Same old.

Jeb Bush kicked off the Big Expensive Speakers series at the Mackinac Policy Conference, and as one Detroit columnist said, it sounds like he’s running for president, in the sense that he said GOP-primary-type things. Like:

He praised the power of “opportunity,” condemned the politics of waste and excuse-making in Washington and cities like Detroit. He pumped education reform that focuses on achievement rather than “self-esteem,” and praised Republican Gov. Rick Snyder for being a practical, rather than ideological, leader.


Bush tied his discussion of education to platitudes, rather than practical solutions. He praised Michigan for aping some of what Florida has done, for pushing charter schools and contemplating online learning — which has a remarkably sketchy track record — but didn’t address crucial areas like funding, or independent school accountability.

It was the self-esteem crack that chapped my ass. I have a sophomore leaning in for her finals, and believe me, she is not stinting on the achievement. And when I think about it, I have never heard the phrase “self esteem” mentioned, ever, by any of her teachers. Not in Fort Wayne, not in Ann Arbor, not here. Not in preschool, not in grade school, not in — you get the idea. Where are these self-esteem academies that Republicans are always bitching about?

There was also this, which shows there’s a reason he’s the Smart Bush:

2:33 PM: Asian-Americans have higher education achievement, higher incomes, higher entrepreneurial rates. More than 70% of Asian-Americans voted for Obama even though, Bush tells Detroit News’ Daniel Howes in the post-speech Q&A, they should be part of the GOP coalition but too many conservative voices have made the party seem exclusionary to minorities and immigrants.

Hmm, how did that happen?

Oh, well. Friends, I did a two-a-day today — weights in the morning, 12 bike miles in the afternoon, and I’m whipped. I think I’m headed for bed, but I’ll be up at the usual insane bird-chirpy hour of 5:30 or so. Because that is my lot in life. We’re looking at a thunderstorm eventually — it’s bearing down on central Wisconsin as I write this — so if we’re in for a big one, hey, let me know.

Posted at 12:30 am in Current events |

93 responses to “Same old.”

  1. Danny said on May 30, 2013 at 1:52 am

    I poached a ride before work yesterday morning and as I was riding past Torrey Pines State Beach, I was thinking how cool it would be if you could swing out west and train with me for a week before your big ride. We could climb the hill at Torrey and I’d be like all conversational and chatty and you’d be like all furrowed-brow dour and out of breath. Good times!

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  2. Dexter said on May 30, 2013 at 2:35 am

    Well, Danny, I kept looking for you on The Amgen TDC but never saw you, at least on the podium. 🙂 When the tour took to the desert, the guys on the bikes were really overheating. It was like 122 F one day. I was so charged up after the Chicago Black Hawks beat our Red Wings I had to diffuse, and I lighted up the Specialized and did a fast 8 miles to chill myself out a little bit. That damn hockey game was so intense I was completely frazzled and fired up all at the same time.
    It was just pleasant riding at 12:30 AM…only a dozen cars out; that’s all I saw on the 8 mile ride, and I commandeered the big four-lane boulevards carefree. I love this Red Wings squad but it’s time to mothball the jerseys and head back to Sweden for 8 of the Wings, and scatter the globe for the rest. Good year, boys…and Coach Babcock & staff.

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  3. Sherri said on May 30, 2013 at 2:40 am

    That was an excellent hockey game, Dexter, all the easier for me to enjoy because the Pens weren’t involved!

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  4. Linda said on May 30, 2013 at 6:01 am

    Where are the self-esteem academies? They are imaginary things that sort of lived awhile back, and create grist for conservative fantasies. Teaching kids self-esteem was big maybe 20 years ago. The reason that Repubs are finding themselves on the losing end of public opinion is that they have all the answers to questions that people stopped giving a damn about in the 1980s.

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  5. Deborah said on May 30, 2013 at 6:42 am

    So true Linda, life goes on.

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  6. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on May 30, 2013 at 7:17 am

    My spouse and I were having a version of this conversation just a few days ago; we’re proud of our son for all sorts of reasons, but we were a little surprised to get the notice for the academic honors night . . . and once seated, did the math on the program, and realized that in his class, 40% of them are on Honor Roll, and then Merit Roll goes on down below the halfway mark. We both recalled our own HS years when the older folk commented on how Honor Roll was the top 25%, grade-wise, for us, while in their youth it was 10%.

    Mix that in with some pretty obvious grade inflation, and you have something not too distant from what’s being clumped into a “self-esteem” discussion. I’m actually fine with saying, straight up, that grades may not be the best way to assess and motivate, and that we should dump As & Bs & Cs et cetera for a portfolio-based ongoing assessment, with direct feedback and peer group progress plans and so on.

    But when 90% of your Biology class is getting As, then As don’t mean any more than when every kid playing youth league soccer gets the exact same trophy. The 9th grade English teacher our son had this year was much warned against . . . among parents! . . . because she still gives out more than a few Cs, and that’s considered a bad sign. We see high expectations and a willingness to (finally) mark down young men who hand in illegible, poorly phrased and spelled when legible, hastily scrawled on the bus essays. I had a near-death experience myself at Purdue my first year, because I ran into my intro classes assuming I knew what it took to get As & Bs, and found myself getting work handed back or marked C-, and I literally didn’t know how to handle it. I figured it out in time, but I saw many first years not come back from Christmas, or just eke out second semester and head home before finals in May, because they were done. They didn’t have the skills needed to complete the work and handle being pushed.

    That was 1977-8, and it wasn’t any different when I was teaching History 151 in the early 90s at Fairmont State. How it is now I have a more muddled view, so I’m open to insights from others closer to the trenches of HS & college than I am.

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  7. brian stouder said on May 30, 2013 at 7:35 am

    Here’s Diane Ravitch’s take on Mackinac:

    Sorry, you were not invited. Neither was I. Mackinac Island is the exclusive resort where 1,500 business and government leaders met to ponder education. The guests of honor were Jeb Bush and Michelle Rhee. What, you thought they might want to hear from teachers, people who know something first hand about education?

    No, no way. They came to hear thought leaders prophesy the elimination of public education and the reign of the free market in education.

    and so on

    Oh, and Governor Rick Snyder was there. His poll ratings may be in the single digits, but no reason that should slow him down in his effort to privatize public schools.

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  8. brian stouder said on May 30, 2013 at 7:36 am

    (that last sentence was part of the excerpt)

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  9. Deggjr said on May 30, 2013 at 8:14 am

    Perhaps the opposite of “self esteem” would be “you suck”. Can’t kick a soccer ball at age five? You suck! Early out in a spelling bee? You suck! Wrote a mediocre paper as a nine year old? You suck, you worthless piece of garbage. Know your place.

    A child recognized as a truly great soccer player in kindergarten is well prepared for success … at the first grade level. Preparation for success at age 40 is not as clear.

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  10. coozledad said on May 30, 2013 at 8:17 am

    They’re running Jeb because they’ve got no imagination, and they’ll never quit the Bushes. Jeb is Barb’s pick from her brood cluster anyway, because like the last one, he’s unclouded by conscience, remorse, or delusions of morality, but he made it to middle age without turning his brain into a coke sponge.

    I watched a charter school president (at one of our town halls) make a pitch for public money so he could compete with public schools what can buy them computers and get unfair ‘vantages. Stupid prick could barely form words, but he staked out the Republican id pretty clearly: We is titans of success, even as we fail horribly, and people got to tighten them belts lessen’ it’s putting that money in a pile what we can grab onto.

    I can see why Bush is railing against self-esteem. It’s not a good quality in a generation you’re prepping for Bangladeshi style dog work. They’d rather that blacks be humble, queers hate themselves, and their po white voting bloc stick to being extras from Inherit The Wind.

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  11. beb said on May 30, 2013 at 8:21 am

    Jeff @6: So true about the difference between high school and college. I went to college thinking I was, if not king of the world, at least fully capable. And got my ass handed to me.

    At least I wasn’t taught Creationism as a science in High school Biology.

    I’m always amazed when Republican leaders say that Latinos or Orientals “ought” to be natural Republicans because most of them are Catholics or because they are so business oriented. And it’s not simply because the rank and file of the party continues to fume about immigrants. When Republicans are more interested in cutting taxes than fixing schools, or cutting taxes than repairing roads, or cutting taxes than in hiring police what appeal do they have to anybody?

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  12. beb said on May 30, 2013 at 8:24 am

    Coolezdad, I thought Jeb’s ma said the country had had enough of Bushes…

    I thought Jeb was running because like in 2012 and Romney, they need someone to run who is not as crazy as the rest of the pack.

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  13. coozledad said on May 30, 2013 at 8:30 am

    A lot of those Asians hail from the PRC, whose hybrid of nepotism and predatory capitalism is the Republican wet dream. They don’t want it here. They know how bad it sucks, even without the mandatory bronze age religion.

    They got a bit less apolitical, mobilized, and helped kick the teabaggers off the Wake County school board awhile back. I think they’d have been a bigger factor in 2012, but Art Pope bought the state.

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  14. brian stouder said on May 30, 2013 at 8:31 am

    ”) I think Cooz @ 10 is the early odds-on fave to win the thread! And Beb – couldn’t agree more, with the footnote that Turd Blossom Rove and the Bush-43 made a concerted effort to woo Hispanics and drew into the high-40-percentage range of that voting demographic; whereas Mitt & the teaparty folks crashed it back into the teens.

    So we learned that ‘social issues/culture war’ voting concerns are trumped by racism…which is (at best) a cold comfort

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  15. nancy said on May 30, 2013 at 8:34 am

    I unfollowed Diane Ravitch because of statements like these. While I respect the work she’s done in education, she needs to quit popping off about stuff she knows nothing about. Just in that one excerpt you quoted, Brian:

    1) You don’t have to be invited to the Mackinac Policy Conference. Anyone who can pony up the registration fee — $1,500 — can attend, and she could probably get in free on a media credential.

    2) The governor’s “poll ratings” are not in the single digits. He’s not universally beloved, but I wouldn’t bet against him cakewalking to a second term.

    I think this is what happens when you surround yourself with people who think exactly like you do.

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  16. Mark P said on May 30, 2013 at 8:35 am

    Self esteem academies are where Republicans send all their strawchildren.

    Jeff (tmmo)I am completely ignorant of public primary and secondary education (I left the public schools after grade 5, around 50 years ago), but I suspect that grade inflation is due at least in part to pressure from parents. If Johnny and Janie are average students, they will receive C’s, right? And a C is completely unacceptable, so the teachers must be doing something wrong.

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  17. brian stouder said on May 30, 2013 at 8:49 am

    Well indeed – I’ve been tempted to un-follow Ms Ravitch only because she stuffs my in-box with 8 or 10 blog updates a day(!).

    And indeed, if I wanted to make the same point she was wanting to make (about exclusivity), HIGHLIGHTING the $1500 entrance fee sends the same message as “you’re not invited” – and has the virtue of being ACCURATE!

    And, while we’re on the subject of nits to pick with Ms Ravitch, I’m always a little surprised how many typos and mis-spellings she has on her site; she comes across as a bit harried.

    Seriously – here at Nancy if the occasional typo slips in, the proprietress fixes it – and I’m spoiled on that.

    By way of saying once again, to our proprietress (and it can never be said too many times) – thanks!

    She gives us a daily reality check, and she has accuracy standards that are so seamless that I almost take them for granted, anymore

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  18. Prospero said on May 30, 2013 at 8:58 am

    deggjr: That would be Freddy Adu. What ever happened to that guy? Or Donovan Landon, for that matter? Or is it Landon Donovan? The brainless sport. Upfield or crossfield? Seriously dumb.

    Getting out of Dodge, about one step ahead of the posse.

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  19. adrianne said on May 30, 2013 at 9:00 am

    And don’t forget, Jeb had the foresight to marry a Latino woman, and have “little brown ones,” as his dad, George H.W. Bush, so memorably put it. A foreward-thinking lad, indeed!

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  20. Danny said on May 30, 2013 at 9:08 am

    Looks like AG Holder has something to tell the press, but they got to promise not to be mad.

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  21. nancy said on May 30, 2013 at 9:16 am

    Not to belabor this point, but the other thing Diane Ravitch leaves out is this: There are many traditional public educators on Mackinac this week. The MEA is there, the usual-suspect apparatchiks are there, they’re all there. Everybody is there. (Except me.) There’s certainly an element of fiscal exclusion with the price and all, but it’s a pretty grand event, and someone has to pay for all that food and booze and the high-profile speakers who lure people there in the first place. Certainly, another sponsor might have chosen different keynoters than Jeb Bush and Michelle Rhee, but the host is the Detroit Regional Chamber of Commerce, not the politburo.

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  22. Peter said on May 30, 2013 at 9:38 am

    Dexter, you are right – that was some game last night. I still can’t figure out the trajectory of Seabrook’s shot – well, neither could Jimmy Howard.

    And to another point of Dexter’s: The handshake ceremony afterwards was really nice; and Zetterberg really took his time to shake hands and say a few words. I said that it would have been great if someone had a mike there to hear what Zetterberg was saying, and my son said “what would it matter – it’s probably in Swedish!”

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  23. Prospero said on May 30, 2013 at 9:40 am

    Is Jeb invested in his bro’s testing bidness? More than likely. That would be Marvin.

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  24. coozledad said on May 30, 2013 at 9:44 am

    That would be Marvin
    And would Marvin’s business be portfolio-based ongoing assessment, with direct feedback and peer group progress plans ?

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  25. Jeff said on May 30, 2013 at 10:03 am

    Unlikely,Cooze, since those are teacher-centric forms of student assessment. Don’t let your contempt for anyone to your right blind you to points of potential agreement.

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  26. Jeff said on May 30, 2013 at 10:04 am

    Or, more succinctly, letter grades suck almost as much as standardized testing.

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  27. Bitter Scribe said on May 30, 2013 at 10:30 am

    Mitch Albom’s column on Game 7 didn’t totally suck—in fact, it was mostly OK, IMO—but I could have done without the stupid “Rocky” analogy in the lead. Um, Mitch, you do realize that there actually was a rematch in those movies, right? And another, and another, and…

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  28. coozledad said on May 30, 2013 at 10:31 am

    Oh. Like Neil Bush’s Ignite! Learning.
    Assessment is the process of gathering information from a variety of sources such as assignments, teacher observations, class discussions, and tests and quizzes.[12] Teachers must assess regularly in order to inform their instructional strategies, learn about each student’s readiness, interests, and learning preferences and to improve student learning. This information can be gathered through diagnostic (pre-assessments), formative, and summative assessments, as well as Individual Education Plans, Ontario Student Records, student interest surveys, and multiple intelligence or learning style inventories.

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  29. Bitter Scribe said on May 30, 2013 at 10:32 am

    I still can’t figure out the trajectory of Seabrook’s shot – well, neither could Jimmy Howard.

    I’m a Hawks fan, but God help me, I feel sorry for Niklas Kronwell. He played like a demon all series, blocking shot after shot, and the only thing anyone will remember is the winning goal deflecting off his ankle.

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  30. Bitter Scribe said on May 30, 2013 at 10:32 am

    Oops. Sorry for the tagfail.

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  31. nancy said on May 30, 2013 at 10:37 am


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  32. Julie Robinson said on May 30, 2013 at 10:47 am

    My sister will go on at length about Jeb Bush, having suffered under him as governor, both as a citizen and a state employee. It starts with no raises but steady increases in health insurance, continues through his wife’s international shopping sprees (after which she “forgot” to declare the items upon reentering the USA), and ends with his stripping of the public education system. And let’s not forget the 2000 Presidential debacle which happened under his watch. We can still smell the stench.

    But this morning I’ve been gobsmacked about the existence of this magazine: There is actually a magazine named Garden and Gun! It seems to be filled with recipes, tips for gracious southern living, and columns about The Sporting Life. I haven’t scraped my jaw off the floor yet. Coozledad, perhaps you can enlighten we northerners?

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  33. Charlotte said on May 30, 2013 at 10:50 am

    Hockey! This Boston/Chicago household is very happy right now. Looking forward to more.

    Still raining here — haven’t made up the 5-9 inches we’re in the hole, but a week of steady rain has turned the entire area emerald green. It’s very gorgeous.

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  34. coozledad said on May 30, 2013 at 11:03 am

    I quit hunting courgettes after I was attacked and nearly dismembered by one.
    maybe Garden and Gun is the logical extension of the “gun is a tool” argument. I guess you could use it for a dibble if you had a bad back.

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  35. Charlotte said on May 30, 2013 at 11:47 am

    Garden and Gun has a pretty good reputation actually — picked up a bunch of the thoughtful guys who used to write about hunting for Sports Afield, plus a big dollop of that sort of hipster-locavore contingent who are trying to make southern food cool again. Not a mouth-breather rag — more like an annoying Charleston upper-class one.

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  36. Bob (not Greene) said on May 30, 2013 at 11:47 am

    Man, the newspaper death march continues. The Chicago Sun-Times just laid off its entire photography staff.

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  37. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on May 30, 2013 at 11:51 am

    Cooze, I was thinking mainly about “teachers talking to students, and them working together to keep an ongoing record of intentions and progress, with room for input from other students.” Never heard of “Ignite!” and don’t trust any program with an exclamation point in the title, Bushian or otherwise.

    Letter grades are one notch above Scantron ™ tests.

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  38. Basset said on May 30, 2013 at 12:02 pm

    More stereotyping from Cooze… suppose it’s easier that way.
    “Annoying” ain’t the half of it about Garden & Gun though… vibe I get from it is upscale Southern ex-frat boy who has made a little money and considers himself refined.

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  39. nancy said on May 30, 2013 at 12:10 pm

    Michelle Rhee just spoke at Mackinac, and she, too, hit the self-esteem button hard and often. One of the journos covering it just live-blogged this:

    11:28 AM: This entire thing about feelings and self-esteem is one of the most artfully constructed strawmen you’ll ever see. Korea ranks kids and China is kicking our butts and blah blah blah. I’m pretty sure that one does not learn the same way a college football team wins a national championship. Ranking kids assumes that learning is a monolithic process, that every kid learns the same way at the same pace, and that somebody wins something at the end of the day. This mindset completely ignores the interconnected nature of economies and societies. There will never be a point where a scoreboard says USA wins, China loses or vice versa. The US and China are trading partners. This is a symbiotic relationship. It’s embarrassing to see so many seemingly smart people fall for such vapid rhetoric and dumb metaphors.

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  40. Prospero said on May 30, 2013 at 12:15 pm

    cooze@34: Or a niblick.

    Charlotte@33: Tuukka will rule. Old school (although Rask looks like he’s about 13). Bruins are too deep for Blackhawks.

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  41. Prospero said on May 30, 2013 at 12:17 pm

    What Nancy said @39: Every other day, I learn something I should have known back in college when it was taught to me. Even HS.

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  42. Bitter Scribe said on May 30, 2013 at 12:19 pm

    If there is ever anyone who does not have the right to lecture about excessive and unearned self-esteem, it’s Michelle Rhee. She has gotten more mileage out of less achievement than any woman this side of Sarah Palin.

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  43. Bitter Scribe said on May 30, 2013 at 12:24 pm

    The corporate bullshit from the Sun-Times about firing all its photographers is worth, IMO, quoting in full:

    “The Sun-Times business is changing rapidly and our audiences are consistently seeking more video content with their news. We have made great progress in meeting this demand and are focused on bolstering our reporting capabilities with video and other multimedia elements. The Chicago Sun-Times continues to evolve with our digitally savvy customers, and as a result, we have had to restructure the way we manage multimedia, including photography, across the network.”

    Translation: We can’t be bothered to keep people on our payroll who actually take pictures, so we’ll just post videos our reporters take with their smartphones and call it even.

    Between this and the Koch brothers maybe buying the Tribune, this has been an extremely depressing week for Chicago newspapers.

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  44. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on May 30, 2013 at 12:48 pm

    When you can tell me how to compare “Star Wars,” “The Wizard of Oz,” and “Nobody’s Fool” and decide how to rank them against each other, you can tell me how to rank kids . . . even those putatively the same age & level of physical/mental development. Plus you rank movies and teams when the year is done, to say who was best (or worst); you assess students to figure out what should happen NEXT in their education. The process couldn’t be more different.

    IOW, the beating on “self-esteem” is silly. I completely agree. But the idea that we’re doing kids any favors by not marking them down because of poor spelling and handwriting (ask the shift manager how they feel about notes they can’t read from the crew leader the night before), or giving all their vapid, internet-cribbed essays an “A” with the only “B”s being those turned in two days late . . . that’s gotta stop. Call it what you will, but along with spurring a thirst to learn and understand, you have to give them a sense of real world expectations for text communication and absorbing and applying new information.

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  45. Bob (not Greene) said on May 30, 2013 at 12:52 pm

    Pros, have you seen the Blackhawks this year? They have all kinds of depth in addition to skill. They finished the regular season with a record of 36-7-5. What the Hawks don’t have is a lot of size, and that has spelled trouble against some of the more physical teams in the West. The Bruins are going to have a hell of time getting past the Penguins. I also worry that the Hawks will not be able to take the kind of physical pounding L.A. can dish out.

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  46. Charlotte said on May 30, 2013 at 1:25 pm

    I agree Bob — getting past the Penguins is going to be a hurdle. But that’s half the fun, isn’t it?

    And Jeff — oh my spare me the idiocy of “whole language” instruction. Luckily our junior high here spends most of seventh grade on grammar — real, old-fashioned sentence diagramming, parts of speech, etc. (My friend Jennifer teaches it.) But the high school is ridiculously slack — when I realized I was sending “my” Audrey off to Beloit without ever having written a real paper, with footnotes, I pinged one of my old English profs there. He said this was, unfortunately, the norm these days so they put the entire freshman class into small classes for the first semester and teach them how to do research and write papers.

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  47. Prospero said on May 30, 2013 at 1:25 pm

    Bob: Bs are four lines deep, and for size, they have all-world D Zdeno Chara (aka best hockey player on this planet). They hit like mofos and they have a great goalkeeper in Rask. If they get past Sid and the kids, it will be an hellacious series with the Blackhawks. I loathe the LA Kings.

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  48. Mark P. said on May 30, 2013 at 1:28 pm

    Bitter Scribe, it sounds like another shoot-yourself-in-the-foot moment: “Not as many people are buying our newspaper, so we’ll make it worse.” Yeah, that will fix the problem.

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  49. Peter said on May 30, 2013 at 1:52 pm

    Pros, the Hawks are four deep as well – after all, they won without Kane, Hossa, and Toews turning in all star performances.

    That being said, I’m not holding my breath for the upcoming series. They’ll be playing twice in 30 hours, and Quick has done a great job of stopping them in the past.

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  50. Dexter said on May 30, 2013 at 1:54 pm

    I won’t be cussin’ and stompin’ at any more hockey games this year, and I envision an LA-PIT Finals.
    It’s time for me to start paying a little attention to basketball for a few weeks. LA Lakers are out of it, and that makes for a good mix for me to follow. I do not for one minute think Indiana can beat South Beach 2 out of 3. I hope I am wrong.
    I remember back about 19 years ago when Reggie Miller was playing for the Pacers and Indianapolis was Pacer-crazy. I was there for a seminar for four days and the town was insane, huge banners on the tall buildings, locals on the street decked out in Pacers gear, restaurants having whitewashed messages on their windows like it was Shelbyville and the Golden Bears were heading to state.
    Still, I can’t follow any sports teams that I cannot get the hometown newspaper from, nor see them on any local sports package, or even hear their broadcasts on regular radio. I never have figured out why Indianapolis never had a radio station , at least one that would carry over 100 miles.

    Oh…ain’t it just too damn hot in LA to be playing hockey in June?

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  51. Sherri said on May 30, 2013 at 1:54 pm

    Should be a good series between the Bruins and the Pens. Charo is big, but the Pens have a lot of players to cover, with Sid the Kid, Malkin, Neal, Dupuis all dangerous scorers. The Bruins need to stay out of the penalty box, too; the Pens are deadly on power plays and 4-on-4 situations.

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  52. brian stouder said on May 30, 2013 at 1:57 pm

    Jeff – I suspect we agree (at the end of the day) but let me just say –

    when we look at the results of one-size-fits-all high-stakes standardized test results, and THEN compare to China (for example) my eyes always roll.

    If a kid isn’t making good standardized scores in such a country, that kid is culled out, period.

    This is the whole point of having real (not voucherized) public education.

    Because (and I cannot be argued out of this position) the big con inherent in voucherized “schools'” success (if any) is based in that very same sort of culling and writing off of the kids who learn at slower rates, or who for whatever reason (usually poverty) simply cannot learn at the pace and level of other kids.

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  53. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on May 30, 2013 at 2:16 pm

    We agree, Brian.

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  54. Sherri said on May 30, 2013 at 2:19 pm

    Is Gordon Gee’s fundraising ability such that he can say any number of outrageous things and keep his $1.9 million job at Ohio State, or is he having his Woody Hayes moment?

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  55. Heather said on May 30, 2013 at 2:20 pm

    Do any of you prefer to look at videos instead of photos? For some stories I do, but for the vast majority I just don’t have the time or the inclination to watch a video. Especially if I have to sit through an ad first.

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  56. LAMary said on May 30, 2013 at 2:41 pm

    Go Kings.

    June isn’t usually a particularly hot month here, although it was stinking hot on June 25, 1990, when I was in the process of giving birth to my first born. 118 that day. August is the deadly hot month here, and most of September.

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  57. David C. said on May 30, 2013 at 3:14 pm

    Does anybody really teach diagramming sentences anymore? What a colossal waste of time. They tried to teach me English from 7th grade through high school with diagramming sentences. It didn’t take and I felt like, and was, a miserable failure. My grades in English were mostly Cs and Ds. Sentences already have a structure. They don’t need an artificial structure that makes no damned sense. Finally, in freshman college English, they left that idiocy behind and taught by writing and re-writing until everything was correct.

    As for grade inflation, I’m not so sure about that. A friend’s son in a high school science teacher. He gives out lots of Cs, Ds, and Fs in his required freshman science class. In his advanced chemistry and physics courses, he gives out hardly any. He says those students want to be there, want to learn, and learn the material. He had a principal decide that the teachers had to give one F for every A. I think that strikes a lot of people as proper. But do you give a kid who got an 85% on a test an F just because it tickles someone’s sense of symmetry?

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  58. beb said on May 30, 2013 at 3:50 pm

    David C. – That’s not teaching that management. The kind where every group has to have one employee worth firing. Because, you know… management!

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  59. Deborah said on May 30, 2013 at 4:20 pm

    We diagrammed sentences up the wazoo when I was in Junior High, Mr. Seig was our teacher, who wore his pants way high, the old joke was that he had to unzip his fly to blow his nose. I loved diagramming sentences. When I went to high school eons ago I never had to write a term paper for any class. When I got to college I was way behind the curve in that department. So it isn’t just happening now. But I agree that students might be coddled too much, if they are getting awards just for showing up that doesn’t seem productive. But what do I know? It’s been a long time since I was in the classroom as either a student, teacher or parent.

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  60. Julie Robinson said on May 30, 2013 at 4:52 pm

    Our school system used the LASS (Language Arts and Social Studies) system, and it wasn’t big on teaching grammar or diagramming. Mostly I go by what feels right. But hey, my self-esteem is great!

    Actually, we did a lot of writing all the way back to fifth grade, and senior year our teacher focused on research papers and essay tests. Introduction, thesis, three supporting facts, and conclusion led to good marks in all those college blue books. She was new that year and was horrified at our lack of grammar knowledge, resulting in a district-wide revamp of the English program.

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  61. Prospero said on May 30, 2013 at 4:53 pm

    Really pissed off teacher delivers a Jeremiad. A few years ago, I taught a semester of AP anatomy.Honest too God, those bright kids thought they could cut and paste papers from the net. I spent a week making them diagram sentences and installed a take home exam per week, on which they knew they would be judged partially on the quality of their writing, as well as the science. Of course, they bitched. Teenagers with Senioritis. None of those kids had ever seen less than an A on anything, but they got a rude awakening. Those kids are all finished with college now, and I run into them occasionally. Every one of them has thanked me for putting my foot down and making them walk before college made them run. Parents were not supportive until I explained my approach at mid-term conferences. Of course, they also liked that I brought a couch and a Mr. Coffee into the classroom and blew off the first 15 minutes of the block shooting the shit and loading caffeine Whoever thought 7:45 was a reasonable start time for a bunch of 17 year olds was way too far removed from adolescence.

    Anybody else think Jeb might have been making a crack at his brother”s expense. Ivy League legacy leaves a lot of room for shit-for-brains, and it’s pretty close to everybody gets a trophy.

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  62. mark said on May 30, 2013 at 4:54 pm

    I won’t say that learning to diagram sentences in English was essential to learning foreign languages, but it was very helpful.

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  63. nancy said on May 30, 2013 at 4:54 pm

    Alan had a reporter working for him once who routinely turned in stories with sentence fragments. He was the sort of editor who liked a reporter to sit with him while he worked on a piece. “What is the verb in this sentence?” he’d ask, and the guy would just stare blankly.

    That’s when you see the value of diagramming sentences. Kirk and I and many of the rest of you went around on this one a while back. I’m a fan.

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  64. alex said on May 30, 2013 at 5:10 pm

    I learned how to diagram sentences and write research papers and do proper citations in middle school and did all that stuff using an old manual typewriter. I’m simply amazed to hear that kids are entering college without ever having been taught how to write a paper, especially when doing footnotes and bibliographies on a computer is so fracking easy compared to what it used to be.

    I know quite a few teachers who are taking early retirement or changing jobs because the joy of teaching has been completely wrung out of the profession. I hear them complaining about being overburdened with more bureaucratic paperwork than ever; not being allowed to have any input into curriculum and choice of books because the kids are being prepped for passing standardized tests; having to live on frozen pay and diminishing benefits year after year; having to answer to idiotic administrators like the one described above who requires an F for every A. It’s a shame. The schools are losing their most talented teachers, and I doubt they’re being replaced with people of the same caliber. But I can’t say I blame them for leaving.

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  65. MichaelG said on May 30, 2013 at 5:15 pm

    The nuns made us diagram sentences. It helped me immensely. It gives you a feel for the structure of a sentence and how it works.

    Mary, I guess you mean the L.A. Kings. As far as I am concerned the Sacto Kings can GO. It’s supposed to hit a hun here over the weekend.

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  66. David C. said on May 30, 2013 at 5:18 pm

    I guess you either love diagramming or hate it. I can do free body diagrams (resolves the forces in a mechanical structure) in my sleep. But I could never wrap my mind around diagramming sentences. Frankly, I can’t see how you could possibly diagram a sentence without knowing the verb in the first place. Therefore, what’s the point. Oh well, different strokes and all that. I can see that it might be mildly amusing on “buffalo buffalo buffalo”, but other than that, I’ll pass.

    My niece graduated last December from Central Michigan with a degree in English. They still teach diagramming, but it sounds like it’s mostly as a curiosity.

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  67. Prospero said on May 30, 2013 at 5:28 pm

    I remember when it used to be called “parsing” sentences.

    How does a bona fide whackadoo like this guy get a gun license? I think he’s probably the serial ricin mailer.

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  68. Prospero said on May 30, 2013 at 5:35 pm

    Ready ripostes to climate change deniers.

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  69. Sherri said on May 30, 2013 at 5:40 pm

    I can do free body diagrams and can diagram sentences; in fact, I think they serve much the same purpose. Both allow you to take things apart and look at them in a logical way. But then, my mind works in an odd way according to my husband; I always told him that writing a paper and writing a computer program were very similar to me.

    My daughter wasn’t taught to diagram sentences, but she was taught to write papers using citations and bibliographies. I still don’t think she wrote enough in her classes, but maybe that’s just my clouded memories of my past and how much better things were in the old days. OTOH, she studied more math in high school than I did, since more was available at her high school. More history, too, since there was no world history requirement when I was in high school.

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  70. Deborah said on May 30, 2013 at 6:11 pm

    I think I mentioned this here before but my husbands youngest got a master’s in arts administration from USC (after getting her undergrad there and spending 3 years working in Italy). She had told us about her dissertation as she was writing it and we were eager to read it, her dean had told her she could probably get it published, it was that good. Then she was selected to give the equivalent of the “valedictorian” speech to her school’s graduation, which we went to, of course. After that she sent us her dissertation and we were horrified. It was so badly written it was embarrassing and her research was pathetic. Since it was my husband’s daughter I didn’t say much of anything at the time. It was years later that my husband confessed how disappointed he was that the quality of her paper was considered exceptional for any reason. and we had spent a boatload for her education. She got a job in arts admin for about 6 months and then quit because she hated it and got another masters at one of the Claremont Colleges in education (more $$$), she taught for a year or two, quit because she hated that too. Now she’s a stay at home mom and will probably homeschool her daughter because she became a fundamentalist Christian along the way. Odd how things work out isn’t it?

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  71. LAMary said on May 30, 2013 at 6:46 pm

    I loved diagramming. I’ve showed my sons how to do it, and the older one caught on instantly. Younger one hates it.

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  72. Prospero said on May 30, 2013 at 7:09 pm

    Entertaining Stephen King interview. I love his books. I think The Stand is a masterpiece, as are the Dark Tower books. Guiltiest pleasure.

    My anatomy class English lesson ended with all of the kids at the whiteboard trying to diagram Gerard Manley Hopkins “Margaret are you grieving”. A fracking riotous time was had by all:

    Another great Jesuit.

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  73. beb said on May 30, 2013 at 7:13 pm

    I hear that Jack Vance has died. He was 96. Amazing writer.

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  74. Jolene said on May 30, 2013 at 7:30 pm

    Grammar geeks, especially those of you who like diagramming sentences, might enjoy this book. It was used in a graduate-level grammar course in the program where I used to teach. Be sure to check out the reviews.

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  75. Kirk said on May 30, 2013 at 7:52 pm

    If they do not teach kids to diagram sentences anymore (and I fear they don’t), it is a huge mistake. Diagramming sentences taught me how the language is supposed to work. Don’t know that I can remember how to diagram, but I sure as hell understand grammar and construction.

    And while we’re at it, why do I hear so many people, in real life and on TV, say “have went”? Rip their tongues out.

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  76. Deborah said on May 30, 2013 at 7:59 pm

    I’ve been hearing this a lot lately, “all of the sudden”. I have always said “all of a sudden”, am I wrong?

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  77. Jolene said on May 30, 2013 at 8:45 pm

    No, Deborah, you’re not wrong. I’ve never heard anyone say “all of the sudden”, and it would certainly stop me in my tracks if I did.

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  78. Jolene said on May 30, 2013 at 8:51 pm

    Your phrase, Kirk, “how the language is supposed to work”, is so critical. You don’t have to know a great deal about grammar to be a good writer, but, without some ability to talk about the structure of sentences and paragraphs, you can’t really improve. Editors have to use the language of grammar to advise writers, and writers have to understand it to be able to profit from the editor’s advice.

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  79. Sherri said on May 30, 2013 at 8:53 pm

    Diagramming sentences helped, but learning Latin taught me more about grammar than anything else.

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  80. Deborah said on May 30, 2013 at 9:01 pm

    Jolene, then maybe it’s just a Santa Fe thing. I am finding that Santa Fe definitely has an underbelly that is not apparent when you visit for a vacation. And it’s not the hispanics, it’s mostly the white people. Drugs seem more visible here, and I mean hard, nasty drugs, lots of street people. Sure Chicago has a fair number of street people for sure, but there’s something different about this. Can’t put my finger on it. Maybe it’s because of where we are here, between the Plaza and the Railyard. Don’t know? As a tourist, you’re not really privy to this, but it’s here.

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  81. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on May 30, 2013 at 9:55 pm

    Wow. Jack Vance & Andrew Greeley — the conversation waiting in line for St. Peter had to have been interesting today.

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  82. paddyo' said on May 30, 2013 at 10:14 pm

    I didn’t “get” diagramming sentences for the longest time, until one day, I did — and then we were done with diagramming. Oh well.
    But I’m with Sherri on Latin. Immensely helpful. I had four years in HS (Roman Catholic seminary, training us would-be future priests early) and one in novitiate before fleeing. Loved it. Great for grammar and outstanding for vocabulary. First semester of my senior year, we translated (with help from Father Felix, our resident expert) the chorus lyrics to a hit Beatles’ song that came out that fall:
    Congregate / nunc et hic / super me.”
    Anyone? . . .
    Bueller? . . .

    That Sun-Times idiocy perpetuates the biggest load of bean-counter crap going around newspapers today: The “immediacy” and “value” of video, captured by the reporter-writer (who of course has nothing else to do than shoot and edit bullshit footage, right?). Does anyone remember a really, really great piece of video that told an important story? I mean, besides the holy-shit-here-comes-a-tornado! natural disaster stuff? It simply doesn’t exist — not the way great and indelible stills of defining moments do.

    I’m a word man through and through, but the truism is, well, true: A picture’s worth 1,000 of ’em. How many times have we marveled here when one of us posted a comment linking to the latest string of amazing photos on The Atlantic‘s website?

    The Sun-Times and every other newspaper that does or will do video badly (which is to say, most of them) are the Lost Boys of news, forever up a tree in digi-news Neverland. Marooned morons.

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  83. paddyo' said on May 30, 2013 at 10:38 pm

    Oh, P.S. —
    Andrew Greeley, you say? I hadn’t heard, Jeff —

    I had a memorable run-in with the Paperback Padre in the 1980s, when his novels were all the rage — or some of the rage, anyway. I was sent to do a profile of him — well, more like a mini-profile; I mean, it was USA TODAY, after all. We met in his office in Chicago. He was charmingly chatty-chatty, full of himself, but fun, likeable even. Gifted with our shared Hibernian gab.

    Then I made the mistake of making a little too cute and light in the writing. As I recall, I referred to his novels at one point as “potboiler parables” or “parable potboilers” — honestly, I’ve forgotten the exact phrasing now.
    I’m guessing that Andy did not.
    His secretary called me the day the piece came out. “Hold for Father Greeley, please . . . ”
    Man, he was on fire, and he baptized me in a torrent of Irish ire. Instantly, I was persona non grata. Excommunicated, as it were, from the Friends of Andy.
    I’ll still remember him for interesting conversation, the twinkle in the eye, etc. But that man had the thinnest skin of anyone in that station in life that I ever encountered.

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  84. jcburns said on May 30, 2013 at 10:53 pm

    I think that if a newspaper (even if it walks away from print) decides to swing its visual resources toward video, they don’t “get” the profound difference between stills and videos when it comes to telling many kinds of news stories. Stills can illustrate and illuminate a well-written story. A video is a distraction from it.

    Huge mistake in Chicago.

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  85. Rana said on May 31, 2013 at 12:14 am

    Heather @55 – I really dislike being expected to watch videos rather than read text and look at pictures. Unless the image is the main thing and animation is essential to understanding it – like a tornado passing through, or a cicada emerging – I find videos slow and cumbersome compared to text. Give me a transcript any time.

    I also don’t like the way the sound suddenly intrudes into my mental space; I do most of my work in silence or to ambient sound, so it requires switching mental gears to listen to something rather than read something. (I’m this way with radio or tv too – I’m fine with them on, fine with them off, but the transitions are always jarring and annoy me.) If I do want to watch a video, I usually stick it in a tab until I have several of them, and watch them in one go, so as to minimize the number of transitions.

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  86. Deborah said on May 31, 2013 at 2:30 am

    Because I often have insomnia (like now) I browse on my iPad in bed in the wee hours. If I watch a video the sound would wake my sleeping husband, while the glow from the screen doesn’t bother him. I’d have to get up and find my ear buds if I really wanted to watch, or go in another room and shut the door. I’d much rather read text and look at stills and stay in bed. Plus the sound would wake me up even more when I’m really trying to lull myself back to sleep.

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  87. Dexter said on May 31, 2013 at 2:54 am

    Maybe this tune will inspire the Indiana Pacers, because they are joining all the people who have been trampled upon and dominated by King Lebron James…gawd, was THAT ever an ass-kicking the Heat laid on them. 🙁

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  88. Joe K said on May 31, 2013 at 3:09 am

    Your not alone, I’m up but then again I’m at Ohara waiting on freight to take to suix city Iowa.
    Pilot Joe

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  89. Linda said on May 31, 2013 at 5:25 am

    Rana @ 85–I thought I was the only person who felt that way. Reading gives me time to absorb the information, and if it’s an interview, time to re-read. And, as you noted, viewing vs. reading requires you to switch gears.

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  90. Basset said on May 31, 2013 at 7:29 am

    PaddyO, wouldn’t that be “come together/right now/over me”? What’s the Latin for “groovin up slowly”?

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  91. alex said on May 31, 2013 at 7:50 am

    I found Latin extremely helpful as well. Had two years of it in high school.

    Paddyo, I’ve had my ass reamed a number of times when I was anything less than reverential toward the subjects of my stories, some of whom were so full of themselves that it made me wish I’d not edited out some of their worst excesses.

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  92. Prospero said on June 2, 2013 at 12:12 am

    Joe, Hey guy. Why do the corporate jets sit and rev like its nobody’s business on the outskirts of HHI airport? This seems somewhat asinine and it floods the neighborhood with jetfumes. I’m sure its all for our own good. It’s also pretty loud.

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  93. Prospero said on June 2, 2013 at 12:20 am

    If you don’t get what John Lennon was saying, you are sadly misshapen. He seriously got that graphic thang.

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