Jane Winebox.

Watchin’ the State o’ the Union, drinkin’ a second glass of wine, thinkin’ some thoughts. Among them:

Hey, there’s my congressman. Hansen Clarke. Big clapper. Well, it’s a big night for the D, on all fronts. We get major shoutouts in the SOTU, and the Tigers sign Prince Fielder. Here’s a rerun the Freep dug up from the vaults, about young Prince when he was a Little Leaguer in the Grosse Pointe Woods-Shores Little League. Note the photo. He has a great look in his eye, but clearly took that McDonald’s ad he did with his father to heart. On the other hand, one of the things to love about baseball is that some great players look like they enjoy an extra Pabst Blue Ribbon or three on the off days.

And it’s a good day for my darling daughter, entering the homestretch of midterms week. Today is history and gym. Yes, gym. They’ve been doing parts of it for the last week or so, and today is the 20-minute run, followed by the written test.

“A written test in gym?” her mother asked. “What sort of questions?”

“About stretching and stuff,” she said.

I hope she aces it. She doesn’t believe me when I tell her she’s getting off easy, gym-wise. Our system required .75 credits of gym to graduate, and every year was .25. You got senior year off, if you didn’t skip it chronically, which my friend Jeff did, to avoid getting his ass kicked for being an obvious homosexual. When they threatened to withhold his diploma, he signed up for six weeks of summer-school gym, which consisted of riding bikes and playing cards indoors on rainy days. No locker rooms, no ass-kicking, and the diploma arrived in August instead of June. I asked if he’d do it all again, knowing he missed “Pomp & Circumstance” at Vet’s Memorial and the all-night party.

“Absolutely,” he said.

Tells you everything you need to know about gym.

If she completes this year satisfactorily, Kate will never have to set foot in another high-school gym for anything but dances and pep rallies before graduation. So I hope she remembers how to stretch.

Bloggage? Oh, I’m sure we have some:

The SOTU featured warnings that “the middle class is under threat because of growing disparities between the rich and everyone else in America.” You don’t say. Did I link to that piece in last Sunday’s NYT, about Apple and its work at Foxconn, the Mordor-like Chinese factory where our favorite devices are born? No? You should read it, if you have the chance. It’s long, but like a horror movie, it’s hard to tear your eyes away. When Steve Jobs demanded an scratchproof glass screen for the iPhone, and demanded it be perfect in six weeks, they knew where to turn:

Apple executives say that going overseas, at this point, is their only option. One former executive described how the company relied upon a Chinese factory to revamp iPhone manufacturing just weeks before the device was due on shelves. Apple had redesigned the iPhone’s screen at the last minute, forcing an assembly line overhaul. New screens began arriving at the plant near midnight.

A foreman immediately roused 8,000 workers inside the company’s dormitories, according to the executive. Each employee was given a biscuit and a cup of tea, guided to a workstation and within half an hour started a 12-hour shift fitting glass screens into beveled frames. Within 96 hours, the plant was producing over 10,000 iPhones a day.

“The speed and flexibility is breathtaking,” the executive said. “There’s no American plant that can match that.”

…When an Apple team visited, the Chinese plant’s owners were already constructing a new wing. “This is in case you give us the contract,” the manager said, according to a former Apple executive. The Chinese government had agreed to underwrite costs for numerous industries, and those subsidies had trickled down to the glass-cutting factory. It had a warehouse filled with glass samples available to Apple, free of charge. The owners made engineers available at almost no cost. They had built on-site dormitories so employees would be available 24 hours a day.

That’s why the middle class is in trouble — because we cannot compete with slave labor, essentially. What? You don’t want to live in a dorm attached to your workplace (eight to a room) and be roused at midnight to work a 12-hour shift in the factory that was built by the government? Lazy, lazy, lazy.

I missed Our Man Mitch’s rebuttal last night. Was it any good?

This makes me immediately seek detox with celebrity gossip. Here’s a photo of Demi Moore, and even though it is only head and shoulders, shows the outsize-head-on-tiny-body prototype so common in movie stars. Bonus: Patton Oswalt’s tweet stream after being robbed of an Academy Award nomination.

Time for work. Hump day!

Posted at 8:25 am in Current events, Same ol' same ol' |

65 responses to “Jane Winebox.”

  1. brian stouder said on January 25, 2012 at 8:35 am

    I missed Our Man Mitch’s rebuttal last night. Was it any good?

    He looked exactly like a funeral home director*, making his politely terrible sales pitch to the nation.

    And, who told him to always look to the left, and present his right cheek to the camera?

    *no offense intended, to funeral home directors

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  2. mark said on January 25, 2012 at 9:04 am

    Well, yes, you are correct about “slave labor” and the impact it has on US jobs. China is especially opaque, and it is hard to determine which workers are merely employed for (in the US) a pittance, and which are actually, at least at times, compelled to work, or work more, merely for food and housing. Asia has far more people than it has jobs. Bright, ambitious, hard-working and often silled and well-educated people.

    And we love getting our i-phones, clothing, shoes, flat screen tvs, etc., at far less cost than would be the case if all the pieces were stamped, polished, plugged together and packaged at UAW wage and benefit scale.

    I wish the President would expand on what he means by “high-tech” manufacturing- a pillar (together with “green energy”) of his plan for government creating a vibrant, durable US economy. Labor intensive manufacturing (shoes, clothing) has already moved overseas to take advantage of lower wages. Chip making, electronics, auto parts are moving there now. The only manufacturing jobs that of which I am aware that remain firmly in the US are those that are highly energy intensive- an area where Asia has no price advantage and we are hugely advantaged in plentiful, RELIABLE power production and transmission.

    I have yet to figure out what these new manufacturing jobs are and why we should “plan” a new economy building upon manufacturing.

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  3. Sue said on January 25, 2012 at 9:09 am

    My thought on SOTU: President Obama was good when he challenged Congress, but only when he was specific. When he got into generalities he sounded like every other politician who thinks he can tell me what I want to hear and I’ll just lap it up. When he trotted out all the old ‘teacher’ talking points I was really annoyed; they contained absolutely nothing beyond the usual we-must-reward-good-teachers stuff you hear from every politician whose real motive is union-busting. I wondered if he even realized that by presenting nothing beyond a vague vision-thing, and doing it by using old red-meat language, he wasn’t helping matters – he seems too smart to throw out lines like that without finessing the whole idea at the wrap-up. I had the strong feeling during some of these vague comments that those Dem and Repubs applauding him were doing so for very different reasons.
    When he was specific he was really good, though. And some of the ideas were actually new and interesting.

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  4. caliban said on January 25, 2012 at 9:39 am

    Mitch Daniels actually said that the current economic La Brea in the USA was “caused” by the federal government. Whatawhopper, but who does the next GOPer frontrunner think was running all aspects of said US government for the eight years that produced that gooey morass? And the guy looked more like a ghoulishly rouged corpse than a funeral director to me. Rosacea, or gin blossom cheeks?

    Those scratch-proof screens? Didn’t AT&T get extra cash out of me with a screen guard of some sort when I bought my iPhone?

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  5. adrianne said on January 25, 2012 at 9:49 am

    When Mitch drones on about “extremism,” I have to laugh. Dude, the only extremists on the national front all have “Rs” after their names. And you’re one of them. I hope the Hoosiers vote his ass out of office, ASAP!

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  6. Dexter said on January 25, 2012 at 9:55 am

    I was as shocked as Cecil was to learn that his son had signed with the team he hung around with as a son of a major leaguer.
    I remember well when the papers reported that twelve year old Prince Fielder was blasting baseballs into the upper deck at Tiger Stadium. When Victor Martinez went down for a year recently and will miss the entire 2012 season, General manager Dave Dombrowski got the OK to go get someone to replace Martinez’ lethal bat in the lineup. It took $214 million, but hey, it’s Detroit, where the well-monied have that kind of dough in petty cash. Pizza been very, very good to the Ilitch empire. $5, Hot ‘N Ready! Good stuff!
    I’m a baseball fan and I love the Tigers only when they are good. If Cleveland or Cincinnati are better in a particular year, I’ll watch them instead. 2012 should find me pretty-much glued to Tiger games on the flat screen.

    The rah-rah SOTU was OK, but I heard little to impress me. Bragging about the Iraq war being over doesn’t explain the 17,000 CIA, FBI, and other spooks being employed in that goddam US embassy in Baghdad. I can guarantee you there was nothing like that left in Vietnam when the US left in 1975.
    The US is still standing with a very deep footprint in Iraq and the entire Region.

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  7. caliban said on January 25, 2012 at 9:59 am

    Well, Gov. Daniels is a creature of the nefarious Koch Bros., as the Nazgul are creatures of Sauron.

    Strange special interest shit Klown Kandidates take very seriously, submit to happily, and pledge fealty to in blood. When these obsequious twats have signed on to Grover’s and a host of others’ extremist whacko pledges, how do they keep track of them? How do they prioritize in cases of conflict? Must get confusing. Is a human jellyfish a person at the moment of conception?

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  8. alex said on January 25, 2012 at 10:05 am

    Our Man Mitch’s rebuttal consisted of the same misrepresentations of Obama’s record that all Republican pols are spewing these days, only he does it deadpan without the devilish twinkle in his eyes that you see in that other Mitch, Mr. McConnell. But even with his serious demeanor, it’s still overheated rhetoric with no basis in fact, and I have no doubt that a lot of beleaguered Hoosier Republicans took comfort in it even if they know better.

    On edit: Adrianne, he can’t be voted out because he’s nearing the end of his second term and will very likely be replaced by someone who’s not only more extreme but excessively strident, Congressman Mike Pence, a teabagger creationist who wants fetuses to have their own anti-defamation league. He’s a national embarrassment. I’m sure you’ve heard of him.

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  9. Dexter said on January 25, 2012 at 10:08 am

    The devil is making me do this. Here are our other Mitch’s starting and closing paragraphs of his Freep story on Prince Fielder today. Enjoy! hahaha!

    You can’t avoid the word.

    Big deal. Big name. Big contract. Big man.

    Big money. Big risk. Big upside. Big story.


    Big story. Big twist. Big interest. Big deal.

    Big news for January.

    Just wait until April.”

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  10. coozledad said on January 25, 2012 at 10:09 am

    Every time a Republican tries to hang the cratering of the economy on Obama, I’m reminded of a Charles Simic poem.

    I am the last Napoleonic soldier. It’s almost two hundred years later and I am still retreating from Moscow. The road is lined with white birch trees and the mud comes up to my knees. The one-eyed woman wants to sell me a chicken, and I don’t even have any clothes on.

    We can’t have any more chicken until we get some god damn clothes.

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  11. Dexter said on January 25, 2012 at 10:11 am

    adrianne, you got it. We all should know by now that extremism is a term owned by the repuggs for at least decades; I know it goes back before 1964 when Barry Goldwater used it.
    The left’s word is “radical”. It’s confusing to me to see these people confuse the two. Maybe the word-ownership issue has played itself out.

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  12. JWfromNJ said on January 25, 2012 at 10:20 am

    I was chatting with a friend in a pretty depressed region of Louisiana during the Preident’s speech and as someone who isn’t political she started off with a pretty negative outlook on his presidency (but to give her credit she is not racist and didn’t buy into that trap). She was impressed by the numbers, by his demeanor, and realized it’s congress holding back many of his ideas. What sold her was the realization that he’s really done more to destroy Al Queada than Bush, and was practically cheering at the rehash.
    People just need to see the numbers in black and white, not think in black and white.
    It was nice to wake up and find the SEALS pulled off another great mission in Somalia and an American hostage has been freed. Barack isn’t afraid to take these risks even knowing that if things go south it will be hung around his neck.
    Gym class – it was misery for a chubby bookish kid, saddled with an angry bull woman who had this dellusional idea that her class was the most important class. The only fun part of gym class was the unoffical volleyball rule that if you could take out one of the lights 40 feet up in the ceiling you had won. That sound of glass shattering was heard at least once a semester.

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  13. mark said on January 25, 2012 at 10:21 am

    Did anybody else notice Biden sniffling through the SOTU? And wiping his nose with his hand? Don’t be surprised if the whole Congress ends up with a cold.

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  14. adrianne said on January 25, 2012 at 10:27 am

    Is there no electable Democrat in all of Indiana to take on this Pence character? Frightening…

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  15. brian stouder said on January 25, 2012 at 10:29 am

    Mark – my lovely wife and I were laughing at Joe Bi’s obvious misery, all through the speech.

    He threw us a little, when he reached (and reached!) toward his back pocket. We were wondering if he was scratching a particularly annoying itch on his rump, until he came up with the hankie!

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  16. Julie Robinson said on January 25, 2012 at 10:30 am

    I didn’t even make it to the end of the SOTU, but of course Nance’s former employer had a predictable editorial on how sad it was that Mitch was giving the rebuttal speech when he should be running for President. Oh please.

    Growing up in Illinois, eight semesters of daily gym were required, with no summer school available in our district. If you flunked you had two PE classes back to back, and it was guaranteed that the teachers wouldn’t allow any slacking during the second period. Not surprisingly, most found it easier to show up and make the minimum effort the first time around, written tests included.

    We just spent a couple of days in Illinois, and I have to retract my earlier statement about the Schaumburg IKEA being far superior to the Bolingbrook location. It’s still bigger, but it has had the House on the Rock* treatment, where you can’t get out except by going through every single room, and you can’t go back easily either. It was a disappointment.

    But the best thing about heading to Chicago was picking up our daughter at O’Hare. She had to come back for a conference and was able to take a few extra days. We visited Mom in DeKalb and now have her to ourselves until Saturday. ‘Tis very, very good.

    *Wisconsinites and Chicagoans will know what I mean.

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  17. brian stouder said on January 25, 2012 at 10:37 am

    I found the House on the Rock very trippy

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  18. basset said on January 25, 2012 at 10:43 am

    I remember gym class as being mainly basketball practice for the boys on the team, while us lesser lifeforms ran or played dodgeball unsupervised, out of the way at the other end of the gym.

    And speaking of “blasting” baseballs… read last night that Ron Paul is the only Congressman ever to go yard in the annual Congressional baseball game, everyone else’s home runs were inside the park.

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  19. Bitter Scribe said on January 25, 2012 at 10:48 am

    The worst part of gym for me was this sadistic swimming thing they called “drownproofing.” It included trying to keep your head above water while your wrists or ankles were tied together (not all four at once, thankfully…at least they were that merciful). This was supposed to teach you how to deal with incapacitating muscle cramps. Or something.

    All I know is, to this day, when I smell chlorinated pool water I get knots in my stomach.

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  20. Suzanne said on January 25, 2012 at 11:00 am

    Hated gym class. My kids hated it, too. Thankfully, we didn’t do a swimming section so I was spared the embarassment of a swimsuit, although it was back in the day when we still had to wear official “gym suits” (you older people will understand). My kids had to swim and I was surprised to discover that the 2 or 3 weeks of pool activity involved no actual swimming instruction, just some flopping around in a pool. Really dumb, IMO. My daughter felt really sorry for a very overweight girl who was subjected to exactly what you’d expect. I still don’t get why gym class doesn’t focus more on general lifelong fitness rather than the rules of volleyball and pool flopping.

    I refused to stay up for Our Man Mitch’s speech. He may the the GOP darling, but I live in Indiana, and am not seeing the paradise any more than Mitch could see that missing $300 million that was suddenly found.

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  21. caliban said on January 25, 2012 at 11:07 am

    Maybe the word-ownership issue has played itself out.

    Good Lord, Dexter. How will George Lakoff feed his family?

    Actually, I think the antipodal terms are “radical” and “reactionary”, which is actually ironic when you consider the etymological root of radical, is radix (L. root), suggesting returning to what was intended when the show got on the road, not to some invented narrative of a glorious past when inferiors knew their places and Lords ruled manors. Stick that up your ass and smoke it, Scalia.

    Re: Prince. Albom missed Big baby. Manufactured beef with his dad? Lame. Good luck Tigers. I was afraid the Dodgers were going to drop a bundle on him and ditch James Loney, which would have been a terrible mistake.

    There is a terrific, hallucinogenic House on the Rock episode in Neil Gaiman’s American Gods. I’ve been meaning to go there since reading that book.

    edit: Mitch’s missing $300mil showed up on a Koch Bros. criminal conspiracy corporate check.

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  22. Julie Robinson said on January 25, 2012 at 11:14 am

    No pool at our school; my PE horrors came in gymnastics. It’s not a sport which favors those with peasant farmer body types.

    And those darn gym suits. You were supposed to take them home for washing every weekend and would be inspected on Monday. The one my older sister had was all cotton and also had to be ironed.

    What a surprise when my kids had gym and they got cute little shorts and Tshirts as uniforms.

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  23. mark said on January 25, 2012 at 11:19 am

    I’m pretty sure my gym class stories can top the others here. Of course, my gym was bigger than yours.


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  24. Deborah said on January 25, 2012 at 11:26 am

    House on the Rock is indeed a trip. Weird eccentrics who build stuff like that are a hoot. The added on Butler buildings that housed the collections were sad though. I went there back in the 70s so it’s probably completely different now.

    Oh how I hated gym class, those horrible bloomerish white gym suits, that always turned kind of yellowish if you accidentally washed them in clorox. I was lousy at everything except ring toss, which no one these days has ever even heard of. Supposedly it was invented for people to play on decks of ships, like tennis except without the ball which would bounce and go over the edge. I could make a mean serve with the rubber ring, it would wobble like crazy and no one could catch it. I had to take gym in college every year unfortunately. It brought down my grade point considerably because I skipped it so often. And the locker rooms were exceptionally painful experiences, I was super skinny and had no breasts while all the girls around me were voluptuous. I learned to change my clothes without revealing much. And the shower part was done by just wetting my arms and legs somehow. We had monitors that made sure you showered. Sick.

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  25. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on January 25, 2012 at 11:40 am

    Brian, your #1 comment was dead on.

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  26. Connie said on January 25, 2012 at 11:52 am

    Two years of mandatory high school gym meant I never made the honor roll until junior year. Gymnastics was hopeless, I just fell off the balance beam over and over. Blue gym suits freshman year, self provided t-shirts and shorts sophomore year.

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  27. Jeff Borden said on January 25, 2012 at 12:04 pm

    Regarding President Obama, I wish he would toughen up. As noted by others, when he draws a bead on a particular issue and brings some passion to it, he can be galvanizing. But otherwise, he is a well-spoken but ultimately disappointing lecturer. He has played the role of the sensible professor thoughout his term while the Republicans in Congress have been tossing spitballs at him since Day One.

    Congress has a worse approval rating, by far, than Obama. The negatives on Boehner, McConnell, Cantor and the other obstructionists are low. The electorate is fed up with business as usual. It’s long past time for Obama to be attacking the party that led us to this juncture and now wants another chance to clean it up while protecting their wealthiest benefactors.

    As military folks would say, the modern Republican Party is a “target rich” environment, dominated by hateful, atatvistic blowhards and lotion boys to the rich. Bash the ever-loving shit out of them –day after day– please.

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  28. Dexter said on January 25, 2012 at 12:08 pm

    Some guys were issued a pass back in the mid-1960s when I had gym classes. Some guys should have been issued a pass. I always felt sorry for the two kids who always had straight-out erections in the group shower area. They couldn’t help it I suppose. Nobody harassed them or called them queer, and I really hadn’t thought about it until today’s thread. One kid in my brother’s class simply would not undress in front of boys. He was expelled and then someone with compassion went to the school board and just let him take another study hall. He’s in his mid-sixties now and last I heard he’s still gay and living with a man. People were very cruel at times back in those days.
    I was a ball player and I killed in gym-class basketball and softball and dodge ball and soccer, but climb that fucking rope to the ceiling in three point eight seconds like the nerds could do? I only could get one foot off the floor. You know those ascending peg boards? I never made it to the top. Endomorphs have no arm strength. I know.
    Once a year we played co-ed volleyball. Everybody enjoyed that.

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  29. Julie Robinson said on January 25, 2012 at 12:11 pm

    Oh Connie, you just made me think about my mom, who was her high school valedictorian but never made a perfect GPA, and all because of gym class!

    We had been to House on the Rock when I was a kid, and I thought it would be fun to go back because I was remembering the architectural details. We found out they had added room after room of monstrosities–ancient weapons, weird musical instruments, and look, here’s a carousel that your kids aren’t allowed to ride. There was no way out but through and it was taking hours, instead of the 45 minutes we had planned right before lunch. We ended up faking an illness to finally get out of the place.

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  30. caliban said on January 25, 2012 at 12:15 pm

    State of the Union lite. Platitudinal fat removed. More actual substance her than I think is usual for these affairs.

    Not that the guy means dick anymore: Santorum’s rank and shameful betrayal of American military veterans. Now how would fundagelical chickenhawks excuse this disgraceful behavior?

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  31. Bob (not Greene) said on January 25, 2012 at 12:30 pm

    Mark, that sure is quite the gym.

    However, I bet you didn’t have to do this: Naked swimming in gym class. All boys school. Pretty common in Chicago in the old days. My school held onto it into the 1980s. Luckily I was on the swim team (we practiced with suits on!) and athletes in season got to swap out gym for a study hall. So I hardly ever had gym to worry about.

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  32. Sue said on January 25, 2012 at 12:37 pm

    A big ewww on all the gym stories, folks.
    I wonder why there is broad acceptance of the fact that humans can have a variety of skill levels and natural gifts when it comes to physical activities but when it comes to math or reading or science it must be our own fault if we don’t get it.
    Oh so much fun to be not particularly gifted in gym AND a waste of space in math class, let me tell you.

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  33. LAMary said on January 25, 2012 at 12:40 pm

    We had ugly blue one piece gym suits. The only way my long torso fit into one without being wedgied was to buy one two sizes too big. It was huge.
    Younger son failed PE and won’t reveal to me how exactly one does that. On the bright side, he tood summer school PE and loved it. He had an excellent teacher who took the kids on progressively longer runs or hikes in Griffith Park all summer. My son was seriously buff and knew where the coyotes hung out by the end of the summer.

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  34. beb said on January 25, 2012 at 1:06 pm

    I read that paragraph about the Foxconn factory over at Slashdot a few days ago. (Interesting that both /. and NN picked the same quote to use) In the comments it was mentioned that there really, is little labor involved in creating an iPad so as a result it would only cost $65 more to build them in the US. But I don’t think you could roust 8000 American workers out of bed, give them a cup of coffee (or tea) and a doughnut (or biscuit) and expect them to work 12 hours without complaining. As Nancy sez, you can’t compete with slave labor. Or as Walter Reuther is alleged to have said when introducted to the first robotic welders “but who is going to buy your damn cars?”

    I never could understand why gym should figure into someone academic record.

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  35. Connie said on January 25, 2012 at 1:13 pm

    Most of the largest high school gyms in the country are in Indiana. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Largest_high_school_gyms_in_the_United_States . We used to live in Seymour which is number 4. It’s all about basketball.

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  36. Sue said on January 25, 2012 at 1:23 pm

    How come Demi and her like-minded associates don’t know that good bone structure is something you’re born with and starvation neither creates it nor enhances it?

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  37. Rana said on January 25, 2012 at 1:51 pm

    Oh, god, Mike Pence. I had the misfortune to be “represented” by him when I lived in Indiana. About the only kind thing I can say about the man is that at least he returned real responses to my emails and letters. They were not responses that pleased me, but they were at least honest, unlike Lugar’s, which were almost always some vague form of self-congratulation about an almost-but-not-quite unrelated issue. The experience of dealing with Pence confirmed for me that petitions are fine and dandy only if you have a reasonable person in office in a competitive district, who is willing to listen and change course of there’s enough public outcry. For dogmatists like Pence, safe in their gerrymandered districts, ignoring the plaints of unhappy constituents from the other side of the political spectrum carries no penalty at all.

    I don’t remember gym to be either humiliating or particularly awful, just boring. I was always the kid stuck in far right field, making little baskets out of the grass I picked from the lawn, trying to stay alert in case a ball actually came my way. I was neither clumsy nor talented, and the worst gym wear was some tiny uncomfortable shorts the girls had to wear at one of my elementary schools. I don’t even remember ever showering at school; I assume we must have had showers, but that’s only logic speaking, not memory.

    I prefer the approach my college took to the PE requirement: if you could demonstrate participation in some form of regular physical activity, be it sports or dancing or playing hacky sack, you got credit. Unsurprisingly, PE was a lot more enjoyable when I got to pick the activity.

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  38. Rana said on January 25, 2012 at 1:59 pm

    Oh. I just remembered swim class, which was something my mother arranged for, not the schools. That was more traumatic, in that it involved diving (water up my nose!), wearing horrible-smelling rubber caps, the stench of chlorine, and, in one class, being taught by a martinet in a pith helmet who yelled at us frantic dog-paddling creatures to “show our teeth” and thus reassure our parents that we were smiling and having fun.

    I ended up being able to swim, but not liking it very much.

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  39. paddyo' said on January 25, 2012 at 2:34 pm

    Wow, amazing array of gym-class horror stories . . .

    I dunno, I knew, even in the 1960s, that being in an all-boys’ school with a difference — Roman Catholic “junior seminary,” age 14-18 — meant we’d have different high school experiences than the John Hughes teen movie oeurve. But actually, “gym” was fine because it usually occurred out on the “Green Field” beyond the cavernous old gym at our HS in the farmland outskirts of Watsonville, CA. After 10-15 minutes of calisthenics and one or two laps around the perimeter of the field, it was organized games, intramurals — softball, touch football, basketball, soccer.

    As for the tyranny of naked showers and bullies, we had neither. It was, after all, a seminary. Back in the dorm, we disrobed while wearing bathrobes. Yeah, that’s right: Off with the shirt, on with the bathrobe and only then remove pants and underwear. Same thing when dressing, in reverse: Off with the bathrobe only after donning underwear and pants first. And oh, no dallying about getting that shirt on (or off), either. And the showers? Single stalls, and no peeking.

    Of course, they never explained any of it, but pretty easy to figure out that they were trying to prevent the kind of “near occasion of sin” that (we later discovered) had already led, for ages, a distressing number of Catholic clerics to, uh, act out on kids. That included priests/brothers preying on some seminarians, but that’s another topic for another time.

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  40. Dexter said on January 25, 2012 at 2:39 pm

    Bob at #31: Same thing at the local YMCA. Trunks were not optional, they were banned. It creeped me out then and it creeps me out now. CREEPS!

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  41. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on January 25, 2012 at 2:49 pm

    Loved House on the Rock, but haven’t seen it since 1977 other than in the pages of Neil Gaiman’s “American Gods” where it was a portal to other dimensions, which struck me as exactly right.

    My swim lesson consisted of my dad throwing me in the deep end after a year of YMCA group sessions didn’t take at age 9; took me to age 16 to pass my Scout camp swimmer’s test. I wouldn’t go out of my way to share this except my son, who all too obviously shares his father’s deep water anxieties and relative non-buoyancy (a very, very large head and low body fat, jokes may be sent to P.O. Box Ivehearditall) — he passed his swimmer’s test this Sunday afternoon with flying colors and a long, calm float on his back, at age 13. He still isn’t quite sure I’m serious when I tell him “dude, you beat your old man by 3 years!”

    I am very, very proud (and other than that one gross error, have still a great relationship with my own dad).

    Mark, I’ve had people flat out refuse to believe me when I tell them that our in-building gym seated 6,600; if I explain “we were a sectional host” and they still don’t get it, I just know they haven’t spent time in Indiana. There was a long-standing rumor that the official architect’s seat count was 6,666, and it was suppressed, but I suspect we had 10,000 in there a few times. (Valparaiso High School for those in the Hoosier State – if we won our sectional, which our team did all three of my HS years, we went to Notre Dame’s Kirk (?) Arena, and semi-state was at Purdue’s Mackey Arena; state championships were at Market Square Arena, which is no more, but we always went to watch and get hungry.)

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  42. Deborah said on January 25, 2012 at 2:58 pm

    I changed my gravatar but I see that it hasn’t shown up on my previous comment, so I’m commenting again to see if shows up now? I went on a road trip Mon and Tues, on Interstate 80 through Iowa again for a possible new project in Des Moines. We stopped at this hilarious, gigantic truck stop that has full size rigs in it that you can sit in, we had fun taking each others pics. It is ridiculously expensive to fly from Chicago to Des Moines for some reason and all in all it takes about the same amount of time to drive as fly when you factor in the cab to O’Hare, waiting in security lines etc.

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  43. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on January 25, 2012 at 3:05 pm

    I see a tiny person on a large red rig, fwiw.

    That trip is really worth it if you stop in the Amana Colonies and eat at Bill Zuber’s. IMHO.*

    *In My Hungry Opinion

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  44. Deborah said on January 25, 2012 at 4:17 pm

    Thanks Jeff tmmo, that’s good to know about the place to eat in the Amana Colonies If we get this new project we will be going back and forth to Des Moines a lot. I’ve stopped in Grinnell to see the Louis Sullivan magnificent designed bank there on other trips when I was working on a different project which led to this possible new one, but I never knew where to get good food. Des Moines has some great restaurants by the way. I’ve been told it’s because of all the New York media that descends on the city because of the caucus.

    And yes I see my new gravatar now. It’s microscopic.

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  45. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on January 25, 2012 at 4:28 pm

    You need to come to Newark OH to see our Sullivan bank!

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  46. Bob (not Greene) said on January 25, 2012 at 4:34 pm

    There’s also a Sullivan bank is Columbus, Wis., just a half hour or so from Madison. Seems so odd just sitting there on a corner in a pretty desolate old-fashioned downtown in what is basically a rural village.


    The one in Grinnell is a real gem


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  47. Dexter said on January 25, 2012 at 4:34 pm

    Jmmo, our little high school gym may have held 400 people I suppose. New gyms were being built at Prairie Heights, Ashley, Angola, Lakeland, and Leo high schools back in the 1960s, but it was most fun to play in the old crackerbox gyms in Butler, Garrett, Albion and Ligonier. At Albion and Butler, there were six foot high walls and the out-of-bounds line was painted right against the wall, with a red stripe to stand behind to inbound the basketball, but during play, it was inbounds. Great games on those old courts with shaky basket supports. At Waterloo, we had old thick tin backboards, not even glass boards until 1966. The baskets were so old they had ornate side brackets …it was truly archaic.

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  48. Maggie Jochild said on January 25, 2012 at 4:45 pm

    How do you get an avatar for yourself? I see no option in the comment form.

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  49. Deborah said on January 25, 2012 at 4:46 pm

    Jeff tmmo and Bob NG, Those banks are amazing. The one in Grinnell has a great side window that is just breathtaking. I work in the Sullivan designed Carson Pirie Scott building. I love it http://www.bcausa.com/portfolio/project/113/249

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  50. Deborah said on January 25, 2012 at 4:48 pm

    Maggie, go to this website and follow the instructions, http://en.gravatar.com,

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  51. Little Bird said on January 25, 2012 at 5:06 pm

    I thought you were going to use a different picture for your gravatar , Deborah!

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  52. Joe Kobiela said on January 25, 2012 at 5:21 pm

    I could pick you and 2 others up in Palwakee fly you to Des Moines wait 6hr and fly you back for roughly 2500.00 Flight time would be around 1:45 each way. Sounds better than driving to me.
    My home town of Garrett had a population of around 5000 and the gym held right around the same amount and Dexter I also played in the old cracker box in Garrett, Loud and hot. As far as swimming, I can never remember not knowing how to swim, we had lessons in the summer and in early June it was cold at 8 in the morning.
    Pilot Joe

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  53. alex said on January 25, 2012 at 5:25 pm

    Is there no electable Democrat in all of Indiana to take on this Pence character? Frightening…

    Well, here’s an example of the sort of Dems who want to take on Stutz the Putz, our other right-wing freak Congressman.

    You may remember Mr. Schrader. He’s the transvestite who ran for city council last year and nonchalantly played a porn movie on television during an interview with Bob Caylor at the flophouse motel where he was living.

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  54. ROGirl said on January 25, 2012 at 5:37 pm

    The cadaverous look of the former Mrs. Kutscher reminded me of this.


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  55. Little Bird said on January 25, 2012 at 6:13 pm

    I some how made it through high school with only one semester of gym. I count myself lucky in that regard. I never showered with the class, and given the awful comments I heard while we were all changing clothes, that was a wise choice. I have spots and tumors, the girls would have been merciless. I barely passed the class.

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  56. Maggie Jochild said on January 25, 2012 at 7:13 pm

    Thanks, Deborah, trying it out.

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  57. Deborah said on January 25, 2012 at 9:05 pm

    Pilot Joe, how many can you accommodate in your plane for that $2,500? Commercial airfare from Chicago to DesMoines is pretty close to $1,000, so if more than 2 of us are going that makes a lot of sense. You can fly from NY to DesMoines commercial for about $300. I think that’s odd, why is that?

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  58. James Moehrke said on January 25, 2012 at 9:23 pm

    Back in the 60s, in my school district here in California it was 8 semesters of gym, no ducking it. The only way out of those group calisthenics (jumping jacks, burpees and sit-ups, etc) was to be on a sports team, which explains my two years on the JV tennis team. Match days we wore a white shirt and tie to school and sat out PE, no study hall. Broke my toe playing soccer one spring, and broke an arm (at home) another – that got me excused, briefly.

    Reversible shirts in the school colors, white shorts with our name on them, towels from the coach before the shower, chuck ’em in the laundry bin when you’re done. Towel fights when no teacher was around and 10 minutes to get showered, dried and dressed before the next period.

    Somehow the locker room got much, much smaller when our son attended 20+ years later. He only had to do 4 semesters during the 4 years, and weightlifting and/or swimming counted. No showers, no towels, and his locker got broken into three times in those two years. The kid showed up wearing the gym shorts with my son’s name written on them and no one cared. He missed the teen embarrassment of having to get naked with other guys; character-building they called it. Perhaps it was.

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  59. JWfromNJ said on January 25, 2012 at 9:36 pm

    @Joe – What type of aircraft?

    Considering the fare for three would work out to less than the commercial flight AND avoid the TSA hassles, plus two avid NN.com followers could meet up that sounds like a great arrangement.

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  60. moe99 said on January 25, 2012 at 10:07 pm

    Worst grades in high school were for gym because I refused to wear the uniform. Didn’t want to take my blouse off, I was too embarassed about my lack of a chest. Some of the older guys called me “Twiggy” which, at the time, I did not consider a compliment.

    I wanted to call attention to two articles about the current state of prisons in the US. Well worth a read, both of them:



    I am hoping that something will change for the better, but am not holding my breath.

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  61. Deborah said on January 25, 2012 at 10:33 pm

    Moe, I can so relate to the Twiggy comment, which started out as an insult but eventually became surprisingly a compliment. And that New Yorker link seems excellent but depressing, I’m going to have to put off reading it until I can face that, hopefully I’ll have more stamina for it tomorrow.

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  62. caliban said on January 25, 2012 at 10:35 pm

    I can’t remember gym class, but I know it was there because I remember the gym teacher. Coach Leary. We called him Jungle Gym and we were assholes to the guy. How do kids act so much like William Golding imagined? The old guy was alright and he tried to teach a crossover dribble to a mostly unathletic buncha guys, or guys that thought it was second-nature. when he was too beat to do it himself. And we mocked him as we did my sophomore Geometry teacher Fr. Herman. We were forgiving about our classmates, but we were brutal about instructors that could not stand on their own. Kids are wretchedly cruel animals. We sucked.

    On the subject of Demi and Ashton. One of them is an accomplished actor. The other is the shitheel that wears stupid knit hats and is a total moron. I wonder what in the world she ever had to do with this idiot. Maybe somebody thinks his horseshit is cute. He’s the number four talent from That Seventies Show. And really, make that five, because the BigStar song they stole buried the rest of that shit. how does Ashton Kutcher live in the same universe as his ex-old lady? She is really beautiful. He’s cute at best, mostly an inexcusable boor. He’s a spectacular shitheel so why does he skate? He is an obnoxious turd. Demi Moore was outstanding in A Few Good Men. A lot better than another little jerk, Tom Cruise, and that’s as good as the midget weirdo gets. I thought Top Gun was crap, plainly and simply. But Kelly McGillis displayed the most beautiful breasts in modern movies in Witness, a truly outstanding movie.. I know I leave myself open to ridicule, but I thought Semi Moore’s performance in GI Jane was fairly remarkable. Has the little pisant Ashton done anything similar? Didn’t think so. I think Ghost is a reasonably good movie, mostly because Whoopie is a hoot. But Demi Moore is quite convincing in that movie. And Ashton Kutcher never did anything except steal a great song from Big Star. What an asshole.

    Whatever you say, Demi is pretty, and a fairly ood actor.. And, whether or not they’re boosted, those are astounding tits for people that actually find tits interesting. Me, I prefer some real woman’s legs, but that’s just me. I thought Nancy’s legs in her little black dress photo were sharp. Right dress, right pearls, right skirt. She looked great. Lets all give it up for gams. Women’s finest obvious feature. It’s my experience that most women have attratcive legs, rest of their bodies notwithstanding. And I celebrate them all. Boobs are all beautiful, no matter what shape or size. I mean, unless they are surgicalized gigunda. The appeal of that sort of monstrosity is beyond me. But legs are either shapeley or they are not. Now if that is sexism, I suppose I surrender. Demi has great legs. Claire Daynes has spectacular legs. Ashton Kutcher is a moron.

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  63. alex said on January 25, 2012 at 11:07 pm

    I hated PE and the teacher too. He used to blow a shit fit if anyone called it “gym.”

    “I didn’t go to no goddamn college fer four years to teach ‘gym,’ nosiree, I teach physical education, and don’t you forget it or I’ll kick your fuckin’ ass.”

    He used to pants us randomly as a pretext for doing a jockstrap inspection. (You’d get an F for the day if you showed up without a jockstrap. His rule.)

    He’s now a principal in a nearby school and no doubt still a hard-ass with a hard-on for boys in jockstraps.

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  64. ROGirl said on January 26, 2012 at 4:37 am

    From Annie Hall: Those who can’t do, teach. Those who can’t teach, teach gym.

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  65. Brandon said on January 27, 2012 at 1:43 am

    “He’s the number four talent from That Seventies Show.”

    If this blog were like That 70s Show, Jeff (the mild-mannered one) would be Eric Foreman, Nancy would be Donna, and Coozledad would be Hyde.

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