(Nearly) done with February.

The cold abated this weekend. It went clear up to the high 20s, which felt like beach weather. We were promised snow, just in case we thought the near-thaw was a prelude to spring, but only a dusting fell, and the forecast is for more subzero cold, arriving today (Monday).

On Saturday I bought a pair of fleece-lined tights, and if you were reading this on a text message, I would insert a thumbs-up emoji right here. Instead I’ll note that today is a prelude to spring, because everything in winter is, in some way. Sunset is a full hour later than it was at Christmastime, and sunrise ditto. Believe me, the early-morning exerciser notices these things. It takes our minds off the fact our hair is freezing.

It hasn’t been a terrible February. We’ve had parties to attend each of the last three weekends, and Saturday’s was at the home of one of the old filmmaking crew’s, so there were lots of jokes about getting the band back together. I doubt we will, but it was fun to catch up. One of our number is a pretty high-level IT guy, and was describing an incident in which some guy nearly crashed the internet for a very large ISP through one mistake. “The more you learn about any complicated system, the more you come away thinking it’s a miracle it works at all,” he said. Amen to that, brother.

Sunday I read this story in the NYT:

On the nights when she has just seven hours between shifts at a Taco Bell in Tampa, Fla., Shetara Brown drops off her three young children with her mother. After work, she catches a bus to her apartment, takes a shower to wash off the grease and sleeps three and a half hours before getting back on the bus to return to her job.

…Employees are literally losing sleep as restaurants, retailers and many other businesses shrink the intervals between shifts and rely on smaller, leaner staffs to shave costs. These scheduling practices can take a toll on employees who have to squeeze commuting, family duties and sleep into fewer hours between shifts. The growing practice of the same workers closing the doors at night and returning to open them in the morning even has its own name: “clopening.”

This is the second story about this phenomenon I’ve seen recently; the other was also in the NYT, and looked at a single mother at a single business – Starbucks, if I recall correctly. The story led to some red-faced corrections on the part of Starbucks, but as this one makes clear, the practice is widespread across fast food, retail and other service businesses. There are some reasons this isn’t 100 percent a human-rights issue…

Some managers say there are workers who don’t mind clopenings — like students who have classes Monday through Friday and want to cram in a lot of weekend work hours to maximize their pay.

Tightly scheduled shifts seem to have become more common for a number of reasons. Many fast-food restaurants and other service businesses have high employee turnover, and as a result they are often left with only a few trusted workers who have the authority and experience to close at night and open in the morning.

…but at the same time, you have to ask yourself: Hmm, why high turnover? Maybe because the money is bad and the hours are torture. What’s the solution? Keep the money low and the hours ditto, and hope a unicorn drops off an application.

Come the revolution, the quants and MBAs who dreamed this stuff up will be the first to the guillotines, and who will cry for them? Maybe their mothers. Meanwhile, our own Jolene passed this along, via her Facebook network:


That’s the workaday world these days.

And here’s the workaday week, upon us. Another thumbs-up emoji here for a good one.

Posted at 12:30 am in Current events, Same ol' same ol' |

52 responses to “(Nearly) done with February.”

  1. Dexter said on February 23, 2015 at 2:09 am

    My Facebook pal Patty is a barrista at a midtown Starbucks (Manhattan). She lives on Staten Island, rises at 3:00 AM, buses to the docks, ferries across, buses to midtown. Sometimes the buses are screwed up and she walks 2 1/2 miles from the ferry terminal to work. Sometimes the manager/opener isn’t there and Patty stands in the cold until he gets there…even though Starbucks are all over New York City, there is always a line waiting to get inside at opening time…then the mad scramble instantly begins to caffeinate the customers. She never mentions that 12 years ago she was living under the staircase at a radio station in New York. She is happy to hae a job but she’s 60 now…how much longer can she make that commute and those long walks and the stress of working in a busy-busy atmosphere? She has a lovely cat named Evi and a lot of friends there who I hope never let her move back under a staircase if everything crashes around her again. Baristas make minimum wage…$8.50 to $10 per hour, hard to make it on that pay,and necessitating the apartment on Staten Island. Brooklyn used to be a working person’s domain…no more. Brooklyn is hip once more, with shy-high rents to prove it.

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  2. Deborah said on February 23, 2015 at 4:04 am

    I bailed about three quarters through the Oscars. Boring. The visual image I have stuck in my mind is Michael Keaton sitting in the audience chewing gum like a maniac.

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  3. David C. said on February 23, 2015 at 7:29 am

    Some managers say there are workers who don’t mind clopenings

    Where did “some say” come from? Is it taught in j-school, or does it come from OJT? Do they read the mustache of understanding and figure if he can use it to bag a billionairess they can too? It seems like they should be able to find one of the workers some say exist, maybe even two.

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  4. alex said on February 23, 2015 at 7:44 am

    Voting ends this morning for the WSJ House of the Week. If you’re so inclined, please give a thumbs-up emoji to the one in Indiana. It belongs to a former high school classmate and his partner and it’s an amazing place — all in original condition. Be careful, though — the first image you click on gets your vote, so click on the slideshows of each house first.

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  5. Deggjr said on February 23, 2015 at 7:57 am

    … and hope a unicorn drops off an application.

    So the obvious solutions is to increase the number of unicorns for whom these jobs are the best available.

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  6. beb said on February 23, 2015 at 8:20 am

    I remember when the CEO or either Gannet or Knight-Ridder came to town and gave a speech about our glorious future where everybody would be working 2-3 part-time jobs and auctioning off their skills to the highest bidder. He, as a millionaire CEO thought that was wonderful. I, on the other hand, wondered how anyone could plan for the future with such insecure income. But this is what it’s coming to. Staples is reducing employee hours to 25 per week to avoid having to offer health insurance, on-call minimum-wage employees, cries to abolish the minimum wage, etc., etc., etc.

    Attempting to polish the turd that it is, Walmart is offering to stabilize hours for **some** employees and post their schedule 2.5 weeks in advance. This, like Ford $5/day pay increase eons ago, was to stabilize the rapid turnover of workers, and some benevolent act on the part of billionaires.

    Remember how fans of the surveillance state always said ‘if you’d done nothing wrong, what have you got to hide’? Slashdot reports that a man arrested fir armed robbery went from a likely conviction and 4 year sentence to 6 months probation plea bargain when his lawyer found out that a device called Stingray had been used in finding the defendant. The lawyer asked the police to produce this device. Instead of doing that, they offered an insanely generous plea-bargain. Stingray is a fake cell phone tower which can be used to track cell phones, intercept calls and I don’t know what all else. It’s given out by the FBI but comes with a nondisclosure agreement. If this was a perfectly legal device why does the FBI hnot want to admit that it exists or who is using it?

    “fleece-lined tights” or as we used to call them, thermal underpants. My car was frozen to the ground this morning. I parked in a puddle Saturday which became ice. I can not wait for it to warm up!

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  7. Suzanne said on February 23, 2015 at 9:06 am

    Other than the job I have now, which pays lousy & is part-time but I like, my experience with jobs the past few years is that of being one step above indentured servant. You are expected to show up to work in spite of sickness, death, blizzards, etc. no matter what and stay for as many hours as the higher-ups deem necessary. Regular schedules are a thing of the past; your “real” life is irrelevant. It’s not uncommon at several of the manufacturing or warehouse businesses near me to be scheduled for 8 hours, but to be told when you show up that, nope, it’s actually a 10 hour day. Wreaks havoc with the home life usually for about $12 an hour.

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  8. adrianne said on February 23, 2015 at 9:28 am

    Workers of the world, unite! You have nothing to lose but your lousy hours, low pay and minimal health benefits. I do see some pushback to the dehumanization of workers. For one thing, the job market is getting better and people are no longer indentured to a lousy job. For another thing, who the f can defend these billionaire morons anymore?

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  9. coozledad said on February 23, 2015 at 9:43 am

    Once it’s a worker’s market, the fed will move to a tight money policy. Got to keep the poors poor.

    It has nothing to do with inflationary pressures, particularly in a country whose currency has remained solid against its global competitors. It’s all about a kind of unwritten sumptuary code- Who is permitted to have things like an education, time to raise children, decent housing, and who is denied those things.

    That’s why the Republicans slopped the budget surplus to their hogs as soon as Bush got in. Their wealth-markers were getting po dirt on them.

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  10. Judybusy said on February 23, 2015 at 10:09 am

    There is a movement to allow home care workers to organize–those in MN won that right in 2014. This is so critical, not only for the workers themselves, but for the people they care for. Higher wages and benefits will hopefully attract better-quality caregivers. The folks they care for are so often vulnerable and at risk of neglect and abuse.

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  11. coozledad said on February 23, 2015 at 10:14 am

    alex: We’ve got similar dining room furniture to the suite in your friend’s house. Give them my sympathies for the veneers. I’d have a pro redo ours, but that stuff is a bitch to move, and the temperature extremes here would only buckle it again.

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  12. Bitter Scribe said on February 23, 2015 at 10:52 am

    Unpredictable hours are the result of sloppy, lazy scheduling on the part of managers. They don’t want to take the responsibility of planning and anticipating; it’s easier to just treat employees like they’re tokens on a game board.

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  13. brian stouder said on February 23, 2015 at 11:49 am

    Alex – I believe I successfully voted for the very cool Indiana house. It gave me this morning’s chuckle, when I read that it was built by “a refrigerator magnate”…

    Too cool for school!

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  14. Deborah said on February 23, 2015 at 12:04 pm

    I good piece by Matt Taibbi about Guiliani http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/news/rudy-giuliani-american-soviet-20150221?page=2

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  15. Julie Robinson said on February 23, 2015 at 12:09 pm

    ALex, what a gorgeous house, and it looks like they’ll win. What, I’m not sure, but it’s a treat for the eyes.

    Raise your hand if you watched the Oscars to the bitter end last night and regret it. Foggy brain isn’t good for financial work. I’m double checking everything today because I’m just sure I’m going to make a mistake. Time to caffeinate.

    This morning I read a story (foggy brain doesn’t remember where) about the guy in Detroit who walked to his job and subsequently received donations to buy a car. It said that most factory jobs now are like his, which pays $10.55 an hour. No one can support themselves, much less a family, on wages like that. Any bets those $10.55 jobs are non-union?

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  16. Sherri said on February 23, 2015 at 12:21 pm

    Thirty years ago today, The General threw a chair: http://www.si.com/longform/2015/1985/knight/?noroute=true

    Lest you think he’s mellowed, he still has problems with chairs: http://screengrabber.deadspin.com/bobby-knight-requests-you-sit-the-hell-down-1686898334

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  17. coozledad said on February 23, 2015 at 1:57 pm

    Billo’s vibrator is getting a workout lately. He’s probably already had to call AAA for a jump.
    America has the boldest liars in the world, hoss.

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  18. Sherri said on February 23, 2015 at 2:38 pm

    Peter King does his part in the rehabilitation of Jameis Winston’s image: http://mmqb.si.com/2015/02/23/tampa-bay-buccaneers-jameis-winston-peter-king-nfl-combine-draft/6/

    Not that King was alone. Most of the stories coming out of the NFL Combine this past weekend were like this, including one about Winston hopping up to help push a wheelchair in the airport in Indy “when nobody was watching.” (Sure, because the Indy airport this weekend wasn’t full of NFL personnel and sportswriters.) One thing is definitely true about Winston: he is charming in a press conference.

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  19. Jeff Borden said on February 23, 2015 at 2:45 pm

    Hey Cooz, I think Billo also just settled his lawsuit with the producer, Andrea Mackris, he sexually harassed some years ago with some sick puppy phone chat about him and her in a shower with a falafel or something. I saw a posting somewhere today, though there were no financial details.

    Meanwhile, Jabba the Hutt lookalike Roger Ailes has expressed his full and complete support of Billo. No surprise there. When a news channel has no standards, there’s nothing for it to hold anyone accountable with, right?

    I’m already dreading 2016. . .especially if Hillary Clinton is running. The shriek of the screaming monkeys may drive me around the bend.

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  20. Sherri said on February 23, 2015 at 3:25 pm

    This is why I use Ghostery, and turn off all tracking: http://motherboard.vice.com/read/looking-up-symptoms-online-these-companies-are-collecting-your-data

    Sorry, Nancy, I don’t show up in your Google Analytics.

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  21. coozledad said on February 23, 2015 at 3:41 pm

    Why Politico will never be anything but shitpaper:

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  22. Basset said on February 23, 2015 at 3:52 pm

    Meanwhile, an ex-Detroiter who once put out a record titled “Survival”… is apparently still going:


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  23. coozledad said on February 23, 2015 at 4:55 pm

    The same people who are distressed with gay marriage don’t know a pussy from an asshole.

    Breaking rocks is the only job these people were born to.

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  24. brian stouder said on February 23, 2015 at 5:34 pm

    I watched about half the Oscars, and then went to bed…missing the show-stopping performance that Lady GaGa (or however you spell it) put on.

    My Heavens! – What a wonderful interlude!!

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  25. coozledad said on February 23, 2015 at 5:43 pm

    Re 23.
    There’s a Bill O’Reilly joke in there somewhere.

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  26. Dave said on February 23, 2015 at 5:48 pm

    Sherri, I don’t have a tenth of the sports knowledge that you have, I’m a very nominal fan but Winston’s remarks about winning the Super Bowl next season surely raised a lot attention with NFL vets who are thinking, “You just wait, rookie”.

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  27. Deborah said on February 23, 2015 at 7:08 pm

    Good one Basset at #22. Coozledad at #23, what a maroon that guy is, and I thought it was bad when people don’t know that NM is a state.

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  28. coozledad said on February 23, 2015 at 7:40 pm

    Deborah: I was just asking my wife, who has an actual background in the bastardly hard sciences, if she thought the Michelson-Morley experiments or the work leading to the development of insulin could have taken place in the current goober-engineered political climate.
    She says she doesn’t do history. And,uh, no.

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  29. Sherri said on February 23, 2015 at 8:03 pm

    Maybe someone should ask the 2016 candidates whether they believe light travels through the ether. Or whether the sun rotates around the earth. Or whether the earth rotates around the greatest nation ever, the United States of America!!11!

    Michelson-Morley would still happen, just not in the US. After all, the Higgs boson has been detected, but at CERN’s Large Hadron Collider, not at the cancelled Superconducting Super Collider.

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  30. coozledad said on February 23, 2015 at 8:20 pm

    Sherri: At one point they were considering locating the SSC in Granville County, NC. It would have been a big economic boost, and might even have persuaded UNC, Duke and NCSU to build satellite campuses in that area.

    You just answered my question. Thank you.

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  31. Deborah said on February 23, 2015 at 9:28 pm

    This is cool, I learned this from Zach Klein’s (a NN friend and Beaver Brook owner) Twitter feed. “Before the Revolutionary War, the king of England claimed all trees > 24″ diam within 10 miles of any U.S. river” and the term “windfall” comes from the practice (law?) that trees that would fall on your property within that area as the result of a storm, belonged to you.

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  32. coozledad said on February 23, 2015 at 11:12 pm

    Deborah: It might be to draw another legal line between timber that was suitable for masts, usually white pine with a trunk of 20″ or greater. If it’s fallen, it’s no good for naval stores because of the inevitable shear up the trunk.

    Deadfall is great for firewood, which was as significant to the colonial era as oil to ours.

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  33. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on February 24, 2015 at 8:46 am

    Or for spars. I had no idea how important spars were until reading the Patrick O’Brian novels.

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    • nancy said on February 24, 2015 at 9:07 am

      Spars = masts. Ayy, always ask a pirate.

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  34. Julie Robinson said on February 24, 2015 at 9:40 am

    And in the category of you can’t make this up, I bring you the Idaho legislator who thinks gynecological exams can be done by swallowing a camera: http://time.com/3719855/vito-barbieri-camera-female-gynecological-exam/. Really.

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  35. brian stouder said on February 24, 2015 at 9:48 am

    Julie – Rachel Maddow had great fun with that story, last night.

    And then she turned to the national level Republicans, who are within a few days of shutting down Homeland Security…??

    I suppose that when they talk to themselves, the world makes sense…but all we see are angry mumblers

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  36. Deborah said on February 24, 2015 at 10:38 am

    Coozledad, we have a lot of deadwood on our land in Abiquiu, we collect it and bring it back to Santa Fe for fires in our fireplace. It makes great fires that smell fantastic, piñon. It’s not from storms, the trees were killed by the bark beetle infestation a few years back. They devastated the piñons all over northern NM, up into to CO and all the way up into Canada.

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  37. Kirk said on February 24, 2015 at 10:40 am

    Brian and anyone else with an interest in Lincoln, I call your attention to the latest issue of Smithsonian magazine, which has several relevant stories, not the least of which establishes that Mary Todd Lincoln and John Wilkes Booth were consulting the same spiritualist at the same time, leading up to the murder.

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  38. LAMary said on February 24, 2015 at 11:41 am

    I always think of that pinon smoke smell when I think of NM, especially Santa Fe. It does smell wonderful.

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  39. brian stouder said on February 24, 2015 at 12:14 pm

    Kirk, I’ll look for it!

    I read a book about Booth some years ago (“American Brutus”); and indeed, that guy would fit right in at Fox News, nowadays.

    It’s news to me that Mary and Booth visited the same charlatan, although not surprising.

    Up ’til the attack, Booth would’ve been a ‘somebody’, around town.

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  40. Julie Robinson said on February 24, 2015 at 12:29 pm

    Mrs. Lincoln’s Dressmaker is another ancillary book that continues the theme that poor Mary Todd drew disaster around herself. Fiction but based heavily on truth.

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  41. beb said on February 24, 2015 at 12:57 pm

    Black site – it’s not just for Afghanistan anymore:

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  42. Dexter said on February 24, 2015 at 1:05 pm

    I know many people are obsessed with the old movie “Ghostbusters”. I am not one of the enamored, but for anyone who may be or know anyone who would like to substantiate rumors flying around about a sequel or prequel…here ya go, straight from the horse’s mouth.

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  43. coozledad said on February 24, 2015 at 1:11 pm

    Trust the police, you say?

    It’s well past time to rein this shit in.

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  44. coozledad said on February 24, 2015 at 1:24 pm

    Sorry,Beb. I Shoulda read through.

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  45. Dexter said on February 24, 2015 at 2:13 pm

    Buy your darts early, nn dot com commenters…Mitch Albom is coming to Kendallville, Indiana in a few weeks.
    “Tickets for the dinner banquet are $59 for chamber members, $79 for guests and $39 for students. Sponsor opportunities are still available, which include dinner tickets and a copy of “The First Phone Call from Heaven” autographed by Albom during a book signing after the event.
    For more information, contact the Kendallville Area Chamber of Commerce at 260-347-1554 or email lleamon@kendallvillechamber.com. “

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  46. Suzanne said on February 24, 2015 at 5:00 pm

    So I guess this means Mr A is on the way down. I mean, Kendallville (aka Kendalltucky) isn’t exactly a big time gig.

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  47. MarkH said on February 24, 2015 at 5:01 pm

    I think this Seth Meyers rebuttal to Rudy’s psychoanalytical skills is worth sharing. Pretty good.


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  48. beb said on February 24, 2015 at 5:07 pm

    Seth Meyers said what I’ve been thinking all along. Being president, or even just running for the position is such a grueling task that only someone who really loves America would do it.

    “The First Phonecall From Heaven”? – I think George Burns has this covered in “Oh, God,” when he said he wish evangelists would stop talking so much.

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  49. Sherri said on February 24, 2015 at 5:50 pm

    Matt Taibbi went to the NFL Combine and provides a oh so much more interesting take on it than Peter King: http://grantland.com/the-triangle/americas-second-greatest-reality-show-a-visit-to-the-nfl-draft-combine-in-indianapolis/

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  50. Sherri said on February 24, 2015 at 7:02 pm

    When I read about the incredible backlog of untested rape kits that have piled up everywhere, going back decades, it’s hard for me, as a women, not to feel like our society simply doesn’t give a shit about women.


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  51. Deborah said on February 24, 2015 at 11:22 pm

    Sherri, I’m not a sports person at all but I thoroughly enjoyed that Matt Taibbi piece you linked to. And I’m with you on the rape kit situation.

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