Crumpled wrapping paper.

And just like that, Christmas is in the rear-view. As always, I break the tape with a mixture of gratitude and relief. We front-load this holiday with so much bullshit we’re astonished when the day turns out well. And it did. I got a new pair of flannel-lined pants for cold-weather dog-walkin’. And some jewelry, the new George Clinton memoir, and a pair of shearling-lined flip-flops. (I plan to use the latter for collecting envious glances at yoga studios.)

And we all saw family. Which we don’t do often enough.

It was strange to visit Ohio and drive on the Buckeye state’s smooth, smooth roads. Michigan’s are now among the worst in the nation, and boy, do you notice it when you cross a border. The legislature has an answer to this — it’s been on the governor’s to-do list, and the electorate’s, forever. Their answer? Make the voters decide, and even the Republican editorial page in Detroit isn’t pleased. We’ll see how it goes.

I’ve spent the last few days trying to disengage a bit — reading ink-on-paper novels, staying offline for hours at a time, the usual. But I have a little bit of bloggage if you like it.

Laura Lippman’s father died a few days back, and her husband did a wonderful appreciation of his career on his own blog.

Childish fun, but fun just the same: The year’s best TV-news bloopers.

“Sperm diplomacy” — a charming detail of the Cuban negotiations.

More regular posting returns this week, but not before I follow Wendy’s example and take a few more naps.


Posted at 9:13 pm in Same ol' same ol' |

59 responses to “Crumpled wrapping paper.”

  1. Dorothy said on December 28, 2014 at 9:20 pm

    I must’ve clicked over here 90 seconds after you posted this. I hope to take a nap or two myself in the next week since I’m not working. Might be kind of tough since we plan to paint the master BR this week. There’s always the sofa! Now to return to the Steelers/Bengals game. My boys are down by three right now. Hope that doesn’t last…

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  2. devtob said on December 28, 2014 at 10:10 pm

    You want nice roads, so does everyone, but you have to pay for them, one way or another.

    Now is the perfect time — low oil prices, lingering Great Recession, obvious public need — to do that by raising gasoline taxes, federal and state.

    Haven’t seen much about that in national media. Probably because most media types assume that raising any tax for anything can never happen again, because of you know who.

    This perfect opportunity will pass soon, as oil prices inevitably go back up.

    And it will probably be missed, in the country and in Michigan.

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  3. Deborah said on December 28, 2014 at 10:34 pm

    The David Simon piece about his father in law is superb. My condolences to the family for thier loss.

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  4. MichaelG said on December 28, 2014 at 11:20 pm

    David Simon’s remembrance was wonderful. What a lovely piece of writing and what a nice tribute to a loved one without getting embarrassing or mawkish.

    Loved the bloopers. We’re gonna miss Rob Ford.

    I don’t need to bring up all the stuff that the Repubs are going to say about the insemination express but if it helped further the cause of normalization, all I can say is Mazel Tov!

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  5. susan said on December 29, 2014 at 12:38 am

    MichaelG @4…As they say in Wisconsin, “Molotov!”

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  6. Dexter said on December 29, 2014 at 3:03 am

    My daughter in Las Vegas found an army surplus store and bought me a new army field jacket to replace the one I wore into rags years ago. Very nice, solid green, no camo, liner, hood, matching Carhartt wool hat. Perfect to wear to the VA clinic. Also in the box were two very cool thin hoodies, one with horizontal multi-color stripes. Too, a pair of rugged thick winter-wear jogger pants, which I will wear a good deal of the rest of the winter.
    Baby daughter (now 36) and her husband got me a Keurig and a lot of coffee doses to use, and little brew-baskets for the Keurig so I can use my own coffee if I don’t want to pollute the landfills with those throw-aways, plus 2 bags of Starbucks beans and four cylinder-boxes of Trader Joe’s Bay Blend whole beans…I am set for java for a good long while.
    My son-in-law Andy knows I despise those cheap candies called Queen Anne Cordial Cherries…you know what they are, in that vanilla center is a cherry…so sickening sweet and chemical-tasting. Well, he always gets me a box for a gag gift, and this year he bought me two boxes. Ha ha ha. Yes I did eat one piece for old time’s sake. Damn, this Trader Joe’s fancy trail mix is scrupdillyishus! Oh yeah…I got a large jug of pure maple syrup and some organic honey. Pancakes in the late morning, oh hell yes. I got a lot more great stuff but I fear I have lost you already.
    I have an ancient Pontiac dust-buster lookin’ minivan. I only use it to haul dogs to the park, mostly.Seven years ago the drooping headliner irritated me so I cut it out, mistake #1. The blown-in insulation keeps dripping from the top on everything now. By now all the doors malfunction. I have spent hundreds replacing door handles. Three days ago I got so mad when the prop I was using to hold the latch open slipped and the door shut, I got out the tire iron and pried off the door handle, permanently ruining the door. I wonder how much a salvage yard door costs…I’m a-gonna find out…or it’s a trip to the junk yard.

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  7. Julie Robinson said on December 29, 2014 at 6:44 am

    Ugh, those cherries. My dance teacher gave them to us every single year and as much as I love sweets I could never choke one down.

    We were focused on getting our lad on the road this year but did make time to see Into the Woods. I did not love it as much as my oft-watched original Broadway version, but have already bought the two CD soundtrack.The orchestrations are lush, and except for Johnny Depp’s brief and dreadful appearance, no bad singers.

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  8. beb said on December 29, 2014 at 7:46 am

    Once we survive the dreaded New Year’s Eve we’ll be, essentially, in the clear.

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  9. adrianne said on December 29, 2014 at 7:59 am

    Enjoying the second half of Christmas vacay in my hometown of King of Prussia, Pa. Watched two excellent football games with my dad, although the Eagles-Giants was for nothing more than bragging rights. I have to say, when Aaron Rodgers returned to the Green Bay- Lions game, limping, I cheered right along with the cheeseheads.

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  10. Basset said on December 29, 2014 at 8:14 am

    Managed to avoid football entirely and drove some on those Michigan roads, straight through from Nashville to Cadillac in one jump on the way up. And there doesn’t appear to be a damn thing to listen to on the car radio as you’re passing through the Fort.

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  11. Suzanne said on December 29, 2014 at 8:23 am

    Survived the holiday, too. One kid made it home but for too short of a time. Christmas is always a funny time. I love my extended family but get tired of seeing them over and over. This year we opted out of one party. I just didn’t want to have those same conversations again with people I’d just seen a few days before. I guess Bah Humbug to me!

    The older I get, the more I want to tone down Christmas. I’m sure I’ll be the little old lady with the 4 foot silver tree with blue ball ornaments.

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  12. coozledad said on December 29, 2014 at 9:01 am

    Ta-Nehesi Coates:
    When the police are brutalized by people, we are outraged because we are brutalized. By the same turn, when the police brutalize people, we are forgiving because ultimately we are really just forgiving ourselves. Power, decoupled from responsibility, is what we seek. The manifestation of this desire is broad.

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  13. brian stouder said on December 29, 2014 at 10:38 am

    Cooz – dammit to hell, that ain’t fair!

    All this turmoil is Obama’s fault, ‘course.

    He’s in there, golfing and flying around and livin’ in the White House for FREE – and lots of other people are just getting altogether too uppity!

    And internationally, Putin has played him like a violin.

    Sure, the Russian economy is now flat-lining, and pooty is basically steam-rolled road kill, but still, up ’til recently – Vlad was kickin’ Obama’s ass.

    And all those GDP numbers, and employment rates, and unemployment stats, and successful AHC benchmarks –

    ALL LIES!!

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  14. Judybusy said on December 29, 2014 at 10:38 am

    Dexter, I got great amusement from your post! Keurigs were given this year too: one to my partner from her mom, and one to my niece from her boyfriend, at my suggestion, when he was not sure what else to get her. Christmas is always pretty low-key, but more so this year, as my partner had an emergency appendectomy on the 18th. Not fun. The healing is going slowly, with continued pain and what we suspect is ongoing infection. (There was a perforation before they sucked it out, and she was on IV antibiotics for 1 1/2 days.) She’s calling her primary care doc today for advice.

    On a brighter note, my mom is going to Maui on Wednesday, courtesy of my brother and his wife, who have a condo there. She’ll be driving to our home tomorrow, and I’ll drop her off at the airport on Wednesday morning. (She lives 2 1/2 hours away, and we’re the closest major airport.) It will be great to see her again!

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  15. Connie said on December 29, 2014 at 10:42 am

    The Arlan Meekhof who is Michigan’s new state Senate Majority Leader is NOT the Arlan Meekhof with whom I went to high school. That is a different Arlan Meekhof. Both in West Michigan, both in their late 50s, but two different men named Arlan Meekhof. Dutch names, what can I say?

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  16. brian stouder said on December 29, 2014 at 10:53 am

    I suppose the obvious joke is to ask him if he has a brother named Jack –

    or to say “God bless you” after hearing his last name

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  17. Jolene said on December 29, 2014 at 11:00 am

    Yikes! Definitely call the doc, Judybusy. In most cases, an appendectomy is only slightly more troublesome than clipping a hangnail, but the perforation suggests, as you say, continuing infection, which can rapidly get worse. Is she at all feverish?

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  18. Judybusy said on December 29, 2014 at 11:15 am

    Jolene, no, no fever. She’s left a message for the doc at this point. Also, she is a nurse, so is really aware of symptoms and what they mean. And this appy was waaaay worse than clipping a hangnail—lots of pain which went untreated while we waited in one ED for nearly 3 hours. We finally left for a different one. Within an hour and a half there we knew it was surgery time for the appendix.

    Oh, I forgot to say before that the picture of Wendy is just wonderful!

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  19. Kirk said on December 29, 2014 at 11:18 am

    Just learned that the Detroit Free Press managed to put a picture of John Harbaugh, not brother Jim, on the front page. Nice work, Freepers.

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  20. brian stouder said on December 29, 2014 at 11:20 am


    And I bet the question is: mistake, or sly editorial comment?

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  21. Kirk said on December 29, 2014 at 11:22 am

    No question, it’s terribly sloppy work. You can even see his Ravens cap in the picture.

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  22. brian stouder said on December 29, 2014 at 11:23 am

    Too funny!

    Here’s some smack

    an excerpt:

    Whoever put together this morning’s Detroit Free Press front page forgot the Golden Harbaugh Rule: John is the normal-looking one, and Jim is the one who always looks like a goddamn angry dragon.

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  23. Bob (not Greene) said on December 29, 2014 at 1:38 pm

    White lady wearing body armor shoots at random people and points gun at cops. Police don’t summarily gun her down, somehow.

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  24. jcburns said on December 29, 2014 at 1:55 pm

    Thanks Bob (not Greene.) Just retweeted that link on Twitter, yet really didn’t have a way (or the characters) to h/t you. So, here, thanks!

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  25. Dexter said on December 29, 2014 at 2:00 pm

    John Harbaugh makes a little over over $7 million a year in Baltimore, while little bro’ Jim will only make an even $7,000,000 per in Ann Arbor. That was what Michigan originally offered Jim anyway.
    I talked to the mechanic at the car garage. It’s going to cost the entire value of the van to get a replacement door installed. Junk yard time. Now I want a Ford F-150 truck.

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  26. 4dbirds said on December 29, 2014 at 3:35 pm

    I love dogs. Great pic.

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  27. FDChief said on December 29, 2014 at 3:40 pm

    “Shearling-lined flip-flops”…

    I hate to just come out and admit this, but I’m trying to picture these and utterly failing; I keep getting this mental image of a pair of those cheap pink rubber flips (to out myself as the product of a generation of outfront racists they were universally known as “Jap flaps” in the Sixties Midwest where I grew up) with strips of some sort of imitation fleece glued to the thin rubber straps and a footish-shaped fleecy pad affixed to the top of the sole. This cannot be right, though, if they are to be the envy of the other yogis.

    Can we get a picture here to help out the shearling-imagination-impaired..?

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  28. Jolene said on December 29, 2014 at 3:47 pm

    As always, FDChief, Google has the answer.

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  29. Jolene said on December 29, 2014 at 3:56 pm

    Or if, like me, you don’t like the feel of that between-the-toes strap, you could get shearling-lined Birkenstocks.

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  30. FDChief said on December 29, 2014 at 4:52 pm

    Ah. Thanks, Jolene.

    But I’d just observe that your examples point up what I think was the problem I had; it was with the whole “lined” part of Nancy’s description. I just couldn’t wrap my head around how you’d “line” a flip. And based on the L.L. Bean page you linked to is that it looks like they couldn’t, either; they just put a layer of fluffy wool-ish stuff on the sole and left the straps wool-less. I can see how that’d keep your feet warm from a cold floor but not how they’d keep your feet warm, period; everything from the sole up is still “barefoot”.

    The Birks look like they provide a little more covering for those cold mornings…but the wearer’s toes (and heels) still look pretty frost-nippable.

    I guess what I was picturing was some sort of clog-like shoe with a fluffy lining…but I couldn’t make that remotely answer to the description “flip-flop”, so I wondered…

    We may have to just accept that some things are, as Donnie Rumsfeld once said, “unknown unknowns”…

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  31. Joe K said on December 29, 2014 at 5:00 pm

    Bob not Greene,
    So I thought we didn’t want police gunning down citizens, now they don’t shoot some one and your complaining? Or maybe they should have shot her to even things up?
    Pilot Joe

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  32. Bob (not Greene) said on December 29, 2014 at 5:08 pm

    Joe, where did it say I wanted police gunning down people? If you could stop being obtuse for two seconds, try to figure out what I was getting at. Try real hard.

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  33. brian stouder said on December 29, 2014 at 5:11 pm

    Joe –

    I wonder how many right-thinking gun toting Republican Pro-NRA folks would turn their backs on shit-for-brains-Sean Hannity, and Oxy Rush, and Fox News, in reaction to police being killed by crazy white NRA people?

    Oh yeah – the answer is “ZERO”

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  34. Basset said on December 29, 2014 at 5:25 pm

    Surprised nobody has joined me in complaining about Fort Wayne radio. Maybe it’s just one of those generally accepted truths.

    The tenderloin quest continued this trip, at a bowling-alley bar in Anderson. Not bad, kinda soft but still better than anything I’ve found in Nashville.

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  35. brian stouder said on December 29, 2014 at 5:32 pm

    Basset – definitely an accepted truth!

    Rock 104 moved to 96.3, and they’re hit-and-miss. 97.3 is all pop all the time, which can be OK (in doses); and the am dial is just there to irritate people, I think

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  36. jcburns said on December 29, 2014 at 5:44 pm

    I think LLBean is sold out of the Rumsfeld Known Unknowns in my size.

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  37. Basset said on December 29, 2014 at 6:23 pm

    I still miss WIBC in Indy… “(Massive explosion)… (Huge voice from on high) Radio Indiana, WIBC!” Followed by real radio news, which I understand WOWO in the Fort used to do years ago.

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  38. Kirk said on December 29, 2014 at 6:36 pm

    I sometimes listened to WOWO in the morning as I was getting ready for school in southern Ohio. Real news indeed — with some ag updates; without fascist demagoguery.

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  39. Joe K said on December 29, 2014 at 6:39 pm

    Bob not Greene,
    Seemed to me you were insinuating they didn’t shoot her because she was white?
    Am I wrong?
    Basset, really need to get Sirius, I was one of the first 100,000 signed up for xm when it first came out, while personally I think the quality has gone down since the buy out I couldn’t imagine not having it in the car or plane, with the advancement in pandora you can basically program your own stations. Brian I wouldn’t really know what Rush or Shawn have to say, I don’t listen or watch either of them, I know hard to believe, I do think of you when I have to fly from Auburn to Fwa and go over the tower farm there on State street, always wonder what house is yours.
    Pilot Joe

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  40. Dexter said on December 29, 2014 at 6:59 pm

    Jay Gould (not the archetypal robber baron of 19th century railroads) and Bob Sievers were the early morning radio team of my youth on WOWO. Wayne Rothgeb did the farm reports on WANE-TV if I recall. WOWO had great DJs also, the best, as well as super-star program host John Cygna who carved out a great career later at KDKA Pittsburgh. Radio legends all. One day a big scare was broadcast on Sievers’ show; I heard it on a podcast decades later…can’t locate it now…here’s the poop: (WIKIPEDIA is my source) “On February 20, 1971, NORAD at Cheyenne Mountain in Colorado was ready to broadcast a normal required weekly test of the Emergency Broadcast System. However, AT&T reported that the United States Air Force used the wrong tape for the test by accident, and initiated an Emergency Action Notification, normally issued by the Office of Civil Defense or the President. This prompted all stations in the Fort Wayne, Indiana, area by order of the FCC to operate under emergency procedures and feed the broadcast from WOWO through their radios. Bob Sievers was at the microphone at WOWO at the time, and he, along with everyone at the studio, had no idea what was going on. When he heard the message from the Air Force, you could hear in his voice that he was very relieved that it was only a mistake.” Well, that’s only part of the story…Sievers was clearly upset, the only time anyone recalled he almost “lost it” on-mic. Hell, I was in Vietnam at the time and never heard the story until many years later. I always think of Powers Hamburgers in downtown Fort Wayne when I think if Sievers. He’d stop there every early morning for coffee and usually hand out a few dollar bills to any drunken beggar he saw.

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  41. brian stouder said on December 29, 2014 at 7:03 pm

    Joe – I was thinking we’re the 5th house in (from State Street) on Lindenwood. Then I googled us up, and arrived here –,-85.1812411,182m/data=!3m1!1e3

    and you’ll see channel 15 on the right (and their tower, casting it’s shadow to the east, so it must have been a late-day photo).

    I believe one house is concealed by trees (big elms), so that we’re the 4th visible roof on the right. (if you see the swimming pool, we’re the next house south of that…looks like we have a green car in the driveway, which was my Olds, which our 19 year old totalled a year or two ago)

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  42. Dexter said on December 29, 2014 at 7:22 pm

    Dave Barry’ Year In Review

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  43. Kirk said on December 29, 2014 at 7:24 pm

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  44. Sherri said on December 29, 2014 at 7:25 pm

    James Fallows on the American military:

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  45. Kirk said on December 29, 2014 at 7:48 pm

    I met Jay Gould once, when I was working in Van Wert 40 years ago. We both were covering an Earl Butz press conference. The Van Wert radio guy knew him and introduced us; the Van Wert guy was very deferential to him.

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  46. Kristen said on December 29, 2014 at 7:49 pm

    Wendy is so cute. She looks so happy. You did a nice thing adopting her!

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  47. Joe K said on December 29, 2014 at 7:54 pm

    My wife lived next door to Bob Seivers in Fort Wayne and used to babysit his kids.
    Also didn’t know you were friends with my brother Dave.
    Brian I’ll check it out next time, those towers look really big when your going by the tops of them.
    Pilot Joe

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  48. coozledad said on December 29, 2014 at 8:06 pm

    Now Joe wants to do nuance. Alan Turing already dismissed the idea of a machine that does nuance when he was sitting in the cafeteria of Bell Labs in 1944.

    “I don’t want to create an intelligent brain. I only want to make one that could head up AT&T.”

    Poor Alan. Unable to replicate even Joe.

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  49. alex said on December 29, 2014 at 9:13 pm

    An Earl Butz press conference in Van Wert. Did he tell any good jokes that day?

    Joe, it’s worth considering why a white woman drawing her gun at cops is alive to have her mugshot taken when unarmed black guys get picked off as if they had done the same goddamned thing.

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  50. Joe K said on December 29, 2014 at 9:26 pm

    Maybe just maybe the police are trying to tone it down, it just happens to be a white woman this time, who is to say It won’t be a black kid next time. I just hope the first time a policeman hesitates and gets shot, we all show as much sympathy to the policeman that held back and payed for it.
    Pilot Joe

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  51. coozledad said on December 29, 2014 at 9:59 pm

    Alex: Joe is a racist.
    Went to school with a legion of these boogerpickers and their defenders, and the argument in their defense always came down to that of the “Good slave”.

    Fuck him.

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  52. beb said on December 29, 2014 at 10:25 pm

    Joe, stop and think for a moment wht the reaction would be if a half dozen black men were to sling their legal AR-15 over their shoulders and parade through their local downtown. Would the police peacefully approach them and as what they’re doing — as happens when white men ‘open carry.’ Or would the police call out their SWAT team, surround the black men open carrying their legal guns and open fire without bothering to ask them questions?

    We know the answer … if it involves black men, cops shoot first, then cover up. They never admit regret, remorse, uncertainty or confusion.

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  53. Joe K said on December 29, 2014 at 10:54 pm

    Open fire without question, you really think the police would just jump out no question and open fire? Seriously?
    Have you ever heard of that happening? where? When?
    Pilot Joe

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  54. coozledad said on December 29, 2014 at 11:11 pm

    You don’t want to particularize that argument, Joe.
    Especially if you haven’t seen a Durham cop put his boot on a girl’s neck because she “disrespected him”.

    I wish there’d been a war you could have thrown your white fervor in.

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  55. MichaelG said on December 29, 2014 at 11:23 pm

    Wonderful link, Sherri. There’s another link within that one concerning the M-16 and its successors.
    I can personally attest to the author’s accuracy concerning the problems with the M-16 when it first hit the ‘Nam. It’s interesting and informative.

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  56. jcburns said on December 29, 2014 at 11:24 pm

    Joe, they opened fire on a 12 year old black kid in a park in Cleveland two seconds after pulling up.
    Tamir Rice.
    Two seconds. Actually, the deputy chief said “1 1/2 to 2 seconds.”
    That’s not even enough time to issue any instructions at all.
    The system’s out of whack. There are plenty of non-angels out there of all races and backgrounds, but nobody deserves execution by cop.

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  57. Basset said on December 30, 2014 at 7:00 am

    Joe, I’ve had Sirius for several years… Deep tracks, Raw Dog comedy and the Willie channel are my big three, Mrs. B likes The Bridge. We were in a rental car so itunes either terrestrial radio or the iPod, which I made sure to load up before we left home.

    NPR’s the only Nashville local radio I bother with – we have a community station but the sigal’s really weak, aside from those two we get the same formula country, religion, and right-wing hatefulness you can hear anywhere.

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  58. brian stouder said on December 30, 2014 at 10:38 am

    One of the books I got for Christmas is the new Harold Holzer book about Lincoln and the press, which looks to be a little wild and wooly.

    I do think today’s press is much milder than it used to be.

    And even if you factor in the wide availability of today’s media, compared to the narrower reach in bygone days – I betcha the narrower electorate of bygone days (male, white, and in many places – property owner only) still leaves the “narrow reach” with outsized effectiveness

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  59. Jolene said on December 30, 2014 at 6:14 pm

    Not everyone is a David Brooks fan, but, in some things, he has good taste. He has, for instance, compiled two end-of-the-year pieces on the best magazine articles of the year. At some points, his taste overlaps with ours, as we discussed several of the articles earlier this year.

    Sidney Awards: Part I

    Sidney Awards: Part II

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