Big doctor is watching.

I think I mentioned a few times that I received a Misfit Shine for Christmas — it’s a “wearable,” the latest thing for fitness/health nerds. You put it somewhere on your body, and it tracks your activity level. It sounds simultaneously Orwellian and narcissistic, but I have to say, it got me through the winter and reminded me many times that it wouldn’t hurt to take the stairs. Of a thousand little modifications is a 10-pound weight loss made.

Of course, such a silly-sounding item does have its detractors. I’ll admit it’s silly, but it’s my kind of silly. I need an extra boot in the ass. The longer I live, the more I think the most important lesson is: Whatever works, works. Don’t ask too many questions if it’s working.

But. I’ve learned the Shine can be gamed. Wear it on different parts of your body, and it responds differently. If I tuck it into my bra, I get mad points — it interprets normal jiggling as the exertion of a sprinter. If I wear it on my wrist, it’s much more realistic. On a necklace sort of splits the difference.

All of which makes me wonder what might be coming, now that Apple’s unveiled Healthkit, a health-statistics tracking system that sounds positively Big Brother, except that it could conceivably also save your life.

From the advance look, it appears to do everything but stick a thermometer up your ass, and keeps track not only of the stuff it can read from a wearable — your pulse, temperature and the like — but also recent test results. (Your doctors will upload to the app. Theoretically, anyway.)

It’s simultaneously sort of cool and, frankly, a little frightening. This “cloud” we’re all trusting — what is it, really? Sort of like Jesus’ dad’s house — a place with many mansions, where our only hope is to have a health profile so boring and ordinary no one wants to tinker with it.

On the other hand, say you’re wearing an iWatch or whatever, and it detects a troublesome heart rhythm in your pulse hours before it drops you like a rock? It might be worth the invasion of your pulse-rate privacy, right?

Or it might just be a way to make sure that all your records are with the patient they’re supposed to follow. I doubt they are now.

So. A steamy day downtown today. I took a couple of walks and felt like I’d been misted with canola oil and grime. Summer is here. The children’s sandbox has been opened at Campus Martius Park:


Enjoy it, kids. The real world is nothing like this, except when it is.

So tired, I might die. Talk tomorrow?

Posted at 12:30 am in Popculch |

54 responses to “Big doctor is watching.”

  1. Dexter said on June 3, 2014 at 2:15 am

    Well hell. If Healthkit can’t stick a thermometer up my ass, why, it ain’t worth it.
    And now a story. My first job as an army medic was hospital duty , attending to patients sidelined by “The Fort Ord Crud”, a common ailment there for the trainees. One sign was fluctuating and wildly spiking temps, and with the horrible history of meningitis at that post, we had to closely monitor patients’ temps. Every wise-ass knows it’s easy to goldbrick by many little tricks to affect oral thermometer readings, and suspicious patients had orders for rectal temp checks.
    One dude happened to be native to Hawaii. I had to check him rectally with the thermometer. He rolled over, exposed his butt, and I had to insert the …OMG…he was caked in shit, dried and recent, a stinking mess. I yelled at him and ordered him into the shower as I screamed at him what the hell his problem was, and he smiled, laughed… (totally amused was he) as he said, “In Hawaii we don’t wipe!” I thought I had heard everything….

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  2. Deborah said on June 3, 2014 at 6:52 am

    Gross, Dexter.

    As I’ve mentioned here I wear a fitbit and I love it. It very accurately keeps track of the miles I walk. I tested it by my usual method in Chicago for keeping track of distance by counting blocks because I wasn’t sure I could trust the fitbit. I don’t really use it for anything else, and yes I realize that a pedometer could do the same thing but not in the same way. It encourages me with emails and praises me when I do good. I walked 250 miles while in Chicago in May and I’ve walked 500 miles since I started on Feb 15. My legs are in great shape but my upper body sucks.

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  3. alex said on June 3, 2014 at 6:54 am

    Dunno about Hawaii, but a friend who visited India told me that everyone there wipes — and to be very careful whose bare hand you shake.

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  4. Basset said on June 3, 2014 at 7:17 am

    Our parks dept, just started a “Walk 100 Miles with the Mayor” program, you log walking miles on a website and when you’ve done 100 they give you a t-shirt… There’s also a phone app that’ll track your miles, just tap start and finish and GPS or something figures your distance. It’s also telling them where and when you walk, but if you’re not doing anything wrong, you got nothin’ to be concerned about, right?

    I’m up to 10.6, I might add.

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  5. brian stouder said on June 3, 2014 at 7:37 am

    Basset – and if you had a jiggly rack, that 10.6 might be 15.5or something!

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  6. Basset said on June 3, 2014 at 8:11 am

    The one positive effect of man-boobs…

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  7. beb said on June 3, 2014 at 8:18 am

    The ear temperature thermometer has been a boon for everybody.

    I think Dexter has created and won the first anti-thread-win, you know the story so gross it makes people lose their lunch…

    I was listening to one of the music channels carried by my cable company last night. One of their Golden Oldies was Sam Cooke’s “Another Saturday Night (and I ain’t got no body…)” which sounds disturbingly like the manifesto of the Santa Barbara shooter.

    Open Carry Taxas is pissed off at the NRA because the NRA issued a news release calling OCT’s program of walking into popular restaurants en masse with AK-15 strapped to their backs was weird and stupid. Because nothing spells support for your cause like scaring the bejeebus out of people.

    And in “If he’s for it, we’re agin it” politics, Republicans have decided that that American POW in Afghan had to have been a traitor…

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  8. coozledad said on June 3, 2014 at 8:55 am

    President Obama:

    “We have consulted with Congress for quite some time about the possibility that we might need to execute a prisoner exchange in order to recover Sgt. [Bowe] Bergdahl,” Obama said in a press conference in Warsaw, Poland. “We saw an opportunity. We were concerned about Sgt. Bergdahl’s health. We had the cooperation of the Qataris to execute and exchange, and we seized that opportunity. And the process was truncated because we did not want to miss that window.”

    “Let me just make a very simple point here. And that is regardless of the circumstances, whatever those circumstances may turn out to be, we still get an American soldier back if he’s held in captivity,” Obama said of Bergdahl. “Period. Full stop. We don’t condition that.”

    They missed a separate opportunity because the Republicans stonewalled it. Their first response was the “we don’t negotiate with terrorists” angle, then “Bergdhal is a deserter, and not worth five detainees. Let him rot. Then salty old strip of dried Howard’s Johnson’s fried clam Sarah Palin says “His father made anti-American comments!”

    If this guy deserted his post, as many, many GIs did in the allied march through France (to go back and work the black market) he should, if history is any indication, be able to join The American Legion in about twenty years and shout at liberals and people “unworthy of the uniform”, like John Kerry, a decorated veteran.

    It has been US policy since WWII to treat desertion in a strikingly different manner from our enemies, who were just as likely to station special units in the rear to shoot deserters. These would include the Nazis, the Soviets, the North Koreans, the Chinese, the North Vietnamese….

    Americans don’t do that. It’s counterproductive and merely vindictive. Republicans want to do that because they are miserable excuses for human beings, and don’t belong in this country. They belong in that sad white sack of shit Russia, with Putin.

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  9. brian stouder said on June 3, 2014 at 9:26 am

    fun fact that I learned yesterday:

    Total number of detainees at Guantanamo that GWB released?

    Total number of detainees that BHO has released so far?

    Here’s the two numbers, presented in no particular order.


    ~ 87

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  10. Kim Ellis said on June 3, 2014 at 9:49 am

    I recently read a book by Robin Cook that scared the bejeezus out of me. Premise is since the cell phone is our newest appendage, it could be used in health care. It could be used to track everything we do, heart rate, exercise, what we eat, etc. One step further- if a person had long term health issues(ex. diabetes, cancer, high blood pressure) a pump would be implanted to insure compliance and better control whatever the issue- which could be controlled remotely by the cell phone. I don’t want to spoil it if someone wants some light summer reading, but here’s a hint. Death panels.

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  11. Connie said on June 3, 2014 at 9:58 am

    Kim, I read about a third of that book and got rid of it due to general irritation.

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  12. brian stouder said on June 3, 2014 at 10:11 am

    Connie – the last book I bailed on was Mitch Daniels’ opus (Keeping the Republic, or some such), which I picked up when I thought he was going to run as the sane Republican in 2012.


    I think I almost made it 100 pages before I just couldn’t go on.

    It was like driving down a street that crosses into several different cities/towns/villages – in that the ‘voice’ changes so abruptly that you can just see where one ghost writer’s effort ended, and another’s began.

    Calling it pablum gives it too much credit, really

    *borrowed from Chris Matthews

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  13. Deborah said on June 3, 2014 at 10:19 am

    Wasn’t GWB a “deserter”. Not in combat, but didn’t he walk away from his duties?

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  14. coozledad said on June 3, 2014 at 10:22 am

    Deborah: He went AWOL and went chandelier swinging at one of his dad’s friends’ houses in Alabama.

    But old drinky rocks a cock pouch, and that’s good enough for the GOP.

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  15. brian stouder said on June 3, 2014 at 10:22 am

    Dick Cheney is much the worse, given his propensity to advocate fiery death and carnage, and his inclination to ‘other priorities’ when his ass might otherwise get called to duty

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  16. Deborah said on June 3, 2014 at 10:25 am

    I hardly ever stop reading a book I’ve started even if I hate it. It may take me a long time but I eventually get to the end. I think it’s from my Missouri Synod Lutheran upbringing. That’s why I’m picky about what I start reading. Stupid, I know.

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  17. alex said on June 3, 2014 at 10:47 am

    Premise is since the cell phone is our newest appendage, it could be used in health care. It could be used to track everything we do, heart rate, exercise, what we eat, etc.

    And to calculate the size of your brain tumors, just check your total minutes of usage.

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  18. Judybusy said on June 3, 2014 at 10:55 am

    I read a book last year called Physics of the Future, by Michio Kaku–I’m sure I wrote about it at the time, because it really impressed me. Kaku is a physicist himself, and talked to many people about various research they’re working on. Some of it was on medical technology, including having medical scanners in our clothes and bathrooms that are constantly monitoring us. He believes we will get to the point, for example, that we will no longer really know what a tumor is, because detection will develop to where we will be able to detect just a few malignant cells and target them with medication or nanobots to destroy them. He did not explore the implications of this, in terms of being monitored and where all the data goes. He also ignored how this will likely be available to those with means. However, I read an article in the Smithsonian Magazine a cell phone app that turns any smartphone into a diagnostic tool. Super cheap, and they’re anticipating great use in the developing world.

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  19. Danny said on June 3, 2014 at 11:09 am

    Ahem: It’s called a tricorder and it has been around since the 23rd century!

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  20. Julie Robinson said on June 3, 2014 at 11:17 am

    Well played, Danny!

    And Dexter: ew, ew, ew.

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  21. Bitter Scribe said on June 3, 2014 at 11:20 am

    I have a professional interest in this, because I’m just about to start writing an article about health and wellness outreach by supermarkets and drugstores. One of these involves biometric devices you wear on your person, then plug into a computer to track your progress and earn points toward discounts (presumably on healthy food).

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  22. Judybusy said on June 3, 2014 at 11:21 am

    Danny, the article begins by talking about the tricorder!

    Deborah, a long time ago, I ran across a Barbara Kingsolver quote (I think in an introduction to one of the Best American Short stories collections) stating she did not finish books if they didn’t satisfy her. I used to feel compelled to finish things, too, but stopped after that. This includes Kingsolver’s last book, Flight Behavior. I start about 120 books a year, and keep track on Goodreads. I note if I didn’t finish something, so I know to be cautious if I try something else by the same author. Out of the 49 books I started this year, it looks as if I put down about 7 without reaching the end. I have about 100 books on my to-read list at any given moment, and I have come to believe I am not immortal. Therefore, I will not be able to read everything I want, so sure as heck am not wasting precious reading time on stuff I don’t like. I’m not neccessary a high-brow reader, either. I read a fair amount of candy–mysteries, mostly–to balance the more serious fiction and non-fiction.

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  23. Heather said on June 3, 2014 at 11:26 am

    Do those fitness trackers work in water? I swim a fair amount.

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    • nancy said on June 3, 2014 at 11:30 am

      The Shine does! Fitbit, Jawbone, etc. do not. They do have a problem with their tagging software, though — you triple-tap it for particular activities and it calculates your points differently. It’s supposed to sense when you’ve finished, and for weeks, it gave me too much credit for a 35-minute lap swim. Then they rejiggered it, and it goes the opposite way. Today I only got 14 minutes’ worth. These are first-generation devices, and I expect there’s still a lot of beta to be plowed through.

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  24. brian stouder said on June 3, 2014 at 11:52 am

    Fish, or cut beta, eh?

    I was just thinking about Star Trek tech the other day, because when flip-phones were the go, Star Trek looked prescient.

    But now, Captain Kirk with a flip-phone communicator and no imagery/apps/connectivity to the cloud – looks so 1995

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  25. beb said on June 3, 2014 at 12:30 pm

    Yeah, but Kirk’s flip phone was satellite tech, no wi-fi or cell phone repeater towers.

    I’m still waiting for the Star Trek salt-shaker that closes up surgical cuts without leaving scars.

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  26. Suzanne said on June 3, 2014 at 12:34 pm

    Deborah, I do the same thing, plowing through books until the end. I always think it will get better at some point, especially if it got good reviews. I have even been known to reread a few, thinking I must have missed something the first time. Lutheran roots as well, so maybe it’s that suffering is good theme that runs through my veins. I’ve been trying to follow Nancy Pearl’s advice (I think it was her) to read as many pages as your age and if you aren’t hooked, give it up. Life is too short.

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  27. Suzanne said on June 3, 2014 at 12:48 pm

    Brian @ 9–where did you get the prisoner release numbers?

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  28. Sherri said on June 3, 2014 at 12:51 pm

    I follow Nancy Pearl’s advice on reading books: after 50 pages, you have permission to give up on the book. If you’re over 50, you only have to read 100-your age pages, because life is short and there are lots of good books!

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  29. Julie Robinson said on June 3, 2014 at 1:03 pm

    Judybusy, your view of the Kingsolver book is disappointing, because it’s high in my queue, but then, her last couple of books have been disappointing. A little too preachy, and I loved Animal, Vegetable, Miracle. But I’ve given up on a couple recently, including The 12 Tribes of Hattie, which was just unrelentingly sad.

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  30. Jeff Borden said on June 3, 2014 at 1:24 pm

    This is completely off-topic, but a commenter over at Wonkette just hit one out of the park on the topic of those Open Carry Texas folks who keep strolling into chain restaurants armed to the teeth with AK-47s and AR-15s. Even the death dealers at the NRA think this is bit excessive and have issued a statement calling these kinds of activities counter-productive to the gun rights movement. Predictably, the OCT folks accuse of the NRA of being a liberal organization and are burning their membership cards.

    So, sayeth the commenter: “Congrats Open Carry! You’ve officially become the NAMBLA of the gun movement!”

    This is genius.

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  31. MichaelG said on June 3, 2014 at 1:29 pm

    There are zillions of books published every year and way too many of them are poorly written. I simply can’t get past shitty writing (other than my own). I reserve and regularly exercise the right to bail on a book if it doesn’t entertain or inform me to the degree I wish. I read a work for my own entertainment and have no obligation to the author or the book or to anyone else to finish it if it becomes a drag to read.

    A big thanks to the library for providing free books. Speaking of libraries, I voted yes today on a proposition to tax every parcel $12 to benefit the Sacramento library system. I doubt it will pass.

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  32. MichaelG said on June 3, 2014 at 1:33 pm

    Need to peel a bunch of apples? Or something else? Help is at hand.

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  33. Danny said on June 3, 2014 at 1:46 pm

    Yeah, but Kirk’s flip phone was satellite tech, no wi-fi or cell phone repeater towers.

    Actually, I think that the Star Trek communicators send signals through the “sub-space” domain. Something we haven’t discovered yet!

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  34. MarkH said on June 3, 2014 at 1:52 pm

    Suzanne – Yes, Brian needs to source posts like that. I went looking and found this at the Washington Post. The numbers indicating those released from Guantanamo, along with recidivism rates, are in the first link in the article and as of January 2014. Brian’s numbers are close, but a little off.

    IMO, the large numbers noted as released under GWB directly correlate to the large numbers of suspects rounded up and sent to Guantanamo in the immediate aftermath to 9/11. They were later deemed to have had no connection to terrorist acts.

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  35. coozledad said on June 3, 2014 at 2:08 pm

    Hey hey! Ho ho! Mo donuts, mo mo mo!

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  36. brian stouder said on June 3, 2014 at 2:58 pm

    Suzanne and Mark – sorry for the tardy response.

    I saw it last night on one of the un-American shows on Mess-NBC, and indeed, subsequent Google searches bounce around the same level.

    They have a 16% (give or take) estimate on how many go back to fighting us – and presumably the lion-share of that is also from the previous administration.

    One key point is that these latest releases – the Duck Dynasty 5 – are all Taliban and not aQ; so presumably when we’re out of Afghanistan, we’re beyond their reach.

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  37. Bitter Scribe said on June 3, 2014 at 3:52 pm

    Dexter’s first post reminds me of something allegedly overheard at the Los Angeles County Jail:

    Guard doing rectal cavity search: “Goddamn! That’s shit!”

    Bent-over prisoner: “What y’all expect? Ice cream?”

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  38. brian stouder said on June 3, 2014 at 4:42 pm

    So there was this open audition for a talent show, and a guy shows up claiming he could ‘whistle’ the Star Spangled Banner out his ass. The incredulous stage manager says alright – go right on up there and do your stuff. And the fellow goes up and turns his back toward the seats, and he does a few knee-bends and back twists, and then he drops his drawers and begins defecating all over the stage! The apoplectic stage manager leaps out of his seat while shouting a storm of obscenities at the apparently crazy person on the stage; mostly to the effect of – what the hell are you doin’, buddy?

    And the prospective anal vocalist musician answers back – “I was just clearing my throat”

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  39. Deborah said on June 3, 2014 at 4:44 pm

    A funny thing happened today, completely off topic. A woman was walking towards us at the Santa Fe Farmers Market this morning, they operate on Tuesdays and Saturdays. Anyway this woman had a bird perched on the top of her head and about the same time we saw her a truck was backing up off in the distance making that beeping noise that trucks make when they’re trying to alert people to beware of a backing truck. The bird began perfectly imitating the beeping sound, it was hilarious, but you probably had to be there to appreciate it.

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  40. Danny said on June 3, 2014 at 4:45 pm

    Anyone following this story of the 12-year-old girl stabbed by her friends 19 times? Ghastly.

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  41. Scout said on June 3, 2014 at 5:19 pm

    I nearly always finish a book once I start it, and because of that I’m pretty picky about what I start. However, I got about 2/3 of the way through The Discovery of Witches and just could not finish it. I found myself avoiding reading altogether as my Kindle sat on my night stand, taunting me. I finally made the choice to bail.

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  42. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on June 3, 2014 at 5:39 pm

    They’re trying to build a working tricorder right now:

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  43. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on June 3, 2014 at 5:40 pm

    I’ve started Leviticus two or three times and have never really finished it. There are sins I just don’t want to know about that badly. I’m gonna trust in grace and leave the later chapters to someone who’s having trouble getting to sleep.

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  44. nancy said on June 3, 2014 at 6:05 pm

    Is Leviticus the one that gets into mixing fibers in a single garment? The red heifer?

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  45. Sherri said on June 3, 2014 at 6:44 pm

    Maybe Steubenville did change things. A small town with a big deal high school football program, sexual assault alleged to have been committed by high school athletes, but this time, allegations taken seriously, investigation done and arrests made in a timely manner, and victim was supported by community, not vilified.

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  46. LAMary said on June 3, 2014 at 8:43 pm

    S.J. Perelman used to mention opening a book called “The History of the Dutch Republic.” The he would say, “when I woke up…”
    I love S. J. Perelman.

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  47. brian stouder said on June 3, 2014 at 9:01 pm

    Sherri -that was an interesting link, and I think your summation fits (I was struck by the big-big investigation by the small-small police force; not easy nor pleasant, but necessary and thorough)

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  48. Jolene said on June 3, 2014 at 9:02 pm

    Maybe Steubenville did change things.

    Apparently not enough. The students don’t seem to have learned that drunken sexual assaults can ruin your life, as well as hurting the victim.

    But, yes, I agree. Much better response from the authorities.

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  49. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on June 3, 2014 at 9:51 pm

    Since I’ve never finished it . . .

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  50. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on June 3, 2014 at 9:53 pm

    More candidly, you’re thinking of Leviticus 19:19, which also condemns your average cattle rancher or kennel club member.

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  51. alex said on June 3, 2014 at 10:17 pm

    Leviticus was written before American chattel slavery, but same condemnations, presumably. And the institution of marriage is threatened by twinks playing house.

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  52. Joe Kobiela said on June 3, 2014 at 10:38 pm

    Brian @38,
    I heard a version of that, but the punch line is,
    We are the aristocrates !!
    Pilot Joe

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  53. Joe Kobiela said on June 3, 2014 at 10:39 pm

    There is a great documentary on the joke we are the aristocrates.
    Very very funny,
    Pilot Joe

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