to you, but not too soon! May you live to be 100 years, with one extra to repent.

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  15. nancy said on October 11, 2011 at 12:06 pm

    Old Russian toast, paraphrased from memory: May you be buried in a coffin made from the wood of a 100-year-old cedar, which I will plant tomorrow. Happy birthday, D.

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  16. Jeff Borden said on October 11, 2011 at 12:07 pm

    Happy birthday, Deborah.

    Before a sociopath was installed as my editor more than seven years ago, I figured to be relaxing in the backyard by age 65, but my departure from the one newspaper I really, truly loved working for has set me back quite a bit. Part-time adjunct faculty don’t make much money and the odds of ever cracking the faculty for a full-time job with real benefits are steeper than winning Powerball.

    My guess is that after my wife retires next year, I’ll work part-time largely to pay for my health care coverage, which sadly will retire with Johanna. I don’t mind. Teaching college kids is a blast.

    But regarding health care, the GOP’s efforts to deny me and others like me coverage will define my voting stance, probably forever. My dislike of conservative politics was largely intellectual until the health care debate, but now my hatred is visceral and deep and I see the movement for the craven defenders of the ultra-wealthy it is. Every time I see one of those preening buffoons talking about tightening our belts while they rise from giving fellatio to their wealthy patrons it makes me want to projectile vomit.

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  17. Maggie Jochild said on October 11, 2011 at 12:14 pm

    During Clinton’s first year in office, in an interview he said his favourite writer was Elmore Leonard. I’d never heard of him (sacrilege, I know) and went off to the library. There followed a glorious half-year of reading the best damn character-setting dialogue in print. I channel Leonard when I edit what I’ve written. His 10 Rules are not to be argued with. I think of his “folks” first when I think of Detroit.

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  18. Julie Robinson said on October 11, 2011 at 12:20 pm

    Speaking of great writers, I just finished reading Laura Lippman’s latest, The Most Dangerous Thing, and am now almost through Ann Patchett’s State of Wonder. Life has been extra busy lately but these books are so compelling I’ve scrunched them into any little moment I could find. Brava to both women.

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  19. deborah said on October 11, 2011 at 12:24 pm

    you sound like an unsucessful, subpar EDITOR… achieve some success in your career please… and then maybe someone will give a daman about your critique of others… you’re just a LOWLY editor… the brilliant are the true journalists!

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  20. Connie said on October 11, 2011 at 12:26 pm

    Happy birthday Deborah. It is my one year anniversary at this job.

    To me circus peanuts were Grandma M. Way better than Grandma O’s homemade hard candy, usually made of strange flavors like horehound and anise.

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  21. Bob (not Greene) said on October 11, 2011 at 12:31 pm

    The Bears are a battleship? Lovie Smith and Jerry Angelo’s Bears? More like Huck Finn’s raft. Mitch Albom, you never saw a barrel of metaphors you couldn’t mix. What a complete piece of crap of a column.

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  22. Suzanne said on October 11, 2011 at 12:36 pm

    Wow, Jeff Borden, my thoughts on the GOP and health care but you said it better than I ever could. My mother was all up in arms about Obama Death Panels a few years ago; now, I remind her every chance I get that as I am under 55 and have a benefitless job, I will have nothing in retirement and won’t need a panel to tell me to crawl off somewhere and pass on. It will be my only choice.

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  23. Sue said on October 11, 2011 at 12:41 pm

    Jeff Borden (and others, I guess), what is your bet on the Supreme Court decision on Obamacare? I assume they will accept it during the next session.
    I think the majority will kill the individual mandate but won’t quite be able to bring themselves to destroy the whole thing. (From what I have read they can also rule on severability or whatever it’s called.)
    If they do destroy the whole thing, there will be a lot of surprised parents out there whose adult children suddenly find themselves without access to health insurance, because I assume that popular requirement will be the first thing yanked. The number of adult children able to stay on their parents’ insurance has offset slightly the horrible continuing numbers of older Americans losing theirs. Suddenly a whole lot more people will be uninsured and there will be nothing on the horizon to look forward to.
    If they only kill the mandate the next election is going to be a bigger train wreck on both sides than I’m already expecting.

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  24. Bob said on October 11, 2011 at 12:43 pm

    @Brian: You envision a gentler Proprietress than I. I read “Hold me” as “Restrain me, or I’ll jelly his skull with a vintage Smith-Corona for smearing Elmore Leonard with his pablum.”

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  25. coozledad said on October 11, 2011 at 12:44 pm

    Hmmm. daman? The brilliant are the true journalists?
    Someone needs an editor. Or Mitch has started in on the schnapps early.

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  26. caliban said on October 11, 2011 at 12:52 pm

    Well, Bob (nG), the Bears played better last night than I’ve seen in a long while. Cutler was (not quite as) good as the announcers tried to insist, but his performance was estimable. Their OLine looks worse than the Loins last year. Urlacher got schooled by Staff’s play fakes consistently, and the more he was educated, the less he knew. Still, more swan boat than battleship. Funniest moment: Hester getting all persnickety when knocked out of bounds by Hanson. Ha Ha Ha. The long ball to Megatron was a thing of beauty. Jahvid Best looked a little like (dare I say?) Barry.

    Nancy, a version of that toast has currency in Ireland all over the world.

    Is there a difference between horehound and anise. Isn’t horehound sort of like menthol licorice? I had a college girlfriend that liked to drink anisette, which kinda nauseated me. Mr. Daniel’s whiskey was a perfect antidote, as I recall (imperfectly). Anisette was good in a water pipe though. A little classier than TBird or Mad Dog 20/20, but way more expensive.

    For sportswriters, I’d add Charles Pierce and the late lamented George Kimball, who started writing sports for the alternative Boston Phoenix and moved to the Globe.

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  27. Peter said on October 11, 2011 at 12:55 pm

    Deborah #1 – Happy Birthday! I’m sorry to hear you want to retire in a year. I’m planning on working 15 more at least because I love my job, my clients, the building department, contractors, brokers, and real estate developers so much! And my meds! I love my meds! I need my meds! Maybe I need to adjust them just a little….

    Deborah #19 – Did I miss something? Or did you break into my meds?

    Re: Mitch’s Leonard Elmore eulogy – Don’t be so pessimistic. Look how long Leni Reifenstahl and Al Davis held out – anybody they pissed or killed off were long gone by the time they checked out. With any luck Elmore will outlive Mitch and this will not be a problem. Just take the car keys away from the Nalls if I’m wrong.

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  28. Bitter Scribe said on October 11, 2011 at 12:55 pm

    I feel sorry for sportswriters to some extent. The travel can be brutal, the deadlines worse, plus it must be degrading to beg for 15 seconds of attention from some musclehead who would be changing the oil in your car if he couldn’t do something with a ball.

    OTOH, one thing that kind of cheesed me off about the sportswriters at my college paper was their way of acting like they were the only ones around who were writing about something significant. It got so that whenever elections for chief editor came about, I would vote for whoever wasn’t the sportswriter.

    Fun fact: One of those sportswriters was Sally Jenkins. Not that she was objectionable or obnoxious in any way. What I mostly remember was her good looks. I used to wonder what her dad, the irredeemably racist and sexist Dan Jenkins, would think if some guy behaved toward her the way men routinely treated women in his novels.

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  29. moe99 said on October 11, 2011 at 1:07 pm

    I’m reading Roger Ebert’s autobiography right now, and I’m at the part where he started in journalism as a sportswriter. Worth a read.

    Happy Birthday, Deborah.

    And Peter, lol. I contend that I work because it’s the only way I know I can pay for my illness.

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  30. caliban said on October 11, 2011 at 1:07 pm


    The second most recent appeals decision provides cause for ACA optimism:

    Judge Sutton, in particular is considered a conservative guiding light on the Commerce Clause. And all three judges basically recognized Cuccinelli’s activity/inactivity dichotomy for the legal ordure it is. At some point, the class warfare aspect of this battle has got to break through even the thickest fog of cognitive dissonance, although it will probably take untoward deaths to make it sink in.

    One way or another, I think Scalia will actually vote to uphold the mandate, while Thoma will not. (He won’t like it, he hates everything.) I think Kennedy is probably a solid affirmative vote, even if Scalia votes his hypocritical, whited sepulchre soul.

    edit: Calling Dan Jenkins iredeemably raist and sexist becaus of characters behaving badly in his books is the same logical fallacy as deciding that Wyclef Jean is a thug because he wrot Gone ‘Til November. His characters were probably quite realistic for his era. If there is evidence from his personal life, fine. If not, the labels are unfair. Additionally, the use of the term “musclehead” as a catchall for athletes is extremely offensive, and assuming lack of intelligence on the parts of athletes is ignorant and obtuse, say “jockist”.

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  31. Bruce Fields said on October 11, 2011 at 1:30 pm

    “I think the majority will kill the individual mandate but won’t quite be able to bring themselves to destroy the whole thing.”

    Killing the individual mandate *does* destroy the whole thing. Or at least renders most of it unworkable:

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  32. mark said on October 11, 2011 at 1:49 pm

    Yes, without the individual mandate, the whole plan fails. Forcing largely healthy young people to buy insurance at grossly inflated rates is a primary source of the funding for Obamacare. No mandate, no money.

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  33. Bitter Scribe said on October 11, 2011 at 1:52 pm

    “His characters were probably quite realistic for his era.”

    Yes, that’s the excuse Jenkins repeatedly used.

    Leaving aside the question of whether black athletes would actually have tolerated their white teammates calling them “niggers,” it was the loving portrayal of all this racism and sexism that stuck in my craw. You can depict that stuff without glorifying it, as Jenkins did.

    As for “muscleheads,” I’m sure there are many fine, decent pro athletes, and probably many of them have reason to get impatient with sportswriters. I’m just saying they come across that way when they’re being rude (or worse) to some writer who’s just trying to do his or her job.

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  34. Bob (not Greene) said on October 11, 2011 at 1:57 pm

    Jeff B., don’t sugar coat it; give it to me straight!

    Prospero — What Jay Cutler did last night was remarkable in that he did it while running for his life. And other than Matt Forte, the team is a mess. The core of their defense is simply aging (by the way on that 88 yard TD run, I think it was Lance Briggs who blew it. For some reason he stepped out in the flat and took himself out of the hole that Best ran through. But the defense can’t tackle. The only guy doing anything last night was Charles Tillman, who looked positively beat up by the end of the game. Their safeties are a joke. Their D-line gets no pressure, their wide receivers are rejects, and their offensive tackles are human turnstiles. Other than that, no problem!

    Gotta say, the Lions look good, though they should have had an easier time with the Bears. Apart from that one great TD pass, Stafford looked sketchy at times. Can’t wait for them to play Green Bay, then we’ll all see exactly how good everyone really is.

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  35. Jolene said on October 11, 2011 at 2:05 pm

    Happy Birthday from me too, Deborah. I just turned 62 and can report that the weather is fine.

    I’m another non-reader of sports news who admires Sally Jnkins, Tom Boswell, and, of course, the wonderful and now rarely heard from Roger Angell. That’s not to say I’ve followed any of them in detail, but when I’ve encountered their work, I was impressed. Jonathan Feinstein is another whose writing has been recommended to me. Are the recommenders right?

    On healthcare, I’ve seen several articles (not written by Obama staffers) suggesting that the ACA will be upheld.

    What kills me is how all the GOP candidates–not to mention elected officials–endlessly proclaim that they will repeal Obamacare, but no one ever presses them to say what they would do instead.

    I guess we’re supposed to assume the standard Republican response: I’ve got mine. Screw you.

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  36. brian stouder said on October 11, 2011 at 2:12 pm

    Well, two things to consider:

    1. Whatever the United States Supreme Court does with regard to the healthcare reform bill, their decision will come down right in whitest-hot* part of the 2012 presidential election (what? June of 2012?)

    2. Anything they do will, in my opinion, hurt the Republican nominee and energize President Obama’s base.

    When the retired Justice of the United States Supreme Court, Sandra Day O’Conner, came to Fort Wayne and delivered a lecture at our (truly wonderful) Indiana University-Purdue University campus, as part of their (again, truly wonderful) Omnibus Lecture Series, one point that she repeatedly stressed – to the extent that it was the biggest take-away, for me – was the Court’s institutional imperative to NOT get too far ahead of (or afoul of) the other two branches of government. The Congress, elected by the people of the various districts and states, and the nationally elected President are not to be dismissed, but instead must be dealt with. She must have reiterated that point (one way and another) three or four times, and the vigor with which she expressed that view impressed me.

    So – if that Court has any institutional memory (and presumably they DO!), I look for some technical swat or swipe (if even that much), and then forward we go. If they really try something dramatic (think Dred Scott), then at that point I will truly and sincerely be worried about our country; or more specifically, about the future my sons and daughters have looming before them.

    *pardon the race-based pun; but I will never, ever forget going to the “Town Hall meeting” that our since-disgraced former Member of Congress held a few years ago; I’ve never seen so much raw anger in such a large crowd; and every angry son of a bitch there was as white as me. Those angry people were just SURE that Obama was tryin’ to grab away their Medicare and Social Security………and if the USSC were to actually issue some huge thunderbolt RIGHT in the middle of the heart of the 2012 presidential race, I think the Republican candidate would simply capsize and disappear from view. Whoever he tries to pander to, he infuriates and energizes twice as many others!

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  37. Sherri said on October 11, 2011 at 2:13 pm

    Sportswriters, like political writers, get corrupted by the need for access. Criticize the local team, and yourself frozen out.

    Charles Pierce is one of my favorite sportswriters, along with Allan Barra. Several others fell prey to newspaper cutbacks, but have found online homes here and there: Ann Killion at SI, Mechelle Voepel at ESPN (she mostly covers women’s basketball), and Michelle Smith at espnW. I also like Joe Posnanski at SI. I read Peter King to find out what the Conventional Wisdom is in football. There are some others I enjoy reading, but those are the ones I make a point of reading.

    Taylor Branch’s recent article in the Atlantic on “The Shame of College Sports” is also must reading.

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  38. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on October 11, 2011 at 2:36 pm

    Deborah — only one poster will do:

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  39. Jolene said on October 11, 2011 at 2:41 pm

    On TV now: Attorney General Eric Holder is announcing the break-up of a plot by the government of Iran to assassinate the Saudi ambassador to the US in DC. The plot was originally detected by an undercover DEA agent. Pretty dramatic stuff.

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  40. Sue said on October 11, 2011 at 3:06 pm

    Bruce Fields and mark – killing the individual mandate but not the whole bill doesn’t necessarily destroy the bill anyway. You’ve got a bunch of things in place now like coverage requirements and making some of the more reprehensible practices illegal. What you end up with if you kill the individual mandate is unfunded mandates, the cost of which might not be allowed to be passed on to consumers.
    Kill the whole thing and we’re back to square one, an evil place.
    Kill just the mandate and either the principals have to work something out (hah!) or we’re looking at an election where people have to be convinced to vote for a group of people who promise to make it all go away (including the good stuff) or a group of people who promise to magically keep it together without anyone having to actually pay for it, while the lobbyists for insurance companies, pharmaceuticals and doctors/hospitals throw money around like confetti.
    A train wreck.

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  41. Hattie said on October 11, 2011 at 3:09 pm

    Occupy Detroit — it’s sort of a joke, isn’t it?

    Lotta laughs here.

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  42. Bruce Fields said on October 11, 2011 at 3:33 pm

    Sue, thanks, you may be right about the politics.

    Marc: “Forcing largely healthy young people to buy insurance at grossly inflated rates is a primary source of the funding for Obamacare.”

    Fundamentally, health insurance doesn’t work unless it’s bought by healthy people.

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  43. Deborah said on October 11, 2011 at 3:46 pm

    Whoa, don’t get me confused with lower case deborah at #19. Wow, I bet you guys thought I was dipping into some strong stuff already.

    Edit: some strong stuff like Peter’s meds

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  44. coozledad said on October 11, 2011 at 3:51 pm

    Deborah: I just figured it was Dwight. I guess you can add editors to the list of folks Republicans want to deport.

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  45. Judybusy said on October 11, 2011 at 4:32 pm

    Deborah, I’ll add my happy birthday wishes–I hope you have something sweet planned.

    mark, making healthy people buy insurance is an excellent idea. Anything can happen: an accident, development of a major mental illness, cancer to previously perfectly healthy people. I had a weird kidney thing at age 37 for which I needed $60,000 worth of surgery. Glad I had insurance. Prior to that, the worst I had were colds and flu. I would have been deeply in debt for years as I wouldn’t have qualified for public assistance.

    We are all paying for the those that do qualify for some type of medical assistance–why not make it more efficient and just have Medicare for all (in my dream world) efficiently managed? We also pay more in premiums to make up for uncompensated care that hospitals provide. Our current system is rigged to make money yet remains inefficient despite the profit incentive.

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  46. caliban said on October 11, 2011 at 4:33 pm

    Gee Mark. Would you prefer tontines. And where did you get the “grossly inflated rates”, after the fact, from Blue Cross, that is pumping it up as we speak, to try to get out front of reasonable societal and governmental regulations on how they do business. Does anybody think that ACA would actually limit profits to insurance company shareholders? Bullshit. They’d have to cut back on obscene growth projections. If capitalism demands incremental increases in share value from one year to the next and larger profit margin each year, as the modern model seems to hold, this is patently absurd, along the lines of the Laffer Joke. Capitalism imposes the Law of diminishing returns or it falls apart altogether. But maybe that law is just a theory and doesn’t mean much of anything, like GOpers say gravity is a theory, not a fact. These ignorant, proud know-nothing buffons tie themselves in knots.

    Aside from all this. GOPers, with the exception of Moroni cult members, claim allegiance to the teachings of their Lord and Savior Jesus. I’m in agreement as a Catholic that Jesus’ way is the nearest to perfect way of living life yet devised, and a fine template for being a good man or woman. But, alas, Catholics are a cult too, according to fundagelicals, despite predating all of their asses by several hundred years into the thousands. I mean, Martin Luther produced his theology out of his own inability to take a shit. “96…97 68 -lo-. qqh. What a maroon. Actually, is it difficult to consider we should all consider everyone else as the least of my brethren? That is what we sign up for when we claim to be exceptional American Social compact, right If we want to claim Americans are ecceptional, the only pathway is that we take care of our own. If not, we’re monkeys typing forever/

    seems reasonable.

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  47. MichaelG said on October 11, 2011 at 4:53 pm

    Speaking of drinks, I was out with my first wife one evening many years ago and ordered sweet vermouth with a twist for an aperitif. I was feeling all sophisticated until Donna tasted hers, made a face and declared “Jeez, this stuff tastes like flat Coke”. The balloon went down pretty quickly.

    Hmmm. I wonder what she’s doing today. She certainly was a beautiful young woman back when we were in our twenties. Do you suppose she’s still a year older than I am?

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  48. alex said on October 11, 2011 at 4:54 pm

    Have a happy, Deborah!

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  49. caliban said on October 11, 2011 at 5:09 pm

    Let me step back on this “musclehead” shit. I was a high school jock, but I took classical honors and read Latin, Greek and German. I graduated with about a 3.9 of 4. Was I a jock? I suppose. Was I a musclehead? I think I was probably smarter than everybody else. If you never balanced athletics with intelligence and intellect, give up, you have missed entirely. Most jocks are smart. And that sort of stupid denigration is moronic. I scorec near 1800 on the SAT, and on AP, I blew it away. So who is a musclehead? I was also an all-state football player, and I was a superb swimmer. The idea that somebody must be stupid if they are a good athlete? That is moronic. I’m smarter and a better athlete. Remember a while back when social and literary critics pronounced irony passe or dead? Well this development may stick the barbecue fork in it.

    , nice to meet you Diana Moon Glampers. And I’m apparently no judge.attractive. But we have to consider how the floating what the hell is floating around. Acting like an idiot to entertain my little man grandson. Wjat the hell, he is awesome, and I’ll show y’all a picture when I can figure out how. You are a buncha good folks, in general. Nancy, first of all. Some intelligent social commentay every day. %-0 for the first time in 56 years. Back to Charley Batch? Charley Batch was a serviceable NFL backup. Matt Stafford is somebody altogether different. The guy loves [laying and he can wing it. He is a franchise player. When I was in college, I played intramurals. Our QB was Leo Knowles, who had been the best Nebraska HS thrower in years. Tghere’s a little known rule, in touch and flag. where the guy that fields a kick can stand up and throw the ball. I’d release and sprint and Leo would wing it abou 60 yds. I’d catch it for a TD. Glory Days.

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  50. mark said on October 11, 2011 at 5:17 pm

    Guys, I wasn’t making an argument on the merits about Obamacare, just observing that the individual mandate, if thrown out, kills a big (too big) part of the financing of the program.

    For whatever reasons, Obama didn’t push a single payor plan. I think it would be a bad idea, but it is clearly constitutional. Government offers the benefit to all and pays for it through taxes. We do that for lots of things.

    Insurance is a fine idea. Ordering low risk people to buy it at actuarially-exaggerated prices in order to subsidize people who already have hugely expensive illneses is a funding plan, not the business of insurance Under Obamacare the maximum allwable premium differential between the worst risk (someone lready in desparate need of multiple organ transplants) and the best risk (healthy 23 year-old with no history of anything) is 3 times. The trade off for insurance companies, who can no longer exclude or deny coverage even to those who will immediately incur hundreds of thousands in expense, wasthe promise that all those young, healthy uninsureds will be forced to buy, and at a premium no less than one third of the highest premium.

    It’s a mechanism for funding the care of the sickest and, for all the talk of making te rich pay more, it relies upon large contributions from the youngest to pay for the care of, generally, the oldest.

    If the mandate fails, the young and healthy will not buy insurance any more than they do today, at least not in the short term. Without this funding, the insurance companies can’t make their promised (or any) profit operating under the new no denial, no exclusion, no waiting period rules.

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  51. caliban said on October 11, 2011 at 5:17 pm

    Deborah, we’re hoisting one in your honor. I’m almost as old, it’s catching up to me, but S’ll always be slightly younger. It’s a problem. She needs grounding in reality. She could go off the rails. I worry about this all the time. How do you live with somebody you love when she is more or less nuts? And you know you aren’t there things are scary.

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  52. caliban said on October 11, 2011 at 5:20 pm

    Mark, you feint and pull back. Do not be that coy. Fact is you don’t believe in a moment of that conservative shit anymore. These people are the biggest liars extant and it’s bugging you to stick with such outrageous illogic.

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  53. mark said on October 11, 2011 at 5:36 pm

    Screw you caliban. You are incapable of discussing any point without questioning the motive or intellect of anyone that dares to disagree. You don’t argue issues, you lead cheers. By the way, 1600 was the top score on the SAT back in your (and my)day. And nobody really gives a shit what you scored.

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  54. caliban said on October 11, 2011 at 6:02 pm

    Yeah, Mark? What I scored on the SAT was all the verbal points and almost the whole Math. What’s your point? I’ve no problem with you, but you seem to think there’s a problem. I had a 1585 or so. I don’t quite understand what your problem is. I scored out the top on every test in the history of tests. BFD. I do not care. If it’s a question about innate intelligence, I’m on the winning side.

    Are you kidding Mark? Who is questionning this rightwing shit? Me? No, I think you know that’s you.

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  55. LAMary said on October 11, 2011 at 6:10 pm

    Happy Birthday, Deborah.

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  56. Joe Kobiela said on October 11, 2011 at 7:09 pm

    congradulation on makeing all state. What year,what state, what highschool, what position?
    Pilot Joe

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  57. John G. Wallace said on October 11, 2011 at 7:26 pm

    I feel like I walked into an uncomfortable conversation at my grandparent’s house when I was 14. Even back then I knew enough to turn 180 and walk away. Peace out all!

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  58. coozledad said on October 11, 2011 at 7:43 pm

    Turns out running can actually make you fatter. I’m celebrating this finding by eating some sweet potato biscuits with butter and jelly.

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  59. Deborah said on October 11, 2011 at 8:30 pm

    Thanks to all for the birthday wishes. It has been a good one, Littlebird made a poblano and crimini mushroom frittate as I requested for dinner. Poblanos are my new favorite foods these days.I love them.

    This weekend was the opening of my project in Des Moines. As surprised as I was, everything did get installed and cleaned up for the events. Saturday was for donors and Sunday was for the many artists who contributed. There was a special section about it in the Sunday Des Moines Register. My husband and I drove out for the festivities. I’m really tired of driving back and forth to Des Moines though.

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  60. caliban said on October 11, 2011 at 8:46 pm

    Deborah, poblanos are way hot. Happy happy, John Jamieson down into the depths to retrieve the cask. What say girl?

    May the Irish hills caress you.
    May her lakes and rivers bless you.
    May the luck of the Irish enfold you.
    May the blessings of Saint Patrick behold you.

    May there always be work for your hands to do,
    May your purse always hold a coin or two.
    May the sun always shine warm on your windowpane,
    May a rainbow be certain to follow each rain.
    May the hand of a friend always be near you,
    And may God fill your heart with gladness to cheer you.

    May those who love us love us.
    And those that don’t love us,
    May God turn their hearts.
    And if He doesn’t turn their hearts,
    May he turn their ankles,
    So we’ll know them by their limping.

    The reason the Irish are always fighting each other
    Is they have no other worthy opponents.

    May you live as long as you want,
    And never want as long as you live.

    May your glass be ever full.
    May the roof over your head be always strong.
    And may you be in heaven half an hour before the devil knows you’re dead.

    Here’s to a fellow who smiles
    When life runs along like a song.
    And here’s to the lad who can smile
    When everything goes dead wrong.

    Whatever else I might say. I mean every word of goodwill. I know I come across like an asshole, but I mean everything I say in the best possible way,

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  61. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on October 11, 2011 at 10:15 pm

    Slainte . . .

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  62. Dexter said on October 11, 2011 at 10:51 pm

    Oh god what a night…I opened up an attachment in an email and unleashed a Trojan that instantly corrupted so much on my computer I could not fix it with online support and I had to get help from Calcutta via telephone. Oh they fixed it…for a price…I actually could have bought a new computer for what I ended up paying for some fierce antivirus protection and a hard drive extended warranty…oh well…but FOUR HOURS on the phone? I mean, the techs had a HELLUVA time fixing the mayhem…and so, please take heed:
    “Handle email attachments with care. Do not open any email attachment that ends in .exe, .vbs, or .ink “

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  63. alex said on October 11, 2011 at 11:01 pm

    Only in New Mexico do McDonald’s and Sonic, etc., customize their fare for local tastes, when instead they ought to be taking New Mexico burgers nationwide, IMHO. New Mexico green chiles (a/k/a Anaheims) are the best.

    This is a shout out to Deborah, whom I imagine agrees.

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  64. caliban said on October 11, 2011 at 11:28 pm

    The pretty Americangirl was never by a shred of evicence remotely guilty, That was an astounding miscarriage of justice,

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  65. caliban said on October 12, 2011 at 12:11 am

    Somic makes dogs with carmelized onions, mighty good. Mary Chapin Carpenter went to Harvard and she is gorgeous, probably smart and mad “Passionate Kisse”. If there is a man that doesn’t find her desirable, he’s not really a man. Awesome woman. Like Mary Stuart Masterson. Brains and beauty. Sigourney Weaver and, for sure Clare Danes. I think women have no idea what makes a gotgeous woman. Mary Chapin Carpenter. Diana Rigg. Intelligence in a face. But maybe that’s just me.

    Is Frances McDormand attractive? I say yes, undoubtedly. But that dimple looks better on Clare Danes. Similar face but one is gorgeous the other is pretty.

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  66. Bob (Not Greene) said on October 12, 2011 at 12:31 am

    Are they librarians? If so, then definitely hot.

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  67. Jolene said on October 12, 2011 at 1:06 am

    Dexter, James Fallows has a good article about computer security (called “Hacked!”) on The Atlantic’s web site. Worthwhile reading for all computer users. Can’t easily link because I’m typing on my phone.

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  68. caliban said on October 12, 2011 at 3:38 am

    Has there e er been a stupider ad campaign than the manly beer ads for some light beer ever? That shit is urine in a bottle. I don;t understand who drinks that piss in the first lace, but saving calories on brewskis is moronic, particullarly by drinking something that tastes worse than O’Douls. Lite is manldidn’t these people ever read the graffiti about pnly renting beer? y? Beer is manly? What abject stupidity. This is Teabanger horseshit at it’s core. Force-fed human urine, it’s like like Human Carepillar. Manly? Don’t drink second-hand brewskis. Gawdamighty. I son’t even know whether that is budlight or miller light, but one way or another, that shit does not taste like beer, and trying to tie this drivel to manliness is positively as offensive as the flic my bic stewardess ads from way back. Offensive. What is the attraction, when the swill tastes so bad?

    Fallows on The Atlantic:

    My Gmail has never been hacked, to my knowledge, but one of my Netscape accounts has, taken over by AOL, qu’elle surprise. Is there anything AOL or Yahoo! touches that does not suck? This goes directly to my disgust with “content” Which I’m sure means pabulum.I’m not sure what to do about it. As it is, I just ignore that shit.

    Bob (NG) I’ve been warned about stereotyping librarians on this website. Fantasizing about normally attractive women that love books and research can get you in trouble. Let the hair down and take off the glasses, you’ve got Donna Reed. Heaven forfend. But she is mighty cute, and if my thought-dreams could be seen…

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  69. caliban said on October 12, 2011 at 3:55 am

    For no purpose but the pure joy of it:

    and, Barrence Whitfield:


    That latter is SRC worthy.

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  70. caliban said on October 12, 2011 at 4:19 am

    Alex, Scotch bonnets are the best, but it depends on whose nostrils and sinuses you intend to fry. How ’bout this insanity?

    Who opens attachments?

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  71. caliban said on October 12, 2011 at 4:28 am

    Boss does Ramones

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  72. caliban said on October 12, 2011 at 4:39 am

    Any of y’all ever listen to Wyclef?

    I can’t translate, but he means what he’s saying about Haiti.

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  73. basset said on October 12, 2011 at 6:58 am

    And why, Caliban, is drinking light beer like making love in a canoe?

    It’s (present participle form of a common word describing intercourse) near water…

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  74. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on October 12, 2011 at 8:03 am

    It’s conversing near water?

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  75. Jolene said on October 12, 2011 at 8:12 am

    Here’s the URL for the Fallows article I mentioned above. Just figured out how to copy and paste on my new Android phone.

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  76. alex said on October 12, 2011 at 8:36 am

    Fucking close to water. (That’s light beer.)

    What’s the difference between a pickpocket and a peeping Tom?

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  77. brian stouder said on October 12, 2011 at 8:50 am

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  78. brian stouder said on October 12, 2011 at 8:51 am

    (cue the Jeopardy music; scan the knitted brows of the inhabitants of the cheap seats)

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  79. Sue said on October 12, 2011 at 9:06 am

    I would just like to say to anyone who is checking out this site for the first time:
    It’s not usually like this. Well, actually it is, but you will come to enjoy it. No, I can’t explain the librarian thing, we try to ignore it. Yes, if you check the posted times for some of the comments, it might help you understand the vibe it picks up now and then. Come back! Hey, come back!

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  80. caliban said on October 12, 2011 at 9:45 am

    Sue, I didn’t stir up the librarian thing, and I won’t take the blame. Now I do have a local librarian that is sweet on me, and I her, but our relationship is altogether professional. She is cute with her hair down, but not Donna Reed cute. More like beautiful, without her glasses.

    Do the GOPers want insane black guy that thinks he’s Moses versus the most accommodating black guy ever. I’d take Bobby Seale, handsomest black guy, or possibly Eldridge Cleaver. The Teabangers are foing to get tied up colonically over this.

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  81. Connie said on October 12, 2011 at 10:38 am

    The Librarian thing? I’m a librarian. What did I miss?

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  82. Rob Daumeyer said on October 12, 2011 at 8:18 pm

    For someone who doesn’t follow sports, you certainly nailed why Bill Simmons is so good, in a way I’d never been able to articulate. Ease. That’s it, precisely!

    Good stuff. Albom sucks worse that I remember.

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