The soup-and-salad lunch deal is very nice.

Someone sent me Marilyn Hagerty’s column about the Olive Garden opening in Grand Forks, N.D. about 10-ish Thursday morning. By late afternoon, the story was everywhere and, hence, played. And so the bristling pace of the Internet’s snark cycle leaves me sucking hind tailpipe once again.

But just in case you didn’t see it, here it is, a little masterpiece of business reporting:

The place is impressive. It’s fashioned in Tuscan farmhouse style with a welcoming entryway. There is seating for those who are waiting.

My booth was near the kitchen, and I watched the waiters in white shirts, ties, black trousers and aprons adorned with gold-colored towels. They were busy at midday, punching in orders and carrying out bread and pasta.

Some years back, Alan was contacted by a journalism headhunter who asked if he’d be interested in a department head-level position in Fargo. The answer: No. Grand Forks was once part of the Knight-Ridder family, so I guess that might have beem an option, too. The answer was still no. But as the tireless, steroidal snarkers at Gawker demonstrate, this is not a North Dakota thing, it’s an Olive Garden thing; the OG appears in newspaper restaurant reviews over and over. And all I have to say about that is what Hagerty herself told the Village Voice — I told you this thing went viral — today:

If you were going to review the fine dining here, you’d be done in three weeks–there’s only about three places you could call “fine dining.”

But while we’re on the subject, let’s skip to another exemplar of North Dakota journalism, the amusingly named Jon Flatland:

Jon Flatland, a columnist, a former president of the North Dakota Newspaper Association and one-time newspaper owner, has been exposed as a serial plagiarist.

When confronted with the evidence gathered by humor writer Dave Fox, Flatland abruptly resigned from his position as interim managing editor of the Times in Blooming Prairie, Minnesota and “quickly and quietly left town,” according to the paper’s publisher.

In a profile last month of Jon Flatland and his wife, whom he met online, the Minnesota native said, “Don’t try to be someone you’re not, because if and when you do meet someone through a service like eHarmony, they’re going to find out pretty quickly you weren’t being honest. Just be yourself.” It’s unclear how many humor columns of Flatland’s included stolen material, but it appears to go back many years and involves work taken from a variety of columnists.

This guy makes Tim Goeglein look like a piker. Having seen a few clips from the papers that were running him — links in the piece — I bet I know what happened: This guy thought he might as well have been stationed on Mars, and even Google doesn’t reach that far. His mistake: Once Olive Garden gets there, Google is right behind.

But what I really want to talk about today was this little moment from earlier this week, as detailed by Jonathan Chait:

Earlier this week, a pretty interesting and telling exchange took place at a Mitt Romney town hall meeting. A student asked Romney what he would do to make college more affordable for students who struggle to pay for it. Romney’s reply was jarring:

“It would be popular for me to stand up and say I’m going to give you government money to pay for your college, but I’m not going to promise that,” he said, to sustained applause from the crowd at a high-tech metals assembly factory here. “Don’t just go to one that has the highest price. Go to one that has a little lower price where you can get a good education. And hopefully you’ll find that. And don’t expect the government to forgive the debt that you take on.”

Wow. This is the candidate who has promised to keep the pillows plumped for everyone now over 55, but if you had the misfortune of being born later (even by a year or two, like, um, me), too bad. And if you have, oh, children on the other side of the line? What then? Find a nice community college, sucka. Too bad you weren’t born rich, like my kids! This sort of redefines cynicism, doesn’t it? What country can long survive betting against its youngest members?

Ed Kilgore at Washington Monthly has more.

Boy, am I not looking forward to this campaign. Maybe we need some levity.

Shit girls say to gay guys.

And if you don’t like that, the Northern lights over Lake Superior, night before last. I’m sure if you were there, it made the cell-phone interference totally worth it.

Great weekend, all!

Posted at 12:51 am in Current events, Popculch |

140 responses to “The soup-and-salad lunch deal is very nice.”

  1. jcburns said on March 9, 2012 at 1:02 am

    It took some working of the Yellow Pages (a sort of primordial, printed Internet…kids, ask your parents), but when Sammy and I ended up spending the night in Grand Forks back at the end of the last century, we found a vegetarian restaurant tucked, and I mean tucked away. And you know what? Not bad.

    I’ve been to two Olive Gardens, one in Brownsville TX (the first place I ever saw those LED-light-up-hockey-puck-summon-you-for-your-table things) and one in Greendale, WI. They were perfectly adequate. Their adequacy was perfection itself. They neither dipped below or dared to exceed the boundaries of adequacy.

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  2. Jakash said on March 9, 2012 at 1:29 am

    Well, I’m clearly totally out of the loop, as this is the first I’ve been made aware of the Dakota viral sensation. I see no problem with reviewing Olive Garden in a city the size of Grand Forks and am a little surprised that this struck such a chord. Though it does seem kind of like an article from the Onion. My only complaint is that, if she’s going to be reviewing a restaurant, couldn’t she have TRIED the lemonade, even though it’s not summer? “I drank water” isn’t really particularly helpful.

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  3. JWfromNJ said on March 9, 2012 at 1:31 am

    Marilyn Hagerty’s reviews are a hoot. Her review of the Pizza Ranch lavished praise on the canned peaches on the salad bar, no doubt one of the better grade SYSCO products, and she reviewed a tapas place that suggested to me that the dining scene there may have some finds, although she was very critical that the place didn’t have bus service to UND games, and noted that despite that glaring fault, they seemed busy on a Saturday night.

    She was interviewed by the Village Voice and her newspaper ran an article noting the viral nature of the Olive Garden review. Silly old woman passed on the raspberry lemonade for water…

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  4. coozledad said on March 9, 2012 at 2:47 am

    From the Gawker article, what has to be this century’s “Abandon hope, all ye” or a new opening to The Myth of Sisyphus:
    Olive Garden and Macaroni Grill: Is one better? Too close to call.
    A. Alvarez may have touched on this in The Savage God.

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  5. Jolene said on March 9, 2012 at 2:59 am

    Y’all be nice now. You are talking about my hometown newspaper.

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  6. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on March 9, 2012 at 7:08 am

    In the world of the blind, the one-eyed man is king; in the world of McDonalds, Olive Garden really isn’t worth all this tsouris. It’s better than a sharp stick in the eye.

    Now, THIS is what Must Not Be Mocked in central Ohio, but should be — they’re much worse than they used to be, and they were never all that in the first place. SYSCO’s best would be a step up, but if you do business around here you will end up eating at these places a dozen times a year whether you want to or not.

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  7. David C. said on March 9, 2012 at 7:36 am

    My favorite comment on Olive Garden came from A.J. Jacobs in his book “The Year of Living Biblically”. He said he was Jewish in the same way that Olive Garden is Italian – which is to say not much at all.

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  8. basset said on March 9, 2012 at 7:47 am

    I remember when dinner at Red Lobster in Terre Haute was something you looked forward to all week.

    So some old lady went to a chain restaurant and liked the food. Mocking her for that makes everyone feel clever, I suppose.

    Meanwhile, a quote from Robin Trower’s road manager:

    “…we developed a real serious routine. He likes Bob Evans. He likes Cracker Barrel. That could be two places where you really wouldn’t think a rocker would go to. But he likes those places. Especially Cracker Barrel.”

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  9. JWfromNJ said on March 9, 2012 at 7:50 am

    Jeff TMMO – SYSCO’s best is actually incredible and makes it to the tables of many 4&5 star places. It’s the lower end lines that are horrid. The company is fascinating – try getting a full catalog or price list. I used to scour other SYSCO regional sites for item numbers when I was in food service. Used the mid to low end stuff at summer camp operations and top end stuff at my cafe. They suck you in with convenient service and I even gave them my produce orders (except when I could source really fresh local stuff). They had better prices than a few local vendors and sent me better quality items. Even now when I go out I can identify their products at many restaurants. Note to tourists here – those conch fritters are SYSCO. I’d get so happy when that truck pulled in – everything was right, the driver stocked my order in, and I had some but not much time for a family life. And I always swore (before I opened my own place) I’d never turn to the dark side – I pictured running from meat packers to farmers markets every day.

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  10. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on March 9, 2012 at 8:11 am

    No, no — I’m with you JW. And Sodexho has upped their game, too. Hey, in the right context with the right market pressures, mass prepped food is actually more energy efficient, sustainable, and tasty (see the YouTube video from Chipotle and then read up on their take on sous-vide bulk prep of their pork).

    But Bob Evans has somehow found a way to take their stock in trade and make it nearly inedible, and as long as people still file in, lay down their twenties and file out, I guess it will continue as it is. Yes, SYSCO’s best is sincerely a step up. (And check out that Chipotle video: I can’t do video stuff at my county workstation, or I’d hunt it and post the link.)

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  11. ROGirl said on March 9, 2012 at 8:13 am

    When I used to travel for work I knew I could get something recognizable and edible at a chain restaurant. The ND OG review does make it clear that they’re new to town.

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  12. beb said on March 9, 2012 at 8:17 am

    The nice thing about the Spaghetti Warehouse is that it doesn’t claim to be Italian, though it serve Italian food, and it doesn’t claim to be fine dining: it’s a “warehouse”. But you get a nice meal. I’ve never been to a Bob Evans. They do have them in Detroit. I just never felt hick enough to go in. And just to wrap things up I don’t know what McDonalds serves in their Big Macs but I’m sure it’s closer to a meat by-product than ground meat.

    Romney needs to stay away from unscripted moment because they always pull out these unconsidered comments, like his reply to the lad trying to get into college, or that his wife drives a couple of Cadillacs, or that corporations are people… Once the wheels are off the trolley Romney becomes a kind of scary, heartless, unsympathetic person. But also a truer Republican. Small government Republicans don’t think it is the government’s business seeing that people can get into college. They don’t believe in FEMA or disaster relief. That’s the obligations of healthy communities. They believe in one dollar–one vote democracy. They tend to gloss over the harder edges of their beliefs because people wouldn’t like them so much if they knew what Republicans stood for.

    Much is being made of the amount of public service announcements and even dead air that’s appearing on the Limbaugh show. When over the course of a week one goes from zero PSAs to 90%, things aren’t looking good.

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  13. alex said on March 9, 2012 at 8:24 am

    I have friends who are gourmands who cheat with things like SYSCO meatballs and ricotta-stuffed pasta shells. Now I know why even their simplest dinners thrown together at the last minute are always stellar—there’s enough sugar and sodium in them to pickle a quarter-ton corpse.

    I had the rare pleasure of feasting at a Bob Evans recently when there was absolutely nothing else from which to choose. I tried their pot roast thinking it was something nobody could possibly fuck up. Wrong. The cut of meat they use is probably pink slime along with some of the stuff that usually gets sent to the glue factory.

    I still have some Olive Garden gift cards from some friends who want us to meet them there sometime. The idea doesn’t quite make me retch, but I’d rather spend good money on good food at one of the bazillion or so better options around here.

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  14. brian stouder said on March 9, 2012 at 8:46 am

    I request unanimous consent to revise and extend my remarks – probably four or five paragraphs extolling the virtues of a familiar restaurant franchise when you’re far, far from home (or in Fargo, whichever is further); a place where you don’t really wanna be wowed, but which will serve you reliably (ie – no ptomaine) , for about 2X what a meal-deal would cost at a burger joint. This is a non-snooty/non-snobby bargain, that appeals to lots of folks who don’t “eat out” a lot, and/or who don’t travel for business very often, and just want something reasonably nice for supper, when they’re either far from home or just want to step out with the family on occasion.

    And another paragraph would point to this very sort of ‘snobby-snark’ as precisely the wind that fills the sails of the SS Santorum (et al); a ship of fools, indeed, but fools who are, afterall, NOT from another planet, and NOT [always] all wet …which leads me right to the very same conclusion Nancy reached:

    Boy, am I not looking forward to this campaign.

    edit: and not for nothing, but I recall seeing a report that correlated which way states voted for president, with how many Cracker Barrel restaurants they had, or Whole Foods; and the results were exactly as you might guess

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  15. Peter said on March 9, 2012 at 9:00 am

    Last fall we were in Grand Forks looking over UND (they have a great flight program, and my son wants to be a pilot). We ate pretty well up there, “downtown” there’s a few restaurants and we ate a really good Italian meal at one of them. There were also a Mexican restaurant with a line out the door that I hard was pretty good.

    However, the place was spooky to me. I thought Chicago was flat, but this place is billiard table flat. Thanks to the floods wiping away substandard housing stock and the low low low unemployment, this place makes Grand Rapids look like Detroit.

    I still regret not loading up on the Fighting Sioux hoodies on clearance at the campus store – that thing is a story in itself.

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  16. brian stouder said on March 9, 2012 at 9:08 am

    I still regret not loading up on the Fighting Sioux hoodies on clearance

    I honestly don’t get what the problem is.

    If “Fighting Sioux” is offensive, isn’t “Fighting Irish”, too?

    And the pro league still has a team called “Redskins” (as does a local high school, but we digress…)

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  17. Suzanne said on March 9, 2012 at 9:12 am

    I don’t hate Olive Garden when travelling or needing a quick & tasty lunch (unlimited soup, salad and bread sticks!) Bob Evans when traveling is fins, since you know what you’re getting and it is pretty good for breakfast.

    I don’t really think Mitt Romney is evil, which is what I think of the other candidates. I just think he’s the stereotypical born with the silver spoon kind of guy. I’ve run into them over the years. Why is it when people get to a certain level of income, they cease to grasp that everyone doesn’t have that much money? I have a relative who is wealthy and she truly does not get the difference between choosing not to buy something and having no resources to buy something.

    I’m sure Mitt doesn’t really understand that you can’t get into med school with an associates degree from a community college and that some people cannot afford even the state university. It never ceases to amaze me.

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  18. Judybusy said on March 9, 2012 at 9:19 am

    What I find interesting is that the snobby-snarky response to the OG review can be used by the conservatives to show regular folks how elitist the libruls are, and therefore likely to throw you under the bus. Of course, the reality, as shown by Romney’s college advice and on myriad other issues, is quite the opposite. As has been said here about 385,264 times.

    Got a few laughs at the shit straight girls say to gay guys video, too. Happy Friday!

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  19. Dorothy said on March 9, 2012 at 9:27 am

    Dear God someone stop me. I couldn’t help reading Marilyn’s article from yesterday’s paper. Could this become my new Internet addiction?!

    To people like my parents, who ate at home roughly 363 days out of the year during the time they were raising all their kids, the Olive Garden, Outback Steakhouse and Red Lobster were treats they could afford on a postal employee’s retirement pension. Mum still likes those places. But when we come to town we take her to Pasta Too or Armstrong’s, two of the dozens of non-chain places in Pittsburgh with delicious, affordable food.

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  20. Snarkworth said on March 9, 2012 at 9:37 am

    Suzanne is quite right. People like Romney seem clueless, not evil. They seem to lead unexamined lives.

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  21. Judybusy said on March 9, 2012 at 9:42 am

    Dorothy, sounds like my mom. She lives in a very rural part on MN, about half-way between Minneapolis and Fargo-Moorhead. What fun, though,when she visits me in “the cities” (what greater MN calls the metro area.) She loves to try various cuisines. Last time, it was a really good Thai place. I help translate the menu’s ingredients to ensure she’ll like what she’s getting, but I love that she’ll try almost anything. Sushi, however, does remain in no-go territory.

    This place just opened and so if any of you are in Minneapolis, it’s worth a visit. We do know the sous chef’s parents, who run an incredible B and B in the southeastern part of the state. It’s always fun getting the proud mom’s updates on FB!

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  22. Prospero said on March 9, 2012 at 9:44 am

    Can anybody say for sure ND exists? Once, years ago on the worst (or best) plane trip ever, my puddle-jumper landed in Minot. Didn’t stretch my legs, so coulda been fooled. Not sure entirely about SD, but I’ve been in the Black Hills, seen Rushmore, with an incredibly gorgeous young woman named Shirley, from Rapid, which is what locals call Rapid City. Curious name. Her dad owned the local Howard Johnson Motor Lodge. And we shared the surname–Johnson. Met her in Freeport, G.B.

    Dorothy, I love Outback and I know how to cook better. Olive Garden could hire me to alter their sauces and get way better, but the food is better than decent.

    And Brian, Redskins everywhere should be feeling demeaned by that sorry excuse for an NFL football team.

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  23. Joe K said on March 9, 2012 at 9:48 am

    Perhaps the teachers at these university’s could take a cut in pay and benefits,get rid of tenure and tone down the opulent dorms, thus bringing down the cost of a education. Maybe its time to get back to basics. Work hard, work smart, and quit looking for a handout. I learned a long time ago that not every one gets a trophy, there are winners and losers and I have been on both sides and learned its a lot better to be a winner, and when I did lose witch was often I figured out why I got beat and tried to figure out what to do so it wouldn’t happen again.
    Pilot Joe

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  24. Prospero said on March 9, 2012 at 9:49 am

    Dorothy: I think Bill Wyman wrote Yesterday’s Papers:

    Glimmer Twins took credit.

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  25. Jolene said on March 9, 2012 at 9:57 am

    Prospero, having spent the first twenty years of my life there, I can certify that ND exists. In fact, I own a piece of it!

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  26. Prospero said on March 9, 2012 at 10:00 am

    Joe K: You’re kidding, right? Opulent dorms? Where? The dorms built back in the 1800s at Yale that Bill Buckley lived in? How would canning tenure affect college costs? Do you have a clue as to how the college loan business has been a total leech for years protected by GOP politicians the creeps gave money to? That’s a fact Jack.

    Jolene: Glad to hear it. I always suspected there was just some gigantic hole in the world between SD and Canada.

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  27. Minnie said on March 9, 2012 at 10:02 am

    Joe, perhaps there are professors making large salaries, but my professor husband and his colleagues are not. The benefits – never lavish – have been cut already, thank you.

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  28. Scout said on March 9, 2012 at 10:04 am

    My daughter and her hub and kids like OG, so it is often the request when we all go out together. It is never my first choice, but I manage quite well with the portobello ravioli, which is dependably the same at any OG. When we don’t have the kids with us, Daught and S-I-L love to try the indy places that we prefer, so it’s all good.

    Loved the straight chicks/gay guy vid! Thanks for the laugh.

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  29. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on March 9, 2012 at 10:13 am

    I have to post this over here — on Facebook, I’d put up the Marilyn Hagerty link on her Olive Garden review, and from a colleague in ministry from Parkersburg WV, this pops up:

    Mrs. Hagerty! A blast from the past! Our older son Matt went to the U of NDakota (UND) to swim competitively from 1996 to 2000 (graduated with a B.Ed., major in political science in 2002). I learned about Grand Forks and about the people wh…o live there largely by reading this widow’s musings about the town in the Grand Forks Herald. She was a big fan of the Fighting Sioux, at least the football and basketball versions, and I challenged her by email to write something about the swimming teams. She interview Matt (by phone) and me (by email), and agreed to drop in on the annual conference championships during halftime of a men’s basketball game. I thoroughly enjoyed meeting her, but she dropped from my consciousness at that point (our last swim meet in GF). She is being unfairly vilified, as the fact of her statement speaks tons to the realities of living in North Dakota. She must be 85-90 these days; people need to pick on someone else!

    (This is why I mostly love the internet. A later post he found that she is, this year, 85.)

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  30. Jolene said on March 9, 2012 at 10:15 am

    Joe, you might want to check out this NYT article re college financing:

    Catherine Rampell, the reporter on this piece, says that the reason for increasing tuition at public colleges, which three quarters of students attend, is not opulent dorms but disinvestment in public education.

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  31. Jolene said on March 9, 2012 at 10:20 am

    Here’s a follow-up written after the Hagerty piece went viral. I don’t think we have to worry about Marilyn. She knows how to take care of herself.

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  32. Prospero said on March 9, 2012 at 10:27 am

    I’ve been going to Cracker Barrel for years, hoping to run into Robin Trower:

    And I’ve never seen an Olive Garden that looked like this:

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  33. coozledad said on March 9, 2012 at 10:33 am

    The entirety of my adult life has been consumed trying to get back to my college lifestyle. It’s been a long climb. I never thought I’d have to pawn the smoking jacket, the seventeenth century hand blown hookah, and the 130 volume calf-bound Weintzmann’s Heuristic Readings in Polynesian Sexual Taboos Illustrated.
    Well, Reagan couldn’t be president forever. Sigh.

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  34. Julie Robinson said on March 9, 2012 at 10:48 am

    Well, I live in white-bread-white-people Fort Wayne, so I hardly think I get to be snarky about North Dakota.

    Joe? Next time you’re in Bloomington, ask for a dorm tour. The newest building is close to 50 years old, and most of them are incredibly shabby.

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  35. Deborah said on March 9, 2012 at 10:52 am

    My first thought was to send the Mrs. Hagerty OG link to my sister who lives in rural Minnesota and used to write for a nearby small (teeny) town paper, she’d get a kick out of it. Then I remembered I’m not speaking to or e-mailing her for a while since we had a nasty back and forth about Limbaugh, in essence she thinks he’s right about Sandra Fluke even though she’s not happy he changed the narrative irreparably from religious freedom to contraception for sluts. I don’t want to be her sister for awhile.

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  36. basset said on March 9, 2012 at 10:53 am

    That’s not an 85-year-old woman, it’s North Dakota’s only hipster being ironic.

    And don’t forget… Al Neuharth got his start up there.

    Peter@15, may I recommend Middle Tennessee State, right outside Nashville?

    Only half an hour or so from Cracker Barrel world headquarters, too. Get the “Uncle Herschel’s Breakfast.”

    Joe, when you go on that dorm tour be sure to see the Willkie Co-Op, where students get a break on room & board in return for kitchen & janitorial work. Did three years there myself.

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  37. MichaelG said on March 9, 2012 at 10:54 am

    I’ve eaten at the Olive Garden a few times while on the road. At the end of a long day in an unfamiliar place I don’t usually feel like searching for a wonderful restaurant. At times there has been an OG right there near the hotel which makes it an easy choice. The food isn’t great but it isn’t bad and they have wine for a reasonable price. It’s not Biba’s but there are worse places to eat and I’ve been to more than a few of them. Never been to Bob Evans but it sounds ghastly.

    I’ll have to watch that straight/gay vid when I get home.

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  38. Judybusy said on March 9, 2012 at 11:06 am

    I’ll add a personal story to reflect what happens when states cut funding to higher education. In 2004, my partner decided to return to school and obtain a nursing degree. She began taking prereqs at a technical school, which has a very competitive admissions process.In about 2006, she was told by her advisor she wouldn’t get in because her grades weren’t good enough.(They have to be stratopherically good, not just very good.)She decided to enroll in a program to learn how to be a tech that sets up and runs EEGs–a two year course. In the middle of the second year, her father died suddenly. This was very, very difficult for her and impacted her performance. She didn’t pass her clinical, and had to re-enroll the following fall. However, three weeks before school was to begin, she found out the program was cancelled due to budget cuts. Many years and thousands of dollars potentially down the drain because the funding isn’t there to expand the nursing program or keep the EEG program going.

    This does have a happy ending, however: she decided to go for broke and applied at a private women’s Catholic university. She was accepted and will graduate in May 2013. She is kicking butt and taking names in her courses and will be an amazing nurse. Naturally, we will be in debt. (We are extremely fortunate that we will have the resources and smarts to pay this off ahead of schedule.) Too bad we won’t be spending all that money in the economy, which could have happened if the technical colleges were to receive decent support. So, this policy change has many effects, both micro and macro.

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  39. Joe K said on March 9, 2012 at 11:07 am

    Graduated 2 daughters from I.U.
    I.U. has a lot of my money. My kids worked while going to school,they earned scholarships, took on some loans, we helped as much as possible. My point being they never thought they deserved a hand out. The wife and I tried to instill in them hard work brings reward, not crying about how unfair things are and both of my kids have jobs in their fields, and this is in the last 5yrs. They both tell my wife and I how glad they are that they had to earn their education. The current dorms at iu are ok, but check out the new dorms being built on campuses across the nation.
    Pilot Joe

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  40. JWfromNJ said on March 9, 2012 at 11:08 am

    Marilyn Hagarty seems to have taken this whole thing in stride, based on the interview I read in the Village Voice, and she has a sense of humor. Here’s her take on her recent Florida visit:

    “I read in the Ft. Myers News Press that the Lani Kai Island Resort was rated by Coed magazine as the eighth trashiest spring break destination in the United States.” no word on if that was where she stayed.

    Jeff TMMO – I couldn’t find that video but did see some interesting other ones on Chipotle’s pork producers and sustainability. I miss Chipotle, they haven’t moved into this part of Florida yet. The one in Ft. Wayne off Coliseum Blvd. always made me think it was designed as an Infiniti dealership. We do have Moe’s but I don’t like the food as much, don’t like the shouted “Welcome to Moe’s” greeting, and I can’t embrace some of the menu item names, especially since I didn’t really like Seinfeld.

    Joe K – oppulent dorms? I’ve seen some nice newer ones at smaller colleges, but not oppulent. Dropping tenure to save money? Do you mean firing the more experienced professors to bring in newer ones? I was hoping you’d weigh in on UND’s flight program, which I think does an excellent job training pilots for working in marginal IFR conditions. I’ve mentioned Capt. Dave’s Flight Level 390 Blog, he’s an excellent writer.

    But I also enjoy Sam’s blog, blogging at FL 250. He’s more nuts and bolts, and also shares his travels. He’s a UND grad and since I’ve been reading his stuff he went from flying cargo in a turboprop Metro to a senior captain at a large regional flying the E-175, and he’s bound to move to the right seat at the parent company very soon:

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  41. LAMary said on March 9, 2012 at 11:16 am

    MichaelG, I understand the ease of going to a chain restaurant, but if you want a few tips for indy places let me know.

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  42. Julie Robinson said on March 9, 2012 at 11:24 am

    Judy, that is some tenacity. Hope she finds a wonderful nursing position.

    Our nephew is a history prof who lost his job because his entire department was defunded. It took two years of adjunct work before he got another full-time gig, and their family had to move twice. Now they are settled in and he has a tenure track position, but they aren’t buying a house. Nothing is certain anymore.

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  43. Joe K said on March 9, 2012 at 11:27 am

    UND does have a great program and I due read Capt Dave, and I have read Sam also. The problem we are seeing with college flight programs now are the kids are learning in glass cockpits which is good, but they get that first job in a old freighter with steam gauges and are totally lost.
    Pilot Joe

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  44. Connie said on March 9, 2012 at 11:47 am

    I find the whole reaction to the Olive Garden review appalling and elitist. If we take out my Flint mother in law our choices are Olive Garden, Red Lobster or the nearby Carriage House coffee house. Her choices, OK with me.

    I spent 14 years in Seymour Indiana, which had essentially a few local restaurants when we got there and dozens of national chains when we left. I remember how delighted we were to have Taco Bell, Shoneys, Ryan’s Family Steakhouse, Cracker Barrel and others come to town. We used to drive to Columbus IN and wait in line to go to Red Lobster. I see my Seymour friends recently complaining on Facebook that Columbus is getting an Olive Garden and why can’t Seymour. Do realize that when we first moved to Seymour we had to drive to Bloomington for Chinese.

    My kid lived in Butler’s newest dormitory building and it looked just like any dorm to me. We got her through Butler OK, but in her second year of grad studies at IU she is on her own. Though of course she got the tuition waiver that the state of Indiana gives to the dependents of combat veterans with purple hearts.

    When we moved to exurban Detroit in 2010 we missed the many whole in the wall taquerias and other Mexican places that were everywhere in Elkhart. There aren’t many Mexican places here, but we are perfectly happy with the assorted mid-eastern places instead.

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  45. alex said on March 9, 2012 at 11:50 am

    Been to the Lani Kai on Fort Meyers Beach and yes it is trashy. People openly smoked blunts in the parking lot, as I recall. My best memory of the place is from attending a beach wedding there on Estero Island (as Fort Meyers Beach is known) in 2004. A straggler in our group of about sixty or so showed up at the Lani Kai carrying an almost empty Aquafina bottle and the bouncer made a big production of throwing him out. Another member of our group told him to leave the guy alone or else he’d lose our business. He said “Fuck you.” All sixty of us got up and left and the place was essentially deserted.

    As for Marilyn Hagerty, I’m amazed no one has yet brought up Sandy Thorn-Clark, formerly of the News-Sentinel, who could wax rhapsodic over far lesser restaurants than Olive Garden. I seem to recall a writeup of Wendy’s that elicited laughter amongst Fort Wayners for years. Unlike Grand Forks, this town actually does have enough locally owned eateries that a food writer would never have to cover a chain restaurant, much less a crappy fast food place.

    Pilot Joe, I don’t know where you get the idea that anyone who wants to go to college is asking for a handout or that those who work in higher education are overpaid. The cost of an education is much higher nowadays than it was when I was young and there are a lot of people whose professional employment barely pays enough to handle the debts they incurred.

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  46. Prospero said on March 9, 2012 at 11:55 am

    College is elitist. Sanitarium said so. Even though Rick completely misrepresented what the President said. Dumb serfs are better for the power elite. I still can’t get over “opulent dorms”. How the hell did I miss those. Dorms at state universities are basically public housing like Cabrini-Green. Maybe those students should camp out under an overpass.

    And what the hell does tenure have to do with the cost of public higher education? Why should those pencil-neck geeks make one hundredth of what movers and shakers get to destroy companies. Who do they think they are? Kenny-boy?

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  47. Joe K said on March 9, 2012 at 11:59 am

    Ok, why has the cost of a college education gone up so fast?
    Pilot Joe

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  48. alex said on March 9, 2012 at 12:07 pm

    Why has the cost of education gone up so fast? Who knows? Why has the cost of hospitalization gone up like it has? Tuition and medicine aren’t all that different. The charges bear no relationship to the actual value of what you’re getting and those who have lots of money actually pay less than those who do not.

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  49. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on March 9, 2012 at 12:08 pm

    Ongoing tragedy in seminaries of the mainline Protestant denominations is that their boards, and the middle judicatories (think dioceses or regions) all criminally mismanaged their trusts and endowments for education and formation, saying year after year “we’ll spend that now, and giving will get better next year or the year after that.” Of course, it’s never next year, and for some bodies, next year isn’t coming regardless.

    So the seminaries now how staggeringly less to offer in financial aid than they did even in the late 80s, and the costs have gone up simply in line with inflation and general costs (although the schools that had other obligations or mortgages atop that have already gone under), so the pinch is for the average M.Div candidate seeking ordination — common is the student with $10-30,000 student loan debt *walking in the door* or second career students with equivalent personal debt. These folks are asked to take on, atop that, another average of $25-50,000 new debt . . . to graduate into a field with fewer fulltime jobs, and those tend to start at around $22,000, which may or may not include benefits.

    Some congregational leaders will throw out the “didn’t they build a new library last year” thing, but the fact is we are all complicit in spending a few decades insisting the pre-1964 world was coming back just as soon as we found the right program or training or set of theme posters, and it didn’t, and we ate the seed corn.

    Bivocational is already the norm for a third of the congregations in my region, and it will pass half well before 2020, but we’re still debating if it’s “okay.” When I’m at a meeting where that comes up, I just cut off everyone and say “Fine. Let’s say it’s wrong and awful and shouldn’t be allowed. So then what?” It’s happening, and it’s going to be the new normal for a long, long time.

    All of which is preface to saying: yes, small private already-pricey colleges are in an opulence arms race. There’s no doubt of it. Because to get those precious few (15%?) who are paying all or most in cash? They don’t want value, they want life to not change much from home to their four years at Dearold U. So Dearold had better build a new natatorium and library addition with a coffee bar, pronto, or those students are going elsewhere. It’s an arms race with no clear end in sight, but trust me, it’s not inflated teacher pay. They are, however, very proud of not using adjuncts and part-times (like the state schools are to the max), but that only means full-package instructor costs, versus the plantation labor at the State U. (Branch) campus not five miles away. Which makes the full fee paying students all the more important, so bring on the sushi chef in the dining room, and don’t call it a cafeteria. Public universities have cafeterias. [sniff]

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  50. Prospero said on March 9, 2012 at 12:09 pm

    John Kerry, who served in Viet Nam and Cambodia, slaps Mittens down.

    It’s capitalism, Joe, Has nothing whatever to do with the cost of producing the product. As for loans and the costs borne by graduates, there has long been a useless, invented private bureaucracy that charged people for administering loans that the lenders and recipients could have handled with no problem. The student loan industry has been jacking students for years and perpetuated itself by buying GOPers in government. This is an outrageous scam of long standing.

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  51. brian stouder said on March 9, 2012 at 12:09 pm

    Joe, as Jolene says, the government has been cutting back support.

    Here in Indiana, Mitch has presided over a whole series of cuts and whacks, and the end result is that the tuition goes up to cover the shortfall.

    And remember, this is the same governor who governs over a government that misplaced $300,000,000, and then – WhoooEEEE – found it again.

    Aside from that, it appears that Governor Romney is having fun in the South. He referred to his campaign in the southern US as “a bit of an ‘away game’”, he also made this remark:

    “I’m learning to say ‘y’all’ and I like grits. Strange things are happening to me,” Romney said jokingly.

    ‘Strange things’. Huh. I’d say stick with the grits and cutback on the mushrooms…

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  52. nancy said on March 9, 2012 at 12:10 pm

    Well, I’ll wade in here. What I found amusing about Marilyn’s report was how detailed it was, down to the CIA-dossier level. She mentioned that there’s seating for people waiting for tables. The utterly unremarkable uniform worn by wait staff. The raspberry lemonade. The “permanent flowers.” The arched doorways. And so on.

    It reminds me of one of the worst professional encounters of my early career, with a Knight-Ridder vice-president who came to town for a day or two. He was the antithesis of the smoothies at the top, and had lots of stupid ideas about everything. For instance: Why do restaurant reviews? Taste in food is so personal. What I want to know is the objective stuff — what does the place look like? What’s on the menu? Is there enough parking? You know, the verifiable stuff. He would have loved Marilyn Hagerty. This is the platonic ideal of his restaurant coverage.

    On the other topic: Joe, the reason college tuition has risen so fast is because state aid to education is falling so fast. Lavish dorms and professorial salaries are negligible, compared to that. My employer just presented a major reporting package on it, and that’s the bottom line; state legislatures find higher-ed funding very easy to cut, because only snobs take advantage of it. Romney’s comments were insensitive but, far worse, uninformed, because he seems ignorant of the fact — not opinion, fact — that the one that costs a little less still costs an awful lot.

    I don’t understand why conservatives don’t make it a culture-war issue; what do they think keeps young women working after their babies are born? Not a Mercedes in the driveway, but the mortgage-size student loan. (I should be careful what I wish for. It hasn’t been that long since “why educate girls if they’re just going to be housewives” was a common attitude in this country.)

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  53. Joe K said on March 9, 2012 at 12:16 pm

    Just typing in why college cost so much brought up a lot of interesting writing. It does seem that state funding cut backs have caused some increase, but a lot of the cost is in administration cost, at some universitys administration has risen 71% versus less than 40% student increase.
    Pilot Joe

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  54. Sue said on March 9, 2012 at 12:21 pm

    Joe, let’s not forget that the cuts in education that local, state and federal politicians are pushing through also apply to technical colleges, where there is usually not a dorm room to be found. But locals still have mixed to hostile attitudes about supporting these districts.
    DAMN those elite welding, cosmetology and A.D. nursing students and their overpaid profs!

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  55. Joe K said on March 9, 2012 at 12:29 pm

    Just a little reading
    Pilot Joe

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  56. Prospero said on March 9, 2012 at 12:29 pm

    Beret is the only word that should ever follow “raspberry” in print:

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  57. coozledad said on March 9, 2012 at 12:40 pm Aren’t they the ones who broke that story about the one weird trick that makes botox doctors furious?

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  58. beb said on March 9, 2012 at 12:53 pm

    I think the “why educate girls if they’re just going to be housewives” is still part of conservative thinking, only I think there’s an :ough” missing from that. “Why educate girls when they ought to be just housewives.”

    I was sure college football programs was what was driving up college costs but if you say it’s cuts to state funding of colleges I’ll take your work for it. I just hate college football.

    The death of Andrew Breitbart kind of overshadowed the death of John Q. Wilson, the man who popularized the “Broken Window” theory of policing. The idea is that ignoring little crimes like breaking someone’s window only encourages criminals to do more and suddenly you have a lot of major crimes. But if you vigorously go after the little stuff you discourage crooks from working the area. It’s a persuasive theory though I don’t know if there has been any follow up study on its effectiveness. Still it seems a theory that ought to be applied stringently to the financial field. There are so many lawsuits there that end in a plea bargain where the Bank pays a paltry fine without admitting to any wrong-doing. And then they go and do it again. Just requiring the Banks to admit to the wrong-doing would perhaps prevent them from doing it again. But what we get instead of Louis Freeh, the trustee wrapping up affairs at MF Global arguing that the top three officers of the failed company deserves their last round of bonuses.

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  59. Joe K said on March 9, 2012 at 1:00 pm

    Well Beb, Your never going to see 110,00 fans pay to watch a kid take a math test.
    Pilot Joe

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  60. coozledad said on March 9, 2012 at 1:15 pm

    I’ve got a suggestion for grad level J-school course: Avoiding accidental malocclusion during on-camera interviews

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  61. Prospero said on March 9, 2012 at 1:22 pm

    Beb, college football makes a gigantic amount of cash and certainly pays for Title IX sports like softball and women’s hoops. It also funds research grants:

    UGA is my school, and I love college football. I’m also very happy that football pays for softball and gymnastics and swimming, and women’s hoops.

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  62. DellaDash said on March 9, 2012 at 1:45 pm

    A self-sufficient 86-year-old widow with her wits about her…wrangling computers…meeting deadlines? I am so bowing down to Marilyn and her kitschy columns.

    By the time I went to take care of my grandma in Arkansas, around 1979, I’d strayed from my midwestern roots just enough to turn into an ignorant food snob…but not enough to buy into the looney-tunes cultism of ‘The Inn of the Seventh Ray’ in Topanga where I did a stint as a baker.

    Every morning I’d arrive at the dark kitchen in the wee hours to grind wheat berries for the restaurant’s signature fresh-baked bread. The dough was supposed to be on it’s second rising, molded and tucked neatly into a parade of loaf pans, by dawn. The owners also insisted that I hold my hands, palms down as if giving a blessing, over each of the baby loafs to zap their birth struggle with with my own primal energy. Some days the bread just didn’t rise and I’d get called on the carpet. What happened, they wanted to know…was I performing the proper rituals? Well, of course, I followed the same damn recipe every damn day…and they’d have to take my outwardly respectful word about the laying on of hands. Telling them I was on my period always got me off the hook, but I really didn’t understand why my product was so inconsistent until I did a little research and found out that professional bakers like their wheat flour to be aged. Otherwise it’s too volatile. Fresh-ground wheatberries? Unheard of!

    Anyway, back to Grandma. When I finally got her home from the hospital, I baked her some good nutritous multigrain manna. Nope…uh uh! She didn’t want any part of it. Grandma strictly wanted her white, white Wonder Bread. Kinda turned my worldview upsidedown. In all other respects she was old-timey…biscuits or cornbread from scratch, served with fried chicken, gravy…the whole nine…along with scripture read from an enormous bible, in addition to a lengthy grace said by grandpa…when we were visiting from up north and gathered around the Sunday dinner table.

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  63. Sherri said on March 9, 2012 at 2:02 pm

    If the difference between what I paid to go to college 30 some odd years ago and what it’s going to cost my daughter to go to college in the fall of 2013 were attributable to dorm rooms and professor salaries, those dorm rooms should look like four star hotels and the professors should be living the lives of one-percenters.

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  64. LAMary said on March 9, 2012 at 2:12 pm

    What Sherri said. I paid my own way through a good private university and it cost about 3500 per year in the seventies. The same place is now around 40,000. The dorms are the same.

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  65. dull_old_man said on March 9, 2012 at 2:22 pm

    My wife and I ate very well in North Dakota (and Montana) five years ago at local restaurants, eating much homemade soup and homemade pie. It was very good. We were driving to Glacier Park on Route 2. When we would stop for the night, we’d ask the hotel clerk where there was to eat. The answer would always start, well, there’s a Red Lobster or Olive Garden; we’d say no, is there someplace local. The (usually) kid wouldn’t be sure what that meant. We’d say, you know, maybe it’s named for the owner. In Williston, N.D., the kid’s face lit up and she said oh, Grandma Sharon’s. I could eat there every week. Don’t know what the fracking boom has done to small towns there.

    On the way back we were in a hurry and took I-94. In the towns along the interstate, the chains have used the name recognition to choke the local places to death. It’s a loss.

    My Bob Evans story: I ate there once with my mother. It was breakfast; she asked for a basted egg. The waiter’s face clouded over; he said he’d check. He came back and said they didn’t have basted eggs. My mother, a high school teacher, said if you can poach an egg or fry an egg, you can baste an egg. She said she’d tell him how. He said we don’t cook food there, just heat what comes off the truck. Mom got up and led the family out. Who would eat at a restaurant where they can’t cook an egg, she said. I haven’t been back–don’t know if what the waiter said was true.

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  66. Peter said on March 9, 2012 at 2:27 pm

    OK, I’ll put my two cents in on the cost of college.

    There are a lot of reasons why college costs have gone through the roof, and I’m not going to repeat them.

    To me, the main issue is that college is an investment. That’s true no matter what political party you like.

    The problem is that in many cases, that investment is more money than a small house. And that investment is being paid by people who don’t have a lot of cash laying around.

    Like a house, not too many people will beef about that investment if there’s a decent return. However, like the housing market, there are a lot of people who get degrees and can’t get any job, much less one that will allow them to start to pay off that investment. And I’m not talking about theater majors – Georgetown released a study showing that M.Arch. graduates have a 14% unemployment rate.

    If you’re Mitt or a decent businessman, you can write off a bad investment. Most people can’t. If their house or college education tanks, they’re goners. Therein lies the rub.

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  67. JWfromNJ said on March 9, 2012 at 2:27 pm

    Mary, that may be keeping pace with other things. Not the best example but a 1974 BMW 2002 tii (sporty entry level) was $5301.

    A 2012 BMW 335i sedan starts at $44150. Better safety features and more gadgets but both target the same market.

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  68. DellaDash said on March 9, 2012 at 2:47 pm

    One more California food story, even though the thread has gone in a different direction and I need to get to work.

    I was hitchhiking north from Los Angeles…must’ve been on the 405…when I got a ride with a guy on his way to a cattle auction. Maybe he was the autioneer, can’t remember…he pricked my curiosity, though, so I told him I’d go along (out of my way) and watch the proceedings. (One of my cardinal self-preservation rules was to never tell a potential ride where I was going, but to ask where they were headed, then let them know where they could let me off.) That spontaneous detour proved to be enlightening. The meat-on-the-hoof specimens were in outdoor pens, and every single one of them had something seriously wrong with it…big ugly tumors…eyes melting out of their sockets…faded coats studded with sores. Turned out it was an off-season auction with only the dregs for sale on the cheap. And who were the buyers? Guess. I have never been tempted by a BigMac or an Arbee’s Roast Beef Whatever since.

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  69. Prospero said on March 9, 2012 at 3:13 pm

    Della, I believe Grace makes the meal. And hitching used to be extremely fun. I’d be afraid to these days.

    It used to cost a buck at the door to see this:

    Public education is not a winner for a political party that lives by keeping its base dumber than grunt. Did President Obama mention College when he made the comment about advanced education? Nope. Did GOPers immediately convince rubes that that was what he said? Yup.

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  70. Prospero said on March 9, 2012 at 3:17 pm

    Participatory representative democracy when people are fucking stupid is pretty much like paintball with blindfolds.

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  71. brian stouder said on March 9, 2012 at 3:18 pm

    So – let’s forget about chortling at the serious-minded musings of sweet-natured small-town columnists, and instead focus on something that the Internets were specifically invented for: Laughing at nappy-Newt!* How did we miss this?

    an excerpt:

    You can watch “The Speaker” sleep for a couple of minutes in the above clip, and really, you should. Then what happened?

    He woke up before he was introduced for his speech. He told the audience:

    “I understand you have a panel. I look forward to any questions.”

    And then what happened?

    Then 12 seemingly eternal seconds of silence followed, oddly reminiscent of a response to a question about Libya given by his eccentric supporter Herman Cain. Gingrich stared blankly into the camera, and the audience stared back.

    Finally the AIPAC introducer had to cut the awkward void.

    “Mr. Speaker, there is not a panel,” he said. “Please do continue, sir.”

    And then what happened?

    Gingrich, always the improviser, moved right along.

    “Let me just say – I say this pretty briefly, I think,” Gingrich riffed. “We need a fundamental reassessment of our entire understanding of the threat of radical Islam.”

    Ahh, so that’s what happened.

    Two chortles and a guffaw are guaranteed!!

    *If this was earlier in the primary season, we’d have to change the metaphor from “Klown Kar” to the Seven Dwarfs, wherein Newtie is definitely Sleepy (and Ricky is Grumpy and Perry is Dopey, Paul is Doc, etc)

    edit – I’m thinking Romney would be Happy (or, “Mr Happy”, as Robin Williams might say, but we are digressing again!)

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  72. MarkH said on March 9, 2012 at 3:29 pm

    Further on Dull Old Man’s story. The rumor around here is that Olive Garden does the same thing. All the food is pre-cooked and packaged, then heated when ordered. Have no idea if that’s true.

    Pilot Joe is an advocate of chartered flying as opposed to commercial air travel. Here is some astounding gasoline on that fire:

    Real life Gwyneth Paltrow in View From The Top?

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  73. basset said on March 9, 2012 at 3:34 pm

    The first inflation calculator which came up on Google showed $5301 in 1974… was $23169.87 in 2010.

    And a stripped ’73 AMC Gremlin, $1999 in the full-page ad on the back of the Indianapolis Star classified section, would have been… $8787.33.

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  74. MichaelG said on March 9, 2012 at 3:52 pm

    Thanks, Mary. I’m mostly ending up in the Ontario and West Covina areas these days. I’d love any suggestions. I liked it better when I had jobs in Hollywood, Van Nuys and Burbank. Lots of good places there. When I had a job in Barstow I’d have killed for an Olive Garden. There’s a place across from the DMV in WC that bills itself as a shrimp restaurant. I went over there one day with my inspector for lunch. They served some kind of brown beef gravy over the shrimp. We’re still laughing about it and no, we haven’t gone back.

    Preferring to eat someplace other than the Olive Garden is not elitist. I happen to live in Sacramento, CA where there are dozens of excellent, first class, white table cloth type restaurants. Most are reasonably priced as well. Then there are dozens more smaller less ambitious restaurants. All these places are locally owned and all serve wonderful food. Fresh, creative and, yes, better than the formulaic fare at the OG which is part of a large chain. I don’t see why it’s elitist to want to spend my money for superior food served by a local small business.

    I’ve been a faithful reader of both Capt. Dave and Sam for several years now. Great blogs, especially Capt. Dave’s.

    What is a scholarship if not a hand out? A competitive one but a handout nonetheless. In CA, State colleges and universities have been disproportionately targeted for very deep budget cuts. Perish forbid that subsides to business be cut. There has been an ongoing scandal about administrators at both the State colleges and universities granting themselves generous pay raises while screwing the students and faculty.

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  75. Suzanne said on March 9, 2012 at 3:58 pm

    Opulent dorms are being built because that is what people who have money say they want. And they drive the economy. My kids went to public university, one with a wonderful scholarship, and neither one wanted or expected a handout and worked when they could find a job. My son worked a factory job one summer that paid over $20 and hour, which paid for exactly one semester tuition. He had some issues his last semester because budget cuts caused the classes he needed to graduate to be canceled. Luckily, he was able to find something else and take one online.

    I have a friend who used to work at the Taylor U campus in Fort Wayne. The main campus in Upland at the time built a big new gymnasium. Why? My friend said because market research had shown that a big new gym was something that drew people to a school.

    We can’t get back to the basics as long as marketing runs everything. But, hey, it’s the market.

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  76. Jolene said on March 9, 2012 at 3:58 pm

    Have come across several reviews of Game Change that offer more insight and more interesting analyses than the Ebert review I linked to a couple of days ago. Passing them along for whomever might be interested.

    From WaPo’s Hank Steuver:

    From James Wolcott in Vanity Fair:

    From Alec MacGillis in The New Republic:

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  77. Prospero said on March 9, 2012 at 4:01 pm

    Noam Chomsky on libertarianism:

    Well, he’s just another version of Saul Alinsky, right?

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  78. Joe K said on March 9, 2012 at 4:15 pm

    Your right Suzanne, market drives. Who here went to college and stayed in a dorm that had a communal bathroom? How about a roommate.The dorms that are being built and remodeled now are mostly single rooms with shared bath. I willing to bet that cost more than communal baths and a double. MarkH bat crazy flight attendants, makes my job a lot easier to sell.
    Pilot Joe

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  79. Suzanne said on March 9, 2012 at 4:28 pm

    That is exactly the kind of dorm I lived as did my kids. But, market forces are driving colleges to update and renovate to get students to come. I am pretty sure the universities would rather have kids live 2 per room with the communal bathroom, but that doesn’t work. About 50% of IU’s student body is now out of state or foreign because they pay more which knocks in-state students out. There is a real problem getting students to live in the dorms at all as there are way, way more apartment choices available than when I was in school in the late 70s. Again, the market saw a want and filled it. Let the market dictate, and it will dictate nicer dorms that cost more until it hits the tipping point where no one except the very wealthy can afford school at all. We’re heading there pretty quickly.

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  80. Rana said on March 9, 2012 at 4:32 pm

    After having been in an Olive Garden a few times with co-workers, I’ve come to the conclusion that its success lies in two things: unlimited salad and bread sticks (salt! butter! dressing!), and young male waiters willing (or encouraged) to flirt with middle-aged women.

    (For all that it’s a rather bland chain restaurant, I will say it has this going for it: it’s not Applebees. UGH.)

    On the costs of college: it’s not the dorms and the professors’ salaries, I can guarantee that. First, things like dorms are marketing tools, as was said up thread, and most of the fancy buildings are the result of donors preferring that their money goes to something concrete with their name on it, instead of something less sexy like student financial aid. Plus the cost of staying in a dorm is not part of tuition; it’s a separate expense, as many new freshmen and their parents are startled to realize (hence the reason so many students live communally in skaggy apartments off campus). Second, well over half of the teaching professoriate these days are adjuncts (as high as 70% in some institutions), who get paid a pittance ($2000 a course is a common figure, which works out to at most $12000 a year, if you’re lucky (I wasn’t)) and more often than not receive no benefits. Withdrawal of state and federal matching funds is part of it, the expansion of the administrative staff is another (if you want to rail against over-inflated salaries, take a look at the upper tiers of the administration, not the faculty).

    Apologies for all the nested qualifiers and clauses; it’s a day of either too much caffeine or not enough.

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  81. Bob (not Greene) said on March 9, 2012 at 4:36 pm

    Joe K., I have a son at a Big 10 university who lived in a dorm built in 1940 with communal bathrooms and roommates aplenty. It cost a fucking fortune. Opulent? Not so much. And the GOP governor of the state where that university is did students no favors when he cut $250 million in funding last year to the state’s university system — and added another $46 million in cuts the first six months of 2012.

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  82. Jolene said on March 9, 2012 at 4:40 pm

    This conversation is in danger of turning into “I walked three miles in the snow to get to school, uphill both ways.” Kids live in different ways in their own houses, and, as Jeff suggested yesterday, they bring different expectations re post-familial housing.

    When I left home for college, the next sibling down took my bed in a bedroom that I shared w/ my sister, and I moved into a double room in a dorm with communal baths. From there, I moved into a dorm that had a shared bath in a suite w/ two double rooms. Only in my last semester, did I move to an apartment, and that was a one-bedroom apartment in which my (female) roommate and I slept in the same bed!

    My nieces and nephew, who are college age or nearly so, all had their own rooms in their family homes, and the two who’ve gone to college so far didn’t last long in the usual dorm arrangement. One found a place, with roommates, in an apartment-style dorm; the other soon found shared off-campus housing. Both their expectations and their opportunities are more varied and flexible than were mine.

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  83. Dexter said on March 9, 2012 at 4:46 pm

    Julie: My one and only IU dorm story follows. I was sent to IU for union summer school, a thing the UAW did 30 years ago. The ancient dorms were empty for the summer and we took over for a week. One night a bunch of us hit some bars and got a bit rowdy and returned to the dorm and we crammed into an elevator, a bunch of over-beered factory workers, and of course the elevator was no match for us and we only made it halfway up and we became stuck.
    We were sardines in a can, it was really early in the morning, and nobody was responding to any buttons we pushed. And we were all full of beer. We were too drunk to panic, but damn, some of us were getting uncomfortable and needed a bathroom. All I remember is some skinny guys climbed out the top and manually pulled on the cables or some damn thing…and the car would inch up a little…finally we got high enough to get the door open, a few feet short of the floor, but as the nimble ones climbed out, the car moved up into position. Nah, nobody was scared, we all had a laugh…but to this day, elevators make my heart race a little bit, because I know the feeling of being stuck in one.

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  84. MarkH said on March 9, 2012 at 5:03 pm

    Great links, Jolene. Wolcott delivers again.

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  85. Suzanne said on March 9, 2012 at 5:05 pm

    Rana @ 80, yes. I know a guy who teaches at Purdue as an adjunct. He’s barely scraping by and doesn’t know from one semester to the next how much he’ll be teaching and thus, how much he’ll make. He doesn’t have much hope of ever getting hired permanently, but can’t find anything else, so he does it rather than starve. He’s tried to get in at places like UPS driving a truck, but once they see he has a master’s degree, he’s in the garbage pile.

    As I mentioned the other day, at IU (because that is what I’m familiar with) the president got a 20% raise over the past few years. But hey. Bring a few more out of state students who pay double the tuition, and it’s all good.

    My daughter, by the way, found it cheaper to share an apartment with some friends than living in the dorm. It also freed her from dodging the drunks in the bathroom late at night or stepping out of the communal shower to find a guy in the room.

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  86. MichaelG said on March 9, 2012 at 5:12 pm

    Don’t worry about qualifiers and clauses, Rana. You made the point about administrators better than I did.

    I’ve been to places where even Applebees looks good. I remember they had a ruben that was almost edible.

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  87. moe99 said on March 9, 2012 at 5:20 pm

    One of the Defiance Ohio FB sites is celebrating the opening of anew Bob Evans restaurant with adjectives like “beautiful” while noting that the local Nancy’s restaurant has closed. All without irony.

    And, yes Joe K. The reason that college education at every level is going up is cuts from the government. Now for those of us who are older, many of our parents were educated on the GI Bill and had their college costs subsidized by the government after WWII. Do you think that was a bad idea, Joe?

    Do you believe that education is a good thing for our society? Do you believe that educating our citizens makes them more productive, financially secure and happy doing jobs that are intellectually stimulating? If it is a good thing for society to have educated members, why is it not a good idea for society to continue to make education affordable and effective? Do you really want to go back to the Victorian times, where only those with money can afford to be educated, thereby stratifying and ossifying our society? It’s happening right now, all because of lazy thinking, which is, of course, fostered by bad or no education. Do you really want to wish that on our children, Joe?

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  88. LAMary said on March 9, 2012 at 5:29 pm

    An issue here in CA, where the state school tuition has gone up 32% in the last year, is the salaries of administrators. They gave themselves some big honkin raises, and the justification is the same as what you hear about CEO salaries. You can’t attract the best people without paying them well.
    It goes for some non-profits as well.
    So the people at the bottom and middle get salary freezes and cut benefits and the folks at the top get lots of bucks and lots of side bennies, and the consumers of whatever the organization does, whether it’s education or finance or healthcare pay more.
    This is not me ranting about class warfare. These are the facts. Honest, Joe. It isn’t the dorms.

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  89. alex said on March 9, 2012 at 6:14 pm

    I’d have to be pretty damned desperate to do Applebee’s. I don’t know what it’s like elsewhere, but I’ve never had a meal in one that wasn’t unappetizing and inedible, and I’m not a picky eater. I think Applebee’s exists to sell booze in the ‘burbs first thing in the A.M. and their “food” is their cover.

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  90. brian stouder said on March 9, 2012 at 6:44 pm

    Alex – I could not possibly agree more completely with you, regarding Applebee’s.

    The last time I allowed myself to be talked into eating at one, I ordered some sort of “riblets”. It is no exaggeration to say that they simply served me a plate of garbage.

    The ribs were cleanly sliced to a thickness of maybe 1/4″, and still on the bone; it was a plate of bone chips. I could not figure out how a person was supposed to eat it. You could pick up a bone-chip, and gnaw the meat off – which I think cost more effort than it was worth – by any measure.

    It is the one restaurant chain that I can flatly state I will never patronize; I would wait in the car if I was out-voted.

    (I have a Bob Evans horror story, but we’ll skip it for now, it being the dinner hour and all!)

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  91. Prospero said on March 9, 2012 at 7:00 pm


    I had a roomie, Dave Parutti, and we had one gigunda comunal bathroom. More modern dorms are designed after the suite style, and they house more students per the buck, I’ll guarantee. Considerably more cost effective. Somewhat more civilized too.

    Applebee’s, Olive Garden, where the folks that used to make airplane food went when the airlines decided on starvation. But would they at least not put the alll-the-way back ahole in front of me and the seatback kicking ninny kid behind with a tape player playing Hakuna Matata over and over.

    And Moe99. Isn’t it remarkable how the VietVets reaped the same GI Bill benefits as the Greatest Generation did? Not amusing how that worked out.

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  92. Prospero said on March 9, 2012 at 7:04 pm

    booze in the ‘burbs first thing in the A.M.

    What a concept. I prefer the NYC version which is the pint on the sidewalk between 5:30 and 6:00.

    And if you close the door:

    Second best girl drummer ever. Georgia Hubley is the standard.

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  93. MarkH said on March 9, 2012 at 7:10 pm

    Wow. I have to say I am amazed at the vitriol heaped upon Applebee’s at nn.c. The closest one to us is in Idaho Falls and we’ve not had a bad meal there. It is adjacent to a Chili’s and an Outback Steakhouse. We prefer Chili’s, but don’t shy away from Applebee’s; decent food and good service. Since it’s southeastern Idaho, must be that wholesome Mormon character of the area.

    All the time I was in Ohio, I never ate at a Bob Evans. But Cracker Barrel was a fairly recent pleasant discovery courtesy of my sister in Denver. So I’m with Robin Trower.

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  94. ROGirl said on March 9, 2012 at 7:53 pm

    I lived in an old, block-sized, previously all-male dorm with urinals in all the bathrooms, communal of course. Only some of the rooms had sinks in them and the room sizes were uneven. Hardly opulent. Still, I’d rather have lived there than in some cinder block tower with sterile, echoing hallways and cookie cutter rooms.

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  95. Charlotte said on March 9, 2012 at 7:57 pm

    At least in Illinois, Olive Garden has a full liquor license. Which is crucial the year a girl and her brother are Christmas shopping and Hit The Wall. Let’s see — that was the year our father was leaving our stepmother and moving off to Prague with all the kids to “be Ernest Hemingway in Paris in the 20s.” Said stepmother, who we loved (and kept in his stead) weighed about 12 pounds and was pretending this was just a swell idea, and that she was fully supportive of el Dad. And mom, well, mom was her usual narcissistic alcoholic bag of nuts.
    I can still taste the glory of that gin-and-tonic at 2pm on the day before Christmas eve. I’ve had a soft spot for the Olive Garden ever since.

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  96. Joe K said on March 9, 2012 at 8:42 pm

    You might go up and re read my post @53 but I did mention government cuts. No Moe I think the gi bill is what help make this country what it is, but that generation worked hard and smart,and didn’t look for excuses they bucked up and got the job done.
    Pilot Joe

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  97. Prospero said on March 9, 2012 at 8:55 pm


    college costs, you have no clue. And the idea that college is elitist, Bullshit.

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  98. Prospero said on March 9, 2012 at 9:00 pm

    The idea that WWII vets were somehow better and harder working than VietVets is exceptionally odious. We have an entire presidential campaign where the liar coward got elected Pretzeldent. Ain’t that a wonder.

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  99. Deborah said on March 9, 2012 at 9:11 pm

    Maybe I missed this here (I’ve been pretty busy lately) but good riddance Dennis the menace Kucinich (spelling). Ohioans?

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  100. MarkH said on March 9, 2012 at 9:16 pm

    Why would you say that, Deborah?

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  101. Sherri said on March 9, 2012 at 9:19 pm

    No amount of bucking up and not making excuses is going to change the fact that it’s simply not possible to get through college the way I did 30 years ago. Yes, I worked hard, but I was also just lucky enough to graduate from college before we decided to stop investing in education.

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  102. Joe K said on March 9, 2012 at 9:33 pm

    go read 39 you ass.
    Pilot Joe

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  103. Deborah said on March 9, 2012 at 9:34 pm

    Mark H, I haven’t followed Kucinich that closely, but I will say that I have found him to be sometimes embarrassingly fringe left wing. I am torn because on the one hand if you don’t have people like that you will move ever closer to the right. I can’t point to specifics right now, give me a bit but I have just felt that he hasn’t made the left move in a positive direction overall, I can’t speak for Ohians though they would have a better perspective. What does it look like there?

    Edit: I feel completely differently about Sherrod Brown, in fact I campaigned for him, from Chicago when he was running for Senator. Now there’s a good guy.

    2nd edit: you have a good point Kirk, compared to the right there are fewer fringers on the left. That’s why I’m torn.

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  104. moe99 said on March 9, 2012 at 9:34 pm

    Jeo, I’m not sure why you think the current generation is not bucking up and getting the job done. do you have any statistics to point to?

    It seems to me that these sorts of complaints are endemic to the older generation as they look back on their lives, whether it’s today, or in the 30’s or even prior to that. If you have anything to substantiate it, please let me know.

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  105. Kirk said on March 9, 2012 at 9:39 pm

    Kucinich is kind of out there, how many Michele Bachmanns do the Republicans have for every Dennis Kucinich?

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  106. MarkH said on March 9, 2012 at 10:25 pm

    Yes, he is out there, always has been, but he has always been on the right side of the issues, liberally speaking. Take a look at his wiki entry:

    I was in Ohio when he was mayor of Cleveland, and yes he did stumble, but he was young. I am not a democrat or a liberal, but I like the guy. I was sorry he lost the recent primary. What I like about him is he stood his ground on his beliefs. And for a time was very visible on Fox News, showing no fear going up against their opinion show screamers.

    Biggest surprise I just learned about Kucinich: The Cleveland mafia put a fucking HIT out on the guy!!

    From Wiki — “Kucinich’s tenure as mayor is often regarded as one of the most tumultuous in Cleveland’s history. After Kucinich refused to sell Muni Light, Cleveland’s publicly owned electric utility, the Cleveland mafia put out a hit on Kucinich. A hit man from Maryland planned to shoot him in the head during the Columbus Day Parade, but the plot fell apart when Kucinich was hospitalized and missed the event. When the city fell into default shortly thereafter, the mafia leaders called off the contract killer.”

    I’m sure Nancy and Kirk might remember this, but I didn’t.

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  107. Kirk said on March 9, 2012 at 10:35 pm

    Wow, I don’t remember that. I like the guy, too. You’re right; he stuck to his guns. And his constituents obviously liked him, too. He has been in Congress a long time.

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  108. maryinIN said on March 9, 2012 at 10:55 pm

    Oh, boy, ton ‘o topics here.

    Mark mentioned precooked food at OG. Yes, I recall the time I ate something there that had a creamy sauce and when I got to the bottom I found the little round penny-sized piece of paper with “Thurs” printed on it. (Not sure what day of the week I ate this dish.)

    Re Applebees: At a workshop I observed in a small town in a county adjoining Allen, the participants worked on a vision statement for their community and came up with the number one need being an Applebees, which I doubted, but was told there was no other family oriented place to eat that was not a McD’s-type fast food. So in some ways I had to come to agree with them.

    College cost, etc: Dorms have been worked on at IU but not to the opulent level. Mostly the need that’s being met is improvement in indoor air quality and climate control (I know this is true.) Also, the IU president has been cleaning up the messes left by his predecessor and IU is very lucky he was still available when the trustees came to their senses and hired him. The cuts to higher education are from the state legislature and there has been a LOT of cost cutting behind the scenes and frozen salaries and so on and, believe me, the salaries and benefits are not what is commanded in industry or even in other state universities, in fact not competitive enough to hire the talent that will keep IU on top (again, I know). This is legislative short-sightedness to an alarming level.

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  109. moe99 said on March 9, 2012 at 11:29 pm

    Republicans used to be for public education. Now they aren’t.

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  110. Dexter said on March 9, 2012 at 11:56 pm

    The GI Bill, signed in 1944, was vastly different than the second incarnation of the GI Bill, which was signed after 1956 when the first one ran out.
    “It gives servicemen and women the opportunity of resuming their education or technical training after discharge, or of taking a refresher or retrainer course, not only without tuition charge up to $500 per school year, but with the right to receive a monthly living allowance while pursuing their studies.
    It makes provision for the guarantee by the Federal Government of not to exceed 50 percent of certain loans made to veterans for the purchase or construction of homes, farms, and business properties.
    It provides for reasonable unemployment allowances payable each week up to a maximum period of one year, to those veterans who are unable to find a job.
    It establishes improved machinery for effective job counseling for veterans and for finding jobs for returning soldiers and sailors.
    It authorizes the construction of all necessary additional hospital facilities.
    It strengthens the authority of the Veterans Administration to enable it to discharge its existing and added responsibilities with promptness and efficiency.” -END

    I am copying the first one here so you can see the great deal the WWII vets were getting. By 1971, when I attempted to go to school on the GI Bill, it had been pared to $225 per month for a full time student. That wasn’t enough to even pay tuition and books and living expenses , and at an extension college one needed a car…point is, without a good paying job to go with the GI benefit, there was no way to go to college on the GI Bill.
    When the GI Bill was signed, tuition plus a living allowance was given, and many thousands were indeed able to complete a college education. I had to work and was only able to fit a 3/4 class schedule in, and I only received $175 per month. People who say they went to college on the GI Bill after the Vietnam war either had a wife supporting them or had rich old parents or some trust fund or something. It was a spartan life for a while for me, then I got mono and got way behind and went broke and simply had to go to work full time in order to live.

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  111. David C. said on March 10, 2012 at 6:39 am

    My wife and I didn’t have a mortgage until we had been out of college for 3 years. The young couple next door had a mortgage on their lives handed to them as soon as they got their laser printed imitation sheepskins. Their student load payments are higher than their home mortgage payments. He is a materials engineer and she is a high school mathematics teacher. They should be in the pink, but they are struggling under the burden of their education debt. WTF is wrong with a society that thinks it is more important for Jamie Dimon and the like to get another billion dollar penis extension than for young people to get a decent education without a burdensome debt.

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  112. Connie said on March 10, 2012 at 8:20 am

    I’Ve had a soft spot for Kucinich ever since I heard him say that our health care should not be someone’s profit center. That was in the run up to the 2004 election.

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  113. Linda said on March 10, 2012 at 8:30 am

    So a lot of snotty peeps have their knickers in a twist because some lady in ND likes the Olive Garden. My mamma, God rest her soul, loved it too. While she lived here in Toledo, I tried to introduce her to some local places, and she liked Inky’s (because they are an old-fashioned, midcentury Italian-American restaurant that still serves veal lots of ways), and Mancy’s Italian Grill, a nice slightly more upscale, newer cuisine place. But OG has those ads full of gooey, cheese-laden food, and she loved ’em all. And JTMMO, she loved Bob Evans, and all the other chain joints, because their food might be mediocre, but it was a known, uniform quality, like rayon. You never had to be surprised, or recalibrate your taste buds. And there are folks who still like that in their food.

    Connie: Toledo is a Mexican food paradise, and not just the chains. I’m guessing that the Indiana town you lived in had agriculture that used a lot of migrant labor. That’s why northern Ohio has a pretty good Mexican population, and some good little restaurants, like San Marco’s.

    Re: Kusinich. Yeah, he was on the “right” side of issues, but never got stuff passed. If that’s where you’re at, you should be writing letters to the editor, but not necessarily be sitting in Congress.

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  114. Suzanne said on March 10, 2012 at 10:38 am

    When I attended IU in the late 70s, tuition for a semester, I’m 99% sure, was well under $1000. Now, for a state resident, it’s over $4,000 per semester for undergraduate studies along with several hundred dollars in “fees”. Housing in a dorm is $7,000 to $8,000 per year. Certain programs have added fees–music, chemistry, etc. Books will easily run $500-$600 per semester; science books even more (one chemistry book alone will run $100 or more). As I state earlier, my son worked a factory job one summer making over $20 per hour, earned several thousand dollars and that paid for one semester tuition.

    My neighbor once remarked that he went to a state school for less than $5,000 per year and I’m sure I did too. Now, it’s around $18,000 per year and that’s a low estimate and is close to my yearly salary (I am a college grad) after 25 years of working. Summer jobs are harder and harder to find; a work-study will maybe make you enough to pay for books and fees. Community colleges are cheap but have mostly technical programs (massage therapy is great, but not if you want to be a teacher or a doctor or a CPA).

    I don’t know what the answer is, but I am tired of people saying kids go into debt for college because they are lazy. Some are, but many are not.

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  115. JWfromNJ said on March 10, 2012 at 10:56 am

    Off topic but interesting for the journalists here:

    Police chief in Berkeley sends Sgt. to the reporter’s house to demand story revisions at 12:45 am after reporter files a story on public meeting about poor police response to a beating death.

    I was surprised the police took the “subtle intimidation” route rather than the time-tested plant cocaine on the reporter method.​twitter/ci_20143269/​berkeley-police-chiefs-decision​-send-sergeant-reporters-home

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  116. Prospero said on March 10, 2012 at 11:41 am

    Student loan debt is largely a function of an ersatz middleman industry that reaped big bucks while offering no value whatsoever. Banks were paid for “administering” loans that administered themselves, and GOPers protected the phony bidness like Rikki Tikki battling Nag and Naghina. Ending this predatory arrangement was one of the first things President Obama accomplished. This is one heavily larded and expensive level of unnecessary bureaucracy that GOPers have a woody for. Pure profit for no value provided. A perfect bidness model. Right up there with payday lending and title pawn. Soul-eating scum.

    And how ’bout that Mrs. Kucinich (kind of a knockout):

    About six inches taller than wee Gary, who set water on fire back when he was the kid mayor. Burned a fireboat to the waterline. And she is quite accomplished:

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  117. Dexter said on March 10, 2012 at 12:21 pm

    Linda, El Camino Real on Sylvania is my fave Mexican place but my wife likes the chains better, and my daughter judges Mexican joints by the size of the margaritas they serve. I prefer El Camino Real .

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  118. MarkH said on March 10, 2012 at 2:04 pm

    What are you saying, Prospero, that Kucinich was mayor when the Cuyahoga caught fire? Try Carl Stokes who WAS mayor on June 22, 1969. Kucinich was in college. Update your “research”:

    “wee Gary”??

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  119. MichaelG said on March 10, 2012 at 3:22 pm

    In 1970 I was married, going to school and working part time. My wife was working full time but we were still very, very tight on money. The couple of hundred bucks I received from the VA every month were most welcome.

    I don’t recall anyone having their knickers in a twist over the North Dakota restaurant review. I must have missed something.

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  120. jcburns said on March 10, 2012 at 4:47 pm

    Carl Stokes, also notable as NYC’s first black anchorman. His Wiki-P entry has, well, all kinds of eclectic factoids.

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  121. Prospero said on March 10, 2012 at 5:57 pm

    Slouching toward Bethlehem.

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  122. brian stouder said on March 10, 2012 at 6:13 pm

    I don’t recall anyone having their knickers in a twist over the North Dakota restaurant review

    I clicked to Nancy’s Gawker link to see if I misinterpreted the snooty/snarky response to the Olive Garden review (nope), and in doing so tripped into the following Gawker article – which (I cannot decide) may be something Uncle Rush will jump onto (so to speak), or maybe it buttresses Pilot Joe’s position (in re: opulent dorms, or something)

    an excerpt:

    One former student of Stonehill College in Massachussets is seeking $150,000 in damages following a wild and crazy sex-filled senior year.

    The problem is that it wasn’t Lindsay Blankmeyer who was having the sex; it was her roommate.

    Rather than devising creative, passive-aggressive, and, ultimately, effort-intensive ways to get back at her libidinous roommate, as you or I might have done, Blankmeyer has opted to make this ménage-a-trois a pas-de-deux by cutting out the third party (her roommate) and suing her school directly.

    Aside from that, and back to national chain restaurants, let me say that I love-love-love Logan’s, when it comes to chain steak houses. Outback was always outrageously priced*, but Texas Roadhouse is another good alternative – despite making Pam cry when she was 7 months pregnant (something to do with whether there should have been brown gravy or white gravy on her dinner….I don’t fully recall, except to say that everything I said at that time was entirely wrong and stupid and clueless!).

    But Cebolla’s/Don Chava’s is a locally owned chain of (4 or 5?) Tex/Mex/Southwest restaurants that I love-love-love.

    *I think Outback is no longer in business in Fort Wayne, which is saying something – since you cannot get into either of the two Logan’s or the Texas Roadhouse at the normal dinner hour on a Friday or a Saturday or a Sunday – without a substantial wait (and good luck in the packed parking lots). If we go to Logan’s on the weekend – we shoot for 4-ish for supper, or 11-ish for lunch – or else forget about it!

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  123. beb said on March 10, 2012 at 6:23 pm

    Texas Roadhouse, A nice Indiana chain that has nothing to do with Texas, gave us virtually unedible fried mushrooms the last time we were there. (I had to wash off the spices in the little tub of au jus. And the streak was overly peppered. Now my wife doesn;t like pepper at all. I don’t mind an ordinary amount but the quanity they placed on my streak was uncalled for. Last time we’re going there.

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  124. brian stouder said on March 10, 2012 at 6:38 pm

    Beb – when Texas Roadhouse first opened in Fort Wayne, they flew their Texas state flag – a large one clearly visible from the major road it is on (Washington Center Road) and from the interstate highway (I-69) which over-passes nearby – upside down!

    It remained that way for a couple weeks before someone tipped ’em off, and they fixed it. When Pam and I visited Texas some years ago, we noted that the flag LOOKS “upside down” when it is flown properly (at least in my opinion; the red stripe should be on top, with the white one beneath – but nope. That ain’t how it goes) so I have some pity for my fellow Hoosier, whoever she or he is, who fouled that up

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  125. Dexter said on March 10, 2012 at 7:21 pm

    brian: In October , 1968, a new Holiday Inn opened in Fort Wayne. It was the one just down a service drive from Fortmeyer’s Truck Stop, visible from I-69.
    It became a discount motel years ago.
    A crew from the Memphis HQ of Holiday Inn came to get the place rolling along. I hired in under the title of “porter” but really I was a bell boy and also a room service waiter.
    About the only porter duty I had to perform was to raise the three flags every morning. USA Old Glory went on the middle pole. The gorgeous Indiana flag and the ugly-ass Holiday Inn flags flanked Old Glory.
    There was a glitch, as new places always have. The construction people made the middle pole shortest of the three, but I was ordered to fly Old Glory on the middle pole anyway.
    After several patriotic business travelers complained bitterly to the manager, a solution was ordered: I was to fly Old Glory to the top of the shortie pole, but fly the other two flags one flag-height lower, which appeared to be half-mast. One elderly guest asked the manager if the Indiana governor had died overnight! It really looked stupid, I’ll tell ya, but that is the way it stayed until I quit after a few months of that zero-direction job.
    One day a wine distributor had a tasting in the best suite. Buyers came and tasted many, many bottles of fine wines, placed their orders I presumed, and left a helluva bunch of barely tapped bottles in the room. A young maid and a young maintenance guy waved me in and we plotted what to do, which was to divide the goods and cart them out to our cars.
    I enjoyed that bounty as much as Huck Finn enjoyed those fine see-gars he acquired while rafting down the Mississippi, I bet. Some fine wine for sure, a rare treat for an eighteen year old in a 21 year old drinking law state.

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  126. MichaelG said on March 10, 2012 at 8:12 pm

    I’m watching the 5:00 PM news and just saw Willard Windsock stand up before an audience and say “Morning, y’all.” He was talking about grits yesterday. The guy truly has no shame and it suddenly occurred to me what a patronizing bastard he is. His remarks about going to a cheaper college if you couldn’t afford your first choice were beyond disgusting.

    Krugman had a very smart column in the Bee today about the Rs and college. I read it on paper and I’m sure it appeared in the NYT a day or two ago. Somebody smarter than I am can probably find it.

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  127. Dexter said on March 10, 2012 at 11:54 pm

    Them wuz “cheesy gree-itts” Romney was talkin’ ’bout. Sleep tight, y’all…

    I just watched “Game Change” on HBO. Julianne Moore is great,. we knew that, but she was superb as Palin…as impressive as Kate Winslet was last year in “Mildred Pierce”.

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  128. coozledad said on March 11, 2012 at 9:01 am

    Time to Get.The.Fuck.Out. Someone here asked “What kind of empire do we wants to bee?” Well, we was a wannabee empire with no business overseas. We can’t even keep the shit fer brains in line here at home.

    EDIT: And whatever you do, don’t look at the comments section. It’s all Republicans jizzing their keypads.

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  129. beb said on March 11, 2012 at 12:37 pm

    Linda @113. Elkhart, IN is the RV manufacturing capitol of America. Most of the work is carpentry/sheet metal work so a lot of Mexicans have come there to work. The farming around there is mostly grain o large farms with even larger machinery. Not a lot of jobs for hand labor there.

    Connie, way back in the tread: as I’ve mentioned before there is a large Mexican population in the MexicanTown part of Detroit. It’s just west of the Ambassador bridge in the pocket formed when I-75 swings from eastward to northward. I’ve been there a couple times with my wife to the very ethnic grocery stores there and I’m sure there have a lot of very authentic Mexican restaurants as well. So if you’re hungering from truMex eating give it a try.

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  130. ROGirl said on March 11, 2012 at 2:15 pm

    I have a friend who is Mexican. Her cousins have a restaurant called El Charro, with several locations around the Detroit area. It’s worth a visit.

    Off topic, but this is why I love the British.

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  131. Connie said on March 11, 2012 at 2:51 pm

    Migrant farm work brought the Hispanics to my home town of Holland, but as beb notes it was the RV industry that brought them to Elkhart. One of these days we will get to Mexican town. One of my coworkers brings me fresh made tamales from his favorite Mexican grocery in Westland.

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  132. Joe K said on March 11, 2012 at 4:10 pm

    Read your link and looked at the comments, it seems to me that at least 90% of the comments were to leave, isn’t that what you want? How is that Republican jizzing on the key boards?
    Pilot Joe

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  133. Prospero said on March 11, 2012 at 4:41 pm

    Today’s Nina Hagen’s 57th birthday. This performance kinda makes Sid Vicious look like a pretty wimpy poseur.

    I don’t think she augments her voice with tape recordings like Madge does in live performances. I’ve gotta believe Bowie probably loves this version of Ziggy. German music hall, lieder and socialist lowbrow opera tradition taken to extreme ends. Eat your heart out Kurt Weil and Bertolt Brecht and Lotte Lenya.

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  134. Deborah said on March 11, 2012 at 5:35 pm

    RO Girl, I love the Keep Calm poster, what a great story. I’ve been wanting a copy for years, now more than ever.

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  135. brian stouder said on March 11, 2012 at 6:50 pm

    That story from Afghanistan is bad stuff, especially in the wake of the Koran-burning thing. We look like a brutal imperial occupier.

    In truth, if we were truly evil, things could be much worse; incidents like the one reported would be common-place.

    But this distinction is empty and meaningless, if indeed these sorts of things are bound to happen in a war. I’m with Cooze – we need to be out of there sooner rather than later.

    I do trust President Obama, and possibly our direct involvement in Afghanistan has a lot to do with the Pakistan-India growling contest. Maybe the corollary to “jaw-jaw beats war-war” is “ground war-war beats a thermonuclear exchange”

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  136. Deborah said on March 11, 2012 at 7:59 pm

    A beautiful day in Chicago today and of course I’m ecstatic about daylight savings time. Couldn’t be bertter. 7:15 here and still daylight.

    Edit: my iPad is a bit off on the time as everything else. My iPhone is about15 minutes different.

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  137. beb said on March 11, 2012 at 9:30 pm

    ROGirl, we get soft-shelled tacos from El Charro all the time. It is a good place.

    Temp was about 68 today. Went to the zoo. seemed like everyone else and their kids had the same idea. Never had to wait in line to get in before. But it was great to see so much attendance there.

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  138. Julie Robinson said on March 11, 2012 at 9:33 pm

    Beautiful here too in the Fort. We had a gathering for Dennis’ birthday and we all ended up outside for the first cutthroat croquet match of the season. For a March birthday, it just couldn’t have been more perfect.

    However, the news from Afghanistan is sobering, especially for those who have loved ones serving there, who are now even more in danger than before. Two of my friends have sons in the country right now and I know they don’t sleep well. It’s difficult to find anything positive that’s being accomplished.

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  139. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on March 11, 2012 at 10:45 pm

    Just got back from two days co-leading a group organized by the Appalachia Ohio Alliance through some wetlands in the Hocking Hills, and then to a rarely seen but highly significant Adena-Hopewell earthwork complex on the far west edge of Hocking County. If you are anywhere between Dublin & Athens OH, come down to Logan April 21 for AOA’s Trillium Festival at Mathias Grove. It’s a great organization and a good cause —

    All you OU grads: some students from Athens came along, and what a great group of environmentally aware and ecologically informed students they were. Congrats to the Bobcats!

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  140. Bitter Scribe said on March 11, 2012 at 10:48 pm

    At least that Flatland guy had the good grace to disappear. But what else could he do? This wasn’t just a turn of phrase, or a paragraph–it was entire columns. Good God.

    What really gobsmacked me was that the guy’s daughter is practically disowning him. That’s cold.

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