Something rotten.

Old joke: What’s the difference between heaven and hell?

In heaven, the English are the innkeepers, the French are the chefs, the Germans are the mechanics, the Italians are the lovers and the Irish are the cops.

In hell, the English are the chefs, the French are the innkeepers, the Germans are the cops, the Italians are the mechanics and the Irish are the lovers.

The first time I heard that one, I understood all but the part about the Irish being lousy lovers. A friend explained that if you lived in a Catholic country where birth control was verboten until 1980, every sex act might not be a joyful consummation of love between two people but rather, an occasion for gloomy acceptance, furtive counting, whispered prayers and, of course, not too much noise. (Musn’t wake the children.)

I’ve wondered about the Irish and sex ever since, particularly as we’ve learned so much awful news about how the church and its most faithful secular government dealt with sex and its inevitable fruit. The Magdalene laundries, the atrocities uncovered by the Ryan commission, Philomena Lee – Ireland has a very dark side, and it seems to have a great deal to do with sex and religion.

So it is that today you can see a headline like this – Bodies of 800 babies, long-dead, found in septic tank at former Irish home for unwed mothers – and hardly be surprised.

Tainted women went to the home for unwed mothers and, eventually, left. It seems their children weren’t so lucky:

More than five decades after the Home was closed and destroyed — where a housing development and children’s playground now stands — what happened to nearly 800 of those abandoned children has now emerged: Their bodies were piled into a massive septic tank sitting in the back of the structure and forgotten, with neither gravestones nor coffins.

It sounds as though the children were basically starved into fragile health:

According to Irish Central, a 1944 local health board report described the children living at the Home as “emaciated,” “pot-bellied,” “fragile” and with “flesh hanging loosely on limbs.”

The home was closed in 1961 – eons ago, but within my lifetime. The children of “sin,” starved to death and buried in a septic tank. By nuns. What went wrong in Ireland that didn’t in Italy, France or other Catholic countries? (I’ve heard Quebec was almost as bad as Ireland, so maybe it has to do with gloomy skies and dreary winters.)

Enough with the downers! Let’s all look at Rihanna’s fanny. It has few peers in this grimy world, I’d say.

I’m not much for mourning deceased actors, but I thought Hank Stuever’s piece on Ann B. Davis was sweet. Hank’s about a decade younger than me, and his post outlined the difference between the Boomer and Gen X after-school experience, although ours were the same. The difference was, I came home to an empty house and rejoiced, while he was a little lonelier:

Like “The Brady Bunch,” being a so-called latchkey kid was a byproduct of the ’70s. Some of us had moms who were among the first American women to boldly attempt the juggling act of earning a paycheck and running a household. Some of us had divorced parents, or soon would. Some of us knew it was our job to fend for ourselves for a couple hours between 3:30 and 5:30 each day. None of us had a live-in housekeeper.

But we were not entirely alone when we had reruns. As early as the mid-’70s, when Paramount Television first put the show into weekday syndication, “The Brady Bunch” felt immediately and almost profoundly nostalgic.

No matter how quiet and empty the house was when you got home, you could turn on the TV just as the theme song began (“Here’s the story…”) and Alice was there, in the center of that joyful, blended-family “Brady Bunch” grid. She was in the kitchen getting dinner ready. She offered cookies and milk and sound advice.

She was, I suppose, whatever June Cleaver had been to the previous generation.

How long are we going to fight over Bowe Bergdahl? Will someone let me know when it’s over?

Happy Wednesday to you and yours.

Posted at 12:30 am in Current events |
 

59 responses to “Something rotten.”

  1. Dexter said on June 4, 2014 at 1:17 am

    The reason the Irish are the lovers in Hell is because of “The Irish Curse”. I had never heard of this phenomenon until about 2005 when a Irish descendant , now living in New Jersey, always made fun at the size of his penis, bragging how he was “a grower not a shower” (think SHOW-er) . Usually the topic is referred to very subtly in film and print, but I guess most people know about it.
    http://www.odysseytheatre.com/irishcurse/press/

    Bowe Bergdahl appears to be a deserter and I also heard his crazy-looking dad maintains regular Twitter contact with the Taliban. This story is crazy…and to think people were upset when Willie burned a rope atop the Carter White House many moons ago…Obama is in charge of this crazy rescue-exchange thing.

  2. Sherri said on June 4, 2014 at 1:38 am

    BTW, just in case you missed it, Seattle has practically turned itself into a socialist republic out here. Legalized marijuana, same-sex marriage, and now the city council has passed a $15 minimum wage. Expect the Cascadia Fault to let loose any day now.

  3. David C. said on June 4, 2014 at 6:43 am

    The nuns were just proto right to lifers. Once the slut shaming portion of the game is finished, who cares if the wee ones starve to death.

  4. Jolene said on June 4, 2014 at 7:00 am

    Man, there are not many things that stop me in my tracks or, in this case, make me reluctant to click on a link–I always feel like I should know what there is to know. But 800 dead babies. At the hands of the good sisters of the church, no less. Wow.

  5. Jolene said on June 4, 2014 at 7:28 am

    I don’t really care at all about who they traded to free Bergdahl. I suspect that those fellows will be watched pretty carefully, and that their respective lifespans may be affected adversely should they become involved in activities counter to the US.

    But I do think Obama was remarkably stupid to make a Rose Garden announcement of his liberation when the whole situation–the circumstances of his imprisonment, whether others were killed or injured in trying to rescue him, and the issue of Congressional notification–is such a mess.

    Why not leave it to the Pentagon to make a low-key announcement after, at least, phone calls to the relevant Congressional leaders explaining why the 30-day notice wasn’t possible?

  6. alex said on June 4, 2014 at 7:31 am

    After reading Angela’s Ashes when it was published maybe fifteen years ago, I don’t find stories like the above about Ireland and the Catholic Church particularly surprising.

    David C for the win. Amen, brother. If you look back just a few decades, none of the religious folk gave a fat rat’s ass about abortion until it was politically framed as a women’s liberation issue. It isn’t fetal life that those people give a shit about. It’s women who cannot be controlled by the church or by men.

  7. coozledad said on June 4, 2014 at 7:44 am

    Ireland’s just the world as the oldest Men’s Rights Association wants it to be. It’s not just the Catholics, though. There seems to be something about any system of slaving or shaming that has a huge appeal among whites of Northern European ancestry.

    David C. is right. It’s not about preserving the life of a child, or maintaining community standards, or anything other than grinding someone’s face in the dirt because you fucking can.

    I’ve spoken with Catholic women whose parents threatened to ship them to one of the penitence camps in Ireland if they were “promiscuous”. If they’d stuck all the manwhores I grew up with, Catholic and Protestant, in a bicycle generated electricity plant of sexual shame, we’d have already murdered climate change in its fucking crib.

    I’ll just leave you with this tidbit concerning the Irish, sexual shame, Victorianism, deviancy, and shit white people like, courtesy James Joyce’s love letters:

    You say you will shit your drawers, dear,and let me fuck you then. I would like to hear you shit them, dear, first and then fuck you.

    I’ll never drink a god damn Guinness again. Who knows what’s in that water table?

  8. Alan Stamm said on June 4, 2014 at 7:54 am

    Former NYT war correspondent Alex Berenson this morning says what Jolene does, though he gussies up “remarably stupid” with softer words:

    “The White House clearly erred by pretending that Sergeant Bergdahl was an ordinary prisoner of war and that his return would be cause for unalloyed celebration. It should have brought him home as quietly as possible, with no fanfare.” http://nyti.ms/1pQZ8JO

  9. Suzanne said on June 4, 2014 at 8:17 am

    I look at Bergdahl’s dad and am completely confused. Is it Duck Dynasty? Taliban? Jeremiah Johnson? How can we sort good from bad when they all look alike?

  10. nancy said on June 4, 2014 at 8:23 am

    Barbara, aka 4dbirds here, made a point on Facebook that had been bubbling under my awareness for a while: It’s a military core value that no one is left behind. If Bergdahl was a deserter, a military court will handle it. But you don’t leave an American in enemy hands if he can be brought home.

    Oh, and Dexter: I’ve always heard Liam Neeson packs one of the biggest weapons in Hollywood. So much for the curse.

  11. brian stouder said on June 4, 2014 at 8:26 am

    “It should have brought him home as quietly as possible, with no fanfare.”

    I disagree with Berenson. All the same critics would still be shouting and squawking, and the supporters of the administration would be tut-tutting that the president should have “gone big!” – and made the critics openly take the position that this guy’s mom’s tears are to be dismissed out of hand, and in fact his dad should be investigated (which in fact the flying monkeys have done)

    Plus – bonus – this took the critics off the EPA (and the stricter carbon emissions standards) for the moment, so that’s good, too.

  12. brian stouder said on June 4, 2014 at 8:31 am

    I’ve always heard Liam Neeson packs one of the biggest weapons in Hollywood

    I seem to recall over-hearing my parents and the neighbors having this very discussion (decades ago!)…I can’t really recall, but I think they said Rodney Dangerfield was the king

  13. Jolene said on June 4, 2014 at 8:33 am

    Here is a fairly detailed article re the claims that as many as eight soldiers may have died in attempting to find Bergdahl. Conclusion: Not so much. It was a time of heavy fighting, and soldiers were being killed in many places under varying circumstances. Activity directly focused on searching for Bergdahl ended fairly soon after he disappeared, with sporadic efforts thereafter.

    Based on what’s been written about him, he seems like the kind of guy that would have been regarded as an asshole by many other young soldiers. Their resentment is understandable, but may not be very closely tied to the facts of the situation.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2014/06/04/world/middleeast/can-gi-be-tied-to-6-lost-lives-facts-are-murky.html?hp

  14. Dorothy said on June 4, 2014 at 9:07 am

    I am of very mixed feelings about Sgt. Bergdahl. My heart tells me that if that was my son, I’d want heaven and earth moved to get him back home and out of harms way. But at the same time, if the young man broke military laws, he needs to face up to it and accept his punishment. Which in my estimation, he has already received and then some. A dishonorable discharge seems to be in order if he did desert his post. This story is not going to go away soon; I hope we find out that there was very reliable intelligence that explains why the President made the decisions that brought him home.

  15. Julie Robinson said on June 4, 2014 at 9:46 am

    As a Lutheran I always held a certain respect for what I considered to be the mother church. That, of course, is long gone. I can’t imagine how I would feel if I was a faithful member, well I guess I wouldn’t be a faithful member anymore. Netflix brought us Philomena yesterday and I’m steeling myself to watch it.

    I’d read that about Neeson too. But he’s 6’4″, so one would assume…

    Dorothy I think you’re right about justice tempered with mercy. It’s shaping up as a sad, sad tale.

  16. brian stouder said on June 4, 2014 at 9:48 am

    Red Badge of Courage

  17. Jeff Borden said on June 4, 2014 at 9:57 am

    War twists people in unimaginable ways and a conflict like the one in Afghanistan is even crueler. My father’s generation fought armies of other young men wearing uniforms of their country. The combat was savage, but at least they could recognize the enemy, they could see forward progress as they marched toward Germany or island hopped toward Japan, they had a sense that victory could be achieved, albeit at a very heavy price.

    Think about what these soldiers and Marines face in Afghanistan, where family and tribal loyalties trump everything and the person who kills you might be someone you considered an ally yesterday, where there is no goal that can be easily measured, where you are ALWAYS in the combat zone and even the little kids begging for candy might be lethal.

    This isn’t to condone or forgive whatever this young man may or may not have done, only to note that those who are fanning the flames of outrage are largely fat-assed politicians and loud-mouthed talk show hosts who have no concept of what he might have seen and done.

  18. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on June 4, 2014 at 10:21 am

    We brought back Bobby Garwood (go Hoosiers!) & Doug Beane, both Marines, gave them court-martials (courts martial?) with sentencing consideration for what they’d gone through, and after a brief incarceration in the brig, let them get on with their lives albeit without Honorable Discharges. I recall at least one other guy who came out of Vietnam under his own steam in the 1980s with a muddled story who also got a trial, a sentence, and then a ticket to his hometown.

    The only real mistake here is trying to put any pretty paint on this porcupine, and talk about his return in standard issue terms . . . but I think the Obama team had built up some support and consideration for the Bergdahls as regular campaigners in DC for their son’s situation, rightfully so, and just didn’t consider all the ramifications. That goes double for Mr. Bergdahl, who probably had stopped looking problematic to them a couple of years ago. On TV with the POTUS right after the exchange announcement, I’ll bet someone in the press office turned to Josh Earnest and said “Uhhhh….” to which Earnest ruefully said “Yeah. Well.”

  19. Dorothy said on June 4, 2014 at 10:21 am

    An emphatic YES, Jeff Borden. Perfectly said.

    Is anyone else irritated with the beard on Mr. Bergdahl? I sure hope he shaves it off before he sees his son. I’m thinking after five years of being surrounded by unfriendly bearded men, it might be unpleasant to say the least to see his dad equally adorned. I have a cousin whose ex-husband had an unkempt beard like that. My sisters, girl cousins and I used to shudder and gag at the thought of kissing his lips amidst that wild nest. Grooming is everything, guys!!

  20. coozledad said on June 4, 2014 at 10:21 am

    I wouldn’t be too quick to let the Republicans frame any discussion about war. They’re the ones who sold the soft left these wars, and the same soft left is taking the bait again. Remember, the Republicans’ fucking kids didn’t go into this meat grinder, and all that talk about “duty” and “honor” is horseshit meant to confuse honest, simple folk who equate the notion of patriotism with war films and stickers on their big ass cars.

    Your “greatest generation” ran like fucking rabbits for the most part. Some of them ran and returned to combat. Some of them ran and made a small fortune in the Parisian black market.
    Poke that American legion fucker and the odds are greater you’ll find a pants shitter than a combat veteran. Only ten percent of American forces served at the front, and those same ten percent were in heavy rotation, because they could be counted on to fight. This was the just war. The one we were all in together.
    http://www.npr.org/2013/06/17/189275754/wwii-deserters-stories-of-men-who-left-the-front-lines

    The rest of them were just jerks like us who don’t know the difference between honor and Ronald Reagan. the thing is, no one knows what anyone will do at the front. If you figure that shit out, the Army will write your ass a big check.

  21. Bitter Scribe said on June 4, 2014 at 10:31 am

    There used to be a home for “unwed mothers” in Wisconsin called “The Seven Sorrows of Our Sorrowful Mother.”

    No, I didn’t make that up. Must have been a really fun place.

  22. nancy said on June 4, 2014 at 10:35 am

    A girl I went to school with, who was in foster care, gave birth in a home for unwed mothers, which may have been one of the last one going. As I recall, she kept the baby.

  23. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on June 4, 2014 at 10:40 am

    I’ve got a dad who has come into our office at the juvenile court a hatful of times as we settle out his child’s situation, and the last time, after he left, the person at the front desk said (once the door shut) “Whoa, what’s the deal with him?” And I had to think a second “Who are you referring to?” And then I realized I had stopped noticing what made me flinch the first time he came in: snake tattoo on his head (rattle behind the ear, which looks more like a shrimp but I didn’t mention that), neck tats in Gothika of names of people whose circumstances today I did not inquire over, and some truly impressive gauges in his ears (plus a random scattering of spikes around his facial features).

    I won’t say I stopped noticing them, but they did stop ringing my bells. He is soft-spoken, reasonable, and concerned about his kid and willing to come to appointments. That puts him in the Ward Cleaver (sic) category for me. The point being that you do stop noticing or thinking about how others see certain visual characteristics once to get to know them, beards, blue ink, or whatever else once bothered you.

  24. Charlotte said on June 4, 2014 at 11:02 am

    While the one person I know who had a thing with Liam Neeson never mentioned his assets, he was a perfect gentleman. Had flowers sent to Telluride all the way from Durango because he assumed T’ride was too small to have a proper florist. This is decades ago, a Film Festival tryst, before he was married. Lovely man, whatever his, um, talents.

    And there’s a vicious mean streak running through my people, the Irish Catholics. Especially when it comes to women. Had some virulently nasty things hissed at me in Irish bars in the 1980s when I was out with my American friends — apparently we girls were all whores for dancing with our boyfriends and boy friends.

    As for the One True. I think all of us but the really twisted have pretty much left. Or just faded out into Christmas and Funeral Catholics.

  25. Kirk said on June 4, 2014 at 11:11 am

    Brian@12: Maybe they were talking about Milton Berle.

    I can honestly say I never watched an episode of “The Brady Bunch,” but I am old enough that my memory of Ann B. Davis is as Schultzie, wisecracking secretary to Bob Cummings on “Love That Bob.”

  26. brian stouder said on June 4, 2014 at 11:20 am

    Kirk – that rings all kinds of bells! (or “ding-a-ling-a-ling”)

    I think you’re right

  27. Sue said on June 4, 2014 at 11:23 am

    Actively visiting the sins of the mothers (always the mothers) on the children, with the full support of the surrounding community, feels about right if you’ve ever read Angela’s Ashes. Kind of brings to mind the Germans after WWII who didn’t know anything, no nothing at all, about the concentration camps in their midst. Once you’ve achieved cultural acceptance for one group of humans to be regarded as subhuman, all sorts of behavior against them becomes acceptable and even righteous. And there’s nothing like an old-school nun for grim, grim righteousness.
    And…
    I like to read biographies and non-fiction about 20′s-30′s-40′s Hollywood. For some reason one phrase in one book has stayed with me for years. Apparently according to at least one of his girlfriends, Gary Cooper ‘was hung like a horse and could go all night’. My goodness.

  28. Jenine said on June 4, 2014 at 11:36 am

    @Scout from yesterday: “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 couldn’t finish that one either and I thought I would love it from the reviews. At a certain point I couldn’t read about any more of our protagonist’s meals plus I realized that it was the first of a series so I wasn’t going to get a real ending. But it has a great opening, brushing up against magic in a book in the Bodleian Library. I can certainly see how she got it published.

  29. brian stouder said on June 4, 2014 at 11:36 am

    Forget Gary Cooper; I’m still recovering from Rihanna!

  30. brian stouder said on June 4, 2014 at 11:45 am

    The lead sentence from (what appears to be) Fox News (et al) alternate ‘treasonous anti ‘real’ American hero anti-Obama’ narrative:

    http://www.foxnews.com/us/2014/06/03/lopsided-deal-with-enemy-for-bergdahl-in-sharp-contrast-to-inaction-on/?intcmp=latestnews

    The Obama administration’s extraordinary effort to free Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl has some wondering why the president can’t make a simple phone call on behalf of a former Marine being held in a Mexican prison after mistakenly driving across the border with registered guns.

    now THERE’s a current-events non-sequitur!!

  31. Jolene said on June 4, 2014 at 12:13 pm

    I wonder how the Fox commentators and the R’s they quote know what the Obama administration is or isn’t doing re Tahmooressi.

  32. MichaelG said on June 4, 2014 at 1:55 pm

    I would like to know more about his story before I form an opinion. I remain to be convinced either way on the exchange and the potential fall-out and increased vulnerability of GIs in the field. Right now I don’t view this as a triumph but as a deal that may be flawed. Again, I’m open to being convinced.

    The plural of ‘court-martial’ is ‘courts-martial’.

    I sincerely hope the Obama administration isn’t surprised by the shit storm surrounding the Sgt. Bergdahl exchange. It was as predictable as the sunrise and I share Jolene’s thought that a Rose Garden announcement may have been a little over the top. I wonder if those five guys are sneaking glances at the sky every few seconds, looking for the drone carrying the Hellfire with their name on it.

    The Rihanna dress is totally tasteless and not appropriate for viewers under some age or other. Somehow I found myself liking it – a lot. It really is well done and Lord knows, she does it justice. Whew!

  33. Dexter said on June 4, 2014 at 1:55 pm

    1965, a small town in Indiana. Boy and girl, she just 15, he 16, fall in love in the summer and make a baby. Boy was sports star, basketball was his game. After a third of the basketball season was over, the news hit the hallways and the principal’s office. An assembly was called in the gymnasium. The two sinners were seated at center court, alone. The principal came out, grabbed a microphone, and began berating the kids in a public shaming. It was awful. The boy was kicked out of sports but allowed to attend classes but no extracurricular anything. The girl disappeared , mums the word, nobody knew where she went. Later on, we heard “the baby died”, that’s all, ever. The next year she was back in school, and she left a blazing trail of sexual partners in her wake as she headed on towards graduation. The non-hideous boys who had nice cars had a lot of fun with her those last two years of high school. (I was riding a bicycle and a Honda 50 then :) ) Over the years I sometimes wondered what happened to that baby…it was hard watching “The Cider House Rules”.

  34. MichaelG said on June 4, 2014 at 1:56 pm

    Whoops! Lost the first paragraph from the comment above.

    I think we are going to be seeing Sgt. Bergdahl for a long time. As of today he is free of the Taliban but he’s not free. He is in military custody. There will be an investigation and tons of speculation and opinion airing concerning the circumstances of his coming into Taliban custody and the prisoner exchange. After the Army reaches its resolution there will be tons of opinions and recriminations about that. There will be a frenzy when (if) he is released from military custody and interviewed on Today and all the other shows. Then the movies will come out. This isn’t going to go away for a long time.

  35. Sherri said on June 4, 2014 at 2:22 pm

    Sometimes, I think that Obama should announce that he’s for eliminating the estate tax and the capital gains tax and instituting a flat tax, just to see how many Republicans then come out for tax increases.

  36. brian stouder said on June 4, 2014 at 2:40 pm

    Sherri – for Thread Win!!

  37. MichaelG said on June 4, 2014 at 3:47 pm

    I was thinking something like that, Sherri. I mean if he’s going to stick his ass into the lawnmower like he did with the Bergdahl thing, maybe he should do it for something that has a bigger national meaning.

  38. Sherri said on June 4, 2014 at 3:55 pm

    I mentioned it to my husband the other day, after I read this about Republican governors, initially the big backers of Common Core, now starting to pull back and move to pull states out of Common Core because the Obama administration embraced it and now it’s an unacceptable federal takeover of schools.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2014/05/30/education/common-core-standards-face-a-new-wave-of-opposition.html?ref=education

  39. Scout said on June 4, 2014 at 4:00 pm

    Jenine @ 28. I agree, it started strong. I kept waiting for that initial promise to return but finally gave up. The protagonist became super annoying with her resistance to her gifts coupled with her lack of common sense regarding the dangers she kept walking into. Just dumb.

  40. Sue said on June 4, 2014 at 4:30 pm

    Mary Elizabeth Williams nails the connection to today’s world:
    “don’t think for one moment that what happened in that corner of Ireland isn’t part of a continuing nightmare for women and children all over the world. Don’t think it isn’t exactly what you get when you let religion run roughshod over human rights. Don’t think this isn’t what happens when women are punished for being pregnant. This is your so-called culture of life.”
    http://www.salon.com/2014/06/04/an_irish_catholic_orphanage_hid_the_bodies_of_800_children/

  41. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on June 4, 2014 at 4:44 pm

    “I love Scooter,” said Solomon. “There’s nothing I wouldn’t do for him.” Yes, Lafayette is a different sort of place. Lived there two years, all of it memorable.

    http://www.newarkadvocate.com/article/20140604/NEWS01/306040033/Investigators-Wife-carried-on-as-man-lay-dead-in-home-for-9-months

  42. brian stouder said on June 4, 2014 at 5:06 pm

    Jeff, wow.

    And I learned the term ‘body ranch’ – and I can definitively say I’d PASS on that!

  43. alex said on June 4, 2014 at 5:07 pm

    Sherri, our right-wing governor embraces both Obamacare and Common Core. He simply renamed them and pretends they’re his own alternative inventions that are better than Obamacare and Common Core, and the stupid Hoosier electorate is none the wiser.

    I suspect the GOP is going to take this page from his playbook and make it their own. And possibly make him their nominee in 2016. Mike Pence has proven himself adept at mollifying the crazies without looking too terribly undignified and his political gifts are exactly what his party needs right now.

  44. Bob (not Greene) said on June 4, 2014 at 5:16 pm

    Jeff TMMO: That house is exactly what I remember when I think of Lafayette> It seems to me very house in the city looked like that. I also spent two years there — well, in West Lafayette. Was glad to leave.

  45. Jolene said on June 4, 2014 at 5:21 pm

    “the stupid Hoosier electorate is none the wiser”

    It’s not just Hoosiers who are easily fooled. There have been many reports from Kentucky re how people prefer KYnect, the name given to the state’s ACA exchange, to that awful Obamacare.

    Similarly, Jimmy Kimmel did a series of man-in-the-street interviews in which the interviewees all said that, as healthcare policy goes, the Affordable Care Act is far superior to Obamacare.

  46. Sherri said on June 4, 2014 at 6:27 pm

    Alex, Indiana has become the first state to enact a law repealing Common Core standards. Granted, that doesn’t mean their new standards will be significantly different.

  47. alex said on June 4, 2014 at 7:16 pm

    And the state GOP Convention is coming to our town this weekend. One high-ranking state official who will be there and whom I’m not going to name was a childhood classmate, a goody two-shoes who was too good to hang around the likes of me when we were children. In early adulthood, he came out as gay to a mutual friend of ours, then mysteriously went back into the closet, got married, made babies and made a career of being a Republican. I always thought of him as a spineless milquetoast and I guess it’s that very quality that has served him so well in his career; in fact he has been lauded for his ability to stay above the political fray in his fractious and crazy party. By coincidence, his mother and mine had been classmates when they were children, and also like us were never particularly good friends.

    He has never been overtly anti-gay to my knowledge, and for that I suppose I can forgive him. I am generally opposed to outing people unless they are asking for it, and as Republicans go he’s not a bomb-thrower or someone who specializes in throwing red meat around. But on some level I’m secretly enjoying (and being creeped out by) the fact that I have power over him potentially — the same power people used to hold over me before I stood up for myself and let them know they couldn’t shame me over something that’s not a secret.

  48. alex said on June 4, 2014 at 7:21 pm

    Sherri, that’s precisely my point. They are exactly the same standards, federal school funding won’t be jeopardized and the state GOP gets political cover and can pretend that it rejected Kenyan socialist voodoo in favor of motherhood, apple pie and Jesus.

  49. Charlotte said on June 4, 2014 at 8:33 pm

    There’s a brouhaha here where the local wackos are connecting dots that aren’t there between a book they want to ban from the high school library (that they keep stealing out of the collection), Common Core, and the John Birch-era Communist plot to take over America.

    And when the contrails cross in the sky, they’re beaming us with government takeover rays.

  50. Sherri said on June 4, 2014 at 8:45 pm

    Meanwhile, Washington, even though it adopted Common Core, is losing its NCLB waiver because the legislature refused to adopt legislation tying teacher evaluation to test scores. So, guess what? Since NCLB required 100% proficiency by 2014, Washington’s schools will all be failing next year! Isn’t that helpful!

  51. Deborah said on June 4, 2014 at 9:16 pm

    Off topic but targeting gardening folks here. I was so sure I had killed off many of the lavender plants we planted last spring, but lo and be hold they are thriving. They’re really bushy and have lots of stems ready to blossom. I was astounded, when I left at the end of April I thought they were goners. Since I’ve been back I’ve been embolden by the unexpected lavender success and have bought some more plants, some Russian sage (I bought 8 plants, they look pretty spindly now but I’ve heard that they take over pretty quickly and get quite voluminous). I also got a lilac bush that I have high hopes for. I love lilacs and they do quite well in Santa Fe. Also geraniums which I’m not that crazy about but have read they do well in full sun which we have a lot of. If anyone can give me advice as to how to keep these plants alive I’ll be so grateful.

  52. alex said on June 4, 2014 at 9:53 pm

    Deborah, I wish I could figure out how to make Russian sage really take like a strong perennial. Other people swear by it. I plant it and it never does diddly and doesn’t come back. And I have a lilac that is looking relatively strong for the first time in the nine years I’ve been here because I hacked off a huge portion of it that wasn’t exactly dead but wasn’t exactly producing much foliage or flowers. Now it looks diminutive but very happy.

    It has been an unusual year. One spirea sputtered out with barely a blossom while another stole the whole show for about two weeks. I had several forsythia die and the big one that lived barely flowered at all. Several box hedges have freezer-burned leaves and aren’t toasty dead but aren’t all that lively either. And our lake was full of dead fish, and though I didn’t see any myself, I heard numerous reports of dead turtles as well–large ones.

    Fortunately in the last few weeks it’s evident that there are still plenty of living fish, and the turtles that lay eggs on my property in the same place on the same day every year still showed up. They’re an unusually oblong type of turtle that could be taken for a baked potato at first blush but for having extremities and a gait.

    The number of ticks and mosquitoes observed this year so far seems out of the ordinary.

  53. Julie Robinson said on June 4, 2014 at 10:16 pm

    No blooms on our lilac, forsythia, dogwood, or weeping cherry, but the fuschia, which I was ready to tear out, had a banner year. I don’t know anything about gardening in your climate, Deborah, but I bet the Extension Service has great resources.

  54. beb said on June 4, 2014 at 10:18 pm

    Since Benghazi just can’t get any legs under it as a scandal, I think the right has coalesced around Bowe Bergdahl as the new scandal du jour. And it’s hilarious that many Republicans are busily scrubbing the web pages of any prior comments about how shameful it was that ‘that guy’ hadn’t done anything to bring him home. No talk then about him being a deserter or weak on Islam-hating. But if Obama’s for it; then they’re ag’in it so now he’s the worst traitor since Benedict Arnold.

    I read that the tax rate on the income of Hedge Fund managers was set by IRS decree rather than any part of the congressional tax code. Which means that if the President wanted, he could direct the Secretary of the Treasury to reclassify the income from Hedge Fund managers from carried interest (20%) to regular interest (36%) and there’s nothing Congress could do about it. Since he won;t make any friends playing nice, he might as well per-emptively close one of the more egacious loop-holes in the tax code. And watch their heads explode….

  55. basset said on June 4, 2014 at 10:46 pm

    Deborah, as you have seen from your current successes lavender needs to be very well drained and doesn’t do well at all in heavy dirt. We just have one planter, the lavender’s sitting in a combination of local yard and peat moss. We also found some organic eco-hippie fertilizer, “Happy Frog,” which seems to work great on just about everything we have in the ground.

  56. Deborah said on June 4, 2014 at 10:49 pm

    Yuck Alex, ticks give me the creeps. They don’t have them in northern NM thank goodness. I never encountered them until I went to Beaver Brook in upstate NY last summer (late summer). I followed all of the precautions, light colored clothing by day and personal inspections in the shower. I never saw a tick but I sure worried about it. I heard some horror stories from people who had contracted Lyme disease. I really hope I never have to deal with that.

  57. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on June 4, 2014 at 11:10 pm

    Bob nG, I lived in West Layflat for five years, and across the river in Lafayette for two. Lafayette wasn’t Austin, but it had a weird all its own.

  58. Jolene said on June 4, 2014 at 11:17 pm

    “No blooms on our lilac, forsythia, dogwood, or weeping cherry . . .”

    Wow, Julie. Reading this almost made me cry. To survive, once again, the long Midwestern winter and not be rewarded by these blossoms is heartbreaking. My sympathy, really.

  59. Julie Robinson said on June 5, 2014 at 12:07 am

    Well, the tulips and daffodils did pretty well, the bleeding heart and lily of the valley did quite well, and the azaleas were amazing. And now we’ve got annuals, and winter seems a long time ago.

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