A good thrashing.

Someone mentioned in comments yesterday the main thing that struck me about that WashPost story I linked to, about the man who shot and nearly killed his wife, and what happened to the family afterward: He fired a shotgun at his wife in front of their children, and he only spent a few hours behind bars?

The pertinent passage:

In the days after the shooting, Fran was in and out of surgery. And she decided not to press charges. She wanted Ken to get a job and pay child support, she says now, because that would most help the children. “I had six children. I couldn’t work.”

For the attempted murder of his wife, Ken Vessels spent a couple of hours in jail.

This was in 1964. Please remember this when someone brings up the good old days. Today we find it astonishing that such a thing could happen, but speaking as someone who did some reporting on domestic violence when it was taking its turn in the spotlight, I can’t say that I’m entirely surprised. This was Louisville, Ky., after all. And it could have been anywhere.

Every so often I get tired of reading improving fiction, serious newspapers and Gawker, and reach for one of my treasured John D. MacDonald paperbacks. On Sunday, I chose one at random off the high shelf — “A Purple Place for Dying.” Published in 1964, it’s the third of the Travis McGee series. I’ve read the whole string, most more than once, but I always manage to forget enough of the plot(s) in between to make the rereads interesting. MacDonald was a Harvard B-school graduate and is especially good when he’s plotting out business swindles, which appear in a lot of these novels. It’s too bad he died before our contemporary era of high finance; I’m sure he would have had a ball with it.

But what I really like the early McGee series for is its look at women. McGee is a little ahead of his time in many ways. He’s a tender lover and seems to have truly catholic taste in women; I always admire how often his heroines are described as having lumpy noses or stumpy legs or other flaws, but are still sexy. One of the biggest reasons books are abandoned in my house is too-perfect characters, especially in a physical sense. I put John Sandford down forever when he described a central character as having olive skin and pale blue eyes. Pick one, I thought, rolling my eyes. Oh, and she had long legs, too.

But MacDonald was also a writer of his time, and shows it. Women are brought to ecstasy by missionary-position intercourse, period. They don’t menstruate or get pregnant, with one notable exception. They’re married at 18 and washed up by 30 — you know the drill. But in “A Purple Place for Dying” I noted, again, how casually men speak of punishing their women physically, and how no one says anything about it.

An important character in “Purple” is bumped off in the first 20 pages. In the ensuing ones, her husband casually refers to “making steam rise on that cheating tail of hers.” She’s described as “not being able to sit down without whining” after a fight. There’s a reference to “a grade A thrashing, which she deserves.” And so on.

No one says, “Hm, maybe you shouldn’t do that.” It’s just what powerful men do to their women.

“Mad Men” gets criticized a lot, sometimes fairly, sometimes not, but they introduced a new generation to what sexism really was, once upon a time. It wasn’t about getting your bottom pinched. Sometimes it was paddled.

Some bloggage:

The 38 best local-news captions of all time. Warning: BuzzFeed link.

Speaking of “Mad Men” — look at little Sally Draper, all grown up.

Two more minutes of goats yelling like humans.

And with that, I’m off to my deep, soft, warm bed.

Posted at 12:30 am in Popculch |

59 responses to “A good thrashing.”

  1. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on March 5, 2013 at 6:37 am

    The key element in the equation is “she decided not to press charges.” That used to be the entire ball game, prosecutorially and judically. If there wasn’t a complainant, then nothing happened. The shift was for the community, usually in the form of the responding police, to insist that a domestic violence episode, once called in and responded to, could not be made to have not happened. That’s what you saw if you looked at that searing photojournalism essay — a patient cop, who also not coincidentally was female, explaining that this event DID happen, she could not just go back to the station and have another cup of coffee, and that some kind of report will be filed and the complainant, if necessary, would be her, on behalf of the community. DC at minimum, but DV, possibly on her as well and maybe even obstruction and the possibility of losing her children while she’s in lockup with him.

    This new approach has its own failings, especially where you don’t have trained law enforcement (which is pretty much anywhere smaller than a city, but incorporated, unless you have CIT training from your county mental health & recovery board, and even then small municipalities don’t always have all their part-time new CJ grads in shiny uniforms put through that). And even in bigger towns or better county sheriff’s deputies, you have a fair amount of “oh frak, not another DV call.”

    But however your state or community has rewritten “the book,” the difference is that when a DV call comes in, the officers CAN’T just “talk to people” and leave without filing SOMETHING. A report at minimum, usually someone is getting charged with something, and the question is who, for what. That is the wobbly bridge that carries us away from the old unipoint system of “ma’am, are you willing to press charges? No? Sir, you need to stop doing that; ma’am, maybe you should take the kids and go to your mother’s. Oh, she’s not around here? Sir, why don’t you just go check into a hotel and sleep it off. You’ve got no money for that? Okay, any friend got a sofa? Yeah, we can take you there. Watch your head as you get in the cruiser. Good night, ma’am, sorry about all this trouble.”

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  2. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on March 5, 2013 at 6:39 am

    By the way, most departments, most nights and weekends? 2/3rds of your calls and runs are going to be DVs. Which makes you realize that policing ain’t what it used to be, or what most CJ grads think they’re getting into.

    And for my “other” hat, a third of that 2/3rds are calls on juveniles for unruly and/or DV. Which is where all my non-truancy files come from.

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  3. alex said on March 5, 2013 at 7:41 am

    Or there were those situations where the cops simply favored the abuser. Remember the testimony about the frequent DV calls to O.J. Simpson’s house prior to the murder? The cops would show up and want to talk sports and ask for autographs, to heck with that battered woman there.

    A friend who was one of the children of a divorced mother in the 1960s—dad ran off with another lady—shared that they had an extremely difficult time of securing housing. People didn’t want to rent to single mothers and there was nothing preventing any sort of discrimination back then. Women in this predicament were presumed to be somehow morally faulty.

    I imagine that women born in the ’80s or later would find it near impossible to conceive that such a society ever existed and so recently. One thing that strikes me also about this generational divide is just how differently women carry themselves. A lot of older women have this sort of infantilized demeanor, and if you look at old TV shows and movies you notice it there too—simpering and kittenish. It stands in stark contrast with today’s young women who have adopted much different affectations.

    The creaky voice thing is kind of coquettish in its own way, but so different from the way women tried to be sex objects fifty years ago. Think “Where the Boys Are.”

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  4. Suzanne said on March 5, 2013 at 8:00 am

    Alex,thanks for the young woman creaky voice link. I hate it. Perhaps this proves I have moved firmly into codgerism, but I find it annoying. When I’m getting medical attention, for example, I don’t want to hear what I assume is a well educated nurse sounding like some pre-teen ditz. “OMG! Your veins are, like, really small?” It may be a way of life now, but I don’t have to like it.

    I don’t like the snow that is coming either.

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  5. Connie said on March 5, 2013 at 8:01 am

    “Where the Boys Are” opens with a scene of everyone excitedly leaving a college building at the end of classes just before spring break. That scene was filmed at Berkey Hall at MSU. I think I got the building name right. In my day it was filled with English and Philosophy classes.

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  6. beb said on March 5, 2013 at 8:13 am

    A long, long time ago when I was just out of college I was working as a chemist at a smelting plant. Interesting work, but very dirty. I, the plant manager and the dock foreman were the only whites in the place. I would occasionally help the dock foreman weigh in the scrap being brought in. One of the regular drivers was an older black man. One day was his twentieth, or maybe thirtieth anniversary. I was floored when he said he had had a good marriage because he had never had to take a hand to his wife. This was around 1974 and the whole idea, to me, of beating one’s wife was repellant And the concept that you’ve had a good marriage because you’ve never had to beat your wife was utterly, utterly alien to me.

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  7. coozledad said on March 5, 2013 at 8:19 am

    “Just feel that sun! I’m going to soak it up through every exposable pore.”
    “And I brought QT for our coochies!”

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  8. Deborah said on March 5, 2013 at 8:23 am

    Thanks for the linguistic link Alex, I finally have a name for what I’ve noticed in young women, vocal fry. I first noticed it among young women I’d hear in a Starbucks on Rush St. a few years ago but now hear all over the place. I’ve tried to imitate it when discussing the phenomena to others but it is impossible for me to do. The character of Marni on Girls does it a lot and in fact the actress Allison Williams who plays Marni speaks like that when she’s interviewed so it must be her actual voice.

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  9. Lex said on March 5, 2013 at 8:49 am

    I particularly liked “Man killed to death,” coming as it did from the station that was the perennial news ratings leader in my home town when I was growing up, and I’ve already had several discussions about it on Facebook. The obvious question is, “To death? As opposed to what?” My favorite answer is “Killed within an inch of his life.” But the reason I love it most was that when my brothers and I were little — say, 6, 5 and 3 — we would frequently threaten each other, according to my mother, with that exact phrase: “I’m gonna kill you to death!”

    The only thing cooler was that when my daughter was 4 and very mad about some limit I had imposed on her behavior, instead of having a toddler tantrum, she looked up at me very serioulsy and said, “Daddy, you’d better be nicer, or no one will ever remember you.” You’ll be happy to know that that relationship has improved a great deal in the ensuing decade. 🙂

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  10. Charlotte said on March 5, 2013 at 10:37 am

    When my parents were divorced in the 1970s, my mother had to get her male cousin to vouch for her at the bank. They wouldn’t give her a checking account or a credit card without a husband.

    I do remember when the city of Duluth led the way on domestic violence — they were one of the first places to take away the option not to press charges. It was seen as a huge thing at the time.

    And you all do know what the “rule of thumb” means? Old English common law, you can’t beat your wife with a stick bigger in diameter than your thumb.

    I’m with T&L on the Kieran Shipka photos — I’ve got a whole pack of very beautiful little girls I’m auntie to — the big girls now range from 12-18 and the 13 year olds in particular, are playing with makeup and posing like that, especially if they think they can upset someone. Not entirely out of line, but figuring out that they’re beautiful, and that it has a certain effect. We spent Christmas looking at them all and wondering where our cute little girls went (there is still a pack little ones in fairy wings, thank goodness).

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  11. Deborah said on March 5, 2013 at 10:57 am

    More on vocal fry tones. While this video is pretty irritating it is a good example of how it sounds and what it does to the throat: http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=UsE5mysfZsY

    I have no idea how to embed links. I think someone here described it once but I have not mastered it.

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  12. Dorothy said on March 5, 2013 at 11:42 am

    My husband’s cousin lost her husband to leukemia in 1987 and when she was car shopping a year or two later, she was asked where her husband was so he could be part of the discussion. That wasn’t that long ago…

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  13. brian stouder said on March 5, 2013 at 11:55 am

    Back in 1990, Pam had an Olds Calais which she bought new. She took it in for a recall of some sort, and the service guy was trying to sell her an oil-change. When she rebuffed him, his tone of voice became unmistakably condescending, when he said something like “You DO know you have to have your oil changed from time to time?”. That story still gets her dander up. (If you want to make her mad, suggest to her that he was taking a fatherly tone only because of her youth, and not necessarily because of her gender)

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  14. MichaelG said on March 5, 2013 at 11:57 am

    I’ve also read all the John D. McDonald McGee novels and liked them. Haven’t read any recently. I’ll have to go pick one up. I read recently that they were going to be reissued soon in the order in which they were originally published.

    Couldn’t disagree more with you about John Sandford. He might have described one woman in a way that clashes with your view but Sandford has always treated the women in his novels exceptionally well. He also has had a number of very strong women as primary characters. Think of Marcy Sherrill or RoseMarie, Weather and several others. Also he had a couple of novels with women as serious and dangerous villains. There are authors out there who do poorly by women but Sandford is one of the best. Michael Connelly and James Lee Burke have very strong female characters. T. Jefferson Parker is another one with his Mercy Rayborn novels. I strongly encourage you to pick up Sandford and give him another chance. He’s one of the very best.

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  15. Prospero said on March 5, 2013 at 12:02 pm

    I’ll go with Dreadful Lemon Sea for McGee-iana, but the movie made from Amber is engaging. And not to be upsetting, but McDuff’s Detroit book was reviewed in the NYT.

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  16. Connie said on March 5, 2013 at 12:19 pm

    In the mid 70s I did occasional secret shopper outings for the company my aunt worked for in Grand Rapids. My particular assignment was to evaluate the reaction of car dealers to a young woman shopping alone. Every single place I went told me I should come back with my boyfriend or my father. That was then, this is now. I have bought several cars without my husband including my still shiny new Chevy Cruze. My only issue is when they won’t take no for an answer on the extended warranty sale. I walked out of one dealership when they wouldn’t take no for an answer and they chased me down in the lot to apologize and try to reclose the sale.

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  17. brian stouder said on March 5, 2013 at 12:26 pm

    Connie – they won’t make that mistake again!

    a non sequitur:

    Just in case you have as many rightwing bobble heads to talk to as I do, and the subject comes up…

    a week after nearly killing several race fans at their premier event in Daytona, NASCAR announces that the NRA will be a title sponsor of their race in Texas?

    I’ll grant you, NASCAR didn’t hit their fans with stray gunfire; but on the other hand, I think I’d take my chances against a stray bullet, as opposed to a hurtling piece of hot broken machinery, or a wheel or an engine.

    The funny thing is, the right-wing yappers like (Shit-for-brains Sean Hannity) relentlessly hawk the meme that officially “gun free zones” – such as schools or movie theaters – are practically inviting armed lunatics in, with the promise that no one will shoot back.

    But, having attended more than a few races myself, I was pretty sure that every damned place I’ve been specifically ban handguns (and knives and other weapons), and will take them away from you when they rifle through your cooler (so to speak) at the gate.

    For example, here’s Michigan International Speedway’s rule:


    Fans may not enter Michigan International Speedway grandstand areas with:
    • Hard-sided coolers.
    • Thermoses and metal cups of any size.
    • Glass containers, strollers, umbrellas, bicycles, roller blades, pets, banners, signs or flags.
    • Any bag, pack or container larger than the allowable sizes.
    Firearms, knives, fireworks and items restricted by local, state or federal laws.

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  18. Prospero said on March 5, 2013 at 12:35 pm

    Why are so many non-Catholics so hyper about the pope? Most American Catholics truly don’t give a shit.

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  19. Heather said on March 5, 2013 at 12:51 pm

    Brian Stouder, if you really want to get her dander up, send her this link:
    Academic Men Explain Things to Me

    It’s mostly examples from academia, but there are some that aren’t. (I’ve submitted a few examples.) I’ve often thought I might have to stop looking at it, it makes me so mad.

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  20. Charlotte said on March 5, 2013 at 12:58 pm

    Prospero — I’ve had that argument over and over with my protestant/athiest sweetheart all the time. I keep trying to explain the strange anti-authoritarianism of the average parish — you need a priest, but you keep them, and the hierarchy at arm’s length. Then he asks why anyone would belong to something so crazy and well, I don’t have an answer anymore. I miss the liturgy, but who can go back after the pedophilia and the corruption and the misogyny and all the rest?

    I only bought a car once, and they were very nice to me. Probably because it was right after my brother died in a wreck, and I burst into tears in the lot, and the salesman’s brother had also been killed in a wreck a few years back (I wasn’t trying to be manipulative, I just sort of freaked out). I got a good deal, they took my old car, and since it was a Subaru, I’m still driving it. I own that one, will be driving it until the wheels fall off.

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  21. Prospero said on March 5, 2013 at 1:04 pm

    Charlotte: I suppose I get it. If people believe child abuse hasn’t been rampant among Babdiss clergy (where the real money is)

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  22. Deborah said on March 5, 2013 at 1:06 pm

    I only bought a car once without a husband or significant other along with me. I think I got a really good deal on the one I bought by myself, better than the others. That was in the early 90s. My ex was pretty much of an asshole on the lot and got way too confrontational. My husband now is kind of a push over and doesn’t try to negotiate. We just recently bought a Jeep that we keep in Santa Fe and I had to intervene to keep my husband from paying about $1,000 more than we ended up paying.

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  23. MichaelG said on March 5, 2013 at 1:11 pm

    It’s a problem, Pros. Americans and Europeans are leaving the church in droves while membership is strong in places like South America. Unfortunately it’s the Americans and the Europeans who have always bankrolled the Church, especially the Americans. So the Church’s 13th Century policies are severely alienating Americans and at the same time strangling the Church’s own money line. South Americans and others from Third World countries don’t contribute the big bucks. How to get the Americans and Europeans back on the money train – that’s a very big question for the Cards.

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  24. A.Riley said on March 5, 2013 at 1:25 pm

    I had a beater Toyota in the shop, oh let’s see, late 70s, and they were trying to tell me it needed something like two thousand dollars worth of work. Hah. The car wasn’t worth that much.

    I wanted them to lay off, just close it back up again so I could get it to the junkyard and leave me alone, but they wouldn’t take no for an answer. So I had one of my colleagues who had a deep and raspy voice get on the phone pretending to be my irate father — and then they backed down. Jerks. (What they did was overfill the transmission fluid so it would barely get home. My neighbor, who was a genuine nice guy, knew exactly what was wrong, drained the excess, and I drove the little beater for another year.)

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  25. Dorothy said on March 5, 2013 at 1:43 pm

    Speaking of not being able to get away from salespeople, do any of you answer the phone when it says “Dominican Republic” in Caller ID? I was home on my lunch hour just now and that’s where we got a call from just as I was going out to walk the dogs. I listened to about 6 seconds of the pitch, which asked if I was a senior citizen suffering from arthritis or diabetes, and if I was I should press 1 now to talk to a rep. You bet your ass I pressed 1, and as soon as the live person came on I ripped her a new one. “You have no business calling us! We are on the Do-Not-Call List! I will report….” and with that she hung up on me. I have a feeling these calls are being generated because of us taking over Mike’s aunt’s business dealings and her mail comes here now. I’ve managed to stop the avalanche of catalogs and political mailings for the most part, but the phone calls are driving me batty.

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  26. Charlotte said on March 5, 2013 at 1:44 pm

    Interesting article on a woman who exposes internet hoaxes:http://thehairpin.com/2013/03/the-hoax-exposer#more

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  27. MarkH said on March 5, 2013 at 1:55 pm

    I retailed cars for eight years, ’89-’97, and I can tell you that the days of “hey, sweetie, don’t you have a husband?” are long gone. Oh, there are a few neanderthal dealers and salespeople (men) out there still, but definitely the exception. First of all, it’s blatant discrimination, especially when the majority of the time, a loan is involved and equal credit reules apply even more now than 20 years ago. Second, the preaching is, pay attention to the women, especially when with hubby, as they are the ones who will make the decision. Win-win: you’ll move iron over the curb more often, and increase the liklihood of happy customers. Which is solely how the dealers are judged by the factories anymore.

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  28. Sherri said on March 5, 2013 at 2:48 pm

    The last time I bought a car (9 years ago), I didn’t have any trouble with dealers. The last time I went into a big box store looking at TV’s, though, I couldn’t get anybody to talk to me without practically knocking them down. So I left and bought from Amazon instead. No pressure to buy extended warranties there.

    The place where I find it’s still most helpful to bring along my Y chromosome is to meetings with representatives of the public school system. I’m still amazed at how differently the meeting goes when my husband accompanies me, even if he doesn’t say a word.

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  29. brian stouder said on March 5, 2013 at 3:04 pm

    Sherri – wow!

    I don’t think our public school system operates with that dynamic…

    Our Superintendent is a woman, as is the principal at the middle school where our daughters attend, as is our school board member…if anything, I think things happen more smoothly when Pam is there (but as always, I could well be all wet!)

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  30. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on March 5, 2013 at 3:19 pm

    The thing with school based stuff is that they/we are so unaccustomed to having a male/father show up, I’m sure it puts people on a different sort of edge. You get accustomed to a string of meetings with moms, aunts, and grandmothers, and after thirty or forty of those, a woman walks in with a man, and there is still a certain shift in tone. I’m not defending it, and hope it doesn’t make me more or less engaged, but you do feel a change in tone. The problem is that a majority of the times a male parent comes in, it’s because they are upset & angry and want to make a point.

    In fact, the county attendance officer and I were sitting in his office this morning at 7:30 am to finish a presentation we’re doing, weather allowing, to all the county school district superintendents tomorrow. He smiled as I came in, and said “I got a fan letter.” I took the envelope he handed me, and slid out the thick folded packet which I recognized as mostly Glen’s usual outgoing mail packet to households where a student has registered 7 or more unexcused absences.

    (Excuse my use of language…) The top sheet was a plain white piece of paper. In felt tip, across the top third, was written from edge to edge in surprisingly neat handwriting “Fuck you, Glen!”

    Further down, about halfway, the father wrote “Any further mail I receive from you will go in the trash unopened. If you would like me to tell you to fuck yourself directly, please call xxx-ccc-vvvv. Fuck you.” And at the bottom, his name printed and then signed.

    Along with the returned packet, this fellow had included copies of grade reports of all A’s and zero absence . . . and I thumbed through four of them, for the kid who’d been the subject of the notice, and three other siblings. And pointed out: “Glen, these are all early interim reports for 2011, after 17 days total of school, from a year and half ago. So they really don’t tell us a thing.”

    We stared at this little pile, and the cheery handwritten note on one side, then set it aside to do what we’d started out to do. After tomorrow, what do we do with this family? I honestly don’t know, but this is not altogether atypical for what happens in juvenile justice or education when the male shows up. We should be happy, but it’s actually not (in our experience) a good sign.

    P.S. – No, Glen didn’t know this guy, had never had occasion to call him, he just used the first name from the signature at the bottom of the “7 Day letter” from the district office. But clearly Mr. [Lastname] was not going to be used by this guy.

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  31. Deborah said on March 5, 2013 at 4:01 pm

    Irritating… I just found out that in the last couple of hours my American Express card was somehow being used in the UK and someone has rung up over $1,000 in charges at shops. How do they do that? What a pain. Not that I have to pay for these charges but what a pain having to deal with it.

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  32. Dorothy said on March 5, 2013 at 4:14 pm

    Deborah – about 3 weeks ago my daughter found out (via Twitter, then later, additional sources) that KnitPicks’ website had been hacked, and HUNDREDS of customers had their credit card information stolen. (happily, I was not among them, even though I’ve bought from them as recently as October.) The galling thing was they’d known about it for about 5 or 6 weeks and didn’t notify customers. The fees and expenses that piled up were unbelievable – and most customers are protected, but what about the banks? They have to pay out money to reimburse their customers. My daughter did have close to $400 taken from her checking account, which was eventually replaced. I’m so sorry you were hacked, too.

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  33. Sherri said on March 5, 2013 at 4:23 pm

    Brian, the worst case I encountered was with a female teacher. I got absolutely nowhere in a meeting with her, so the next time I met with her, I made my husband come, and the meeting was completely different, she was so helpful. My husband is anything but an angry or a pushy guy, and I’m not exactly a laid-back type, but the teacher was much more responsive when there was a man present.

    It’s not uncommon, either; all my friends joke about taking their Y chromosomes to meetings with teachers. I think they just classify us as soccer moms there to get something for our special snowflakes, or don’t take us seriously, or something. The previous superintendent of the district once made a fairly dismissive comment about soccer moms when a bunch of us were working on getting a foundation established for the district (he was only the assistant superintendent at the time, and fortunately, he’s gone now.)

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  34. Deborah said on March 5, 2013 at 4:46 pm

    I get that your card number can be hacked and used for on-line purchases but this person apparently had a card somehow made with my name and number on it, they were using it in shops not for on-line purchases. That has to be a huge racket and pretty risky when they finally take it to a shop where it can’t be used anymore and a warning is given to the shop keeper to call authorities.

    It’s so warm here today we’ve had all the windows open, while in Chicago they are being dumped on with tons of snow.

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  35. MarkH said on March 5, 2013 at 5:16 pm

    Rule #1 is restrict your use of debit cards to almost nothing if you have to. Use only in person with merchants you trust, never online. Your bank acount can be cleaned out in no time. Otherwise ALWAYS use a credit card for these purchases. Your liability from fraud stops at $50 or $100 depending on the provider. Your daughter apparently used her debit card, Dorothy. Otheriwse the bank account would not have been depleted.

    Deborah, credit card/identity thieves know they have only a brief window of time to use the card once thay have tested it and then know they can use it. Maybe a day at the most, a lot of purchases, fast, high dollar or low. They hit the limit and toss it away, never to the same place twice.

    I think I posted this before, but American Express is very good at detection of “unusual” purchases and will call the card holder to verify if the item or service in question is legit. They called me one night to verify purchases that didn’t fit my pattern, whatever that is. Once I assured them I didn’t make those purchases, they cancelled the card and I had a new one in 48 hours. The site that got hacked did not notify me of this for another three weeks, similar to Dorothy. Funny thing is for about ten days some of this odd stuff showed up in my mail, including two Girls Gone Wild DVDs.

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  36. coozledad said on March 5, 2013 at 5:37 pm

    Hugo Chavez dies, taking one of history’s monster cocks down with him.

    “We knew we were losing him, but we tried to save the dick, for scientific purposes.” Said Alfredo Nunez, dean of the college of surgeons at Our Lady of the Tar Sands Medical School, Caracas. “It had its own circulatory system and blood type. It even had feet.”

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  37. Connie said on March 5, 2013 at 5:37 pm

    Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez dies at 58

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  38. Connie said on March 5, 2013 at 5:39 pm

    Cooz, when we were kids and both said something at the same time, we would punch each other and holler “buy me a coke” and then count. I have no idea what any of it meant, but you are too far away to punch anyway.

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  39. Deborah said on March 5, 2013 at 5:41 pm

    We have a friend in Chicago who is Venezuelan she must be dancing right now.

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  40. susan said on March 5, 2013 at 5:59 pm

    Sorry about Chavez’ passing. He was a man of his people, and not of the wealthy elite of his country. He did not kowtow to the elite in this country, either, for which I was most grateful. Remember his selling gas at cut-rate prices during the winter months to those in need in our northeastern states? Plus, I really, really enjoyed his comments on the sulphurous emanations when GeeDub was present. Right on, Hugo. Requiescat in pace.

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  41. Prospero said on March 5, 2013 at 6:03 pm

    With Chavez and Saddam gone, is there a neocon monster left outside the White House? Chavez was wildly popular in Venezuela, aside from the ranks of the filthy rich. Michigan’s Rep. Mike Rogers was a US pol obsessed with the ultimate evil Chavez represented. They’s a heddin’ fer Brownsville, as if anybody, ever, would.

    And little Kiernan Shipka looks like the long lost Olsen triplet in those pictures. And, wannabet that started out Scziepcka?

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  42. Deborah said on March 5, 2013 at 6:25 pm

    According to our friend in Chicago, Chavez was not popular in Venezuela among the middle class, her parents and brothers and sisters still live there and they aren’t rich.

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  43. Prospero said on March 5, 2013 at 6:37 pm

    The “middle class” in Venezuela is the land owners, the opressors of the vast majority of the populace. The Owners of all of the newspapers, that took part in Shrub’s anti-Chavez coup, are considered the “middle class”. They believe the country’s oil wealth belongs to them, not the share-cropper society that maintains the earth from which the wealth flows. A lot like Cuba with Battista.

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  44. Danny said on March 5, 2013 at 6:38 pm

    Looks like my Venezuelan biz trip is cancelled.. indefinitely. Yeehaa. Didn’t want to go anyway.

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  45. Prospero said on March 5, 2013 at 7:10 pm

    Shrubco brought out the dirty warrior specialists behind the assassination of Bishop Romero to try to get rid of Chavez. Typical ahole imperialistic American intervention:


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  46. Dave said on March 5, 2013 at 7:13 pm

    Yes, Deborah, exactly what happened with my wife and her Discover card about a month ago, when someone made seven identical purchases at a Walmart, her card, her account number, yet her card was in her purse. We’ve tried to think where it could have been used that someone stole the information and we don’t know.

    Just today, we were at our credit union and were told by a credit union officer that for two months, at a local sub/deli shop, (not a Subway), someone stole numbers from cards ran through a scanner for a two month period last year. Two months. Think of that.

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  47. nancy said on March 5, 2013 at 7:18 pm

    The cops busted a girl around here a while back. Her boyfriend persuaded her to plug in a separate scanner next to the real one at the fast-food joint where she worked — at the drive-thru window. She’d take the card, swipe it once for real, swipe it again to collect the data, and hand it back. It worked well. For a while.

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  48. Jolene said on March 5, 2013 at 7:22 pm

    My only credit card problem was of the “buy a lot of stuff quickly” variety. I accidentally left my card behind at a drugstore counter, and one of the clerks used it to buy something at more or less every store in that shopping center,

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  49. Charlotte said on March 5, 2013 at 7:27 pm

    Chavez — I don’t know enough to opine, but I did always sort of have a soft spot for his épater la bourgeoisie attitude. And the free heating oil for poor Northeasterners while our government is trying to take away what frayed safety net we have.

    I’m now fascinated by Beppe Grillo — not to go all Zizek but I’m finding it thrilling the way he’s refusing to choose from the established options — no, he won’t join a coalition government, no he won’t do what the German bankers want, yes he will open it up to online voting among his supporters.

    And the market’s zooming again … makes me want to pull my IRA into cash, but then they keep telling me I’m making unsustainable gains on my stock funds so I don’t but it all makes me very nervous.

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  50. LAMary said on March 5, 2013 at 7:35 pm

    Someone used my debit/credit card while I was on my three day trip to Seattle. It was, of course, the only card I had with me so I had no more cash than what I left home with. My bank texted me that there was fraudulent activity (someone tried to buy an airline ticket to Vegas)and my card was shut down. Luckily everything I had to do while in Seattle was in the same airport hotel where I stayed or across the street at a restaurant.

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  51. Dexter said on March 5, 2013 at 8:07 pm

    I don’t know anyone in town here who uses heating oil, but rural people still heat with oil, my cousin has always used it.
    Easterners heat with oil much more frequently, of course. Joe Kennedy’s crusade to provide assistance to needy people by filling up their home oil reservoirs is basically a gift from Venezuela as it is, now was, under the government of Hugo Chavez. I hope Kennedy can continue his program.
    Hugo called Bush43 “El Diablo”. I had much harsher wording for what I thought of that goddam weasel of a president.

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  52. coozledad said on March 5, 2013 at 9:23 pm

    Dexter: Don’t be so hard on the devil. I prefer to think of Satan as Milton saw him- a tragic figure, wicked but ultimately in service to some obscure cosmic principle, oozing into the spaces left vacant by God.
    Bush is the guy jerking his crank and muttering to himself in a public shitter, or at best, the otiose frat at the back of the classroom, farting audibly.

    I liked Chavez, except for the ball swinging. But hey, as free market religionists are always saying, cream rises to the top, and oil rich nations got stuff that people have to buy, because capitalism, and if sometimes the ball swinging comes from an unexpected quarter and makes the country club shit its pants, so much the better.

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  53. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on March 5, 2013 at 9:59 pm

    Coozledad, you’ve also just articulated the LDS (Mormon) view of Lucifer!

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  54. coozledad said on March 5, 2013 at 10:06 pm

    Might be. I always thought it was about two parts Manichaen heresy to one part ditch weed.

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  55. alex said on March 5, 2013 at 10:14 pm

    Hey, Dex, my investment property has an oil burner rigged up to a Bard (of Bryan, Ohio) heat pump and the utilities are fairly low. The furnace was made by Beckett in Elyria over by Cleveland. Both are older than dirt and still going strong. And the fireplaces and outdoor barbecues in all of the houses around here were made by Majestic of Huntington, Indiana.

    The snow here tonight is out of the ordinary, as blizzy as it gets anymore. The water on the lake is choppy and blowing from east to west which is always a sign of perturbation of the heavens. And it’s gonna be fifty on Friday says the local weather report.

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  56. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on March 5, 2013 at 10:40 pm

    Mormonism, taken straight up, no ice, always seemed pretty Gnostic to me. But I lack crucial experience with ditch weed. My kids at the court keep smoking stuff that they’re convinced is getting them high, but registers not at all on the urine test sticks. More ditch than weed.

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  57. Deborah said on March 5, 2013 at 11:46 pm

    Wait, when did Chavez get to be a saint? I always thought he was a weirdo, totalitarian dictator. What did I miss?

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  58. Dexter said on March 6, 2013 at 1:19 am

    Deborah, it just depends on your viewpoint. Some Americans who loved drug-running,whoring and gambling were totally dismayed when Fulgencio Batista, who was running the show in Cuba for about 26 years until Castro showed him the way out of the country, forever, exited Cuba. The US Mafia and Batista were full partners in these enterprises.
    Of course, the US couldn’t stand having a communist in the western hemisphere, and has made Castro out as a murdering despot these past 54 years. Since Fidel stepped down, not much has changed.
    Hugo Chavez came to power in 1999 and immediately proclaimed admiration for Fidel, and the two countries began cultural and material exchanges.
    Capitalism is hated in many areas and regions of the world, and always has been. More countries are tailoring their economies to serve their people, and away from serving the capitalist ,oppressing, war mongering turn-all-your-money-over-to-your-masters way of life.
    Reagan’s explanation of “trickle-down economics” explains it best of all. The workers get the dregs.
    In Cuba, for example, medical care is free. In Venezuela, workers pay ten centavos per gallon of gasoline.
    In the USA, workers are gouged to death financially. God bless you if you were rejoicing yesterday for the record-setting Dow averages. You are the chosen, privileged Americans. If you had invested your life savings in Dow leaders 12 years ago, you would have more than doubled the value by today. Or did you spend your disposable income on food, heat, and gasoline?
    Oh well…I don’t hate anyone who inherited a sum and invested well and is living well, or anyone who honestly worked at a business of any kind and diligently planned and saved and is making it fine in the good old USA. I only object to the way those of no means are treated here.

    Alex, my home-unit Bard gas furnace lasted from 1976 until last October. I moved in here in 1981.
    Bard quit making home units 15 or 20 years ago, said the guys who installed my new furnace, a Bryant furnace.

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  59. Connie said on March 6, 2013 at 7:37 am

    When we were early marrieds we owned an old house with an oil fueled furnace, with oil tank in basement. Every Christmas my Dad gave me $500. That’s exactly what it took to fill the tank once and make it just barely to the next Christmas. The new owners put in a new furnace and converted to propane. Remembering that we paid all of $46,000 for that house makes me feel old.

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