We’ve mentioned the pile of pet coke on the Detroit River here before, but short version: A company owned by the Koch brothers (yes, this rhyming gets a little strange) is storing large piles of petroleum coke — a byproduct of oil sands refining — on the banks of the river here. It’s a dirty fuel, bound for countries where dirty fuels aren’t a problem.

A couple weeks ago, a local journalist wrote a column about it in the Wall Street Journal, boiling down to, what’s the problems? Jobs! And if you squinted and cocked your head, you could see it that way. If you were inclined to put stock in passages like this:

In fact, Detroit Bulk Storage has handled the material to the letter of state and federal regulation. To minimize dust, the pet coke is treated with an epoxy at the Marathon site before being transported in covered trucks to Detroit Bulk Storage. There, a water truck routinely wets down the material before it is loaded on barges.

And then a thunderstorm happened. And this happened. Click the link; there’s a video.

“We had a ship in to load some of the inventory,” said Daniel Cherrin, spokesman for Detroit Bulk Storage. “When loading the inventory they have to break the seal of epoxy (a spray used to hold down dust) to load the vessel. On that day there was a storm and wind that moved in. It carried some of that into the air as a result.

“You could say it was a perfect storm where they were loading the vessel (with petcoke) and it broke away into the wind. That’s what people saw.”

The stuff was only here for a few weeks, and the perfect storm hit, sending a cloud of dust all over Windsor. Sorry, Canada!

Guys, I’m having my midweek slump. I should give you a dog picture. Wendy loves Alan:


Now you know the truth: We own a recliner.

Posted at 12:30 am in Detroit life, Same ol' same ol' |

59 responses to “Oops.”

  1. Danny said on August 1, 2013 at 12:57 am

    Now you know the truth: We own a recliner.

    Whew! We always imagined that you did, but did not want to be so bold as to come outright and ask.

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  2. Deborah said on August 1, 2013 at 1:05 am

    That’s the best looking recliner I’ve ever seen.

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  3. Rana said on August 1, 2013 at 1:13 am

    Deborah, I agree. I like the wide arms too – great for setting drinks on, I’m sure.

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  4. Jolene said on August 1, 2013 at 1:38 am

    Looks like a perfect style for the room too.

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  5. jcburns said on August 1, 2013 at 2:17 am

    Now we know the truth. Wendy REALLY likes Alan’s sandals.

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  6. Jolene said on August 1, 2013 at 2:39 am

    I’m worried about the beer bottle sitting on the table beside the coaster. What’s with that?

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  7. Linda said on August 1, 2013 at 6:58 am

    A month ago I bought a La-Z-Boy ™ leather recliner. I guess that means I am, as my people say, an alte kocker. But it is sooooooooooooooo comfortable and also allows me and my pup some sweet napping time together.

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  8. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on August 1, 2013 at 7:21 am

    Is that a coaster, or an external CD drive for the MacBook?

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  9. Prospero said on August 1, 2013 at 7:23 am

    Of course you own a recliner. And that is one handsome doggie. Well, sir, it’s this rug I had. It really tied the room together.

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  10. Basset said on August 1, 2013 at 8:20 am

    I must confess, our post-flood furniture buying included a couch with built-in recliner segments at each end. It’s leather and Italian, though, maybe that’ll redeem us at least partially.
    That dog looks like a vicious brute, be careful.

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  11. brian stouder said on August 1, 2013 at 8:22 am

    If this were a caption writing contest: I think we can see the weekend from here!

    Or, a thought bubble above Wendy’s head, saying something like “Hey! I’m supposed to be the new laptop”

    Aside from that, d’ya know what happened 99 years ago today (thanks to the ol’ ‘this day in history’ calendar)?

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  12. beb said on August 1, 2013 at 8:28 am

    Detroit’s pet coke problem got me to wondering whatever happened to coal gasification. Ten-fifteen years ago it was being touted as the cureall for what ails us, energy-wise. This pet coke, which I’m told is 90% carbon and 10% nasty stuff sounds just the sort of thing gasification would be good add. The process reacts a carbon bearing substance with steam at high temperature and pressures to produce carbon monoxide and hydrogen (and I’m sure lots of other by-products). Since the reaction takes place inside a pressure vessel these noxious gases ought to be easy to scrub away leaving the “syngas” behind which could be burned to generate electricity or reacted further to create methane (natural gas) or gasoline or diesel fuel. But I guess gasification has run into some kind of road block…

    Saw the news about George Zimmerman being stopped in Texas for speeding, and being told to put his gun in the glovebox. I’m with Brian Stouder (from yesterday) on this. It’s only a matter of time before Zimmerman injures someone else.

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  13. Mark P said on August 1, 2013 at 8:31 am

    I’m not sure how anyone could possibly think that the pet coke idea was a good one. Of course people are very good at convincing themselves that something they want to do is a good idea (see NN’s previous post).

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  14. Deborah said on August 1, 2013 at 8:33 am

    August 1, 1914 WW1 erupts.

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  15. brian stouder said on August 1, 2013 at 8:49 am

    ding ding ding!!!

    worth remembering, as that Todd Starnes guy on Fox radio – who seems to consciously model his speaking style with Paul Harvey(!) – tries to gin-up anti Islam prejudice and fear, with regard to some AP World History text book, somewhere, that dares to talk about Islam.

    (Serbia can be seen as the gatekeeper between Christian Europe and the Islamic Middle East, and therefore the logical place for great tensions)

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  16. Prospero said on August 1, 2013 at 10:07 am

    When you have the cash Mortimer and Randolph have, all your ideas are good, or people will keep telling you so, even doing active business with the Irani government. Nobody else but Dickless Cheney gets away with that shit. But, of course, if Eric Holder called them on it, it would be a scandal.

    Zimbo is a shooting waiting to happen. And anybody that believes that nonsense about pulling a family from a burning car? Buy my bridge.

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  17. brian stouder said on August 1, 2013 at 10:20 am

    I blame David Simon!!

    (The news story reads enough like an episode of The Wire, that it wouldn’t surprise me if the shooter was a Wire viewer)


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  18. Julie Robinson said on August 1, 2013 at 10:47 am

    Tony Bennett just resigned as Florida’s Education Commissioner, chalk one up for the good guys.

    I’d be rejoicing but I just heard that a friend is fighting for her life and her husband is dead in a car crash, as they were returning from vacation in Florida. Damn.

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  19. MichaelG said on August 1, 2013 at 10:48 am

    There really is a country called Bosnia and Herzegovina.


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  20. MichaelG said on August 1, 2013 at 10:50 am

    The site snatched my comment off my computer before I finished it.

    I wanted to add that one of our civil engineers hails from there. He has a place on that tiny little bit of land that touches the Adriatic.

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  21. brian stouder said on August 1, 2013 at 10:52 am

    Julie, that is truly a catastrophic bit of news.

    Here’s hoping for the recovery of your friend, as much as is possible – given the loss of her husband.

    I bet your daughter will be a great help for you and yours, going forward from this

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  22. Prospero said on August 1, 2013 at 11:04 am

    That was a CSI plot. But it was a narco-corrida.

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  23. alex said on August 1, 2013 at 11:31 am

    So sorry to hear about your friends, Julie.

    So, I wonder how that lame-ass Republican fishwrap where Nance used to work will try to downplay Tony Bennett now.

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  24. nancy said on August 1, 2013 at 11:41 am

    Like this, Alex: Whoops!

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  25. brian stouder said on August 1, 2013 at 11:52 am

    Wow, Nancy points to a genuinely bad bit of dismissive apologia, but given that one of the good guys wrote it, it is all the more depressing.

    Here’s an instant take from the hated, evil, slimy msnbc – and it’s basically room temperature:


    I’ll grant Leo Morris that this sort of stuff is nothing new.

    But if I were talking to him, the thing I’d ask him to expand upon is his (altogether reasonable) descriptions of people dipping and double dipping for their own benefit.

    Afterall, if he agrees that this is an old-fashioned money-grab, then shouldn’t we heed people like Mark GiaQuinta, who will agree completely and THEN point out that this is the entire reason that charter schools exist? (that is, grabbing as much of those education dollars for the “private sector” as possible, by any means, and regardless of actual educational results)

    Aside from all that, I think this spells the end of the growth of Jeb Bush’s presidential grub

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  26. coozledad said on August 1, 2013 at 12:12 pm

    Helping your friends and screwing your enemies has been a part of the political landscape for all of time and are still very much alive today. Just look at the capital cronyism in Washington and the IRS targeting of conservative groups .

    Does Leo Fucking Morris even know how to read? The IRS scandal belongs to Darryl Issa now, as in, the shit has spread from his loafers to his inseam and back again.

    He looks a little old to be the product of one of those fake colleges that teach Republicans how much they can drink before they die (or not).

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  27. alex said on August 1, 2013 at 12:18 pm

    Part of Leo’s justification for Bennett’s actions is the discredited canard about the IRS targeting conservative groups, which, as anyone who hasn’t been comatose for the last six months knows, is bullshit. One of the good guys, my ass. He spreads pernicious garbage that he knows is objectively false. He has zero respect for the intelligence of his audience, which is why that audience has dwindled down to almost nothing.

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  28. brian stouder said on August 1, 2013 at 12:28 pm

    Cooz – I missed that ridiculous reference to the (phony) IRS scandal altogether!

    I was fixated on his concluding remarks about Bennett

    His troubles are also causing some to question the whole A-F grading system in use when he “upgraded” the score of the school in question. Forgive me for stating the obvious, but that should be an entirely different debate. Any system can be abused, and the fact that one apparently was doesn’t mean the system is bad. It should be evaluated on its own merits.

    What? How can the easy manipulation of this A-F system be separate from the discussion of whether it makes any sense in the first place?

    A school that gets an “F” is liable to takeover by a for-profit entity…an for-profit that didn’t have to invest in bricks and mortar and real estate, but instead simply TAKES it!.(and then stands to get a fluffy “A” for supporting the right candidates!)

    How is a discussion of the vandalism of public institutions NOT served, when we look toward the weapons the vandals use?

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  29. Julie Robinson said on August 1, 2013 at 12:38 pm

    Alex, when I said one for the good guys, I meant truth and light and good journalism. Sorry if I wasn’t clear, I’m a little raw and rattled.

    I’ve now learned my friend is in critical condition, and her 14 YO, who had previously been reported as uninjured, is also critical. They have an older son who had stayed here for his job, and a sweet little daughter who had stayed in Florida for some extra grandma time. It was a horrendous accident; their SUV left the road, flipped, and the roof hit a tree. I can only guess she fell asleep at the wheel. Lord have mercy.

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  30. coozledad said on August 1, 2013 at 12:42 pm

    Brian: Yeah. It’s almost enough to make you think there’s someone standing over their shoulder telling them to work that tired shit into the piece.

    I guess this paper gets its revenues from obits primarily these days?

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  31. alex said on August 1, 2013 at 12:43 pm

    And as Mark the Shark pointed out so well in that audio posted here yesterday, it’s often the schools that get Fs that have the hardest-working teachers. When a school serves a population that consists largely of non-English speakers and the impoverished, it’s unrealistic to hold it to the same standards as one that serves the upper middle class.

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  32. alex said on August 1, 2013 at 12:45 pm

    Julie, I was referring to Brian’s post at 25 re: good guys.

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  33. Prospero said on August 1, 2013 at 1:04 pm

    Could somebody point out to that ahole that far more “out” groups were investigated than “teabang” . Just a fact. And not one of those teabang groups was remotely entitled to that tax status.

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  34. Dexter said on August 1, 2013 at 1:26 pm

    What a sad story, Julie. Even though our drive to Florida a couple weeks ago was done in torrential rains most of the way, we only saw a half-dozen wrecks. Bad luck. Sorry.

    That goddam George Zimmerman is hunting again, now in Texas. He’s like OJ…he will fuck-up once again and this time they’ll put his ass away. I only wish he’d grabbed for the concealed weapon and the cop would have shot him dead. And I’m guessing that if the cop would have been African-American, Zimmerman would have drawn his weapon on the cop. What a fucking scumbag.

    Nice dog. Gotta love that Wendy dog! We now have his & hers recliners, that epitome of decadence. Suh-weet!
    I also will soon inherit an ancient Ford Windstar van. Probate court first. It’s gonna be awhile. Of course, the AC is non-functioning. Right now it’s in my driveway, all gassed up but with no where to go.

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  35. adrianne said on August 1, 2013 at 1:28 pm

    Yeesh, what happened to the last shred of Leo’s conscience?

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  36. Sherri said on August 1, 2013 at 1:34 pm

    I was behind a car today that had a Jesus fish, a “What Would Jesus Do” license plate holder, and a bumper sticker that said “Don’t Mess With Israel, The Land Belongs To Them (Ezek 37)”. I’m always amused by Christian Zionists, who see the creation of the state of Israel and the ingathering of Jews to Israel as part of a grand end times that will also result in the destruction of Israel and persecution of Jews, all while these same Christians have been safely whisked away in the Rapture.

    But hey, they’re great supporters of the state of Israel!

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  37. Deborah said on August 1, 2013 at 1:44 pm

    Julie, how awful, sorry about your friend, hope she and her daughter make it.

    That guy Leo sounds like a doofus.

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  38. brian stouder said on August 1, 2013 at 2:10 pm

    Presumably these are the people Julie is referring to


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  39. Jolene said on August 1, 2013 at 2:37 pm

    Very sorry to hear about your friends, Julie. An awful tragedy for that family and, I’m sure, many people who loved them.

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  40. Julie Robinson said on August 1, 2013 at 2:42 pm

    Yes, it is. Shawn was a quiet and hard working guy who was usually behind the scenes, except when he taught his beer university classes. He had quite a curriculum developed around beer’s history, techniques, and tasting. I can’t stand beer but I almost wanted to take the classes after hearing how much fun they were.

    Windy has been active both in our church and with a local children’s music group, Voices of Unity. She’s a real go-getter who doesn’t know how to say no, and I think this was their first vacation in years. Both of them spent their lives serving others, and now it will be our turn to care for them.

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  41. brian stouder said on August 1, 2013 at 4:05 pm

    I might watch this – or at least as much as I can stand:


    A highlight (or lowlight) is the president, Haldeman and Ehrlichman on tape discussing in 1971 an episode of the then-new TV series All in the Family.
    Nixon had just stumbled on it, searching for a baseball game, and was shocked by its alleged glorification of “queers,” “fags” and “homos,” and favoring the “hippie-son-in-law” (played by Rob Reiner) over the “hardhat” Archie Bunker. “Do you know what happened to the Romans? The last six Roman emperors were fags,” Nixon points out. “The last six. Nero had a public wedding to a boy. Yeah.” And: “You know what happened to the popes? It’s all right that popes were laying the nuns, that’s been going on for years, centuries.”

    Then again, I probably will not.

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  42. Heather said on August 1, 2013 at 5:09 pm

    Julie, how horrible. I drive 20 miles to work almost every weekday in crazy traffic and I often think about how quickly something could happen. Hope your friend and her daughter recover.

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  43. Judybusy said on August 1, 2013 at 5:20 pm

    Julie, I am so sorry to hear about that terrible accident and your friends. I am glad she has you–and many others–in her life right now. She will need it all.

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  44. Suzanne said on August 1, 2013 at 5:34 pm

    So sorry Julie. Our lives can change in a second and this is something I can never really understand. Prayers and thoughts for all involved.

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  45. alex said on August 1, 2013 at 5:56 pm

    Brian, I’m struck by the way Nixon comes across like an Archie Bunker himself, but worse. At least Archie’s ignorant musings were G-rated.

    There’s bunker mentality and then there’s capital B Bunker mentality. Funny how the two aren’t mutually exclusive.

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  46. Dexter said on August 1, 2013 at 6:28 pm

    It’s almost time for Brian Williams…I wonder how many souls were blown to bits today in Iraq. You folks been following this? It’s just getting worse. Obama rarely mentions that country anymore.
    Snowden has a year to find a place for permanent refuge and asylum. I don’t think the CIA will off him….

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  47. brian stouder said on August 1, 2013 at 7:27 pm

    Alex, ol’ RN comes across as somewhat obsessed with the sex that other people might be having, and he and Pat didn’t even sleep in the same room!

    Plus, isn’t it always weird to contemplate that taping system in the White House? In a way, isn’t this trash-talk about sex a sort of proto-Weiner thing, by Nixon? I mean, RN had to know that somebody, sometime, would listen to all this crap, right? Maybe he was sorts titillated by the idea of making some historian in the mid-21st century blush?

    Considering the risk/reward of having such a taping system, it seems like he was getting off on the risk….’cause whatever else RN was, he wasn’t stupid

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  48. brian stouder said on August 1, 2013 at 7:29 pm

    Dexter, Iraq seems to be a mini-Cambodia, wherein we may not deserve direct blame, but things sure as hell wouldn’t be at rock-ass bottom if we hadn’t gone in there and burned down everything

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  49. Basset said on August 1, 2013 at 7:57 pm

    Meanwhile, in Chattanooga:


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  50. Jolene said on August 1, 2013 at 8:32 pm

    I have been following the reports from Iraq, Dexter. They are sickening. A thousand people killed in bombings during July, preceded by several months with similar death rates–the equivalent of about 12,000 if it were occurring in the US. I wonder if there has ever been an undertaking as fruitless and destructive by a supposedly democratic and decent government.

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  51. Jolene said on August 1, 2013 at 8:33 pm

    Basset, your link does not seem to work.

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  52. Basset said on August 1, 2013 at 9:06 pm

    Maybe I didn’t paste it all, let’s try again:


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  53. Jolene said on August 1, 2013 at 9:49 pm

    Interesting note, Bassett. I actually saw that headline mentioned on Morning Joe and thought at the time that it sounded off base.

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  54. mark said on August 1, 2013 at 11:35 pm

    “I wonder if there has ever been an undertaking as fruitless and destructive by a supposedly democratic and decent government.”

    That Kennedy/Johnson/Nixon undertaking called Vietnam comes to mind. Actually, what the French did there does too.

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  55. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on August 1, 2013 at 11:50 pm

    Julie, grace and peace to your friends, and to you. Be a blessing to them, as I know you will.

    If we had maintained just a bit more vigorously the no-fly zones already in place before 2001, let alone 2003, and pushed harder on global economic sanctions (although I see some putting forward the estimated number of children killed by sanctions included in their statement of casualties to be considered our responsibility), would Saddam Hussein have been eased out of power by a Baathist military coup, and the resulting Sunni hegemony still kept the Shia in check, and avoided a homicidal outcome? You can make such a scenario and support it with a hatful, but not an implausible number, of “and if’s.”

    We clearly did a poor job of whatever it was anyone intended on going into Iraq. But I don’t think you can talk about outcomes as if the only alternative to a pre-emptive, ill-advised US/Coalition assault is an enduring Iraqi comity between factions, with cupcakes and puppies for everyone. There were an assortment of ways Iraq could have de-laminated . . . the best parallels being Yugoslavian in nature. When Marshal Tito died, the Frankenstein monster of Yugoslavia was going to come apart faster than a Yugo, but how it fell out was the result of various inattentions and influences out of both the West, and from Islamic interests. Serbia and Bosnia didn’t have to end up as they did, but you can easily envision worse, maybe more easily than you can imagine how they would have come together with peace if not love.

    The problem in imagining Iraqi alternatives is that any assertion that it could have been worse if we hadn’t gone in is so quickly condemned by right thinking people on the left as being a “Bush apologist.” I’m just thinking that, pragmatically, if Al Gore was POTUS in 2001, how would Iraq have devolved withOUT slaughter and assasination? Because it just couldn’t have continued on as it was, even if the West had chosen to continue a benign neglect.

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  56. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on August 1, 2013 at 11:54 pm

    (Or, maybe there’s a reasonable scenario where Saddam Hussein in 2013 presides as a retiring chief executive over a first election between mutually respectful parties, brokered by China to open up markets to the east and north, and having pressured Pres. Gore to relax sanctions in exchange for letting Gen. Scott Ritter direct full and complete inspections of chemical and nuclear facilities. Seriously, it seems slightly plausible if seasoned with some well-placed “and ifs”, but I’ve not seen anyone even attempt to make the case. If anyone has seen such a study or reflection, I’d be more than willing to read it.)

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  57. Dexter said on August 2, 2013 at 12:18 am

    Here’s what I know about the Stolichnaya dust-up: from a gay radio host, I heard that Stoli is just about the only vodka that is universally popular in NYC gay bars. While Dan Savage attacked all Russian vodkas to voice displeasure with Putin’s Russia’s anti-gay policies, Stolichnaya has no ties to Putin’s government and indeed is made from Russian wheat and rye and grain alcohol, in Latvia. From what was revealed today, without posting all sorts of links here, it appears that Stolichnaya’s spokespeople are assuring folks that Stolichnaya appreciates the gays’ business and the company disapproves of Putin’s anti-gay stance.

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  58. Dexter said on August 2, 2013 at 12:23 am

    California cool kids of the 1980’s. Did kids where you lived dress and look like these? I graduated high school in 1967 and we looked 100% different than these kids.


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  59. Dave said on August 2, 2013 at 9:39 am

    I graduated in 1968, Dexter, and in my little high school, there was no one who looked anything like that. Try as I may, I don’t recall anyone who looked particularly stylish. Of course, there were a lot of things that went right by me in those days (and maybe today, too).

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