Amateur hour.

Alan and I went to the movies Saturday night, in another congressional district. Our stroll from parking lot to theater took us past a couple of yard signs for a candidate for something. I noted that I would be disinclined to like him based on the verb on his very simple signs: Not “vote” for the man in question, but “hire” him.

That one word tells me so much — that he’s likely one of those guys who thinks “making a payroll” is a core skill for the office, because running a plumbing supply house has so much to do with tax policy and balancing the greater good with constituent service.

I thought of that guy when I read Neil Steinberg’s excellent blog making the case against voting for Bruce Rauner for governor of Illinois. Like a lot of great writing, it starts out being about one thing, and takes its time getting to the thing it’s actually about, and makes you sit back and say, Of course. It’s hard not to break my three-paragraph preview rule with this one:

The Curse of the Amateur often afflicts wealthy men in late middle age. Having succeeded wildly in one field, their egos and ignorance are such they assume they can march into some other completely unrelated area and master that too. Henry Ford, fresh from his success at selling Model Ts, decided he would end World War I. He didn’t. Bill Gates, having made a fortune in software, decided to end the woes of Africa. He didn’t. Those woes turned out to be a problem bigger than money.

Can anyone glance at Republican gubernatorial candidate Bruce Rauner and not recognize the Curse of the Amateur? Here’s a guy, 57 years old, who never ran for anything, forget being elected to any public office. He’s someone who has never performed any kind of public service beyond very recently, after he decided he would be governor and started suddenly funding schools and firehosing the money he has so much of this way and that and calling it civic mindedness.

So he campaigns. And his ignorance of, his contempt for, the job he would take on, is so great, that he presents his utter lack of experience as his most enticing attribute. It’s pure hypocrisy. Who can imagine that Rauner would accept that logic in his own affairs? Who believes that anyone could go to him and say, “You know, your Excelo Widget Company isn’t doing so well. I am uncorrupted by any sort of experience making or selling widgets, so am just the man for you to bring in as CEO.”

Yes, exactly. I live in a different state than Steinberg, but this argument is common in politicking these days, and it never fails to rankle.

(A side note to rant about autocorrect, which is starting to loom as a major factor in my writing life these days. For every time it spares me from having to stop typing and fix a few transposed letters, it leads me into dangerous waters in another area. For example, when I wrote “Neil Steinberg” up there, it changed the surname to “Sternberg.” WTF? Apple has an autocorrect that doesn’t understand proper names? This is pissing me off. That said, I’m sure there’s a setting that can be tweaked, and J.C. will write to inform me of it shortly.)

The movie we saw Saturday was “Birdman,” (which autocorrect just changed to “Birman,” grr) and all of you with an interest in art, theater, compromise, self-doubt and any related theme are encouraged to go see it. I’m trying to keep up with the Oscar contenders this year, rather than trying to cram them all into the holiday weeks and/or on-demand cable in February. Last week we saw “Gone Girl,” which I was surprised to like quite a lot — far better than the book, which had me eye-rolling and skipping pages by the final chapters.

The other day I mentioned my love of boxing, and a few of you shuddered. I hope you will put your bad feelings aside and read this great profile of Bernard Hopkins, still defending two of the four major light-heavyweight belts at the astonishing age of 49. This passage sums up what I’ve started to appreciate in boxing, why I watch on the Saturday nights that HBO or Showtime has a card going:

Unlike most other boxers, who train down to their fighting weight only when they have a bout coming up, Hopkins keeps himself right around the 175-pound light-heavyweight limit. Fight people marvel at the ascetic rigor that has kept him perpetually in superb shape for almost three decades, his habit of returning to the gym first thing Monday morning after a Saturday-night fight, the list of pleasurable things he won’t eat, drink or do. But to fetishize the no-nonsense perfection of his body, which displays none of the extraneous defined muscular bulk that impresses fans but doesn’t help win fights, is to miss what makes Hopkins an exemplar of sustaining and extending powers that are supposed to be in natural decline. He has no peer in the ability to strategize both the round-by-round conduct of a fight and also the shifts and adjustments entailed by an astonishingly long career in the hurt business. He has kept his body supple and fit enough to obey his fighting mind, but it’s the continuing suppleness of that mind, as he strategizes, that has always constituted his principal advantage.

Opponents don’t worry about facing his speed or power. They fear what’s going on in his head.

A great read.

The week upcoming is going to be a crusher, with the election and yours truly working around it. So I warn you of the usual holes, gaps and scantiness, but I’ll try. In the meantime, I leave you with one more take on Ben Bradlee, which you should read just to get to this passage:

Meanwhile, the Post’s op-ed pages — that hotbed of stupendously clueless commentary that was separated from the Outlook section in 2009 — prominently featured on the same Sunday a piece to warm the cockles of Hayward’s heart: a fire-breathing offering from former Hewlett-Packard head and indefatigable John McCain crony Carly Fiorina. This bold tocsin, titled “A time for businesses to stand up to activists,” derides climate change activists who have targeted corporate boards in an effort to jump-start action on global warming. In Fiorina’s fanciful telling, business leaders now cringe in fear before a disciplined cadre of “well-organized, professional activists intent on chilling speech and marginalizing the voice of business and job creators in U.S. society … Their attacks on business’ protected speech and political participation are intended to sideline the entrepreneurial perspective and silence the opportunity for nuanced policy discussions.” Never mind that a standing armada of industry lobbyists has kept progress on climate change legislation on total lockdown for the past decade.

Let me pose a follow-up question to Ignatius’ sermon. Why would Bradlee’s old paper publish such patently distorted, power-coddling twaddle? I know from bitter experience that op-ed shops at major papers routinely repurpose these corporate PR briefs in their pages because they professionally adhere to a phony centrism. They believe that responsible journalism is the equivalent of a cuckoo clock display, in which one side warbles at the other and then retires to await its next formulaic set-to an hour hence. How can we have a nuanced debate, after all, if the poor speech-challenged business and job creators who already bankroll the entire electoral process aren’t also protected from dissenting views in their boardrooms or on editorial pages?

And don’t forget to vote, if you haven’t already.

Posted at 12:52 pm in Current events, Movies |

76 responses to “Amateur hour.”

  1. Deborah said on November 2, 2014 at 1:24 pm

    I sent my absentee ballot in Friday. I received it finally Thursday, I was afraid I wouldn’t get it in time. I voted for Quinn for a second term as guv of Illinois. Rauner seems like a jerk.

    I had to look up tocsin. I had never come across that word before.

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  2. susan said on November 2, 2014 at 3:15 pm

    So many people complain about “auto-correct.” Can you not disable that function?

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  3. Deborah said on November 2, 2014 at 4:08 pm

    I’ve thought about disabling auto-correct but most of the time it helps a lot, especially when I type on my iPhone with my clumsy fingers (finger really, I mostly just use my index finger). So I keep auto-correct but sometimes it drives me crazy.

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  4. Deborah said on November 2, 2014 at 4:18 pm

    Little Bird is making noodles for chicken noodle soup for the guys in Abiquiu tomorrow. I’m make bread (rolls really) to go with it. It’s going to be cold tomorrow and we want them to have a hot meal. We’ve been providing lunch for them every day that they’re out there. Sometimes we cook it, or heat it up on a fire in the firepit and sometimes it’s sandwiches and salads, that kind of thing. They seem to really appreciate it. We all sit down together and chat while we eat. I’ve heard some great stories from these guys. One of the guys did a lot of work for Dennis Hopper in Taos, you can imagine what kind of stories he had to tell. Tomorrow is our last day for them to be working out there this fall. I’m going to miss them and am looking forward to getting back together with them in the spring when we continue the process.

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  5. Jolene said on November 2, 2014 at 4:21 pm

    I dropped my cellphone a while ago and killed the screen. Replaced it with a Samsung Galaxy S5, and I am really impressed with its predictive editor. Not sure that’s the right term, but it is really excellent at figuring out what I want to say. The new iPad Air 2 is also very good, but the Samsung phone may be even better.

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  6. Deborah said on November 2, 2014 at 4:26 pm

    I should add that since Little Bird’s surgery she has done the food prep in Santa Fe and then I took it out to the site, and as I said heat it up over the fire pit if it needs it. Sometimes she’s had her leg propped up on a stool while she cooks or chops or whatnot.

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  7. Deborah said on November 2, 2014 at 5:23 pm

    Sorry, #6 is a mess grammatically. Sorry about that.

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  8. Jolene said on November 2, 2014 at 5:50 pm

    Steinberg’s blog piece is great, and I love the Kerouac quote at the top. If I’ve learned anything in all these years, it’s that doing anything important, especially anything involving politics and social change, requires persistence–working the angles and the details, again and again, over time.

    But I wish he had chosen a different example than Bill Gates to illustrate the perils of interventions by amateurs. I know that if he is not entirely popular in these parts, but if there is anything Gates has not set out to do it is to “end the woes of Africa.” Everything I’ve seen in my occasional reading about the activities of his foundation indicates that they are very focused and specific, very tied to what works in a specific context, and deeply concerned with assessing their results and adjusting their methods as warranted. For instance, they have been working to eradicate polio in Nigeria, Pakistan, and Afghanistan. It’s a very difficult enterprise (one that was complicated, in Pakistan, by the CIA), but they have systems in place that will allow them to keep after it. The goal is to reach eradication by 2018.

    Evidence of the effectiveness of their system-building is that, when the Liberian visitor brought Ebola to Nigeria, they were able to shift their vaccination teams into contact tracing and other suppression efforts, and the Ebola outbreak in Nigeria was stopped.

    I’m not familiar with everything they do, but I know that they are working with Atul Gawande to develop checklists, as he did for use in American surgical suites, that Indian midwives can use to cut the rate of maternal death. He also sponsored a contest to encourage people to design toilets to improve sanitation and, thereby, reduce disease in countries where there is no government-operated sewage system.

    There’s a ton of information available at their web site about what they do, and, if what they say about themselves is remotely true, they are all about identifying problems that can be fixed, defining systematic ways to address them, and keeping track of the outcomes they are achieving. Their work is much closer to the spirit of the Kerouac quote than Steinberg gives them credit for.

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  9. David C. said on November 2, 2014 at 6:15 pm

    Auto-correct saves my dyslexic ass nearly every sentence. I think it’s the best thing ever.

    I don’t know much about what the Gates Foundation is doing in Africa, but his ideas on school reform show not much understanding of how education works. Measuring education is nearly impossible because what does an educated person know? I’m believe I’m pretty well educated and I know physics very well and enough math to do the physics I need to do. If I had to take a reading test, I don’t think I would do well. Reading is very difficult for me (see my first paragraph). His emphasis on measurement, without correlation it seems to me, is an amateur who is able to swing big pipe because of and only because of his money.

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  10. brian stouder said on November 2, 2014 at 6:26 pm

    David C – AMEN, brother!!

    The one public issue that I’m passionate about is public education, and the Gates money hose (in conjunction with the Waltons and other billionaires who think they know how to run everything, and to hell with what voters or others have to say) has done – and is continuing to do – all sorts of terrible damage to our public schools.

    The whole lot of them can go to hell, as far as I’m concerned.

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  11. alex said on November 2, 2014 at 6:27 pm

    Cheers for Steinberg and Lehmann! I wish I had it in me to write like either of them.

    Alas, the idea that success in the upper echelons of business translates into competency in all endeavors is what’s being taught in MBA school and is why we have people like Mitt Romney thinking they’re entitled to lead (although it doesn’t help that Romney’s father felt exactly the same way fifty years ago without benefit of such an education). Carly Fiorina, who thinks it’s enough to have been the first woman to lead Hewlett-Packard (never mind she was the first CEO to leave it nearly in ruins) also thinks she is fit to govern. Their egos are as big as Bill Clinton’s, but Clinton somehow manages to be likable while those two are about the most unsympathetic public personages of all time.

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  12. Jolene said on November 2, 2014 at 6:55 pm

    David C., of course, in college and as adults, we develop different kinds of expertise. But if we cannot find a sensible way to measure the basic skills in reading, math, and reasoning that kids are meant to acquire in K-12 education, I think we have to give up on the idea of quality in education. How would we know if a teacher or school is at all effective if we can’t see the results in the knowledge and skills of the students?

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  13. Jolene said on November 2, 2014 at 7:07 pm

    Also, don’t confuse Gates with people who advocate charter schools or other forms of for-profit education. As far as I know, most of their work in education has focused on improving public schools. You can read about the foundation’s goals in education here:

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  14. Deborah said on November 2, 2014 at 7:11 pm

    Didn’t Howard Gardener talk about multiple intelligences and how the education system had focused on only one or two types for many years and it still seems to. Are they testing for all of the kinds of intelligence he describes? I think not.

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  15. Basset said on November 2, 2014 at 7:14 pm

    Deborah, when those guys need a beer at the end of the day do you bring em PABST! BLUE! RIBBON?

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  16. Deborah said on November 2, 2014 at 7:28 pm

    I HATE the end of daylight savings time. It’s only 5:17 in Santa Fe and it seems like midnight . It doesn’t help that today was uncharacteristic of NM to be cold, rainy and dreary.

    Basset, I don’t understand your question, but I’ve not supplied any beer to the crew. I don’t think PBR, would be my choice, nor theirs, if I had. They are a bunch of nice guys who’ve done a terrific job and I’m just really grateful for their hard and accurate work.

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  17. brian stouder said on November 2, 2014 at 7:28 pm

    Jolene – I can see the need for benchmark testing, but these power brokers (and that’s what Gates is) are simply vandalizing public education.

    Gates’ pattern is to heavily subsidize a thing – for example, his belief that smaller schools are the educational panacea; and then when it doesn’t pan-out – woopsie, we’ll drop that and pursue some other unproven theory. This whole Time magazine thing, where the panacea is to FIRE ALL THE DAMNED TEACHERS!! (financially backed by another silicon valley daddy warbucks, who thinks he knows everything) is just the latest piece of ‘gee whizz, THIS might work’ fecal matter that these bastards are foisting off on us.

    But, think of the intellectual incoherence encapsulated in the Vergara decision, the California lawsuit that Time focused on, wherein the undocumented theory is that there are 3-4% of teachers that are incompetent, AND protected by tenure, therefore we must scrap tenure and fire any and all teaching professionals at will!

    Mind you, all tenure ensures is a fair process wherein a teaching professional has due process before he or she gets whacked.

    Judging teachers by their students’ performance on the latest damned ‘color in the circle’ high-stakes test (and Gates is a big supporter of Common Core) is fundamentally flawed system, wherein affluent suburban bastards (a lot like the crowd that lives in Silicon Valley, etc) can tut-tut at urban schools who have lots of individuals with only one parent in the house – or no parents in the house, and/or who go to school hungry, and/or who don’t speak english yet (‘english language learners’ – ELL)…it’s a rigged damned game wherein the goal is to shutter large urban schools and open for-profit CAFO-style cubicle farms (for example) that don’t even HAVE teachers, but rather unprofessional supervisors, while the students fool with computers all day long. (see – Ohio)

    etc etc etc.

    I believe in elected local school boards controlling ALL public money, and all public education. If Gates (et al) want to send their kids to private schools – more power to them.

    But I will end up protesting in the streets, with all the rest of the urban rif-raf (so to speak) if sons of bitches like them knock down my public schools

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  18. Jolene said on November 2, 2014 at 8:17 pm

    I think you carry your indignation too far, Brian. For the record, Gates has advocated decoupling implementation of the Common Core from assessment. The idea is to give the schools and teachers time to learn how to shape their teaching methods to help the students meet the standards. Remember that the Common Core was not invented by the Department of Education, the Gates Foundation, or any other well-heeled reformer. The program was developed by educators and state-level education officials.

    I agree that there are far too many kids who come to school poorly equipped to profit from the experience. But, aside from adequate nutrition, there is nothing those kids need more than excellent teachers. When I have heard Gates speak on this issue (which hasn’t been in detail), he has said that student outcomes for those taught by the best teachers are dramatically different than those taught by the poorest teachers. Hardly seems revolutionary. His primary goal, so far as teaching is concerned, seems to be helping to figure out effective teaching strategies and supporting efforts to help teachers acquire those skills.

    New teachers have, historically, taken on full responsibility for managing a classroom straight out of college with modest guidance and feedback on their efforts. The school day has provided, at best, limited opportunities for teachers to discuss their practice with each other and to learn from the best among them. The turnover rate among young teachers is very high. Surely, it is worth figuring out how to help teachers succeed, both to cut down on the wasteful throughput of barely trained teachers and to raise the odds that each child will have an excellent teacher.

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  19. Jolene said on November 2, 2014 at 8:19 pm

    Also, local control, in many aspects of American life, has been a recipe for inequity. It sounds good, but it’s not magic.

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  20. brian stouder said on November 2, 2014 at 8:38 pm

    Jolene – I have tremendous respect for your viewpoints in general, if not for public education in particular.

    Diane Ravitch has been all over this subject matter, and she may well affect your views, if you give her a whirl:

    She’s been to the rodeo, where the rubber meets the road in classrooms, and at the pinnacle of Federal power.

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  21. brian stouder said on November 2, 2014 at 8:40 pm

    (make that Federal education policy formulating, I believe under Presidents Bush and Clinton)

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  22. Sherri said on November 2, 2014 at 8:42 pm

    The biggest problem with the Gates Foundation is simply its size. When Gates decides to pursue something, that’s the direction the entire field goes, because the GF has so much money. Other ideas tend to get dropped in pursuit of Gates money.

    Jolene, Gates does support charter schools. He was the biggest funder of the initiative here a couple of years ago to allow charter school in Washington (which finally passed after Washington had rejected charter schools multiple times.)
    He’s supported charter schools elsewhere as well, and the foundation has given grants to charter schools. One question I’ve never heard an answer to but have always been curious about: how many successful charter schools would succeed without the grant money they get from Gates, Broad, Walton et al?

    There is no magic in public education. Local control is a recipe for inequity, as you note, but control by our corporate masters isn’t much better.

    Carly Fiorina is hated among many old time HP people I know.

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  23. Deborah said on November 2, 2014 at 8:46 pm

    As a former teacher, many moons ago, let me say it is a thankless job that surprises me that people stay in the profession. It is grueling, the payoff is so hard to find. It’s certainly not the salary and the appreciation is so hard to find. My hat is off to teachers who train for it and stick with it. They should be paid a shitload more than they get now for all they do. As I’ve said here before, Little Bird went to private schools from kindergarten through twelfth grade. I never felt put upon to pay tax dollars for public schools one bit. If that would have worked for her, it would definitely have been an option.

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  24. Deborah said on November 2, 2014 at 9:00 pm

    I just read that Britanny Maynard has died. RIP.

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  25. David C. said on November 2, 2014 at 9:01 pm

    I’ve never read well and always done math well. Does that mean my teachers were failures as reading teachers and geniuses at teaching math? It only means that my brain is wired differently. I don’t think anyone knew what dyslexia was in the ’60s when I went to school or at least word didn’t get to Kettle Lake Elementary. The only educational correlation that seems to work is to parental income. I notice raising incomes never comes up. Interesting, eh?

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  26. adrianne said on November 2, 2014 at 9:35 pm

    Son No. 2 is an elementary education major (rare for a guy) and has many opinions about Common Core, testing mandates and charter schools. We’ll see what he thinks after he earns his degree. Of all the appalling things that Andrew Cuomo has uttered as New York’s governor, the worst has been his recent denunciation of the “public monopoly” on K-12 education. Um, isn’t that what public EDUCATION is all about? My two sons have benefited from public education in the Empire State, and so have thousands of other kids.

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  27. MarkH said on November 2, 2014 at 9:55 pm

    It’s true about Brittany Maynard. And on the day she apparently originally chose. Startling, at least for me, considering yesterday’s discussion here.

    RIP indeed.

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  28. MichaelG said on November 2, 2014 at 10:11 pm

    Given that I have Stage IV lung cancer (which has miraculously gone into suspension) it should be no surprise that I have more than a passing interest in Brittany Maynard and her story. As of now, I have an excellent quality of life. I have no pain and am able to do most anything I have ever done – minus a step or two. I am 70 after all. The extremely aggressive chemotherapy regimen I experienced left me with very diminished strength and my – well – my procreative abilities seem to have been left by the wayside. To put it indelicately, since chemo, I haven’t been able to get it up with a crane.

    Having said all that, I am happy with what I do have and am able to live a very good life. I’m planning to go back to Barcelona and over to France in mid-January. I would go sooner but for the holidays. I plan to go somewhere else shortly after that. I’ll figure out where later.

    At some point the cancer may (will? – I’m trying to be optimistic here) kick back in and I will be faced with all that end of life stuff. I have no desire to spend my last couple of months in extreme pain and struggling to gasp for a breath. You better believe there will come a time when I plan to go all Brittany on folks and check out on my terms. As an ever lazy sucker, I haven’t yet started researching the ways and means but when the time comes it won’t take long.

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  29. Deggjr said on November 2, 2014 at 10:42 pm

    Education. One of our children teaches in an urban school. She says kids chew on their ID cards because of frequent tooth aches. No dental care. No one would do their academic best with tooth pain.

    When Paul Vallas ran in the Democratic primary for Illinois governor one of his claimed accomplishments was to provide eyeglasses to children who needed them. The result, according to his ads, was higher test scores.

    Schools have figured out that hungry children don’t learn well and provide subsidized lunches. Maybe some of the other physical issues can get worked out and the ‘failing public schools’ can fail less often.

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  30. David C. said on November 3, 2014 at 6:24 am

    My niece started her first teaching job this past September at a charter in Saginaw, MI. Her salary is less than my company pays for a fresh out of college (associates degree) drafter. I don’t imagine there is going to be a long line-up to replace all these bad teachers we’re told about.

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  31. alex said on November 3, 2014 at 6:28 am

    I’ve known a number of teachers who have left the profession in recent years because they no longer are allowed to give any input on curricula or textbooks or to teach as they see fit. One described her hellish high school English teaching job as having to teach the same class five times per day, two semesters per year, year after year. She had no input whatsoever. She couldn’t deviate from the script. Any idiot could have done her job so it was a waste of her talents. I know several people who took early retirement and now serve as adjunct faculty in local colleges and love what they’re doing even if the pay’s for shit because they get to be real teachers again.

    By the way, why has the cost of attending a state university increased so disproportionately over the years when there are fewer tenured faculty than ever and the schools rely so heavily on poorly paid adjuncts and graduate assistants? It’s not like the real value of a college degree has increased any. In fact it commands a whole lot less respect these days than it did.

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  32. jcburns said on November 3, 2014 at 6:52 am

    As you wish Nancy: this post shows you how to disable or otherwise customize the iPhone/iPad keyboard using iOS8. It’s all voodoo to me.

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  33. Heather said on November 3, 2014 at 8:08 am

    With you on spellcheck. In my job I write about academic degrees, and it’s always automatically capitalizing the first word after “Ph.D.” or whatever. In Outlook, it won’t even let me correct it.

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  34. Julie Robinson said on November 3, 2014 at 8:10 am

    Yesterday I was talking with someone who was a teacher, then downsized to classroom aide when her first grandchild was born, so she could help in the baby’s care. Even though she is paid less, her job satisfaction has gone way up, since she doesn’t have to do all the paperwork. She talked about the very long hours teachers work just dealing with all the bureaucratic tasks, and isn’t convinced any of it helps their teaching. She says most of them feel beaten down.

    I concur with Nancy’s opinion of Gone Girl the book. What thoroughly unpleasant characters and improbable plot. I still don’t understand its best-seller status.

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  35. Basset said on November 3, 2014 at 8:14 am

    Deborah@16, that PBR business was one of the few movie references I can make… Dennis Hopper in “Blue Velvet” expressing his preference for Pabst over Heineken. It’s on YouTube, language nsfw.

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  36. linda said on November 3, 2014 at 8:16 am

    Julie, I don’t read fiction, but my sister despised the ending of GoneGirl, to the.point of begging people NOT to read it.

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  37. beb said on November 3, 2014 at 8:34 am

    Why we keep electing bad politicians:

    The media sees what it wants to see and overlooks too many inconvenient truths.

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  38. brian stouder said on November 3, 2014 at 8:53 am

    Beb, interesting article; thanks!

    (Ms Maddow touches on the meme theme with some regularity, including specifically the castration woman’s whacky gun/Agenda-21 views…but she’s not ‘mainstream’ – more like ‘little creek’!)

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  39. Connie said on November 3, 2014 at 8:59 am

    Put me in the group of readers who didn’t care for “Gone Girl”. I felt cheated.

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  40. Dorothy said on November 3, 2014 at 9:16 am

    Charlotte I sent you a friend request but it went to you “other” folder in message, so you’ll have to check there to approve it.

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  41. brian stouder said on November 3, 2014 at 9:28 am

    Connie – you reminded me that this past Sunday Chloe said that we should go to the library, so she and I saddled up and rolled to the ACPL-main branch, and we were both quite taken by their ‘day of the dead’ display. Anyone was welcome to write a thing or two on an index card, and place it on display, so Chloe forthrightly picked up a pen and wrote a sentence or two about her grandma, and stuck it on the board. Then, we were off to the stacks, where she selected three books, and as we departed, an art exhibit near the main entrance caught our eyes, and we spent an enjoyable ½ hour there, taking all that in. Good stuff, all around

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  42. Bitter Scribe said on November 3, 2014 at 10:25 am

    As admirable as Bradlee was, I’m glad I never tried to work for the man. Some of his methods, like setting two reporters to work on exactly the same story to see who did it better, sound like pure sadistic bullshit.

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  43. Joe K said on November 3, 2014 at 11:05 am

    Speaking of movies, I saw st. Vincent last night. My opinion, Bill Murry should at the least get a Oscar nomination, I personally wanted to walk out of Tammy, but Mellisa Mcartney is fantastic in this one along with the kid who plays her son. Go see it and watch the credits, Bill Murray, being Bill Murray. Brilliant!
    Ran 8 miles on the Virginia Creeper Trail this morning in Abingdon, crossed 4 bridges, just gorgeous down here today, there was snow in the higher elevations on the way down.
    Pilot Joe

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  44. adrianne said on November 3, 2014 at 11:41 am

    Joe K., agree with you on “St. Vincent.” I think Bill Murray is a seriously underrated acting genius. And the boy who plays Oliver was fantastic.

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  45. Dorothy said on November 3, 2014 at 2:14 pm

    We saw St. Vincent last Tuesday and really loved it. When Birdman comes out, I plan to see it ASAP, as long as it’s not tech week for my next show. I’d give anything to sit down and have a meal with Michael Keaton.

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  46. brian stouder said on November 3, 2014 at 2:15 pm

    Say, I thought I felt an earth tremor, but then I read that the New Jersey Governor is in Michigan today, on election-eve(now THERE’S a “Bridge” lead-in if I ever saw one!)

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  47. Sherri said on November 3, 2014 at 2:54 pm

    RIP, Tom Magliozzi.

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    • nancy said on November 3, 2014 at 2:57 pm

      And from Al’s Hammer, too. I had no idea.

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  48. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on November 3, 2014 at 2:59 pm

    Speaking of Day of the Dead –

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  49. brian stouder said on November 3, 2014 at 4:01 pm

    Good stuff, Jeff!

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  50. Bob (not Greene) said on November 3, 2014 at 4:24 pm

    Yeah Al’s hammer. That thing is a bitch. What were you saying about autocorrect, Nancy?

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  51. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on November 3, 2014 at 4:36 pm

    The director of Children Services and I appeared before a closed meeting of the largest Tea Party group in our county (there’s three claiming the chapeau), and it was interesting. Fuller narrative report later . . . but the upshot is that they never “endorse” tax issues — what they do is choose not to make a public objection to some. They did not object to the Licking County (OH) Children Services levy. #Winning!

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  52. Charlotte said on November 3, 2014 at 5:19 pm

    Hey Nance — did you see this?

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  53. Scout said on November 3, 2014 at 5:45 pm

    Damn you, autocorrect! I’m sick of your shirt!

    The Steinberg excerpt illustrates perfectly how I feel about CEO candidates. It’s frustrating that people think it’s a good idea to give “the job” of governing to someone who has total disdain for government, and continually vote for big mouths who seem to have no idea why it’s a good idea to have a properly functioning one. Drown it in a bathtub… pffft, I say to that.

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  54. Deborah said on November 3, 2014 at 6:54 pm

    I’m just checking in after our last construction day for the season in Abiquiu. I’m sorry to hear about the Car Talk guy, I loved that program.

    The mountains have snow on them now, the drive to Abiquiu was even more beautiful. I love it when the leaves are still golden and the mountains are snow capped.

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  55. Jolene said on November 3, 2014 at 7:02 pm

    It’s interesting that Magliozzi retired from Car Talk only two years before he died. In my limited experience, the decline due to Alzheimer’s is much longer than that. The people I’ve known who have died in that way would never have been able to do a radio show within two years of their deaths.

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  56. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on November 3, 2014 at 7:24 pm

    Alzheimer’s is a sheaf of neurological diseases under a common heading; sometimes it is fast (not that two years seems fast to the patient or family), and sometimes it’s ten-plus years. The fast sort tends to also kill the sufferer by making the brain forget to manage basic functions, a sort of harsh mercy. We have fellow parishoners here with over ten year profiles of Alz/dementia (they wouldn’t know for sure until an autopsy, and families often say “what’s the use”), and they are still strong and healthy in body, but the mind is gone only on certain levels.

    May the neuroscientists continue their near weekly advances in understanding and halting this truly nasty illness.

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  57. Deborah said on November 3, 2014 at 10:12 pm

    Is there any data out there that shit Harkin says about Earnst makes any difference? I mean comparing her to looking like Taylor Swift is lame. But do people at the last minute say they’re going to vote thier conscience over it, does that really happen? Maybe we won’t know until tomorrow?

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  58. Dave said on November 4, 2014 at 12:35 am

    Jolene, that was my thought, too. With the experiences we’ve had with my mother, I wondered how in the world he was doing a radio show a short two years ago. Of course, they may have been carrying him, so to speak, or maybe he came to life when talking about cars. I truly wonder.

    Visiting my mother, one never knows what the reception will be. She recently told us she has only two children, which means three of us get left out, we couldn’t discover who. The other folks residing with her are equally or more confused, such as the lady who asks so sweetly nearly every minute, if we’ve ever been to Alabama. Such an awful disease.

    Looking forward to reading about the Licking County TP’ers. I made the mistake of listening to Brian’s favorite local host today while out running errands and I believe all the local folks were calling in, rah, rah, rah.

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  59. Julie Robinson said on November 4, 2014 at 7:29 am

    After watching three family members with the slow, agonizing form of Alzheimer’s, I’d consider the short term version not a harsh mercy, but a welcome one. For all three it was 10-15 years and the last couple were rotten. My heart goes out to you, Dave, as well as anyone else whose loved ones are fighting it.

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  60. brian stouder said on November 4, 2014 at 8:07 am

    I voted about 30 minutes ago; a fairly long ballot, with lots of uncontested Republicans blanketed across it.

    Generally I skip uncontested races all together, but I DID vote to retain Judge Surbeck and Heath, and prosecutor Richards, all of whom I like.

    Plus, YES to the County Executive question, and a vote for Anne Duff for school board (and Julie Hollingsworth, who I like) and it was time to go.

    Probably 4 minutes, from entering the building to pressing the red button. (I DO miss the old clunky mechanical voting machines, upon which you threw the lever to open the curtain and cast your vote, when you were done)

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  61. alex said on November 4, 2014 at 8:12 am

    Too bad I don’t live in Liz Brown’s district (or maybe it’s a blessing) but I’d love to vote against that crass imbecile. Likewise with Bob “Cookie Monster” Morris. Did you get the chance to vote against either of those teabagging twits, Brian?

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  62. brian stouder said on November 4, 2014 at 8:20 am

    I got to vote against the crass one, but I don’t recall seeing cookie monster (although I’d certainly have voted against him!)

    The one R I would have been tempted to vote for was Carbaugh – because I’ve met him and argued with him, but in the end Gerardot was the only way I could possibly vote

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  63. Jolene said on November 4, 2014 at 8:39 am

    Chris Cillizza, Waco political reporter, gives us an Election Day playlist.

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  64. Jolene said on November 4, 2014 at 8:40 am

    That’s WaPo, not Waco.

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  65. brian stouder said on November 4, 2014 at 8:41 am

    Over the past few months, the County Executive question really threw me into a spin.

    My first reflex was to be against it, as it looked (to me) like a bid by the county Republican machine to pound on metropolitan Fort Wayne (especially given friend-of-NN.c Mark GiaQuinta’s truthful quip that the Allen County Republicans could elect a giraffe, if they put one on the ballot).

    But community leaders that I respect support the idea, most especially including Dr Wendy Robinson of FWCS. She signed an article in the Sunday JG a fortnight ago, along with several others, that was in support of County Executive. I got the opportunity to ask her about that at the last school board meeting, and she convinced me that this IS a good idea, so I voted ‘Yes’ for that.

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  66. beb said on November 4, 2014 at 9:03 am

    Scout @53 gave me a good laugh this morning.

    My daughter tells me that Tumblr is encouraging people to vote by putting a “I voted” watermark on a member’s avatar after they report that they’d voted. It’s cool.

    I will be glad the political advertising will be over after today. I voted against the three heavily advertised Supreme Court justices because i was sick of the ads. Also because the ads touted how they were tough on sexual predators. First of all, I wasn’t aware we had a plague of sexual predators. Secondly, standard sentencing guidelines are already pretty tough, and thirdly, Supreme Court justices don’t make sentences in criminal trials. So this was all Fear-Mongering. I did vote for the blind lawyer running for Supreme Court. Justice is supposed to be blind!

    And I voted against the nerd governor who somehow never vetoed a wingnut legislation no matter how divisive it was (Right-To-Work).

    I did not vote for any of the school board elections since I didn’t know any of the people involved. That’s why, contra Brian Stouder, I would not trust local school boards a free hand with state educational money. Too much power, too little oversight. Of course the State isn’t entirely trustworthy either. (see Philadelphia) So I guess a state of paranoid disappointment is the order of the day.

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  67. beb said on November 4, 2014 at 9:06 am

    Jolene, Chris Cillizza, Waco political reporter

    I think you were right the first time, Cillizza is a wacko political reporter.

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  68. Connie said on November 4, 2014 at 9:18 am

    Voter number 139 at precinct ten. I did not vote for state supreme court or the various college regents/trustees, as I knew nothing about any of them.

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  69. Deborah said on November 4, 2014 at 9:38 am

    I’m driving Little Bird to her polling place later this morning. Normally she would walk but since her surgery she hasn’t been walking that far yet. It makes me wonder how many people don’t vote because they’re unable to get there? As I said before I already sent my absentee ballot in a few days ago.

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  70. alex said on November 4, 2014 at 9:45 am

    Brian, I haven’t gone to vote yet but my inclination is to vote against having a single county executive replace the three current county commissioners. I’m not sure why Wendy Robinson thinks it would be a good idea, but knowledgeable people with whom I’ve spoken say it benefits no one but those who are backing it, i.e., Nelson Peters (who will be the county executive) and businesses who will only have to make one “campaign contribution” instead of three (you can’t call it a “bribe” under Citizens United) in order to get their way, say if they want to do some fracking in your back yard. The current system requires that three commissioners have to agree and that’s a good thing.

    The referendum is being cynically touted as a vote for “smaller government” when it’s a vote to give more unchecked power to the oligarchs.

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  71. brian stouder said on November 4, 2014 at 9:55 am

    Alex – that was the way the thing appeared to me to begin with.

    We have to 2019 before it comes to fruition (if at all), and indeed, I don’t like Nelson Peters, either (although I’d take him over Sherriff Ken-doll Fries.

    But I did have a conversation with Dr Robinson about this specific thing, and she was unreservedly for it – and this greatly re-assures me.

    Plus, the “No” campaign seems to comprise a large number of nutballs, if you judge by yard-signs (and the other yard signs that usually accompany the “No” ones)

    I wasn’t really swayed by the JG support of this idea; you’d think those folks could have spent some ink giving us an in-depth analysis of where this came from, and who was financing the “yes” campaign…and here we are

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  72. alex said on November 4, 2014 at 10:05 am

    The JG also supports Stutz the Yutz, the man who voted to shut down the government but admitted that the Republicans didn’t really have a plan, they just needed a political concession of some sort. So much for the JG’s opinion on anything. It’s a more substantive piece of fishwrap than its rival, but it’s still for shit. At least it doesn’t employ raving lunatics like Kevin Leininger or publish the musings of fools like Ric Runestad.

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  73. brian stouder said on November 4, 2014 at 10:12 am

    Well, and truth-be-told, we only get the Friday/Saturday/Sunday J-G – so I can’t gripe too much.

    They DID give us good ol’ Krista Stockman, so there’s that.

    (Just as the old News-Sentinel, a newspaper which I haven’t physically touched in some number of years, will always get credit for giving us that Derringer guy, and Madam Telling Tales…even if for nothing else in the past decade or two)

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  74. Basset said on November 4, 2014 at 1:57 pm

    Early vote for me, right across the parking lot from work. Yes on wine in grocery stores, the rest I’m keeping to myself.

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  75. brian stouder said on November 4, 2014 at 2:14 pm

    No on wine! NO NO NO!!

    But – refrigerated, icy cold beer – that sounds like a winner!!

    Down with the grape snobs –

    gimme malt and hops, or give me bad breath!

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