Return from Fat City.

Huh. Well, isn’t this interesting:

Federal health authorities on Tuesday reported a stunning 43 percent drop in the obesity rate among 2- to 5-year-old children over the past decade, the first broad decline in an epidemic that often leads to lifelong struggles with weight and higher risks for cancer, heart disease and stroke.

The drop emerged from a major federal health survey that experts say is the gold standard for evidence on what Americans weigh.

That is, indeed, a stunning drop. If the data is good, it’s…well, it’s unlikely due to just one thing. Complicated problems rarely have simple solutions, so my guess is, it’s a combination of things, from doubling food-stamp dollars at farmers’ markets (which they do in Detroit) to curtailing garbage snacks in school vending machines to simple awareness, awareness, awareness.

There was a restaurant critic at the other newspaper in Fort Wayne, who was, for most of the time she was on the job, morbidly obese. Then she lost a pile of weight, gained some back, and I don’t know where she is at the moment, but I caught a radio interview with her during her skinny phase. She was telling the audience how much she had to learn when she was dieting, oh my goodness. She revealed that she’d routinely eat a package of Pepperidge Farm Lemon Nut cookies at her desk every morning, and she thought they were good for her — after all, the had “lemon” and “nut” in their name, and aren’t those things healthy? (Apparently the “cookie” part was blurred out on her package.) You laugh, but I bet more overweight people than you’d imagine have this sort of magical thinking. Maybe now they are simply paying closer attention.

That’s why, even though I think it’s not much of a step, I don’t really object to things like calorie counts on fast-food menus or restrictions on enormous sodas in New York City. I don’t eat much fast food, but when I do, I pay attention to calorie counts. I think, “I’m starving and I’m getting a burger, but I’m leaving off the cheese and — oh, this is hard — skipping the fries. The burger will fill me up, and there will be french fries to eat on another day. Just not today.”

And if I really, really, really want the fries, hell, I get them. I just take a moment to ask whether I really, really, really want them, or am just ordering them out of habit.

But this is kids we’re talking about here, which suggests maybe parents are making smarter decisions in regard to their children, too. Which is very, very good.

And yes, I give the first lady some of this credit; after all, it’s her signature issue. Not that I expect many to give her a shred of credit for it, though. Because she wants to take away Mrs. Palin’s Big Gulp, of course. And look how skinny Sarah is!

OK, enough of this. As predicted, today was a better day than yesterday, but it was busy, and now I must toddle off to bed. I leave you with? Bunnies!

Happy Wednesday, all.

Posted at 12:30 am in Current events |

43 responses to “Return from Fat City.”

  1. BigHank53 said on February 26, 2014 at 2:08 am

    Hell, the easiest way to keep out of trouble at Mickey D’s or Hardees or wherever is to order off the dollar menu. Damn near none of the food there is any good for you. Just have a snack. Enough to get you home or through the rest of the afternoon. That 900 calorie monsterburger…well, it really isn’t as good a deal as it looks.

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  2. Sherri said on February 26, 2014 at 2:44 am

    Ta-Nehisi Coates talks with Jordan Davis’ mother:

    Brings tears to my eyes.

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  3. Dexter said on February 26, 2014 at 4:00 am

    At my advanced age I guess I am sort of a sage regarding fast food, so I offer hope: as you get older, fast food becomes more revolting. My wife is younger than me, and she still can eat Big Macs, but not I. Fast food fries taste like hot library paste, and McD’s cookies taste like compressed dirt. The shakes taste like canned milk dosed with a full cup of sugar. At my in-country processing in army-daze Vietnam, a huge sign hung: “Take care of your teeth over here so you can have one of these when you get back to the world.” A crude drawing of a Big Mac followed. A Big Mac did sound good then, no more. Breakfast hours may finally be extended at McD’s. Wonderful. Their breakfast sandwiches are not bad, not bad.
    I remember Bob Jones, a big Black kid from South Carolina, my baseball teammate, who could really pitch a baseball well. We’d wheel in on the Big Red bus to a Burger King and Bob Jones would order two Whoppers. This was 1969. Everything would focus on Bob Jones…TWO Whoppers? Really? No-bod-eee ever ordered TWO Whoppers! So we’d watch Bob Jones eat his two Whoppers and laugh our asses off. See the irony? Nowadays, lots of people use that coupon and order two Whoppers. It’s kind of standard, eating that damn much. Well, I could never do it then and I can’t do it now, and I would gag after a half-Whopper now. Also, a small drink was like 10 ounces and the biggest was 16 ounces, and that was too much for almost anyone. I think I saw a 64 ounce cup offered at the Circle-K station recently .

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  4. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on February 26, 2014 at 7:44 am

    My own purely anecdotal research tells me that adding calories to McD big boards is making a difference; any time I’m going inside to get my large coffee (hooray restrooms) at any one of a dozen county outlets, there are people standing there in line talking to each other about “well, the fish is 840 calories, but if I get the special burger at 430 and small fries…”


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  5. basset said on February 26, 2014 at 7:54 am

    Meanwhile, an arguably “impertinent” topic but it’s the Post and Weingarten so it should be OK:

    Disclosure: I am a male aged over 42.

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  6. beb said on February 26, 2014 at 8:37 am

    Since the cohort being analyzed are children 2 to 5 the answer has to be things like length of breast-feeding and baby food. I seem to recall that manufacturers of baby food have been making an effort to reduce the amount of sugar in their products. Excess ingestion of sugar has to be the prime case of obesity.

    I’d also like to think the reduction of lead in the environment but that might be a stretch. Kevin Drum, a blogger for Mother Jones magazine, published a report last year showing that violent crimes has gone down in proportion to the reduction of lead in the environment (largely the removal of tetraethyl lead from gasoline). Specifically he showed that there was a roughly twenty year lag in lead reductiom and crime reduction, indicating that lead exposure in infancy lead to violent tendencies in in young adulthood. Since lead was removed twenty+ years ago and the weight reduction was noticeable in only the last five years it’s likely not lead was a factor here. Unless high lead levels in the mother were being transmitted to their children via breastfeeding, and as lead levels in young adults have dropped so has the lead being transmitted to their children. But it’s probably the less sugary baby foods. I wonder what would happen if growth hormones and antibiotics were stopped being feed to cattle. Just because you don’t have machines that can detect it doesn’t mean it’s not there and having an effect on the young….

    Adding calorie counts to fast food menus seems like a good idea since it is strictly advisory. Restricting the size of a drink, seems to me, intrusive. It’s the kind of nanny-state government conservatives are always wailing about.

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  7. coozledad said on February 26, 2014 at 9:05 am

    The wider availability of foods without additives, the decline in consumption of high fructose corn syrup, and the availability of organically produced milk without trace antibiotics or growth hormones are possible factors.

    Milk with substantial trace amounts of growth hormone triggers diabetes 2 type insulin levels in the gut. So kids might not be developing early insulin resistance if they’re not drinking that filth. Trace antibiotics might be enough to select for pathogenic strains of microbiota in the gut that are also a factor in speeding the onset of metabolic syndrome.

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  8. alex said on February 26, 2014 at 9:09 am

    I remember one magical thinker — a college graduate no less — insisting that McDonalds’ fish sandwich was a healthy choice because it was fish. He could not be dissuaded.

    And Dex, I say amen to the above. It didn’t take advancing years or even a heart attack for McD’s, BK, Taco Bell, etc. to turn my stomach. Living in Chicago did it for me. Aside from being surrounded by infinitely better choices, the fast food outlets in the big city weren’t staffed the same as in suburbia, with hard-working high-schoolers, but with people who were so unappetizing that I didn’t want them so much as breathing in the same room with anything I was to eat. And typically they turned out product that wasn’t up to specification by a long shot, stuff so repulsive and inedible that I ended up throwing it away. To ask for a do-over would have been courting disaster I’m certain. Even in good places I know better than to send food back.

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  9. brian stouder said on February 26, 2014 at 9:13 am

    Sherri – that was indeed a superb article.

    And indeed, as Rev Al reminded me on his show last night, two years ago tonight marks the second anniversary of Trayvon Martin’s fatal mistake.

    He mistakenly thought he was free to walk to his dad’s house, in the rain, with his hood up. When an armed chucklehead confronted him, he mistakenly stood his ground.

    Young Mr Martin mistakenly believed what we always say about America – that this is the home of the free and the land of the brave.

    How free was he, really; and how brave was his killer?

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  10. Charlotte said on February 26, 2014 at 10:39 am

    I wonder how much of the drop in early childhood obesity is because of dialing back on the pop? We were almost never allowed any as kids (to the extent that my mom asked the man who did concessions at the horse shows we grew up at to keep those little cartons of milk in his ice for us — other kids could order a Coke, but Mr. Pasquesi made sure my brother and I got the mom-approved milk cartons. Rats!). But I see people in the grocery store with those big 2-liter bottles as if it’s just what they drink with every meal … also, “food in boxes” — all those redi-meals and processed food. We eat pretty plain around here, but cook almost everything “from scratch” — which isn’t hard. I have a younger friend, Harvard-educated, journalist, keeps asking me to teach her to cook. Doesn’t know how to make anything — our next “lesson” is going to be simple veggie soups — either with or without the stick blender. Raised by a single working mom who told her getting grades was more important than learning domestic stuff and now she doesn’t know one end of a knife from another.

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  11. Connie said on February 26, 2014 at 11:40 am

    Nancy, I see the Gross Pointe schools tech bond went down in flames in yesterday’s election. I’ve seen some comments here and there by residents who believe the failure of the tech and security project means their property values will go down. Can you comment?

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  12. Scout said on February 26, 2014 at 11:47 am

    I second Sherri @ 2 – I read the TNC piece last night and was brought to tears. A must read.

    Weighing in on Arizona’s latest self inflicted black eye, I am becoming more and more aggravated by Jan Brewer’s eye batting coy act in refusing to denounce this bill and veto it already. It’s like she’s out to maximize the damage before she finally, reluctantly, does the right thing. I’m so annoyed that I just donated to Fred Duvall’s campaign. Is it really so hard for people to recognize how bad the Republican governors and legislatures have been for AZ? They’ve been a collective clown car of idiots who have done nothing to advance the state’s image in a positive direction. Sick. Of. The. Derp.

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  13. nancy said on February 26, 2014 at 11:52 am

    Sure. I voted against the bond, and I’m not worried about my property values. It was a huge overreach. I’ve never, in my life, voted against a school bond issue, but this one was ridiculous.

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  14. LAMary said on February 26, 2014 at 12:38 pm

    Not in the big chain burger places, but in the more local ones, you can get a burger with lettuce wrap instead of a bun. Here in CA you can do that at In and Out, Habit, Whattaburger and probably more. I get that and a small order of sweet potato fries. No mayo or cheese on the burger but extra pickles and tomatoes.

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  15. Jeff Borden said on February 26, 2014 at 12:46 pm

    I’m in Scout’s camp wondering why Jan Brewer didn’t simply say, “This is ridiculous” and promise a quick veto. I do believe she’ll veto the bill, but then again, who really knows? The longer she waits, the more Arizona looks like Mississippi in the desert. Didn’t these cretins learn their lesson back in Evan Meacham’s days, when the effort to stop the MLK holiday resulted in the state losing the Super Bowl?

    Meanwhile, I read that Rush Limbaugh says Brewer is being “bullied” by the homosexual agenda and the drive-by media. I certainly don’t expect anything but low-grade bile from this increasingly marginalized toad, but Christ, the real chorus of complaints is coming from the businesses and the chambers of commerce and tourism. How can a conservative who allegedly worships the free market not see that market in action on this topic? This bill will hurt Arizona not only on the tourism front but in attracting businesses and industries.

    I have to admit: I am happily astonished at how quickly the tide of public opinion is turning when it relates to gays. There will be backwaters –hopefully not Arizona– where the locals will work hard to keep them sissy boys and girls away, but this battle is largely over.

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  16. Kirk said on February 26, 2014 at 12:50 pm

    How on Earth would that Arizona law work, anyway? Would a store clerk size up a customer and decide he or she looked gay? Or is there a clause in the law requiring gay people to sign up and wear the pink triangle, as was the case during the Third Reich? To think that people elected to run a state could even think about institutionalizing hatred in such a way is hugely depressing. Freedom of religion, my ass. Brewer will veto, but only because of the economic shitstorm it would cause.

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  17. Dexter said on February 26, 2014 at 1:13 pm

    Alex, that’s a whole ‘nuther topic, sending food back. My wife never hesitated in doing this, and back when beef steak was our go-to restaurant entree, she’d always order any cut of steak well-done. It used to make me cringe because the served plated steak would always be rejected by honey buns and sent back: “I SAID I WANTED IT WELL DONE!” It always came out medium well, and she wanted it cooked dry, no juice, no color left. Well, we were on vacation somewhere in Florida and she pulled her usual act, sent the T-bone back, and we began living in a cartoon for a few moments. See, she made the time-served fatal mistake: she sent the steak back twice. The third presentation was a sight to behold! The chef had thrown it on the gas grill and left it there until it was thickly charred black, a deep layer of black-cindered steak was served. Do you know the meaning of being mortified? That was me. I kind of flipped out (think Lou Costello) and got up, peeled off a few 20’s, threw them on the table and went straight to the car.
    We had Big Macs for dinner that night. 🙁

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  18. Dexter said on February 26, 2014 at 1:18 pm

    This man is going on trial locally for multiple sex crimes. I’d bet he walks, judging by the favorable impression a man with a face and head completely covered in tatoos will make.

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  19. LAMary said on February 26, 2014 at 1:58 pm

    I’m still wondering how someone can be a restaurant critic and not be aware of what is in food. Did she thinks those cookies were just compressed disks of lemon and nut? I’m not saying that you have to be a chef to review restaurants, but you would have to know enough to know that a cookie would have fat, starch and sugar in it.

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  20. Jeff Borden said on February 26, 2014 at 2:09 pm


    You ask the unanswerable. No one knows how this law would work. Presumably, if two very fey gay men walked into your restaurant holding hands and you were a devout religious person, you would ask them to leave because of your faith. But most of the homosexuals of our acquaintance don’t act like Paul Lynde or Liberace, so I guess the religious folks would have to develop “gaydar” or something.

    It’s so damned stupid. And so damaging for a state already considered mighty wacky.

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  21. Scout said on February 26, 2014 at 2:16 pm

    Kirk @ 16: I myself have wondered the same thing. I have many straight friends who look way more butch than I do (as in, I do not look butch at all) so how are the religious freedom riders going to be able to judge these things? And do they risk hell by accidentally serving me because I “pass”?

    The whole thing is beyond stupid, and the fact that Brewski keeps dragging out a “decision” based on a two page bill is political theater that hurts the state more the longer it drags on. I’m guessing she is pretending to consider it to keep the teabaggers off her back.

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  22. Sherri said on February 26, 2014 at 2:31 pm

    The law will work something like this case, only with the state supporting the business rather than suing them.

    The NFL is threatening to pull next year’s Super Bowl from Arizona if the law passes.

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  23. Jeff Borden said on February 26, 2014 at 2:59 pm

    The NCAA also has said they would never consider putting the Final Four or any regional March Madness tourneys in Arizona if this ridiculous bill is passed.

    I wish I could understand what Jan Brewer gets out of this delay. Does she think the goobers will give her a pass because she thought long and hard before issuing the veto? We know they won’t. There are clearly some political incentives here for Brewer, but I just don’t see `em.

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  24. nancy said on February 26, 2014 at 3:15 pm

    That restaurant critic was sort of famous for her lack of food knowledge, and with some exceptions, was a reliable bizarro guide to restaurants. The editor kept her on because he thought she was a good reflection of the readership and its interests. The week I moved to town, she was reviewing fast-food places. She would always note whether the management offered free Pepsi refills. One of her favorite dishes — she mentioned it again and again — were the breadsticks at some place out in the county. Alan and I stopped there once, and I thought, OK, I’m trying these stupid breadsticks. I’d peg them as Pillsbury poppin’ fresh dough with some sort of commercial garlic butter.

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  25. Deborah said on February 26, 2014 at 3:38 pm

    My rightwing sister went apeshit a couple of years ago when a grocery store clerk who was Muslim, refused to scan a package of pork that a customer was purchasing. The clerk had asked the customer to scan the pork for herself. of course in that case the wingers thought it was terrible that someone would refuse service for religious reasons, even though the Muslim clerk had a perfectly reasonable way for the customers to still get what they wanted. My sister thinks these crazy laws against gays are perfectly reasonable, of course.

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  26. Sherri said on February 26, 2014 at 3:44 pm

    Three-time Olympian Julie Foudy’s thoughtful take on the Sochi Olympics:

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  27. beb said on February 26, 2014 at 4:03 pm

    Hate was a lot easier back in the day when you could judge a person by the color of their skin and not the conscience of their soul.

    People turned against AZ so quickly because we had already gone through this debate with Kansas. The bills seem almost identical. And I think the broadness of the exemption being claimed was too much for a lot of mildly conservative people.

    Sadly there are still 3-4 more states that are considering this bill, so it;s going to be summer before this fire is put out. But losing the Superbowl has got to be a goad. They lost it once in the 90’s and would lose it again if this law isn’t vetoed.

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  28. coozledad said on February 26, 2014 at 4:08 pm

    On a slightly related note, a restaurant critic has written a review. It is a review of a restaurant with a salad bar equipped with guards that help keep the salad sanitary, palatable and nutritious. The tables have leaves so they can be used square or round…

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  29. alex said on February 26, 2014 at 4:21 pm

    I don’t know how the Arizona law would be enforced, but I can see how it would be abused. Bigots could pretend that their religious sensibilities are justification for any and all acts of discrimination just as “feeling threatened” is being used as justification for homicide under the odious “stand your ground” laws.

    Dahlia Lithwick points out how “stand your ground” laws are already shaping attitudes and influencing trial outcomes even when not expressly invoked as a defense.

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  30. Deborah said on February 26, 2014 at 4:29 pm

    For you dog lovers, tomorrow I’m going to a hearing at the County Courthouse of Rio Arriba County concerning a woman who has been running a scam rescue operation. She has 20 dogs on the property about a mile from our land. She’s had as many as 36 dogs and she only has a half acre. It’s really shady, she claims it’s a not-for-profit but hasn’t filed any of the proper papers for that. She has elaborate drawings for kennels and waste management but none of it has been built. The barking from this place is unfortunate and the animals aren’t being fed or housed properly. She’s collecting donations for these animals which is, we think, not really being used for them. The only problem is that this is still the wild west and we’re not sure anything will be done about it. Bummer.

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  31. Deborah said on February 26, 2014 at 4:38 pm

    Coozledad (and everyone) the comments to that Grand Forks, Ruby Tuesday, Gawker link are worth reading too.

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  32. Scout said on February 26, 2014 at 4:46 pm

    To expand on what beb said; back in the day, maybe 20 years ago, bills like this could have probably passed with little to no backlash. Since then, the LGBT community has made great strides in encouraging everyone to be out of the closet, which is logical, because once upon a time there were many people who believed they didn’t know anyone who was gay. Now almost everyone will tell you they not only know gay people but they have gay family and friends that they love. That is what the mouth breathers are up against in this day and age. Love. And they are going to lose out in more ways than just failing to create draconian laws. There may be more activity and hoopla surrounding this religious freedom nonsense over the next few months, but it’s the last dying gasps. Evolution, bitches!

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  33. Connie said on February 26, 2014 at 5:21 pm

    A bill similar to the Arizona one has just died in committee in Indiana.

    My husband said to his computer last night: “People the queer ship has sailed. Deal with it.”

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  34. Deborah said on February 26, 2014 at 5:25 pm

    Little Bird just told me that daylight savings time starts March 9th. Maybe it won’t be warm where you are but it will stay light longer!

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  35. LAMary said on February 26, 2014 at 5:27 pm

    Here’s Jonathan Gold, LA Times food critic and Pulitzer winner, reviewing my favorite Chinese restaurant:

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  36. coozledad said on February 26, 2014 at 5:37 pm

    Scout: The Republicans who drafted these bills, plus the religious right, are already admitting they don’t believe love is part of Jesus-sanctioned marriage. They’re running with the idea that marriage is only about cranking out ass monkeys.

    Of course Republican marriage isn’t about love, and they know it, it’s just that now they need to Wall Street Journal to underline this position. They’re going so far as to suggest that women marry that frat asswipe they meet in college.

    It will be a drag, and a lonely bitter life, but that frat asswipe will never indulge the contemplation that will place a barrier between himself and the ass he needs to kiss for a dollar.

    Sure, he’ll fuck out on you, and he’s dumb as a brick, but he’ll give you a rec room full of rodents junior who’ll never miss a meal for want of an improved genetic strain of greed. Success!

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  37. paddyo' said on February 26, 2014 at 6:08 pm

    Nice review, LAMary — I’m now drooling like a Wang Xing Ji dumpling

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  38. LAMary said on February 26, 2014 at 6:38 pm

    Next time you’re in the area, Paddyo’. It’s in a shopping center with a giant Asian supermarket. I need to go there and restock my white miso supply so I will probably do a quality spot check on the dumplings.

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  39. Deborah said on February 26, 2014 at 9:51 pm

    I’ve watched the first two episodes of True Detective, on On Demand. I’m hooked.

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  40. Dexter said on February 27, 2014 at 5:01 am

    Only 4 more to be all caught up, Deborah. Comedian Gary Gulman was on the radio today telling how he pauses the show constantly to discuss every nuance with his viewing partners. There are so many angles to pursue; who is this yellow king? Lots of speculation about the reverend, some people say Marty is involved with the cult killers, some say Cohle is the yellow king…some say Marty’s wife…nobody knows anything for sure.
    Remember: Only two shows left and then next year a brand new cast takes over the time slot. For now, the nation is on pins and needles.
    Oh, yeah…I have been up all night with tea and toast watching “House of Cards”. Holy shit, what a show it is.

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  41. coozledad said on February 27, 2014 at 8:10 am

    I guess the Koch brothers will be dropping 20 to 30 grand on this. Their kind of thing.

    I worked in a bookstore run by an old rightwad and his family, and they had a dogeared copy of Mein Kampf they treated like a Gutenberg Bible. Even if it had been a first edition, it would still have basically been a moldy brick of shitpaper. Too many copies printed. Even non-evil modern firsts just aren’t worth much. And Mein Kampf is just Jack Chick through the lens of a syphilitic coprophage.

    But you couldn’t tell them that, when they took it out of its special cupboard and spoke in hushed, reverent tones.


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  42. Suzanne said on February 27, 2014 at 8:16 am

    I have relatives that live in AZ. Word on the street is that their hosting the Super Bowl in a few years (next year?) had a huge impact on this gay discrimination bill being sent down the veto path. It seems the Super Bowl committee always has a Plan B for the game in case something happens so that Choice A can’t follow through (weather, earthquake, etc.) The governor was afraid that if she didn’t veto, the Super Bowl committee would simply go on to Plan B, leaving AZ in the lurch. All that revenue, gone with the wind.

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  43. susan said on February 27, 2014 at 9:11 pm

    Yes, the possibility of losing the SuperFuckingBowl and maybe the new Apple plant whut done in that freedumb-to-hate bill. No moral umbrage. Nope. Arizonistan, full of ignorant xtian Sand People.

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