Arts and culture and obsession.

Not to appear ungrateful for the spectacular weekend weather — on Saturday, I found myself sitting in blazing sunshine, watching the boats go by on the Detroit River, wearing sleeveless linen — but we could use some rain. A mulch-don’t-rake fall lawn-care strategy only works if there’s enough rain to beat down all those shredded oak leaves to the earthworms, for whom they’re intended. Otherwise it just looks like leaf confetti.

On the other hand, who’s going to argue with 75 degrees in October? Not too many, that’s for sure.

And what a weekend it was. Dinner with friends, drinks with a friend, enough exercise to feel non-slothful, a new haircut. Shorter, because why the hell not? I’m still figuring out what it really wants to look like, but it no longer wanted to be the length it was. Nothing like a new haircut to welcome the fall. If it ever stops being summer.

Oh, and the Tigers won. (EDIT: Also, they lost.) Almost forgot about that, although I can assure you, no one here did.

So. We watched “Room 237” Friday night, new to Netflix, and recommended, even though I think it’s a rather flawed film. It’s about a number of batshit fanboys (no women, interestingly) of “The Shining,” who are convinced the film contains layers upon layers of deeper meaning than what’s commonly understood. Some of these are reasonable (the film is about the Holocaust) and some are insane (the film is Stanley Kubrick’s confession that he used his talents to help NASA fake the moon landing) and all are, at the very least, interesting.

Alan had less patience with it than I did, but we both found it both amusing and exasperating, and — as long as we’re looking for deeper meanings than the obvious — to really be about internet culture, and how it’s taken so many things and turned them into a colossal waste of time.

The bit about the red and yellow Volkswagens was funny, though. I have to watch “The Shining” again, now.

Some quick bloggage before I run a couple errands in the last of the afternoon:

Chuck Klosterman on “Room 237.” Good stuff.

Thomas Frank on the creativity industry, which is not particularly creative, and is, in fact, almost entirely wrong. When I say “the creativity industry,” I’m talking about the talkers — the people who write books and give TED talks on what’s allegedly this incredible creativity renaissance we’re allegedly experiencing, at the same time we’re stripping income streams from actual creative people and making it harder to make a living. Being creative, that is.

The Affordable Care Act signup website is a disaster, or so the NYT says. Has anyone here used it? How did it go?

Oh, and speaking of: Neil Steinberg finds Dan Savage’s defense of the ACA to be most persuasive.

And let’s hope the week goes well for all of us.

Posted at 12:30 am in Current events, Movies, Same ol' same ol' |

74 responses to “Arts and culture and obsession.”

  1. Sherri said on October 14, 2013 at 12:52 am

    I haven’t used either, but the NYTimes also says the new Common App website is problematic: The Common App did a major redesign this year, and the rollout has been challenging, evidently. Not too surprising with either the Common App or the ACA website; good software design and implementation is hard.

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  2. Dexter said on October 14, 2013 at 2:56 am

    Same weather here, nice weekend, but some glitches as sometimes sports teams influence my well-being. Michigan’s previously undefeated footballers went to Happy Valley State College and valiantly came back from a large deficit, scored a bunch, then let PSU let an 18 year old quarterback throw a few bombs, tied the score, and then we all suffered four overtimes due to inept field goal kicking by both teams. Penn State won finally, but on a run and not a kick.
    Tigers did win Saturday, but Sunday they blew 5-0 and 5-1 leads, losing to Boston 6-5.
    Earlier in the day our Jack Russell Terrier scared us. She is old and has an external tumor that the vet said was inoperable. The damn thing burst Sunday afternoon. No vets open here…so we cleaned it over and over with soap and water and then alcohol and more antibiotic cream. The tumor’s retaining skin just gave way and the bloody tumor was just hanging there so I simply pulled it away from the dog, who never whimpered even once. I hope our vet works Columbus Day, otherwise, more would cleaning for us until the vet does open.

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  3. Suzanne said on October 14, 2013 at 6:27 am

    I am surprised that so many are surprised that the ACA website doesn’t work well. Almost no new websites work well. Any website/database redesign or upgrade everywhere I’ve ever worked didn’t work well at first. Think Windows Vista.

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  4. Jolene said on October 14, 2013 at 7:00 am

    As Sherri says, good software design and implementation is hard, but, shouldn’t soe of the problems have become known challenges with known solutions by now?

    Some years back, I worked on a project at RAND having to do with efforts to reconfigure databases used by the FBI and other security organizations after 9/11. As we’ve all heard, prior to 9/11, the FBI, the CIA, and other security organizations failed to share information with each other, and the goal was to change things so that databases could be accessed across organizations and so on.

    The whole enterprise was a huge mess, resulting in the loss of a couple hundred million dollars and the need to, essentially, start over. As I recall, some of the problems arose because government IT people didn’t have either sufficient expertise or sufficient authority to work effectively with the contractors who were actually building the system. Now, it appears that same problem underlies some of the dysfunctionality of the ACA web site.

    It may be too much to hope for learning from experience when you’re talking about organizations as disparate as DOJ and HHS, but you’d think the contractors would have the expertise and experience to tell the Feds what they need to avoid these breakdowns.

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  5. David C. said on October 14, 2013 at 7:02 am

    I firmly believe that most innovation is stumbled into ass-backwards and that actively trying to think outside the box mostly wastes time. I am a big fan of the James Burke’s “Connections” and “The Day the Universe Changed”. To me, their lesson is that most everything is an adaptation of something else. As a design engineer, I don’t try to make something new. I try to adapt something that already works.

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  6. brian stouder said on October 14, 2013 at 7:34 am

    re the ACA; it strikes me as genuinely funny that the Congressional Tea Party republi-loons SHUT the GOVERNMENT DOWN – and then LAMENT that the government is running right! (whether at the parks they closed, or the new program roll-outs they obstruct)

    And indeed, as has been said by a few pundits – if the ‘loons hadn’t shut the government down, then the only story we’d be hearing would be how ACA ‘isn’t ready for prime-time’, etc etc.

    They stepped on their own headlines, they look like Barney Fife’s genuinely evil brother (if he had one), and they STILL don’t seem to have learned that it’s time to retreat, re-think, and – for God’s sake! – do what’s right by the nation they are supposed to be serving. They’re acting like a bunch of graffiti taggers

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  7. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on October 14, 2013 at 7:50 am

    Not quite as much fun as just calling them loons and pervs, but I had to shake my head and say “wow” when I read the following link. James & Stan and their team have done excellent work here. If you don’t know why we have a shutdown on our hands and more to come, you probably will be educated by reading the executive summary here. Nothing new to my eyes, but it was bracing to see it summed up so well. One stop shopping to understand the Tea Party/Evangelical stance, and the moderate silent plurality uneasily within the GOP coalition. Perhaps undersold (given the orientation of the consultants producing this) is that while this is a fractious coalition, it really does encompass more ideological diversity than a similar poll of Democrats would show, which may yet turn out to be a feature, not a bug. Yet the existence of the racial anxiety underneath much GOP energy is a very, very big bug. There’s really no “yay we win!” message here for Dems, but no indication of where growth is going to come from for Republicans, either, which leaves us in this ongoing 48-48 stall over more government vs. less.

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  8. beb said on October 14, 2013 at 8:11 am

    Thinkprogressive makes the argument that the shut-down stems from racism. But an actually animus towards our first black president, rather the techniques use and philosophy followed comes out of a century and a half of white conservatives trying to suppress black voters. They have learned how to be obstructionists and use the power of dissent to block majority rule in the south, and once they all switched to the Republican party, blocked majority rule in the nation.

    Bill Moyers’ explains it a little more succinctly – this is modern day secessionism.

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  9. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on October 14, 2013 at 8:43 am

    Read the link — I’m not even remotely going to try to deny the existence of racism in the GOP coalition, but it’s part of a larger bundle of angst of folks who simply can’t cope with the rate of change and the demands of change, social and technical, on the life they have had and are believe they are trying to have. They see it pushing into their lives on phone menus and the TV and the fact that newspaper no longer even prints a TV guide anymore, and those little key things on a cell phone, or is it a mobile device? that you have to push with a finger tip and my cousin Sal lost most of his finger tips in an accident at the mill and how would he use these stupid things if he hadn’t died of lung cancer back in ’89?

    So you’ve got lots of small farmers and vacuum cleaner shop owners and bookkeepers for medical offices who are living in the middle of not just the country, but of their state, between rural and urban but not quite suburban, who know they have a grandkid dating a colored girl, not that they have a problem with that, nosirrr, but when you get your coffee from that boy at McDonalds with those giant ring things stuck right up in there like a primitive something from Ripley’s old newspaper column — you remember that? — and it just kind of hangs down there with the back of the grill you can see right through, but it’s rude to stare, and you think “what if my grandson had one of those in his head?” but you can’t say much because your daughter did okay for herself even if she couldn’t make a marriage work, poor girl. Still, if you force people to buy insurance, you’re going to force people to do all sorts of stuff, and that’s what those city liberals really want to do, y’know, if force us to change. And we’re not going to, even if I have to keep on working until I’m 70, which I’m probably going to have to, anyhow. But those Tea Party fellows, they should go easy on the whole George Washington costume, that looks kind of silly, but it’s no sillier than that preacher they invited in a few weeks ago at church who did the whole sermon in a robe and sandals and reminded us of who Barnabas was, right? It’s just their way to get across to people that trouble is coming, and you have to get prepared to not just get led off into doing something because some fellow says on the TV its good for you. That’s how those Germans got misled, remember? And my sister’s boy is living in her basement and goes to work at a place (I hope he doesn’t get one of those ear things) with enough student loans he owes to buy a car with, and what did he come back with except attitude? And he may have insurance now thanks to the President, but he still doesn’t have a clue. And I’m going to have to invite both of them over for Thanksgiving, and I can just hear him starting in on the Tea Party and Congress and it will be all I can do to get Uncle Charlie into the TV room watching the Lions. If they start arguing over the turkey, I’ll go watch that dog show or something.

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  10. nancy said on October 14, 2013 at 8:48 am

    Thanks for posting that, Jeff. I couldn’t give it much time early this a.m., but I’ll read it at lunch. I think just the word cloud is instructive, what with all those variations on “fear.”

    Kate has several friends who have gone with the ear thing, and I’m mostly astounded that they have parents who signed off on it. I’ve told her that is my red line. No self-mutilation until you’ve graduated from college and are entirely free of our financial support. FEAR. ANXIOUS. CONCERNED.

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  11. Julie Robinson said on October 14, 2013 at 8:59 am

    Although I plan on checking out the ACA plans, I’ve had a lot of stress in my life recently and I’m going to wait a bit.

    In the meantime, I found myself hurling the newspaper across the room when I read this story:

    The gist is that Ted Cruz and Sarah Palin, among other Republicans, were part of a crowd that forcefully reopened the WWII Memorial. In other words, they broke the law and encouraged others to do so too. Here’s the paper-hurling quote from She-Who: “Our vets have proven that they have not been timid, so we will not be timid in calling out any who would use our military, our vets, as pawns in a political game,” Palin told the crowd. The cognitive dissonance is absolutely staggering.

    But then, I’m preaching to the choir.

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  12. coozledad said on October 14, 2013 at 9:07 am

    Ross Douthat:
    Republicans need to seek a kind of integration, which embraces the positive aspects of the new populism — its hostility to K Street and Wall Street, its relative openness to policy innovation, its desire to speak on behalf of Middle America and the middle class — while tempering its Kurtzian streak with prudence, realism, and savoir-faire.

    Ross Douthat, fixed:
    Republicans need to seek a kind of integration, which embraces the positive aspects of white people with the negative aspects of white people, believers in Jesus with Christians, revanchists with anti-Semites, and authoritarian cultists with monarchists, so a bunch of more or less similar voices will come together as one big white fart, again.

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  13. coozledad said on October 14, 2013 at 9:28 am

    Ross, illustrated:

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  14. coozledad said on October 14, 2013 at 9:32 am

    Ooops. Linky broke.

    This is the party that ran a white separatist for Veep in 2008. Nothing left now but to jail its leaders and let them cool off while they await trial.

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  15. MichaelG said on October 14, 2013 at 9:50 am

    Left over from yesterday: Macgowan may have bad teeth but he does a great Danny Boy

    Work until you’re 70? Today is my 69th birthday and I’m still working.

    I don’t know why good computer apps are so hard to do. ACA? What about Windows 8? What a disaster that is. Here in California the Employment Development Dept was crippled by a new system that delayed unemployment benefit checks for thousands for weeks. They’re just now getting caught up.

    The weather has been beautiful, hasn’t it? Gotta go to Alturas tomorrow. I’m not looking forward to that.

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  16. Connie said on October 14, 2013 at 10:11 am

    My daughter has those rings in her ears, not very large. She doesn’t wear rings though, she wears these artsy curly earrings that go through the hole and sort of look like hoops. You sound like my parents when they were bitching about long hair on boys. Remember once they’re 18 they can choose for themselves.

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  17. Julie Robinson said on October 14, 2013 at 10:28 am

    My daughter also has a bunch of piercings in her ears but she wears small earrings; none of those big disk things. I’m not fond of the look but she’s an adult and they’re her ears. No other piercings and neither of the kids have any tattoos, well at least if they do they haven’t told me.

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  18. brian stouder said on October 14, 2013 at 10:55 am

    Michael G – happy birthday!!

    And, I nominate Jeff’s Stream-of-consciousness post as for Thread Win…and indeed, the grand prize would be an icy-cold Diet Coke, which I would buy from that McDonald’s employee with the thingy in her ear

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  19. Deborah said on October 14, 2013 at 10:55 am

    I read the whole report from Jeff’s link and it just makes me sad. Someday those views will die out but it will take a long time. I have hope for the future, just not the immediate future. When I was young I thought I’d see the end of racism in my lifetime.

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  20. Basset said on October 14, 2013 at 11:23 am

    Saw “Muscle Shoals” over the weekend, documentary about the studios there and the records they made… it’s a little long and unfocused, too many shots of sunsets over the singing river and so forth, but interesting nonetheless.

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  21. Charlotte said on October 14, 2013 at 11:25 am

    I signed up on the ACA Federal Website! First try.
    Now, it took about 2 hours, and a lot of clicking the Back button when screens froze, and I had to log in and log out a few times, *and* I had to go over and use the Safari browser I hardly ever use and that doesn’t have any of the pop-up blocker and Do Not Track extensions that I have set up on Chrome.
    Was it smooth? Easy? No. But did it work and am I going to get reasonably affordable health insurance that will actually *cover health care*? Yes. I told my sweetheart, who is not a computer person, that I’d do it for him one night on his computer because he’s going to be driven mental by the glitches, and he’s not conversant in troubleshooting. So yeah, like a lot of things, it was a colossal pain in the ass. But it’s a huge relief knowing that most of the trap-like exceptions for coverage are gone.

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  22. nancy said on October 14, 2013 at 11:29 am

    My policy on any fashion statement is pretty simple: If it will grow out, wash out, fade or is otherwise temporary, do whatever you like. If it’s a permanent change to your body, you better wait until I’m not subsidizing your life. A discreet, concealable tattoo is one thing, a simple nose ring another, but some of those ear-hole things are simply huge, and the only way they’ll go away is with plastic surgery. So I hold that line.

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  23. Connie said on October 14, 2013 at 11:37 am

    I recently found out that before she died my mother made one of my brothers vow to never get a tattoo. He has kept that vow and thinks that my other brother and I should also abide by it. That is no problem for me as I have no intention of ever getting a tattoo. If I do get one, my hypothetical tattoo will be the Very Hungry Caterpillar.

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  24. LAMary said on October 14, 2013 at 11:45 am

    There was one Ted Talk I saw that gave advice I use every day. It was about using one paper towel to dry your hands in a public bathroom. After you wash your hands, shake them twelve times and take one towel. Fold it in half and dab your hands dry. If nothing else it will convince those around you that you are slightly OCD. It does work, though, and I always felt bad about using a wad of paper towels in public bathrooms.

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  25. Jolene said on October 14, 2013 at 11:51 am

    It’s a good line, Nancy. It’s just so unlikely that whatever looked great to you at 16 will still look great at 26, 36, and on.

    And thanks, Jeff, for the Carville/Greenberg post. The centrality of fear and resentment in the thinking described there is just amazing. I feel like I want to take those people by the hand and say, “Come on, walk with me. You’ll see. The 21st century will actually be pretty cool.”

    This clinging to the past is so in contrast to qualities that have been a big part of the American character–willingness to go into the unknown, beliefs in a better future, a sense of can-do-ism.

    But, I guess, people have been battered by reality, and many must feel inadequate to meet the coming challenges. Last week, the NYT published an article describing a Tea Party congressman’s district as 85% white and 17% college-educated. That’s not a profile that is likely to produce either tolerance or a sense that one will be able to thrive, whatever the future brings.

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  26. Jolene said on October 14, 2013 at 11:56 am

    You know what, LAMary? You can also use no towels. Just shake your hands off, maybe pat your sides once or twice, and go on your way. Your hands will be dry in a few seconds. I hadn’t particularly thought of the ecological impact of using multiple towels. I just seem to encounter a lot of empty towel dispensers. Maybe I need to stop in better bathrooms.

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  27. brian stouder said on October 14, 2013 at 12:04 pm

    Any port in a storm, I say!

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  28. Heather said on October 14, 2013 at 12:09 pm

    I’m with Nancy on the timing and nature of body modifications. Actually SNL had a pretty funny Weekend Update segment on just that issue with one of the new cast members. I’m at work, where Hulu is blocked, or I’d link to it. I used to have a nose piercing (which I got in my 20s), but when I decided I was tired of it, I just took it out and it closed up.

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  29. Dexter said on October 14, 2013 at 12:25 pm

    I used to work with a guy who had been in the US Navy during the Korean War. He had a simple anchor image tatted on the back of his hand. Over the decades it had deteriorated so that after 45 years had elapsed it appeared to be a horrible blue blemish.

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  30. Deborah said on October 14, 2013 at 12:36 pm

    My daughter has about 5 tattoos that she got while she was in college (art school) because everyone was doing it. She only regrets one of them, at least I think so. She had a belly button piercing and a nose piercing then too, but those didn’t last long. I have actually considered getting a small, discreet tattoo of my design on my ankle area. I will, of course, never do it. Those rings (sometimes plugs) that stretch out the earlobes seem really strange to me, I usually only see people with them at Trader Joe’s. Piercings and tattoos seem to me to be about identity, I guess that’s obvious.

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  31. Prospero said on October 14, 2013 at 12:48 pm

    The paper of record yesterday said that demand is supposed to drive prescription costs down, but it isn’t working. Do they know that Shrub’s gift to big Pharma was built into Medicare Part D. The deal ensured the gubmint wouldn’t use its status as a mass purchaser to negotiate drug prices to drive drug costs down. How the hell can NYT be that fracking stupid? Don’t they know how Billy Tauzin made all that money running PHARMA?

    Why did the NYPDBlue cops always dry their hands with toilet paper?

    Seems to me that the website glitches might have beeen caught relatively quickly and fixed if the gutdom gubmint hadn’t been shut down. It’s also interesting that the problems seem to have taken a few days to show up. GOPers learning how to run them machines, finally? Maybe Mr. Diebold schooled ’em. He did deliver Ohio.

    Those tinker-toy earlobe extensions are totally bizarro-world. Tres Sud-Americain:

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  32. beb said on October 14, 2013 at 12:48 pm

    There’s a difference between understanding the base of the conservative movement and understanding the thinking of conservative congressmen. The shutdown has been going on for two weeks now because those congressman choose a goal that any rational evaluation of the situation would have told them was impossible. Neither the Senate nor the president was ever going to sign a bill that defunds the Affordable Care Act.They had no fallback plan, no exit strategy. This is one of those times when they will have to admit defeat or wreck the country. And considering the temper of their speeches, they’re going to wreck the country if they don’t get their way.

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  33. Bitter Scribe said on October 14, 2013 at 12:51 pm

    I used to have a job that required covering latte art contests. You haven’t seen tats and piercings until you’ve seen a bunch of champion coffeehouse baristas. The worst for me aren’t those huge disk things in the earlobes; it’s the huge earlobe RINGS that leave holes you could drop a dime through. Gaaaaah.

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  34. MaryRC said on October 14, 2013 at 12:54 pm

    A friend’s daughter has scars running through both eyebrows where the brow hair doesn’t grow, from wearing eyebrow rings. I understand that eyebrow rings almost always leave scars.

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  35. coozledad said on October 14, 2013 at 1:09 pm

    Protzman nails it.

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  36. LAMary said on October 14, 2013 at 1:11 pm

    When I hire new grad nurses I often give them advice before they come in for the face to face interview with a nurse manager. There was a young man, very bright, but he had the huge wholes with metal grommets in his ears. He wasn’t going to meet with a hiring manager for a few weeks so I suggested he possibly do something about the big black grommets in his ears. He did. He took them out in the bathroom right before the interview so he had big bleeding holes in his ears instead. No surprise he didn’t get hired.

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  37. Little Bird said on October 14, 2013 at 1:20 pm

    Interesting thing about tattoos, depending on the colors, they CAN be removed. It’s not cheap, and it hurts (I’m told), but the same is true of the original tattoo. Had I the cash, I would remove all but two of mine. I don’t really regret them do much as they weren’t done all that well.
    I would NEVER get those plug things in my ears. It looks silly, sometimes disgusting, and painful.
    Body modification is a weird and interesting thing. It can be beautiful, or it can be horrifying.

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  38. coozledad said on October 14, 2013 at 1:26 pm

    A guy in my band used to hang out with a tattoo artist. They’d do smack and tattoo each other, with predictably sloppy results. It looked like the kind of crap I’d scribble in a math or science class when I was being grossly inattentive, but with Confederate flags.

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  39. Sherri said on October 14, 2013 at 1:36 pm

    Good computer applications are hard to do because the field is still relatively immature compared to other areas of engineering. What we can do with software has grown incredibly over the last 25 years; I carry around a computer in my pocket that is ridiculously more powerful than anything available 30 years ago, and it also makes phone calls. So what we try to do with software changes quickly, and what we expect changes quickly, and the field doesn’t have a good sense yet of how to do very big projects with lots of people well.

    I wouldn’t call Windows 8 a disaster, MichaelG. The problem with Windows 8 is not that it doesn’t work; it works just fine. It’s that it changes a lot of things that people didn’t want changed. But it’s not Vista, or some of the early iterations of Windows; it’s a solid OS that works. I just bought a new laptop a few weeks ago, so I’ve been running it, and it doesn’t crash, it doesn’t require constant reboots , no Blue Screen of Death. For the most part, I can ignore the new interface, and use it just like Win 7.

    If you’re a large company needing to change many people to a new system, though, you’re not going to be happy, because it’s a big change. That’s not the same kind of disaster as a buggy system.

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  40. Prospero said on October 14, 2013 at 1:45 pm

    Hilarious and right on the money takedown of Ayn Rand and Paul Ryan, by George Saunders. This could not have been done better. Devastating. I’m going to memorize some of it for the next time anybody brings up Ayn Rand.

    I’ve been thinking about getting a tat. Don’t think I need to worry much about sagging. All sagged out, probably. Something discreet, like Aces and eights, with the king of spades kicker on a deltoid. Hickock’s (Gary Cooper) hand in The Plainsman.

    Eyebrows are notorious for not growing back.

    cooze@35: The descent into lawless chaos for GOPers more than likely began when all of the stupid bastards signed up for Norquist’s pledge. Signing that shit is a clear violation of Article III, Section 3, the Constitution of the Uniited States of America:

    Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying War against them, or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort.

    Grover Norquist is, by his own words and edeeds, clcearly an enemy of the USA. He wants to shrink the US government until it is small enough to drown in a bathtub.

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  41. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on October 14, 2013 at 1:55 pm

    I guess my stream-of-consciousness-ish ventriloquism above was meant to say that fear & anxiety are perennials. That’s the poison pill the GOP has taken, because once you start down that road, it’s hard to wean yourself off of it. You can count on fear & anxiety to be around in meaningful quantities “to the end of the age” as we religious loons put it.

    FDR pushed back against it with “the only thing we have to fear is fear itself,” and made the fearfulness itself less legitimate by so doing. It doesn’t make Dem leadership responsible to add that today they enjoy fearing the fearful, which itself just perpetuates the cycle.

    Republican leadership (everybody laugh and say “jumbo shrimp”) had to find a positive, hopeful vision, communicate it with a sense of believability & expectation that it not only can but will come to pass, and have a few key standard-bearers who can mock the whining and gloomsayers enough to keep them at the margins if not the outer darkness (another G.K. Chesterton would be handy). But fearmongering will keep you in the hunt if rarely in the plurality, and if you only need good direct mail results to fill the coffers for the annual appeal, you may not care about building a plurality.

    Some of you will be gratified to know that, in my morning mediation, a fiance who was working hard to visually prove that he didn’t care about the stupid court or the bleeping children’s services or all this bleeping bleep, muttered one too many times a profanity laced aside not-quite under his breath, to which I smiled genially at him and said “Friend, you fucking need to get in this game, or the shit will indeed hit the fan. No fucking shit.” He was so startled that he forgot to ignore me, and ultimately signed the agreement (we’ll see how compliance goes in the coming days).

    The sweet faced young LISW from Children’s Services, after the family group left the conference room, turned to me with her folder and and jabbed a pen at me saying “I thought you had lost your mind. And then he listened the rest of the meeting!”

    Meet ’em where they are. Learned it from Rumi, and the carpenter guy before him. Wonder if Jesus ever cussed when a tool slipped? “Oh, I damn it!”

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  42. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on October 14, 2013 at 1:57 pm

    Prospero, you will still sag. Nothing personal, I’m just saying. I witness autopsies and am in funeral home back rooms, not to mention ER cubicles and EMS living room scenes. Everybody sags, someday, someway.

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  43. Sherri said on October 14, 2013 at 1:57 pm

    I read the whole DemocracyCorps report a few days ago. I find it really depressing, because I don’t know what can be done to bridge this huge chasm that has opened up. I really can not understand people who can look at Obama and think “Marxist”, “Muslim”, “Supports terrorists”, “masonic Devil Illuminati”, much less “not a US citizen” and “liar” and “hopefully, he doesn’t change the Constitution so he can try to get elected again”.

    It’s not like I think Obama is perfect. But I know what a Marxist is, and Obama is anything but. (I don’t know what a masonic Devil Illuminati is, but I doubt he’s that, either.) The only thing radical about Obama is his skin color.

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  44. Sherri said on October 14, 2013 at 2:03 pm

    I should add, it’s not like I’m completely disconnected from their world. I have lots of family members who probably sound exactly like the people in the report. I grew up in the South, was raised Southern Baptist, in a family that has been in that little section of Tennessee for over 200 years. But I can’t talk to them anymore about politics or religion.

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  45. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on October 14, 2013 at 2:04 pm

    I thought a Masonic devil Illuminati was a Skull & Bones, so that’d be Bush. Maybe they meant Weisshauptian anarcho-syndicalist, and misspoke.

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  46. brian stouder said on October 14, 2013 at 2:15 pm

    I just cannot get over the self-mocking glee Ms Palin is displaying, as she does all that street-theater/civil disobedience with the barricades at the White House.

    I won’t even succumb to the temptation of making orgasm jokes; really and truly – if you haven’t seen the clips on the news, watch for them

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  47. LAMary said on October 14, 2013 at 2:59 pm

    JTMMO, when I managed a little gourmet store on the fringes of the Upper West Side of NYC, we had people who were not entirely sane walk in from time to time. If they started being a problem, I got very good at meeting them where they were. A woman holding an eighteen inch cheese knife and affecting Jack Nicholson’s “here’s Johnny!” grin can be very convincing. I never threatened, just smiled.

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  48. brian stouder said on October 14, 2013 at 3:03 pm

    Mary – THAT was good!

    And regarding Raphael and Sarah – tell me this photo doesn’t absolutely capture the moment of…supreme satisfaction

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  49. Prospero said on October 14, 2013 at 3:04 pm

    Masonic devil illuminati: Brother to a Prince, fellow to a beggar if he be found worthy. That’s part of the code of Masons. GOPers pulled the same sort of crap with Clinton, talking about the Tri-lateral Commission this and Bilderbergers that, and, ya know, blue helicopters. Really pretty humorous considering that the height of success in GOP-land is Skull and Bones, Rotary, US Chamber of Commerce and being invited to run around naked and play grabasss with Dickless Cheney and Heinrich Kissinger at the Bohemian Grove. Yeah, that’s not some weird shit at all. If President Obama were to be a freeMason, he’d have to be a Prince Hall Mason. Right gender, wrong color, baby. Now MauMau? The Saul Alinsky branch, maybe. And it is seriously disturbing to think there are Congressional varmints that do not have a clue what Marxism and socialism are, think that evolution and embryology are “a lies from the pit of hell”, think that when God talks, she speaks Elizabethan English

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  50. Sherri said on October 14, 2013 at 3:07 pm

    A little googling revealed that the “masonic Illuminati” thing about Obama (the devil was just a throw-in from the respondent) is a thing. There really are people out there who think that Obama is one, or controlled by them, and their proof is a photo from his high school graduation where he uses the secret Masonic handshake with the principal. These particular conspiracy theorists do also think that GW & GH Bush were also Masonic Illuminati, because of their association with Skull & Bones. In fact, some of them think that all of our Presidents going back to Reagan were or are controlled by the Masons and/or Illuminati. (It’s hard to keep the conspiracies straight – there really are Freemasons, but the real Freemasons don’t seem to bear much resemblance to the masons of the conspiracies, and I can’t tell if the Illuminati are separate from the masons of the conspiracy or not without spending far more time down that rat hole than I want to.)

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  51. Deborah said on October 14, 2013 at 3:54 pm

    Prospero, that George Saunders piece was hysterical, love that guy.

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  52. Prospero said on October 14, 2013 at 4:16 pm

    The raison d’etre of Freemasons is to get drunk and drive g-karts in St. Patrick’s Day parades. Oh, wait. That’s the Shriners. That Bohemian Grove stuff, that is real. Rudyard Kipling was a Mason. That’s how he met up with Peachy Carnehan and Danny Dravot, in The Man Who Would Be King, and it was the mason’s all-seeing eye that convincfed the Kafiristanis that Danny was a god. In the story from which the movie was made, the symbol is on Danny’s apron. The all-seeing eye is the symbol for third degree masons. There are some masonry poems at that link. Seems that in India in Kipling’s time, they’d let just anybody. Blacks, browns, Jews, even Catholics.

    Turner Classicc movies is showing a very good Fellini movie tonight, Nights of Cabiria. Cabiria is played by the incomparable Giulietta Massina, who was also in La Strada. I think Nights of Cabiria is actually a better movie than La Strada, which is saying a lot.

    Deborah: He is outstanding. You should read Civiilwarland in Bad Decline. It’s a riot. That guy has deadpan down to a science.

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  53. Prospero said on October 14, 2013 at 4:50 pm

    New song by Tony Joe White. Swamp Fox. Badass.

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  54. Jeff Borden said on October 14, 2013 at 5:15 pm

    I think the best takedown of the teabagging shenanigans at the World War II memorial goes to the incomparable Charles P. Pierce at Esquire. He flays the flesh from Tailgunner Ted, Princess Dumbass of the Northwoods and the other flying monkeys by noting that all the policies they support would screw veterans in the ear. He is rightously pissed off and it comes through in his writing.

    It probably does say something about the modern conservative mind –if they have one, that is– that they are outraged about the closings of parks and monuments, but silent on the devastation to the people affected by this stupid shutdown. All about the optics, I guess, but I know my father and my uncles would projectile vomit if they found out a soft wad of goo like Ted Cruz was invoking their name.

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  55. Sherri said on October 14, 2013 at 6:16 pm

    BTW, in case you missed it, here’s the next in the NYTimes series on why health care costs are so high, this one look at pharmaceuticals. While the focus is on asthma drugs, this paragraph on how companies convert drugs with expiring patents into new patent-protected drugs is illuminating:

    For example, with the patent for the older oral contraceptive Loestrin 24Fe about to expire, the company Warner Chilcott stopped making the pill this year and introduced a chewable version — with a new patent and an expensive promotional campaign urging patients and doctors to switch. While many insurance plans covered the popular older drug with little or no co-payment, they often exclude the new pills, leaving patients covering the full monthly cost of about $100. Patients complained that the new pills tasted awful and were confused about whether they could just be swallowed.

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  56. alex said on October 14, 2013 at 6:44 pm

    Regarding body-mod art, the grommets in the ears look is a big gross-out. I almost stopped patronizing a local Toyota service department over a staff member with those things, although my grievance was less about his appearance than the fact that I always drove away from that service department with more vehicle problems than when I drove in, and ever since I stopped going there about 100K miles ago my vehicle has been trouble-free. At one of my fave establishments, I’m quite happy they shitcanned a skanky server with a pierced tongue who couldn’t keep the damned thing inside her mouth, although it was lip rather than tongue that was her ultimate undoing.

    As regards the psychoanalyzing of the Republican mind, what I find most remarkable are the diehard one-fourth who are relatively sane and whose critical faculties are still functioning.

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  57. David C. said on October 14, 2013 at 6:47 pm

    My sister-in-law and her husband signed up for insurance through the It took about a half day. They hated Obamacare until his retiree health insurance was cancelled with six years to go before they qualify for Medicare. He’s had a heart attack, so without Obamacare they would be SOL. They still hate Obama, but they now like the insurance bit.

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  58. Prospero said on October 14, 2013 at 6:49 pm

    The 28 year sentence for Kwame Kilpatrick seems to fit his crimes, but it also is excessive. It’s not like he’s ever going to get elected anything again, so he’s never going yo be in any position to rob a municipality blind again. It’s a complete waste of a lot of money to keep him in jail that long. He’s only going to Club Fed anyway. Weld a bracelet to his ankle and let him stay home, Actually, for Kwame they might need aa Denver boot. He’s a big fella, as Sheriff Marge Gunderson would say.

    I think PHARMA companies should not be allowed to advertise anywhere but in medical journals. Every commercial break on every show on every channnel has at least one ad for prescription drugs. Most people do not have the brains to be telling their doctors what medicine to prescribe for them. Listen to the Chantix contraindications. Why is anybody taking medicine that makes one feel violent and suicidal. It could even get you shot.

    Those pesky Teaqbangers broke out their Confederate flags again, or maybe that’s just some librulls trying to make the Gangbaggers look like racists.

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  59. Prospero said on October 14, 2013 at 8:00 pm

    Breastfeeding in real life.

    Chantix warning:

    All patients … should be observed for neuropsychiatric symptoms including changes in behavior, agitation, depressed mood, suicidal ideation and suicidal behavior.”

    And they advertise this constantly on TeeVee.
    What they don’t tell you:

    A total of 3,659 people were handpicked for the Chantix tests before it came on the market, an almost equal number of men and women, with an average age of 43. Nearly all were white, and the tests excluded anyone with a history of depression, panic disorder, heart disease, kidney or liver problems, alcohol or drug abuse, and diabetes. These exclusions aren’t mentioned in the original “Who Should Not Take Chantix” part of the patient-information sheet, which merely states that the drug wasn’t tested on people under 18. (Pfizer does tell patients they should let their doctors know if they have kidney problems or take insulin.)

    The inevitable result would seem to be that the internet will suck the creative content out of the whole world until nothing is left. –David Byrne talking about Spotify

    Say something once, why say it again?

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  60. Connie said on October 14, 2013 at 8:12 pm

    We are absolutely convinced that Chantix changed our good friend from a plain old Republican to a Ron Paul fanatic. Really. Just use patches.

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  61. alex said on October 14, 2013 at 8:57 pm

    I tried Chantix but once, and that’s all I needed. It didn’t curb my desire to smoke even one-tenth what Wellbutrin did, but I can see how it might make you so psychotic you wouldn’t miss smoking because you probably couldn’t get it together enough to be able to do it. Truly a disconcerting med.

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  62. Suzanne said on October 14, 2013 at 9:18 pm

    Jeff(TMMO)you nailed it. I had a conversation just this weekend with an older couple from my rural area who were bemoaning the loss of freedoms and expressed great fear and loathing of the coming assault on Christians. “We’re not going to be a Christian nation soon! These computers are just taking over our lives! Video games are stealing our youth! The universities are full of liberals who want to brainwash our children!” They are good, hard working, family strong people but they are scared. They believe in a benevolent & omniscient God, but apparently don’t believe He has any power at all against Barak Obama or Nancy Pelosi.

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  63. alex said on October 14, 2013 at 9:23 pm

    The normalization of paranoia. A la Jeff. Yes, we are indeed living in an atmosphere this poisoned by people this unhinged.

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  64. Deborah said on October 14, 2013 at 9:37 pm

    Connie, reading that piece about Chantix reminded me of a pharmaceutical episode I had awhile back. I was going through menopause and had pretty severe physical issues, hot flashes, mood swings etc so my doc prescribed a hormone treatment that made me absolutely bonkers. Seriously, I thought I was losing my mind. And I was, until I realized what was happening and stopped the treatment.

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  65. Deborah said on October 14, 2013 at 10:23 pm

    Regarding paper towel use in bathrooms: if there are none available, I wash, shake, and then run my fingers through my hair to dry. Sometimes I just wipe my damp hands on my jeans. The hair treatment keeps it from having static that I often have especially in New Mexico. I hate putting my clean hands on the door to open. If there are towels I often use one to open the door and then throw it away somewhere outside. I guess that makes me OCD.

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  66. Jolene said on October 14, 2013 at 10:24 pm

    Good grief. Seeing Obama portrayed as Hitler on signs at Tea Party rallies is bad enough, but a commercial sign is quite another thing. Hard to believe that at least some of the proprietors of stores in that shopping center wouldn’t have protested.

    Has there been any local reaction against it. Alex? Google yielded a couple articles reporting on the presence of the sign, but nothing on reactions.

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  67. Connie said on October 14, 2013 at 10:46 pm

    As a person in charge of those who order paper towels I have been saying for years: You buy the cheap paper towels you end buying twice as many in the long run.

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  68. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on October 14, 2013 at 10:47 pm

    Whoa. If you watch the whole thing, the website promo is for a LaRouche site. Lyndon LaRouche? That’s a blast from the past. They had paranoia down to a fine art when I was at Purdue, back in the late 70s. What are they up to today? I’m afraid to go to the website and look. That’s in a “afraid for my sanity & peace of mind” not “afraid NSA will record my keystrokes and hold my LaRouchian tendencies against me in a re-education campaign during Obama’s third term.”

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  69. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on October 14, 2013 at 10:52 pm

    So, fight your fears.

    It’s the same brand of psycho, with current event themes woven into the old school hidden plans of the secret oligarchical societies. He used to be big on both the evils of rock music and that the British monarchy was the heir of King David’s lineage . . . . wait, maybe that was “The Plain Truth” and Herbert W. Armstrong. Anyhow, LaRouche is apparently still alive, in his 90s, and still making Ayn Rand sound rational. I’m recalling a friend in ’82 or so saying over pizza and tragically cheap sangria that the Randites kept LaRouche going under the table because he made their Objectivism seem downright rational in comparison.

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  70. Kirk said on October 14, 2013 at 10:57 pm

    Are they still afraid of getting cooties from touching non-LaRouchies?

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  71. alex said on October 14, 2013 at 11:59 pm

    The local angle. From behind a paywall:

    This picture of President Barack Obama with a Hitler-style mustache is part of a paid ad running on the Cornerstone Plaza sign on U.S. 6 in Kendallville Monday. Immediately following the image are the words “impeach Obama.”

    Posted: Monday, October 14, 2013 5:10 pm | Updated: 5:35 pm, Mon Oct 14, 2013.
    By Bob Braley | 1 comment
    KENDALLVILLE — A large video sign on U.S. 6 in Kendallville Monday portrayed Barack Obama with a Hitler-style mustache and called for impeaching the U.S. president.
    The sign’s owner said it is a paid advertisement not affiliated with the businesses in Cornerstone Plaza where the sign is located.
    That the sign’s rotation also includes a “Welcome to Kendallville” message prompted Kendallville Mayor Suzanne Handshoe to say it was inappropriate, regardless of what anyone may think of the president, and doesn’t reflect a message the city would want to send.
    The sign shows a rising image of Obama, revealing a mustache similar to the one worn by Nazi leader Adolf Hitler on his upper lip. The image is followed by the words, on the screen in separate frames, “IMPEACH” and “OBAMA.”
    Cornerstone Plaza owner Roger Diehm said advertising on the sign was purchased over the weekend by LaRouchePAC, the political action committee of Lyndon LaRouche, who is seeking Obama’s impeachment.
    “They were in town Sunday handing out literature,” Diehm said. “We rent space on the sign. … Any political party can put any message there.”
    Some people Monday referred to the advertisement as being a pharmacy’s sign, because the animated LED display including the Obama image and message is directly above a large sign advertising the pharmacy as a plaza occupant. Other business logos and names also appear in that part of the sign.
    But the businesses in the plaza have no say in the animated display’s content, Diehm said. It’s his and Cornerstone Plaza’s, he said.
    The sign also includes as part of its rotation a farm harvest scene and the words “Welcome to Kendallville,” with the city’s logo.
    “That’s distasteful,” Handshoe said upon learning of Obama image and message. “That’s not the message that we would want to send as a city.”
    It’s especially inappropriate for a sign to give people the impression that the community is disrespectful toward the office of president, Handshoe said. Whether someone agrees or disagrees with Obama, he is the president, and people should respect the position he holds, she added.
    The sign also includes other messages linked to LaRouchePac, including one seeking to restore the Glass-Steagall act, which LaRouche PAC calls “The Return to Prudent Banking Act.”
    LaRouche was a presidential candidate eight times between 1976 to 2004, running once for his own U.S. Labor Party and campaigning seven times for the Democratic nomination.
    He was sentenced to 15 years of imprisonment in 1988 for conspiracy to commit mail fraud and tax code violations and was released in 1994 on parole. He is the founder of the LaRouche movement, a political and cultural network promoting him and his ideas.

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  72. Jolene said on October 15, 2013 at 12:04 am

    I agree that the LaRouchies are well known crazies, but that doesn’t change he I’d feel about seeing them and their Hitler image on that sign if I were, say, the manager of the CVS in that shopping center.

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  73. Sherri said on October 15, 2013 at 12:18 am

    I encountered LaRouchies about a year ago handing out pamphlets at a local shopping center. I stopped to see which brand of nutcase they were, and were surprised that LaRouchies were still around.

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  74. alex said on October 15, 2013 at 12:23 am

    See article linked by Jeff above. It doesn’t matter who’s trashing Obama, there are people who will cop to it. And a cottage industry right there to fleece ’em.

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