Back to school.

An actual hour to spare at the end of the day? Well, then, it must be time to jump into something I signed up for months ago — “A History of the World Since 1300,” the Coursera offering I thought I’d take a whirl at.

It is, I figure, the closest I will ever get to Princeton.

Also, I’m writing more about education these days, and online education is a comer. One principal I talked to says every kid in school today should take at least one online class, because that is the future. Who am I to deny the future? Hello, Coursera.

The first shock, however, was as old as 1975, when I first went through the checkout line at the College Book Store in Athens, Ohio: The textbook was something like $80. But you people have been particularly wonderful about using the Kickback Lounge lately, and I have enough Amazon credit built up that it became a what-the-hell purchase. It arrived today, and it’s a very nice textbook, I guess, which is my way of saying: I hope I can sell it in December.

Today’s lecture was in four parts, which is unbelievably convenient, as I was able to watch one part during lunch, another couple before and after my shower, and the last one while I made dinner. “People and Plunderers” was the title, beginning with the concept of wealth and ending with Genghis Khan. Professor Jeremy Adelman is a smooth-lecturin’ Canadian who uses words like “portmanteau” and if he’s unnerved by talking to a camera instead of a classroom amphitheater (because there is no way this isn’t one of those giant classes), he gives no sign.

Because you guys helped pay for the text, I’ll keep you updated on my progress. For now, I need to read Chapter 11.

I have 70,000 classmates, by the way. Are you one of them?

Actually, Genghis was a good end to the day, which wasn’t one of the best in recent memory. Besides the usual annoyances, there was the external stuff — the enervating public discussion about the 47-percent story, plus an armed robbery in Grosse Pointe that…well, I need a new sentence for this. Tell you what: I’m going to italicize all the words that make this story a migraine headache:

On Sunday morning, two young girls, 14 and 11, were walking home from church when they were accosted by a man who shoved one to the ground, showed a gun and stole her cell phone before running off. Oh, and did I mention this? The girls were white, and the man, in addition to being 250 pounds, was black.

Which means that any story about this event will grow repulsive comments like metastasizing cancer, each tumor more irregular around the edges than the last. But because this is Grosse Pointe, it can’t stop there. This was the follow by one of the largest news outlets in the state, yes, which saw fit to mention that the father of one of these girls showed up at the GP city council meeting the following night and had the gall, can you imagine, to call Detroit “a third world country.”

The incident is causing concern among residents of the community, a city that stands in stark contrast, both demographically and economically, to its neighbor Detroit.

Really? There’s a blinding observation for the second paragraph of your story, bub.

Yech, sometimes I think I should have stayed in Columbus. Or moved to San Diego.

So let’s move on to the bloggage, most of which was made obsolete by the terminal velocity of the Romney story. But there was one passage in the David Brooks column that I think needs to be put in neon somewhere:

The final thing the comment suggests is that Romney knows nothing about ambition and motivation. The formula he sketches is this: People who are forced to make it on their own have drive. People who receive benefits have dependency.

But, of course, no middle-class parent acts as if this is true. Middle-class parents don’t deprive their children of benefits so they can learn to struggle on their own. They shower benefits on their children to give them more opportunities — so they can play travel sports, go on foreign trips and develop more skills.

People are motivated when they feel competent. They are motivated when they have more opportunities. Ambition is fired by possibility, not by deprivation, as a tour through the world’s poorest regions makes clear.

And what the hell, here’s The Onion: Romney Apologizes To Nation’s 150 Million ‘Starving, Filthy Beggars’

Outta here, pals. I have stuff to read. Happy hump day.

Posted at 12:24 am in Current events, Detroit life, Same ol' same ol' |
 

70 responses to “Back to school.”

  1. Sherri said on September 19, 2012 at 1:11 am

    Well, my kiddo has taken an online course, as have many of the kids I know. She’s taken a class online through BYU to satisfy the health requirement to graduate. That way, she can finish in a few weeks what would otherwise consume a whole semester on her schedule.

  2. Dexter Friend said on September 19, 2012 at 1:59 am

    BOOM! I just sat down to type a reply and the dogs go crazy as an explosion shakes the house here…I ran out to see flames and smoke which appeared to be originating from the railroad tracks, so I called the cops and was informed it was a business right by the tracks. This is about a half-mile from here and I was worried a chemical train car had blown up, it surely sounded that loud. I was ready to grab my wife and animals and evacuate. The smoke just covered the northwest corner of town but it didn’t quite get to my area. All quiet now here, but up there by the fire it is a madly orchestrated combat drill.

    Let’s see…oh yeah…nance, what if you had stayed in Columbus? Did you ever mentally play out that scene from Capra’s Christmas story, where Clarence the angel lets George Bailey see what would happen if George had never been born, or in your case never left C-Bus , maybe went to Columbus State and became a bookkeeper for a grocery store?
    I sometimes wonder why older people didn’t point out to me the obvious: choices we make from high school graduation to age twenty-two will point what direction our lives will take. Kids are so easily misdirected at every turn, from jobs and education to the critical mate-choosing. I can look back and see so many bad choices I made it makes me shudder…I was 22 and I married an 18 year old girl because it seemed like a good thing to do, and it was incredibly not. It was ridiculous. My point? Not only is it better to have many choices in youth and young adulthood, unencumbered by lack of money, it is better to have a mentor , someone to check in with before making horribly bad decisions.

  3. David C. said on September 19, 2012 at 7:49 am

    I don’t like the trend toward more online courses. It’s being done because it’s cheap. Sure they’re more convenient, but so is 7-11. If we want the educational equivalence of a Slurpie, we’ll go to more online courses.

  4. beb said on September 19, 2012 at 8:33 am

    I visited three political websites before coming here. Two of those three linked to that Onion story. So this must be the official homerun hit of the day.

    And that 250 pound black man walked away, because running wasn’t an option. It’s enough to make one wonder if the girl didn’t make up the story to hide the fact that she’d lost her cell phone.

    I guestion the value of on-line courses because I don’t see how any test could accurately and fairly measure whether the students learned anything.

    Yesterday there was a story on boingboing about a mandated art history book in one Canadian university which contains no pictures because, even though the book covers art from pre-history to 1800 (meaning all the images should be public domain) the book’s publisher couldn’t come to an agreement with the holders of the art’s copyrights. WTF?
    http://news.yahoo.com/blogs/technology-blog/180-art-textbook-devoid-pictures-thanks-absurd-copyright-214921172.html

  5. Kim said on September 19, 2012 at 8:34 am

    My eldest took an online course this summer to stay on track in college. Chemistry, if you can believe it. I bought the credit hours and $150 book, then paid something like $165 for the lab pack – the smell of burning marshmallows emanating from his room was a little disconcerting – but overall it seemed like a decent course. Good lecture information, good labs. All very weird to me, esp. the part where he had to document his lab by putting photos of the experience in the lab report, but it does seem to be a part of higher education’s future. On the flip, professors and not teaching assistants, as I had for many classes at Illinois back in the 1900s, are the new normal at universities.

  6. nancy said on September 19, 2012 at 8:50 am

    Beb, the attack was witnessed by others. It’s not a fairy story.

    I’m also suspicious of online education, which is one reason I’m doing it. The proof will come with the written assignments; even if only a fraction of the students bother to write the essays, who’s going to grade them all? You’d need an army of TAs. However, so far, so good.

  7. Mark said on September 19, 2012 at 8:58 am

    David Brooks suffers from the same condition as Romney: he can’t escape the priviledged class and its world view. I don’t know exactly what “middle class” families do these days, but when I was a kid, my middle-class brother and I didn’t do much in the way of “travel sports” or go on foreign trips. I’m pretty sure we were middle class (in the post-war sense). My father worked at the Post Office and my mother started working as a secretary at a textile plant when I entered first grade. My parents put us both through a very good private school, at great expense to them. But I have a budget booklet from the early 50’s, when I was a little boy, and my mother budgeted literally to the penny. My father skipped lunch and saved his lunch money so there would be a little extra when it was needed. I think our family was probably pretty typical for middle class back then. The benefits my parents showered us with were close to necessities, not niceties. But I suppose middle class these days is different. I guess the middle class these days would have been considered upper, or at least upper-middle class when I was a kid. I also guess that my view of the world has been shaped by the struggle of a family to be middle class, like my parents’ view of the world was shaped by the struggle to survive the Depression.

  8. coozledad said on September 19, 2012 at 9:01 am

    Nance: Now that you’re reading about Ghenghis Khan, maybe you can settle a question for me. In “Food: a History” Waverly Root wrote that the Mongols were able to move quickly because they never had to consolidate interior lines of supply. They just drank the mare’s milk from their cavalry stock.
    But mare’s milk has so much lactose it’s undrinkable until it’s fermented into kumis. Before fermentation, it’s essentially a laxative.
    There’s also a limited period during foaling when the mares can be milked.

    Anyway, when I was looking into this I found out there’s a popular drink in Japan that’s based on the flavor of kumis with the trade name Calpis.

    Is this pronounced Kall-pee, Kall-pizz, or plain old cow piss?

  9. Deborah said on September 19, 2012 at 9:14 am

    My husband designed a building that was called a distance learning center, University Center at Lake County College. It’s a place that’s loaded with technology where they film lectures etc. They also have students who attend classes there. So the profs who are lecturing do probably have a room full of students not just a camera to speak to.

    edit: I just realized I wrote “film” lectures when I should have said video lectures.

  10. Prospero said on September 19, 2012 at 9:27 am

    The idea of an army of TAs grading written assignments raises my adrenaline. I have known too many kids that got on the wrong side of an officious TA somehow and got reamed on grades on written assignments, when the comments on the papers proved the commenter had no idea what he was talking about. This was commonplace when I was an athletic department tutor at UGA, but it also happened to my daughter in an English class at BU. Prejudice against student athletes is hardly surprising, although the TAs themselves were getting grad school paid for in much the same way a softball player was getting a free boat undergrad degree, but this behavior reached amazing levels of viciousness. Kids would come to study hall with papers so marked up they looked like crime scenes, with inane, incompetent, and downright cruel comments.It was infuriating and I couln’t do anything about it. In my daughter Emily’s case, I don’t have any idea what the TA’s problem was, but she was giving grades minus two grade levels, while sporting bad grammar in her criticisms.

    Speaking of my daughter, she went for a 12 week ultrasound yesterday and is well on the way to Kid 2. Yeehaw.

    D. Brooks seems to imply that rich folks make it hard on their kids, to teach them resiliency and self-reliance. On Bizarro World maybe, Dave.

    And do we prefer this sort of approach in the Middle East

    http://carnegieendowment.org/2012/09/14/three-messages-from-iaea-s-board-of-governors/dtr5

    or this sort of boorish stupidity?

    Obama state department acting statesmanlike and acchieving results, vs. Romney acting like insane John Bolton? This should be an early and often debate question for Willard. Can you identify any Israeli behavior that indicates any serious interest in a fair resolution of their predations on the Palestinian residents of Gaza and the West Bank?

  11. Jolene said on September 19, 2012 at 9:29 am

    Nancy, will there be written assignments? Wouldn’t be entirely surprising if, even in a face-to-face class, there were only multiple choice exams. (Don’t sneer, people. It’s completely possible to write challenging MC items that draw on knowledge of theory, require logical analysis, and such, as well as those that require knowledge of facts.)

    I haven’t read much about this trend, but I’m curious about it. Could be part of the answer to college costs and could provide access to people all over the world.

    For me, the hard part would be sustaining motivation without being expected to show up with certain things done at a certain time and place.

  12. Jolene said on September 19, 2012 at 9:32 am

    D. Brooks seems to imply that rich folks make it hard on their kids, to teach them resiliency and self-reliance. On Bizarro World maybe, Dave.

    No, Pros, he said the opposite. Look again.

  13. Julie Robinson said on September 19, 2012 at 9:36 am

    Like it or not, online education is here to stay, because: $$$. A family member who is a professor lost his job a few years back when his entire department was eliminated. He spent two years as an adjunct, flying cross-country to see his family, before he found a full-time, tenure track position. He’s teaching an online course this semester for the first time, and I’ll be very interested in his experience. My take is that it can work if both prof and student want it to, which is the same when they share a classroom.

  14. Dave said on September 19, 2012 at 9:41 am

    Just last night on ABC News, there was a story about thefts of Apple iPhones, with surveillance tapes of some of the attacks. Story said, well, you can watch it here: http://abcnews.go.com/WNT/video/iphone-thefts-caught-tape-17266560

    I think study abroad is more common for students now. All three of my children spent time abroad while in college and many of their friends did. This is much different than when I was in school, I don’t recall anyone going overseas for school.

    Dexter, sometimes mentoring just doesn’t work out, as I’m sure you would agree. Some people, when young, know everything. It isn’t in their makeup to listen to good advice, that comes later when they reflect on their past life and think, “If only I had listened”. OTOH, there are plenty who never get any advice.

  15. alex said on September 19, 2012 at 10:00 am

    What good does a stolen phone do anybody? I would imagine you cannot activate it, no?

  16. Dave said on September 19, 2012 at 10:11 am

    It was my understanding from the story that they can activate the phones but Apple and ‘droid manufacturers are working on a feature that would allow the carriers to de-activate the phones so that they would be made unusable.

  17. Deborah said on September 19, 2012 at 10:12 am

    Everyone with an iPhone should watch that link Dave. The term “Apple Picking” while clever is really creepy. iPhone snatching is an epidemic in my neighborhood, I have stopped using my phone while walking the streets which is kind of self defeating. I never use my phone if I’m on the el, which is rarely. They’re such an amazing convenience, I wish the technicians who design them could make them inoperable when stolen.

  18. Dorothy said on September 19, 2012 at 10:32 am

    If you password protect your iPhone, doesn’t that render them useless if they’re stolen? I have an Android and I know I should password protect it but don’t think I need to bother. On the other hand, if anyone had my phone, they could get into my email, Facebook, ebay and a few other sites that I readily access without a password via the phone.

    I’ve heard that, too, Dave. Don’t you think that would have been a helpful feature to have before they released them?!

  19. Heather said on September 19, 2012 at 10:51 am

    I work for a company that partners with traditional colleges and universities (some you would know, others–not so much). I’m on the marketing side but I know that the course development folks work hard to make the experience interactive and engaging, not just a static video of lectures. Classes are taught by the same faculty, the curriculum is just as rigorous, etc. It’s trickier than it sounds, which is why institutions, if they’re smart, look to outside companies to help them do it.

    It’s definitely a way for colleges and universities to make more money, but these courses also serve students for whom the traditional model won’t work–eliminates the need to organize your schedule around classes, arrange for transportation, pay for parking, etc. It also allows you to attend schools beyond your geographic area.

    Of course some people will always prefer the traditional classroom. Nothing wrong with that. I think I’d prefer that myself. But online is a nice option to have for many people.

    The new iPhone can’t come out soon enough. Today the slider on my ancient 3G won’t work and I can’t use it for anything. I kind of want to leave work to deal with it, which shows how tethered I am to this little thing.

  20. Connie said on September 19, 2012 at 10:55 am

    My brother in law is teaching Marketing 101 for the Baker College chain here in Michigan. He told me he was surprised at the cohesive groupness of his students who never see each other but hold long discussions and work together through the Blackboard software.

  21. del said on September 19, 2012 at 11:03 am

    As to the crime story…Grosse Pointe’s very safe, as anyone can see from looking at its crime statistics. Reportage of its crime, however, always seems to generate disproportionate attention in the region. There’s a hint of hysteria about it. It plays into prejudices and becomes part of a highly divisive racial narrative that people have an appetite for that media outlets gladly satisfy. The thing is that an entire generation of Detroiters has fled to the edges of suburbia (and exurbia) and when they hear about crime near the city they feel vindicated and affirmed in leaving – besides, it helps them get to their “happy place,” distancing themselves from the big bad wolf.

    I delivered both Detroit daily newspapers as a kid. One of them always seemed to play-up crime in Detroit, it sold papers in the burbs. It also created a perception among suburban kids in my age cohort that Detroit was utterly lawless (a meme having some potential to create a self-fulfilling prophecy). My in-laws subscribed to that daily and moved a few years ago from East Detroit to a suburb 20 miles away.

    How to report crime stories has got to be a tough call for an editor. What’s the purpose to be advanced by the report? Warning the public? Are the details important? Should it be on the front page? FWIW my father-in-law now believes that reports of crime in Detroit are being squelched by editors at both Detroit dailies, in other words, things may be even worse than the old days when he followed all of the crime stories with rapt attention.

  22. Prospero said on September 19, 2012 at 11:25 am

    I don’t know Jolene. He says that middle class people don’t deny their kids every advantage. I only read the bit quoted, because I’m having breakfast,

    of course, no middle-class parent acts as if this is true.

    Maybe I’m missing something, but this WaPo article seems to say the Willard Ananais campaign got a tideover loan from a DC-area bank using public campaign financing funds the campaign has foresworn.

  23. LAMary said on September 19, 2012 at 11:35 am

    My college student son and my high school student son both have some online classes. In the case of the college son it’s a required class that otherwise he couldn’t get this semester due to budget cutbacks. In the case of high school son, it’s a serious class. He has to view the lecture, complete a reading assignment, do a written assignment, and once a week go in the school to take a quiz on all the online stuff he did all week. This keeps the kids honest. With all the budget cuts in at Cal State schools, community colleges and public schools, if something can reasonably done online rather than in a classroom and there are checks to prove the work is being done by the student, I think it’s ok. In classes where discussion is a big part of learning, not so much. But pre-calclulus? I’m ok with that.

  24. Catherine said on September 19, 2012 at 11:36 am

    I wrote an online course for a client last year and it was an eye-opener. Elementary social studies. As everyone has said already, this is the new normal and there are certainly pluses to it. The thing that surprised me the most, though, was how little we took advantage of the technology. When you can show instead of tell, why would you persist in modeling a course on the traditional single lecturer at the front of the room, or on a textbook? I think much online coursework has a ways to go from a production standpoint.

  25. brian stouder said on September 19, 2012 at 11:37 am

    Today’s suburban crime discussion, and the suburban fear dynamic parallels a brief, interesting bunch of comments at the end of yesterday’s thread.

    Alex and some of the other former (and soon-to-be-former) Chicagins/Chi-ites (or whatever you call people from Chicago) had a similar discussion (in the wake of Mitt’s insular dinner remarks) regarding Chicago’s gilded-age white-flight and fear of the rabble.

  26. Colleen said on September 19, 2012 at 11:51 am

    I’m studying Health Information Management online through Vincennes University. So far so good, though motivation IS a big issue for me. With any luck, I have two more semesters before I have the degree and other employment opportunities. Because that’s why I’m doing it…

  27. crinoidgirl said on September 19, 2012 at 12:54 pm

    Nance, I’m one of your fellow students in that particular course. Have to wait ’til next paycheck to afford the text, however.

    • nancy said on September 19, 2012 at 1:03 pm

      Hey. I’d be happy to make a gift of the text to you. It’s just Amazon gift-card bux, and it would be a point in my karma account. Give me your shipping address via email, and I’ll get ‘er done.

  28. Scout said on September 19, 2012 at 12:59 pm

    I did an on-line Photoshop course last semester and learned a ton. I could have learned the same things just by going through the textbook on my own, but I found the interaction with the instructor to be invaluable when I ran across a few things that didn’t work the way they were supposed to. I am a question asker, and I think at first my instructor found me to be a bit of a pain in the ass, but by the end of it we were trading emails just to wish each other a good weekend.

    Internets win of the week – Money Boo Boo. Hat tip to Heywood J commenting at TBogg. I knew this crew would appreciate the crunchy goodness of that one.

  29. paddyo' said on September 19, 2012 at 1:04 pm

    I don’t have a problem with a future of online courses as part of the educational system. But a single class with 70,000 classmates? That’s preposterous, unless they’re employing several hundred T.A.’s, too. Or is there some compudigitalmagical essay-reading/grading mainframe or software somewhere to do that important part of the process? Or is writing to show one’s understanding of the course material soon to be obsolete?

  30. crinoidgirl said on September 19, 2012 at 1:05 pm

    Cool! Thank you so much, Nancy. Email on the way!

  31. Sue said on September 19, 2012 at 1:06 pm

    Well of course it does:
    http://www.salon.com/2012/09/19/your_brain_loves_jane_austen/

  32. Prospero said on September 19, 2012 at 1:10 pm

    crinoidgirl@27: Shouldn’t you be doing marine biology? Or paleontology?

    Brian@25: Back in the summer of ’68, all our neighbors in the Pultevision in Bloomfield Twsp. were sure that angry hordes of black people were marching out Woodward Ave. to invade our neighborhood. I was 17 and found it distressing to witness adults acting like such ninnies.

  33. Prospero said on September 19, 2012 at 1:56 pm

    Apparently Mittens should have kept the sarcastic shit about to himself. He pissed off Carter’s grandson.Like it was Carter’s fault that the helicopters broke down and that Cheney and Rummy negotiated the deal to provide Iran with weapons if the Ayatollah would hold onto the hostages until after Raygun was elected. And it’s pretty obvious doan know dick about overthrowing the Shah and the October Surprise negotiations on Raygun’s behalf, or Iran-Contra for that matter.

  34. Sue said on September 19, 2012 at 2:15 pm

    This isn’t getting too much coverage outside of Madison (certainly not much in Milwaukee), but there’s a new sheriff in town at the Capitol, so to speak…
    http://www.thedailypage.com/media/2012/09/19/Madison%20and%20Dane%20County%20police%20unions%20statement%20091812.pdf

  35. Prospero said on September 19, 2012 at 2:37 pm

    The Texas Secretary of State is writing letters to Texas voters of the brown and black persuasions to let them know they’ve been removed from registered voter rolls because they’re dead! Zombies can read in Texas apparently.

  36. Prospero said on September 19, 2012 at 2:43 pm

    Today is Brook Benton’s birthday. His greatest recording:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qr5djzzeA3M

    A great soul voice. I’m pretty sure this song was written by Tony Joe White.

  37. Dexter said on September 19, 2012 at 2:58 pm

    Four days ago I found someone’s smart phone in the grass at our city park. I was walking my dogs as I did the double-take and saw it. I tried to turn it on to find a phone number to call the owner but the thing was dead.
    I have found more than several wallets in my time and I know what a time-consuming process it is to just turn in a lost item to the cops…paper work, your life history…nuts to all that, so I took it to the tennis court and just put it in plain sight. One of the tennis players can be the good guy/girl for a change.

  38. Bitter Scribe said on September 19, 2012 at 3:11 pm

    FWIW my father-in-law now believes that reports of crime in Detroit are being squelched by editors at both Detroit dailies…

    Oh, cripes, not that again. The big crime-suppression conspiracy. Yes, of course a newspaper editor would pass up a juicy crime story purely for the sake of political correctness.

    I don’t know del’s FIL, but people who think that way tend not to be high up on the scale of racial enlightenment.

  39. crinoidgirl said on September 19, 2012 at 3:16 pm

    Pros, my degree may be in zoology, but my interests range far and wide. I’ve recently taken up numismatics again after many years out of the hobby, and I wanted a refresher course in world history. The Coursera selections look fun and interesting, and they cost $0, except for any textbooks needed. I already checked if I could get the current edition of the text through inter-library loan, and I can’t.

  40. Prospero said on September 19, 2012 at 3:17 pm

    Whatever happened to If it bleeds, it leads?

  41. brian stouder said on September 19, 2012 at 3:26 pm

    Forget best-selling fictional dystopian books and movies; how desperate must things be in Bolivia, for this to repeatedly happen?

    http://www.chem.info/News/2012/09/Safety-One-Dead-Four-Injured-in-Mining-Protest/?et_cid=2857360&et_rid=44004269&linkid=http%3a%2f%2fwww.chem.info%2fNews%2f2012%2f09%2fSafety-One-Dead-Four-Injured-in-Mining-Protest%2f

    LA PAZ, Bolivia (AP) — Rival worker groups vying for control of a lucrative state tin mine battled on a central avenue of Bolivia’s capital Tuesday, including setting off dynamite explosions that killed one miner and injured at least four. Doctors said one man died from chest and throat injuries, and another man lost an arm. Three others suffered lesser injuries. The bloodshed occurred when one faction of privately contracted miners threw a small dynamite charge into a crowd of state miners who were protesting on a main road in La Paz. The two sides have been staging rival protests for months over control of the Colquiri tin mine, which is 100 miles (160 kilometers) south of the capital. Tuesday’s protest saw thousands of independent miners take to the streets, some setting off small dynamite blasts.

    Sounds like Romney paradise, wherein “privately contracted miners”/”independent miners” feel compelled to throw lit sticks of dynamite at “state miners”.

    By th’way*, is there any such thing as an “independent miner”? If that person is 1000 feet beneath the surface of the earth, isn’t he or she entirely dependent on all the people tasked with keeping ventilation and power and communication going?

    *Aside from the Mittser’s annoying habit of saying “By th’way” every fifth sentence, I also am heartily tired of seeing that damned blighted American flag pin on his lapel. Who thought that Old Glory looks better with a black blotch in the middle of it? Is there supposed to be something subliminal about that sort of symbolism? And – why cannot Mitt say “legislature” or “legislation” correctly? His soft “g” turns into a hard “d” every damned time (“that’s up to the ledislature” or “I signed that ledislation”) Pretty much everything about Mitt Romney officially annoys me now.

  42. Jolene said on September 19, 2012 at 3:50 pm

    Brian, that “black blob” on Mitt’s lapel pin is actually a small, gold GOP elephant.

  43. del said on September 19, 2012 at 3:52 pm

    My father-in-law’s a great guy Bitter Scribe, but he buys into that odd conspiracy theory and a few others. Part of it’s generational and part of it’s that he watches Fox News and their ilk. So, for example, he and my mother-in-law believe there’s a War on Christmas and that Muslim extremists want to take over America, or something like that.

    One of the more amusing remarks I’ve heard was made by my mother-in-law. What a shame it was, she said, that all those Latin boys have taken all the good jobs — on the Detroit Tigers.

  44. del said on September 19, 2012 at 4:03 pm

    P.S.

    Tiger third baseman Miguel Cabrera is 2 home runs away from leading all batting categories in baseball’s triple crown hunt. He’d be the 1st major leaguer to win it in 45 years and first Tiger to do so since Ty Cobb in 1909.

  45. JWfromNJ said on September 19, 2012 at 4:09 pm

    No, there are some times when race is pertinent in a news story. We had a situation here where three people robbed a gas station at gunpoint and fled in white Lexus. The police put out a description, and were seeking the suspects. I’m not going to bother saying what color they were but the daily I was working for did not include the description so it was pretty much a 450 word story that was useless.

    That was the wisdom of coporate.

    In the story you referenced it sounds inflamtory and I’m sure the haters were fast and furious in the comments.

    I’ll give you another example. In another lifetime I worked as the director of tourism in a resort town on the Jersey Shore. With the amusement piers, a 3 mile boardwalk, and thousands of people out every summer night we has lost children reported every night. Our information center had a public address system and I required the staff to include the child’s race in the announcments, along with their clothing, name, and age.

    The previous policy was to leave out the race and some people objected to my directive but it helped a lot with finding the kids (or usually the parent (s) much faster. Now a days if i was back in the job I would not make any announcments if the parents came in and the child was lost due to creepers – and I’d rely more on the police. It was a different world 18 years ago.

  46. brian stouder said on September 19, 2012 at 4:09 pm

    Well, I was wrong wrong wrong.

    The football coach and AD at an all-powerful Catholic high school was summarily fired Sunday night, after 33 years and 10 state titles, including the last three in a row(!), the school said nothing about why, and indicated there would be no more statements, period.

    I thought – meh- lunchtime Monday they’d have more to say…but no.

    Absolute silence descended, except on the websites of local news outlets, who are so frightened of falling into an almighty lawsuit (apparently) that they have even shutdown their (always vile) comments sections….

    But then, today, there’s this:

    http://www.indianasnewscenter.com/news/local/120918-Lindsay-Latest-170248876.html

    As for this incident, the police report says the office visited Coach Lindsay at Bishop Luers and did not find any inappropriate pictures on the coach’s phone. The report says Coach Lindsay also denied taking any pictures like that.
    The report goes on to say that Lindsay told the officer that a parent approached him several years ago who thought he was taking pictures on his cell phone.But Lindsay said he told the parent he was reviewing football plays on his phone at the time.

    Hmmmmm.

    So, just between us, what do you suppose would be severe enough that the school suspends the guy Thursday to Sunday – and then whacks him Sunday night?

    What did they find?

    PS – One wonders if it was an I-pod/I-phone (or whatever)

  47. brian stouder said on September 19, 2012 at 4:14 pm

    Jolene – I would swear that I saw a close-up, and the elephant is black.

    In any case, it always appears on Ryan’s and Romney’s clothing as a black splotch on the flag

  48. Bitter Scribe said on September 19, 2012 at 4:21 pm

    Back in the Jim Crow days, some rag in the Deep South used to follow the custom of that time and place of identifying crime suspects by race: “John Smith, Negro, was held on suspicion of burglary blah blah blah…” Occasionally a white criminal would be mistakenly identified as black. The paper had a standard $50 libel settlement in such cases.

    One of that paper’s crime reporters made a deal with some of the town’s habitual white criminals: He would say they were black in the paper, they would collect the $50 and kick back half to him.

    I treasure that as the only known instance of Jim Crow actually doing somebody some good.

  49. Sue said on September 19, 2012 at 4:26 pm

    This is probably going to be one of Nancy’s main topics in a day or two, but I have to ask you folks to take a look now. Not at the topic, we can talk about it when Nancy gets around to it, but the comments. Please, skim the post but read the comments. For a rare change, Pierce has been bested by his commenters.
    http://www.esquire.com/blogs/politics/jesus-wife-12824136

  50. JWfromNJ said on September 19, 2012 at 4:31 pm

    @bitter – the Bluffton News Banner has used the term negro and colored within the past year. There is one particular dick there who clings to the Barbieri era and also always identifies residents of trailer parks as living in “Mobile Manor” or whatever park, when I believe the proper format would be 10001 S.R. , unit or lot 27. If you live in a house and make the blotter they use your correct mailing address.

  51. Suzanne said on September 19, 2012 at 4:34 pm

    Wasn’t there a novel back in the 60s or 70s with a plot that had someone finding evidence that Jesus was married and not divine (no,no, not The Da Vinci Code. Bleh). I think the action centered around the Vatican or some other Christian organization’s attempts to keep this all quiet.

    Or, aargh, it could have all been a dream.

  52. Bitter Scribe said on September 19, 2012 at 4:41 pm

    Suzanne: I believe you’re thinking of “Another Roadside Attraction” by Tom Robbins. It was about a secretive group of monks whose “evidence” was the actual, non-ascended corpse of Jesus.

  53. Little Bird said on September 19, 2012 at 4:56 pm

    Okay, now I’m confused.
    http://shortformblog.com/post/31824949893/clint-eastwood-ellen

  54. paddyo' said on September 19, 2012 at 5:11 pm

    Little Bird:
    Clint to federal government: “Get OFF MY LAWN”

  55. Maggie Jochild said on September 19, 2012 at 5:57 pm

    Sue, great link. Brill run of comments.

  56. Deborah said on September 19, 2012 at 6:06 pm

    Loved the comments about Jesus’s wife. Especially the first few.

  57. Deborah said on September 19, 2012 at 6:12 pm

    Can’t seem to edit #56…

    I read Another Roadside Attraction eons ago, I looked it up on Wikipedia just now, they said the protagonist couple ran a hot dog stand and a zoo, but I remember it as a flea cisrcus not a zoo. Amirite? I had forgotten about the assassin monks.

  58. Scout said on September 19, 2012 at 6:30 pm

    I really thought you guys would love Money Boo Boo. So much win.

  59. Prospero said on September 19, 2012 at 7:12 pm

    I was just at the grocery store. Full of yahoo tourists. Woman in front of me had a difficult time with the cashier over WIC coupons. People in line behind me were hooting and hollering. It’s a beautiful world we live in:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=56u6g0POvo0

    What the hell is long with people? These asshole reduced this woman and her three kids to tears complaining about how important their time was checking out. This is RMoney America. People that pull this sort of shit that claim Christian values? I read Imitation of Christ because my dad did. I believe in following what Jesus said is the way we are enjoined to treat everybody the way Jesus preached. I know lots of you don’t buy anything about Jesus. But the part about how we believe we ‘d like to be treated? Of course we believe that. So these assholes started to threaten this woman in the grocery line. Well, I was wearing an Obama Tshirt, so when I intervened, I became a target. Gave better than I got. What is wrong with these mofos? RMoney’s America. A disgusting excuse for somewhere to live.

  60. Deborah said on September 19, 2012 at 7:40 pm

    Scout, I thought Money Boo Boo was hilarious, I checked with Uncle Google (thanks Brian) and it’s getting a lot of play on the intertoobs.

  61. Charlotte said on September 19, 2012 at 8:11 pm

    Del — I had to tell my mother that her line about how the horse business couldn’t run without Mexican labor now that the “blacks have gotten too uppity” to work as grooms was … um … inappropriate? “What?” she said. “They did.” I tried to say something about how perhaps they had higher aspirations, but well … this is the same woman who told me that she couldn’t vote for “your guy” (Obama) in the last election. She let the sentence trail off, but in that special mother-daughter tone that my best friend describes as “the sound only dogs can hear” — I knew it was because he was not only black, but a black man …. sigh …

  62. crinoidgirl said on September 19, 2012 at 8:57 pm

    Holy crap, Charlotte, I’m so sorry, and it boggles a decent person’s mind.

  63. JWfromNJ said on September 19, 2012 at 9:17 pm

    did anyone else find Kevin Leininger’s column disturbing?

    http://www.news-sentinel.com/section/LEININGER

  64. nancy said on September 19, 2012 at 9:33 pm

    John, why’d you make me go there? Leininger, hell. There’s a column by that pasty-faced douche Mark Souder, peddling the right-wing lie that Obama’s convention speech had “verbatim” passages from Jimmy Carter, demonstrably untrue. Then, the column by Bryan Brown, a “lawyer” who is so nuts the Indiana Bar Association won’t let him practice.

    Again, let me reiterate: From 1984-2004, I was actually in a coma.

  65. alex said on September 19, 2012 at 10:23 pm

    JW, I find all of Kevin Leininger’s work disturbing. It goes without saying. The man needs help and not just from the copy desk.

  66. Julie Robinson said on September 19, 2012 at 10:56 pm

    I keep lobbying to drop our N-S subscription but since I’ve been overruled I read only the comics and a few features. What miniscule credibility they had went completely out the window when they started printing the adulterer Souder regularly. I always thought you shoulda worked for the other guys, Nancy.

    Completely off-topic but I’ve been so busy lately I’m dreaming about reading (vacation coming soon, hallelujah). NPR posted this excerpt of Mark Helprin’s new book and I. want. to read. it. now. https://www.npr.org/2012/09/19/160241652/first-read-in-sunlight-and-in-shadow

    And because I know we have a lot of readers, here’s a tumblr of book confessions, such as this one, that I related to: “The librarians have to be the best people in my school.” I still remember with great fondness how the librarian at my grade school didn’t apply the silly one-book-a-week rule to me and let me check out as many as I wanted. What a peach! http://bookfessions.tumblr.com/

  67. Bob (not Greene) said on September 19, 2012 at 11:18 pm

    Nancy, did you actually have to interact with that Leininger guy? How did you keep from kicking him in the nuts?

  68. brian stouder said on September 19, 2012 at 11:25 pm

    When Nancy and her husband were at the News-Sentinel, that paper had a soul; it was the paper to read. The Journal Gazette had the interesting long-form Sunday articles, but the N-S was the paper to have.

    Now, it’s about one step ahead of reading some quasi-religious tract that a slightly alarming-looking person might try to thrust into your hands, as you try and get past him on the sidewalk.

    Fort Wayne is lucky to have The Journal-Gazette, because otherwise we simply wouldn’t have a genuine newspaper, anymore.

    Aside from that, in the last hour the Catholics and the Bishop are now saying why they fired their all-conquering high school football coach, and one has the strong impression that much more will come tumbling out of this

    http://www.wane.com/dpp/video/local/diocese-reveals-why-coach-was-fired

    Last Wednesday evening, September 12, 2012, the Diocese learned that a large number of inappropriate video clips, none involving nudity, were discovered on the computer of Mr. Matthew Lindsay, the head football coach at Bishop Luers High School. The next morning, Thursday September 13, 2012, Mr. Lindsay was placed on administrative leave by the principal, Mrs. Mary Keefer. An internal investigation was immediately conducted by diocesan and school officials and that investigation resulted in the termination of Mr. Lindsay’s employment on Sunday September 16, 2012. In accord with diocesan policy, the matter was also reported to law enforcement officials in the Fort Wayne area for their investigation and evaluation. Additionally, evidence obtained last week by school officials was turned over to local law enforcement.

    This really must hurt the hearts of everyone who has students who attend there. I have several friends who have daughters and sons in attendance there….and given that these ‘video clips’ haven’t been characterized (cheer leaders? locker rooms? hallway?), one would be left to wonder “Is my kid on this guy’s videos?”

  69. Dave said on September 19, 2012 at 11:39 pm

    Julie, we still subscribe, although it is most discouraging. I confess, shallow as it may be, I really enjoy some of the comics in the N-S, Red and Rover, Between Friends, and Pickles. As for the columnists, oh dear, and the paper is so thin some days. However, I spent years reading the Cincinnati Enquirer and/or the Cincinnati Post at least three times a week and by the time I quit visiting Cincinnati on a regular basis, it had also gotten so thin and the Post had ceased publication. I know the J-G is not what it once was, either.

    Still, when I open it up like I did today and see the likes of Bryan Brown in there, I wonder how much longer I can support it. I understand that the only thing keeping the N-S going is the joint operating agreement, it can’t be anything else.