A grand plan of everything.

Ezra Klein, who rarely has a shortage of smart things to say, said something particularly smart the other day, in connection with the Chinese hacking scandal.

The Chinese, he wrote, are hacking “everything and everybody” in search of something they know must exist somewhere:

The Chinese look at Washington, and they think there must be some document somewhere, some flowchart saved on a computer in the basement of some think tank, that lays it all out. Because in China, there would be. In China, someone would be in charge. There would be a plan somewhere. It would probably last for many years. It would be at least partially followed. But that’s not how it works in Washington.

What the Chinese hackers are looking for is the great myth of Washington, what I call the myth of scheming. You see it all over. If you’ve been watching the series “House of Cards” on Netflix, it’s all about the myth of scheming. Things happen because the Rep. Frank Underwood has planned for them to happen. And when they don’t happen, it’s because someone has counterplanned against him.

This is why it’s always interesting to read the news, if you ask me. Someone is always getting tripped up by their preconceived notions, by projecting their issues onto someone else’s. It’s why you can’t really understand a place until you’ve lived there, often for many years. Chaos is real; sometimes it reigns.

The Chinese put on an Olympics that required one of these flowcharts — many of them, I expect — and it worked spectacularly. Like everyone who’s figured something out, they think they have the single best answer to how to do it, and if someone else wants to duplicate their success, they’re doing the same thing.

It’s why I loved “Imperial Life in the Emerald City,” Rajiv Chandrasekaran’s account of the Iraqi Green Zone, so much. Every specific example of American ineptitude was such a forehead-slapper of grim comic wonder. Sure, let’s redraw Baghdad traffic patterns according to some master plan from Maryland. Let’s take Iraq’s ancient, analog stock exchange, which relies heavily on pieces of paper passed hand to hand, and computerize it. What’s more, let’s all live in a heavily fortified district where job one is staving off homesickness — so let’s make our Muslim domestic staff cook and serve pork barbecue for all these Texans.

Of course all these things will work! They worked in Maryland, and on Wall Street, and in Dallas, didn’t they?

A friend of mine, a sportswriter, said that if he had been running the 9/11 project for al-Qaeda, he’d have hit four NFL stadiums on 9/9. If you want to seriously freak out Americans, he said, hit them at play. Hit them in the heartland. Hit them at a football game. But Arabs have a thing for buildings, so they hit some buildings in two cities large groups of Americans don’t like.

Question everything. Especially yourself.

Ken Burns is capable of getting on my last nerve, but he has some very smart things to say about story here, which sort of pertains to what I just said, but also doesn’t. Video link, but worth your time, at least if you’re a storyteller.

And with that, I guess the bloggage is under way.

An interesting discussion of the Manti Te’o case, from the journalism-ethics angle. Via IU’s school of journalism.

Something about Marissa Mayer bugs me at a Hatha-hate level, but it’s been interesting to see the reaction to her no-more-work-from-home edict at Yahoo. Farhad Manjoo is utterly opposed, as the headline makes clear. As someone who does both — working one day in Lansing, the rest at home — I see the advantages of both arrangements. And I think the closest to the truth is the person who said, and I’m sorry I can’t remember who it was, that if you want your employees to innovate, they should work together. If you want productivity, they get more accomplished at home.

Now to get something accomplished. At home. It will likely be snow-blowing, however.

Posted at 8:17 am in Current events |
 

65 responses to “A grand plan of everything.”

  1. coozledad said on February 27, 2013 at 8:45 am

    The Chinese will be shocked to learn that we’re governed by the same heedless game of laissez-faire grabass being played by the sons and daughters of the sons and daughters of the revolution. In the process they’ll discover our great dark secret, one that few Americans are even conscious of: Charlie Daniels has the mandate of heaven Skoal.

  2. Danny said on February 27, 2013 at 9:27 am

    An alternative theory is that the Chinese are marveling at the stupidity of all of the debt that we are incurring (and owe mostly to them) and searching for:

    a) Intelligent life.
    b) Who legs the Chinese Guido loan-shark should break.
    c) A and B.

  3. Peter said on February 27, 2013 at 9:29 am

    I don’t understand the Chinese on this one. We’re run by a bunch of capitalists who manipulate the media to help them dismantle the government so they can make more money. So are they, and they’re doing a better job of it.

    You would think 40 years of Maoist dogma would have flushed some of that out.

  4. MarkH said on February 27, 2013 at 9:33 am

    Wow, Nancy. Smart, smart post today. Lots of stuff to think about.

    The part about inflicting all things western on Iraq as a way to win the war reminded me of my year in Saudi Arabia 20 years ago right now. I had been retailing cars, the economy wasn’t good in the waning Bush I years, so my income was down. I get a call from my former geophysical exploration company to go do the same job (permitting, liaison work) in the desert. They threw me a lot of money, so, no-brainer. The station as a remote camp out in the desert, all aspects of the crew were primarily Pakistanis, including the cooks. Strict muslim menu, so, no pork of course. No problem as Ashraf and Shauket knew their stuff running a mess, the food was great with a regular regimen of lamb and mutton. It didn’t hurt that the company and supervisory personnel were French, so they demanded a certain quality. No one worried about inflicting their own customs.

  5. brian stouder said on February 27, 2013 at 9:38 am

    Rachel Maddow would (rightly) point out – as she did last night – that US government debt, as a share of our GDP, is not only NOT growing, but has been shrinking over the entire time of the Obama presidency – after spiking upward in the previous decade with our two big wars and our tax cuts.

    But – carry on.

  6. Claire Helene said on February 27, 2013 at 9:45 am

    Hi Nancy – I don’t often post comments, but two things struck me that I’d like to share. One, have you been watching The Americans on FX? The episode that takes place when Reagan got shot deals with that same idea from Klein’s article on the Chinese. The episode posits that the USSR was assuming the US would fall to a coup, because that is what would happen there. It was an interesting spin.

    The other thing is in regards to IU’s school of journalism (I can’t remember if you went to IU or if you just have ties to it because you lived in the state, but I am an alum), apparently the Provost has suggested getting rid of the school of journalism and rolling it up with Communications & Telecommunications in the College of Arts & Science. I can understand rolling the three together, but I am sad to think that the school itself will disappear. Maybe it’s just nostalgia. I understand that journalism is changing, but it still makes me sad. Link for more info here: http://journalism.indiana.edu/merger-update/current-students-proposed-merger-update/

  7. Deborah said on February 27, 2013 at 10:03 am

    Danny, it is not true that the US debt is owed mostly to China http://www.forbes.com/sites/kenrapoza/2013/01/23/is-chinas-ownership-of-u-s-debt-a-national-security-threat/

  8. Charlotte said on February 27, 2013 at 10:11 am

    Claire — I thought the exact same thing. That was a great episode (which reminds me, there’s a new one lurking on my TiVo).

    As for the Yahoo thing — you’re exactly right Nancy — productivity = working at home, innovation relies on interaction. I’ve worked at home full time since 2000 — but the tradeoff is that I do support staff work — editing, handling localization files, publishing to the Big Corporate Website (which is way more complicated than it needs to be). All of those are jobs for which I am much much more productive at home where there’s no one to talk to and I can just get it done. But there was a tradeoff — I didn’t want to be a manager, I didn’t want to climb the corporate ladder, I wanted to find a useful little niche that I could do from home. And, after the layoff, I managed to find a way to come back part time, which was always my goal (since I wanted to support myself while finding time to write). But I make less, my job is less stable, and now that I’m contracting, I could be really screwed if I have to find another gig from way out here in the sticks. (Good thing I have a history cleaning houses.)

    About a year before the great tech-writer layoff at Cisco (65 writers — an entire technology group — replaced with contractors, it’s been sort of a disaster) we got a new manager, transplanted from IBM on the East Coast who not only moved everyone into a horrible social-engineering “collaborative” workspace, but insisted that everyone came in every single day. So, writers, who do need some peace and quiet to actually get their work done, were shoehorned into “pods” meant to “inspire collaboration” where they didn’t have their own desks, where they couldn’t get any time to concentrate. People hated it and resented the entire process. Proclaiming that “face time” will lead to “innovation” without taking the different job requirements into account is simply lazy. But there’s a lot of that in big corporations — the fashion right now is hiring managers from outside the group/company who don’t know anything about the actual work we do — apparently they bring “a fresh eye” to things. Hmph.

    The speculation is that Mayer is trying to clean house — and Yahoo has been sort of famous for a long time for “telecommuters” who actually hold down second jobs. For me, the bigger question is — what exactly does Yahoo do? What do they produce? Do they innovate on any front? As far as I can tell they’re just a news aggregator who sells ad space …

    I also hear that Mayer is famous for being 30-45 minutes late to everything. Which is unconscionable. Especially in today’s corporate life where all managers actually do is go from meeting to meeting.

  9. Heather said on February 27, 2013 at 10:25 am

    I work from home one day a week because my commute is an hour each way, and I have to drive since there’s no public transportation option. I’d love to get one more day, but I do see the value of being in the office and bonding with coworkers. On the other hand, most of the members of my department are located in an office in another state, so really I don’t need to be here most of the time.

    The other reason I would like to work from home more is my health. At home, it’s easier to get out and moving for a bit, either by going for a walk or to the pool at lunch, plus all the driving adds to my sitting time, which I am trying to reduce. My office is in a suburban office park where there’s nowhere to walk other than the parking lot. Most people don’t work at companies like Google, with gyms and pretty campuses.

    The problem is working from home isn’t for everyone. Some people aren’t as productive at home, some people need to be in the office to do their jobs, some people will abuse the privilege. It takes some savvy management to handle the perceived inequality in treatment (although inequality in pay is fine, apparently), which is why it’s easier to just make a blanket policy.

    I’m really worried that the bigwigs at my office, many of whom have rather traditional and, IMO, outmoded views about productivity, are going to take their cue from Yahoo and take away this perk.

  10. nancy said on February 27, 2013 at 10:29 am

    OK, Hilary Swank: Who wears a dress with a damn train to a crowded Oscar after-party? I guess it’s not yours and you don’t care who steps on it, but I do.

  11. Danny said on February 27, 2013 at 10:37 am

    Deborah, thanks for the article. Though it does say that they are the largest foreign owner of US debt 9which is what I knew), it also makes some sense that our fortunes are inextricably entwined. We shall see.

    And the article had the following:

    “The bigger issue for the U.S., says John Frisbie, director of the USBC in Washington is the size of our fiscal deficit and the long term implications for the economy, not the level of China’s debt holdings.”

    So, Brian, some economics experts do think there is something of concern, but maybe they forgot to Tivo Rachel Maddow.

  12. coozledad said on February 27, 2013 at 10:46 am

    Another thing the Chinese are likely to be studying is how a political party collapses inward when it’s been reduced completely to ethnic postulates. Jennifer Rubin gets to feel a little heat because Pat Buchanan is making one of his periodic calls for the Republicans to return to their natural antisemitic roots.
    S.E .Cupp has questioned the wisdom of continuing to swap bodily fluids with a tropical childbanger, and in the process, pissed off the big pink lardass contingent.
    Eric Ericsonson says they need to craft a better message, or in other words, Let us summon a wheel of brie from flop sweat and coliform bacteria.

    Most people hate them. They really do.

  13. Charlotte said on February 27, 2013 at 10:49 am

    Tilda! Bowie! Strange alien young people! http://youtu.be/gH7dMBcg-gE

  14. MarkH said on February 27, 2013 at 11:11 am

    “For me, the bigger question is — what exactly does Yahoo do? What do they produce? Do they innovate on any front? As far as I can tell they’re just a news aggregator who sells ad space …”.

    FINALLY, someone smart has asked the question (because, as we all know, all the smart people already knew the answer)! What exactly do these search sites, like Yahoo, Excite, or even Google do, as side from generate a certain amount of ad revenue. I fail to understand all the focus generated by Marisa Mayer, her job, her company, etc. I’d like to see the model.

  15. brian stouder said on February 27, 2013 at 11:48 am

    Cooz – your remark about Ms Cupp threw me, so I went Googling and tripped into her public-arena face slapping match with Oxy-Rush, which reminded me that CPAC is upon us again! Oh Joy!!

    And as a side-light, I learned that in a discussion, the Hannity manuever – cutting the other side off entirely – is what passes as “fair and balanced” nowadays.

    http://www.mediaite.com/tv/dem-congressman-gets-thrown-off-after-calling-hannity-a-liar-immoral-you-say-things-that-arent-true/

    Y’know, I can’t recall Rachel Maddow ever doing that. In fact, she let Senator Rand Paul [for one] run on and on and on – about how much he supported a business owner’s right to, for example, turn away black Americans from his lunch counter. She never interrupted him, and not only DIDN’T cut him off, she gave him all the time (or rope) that he could possibly want.

  16. Brandon said on February 27, 2013 at 12:02 pm

    An interesting discussion of the Manti Te’o case, from the journalism-ethics angle. Via IU’s school of journalism.

    Nancy, did you ever watch Dr. Phil’s interview with Ronaiah Tuisosopo?

    http://www.cnn.com/2013/01/31/us/manti-teo-hoax

    The man who says he was behind the Manti Te’o girlfriend hoax claims he was in love with the Notre Dame linebacker, but the athlete knew nothing about the ruse.

    “He had no idea,” said 22-year-old Ronaiah Tuiasosopo in the first segment of a two-part interview that aired Thursday on “Dr. Phil.” The second part is scheduled to air Friday. “He did not know anything.”

    Asked if he was in love with Te’o, Tuiasosopo told host Phil McGraw:

    “I mean, yeah … as twisted and confusing as it may be, yeah, I cared for this person. I did all that I could to help this person become a better person, even though I wasn’t getting nothing out of it. Of course, it’s very shameful and it’s very painful to even talk about. Even now, it’s hard to talk about. But, you know, the truth of it is that that happened. I grew feelings. I grew emotions that, sooner or later, I couldn’t control any more.”

  17. 4dbirds said on February 27, 2013 at 12:04 pm

    I am allowed to telework a couple of days a week. I don’t. I’ve found I get much more work done at the office. That’s just me.

  18. Bitter Scribe said on February 27, 2013 at 12:07 pm

    Work-at-home is catching on because, done right, it’s a way to significantly improve the work environment that costs little or nothing. Hard to think of a better win-win.

  19. Sherri said on February 27, 2013 at 12:16 pm

    Mayer is trying to execute a back door layoff. It’s tricky to execute those to get rid of deadweight without also annoying your best employees, especially when the tone of the memo makes staying home to meet the cable guy seem like letting down the company. She wants the bad employees to quit, so she doesn’t have to pay severance, but she’ll lose some good employees, too. If she really can shed enough deadweight, it’s worth it.

    Maybe al Qaeda was put off by the “attack football stadiums” plan because it’s already been done in a movie: Black Sunday, in which a terrorist group hijacks the Goodyear blimp.

  20. Minnie said on February 27, 2013 at 12:21 pm

    Since most of my information about the Detroit, Fort Wayne, and the midwest comes from nn.c discussions and links, I would appreciate knowing your opinion on Charlie LeDuff’s pronouncements in “Detroit: An American Autopsy”. I just listened to Tom Ashbrook’s “Online” interview with him. Thanks.

  21. brian stouder said on February 27, 2013 at 12:23 pm

    And to be bloody-minded, I think the body count they got from the WTC attacks exceeded what they could have gotten from 4 stadiums – considering the utter and complete destruction wrought upon the towers, as opposed to what they could possibly achive in a bowl.

    I seem to recall reading that if their attacks were even an hour later, the number of people they’d have killed would have been much, much higher

  22. nancy said on February 27, 2013 at 12:32 pm

    Minnie, I haven’t read the book and doubt I will. (“Seen it? I lived it!”) I find CL’s TV showboating irritating in the extreme, and don’t see the need to subject myself to the print version. I do agree with him that the city is more or less finished, but I don’t trust his reporting — and specifically, the details — as far as I could throw him. Everything about the guy screams BEWARE to me.

    His “black like me” story made me want to throw a shoe through my TV.

  23. Brandon said on February 27, 2013 at 12:38 pm

    Nancy, again, did you watch Dr. Phil’s interview with Ronaiah Tuisosopo?

    Manti was the victim of a hoax by a disturbed young man, yet he bears all the scrutiny.

    http://chicago.cbslocal.com/2013/02/25/florio-nfl-teams-want-to-know-if-manti-teo-is-gay/

    • nancy said on February 27, 2013 at 1:24 pm

      Thanks, Brandon. It’s good to know that if I don’t respond to one of your challenges instantly, I’ll be called out twice. Answers will be demanded!

      No, I didn’t look at the Dr. Phil interview, but I read about it and I know about the Tuiasosopo claims. The link I posted was to a discussion about how different news sources handled the story, based on their differing editorial philosophies and prominence in the media sphere. I’m amused that you think this blog is somehow terribly wrong in not proclaiming Manti’s TOTAL NON-GAY INNOCENCE in this ridiculous story, but even after all the Dr. Phil shows in the world weigh in, I still suspect there’s a great deal more about this that Te’o isn’t talking about.

  24. Dexter said on February 27, 2013 at 1:42 pm

    Excuse me for disrupting the thread and going back to yesterday’s thread’s last comment, by beb.

    Red Skelton lived high on an LA hill, and the drive up passed by homes lower in elevation. Red took great pleasure in projecting the raunchiest porn films onto his neighbor’s huge garage door just to see their reaction. Red was very intense; he wrote over eight thousand symphonies and songs.

  25. Bitter Scribe said on February 27, 2013 at 1:46 pm

    Te’o got involved in this bizarre thing, whatever it is. Then he disappeared in the BCS championship game. Now he apparently had a very mediocre showing at an NFL tryout. Maybe it’s time for him to just…go away?

  26. Minnie said on February 27, 2013 at 1:52 pm

    Nancy, thanks for response about CL. This was my first exposure to him, but something, perhaps his absolute certainty, put up my guard.

  27. Dexter said on February 27, 2013 at 2:09 pm

    Bitter Scribe: scouts are a bit miffed at Notre Dame publicists. Te’o is not as big as he is listed and he is finishing dead last in the 40 yard sprints, and his future as an NFL player is clouded by the smoke and deflected by the mirrors…he’s a phantom of a football player, he was just miraculously in the right time at the right place when that pigskin bounced his way every game…don’t be surprised if he just disappears from the football world altogether. As if he never existed.

  28. brian stouder said on February 27, 2013 at 2:13 pm

    Well, it’s a good thing he has that sterling Notre Dame degree to fall back on!

    (he did graduate, didn’t he?)

  29. Bitter Scribe said on February 27, 2013 at 2:22 pm

    Dexter: This is all making me think (probably unfairly) of Brian Bosworth washing out in the NFL. According to one story I heard—from a former NFL referee, no less!—Bosworth got tripped up by steroid testing, which I guess is stricter in the pros. He had to stop taking the stuff and consequently shrank to the point where NFL running backs regularly knocked him over.

    Bosworth’s unrelenting and obnoxious self-promotion make that schedenfreude particularly sweet. This Te’o stuff is just weird, silly and fundamentally sad.

  30. mark said on February 27, 2013 at 2:33 pm

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:U.S._National_Debt_-_Dollars_and_Relative_to_GDP.png

    Perhaps Ms. Maddow has been misquoted.

    Maddow discussed the deficit, not the debt. As the chart abive shows, debt as a percentage of GDP has grown under Obama.

  31. Sherri said on February 27, 2013 at 2:34 pm

    Ah, Brian Bosworth! One of my favorite football memories is watching Bo Jackson run right over Bosworth, as seen at about 0:15 in this clip: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I9RimiG58fk

  32. Jeff Borden said on February 27, 2013 at 2:45 pm

    Things are looking grim in the early going arguments against the Voting Rights Act before the Supreme Court. It’s more than a little ironic that this legislation will be struck down –both Roberts and, of course, Scalia are hammering it– after an election in which the wait times for Hispanics and African-Americans at the polls was double that of whites. And at a time when the GOP is working furiously to trim voting rolls, too.

    Folks, we are stuck with this SCOTUS for a very, very long time.

  33. Prospero said on February 27, 2013 at 2:48 pm

    Charlotte: That video is strange even by Bowie and Swinton standards. Kind of disturbing. The song is excellent Bowie that would have fit in the Heroes period or the Spiders period. And the two look very much like twins separated at birth.

    Titicut Follies in North Carolina.

    Mark May harsh on Te’o. I’ve watched highlight tapes of his pass interceptions last season, and every one came on an atrocious pass with Manti not clearly covering any receiver. And it turns out he’s closer to safety size than MLB. He could turn out to be good in the NF, but it’s looking unlikely. The thing that gets me about the guy is the constant deer in the headlights stare. And Good Grief, he got absolutely housed versus Bama.

  34. Sherri said on February 27, 2013 at 3:12 pm

    The thing to remember about NFL draft projections is that they are mostly media creations. The mainstream papers complaining about Deadspin quoting an unnamed source in the Te’o story are happy to quote unnamed scouts all the time discussing the draft prospects of various players, and take it as gospel.

    No one knows where Te’o will be drafted at this point, and no one really has a good guess, but there’s a great narrative. Te’o passes up the NFL to return to Notre Dame for his senior year and leads Notre Dame back to greatness (what leadership!), while overcoming tragedy (what courage!), and also picks up many more interceptions than every before (his coverage skills have improved!) So the story became that he was going to be a high draft pick (and possibly a Heisman Trophy winner). Then he’s completely exposed by Alabama on the football field (couldn’t tackle the running backs), the dead girlfriend myth is exposed (so much for the leadership and courage), and he’s way slow in the Combine (so much for those cover skills), so the story is that he’s plunging down the draft charts. Next up will be his pro day, and I’ll bet his 40 time will improve (can’t get worse), his prep team will come up with something good for the media (he was just trying to protect Ronaiah, and get help for him), and the narrative will have him moving back up the draft charts.

    He will get a chance to play in the NFL somewhere. Where or whether he gets drafted is just noise (and the difference in money to him).

  35. Charlotte said on February 27, 2013 at 3:58 pm

    Prospero — check out Tilda Stardust: http://tildastardust.tumblr.com/

    Okay, turning Freedom back on to get some work done … at home.

  36. MarkH said on February 27, 2013 at 4:09 pm

    Claire Helene @6 – The same thing happened years ago to the Ohio State J-School. Technically it still exists, but within the School of Communications. When I graduated 37 years ago it was a pretty decent J-school. It seems the PR majors have won, as that what appears to have taken over the course offerings.

    Is the Lantern a force on campus anymore? Kirk, any thoughts?

  37. MarkH said on February 27, 2013 at 4:10 pm

    Holy shit: 37 EFFING YEARS??! Why aren’t I dead….

  38. Joe K said on February 27, 2013 at 4:16 pm

    I don’t really know where manti, will go in the draft,but I would challenge any one on this blog to run a 40 against him or perhaps put on the pads and go one on one with him. Any takers?
    Pilot Joe

  39. Sherri said on February 27, 2013 at 4:23 pm

    At the age of 50, I’ve reluctantly admitted that age, gender, size, speed, and strength all make it unlikely that any NFL team will allow me to pursue my dream of playing middle linebacker, so whether or not I could run with Te’o isn’t really relevant. I’m not his competition. To win a job in the NFL, you have to take away a job from someone else, because there are a fixed number of them.

  40. Bitter Scribe said on February 27, 2013 at 4:27 pm

    Hell, if other bloggers were the only competition, I might be able to play in the NFL.

  41. Dave said on February 27, 2013 at 4:57 pm

    Goodness, Joe, I can’t believe you’d even post that comment, it’s irrelevant to the discussion. Let’s see, I’m 62 (gasp!), that knocks me out of Bitter Scribe’s blogger league.

  42. Tim said on February 27, 2013 at 5:43 pm

    Re: “A friend of mine, a sportswriter, said that if he had been running the 9/11 project for al-Qaeda, he’d have hit four NFL stadiums on 9/9.”
    A pretty good movie, “Black Sunday,” with Bruce Dern as a twitchy, angry veteran, explored the idea of a terror attack on a Super Bowl game. I think it came out in the late ’70s or early ’80s.

  43. alex said on February 27, 2013 at 5:53 pm

    Put on the pads and go one on one… hey, that sounds like Monica Lewinsky. If Te’o were more of a looker I might consider it.

  44. Deborah said on February 27, 2013 at 6:06 pm

    As usual Charles Pierce has some great pieces about the Voting Rights Act case before the Supreme Court today. Here’s a link to one of them, but you should read them all. He was in attendance today.
    http://www.esquire.com/blogs/politics/Arguing_About_Race

  45. coozledad said on February 27, 2013 at 6:21 pm

    Nice dogturd snake this forceps baby has on his lapel. I’ve seen an approximation of his face on a dozen or so yuck yuck frat sociopaths.
    http://livewire.talkingpointsmemo.com/entry/nh-lawmaker-says-some-people-might-like-being?ref=fpb

    I’m generally opposed to genetic manipulation, but it might not be a bad idea to engineer this mutation out of the species.

  46. ROGirl said on February 27, 2013 at 6:37 pm

    Tilda Swinton appearing in David Bowie’s video proves once and for all that they’re not the same person. Bowie’s mask-like appearance is a bit off-putting, although he’s looking like he could play the Prince of Wales now.

    RE: China spying. There was a series of reports on NPR a few weeks ago on the topic. The government spies on everybody, and individuals spy on other individuals.

  47. J. Bruce Fields said on February 27, 2013 at 6:43 pm

    “debt as a percentage of GDP has grown under Obama.”

    That’s more-or-less automatic in a recession: the denominator (GDP) decreases, by definition of a recession, and the numerator increases thanks to safety-net spending and decreased revenue.

  48. mark said on February 27, 2013 at 6:50 pm

    You are correct, J. Bruce. That’s why Stouder’s claim rang so untrue.

  49. brian stouder said on February 27, 2013 at 8:23 pm

    Yes, I mis-used the word “debt” (a cumulative thing) when I should have used the word “deficit” – a measure of the imbalance in an annual budget, between expenditures and income.

    It is funny how very particular some folks have become, just in the past few years, about such things. And somehow, skipping right past our 43rd president’s catastrophic “stewardship” of our nation’s affairs*, they can view the SURPLUSES of our 42nd president as somehow not owing to anything the White House actually did.

    Whatever.

    *One canard that makes me say “BULLSHIT!” in the most stentorian tone of voice I can muster, whenever I hear it, is when someone says “And the price of gasoline was $1.80/gallon when President Obama took office”. It’s bullshit because it is reflects absolutely willful dishonesty; I’ll never forget paying $4.80/gallon in the summer of 2008, when the young folks and I went to the Wisconsin Dells….and after the economic crash – yes, the price of gas did tank (so to speak)….and this supports and advances the anti-Obama mindset?

  50. alex said on February 27, 2013 at 9:02 pm

    ROGirl, funny true story.

    I know a woman who went to work in China for an American hotel developer of Chinese ancestry with lots of connections there. My friend was sent to oversee the construction, decoration, furnishing and staffing of a Western-style four-star hotel. During the construction phase one of the major SNAFUs she ran into was doors and door hardware being installed backward. The deadbolts and chains were on the outsides facing the hallways. The people doing the work, when informed they had gotten it wrong, were utterly perplexed. They couldn’t conceive of anyone having a right to lock others out, only the right of others to lock people in.

  51. Brandon said on February 27, 2013 at 9:36 pm

    No, I didn’t look at the Dr. Phil interview, but I read about it and I know about the Tuiasosopo claims. The link I posted was to a discussion about how different news sources handled the story, based on their differing editorial philosophies and prominence in the media sphere. I’m amused that you think this blog is somehow terribly wrong in not proclaiming Manti’s TOTAL NON-GAY INNOCENCE in this ridiculous story, but even after all the Dr. Phil shows in the world weigh in, I still suspect there’s a great deal more about this that Te’o isn’t talking about.

    I couldn’t care less if Te`o is gay or not. What bothered me was the rush to judgment (not just from here) and people ascribing to Te`o all kinds of motives for not coming clean immediately. I hardly ever watch Dr. Phil, but this interview answered the main question for me: Was Te`o in on the hoax? No.

    Why did Te`o say he had a girlfriend even after he knew he was duped? He was probably too embarrassed by his gullibility to say his girlfriend never existed. And all this drama has distracted him, threw him off his game, which explains his sub-par playing at the NFL combine.

    Why the NFL wants to know he’s gay, I don’t know. If they don’t want him he can go to the CFL. It’s just a sad story, in part because this talent might just go to waste.

  52. Julie Robinson said on February 27, 2013 at 10:01 pm

    Gosh, I missed some fun today, off at my church retreat. When I was 22 I could run a pretty fast sprint, and Dad always said I had the shoulders to make a great tackle. Though not exactly what every girl wants to hear, Dad was a huge football fan so I will charitably interpret it as a compliment.

    Brandon, Dr. Phil is where I turn to for my hard-hitting journalism too. I mean, he sells dietary supplements with his name on them, so I trust him completely.

  53. Bitter Scribe said on February 27, 2013 at 10:24 pm

    Brandon: Yeah, it’s a sad story, but let’s not get too weepy about poor T’eo. Any way you look at it, he acted like a fool and caused plenty of his own problems.

  54. alex said on February 27, 2013 at 10:26 pm

    Hey, let’s start a new Manti Te’o Truthers club. Those who want to believe Manti and Hosanapoopoo were secret boo-fooers all along. (What the heck is that guy’s name? It makes me dyslexic to look at it.)

  55. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on February 27, 2013 at 10:29 pm

    So, can this pastor impose a bit? When you are part of a funeral service for someone in your family, do you stay until the casket/urn is lowered into the grave? Is there anyone who has stayed for that portion of the service, and/or helped to shovel earth onto the remains? Or is that entirely a relic of a former age? I’m not saying I think people should, I’m just wondering if anyone has and/or still does.

    Working with a trusted funeral home staff, I heard them say “no one wants to be part of that any more; most people don’t even want to go out to the cemetery if they can avoid it.” Since I’m accustomed to doing graveside ceremonies after the church or funeral home memorial service, I was surprised to hear that, but they (the funeral home staff) tell me it is becoming the new normal, and often those who go out to the committal after the funeral are doing so only because people like me “expect” that. So I’m obviously curious (after seven services conducted since Feb. 2).

  56. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on February 27, 2013 at 10:30 pm

    And in NO way do I want to guilt unwilling family members into going out to burial plots for even a brief committal service if that’s not what they need for their own closure. Truly.

  57. Bitter Scribe said on February 27, 2013 at 10:37 pm

    JTMMO: I’ve always been there for the casket lowering, but shoveling earth in there is a new one on me. Flowers, yes, but not dirt.

  58. Julie Robinson said on February 27, 2013 at 10:45 pm

    Jtmmo, we had a month like that last year at this time with about that many funerals, and I know how exhausting it is for a pastor. One time ours got a call to go the bedside of a dying parishioner seconds before he began conducting the funeral service for another. Fortunately we have a lay care minister who also makes hospital calls and he scurried off to the hospital. But I’m thinking you must be worn out.

    I don’t recall ever being given the option to stick around while the casket is lowered; in fact I’ve gotten the impression the workers very much want you to leave so they can finish their job. I suspect the lowering process doesn’t always go smoothly, and that it might upset mourners to see Mom’s coffin being jostled around. Instead of shoveling dirt or tossing a clod into the grave you are often invited to take a flower from one of the arrangements as a remembrance. But that’s just my personal experience, attending mostly Lutheran and Methodist funerals.

  59. MichaelG said on February 27, 2013 at 11:08 pm

    Death? The 24 year old daughter of a friend died the other day. It was an accident, but fuck.

  60. Prospero said on February 27, 2013 at 11:41 pm

    Brian Stouder @49, We know from Dickless Cheney that deficts didn’t mean shit 10 years ago. What changed?

  61. Jolene said on February 27, 2013 at 11:56 pm

    Haven’t been to many recent funerals, but have generally seen people stay until the casket is lowered into the ground. At my mom’s funeral, we tossed some flowers into the grave, but not at my dad’s, as I recall. Mom’s burial was held a few months after she died. Too cold to bury people in ND in January, so the assembled mourners were just close family and a few friends. At Dad’s,there was lunch at the church after the funeral and before the burial. Some of the less tightly connected fumeral-goers went to the cemetery, but it was mainly family and close friends.

    At the Jewish funerals of a friend’s parents, it seemed to be expected for people to scoop up a ceremonial bit of soil to pitch into the grave. Also, someone–maybe the rabbi–brought a small packet of soil from Israel that was sprinkled onto the casket.

  62. Minnie said on February 27, 2013 at 11:56 pm

    MichaelG, so sorry about your friend’s daughter. Hard to accept.

    Jefftmmo,in my experience with Protestant and Catholic burial services the etiquette has been to leave before committal. This has been the case since the late 1940s.

    We’re headed to Philadelphia this weekend to attend the – what would you call it? – reception? after party? after wake? – for a late friend who did not want a service but requested that his partner gather friends together to reminisce and celebrate. We’ll do our best.

  63. Jakash said on February 28, 2013 at 12:52 am

    Jeff (tmmo),
    I’ve been to plenty of (mostly Catholic) funerals, and gone to the cemetery after many of them, but the only times I’ve ever seen the casket lowered and/or dirt being thrown in the grave has been in movies or on TV.

  64. Diane L. said on February 28, 2013 at 6:39 pm

    Slinking out of lurkdom briefly because as a librarian I feel compelled to mention that the Black Sunday film mentioned above is based on a novel of the same title by Thomas Harris (more known for Silence of the Lambs).

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