A pour.

Eh, what a rough few days, and what a rough few more lie ahead, but by Jesus’ birthday, I should be free and clear. So bear with me, folks.

I keep wanting to discuss the UVA rape story, but I have my own story on the topic coming out today in Bridge, so I better not, but one 900-pound gorilla in all these discussions of campus rape — it seems to me, anyway — is alcohol. It’s not exactly ignored, but I’m astonished at today’s college drinking culture, and how la-de-da we seem to be about it.

We’ve discussed this before. I’m sure we’ve been through the No. 1 Party School and all our usual baby-boom grumping, but every so often something comes along to suggest nothing is getting better and may, in fact, be getting worse. The other day an Ann Arbor writer published a blog that made a bit of a splash, about a football Saturday spent in the Ann Arbor ER:

Yesterday’s football game, the last home game of the season, was scheduled to begin at 4:30, and, by 2:00, the students were already beginning to make their way in, escorted by EMTs. Given the way my bed was situated, I couldn’t see a great deal, but I did pick up on several distinct conversations, most all of which began with students being asked, “Do you know where you are?” (They rarely did.)

For the purposes of this post, I’d like to just share one example… that of a young woman who came in nearly comatose, having been found covered in vomit in an Ann Arbor alley. Of all the folks I’d hear that day, it was her that I was most worried about.

I could see her come in. The EMTs brought her down the corridor, strapped to a board, telling the hospital staff where she’d been found. Her head was hanging to one side, like her neck couldn’t support the weight of it. One of the nurses, I remember, commented to one of his coworkers that the human head weights 13 pounds, and it takes a lot of muscle control to hold it up. When she first came in, before I realized that her admission was alcohol related, I honestly thought that she had an advanced neuromuscular disease of some kind. As the conversation between nurses continued, though, I put the pieces together… Within a few minutes of arriving, and being told that she was at a hospital, she began vomiting.

Later we find the girl — found in an alley, covered in vomit — is a student, and apparently pledging a sorority. I keep thinking about the found-in-an-alley part. How did she get there? Who were her friends? Did she wander off? This was in November, hardly the best weather for passing out in the great outdoors.

How is this, if not a health crisis, at least a topic of national discussion? Why do so many parents think this sort of thing is simply to be expected? I got plenty hammered when I was in college, but I never ended up passed out in an alley, covered with vomit. A few years back, there was a series in one of the Midwestern papers about a string of mysterious deaths at one of the University of Wisconsin branch campuses, maybe La Crosse? Who was killing the students who disappeared while walking home late at night? No one, actually; they were drowning in the Mississippi River. Which they fell into while drunk.

For all the talk of date-rape drugs and spiked drinks, the truth is, the most common date-rape drug in America, by far, is alcohol. I don’t think it constitutes victim-blaming to tell young women to watch their alcohol consumption, if only to improve their odds of avoiding assault.

But what do I know? Maybe you’ll like this Neil Steinberg blog on the newspaper industry’s tradition of obituaries written in advance.

Me, I’m off to bed.

Posted at 10:06 pm in Current events, Media |

111 responses to “A pour.”

  1. Charlotte said on December 3, 2014 at 10:30 pm

    I wound up on a rental car shuttle bus a couple of years ago with a mother/daughter couple coming to UC Boulder at the beginning of the semester. Blonde, both of them, the daughter’s 18th birthday, wearing a rhinestone tiara. All giggly. Cute. The mother, about my age, and I get talking and I let slip that my mother wouldn’t let me apply to Boulder because it was too much of a party school. The Ohio mom, wife of a car dealer, looked at me and said, dead serious, “isn’t that the point of college?”

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  2. Connie said on December 3, 2014 at 10:38 pm

    Isn’t that the point of college? For a few years back in the day Michigan had a legal drinking age of 18. Those were my college years. I thought we drank a lot, but not in comparison to the stories I see about campus today.

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  3. Dexter said on December 3, 2014 at 10:51 pm

    The late George Cantor (Detroit News) had a daughter at UM in 1998. http://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=1988&dat=19981019&id=J3YiAAAAIBAJ&sjid=hKwFAAAAIBAJ&pg=2306,4393368 UM has since had sixteen years to curb this scourge. Nothing. At. All. It’s just accepted. I have met teens-in-recovery , and the International Conference of Young People in Alcoholics Anonymous (ICYPAA) group at an international convention I attended were impressive, but most kids are just getting into the age when it’s fun to get fucked up, free from parents, and alcohol is just here to stay. All the education about over-indulgence, all the videos of dead kids, all the caterwauling by us, far removed from campii…all for naught.
    And then there’s dope. My daughter is in charge of an ER in a Las Vegas hospital. As a nurse practitioner she has authority to order the first round of treatment, maybe minutes before a doctor can get there. (It’s a very busy place). Kids come in dying of hot-shot heroin doses on a daily basis…dying, with no recourse…in minutes they are gone. My kid is tough, but she really hates heroin and seeing kids dying all the fucking time. Something’s different than when I ran a de-tox ward for GIs in Vietnam 43 years ago. Heroin there was 97% pure, so cheap that many simply snorted of smoked it, but we had our mainliners too. I’d see these busted guys sneaking into the latrine with their works and I’d have to try to convince tghem nt to do it, to just turn over the works to me. They never did. I was a lowly Specialist with noncaring doctors bothering me…very little support. I never straightened any of those junkies up. But none of them died like they are now.

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  4. Bitter Scribe said on December 3, 2014 at 10:55 pm

    That binge drinking stuff is quite disturbing. And I say that as someone who put away more than my share in college.

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  5. Kirk said on December 3, 2014 at 11:05 pm

    I drank a ton in college, but I never was involved in any coerced activity in which the object was to see how much someone could drink without dying, as in organized groups like frats, sororities, marching bands and the like. Why such groups seem to think it’s a good idea is beyond me. Of course, I think marching bands generally suck and frat and sorority houses should be burned down.

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  6. Dexter said on December 4, 2014 at 12:32 am

    SO, not enough Cosby? Here’s a little more.

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  7. Sherri said on December 4, 2014 at 2:24 am

    It wasn’t unusual for me to get drunk in college, but not to the point of passing out. I did that exactly one time, fortunately in the company of friends who took care of me when I passed out and vomited. I’ve certainly done some stupid things in regards to alcohol, which is why I’m now sober, but there was a limit to how drunk I could get and still handle the work in my physics classes, and I kept the bigger picture in mind.

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  8. David C. said on December 4, 2014 at 6:27 am

    I’ve never seen the attraction of getting drunk. I had a negative example on my older brother. He often came home after “having a shitty hamburger”. He looked bloody miserable and as a most always in control of himself person, I was always able to make a couple of drinks last an evening. He died at age 20. The accident wasn’t alcohol related, but he was quite the pothead too. Maybe I’ve missed something, but I doubt it. I remember a “This American Life” from a couple of years back on the drinking culture at Penn State. Maybe when you’re in the middle of nowhere, like Penn State is, you have to do something. I wonder if things are any better at an urban campus where there is genuinely something interesting to do most of the time. I also wonder if a 21 year old drinking age has something to do with it. Drinking in a bar seems much safer than a free for all.

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  9. basset said on December 4, 2014 at 7:55 am

    This would, of course, never happen in Bloomington… not least because nobody goes to the football games. IU’s stadium has less than half as many seats as Michigan’s.

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  10. Julie Robinson said on December 4, 2014 at 8:04 am

    David C, my Dad made smoking look unattractive in a similar way.

    In my crowd, a glass or two of wine with a meal was an occasional thing, with a bit more drinking at theatre parties. I’ve always wondered if drinking to oblivion indicated self-loathing, since I couldn’t figure out any good reason.

    As for nothing to do? Every campus I’ve known has more concerts, plays, lectures and volunteer opportunities than could be attended and still study.

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  11. beb said on December 4, 2014 at 8:15 am

    New York Grand-Jury leaves Jon Stewart speechless:

    You know it’s a bad day in America when a comedian can’t make a funny.

    I don’t know how old I was the first time I heard “candy is dandy but liquor is quicker,” bit I’m sure I was mighty young at the time. So, yeah, alcohol is the original date-rape drug.

    I once had the idea that maybe we have the age for drinking and driving turned around. If kids were allowed to drink at 16 maybe the novelty of it would wear off by the time they’re 18 and old enough to drive. Then again the whole drinking pattern in college has changed. When I was growing up a man was expected to “hold his liquor.” I guess. we never had booze in our household except when Dad was putting up hay and he’s buy a six pack to pay off the volunteers who helped him. So what do I know.

    I wonder to what extent the alcohol industry isn’t behind all this, subsiding parties during spring break and all.

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  12. Jolene said on December 4, 2014 at 8:18 am

    Hey everybody, I want to tell you about two fundraising activities, one of which costs nothing, and the other offers the possibility of doing something fun.

    The first is a project in which Penguin Books has promised to give up to 25,000 books to Save the Children if users post on Facebook or Twitter using #giveabook as a hashtag. The idea is to encourage people to think about books as gifts, so, for instance, you can create a post about a favorite book or one you’re giving or thinking about giving as a gift. I think this link will allow you to see my post on Facebook. You can make your own or add a comment to mine.


    The second possibility does involve money, but donations as low as $10 are accepted. Basically, the idea is to bid on a chance to win experiences. I thought of you, Dexter, as one of the possibilities is attending a cast party with the cast of Shameless. There’s also the possibility of being interviewed by Jon Stewart, attending the all-star game with Magic Johnson, or hanging out with your musical heroes. The experiences are linked to many different causes.

    If you go to the website, be sure to click on the three-bar menu icon in the upper right corner, as there are more experiences to bid on than are shown on the home page. The list of causes is also shown there.

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  13. Suzanne said on December 4, 2014 at 8:26 am

    I am in agreement with all of you on the college drinking. Parents assume it-expect it. I have several nieces who are in sororities. For mom or dad weekends, they go bar hopping with their parents or go to frat parties with them. What??? I cannot imagine me, as a college student, wanting to bar hop with my parents. Go have a nice dinner with a beer or glass of wine, sure! Bar hopping or frat partying? Not a chance.

    I think it’s partly my generation (tail end of Boomers) inability to grow up-so they keep trying to relive the glory years-and a whole lot of parents not understanding that the drinking culture has changed. Yes, we drank. Yes, we went to bars. No, we did not drink a bottle of vodka before we went out to ensure we were well oiled before we left home. I cringe when I hear parents regale their kids with stories of how sloshed or high they were all the time in college. What is the point of that?

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  14. Jolene said on December 4, 2014 at 8:35 am

    Excessive drinking has become such a common story that I’m surprised a culture of reaction–one that would look on it with disdain–hasn’t developed. Or maybe it has, but I haven’t heard about it yet. It is remarkably stupid and, as you say, risky.

    I guess I can remember a few times when I fell into bed drunk, but that’s a few notches better than falling down drunk in an alley.

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  15. Kim said on December 4, 2014 at 8:59 am

    The whole drinking in college thing is something that’s top of mind at our house, where 2/3 of our issues are away at school. We consider the 21 rule to be arbitrary and have not erected an electric fence around the liquor, but the liquor industry seems to be trained on providing sweet stuff that tastes like something you’d serve at a 4 year-old’s Chuck E. Cheese party. Whipped cream flavored vodka? Really? Really. No wonder kids aren’t drinking beer. This is mostly separate from my thoughts on alcohol/hooking up/rape, which is distressing to me as a parent and a woman. Looking forward to your piece on it, Nancy.

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  16. brian stouder said on December 4, 2014 at 9:36 am

    The Neil Steinberg article Nancy linked is marvelous, and her Bridge piece (or at least the one I read) is fairly jarring; in fact, it is downright wrenching.

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  17. Judybusy said on December 4, 2014 at 9:59 am

    I am very grateful that my three nieces are not into drugs or alcohol. They live in a small town near St. Cloud, which is a party school. The party scene is just not accepted in their peer group. My sister talks about “partying” in front of them, but happily, this hasn’t translated into glamorization. I think the peer group is more impactful. This is great timing–the one graduating in May is coming for the weekend, so I will talk to her–again–about this issue. My partner and I have casually modeled the beer/wine with dinner approach. They are also of a class that is barely aware of sororities. I don’t think it would ever occur to them to be part of that scene. She also comes to a big holiday party given by our friends every year. Again, everybody there is just having a glass or two of wine, and it’s more about the great food and conversation.

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  18. Jolene said on December 4, 2014 at 10:02 am

    Re obituaries, I thought it was interesting that, in Ben Bradlee’s obit. the author, Robert Kaiser actually mentions that he had interviewed Bradlee for that purpose. Imagine the phone call: Are you free this afternoon, Ben? Mind if I drop by to interview you for your obit?

    Margalit Fox, who has written many obituaries for the NYT has published a collection of them called Death Becomes Her. A Kindle version is only three bucks.


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  19. Charlotte said on December 4, 2014 at 10:21 am

    I can’t remember all the details, but the kid I auntie who is at Beloit was telling me about how they’ve tried to set in place rules to discourage binge drinking, largely by promising not to punish/expel kids for underage drinking. The school is more interested in kids having a good time without feeling they need to pound a bottle of vodka before going out, and they don’t want anyone hesitating to call for help if someone is in trouble. The 21 drinking age has contributed enormously to the binge drinking problem.

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  20. brian stouder said on December 4, 2014 at 10:29 am

    The Republigoons’ favorite black- guy-for-president said (to some rightwing website) that the Obama administration is behaving like Nazi Germany; and when (the appropriately names) Wolf Blitzer asked him about it, he stuck by his words (so to speak)


    “What you were doing is allowing words to affect you more than listening to what was actually being said. And that’s part of the problem,” he said.

    Uhhhh…OK, I give up! I have no idea what the ‘problem’ IS, if attempting to interpret what a person ‘actually’ means, based on the actual words they speak – is ‘part of the problem’

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  21. 4dbirds said on December 4, 2014 at 10:49 am

    Count me in as someone who distains drinking. I feel it is the major cause of all misery. Drunks are not charming, funny, sexy or interesting in any way. I could go my entire life without drinking alcohol so I don’t ‘get’ it. I do however have other demons. If I were for some reason to puff on a cigaratte, I have no doubt I’d be back to two packs a day in short order.

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  22. Sue said on December 4, 2014 at 10:53 am

    “I wonder if things are any better at an urban campus where there is genuinely something interesting to do most of the time.”
    David C., my daughter went to UWM and also hung out with people from Marquette, so that’s two urban schools.
    To answer your wondering question: nope. Nope, nope, nope.
    Of course, these two urban schools are in Wisconsin, which has a drinking culture as wide and deep as Lake Michigan, so maybe that’s not a good example.

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  23. Sue said on December 4, 2014 at 11:08 am

    Does anyone remember the Mary Tyler Moore episode where she and Rhoda pre-wrote an obituary that clueless Ted read on-air the next day? That’s where I learned about obituary files.

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  24. Kirk said on December 4, 2014 at 11:14 am

    Re: partying with the kids at parents’ weekend: I have heard disturbing tales about such behavior at Ohio U., where moms and daughters stagger around town drunk and, sometimes, even cruise for guys. Yeccch.

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  25. coozledad said on December 4, 2014 at 11:14 am

    Drunks are not charming, funny, sexy or interesting in any way.
    You’re onto something there. Some people who are drunks are charming, but they’re also charming sober. They’re charming even when they’re being drawn and quartered by a hangover. Auden was apparently endlessly charming, and he was a drunk.

    But I’m thinking the function of alcohol in the American university system is to facilitate early marriage, and to medicinally adjust people to a class system in which utter shitheads are at the top, protected by a buffer of ugly, gutless ciphers. You will not want to do the fucking preliminaries to your child marriage in those conditions,at least not sober.

    Sober people would, as Kirk mentioned earlier, burn that frat and sorority shit to the ground,chase the sportsballer and business school franchises out to the online universities, and eliminate Alumni associations as an adjunct to the educational process. In short, shit that isn’t going to happen in a country modeled on the worst aspects of the British class system.

    So you might as well see how much tequila you can drink and still walk.

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  26. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on December 4, 2014 at 11:15 am

    The quote Nancy found that I think is crucial came from the NYT op-ed she noted halfway in: “The criminal justice system alone is simply not effective enough to keep young people safe.”

    I’m in the “Family Intervention Services” side of our juvenile court, and we’re there as part of the whole diversion side of the legal system, but I’m consistently discouraged by the fact that we are so often the first and the most helpful part of the “system” that families encounter. That’s not really our strong suit, helping, but we try. My big goal is to make linkages and referrals . . . but then so often the families in crisis don’t follow through or stay with the services that are provided, waiting until the coercion of the bench “forces” them into treatment, care, or counseling. And I think we all know how well going to addiction treatment by court order works.

    Well, let me tell you, going to parenting or anger management classes by order of the court works about as well.

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  27. coozledad said on December 4, 2014 at 11:32 am

    One thing I don’t regret about going to a party school (THE fucking party school in its day Bro!) is the parable of the Christian roomate who, after licking and porking his way through a not at all gay three way, settled down to a discussion of the impending apocalypse with his buddy and the poor woman they’d just porked.

    They had already begun euhemerizing Rongo Reagan, so it made for even more hilarity.
    At the time, I was reading Fernand Braudel for a class, and I thought, no, you overeducated fuck, this here’s “the structures of everyday life”. A bunch of frauds sniffing each other’s genitals for Jesus.

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  28. Connie said on December 4, 2014 at 11:53 am

    I’m with 4dbirds. I rarely drink, but after three years of no smoking I too could return to two pack a day smoking in a minute.

    I do drink occasionally. For our cottage vacation I bought Oberon beer and a bottle of Bailey’s. In a week I drank one beer and most of the Baileys. Haven’t had a drink since.

    My parents did cocktail parties, and everybody drank and smoked. When I was home from college for a weekend I would often go to the Country Club with my Dad for a drink on Saturday night. My Country Club drink was a Velvet Hammer made with ice cream. Mmmm.

    My drunkest college experience was a fraternity 50s party. My date and I ended up passed out in my dorm room in our 50s costumes. We found out the the punch bowl had contained vodka mixed with powdered Tang. No wonder.

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  29. alex said on December 4, 2014 at 12:02 pm

    When I was young, parents (including my own) would chaperone parties and provide alcohol and I don’t recall there ever having been a negative incident. At unchaperoned parties, yes.

    Today adults would be arrested for this, but at that time I believe parents’ thinking was that if they permitted drinking they could also be in control of it, whereas if they forbade it they’d just drive it underground and risk the potential horrible consequences of kids drinking unsupervised. Guess what? That’s what we have now. Along with a lot of reactionary overindulgence once kids are liberated from their helicopter parents.

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  30. brian stouder said on December 4, 2014 at 12:11 pm

    Connie, the powdered Tang got me laughing!

    Sounds like an Apollo screwdriver (or something)

    I was blessed with a glass-jaw when it comes to alcohol; it always made me sick-as-a-dawg, back in the day.

    As for the two-packs-a-day; I gave up soda pop 6 months ago. Went cold turkey (so to speak) – and although I miss it every so often, it hasn’t been hard.

    But on the other hand, I could go for a 44-ounce icy-cold Diet Pepsi (with the crushed ice that Circle-K offers) about any ol’ time!

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  31. LAMary said on December 4, 2014 at 12:53 pm

    I went to the University of Denver and I did my share of drinking and weed but never found myself in an alley or in any condition worse than a queasy headache in the AM. There was a big frat culture at DU and not to generalize, but those guys definitely drank and partied a lot more than the non Greeks. I was part of an intramural softball team, and the two guys on the team who were in a frat usually showed up drunk for games. Overprimed they called it. Not that it really mattered because our team sucked (mostly philosophy and poli sci majors) and the only game we won was when the library science majors team defaulted.

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  32. Dexter said on December 4, 2014 at 1:05 pm

    Drinking can meld into any scenery; thinking PSU students get drunk because they are out in a giant woods, while NYC students become immersed in sober culture is wrong. Try riding almost any outbound train around midnight or later and prepare for the worst. I was on a train jam-packed with rowdy, sick, brawling kids one time too many, meaning one time. Kind of a blur now, but you can just imagine: passed out and puking kids, stumbling, crying girls…it was like a damn horror movie.

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  33. adrianne said on December 4, 2014 at 1:07 pm

    My spawn, ages 18 and 21, are not interested in the drinking culture. They are both commuting college students, so they’re not part of campus party scene.

    I do think it was a mistake to hike the drinking age to 21. When you’re in college or away from home and have to scheme just to get a drink, the tendency to get hammered ratchets up.

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  34. Sherri said on December 4, 2014 at 1:49 pm

    I’ve talked with my daughter in college about drinking, and to the best of my knowledge, she doesn’t drink. She’s not part of the fairly low-key Greek scene on her campus, and she’s just not really a party girl. I’ve told her that she should make her own choices about alcohol, but I’ve also told her (and she lived through, to an extent) my history with alcohol and the potential implications for her.

    We talked during her freshman year about her college’s unofficial attitude towards underage drinking, which seemed to be, don’t be stupid about it so that we have to do something about it. This is a small (~1500) liberal arts college with no football and a low-key Greek scene, in a small wine tourist town. I don’t know of any big problems with binge drinking there, but I wouldn’t necessarily, because my daughter wouldn’t be likely to notice and/or tell me. I think there’s a limit to how out of control frat parties can get, because the president of the college lives just down the street and if it gets too raucous, he walks down there.

    The other small liberal arts college my daughter looked at has a reputation not so much for drinking but for drugs, but what turned my daughter off where the number of students she saw smoking on campus.

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  35. Peter said on December 4, 2014 at 2:10 pm

    Well, I should be careful of what I say, because it always come back to haunt me, but so far the son has been a pretty responsible and sober college student.

    I’m sure that’s due in no small part that he’s in Aviation and the school has the students do urine tests on a constant basis.

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  36. LAMary said on December 4, 2014 at 2:20 pm

    I wonder if any kids at your son’s school have tried using synthetic urine. I hire people and we drug test all new hires and in the last year I’ve had at least twenty people fail because they used fake pee. The results actually come back to me as “specimen not consistent with human urine” which is intriguing until you find out it’s something someone bought online and it has a delivery system that promises to keep the product at body temperature.

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  37. Deborah said on December 4, 2014 at 2:21 pm

    I went to the opposite of a party school, a Missouri Synod Lutheran College in Nebraska. A few kids drank, my boyfriend (then husband, then ex) drank at the most that I can remember maybe 3 beers on a weekend evening (he later made up for that). I didn’t drink in college or my early adult years because I didn’t like the taste and it usually just made me sleepy. I started to like the taste of beer when I had Little Bird and was breast feeding her. My doctor prescribed a beer a day to help me relax and it’s high in vitamin B12 which is good for breast milk. It had to be German beer though, he said that American beer had no nutritional value. So LB’s dad would buy a case of German beer and I’d hold my nose and drink one a day, it tasted like medicine to me. But after awhile I started to like the taste and especially the way it made me feel. Today my adult beverage of choice is wine but I still like a good beer every now and then.

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  38. coozledad said on December 4, 2014 at 2:25 pm

    LA Mary. There’s a business opportunity everywhere you look. “I put myself through college by providing Freeway drug-free urine! let me show you how.”

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  39. LAMary said on December 4, 2014 at 3:01 pm

    cooz, I have had the same thought so many times. In a state where you can buy medical marijuana but employers test for it and rescind job offers, there are thousands of people in need of just such a product.

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  40. Dexter said on December 4, 2014 at 4:27 pm

    I live 34 miles from Hillsdale College, which is in Michigan. The most-hated woman in the hemisphere , M. Thatcher, was welcomed there years ago. My little daughter’s bestie was sent there right out of HS when she was barely 18. 2 years later she visited us to see my kid on a school break. Making small talk I found she had made it one semester and ran as far away from that place as she could.
    She had been from a church family, lovin’ the Baby Jesus and all that, but her dorm mates and classmates were a totally different breed. They were serious, not sing-song. The Bible mattered to them in an intense way, and they all were experts, like everyone of them knew 6 translations of The Book and loved to argue. The kid was lost. No idea ran out, enrolled in a MAC school, and thrived. Tested by fire, I think she was a better person for the experience…sort of a reverse Amish Rumspringer.

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  41. LAMary said on December 4, 2014 at 4:49 pm

    Michigan has Calvin and Hope too. I knew a few Dutch Reform (including at least one of my cousins) who went to one of those. Very white, very Bible serious.

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  42. Little Bird said on December 4, 2014 at 5:46 pm

    The college students here (St. Johns) are big time drinkers. There are traditions surrounding it. But some are also making their own drugs. Scary stuff.

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  43. David C. said on December 4, 2014 at 6:18 pm

    I have three cousins (all favorites) who are CRC and all went to Calvin. You hear about the wingnutty things they do there, like canceling a New Pornographers concert, because you know, pornography. But they have a strong chapter of college Democrats. They come to being Democrats from a little different angle than me, but we all got to the same place.

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  44. nancy said on December 4, 2014 at 7:06 pm

    Hey, you guys. For some reason I haven’t been getting your comments as email today, a glitch that sometimes happens, and thought I’d simply posted something so exquisitely boring that I’d sent you all around the bend. Glad to see you’ve been rocking and rolling all day.

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  45. Connie said on December 4, 2014 at 8:22 pm

    You know I grew up next door to Hope in CRC/RCA country. People keep telling me it is not as bad as it used to be. I do not find it possible to believe them. Today I read the comments on an article that was posted on a Grand Rapids television station’s web site, about requiring welfare recipients to pass drug tests. They were depressingly racist.

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  46. brian stouder said on December 4, 2014 at 9:31 pm

    I think ol’ Nance could post the assembly instructions for a South Korean particle board coffee table, and we (her humble readers) would mull it over for a few moments and then happily post in the thread about who-knows-what, for the rest of the day.

    If I was going to go off on a late-thread tangent, I’d go on about our idiot governor, whose only bankable political asset in Indiana is that he looks like Bobby Knight, and who wants to go full Jeb Bush on Indiana’s common schools (short version: forget “common” schools; let’s resegregate!). The bright side is, I think he’s got the presidential grub gnawing at him…and the scarey part is, he’d have a pretty solid shot at winning that office, if he stays out of the Republigoon clown-car.

    But indeed, we digress

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  47. Deborah said on December 4, 2014 at 9:50 pm

    “South Korean particle board coffee table” ha ha, very funny Brian.

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  48. Deborah said on December 4, 2014 at 9:52 pm

    What is CRC?

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  49. Sherri said on December 4, 2014 at 10:02 pm

    I remember when we moved from Pittsburgh to California many years ago, one of the movers (at the California end, I believe) made some comment about a piece of our particle board furniture and how particle board didn’t hold up well. This was our post-grad school move, and believe me, particle board furniture wasn’t the worst furniture we had. I don’t know why the mover thought it was okay to comment on our furniture; maybe because he knew we weren’t paying for the move, it was a corporate move.

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  50. Deborah said on December 4, 2014 at 10:21 pm

    Protesters blocked traffic on Lake Shore Drive tonight, we returned home from a dinner out with a friend, didn’t take LSD back but noticed a bunch of cops directing traffic as we approached our street. Apparently they had started in the loop area and walked north. Good for them.

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  51. Sherri said on December 4, 2014 at 10:44 pm

    The Chronicle of Higher Education has several articles about campus drinking; here’s a place to start: http://chronicle.com/article/Why-Colleges-Haven-t-Stopped/150229/

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  52. Kirk said on December 5, 2014 at 1:02 am

    I haven’t taken LSD back from dinner since I was in college, Deborah.

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  53. Dexter said on December 5, 2014 at 3:36 am

    The New York City Garner-murder protests are still growing…it’s massive. Finally about 12:30 AM the cops began cuffing and arresting sit-downers.
    That was murder by cop. When asthmatics say “I can’t breathe” , it means they are having a hard time getting air. I have said many times “I just can’t breathe” when my asthmatic lungs are having an event. We mean we can’t seem to get a lung-full of air or expel air all the way, and we begin to rapid-breathe and wheeze. No indictment? I was stunned, too.

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  54. David C. said on December 5, 2014 at 6:52 am

    Deborah, CRC is the Christian Reformed Church. A predominately Dutch denomination based in Grand Rapids, MI.

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  55. brian stouder said on December 5, 2014 at 7:26 am

    I think Kirk wins the Jack Webb Memorial Trophy

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  56. beb said on December 5, 2014 at 8:13 am

    I think law-makers who require welfare recipients to take drug tests should be required to take randomized drug tests as well.

    There is a race war going on in America. It’s cops versus unarmed Black men. Another was killed last night in Phoenix — for reaching into his pocket … for some medicine.

    At least the Justice Department has censured Cleveland for its poor training of cops.

    And, who knew that redneck gooberism was alive and living in … Vermont?
    Wrecks on car, wrecks another car trying to pull the first car away, then tries to pull cars away with an ATV. Blows a 0.30. Only charged with DUI.

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  57. Dave said on December 5, 2014 at 8:20 am

    LSD, I had to read that twice myself.

    Hillsdale College, fellow I worked with told me about visiting his nephew attending there. Lot of conservative money, he found it repressive. Also, I was struck by the memory of Dr. Laura’s (Schlessinger, she used to be a topic here frequently) son attending Hillsdale. I wonder what became of him.

    I know I’ve mentioned it before but I still remember back on my 21st birthday in 1971, being in Athens bars on what was parent’s weekend, seeing drunk mothers with their daughters. Oh, and singing along to “Joy to the World”. Jeremiah was a bullfrog!

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  58. Connie said on December 5, 2014 at 9:05 am

    So my cousin’s friend posted this ridiculous thing on Facebook about Obama replacing the flags in the White House with a Muslim prayer curtain. Then someone posted the Snopes link to debunk the story. And the original poster then posted: “I hears Snopes got it wrong.”

    Looked awfully detailed to me, do you think Snopes got it wrong? http://www.snopes.com/politics/obama/photos/ovaloffice.asp

    A perfect example of refusing to allow facts to impact your own personal reality.

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  59. Connie said on December 5, 2014 at 9:13 am

    I hear. My typo not theirs.

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  60. alex said on December 5, 2014 at 9:25 am

    A lot of people are unaware of the fact that Hillsdale, in its heyday, was a progressive institution just like Oberlin, and opened its doors to blacks and women at a time when most colleges didn’t. Oberlin has always maintained its progressive mystique, while Hillsdale is probably the top choice of students who put Oral Roberts second and Jerry Fallwell’s Liberty third on their lists.

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  61. Deborah said on December 5, 2014 at 9:34 am

    I take LSD all the time. In fact I live on LSD.

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  62. brian stouder said on December 5, 2014 at 9:53 am


    (Cue a scowling Joe Gannon: “Kids nowadays, ‘doing the acid’)

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  63. 4dbirds said on December 5, 2014 at 9:54 am

    Brian, I too love crushed ice. I’ll have to try Circle K. Currently I go to Chick-fil-A and buy a bag of ice from them. It has the perfect crunch texture. Not hard on the teeth and it collapes perfectly when I chew it. If Circle K has the same ice, I’d definately give up the odious Chick-fil-A.

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  64. adrianne said on December 5, 2014 at 10:18 am

    Beb, rural New England is full of redneck goobers, although I think NH and Maine have quite a few more of these folks than Vt.

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  65. Suzanne said on December 5, 2014 at 10:18 am

    I’ve had people far too often pooh-pooh my Snopes link. They are biased, you know. I fear for all of us when the facts stare you in the face, and still, you won’t believe it. “If you repeat the lie often enough…”

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  66. brian stouder said on December 5, 2014 at 10:19 am

    Well, I can attest that the Circle-K at State and Sherman has the best crushed ice of anyplace.

    It would always amaze me that people would choose the ice cubes instead of the crushed ice (they offer both)

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  67. brian stouder said on December 5, 2014 at 10:35 am

    Suzanne –

    I’ve had people far too often pooh-pooh my Snopes link

    and indeed – it’s a genuine case of willful ignorance on their part.

    They show you a file photo of a president they don’t like, and say “it means thus-and-such”

    And you show them the SAME sort of file photo with a half dozen other presidents, with the inevitable choice that either

    a) their interpretation of the photo of the president they DON’T like is wrong;


    b) All the presidents they DO like are just as evil and nefarious as the on that they don’t like.

    Therefore, they invoke rule A1A – which is that YOUR sources for all those photos are wrong…”nananananana I can’t hear you! nananananana”

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  68. nancy said on December 5, 2014 at 10:53 am

    OK, guys, this is good: Hillary Clinton and the men who hate her. Bonus for the Hoosiers: R. Emmett Tyrrell gets a cameo:

    Hillary has “a prehensile nature,” which makes it sound like she hangs from branches by her feet. (Tyrrell has always fancied himself a latter day Mencken, flashing his big vocabulary around like a thick roll of banknotes.)

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  69. brian stouder said on December 5, 2014 at 11:44 am

    The article Nancy links above is the single best thing I’ve read this week; and in addition to the word “prehensile”, I had to do as the ariter did, and also had to look up the word “ithyphallic” (which she, rightly, didn’t elucidate in her column)

    Indeed, I think ol’ Tyrell got more than a cameo; his oafishness gets several paragraphs.

    And indeed, I remember when I thought he was funny, many years ago (Madam Telling Tales herownself straightened me out on that one)

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  70. alex said on December 5, 2014 at 12:57 pm

    Some of you may recall discussion here of the 2008 Dem primary, especially about how the right-wingers were being overtly misogynistic when it came to Hillary but still kept their racial animus in check when it came to Obama. Reading Tyrrell and the others reminded me of this. I suspect the 2016 election cycle is going to take us to some new lows in public discourse.

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  71. Bob (not Greene) said on December 5, 2014 at 12:58 pm

    Holy crap! That creep R. Emmett Tyrrell not only graduated from my high school alma mater, but he was also a fellow swimmer there as well! Gah.

    Reading those excerpts — I sure as hell ain’t reading any of those books — I’m struck by how fucking strange these people are. Who the hell sits around thinking this much about Hillary Clinton and the shape of her hips and then decides, “You know what’d be a great idea? Sharing these bizarre reflections in an actual fucking book.” As my brother Mike would often say when confronted with such oddballs, “You’re under arrest, you weirdo!”

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  72. Sherri said on December 5, 2014 at 2:06 pm

    “Disrupting” a 100 year old magazine: http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2014/12/05/the-new-republic-implodes.html

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  73. brian stouder said on December 5, 2014 at 2:23 pm

    Sherri – also looks like Rolling Stone is going off a cliff


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  74. Dorothy said on December 5, 2014 at 2:26 pm

    Nancy, I assume you saw this…? http://hamptonroads.com/2014/12/rolling-stone-trust-uva-rape-victim-was-misplaced

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  75. Dorothy said on December 5, 2014 at 2:27 pm

    Jinx, Brian.

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  76. nancy said on December 5, 2014 at 2:32 pm

    I did see it, and no, it doesn’t surprise me. I contacted a number of smart people I know the day that story was published, asking for a reality check, because I found it literally unbelievable. Turns out my instincts aren’t so wrong after all. I’m going to cogitate on it over the weekend and maybe post some longer thoughts Monday.

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  77. Sherri said on December 5, 2014 at 2:36 pm

    The WaPo has been digging: http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/education/u-va-fraternity-to-rebut-claims-of-gang-rape-in-rolling-stone/2014/12/05/5fa5f7d2-7c91-11e4-84d4-7c896b90abdc_story.html

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  78. adrianne said on December 5, 2014 at 2:37 pm

    My Spidey sense was tingling when I read the UVA story. Something wasn’t quite right. Alas, it appears that confabulation was going on.

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  79. Jolene said on December 5, 2014 at 2:50 pm

    I hadn’t gotten around to the UVA story and the various criticisms yet. Now it appears that there’s no need to hurry. I can just read the autopsy report when all is revealed. But, man, the way this story has roiled the university. If it all turns out to be fiction, a lot of people are going to be very embarrassed and upset.

    Here’s the NYT article discussing the latest news.


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  80. Jolene said on December 5, 2014 at 2:52 pm

    Whew, I saw Adrienne’s post, but should have read further up before posting.

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  81. Jolene said on December 5, 2014 at 2:54 pm

    Should have looked at how adrianne spells her name too.

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  82. Joe K said on December 5, 2014 at 3:20 pm

    Per Nancy’s artical in the bridge, this is a major problem on campus no doubt, but like the Duke lacrosse case, people seemed a bit quick to be judge and jury on these kids. Maybe after reading this, we here could, but probably won’t take another look at the facts and forensics in Ferguson. Could people that distrust the police, possibly think they saw something they wanted to see? A police man shoot a poor black kid. I mean really think about it, who in public would shoot a kid that had his hands raised? Could the kid been rushing the police and when he was shot his arms jerked upward and that’s what some people saw? the wife and I raised 2 girls who both went to I.U. We tried to school them best we could about party’s and they never seemed to have a problem, maybe they were lucky, or maybe they listened. I just think in a lot of these he said she said cases we need to take a step back and wait for the facts before we judge.
    Pilot Joe

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  83. Sherri said on December 5, 2014 at 3:27 pm

    I think it’s a fine idea to take a look at the facts and forensics in the Ferguson case. If only we had some process for doing so, like a trial.

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  84. alex said on December 5, 2014 at 4:13 pm

    Unarmed black people just don’t rush cops and punch them in the face, Joe. Just like gay guys don’t walk up to cops and force themselves on them sexually, which is the defense cops used to raise after killing gay guys.

    Sorry, but it looks to me like a bunch of bigots are seeing what they want to see if they can look past the implausible testimony of Officer Wilson.

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  85. David C. said on December 5, 2014 at 4:29 pm

    I posted a link to Snopes for something a co-worker sent around in the Clinton era. He said it didn’t matter if the story was factually correct, because it was essentially correct. It’s a different world over there.

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  86. coozledad said on December 5, 2014 at 4:34 pm

    Perhaps when one is obsessed with right wing cri-de-coeurs like the Duke Lacrosse case, one should refrain from making I fucked your old lady jokes.

    But one can’t help it when one is a preliterate Fox News slurping dumbass.

    I don’t know why y’all are still giving shiteshorts the benefit of the doubt. You’re wasting your breath.

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  87. brian stouder said on December 5, 2014 at 5:03 pm

    I just think in a lot of these he said she said cases we need to take a step back and wait for the facts before we judge.

    Reasonable enough, Joe.

    I’ve been pondering the old truism that a prosecutor could get a Grand Jury to indict a ham sandwichIf there’s an element of truth in there- presumably it’s that Grand Juries (and their lower evidentiary threshold, for issuing indictments) are easily lead to where the prosecutor (or, as certain rightwing people would say – “the Guhv-mint”) wants them to go. So the corollary to the indicted-ham-sandwich would seem to be that Grand Juries also can be lead to exonerate a blood-soaked axe-murderer.

    And in the case of Ferguson deal, when the prosecutor hands the grand jurors an unconstitutional law as guidance, on day one; and on the last day of the proceedings offers a cold dishwater retraction and a non-explanation of that on the last day of the proceedings; and when a KEY WITNESS – a witness who was quoted by the prosecutor during his national address explaining why no charges were brought – when that witness admits that he was 100 yards away from the incident, that should raise questions, yes? How valuable is that witness’s testimony about “gestures” that Michael Brown was making toward officer Wilson? And indeed, at another time, and in another piece of testimony, that same eye witness says he was 50 yards away from the action, when he observed whatever he saw. Isn’t that a huge inconsistency? Isn’t that the kind of thing a trial jury should consider? Shouldn’t that guy be subject to cross-examination, to explain how he could see whatever he thought he saw, from the length of a football-field? Even at half a football field, how good (or bad) is this person’s eyesight?

    Sorry, Joe – it sounds like MORE people are “seeing what they want to see” in Ferguson, in defense of the policeman who fired his weapon 12 times in two bursts at an unarmed citizen.

    What would the rightwing noise machine have said, if a policeman had emptied his clip at Cliven Bundy during that stupid standoff last summer, and ventilated his brain?

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  88. LAMary said on December 5, 2014 at 5:17 pm

    I have a refrigerator that not only dispenses water and ice cubes. It dispenses crushed ice. During the very hot long summer we had I got into big glasses of crushed ice with just a little lemonade or unsweetened cranberry juice.

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  89. Deborah said on December 5, 2014 at 6:02 pm

    The saddest part of the Rolling Stone debacle is that it puts a pall on real incidents of date rape or drugged rape and that’s really sad for the victims. And I know a few.

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  90. Kirk said on December 5, 2014 at 6:12 pm

    Speaking of pours, and with a nod to recent discussion here about persimmon pudding …

    RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — What do you get when you combine water, American persimmons and hops and ferment it with yeast? A beer based on a 300-year-old recipe scribbled in a cookbook kept by Virginia’s prominent Randolph family.

    Ardent Craft Ales in Richmond recently brewed “Jane’s Percimon Beer” unearthed from the book in the Virginia Historical Society’s collections from the 1700s that contains food, medicinal remedies and beer recipes….

    … And how does it taste? The light peach-colored concoction conjures touches of sweetness and tangerine-like notes from the persimmons and just a whisper of spiciness from the English Golding hops.

    The libation is considered a table beer, clocking in at an extremely easy-drinking 3 percent or less of alcohol by volume.

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  91. coozledad said on December 5, 2014 at 6:17 pm

    Well, if you’re part of the rape culture, or the denial of rape culture, or a racist bottom feeder, the RS retraction is a holy grail of justifications for everything from overturning the Civil Rights Act to another Benghazi investigation.

    Per Peter Huestis’ twitter feed:
    Superweird that conservatives view this Rolling Stone retraction as some kind of “win” for them.

    The droolbuckets of the right who could never have attended UVA or Duke or even High Point College see themselves with a faceful of passed-out coed knickers whenever these stories come up.

    What they don’t recognize is the culture of Duke University or UVA doesn’t recognize their existence. I found the lacrosse story plausible because my wife graduated from Duke, and I served on a board there from 2002-05. All I can tell you can best be summed up by F.Scott Fitzgerald:
    “Let me tell you about the very rich. They are different from you and me. They possess and enjoy early, and it does something to them, makes them soft where we are hard, and cynical where we are trustful, in a way that, unless you were born rich, it is very difficult to understand. They think, deep in their hearts, that they are better than we are because we had to discover the compensations and refuges of life for ourselves. Even when they enter deep into our world or sink below us, they still think that they are better than we
    are. They are different. ”

    ― F. Scott Fitzgerald

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  92. Deborah said on December 5, 2014 at 6:26 pm

    This would be funny if it weren’t so sad: http://www.theonion.com/articles/overworked-prosecutor-thinking-of-taking-police-br,37597/?utm_source=Twitter&utm_medium=SocialMarketing&utm_campaign=Default:2:Default

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  93. Jolene said on December 5, 2014 at 11:18 pm

    Tom Ricks, a wonderful writer who formerly worked for the Washington Post and wrote two books about the war in Iraq, has just published a very moving essay about his experience with and recovery from PTSD after returning.

    It’s quite amazing to think that a mature man, with a history of war reporting, and all the emotional anchors one could hope for–great job, substantial income, distinguished reputation, wife, children, nice home–could be so undone by this experience. How much worse it must be for young people, whose adult lives are barely beginning, and who might have experienced more directly the violence of war.

    The essay is here: http://www.newyorker.com/news/news-desk/iraq-war-ptsd

    I also recommend his books. Well, actually, I have only read the first, Fiasco, but it is excellent. I am not the sort of person who is normally taken by military history or tales of danger, but it’s a great story of human experience in the midst of military and political cock-ups. Ricks is both a highly intelligent observer and a highly skilled, powerful writer.

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  94. Deborah said on December 6, 2014 at 5:46 am

    Excellent link Jolene, I passed it on to my Viet Nam veteran husband. Also Nancy, that men who hate Hillary link was fabulous, I passed that one along to my husband too, we both got a big kick out of it.

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  95. coozledad said on December 6, 2014 at 10:32 am

    Cue the winger shit monkeys in 3-2-1…

    Nobamer’s fault!

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  96. Deborah said on December 6, 2014 at 11:26 am

    Jolene, my husband was so impressed with the Tom Ricks article that he looked up other things he has written. He Googled him and found this in Politico and passed it on to me http://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2014/07/why-am-i-moving-left-109241_Page2.html#.VIMrge29LCQ. It was written in July so not that long ago. Quite good, I thought. But he mentions in this piece that as a journalist he didn’t vote because he thought he should not be voting for or against people he covered. A question for you journalists out there, is that typical?

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  97. nancy said on December 6, 2014 at 12:04 pm

    Only in America could a guy who looks like this gaze into a mirror and think, “Yep, master race.”

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  98. David C. said on December 6, 2014 at 12:24 pm

    I haven’t seen a Ku Klux Klucker, skinhead, or supremacist of any stripe who didn’t look like they came from the bargain basement of the gene pool.

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  99. coozledad said on December 6, 2014 at 12:40 pm

    It’s the old “more is better” delusion. Four chins good.

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  100. brian stouder said on December 6, 2014 at 1:02 pm

    This (klan police in Florida) would have been news to me before I read Wilkerson’s The Warmth of Other Suns. But indeed, the statement from the ‘Chief Deputy State Attorney’ of Jeb Bush’s sunshine state was fairly arresting:

    Chief Deputy State Attorney Ric Ridgway, whom Isaac contacted for advice, told the Orlando Sentinel that the report contained “a lot of fairly substantial evidence that tends to support” Borst’s and Hunnewell’s Klan membership.But he pointed out that it’s not illegal to belong to the KKK “even if you are the deputy chief.””It’s not a crime to hate people. It may be despicable, it may be immoral, but it’s not a crime,” he said.Because of that, Fruitland Park officials had to decide whether Borst and Hunnewell had violated city standards and ethics.

    Can they be Nazis? Can they be Jihadi-bent Islamists?

    Does a thing have to be actually illegal, to be afoul of their standards of behavior and conduct? Shouldn’t their “standards and ethics” be HIGHER than ‘if it’s technically legal, you’re good-to-go’?

    Doesn’t membership in a a hate-group undercut public trust in any such law-enforcement official’s actions?

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  101. brian stouder said on December 6, 2014 at 1:34 pm

    A palate cleanser, regarding Candy Crowley’s departure from CNN


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  102. Jolene said on December 6, 2014 at 2:26 pm

    Saw that piece by Dana Bash earlier today, Brian. Very touching, indeed.

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  103. Deborah said on December 6, 2014 at 2:55 pm

    I’ve got a busy afternoon and evening ahead and a busy morning tomorrow, but I wanted to remind anyone in the Chicago area (that goes for Milwaukee too, it’s not that far) who might be interested in meeting up, Heather and I are meeting tomorrow, Sunday, Dec 7, 3:45-ish, at Bistro Zinc. You can Google directions, obviously, but it’s where Rush and State meet near Elm, across from Barnes & Noble. I’m excited about meeting Heather and who knows maybe some others. We’ll try to get a table near the front windows, it’s usually pretty quiet at that time. I have white hair and will probably be wearing black.

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  104. Jolene said on December 6, 2014 at 3:32 pm

    Here’s a story about an interesting photo project involving recent veterans. Several of them are quite arresting. My favorite is second from the bottom. Trevor Scott, the guy in the photo, is now an actor, which shows, I think, in the artfulness of his pose.


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  105. Kirk said on December 6, 2014 at 3:48 pm

    Deborah@96: I know of a few folks who opt out of voting for that reason, but I wouldn’t say it’s typical. A pro ought to be able to do his or her job without renouncing participatory citizenship. That seems a little bit much to me. Signing petitions or donating to political candidates or causes is another matter. I abstain from those practices, as do many others in the business.

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  106. brian stouder said on December 6, 2014 at 4:00 pm

    Jolene – the photo you pointed out is indeed affecting, and I found the 6th from the bottom (of the aptly-named Bye couple) arresting, too

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  107. Jolene said on December 6, 2014 at 5:15 pm

    I liked the idea of that photo, Brian, but thought the sign was a bit obvious, a bit heavy-handed. The photo might have been as strong without it, or there might have been a different way of positioning them to illustrate the split.

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  108. Sherri said on December 6, 2014 at 5:46 pm

    From the larger collection at veteranartproject.com, I found this one very touching: http://instagram.com/p/utnzV1B-ve/?modal=true

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  109. brian stouder said on December 6, 2014 at 5:47 pm

    That’s true. Resorting to text within the portrait shouldn’t have made the cut.

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  110. brian stouder said on December 6, 2014 at 5:49 pm

    Sherri – I really like that one, too. The photo has lots and lots to say, and no text or caption can add to it

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  111. beb said on December 7, 2014 at 12:17 pm

    With all the journalists here there would have been comment about the sacking of the current editor of The New Republic and the mass resignation of contributors in response. There has certainly been a firestorm about in leftblogistan. Perhaps part of the trouble is that people are upset that The New Republic has not been the liberal magazine it is supposed to be for decades and the fired Frank Foer was seen as returning the magazine to it’s liberal roots. What I see in the story is the sociopathy of management towards their employees and their product.

    The new CEO of the company apparently openly criticized Foer at a staff meeting while Doer was seated right next to him. That is just incredible rude and demoralizing. Then they never actually fired Foer. They hired a replacement editor and Foer heard rumors about that on-line he had to call them and ask specifically if he was being fired. Gees Louise, if you’re going to fire someone at least have the decently to tell it to them to their face. Lastly the owner and his new CEO have talked about turning the magazine into a digital media company and innovate the adapt to the 21th century. Departing staffers at TNR complain that they have no idea what that means or if it means anything at all.

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