The wrap, nearly wrapped.

Sometimes I think this blog is reaching its sell-by date, and then we push past it and find a new sell-by date. Seriously, though, it’s been 15 years now. How much longer can it go on?

Long enough to warrant another two-pack of Costco plastic wrap, maybe. Yes, those of you who’ve been marking days on your calendar and wondering who will win the Nancy-and-Alan bet on the longevity of the Costco two-pack? I think those who chose Alan will get this one, because the second roll is dwindling.

This all started when the first two-pack ran out, and I said, “Jeez, I think I bought this not long after we moved here. That means it lasted almost five years. So this two-pack will last until, what? Kate’s senior year in high school.” At least, that’s how I remember the conversation: Kate’s senior year in high school. The blog reveals I said, “Kate’s freshman year in college.” But they will both happen in 2015, won’t they? I’m considering this a draw. Alan differs.

Neither of us remembers what the stakes are. Probably best that it’s lost to the mists of time.


Another interesting piece by Conor Friedersdorf on the Ferguson case, posting a key question, i.e., why aren’t conservatives more incensed about the Justice Department report on the little kingdom of official larceny by the Mississip’? After all, a founding principle of the movement is that government will naturally overreach, and that it should be resisted. But this virtual definition of government overreach has been greeted by…not exactly crickets, but certainly not a unified front of resistance.

If nothing else, it gives you a sense of what a hack factory the National Review is these days.

Any “Game of Thrones” fans in the house? Then you’ll be interested in this Zapruder-esque fly-specking of the latest Season 5 trailer, with all sorts of fly-specky details.

What else do I have? Not much. It was a deadline day, and my energy was elsewhere. We’ll try tomorrow.

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

97 responses to “The wrap, nearly wrapped.”

  1. Sherri said on March 11, 2015 at 12:47 am

    The National Review was always a hack factory. Buckley just made Jim Crow sound a bit more elegant when he defended it.

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  2. Dexter said on March 11, 2015 at 1:34 am

    The item that disappears quickest here is dish soap. When we became just two here, we recycled the dishwasher to the curb and I became the dishwasher, and a damn finicky one at that…I am like Olive Kitteredge in that recent HBO mini-series…I won’t eat an omelette until the pan is washed (prevents piles of dirty dishes). Outside of stuff like uindesirable canned goods, like maybe a can of some nasty vegetable that everyone hates, I can’t think of a product that last forever…toilet paper and paper towels need weekly replacing, laundry soap maybe every month; we use plastic wrap quickly too. OK, I have it…Carla Lee bought some tea about five years ago…some was green tea and some was Bigelow vanilla flavored tea. I know that crap has been there at least the five years.
    I was discussing with my older brother a topic that I believe came up here to nn dot com…in my post I had referred to the time Dad helped my step-grandma clean her refrigerator, the one she only used before big holiday feast-cooking. Dad had discarded some Old Crown ale cans that were rusted all over, very old. I think I alluded they must have been maybe ten years old. My bother remembered more of the story: those beverages had been brought into the house in 1939 when my aunt’s husband had been killed in a fiery crash of a car-hauler in St. Louis…someone had brought them to the funeral, which was held in the old house, in the parlor. Those cans had been in that fridge at that time for 24 years.

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  3. Snarkworth said on March 11, 2015 at 6:15 am

    For me, it’s a can of Pam cooking spray. I remember packing it for the move to the new place, and that was 15 years ago.

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  4. David C. said on March 11, 2015 at 6:31 am

    why aren’t conservatives more incensed about the Justice Department report on the little kingdom of official larceny by the Mississip’?

    Just a hunch, but maybe they’re fine with government overreach as long as it serves the purpose of kicking the poors and the blahs. Like I say, just a hunch.

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  5. Connie said on March 11, 2015 at 7:29 am

    I recently discovered, deep in the hall closet, a bottle of Hyvee rubbing alcohol. Hyvee is a Minnesota grocery store brand, so it must have moved to Indiana with us in 2000.

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  6. alex said on March 11, 2015 at 7:31 am

    Christianity and capitalism are the two legs of the stool on which Buckley founded the National Review, and anyone who’s dumb enough to accept his world view can go sit on it.

    One of my longest-kept items was a homemade Christmas fruitcake which I used to pull out of the freezer for yuks. It wasn’t even mine — I’d tossed mine on the way home from the party at which it had been given — but had belonged to a friend who’d come home with me from that party and placed it in the fridge while we drank some more. The cakes had been made by a then-single piranha who was perfecting her domestic skills. It was the 1980s. I still had it well into the early aughts, and I’m guessing it got the heave-ho in ’04 when I moved out of state. Whenever guests would come over from that old circle, we’d get out Mary Pat’s fruitcake and reminisce. No matter how much we all had aged, that thing looked the same as it ever did.

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  7. Wim said on March 11, 2015 at 7:42 am

    Very well said, David C at #4.

    My mother kept a cake-topper marshmallow man in her refrigerator for over twenty years. And here’s the thing: she changed domiciles and refrigerators several times in that interim. She carefully moved that marshmallow man from one butter-dish niche to the next. I could never bring myself to ask why.

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  8. Basset said on March 11, 2015 at 7:44 am

    Can’t go back quite that far but I did find a can of Bird’s custard the other day with a 2012 expiration; we generally eat it only at Christmas dinner. Where we pour it hot over fruitcake. Or plum pudding, if I get ambitious a few months ahead.

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  9. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on March 11, 2015 at 8:08 am

    I’ll take a shot at the “why” from the conservative perspective. Friedersdorf is entirely correct that there’s plenty to dislike, condemn, and indeed be horrified by in Ferguson from a purely conservative position, but the anxiety is that to agree is to open the door to “so the solution is a federal role” which is a right-wing concern much greater than any other issue. That’s the right’s and the GOP’s paralysis on racism in a nutshell. (Pun somewhat intended.)

    As I faintly and infrequently say here, I disagree with the essentialist argument taken as a given here with conservatism being racism in a suit. But the acceptance of that flood in the party shift after 1964 has made it nearly impossible to vigorously argue the point, and the fear of federal control overriding local authority leaves classical conservatism almost no tools with which they could justly claim they will swiftly and surely dismantle racism and remedy its harms. I’m still not a liberal in part because I’m put off by . . . to make a simple example that serves to make the larger argument, for me . . . the fact that almost every NPR story about a social ill of any sort, large or small, ends with a hat tip to “there is a need for federal regulation” or a cry about how there is too much variation between states and “federal standards would reduce this inconsistency”. I’m not convinced that federal solutions are a master solvent for every ailment, a WD-40 for the human heart. But you have to open up a path for justice when tradition and precedent leave you with oppression and hate. That’s what keeps mouths shut, again, on the right when they hear about the patterns of local injustice in a community that’s resisted every positive outside influence that’s not paying into the power structure’s pockets.

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  10. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on March 11, 2015 at 8:10 am

    Oh, and per my post at the end of last night’s thread, I’m informed this morning that reporters still get to be reporters. It’s just editors who can’t be editors. Great Caesar’s Ghost.

    (They’re “coaches” now, or “content coaches” in place of city/managing editors.)

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  11. Suzanne said on March 11, 2015 at 8:26 am

    Well said, Jeff. One of modern conservatism’s core ideas that I can’t hold to is their belief in the magnanimity of the market, that it will always, ultimately, do what is best for everyone. From what I’ve seen in my half century (and then some) of life, no, it won’t. Most business will do what’s best for itself, not for society.
    As we’ve seen in the past few years, a rising tide raises some boats and engulfs others.

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  12. Ann said on March 11, 2015 at 8:44 am

    I needed a benedryl the other day. Knew I had some in the medicine cabinet. Turns out it had expired in 2004. Since we moved to this condo in late 2006 that means I packed it up even though it was already two years past its date at that point.

    I hesitated briefly, but then took one. Seemed to work fine. I hesitated even longer about whether I should put the rest back in the medicine cabinet. I confess I did.

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  13. Sherri said on March 11, 2015 at 9:11 am

    Jeff(tmmo), I know you are not a racist. I am sure that there are other conservatives that aren’t racists. The problem is, far too often, it’s hard to find any difference in the actions of the non-racist conservatives vs the racist conservatives. My general rule is, I let what you do show me what you really are; your motive for treating the underclass, whether it is racist or purely business, really doesn’t matter. (That’s the generic ‘you’ there, Jeff, not you specifically.)

    I get that the conservatives are so fearful of federal government overreach that almost any other solution is preferable, but the problem is, the solution of easiest resort is to run roughshod over the most vulnerable. Ferguson is not unique. There are Fergusons across the country: communities which use fines and court charges to fund government, rather than taxes; whose police don’t resemble the community they’re serving; where “order” is more important than “law”. It’s as true where the motive is pure racism as it is where the motive is anti-tax; at the other end of the stick, you’re still getting beaten.

    I’m not a conservative, even though I was raised among conservatives, because I’m put off by the conservative/libertarian assumption that the market will just make all the poor people richer, instead of exploiting them to make the already rich richer. (I’m also put off by the conflation of Christianity, capitalism, and patriotism, but that’s another topic.)

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  14. coozledad said on March 11, 2015 at 9:17 am

    Speaking as a southerner, the only solution is a federal one. Sometimes you have to part people from their beloved local traditions with bayonets, because nothing else speaks to stupid. And the Republicans only favor local autonomy when it isn’t a roadblock to getting their hands on that last goddamn dime. Conservatives aren’t incensed about the Ferguson report because Ferguson is yet another model for soaking the poor, one they can get behind absolutely.

    Otherwise Tom Cotton wouldn’t advise one of his constituents that “Enrolling in Obamacare would expose her to identity theft from the Russian mafia.”

    When you hear David Brooks and other mealy mouthed defenders of Wall street and their misshapen children crank up that old “The poor can be enobled through spiritual training”, you’re hearing what the poor heard in the aftermath of every one of our nation’s financial panics, when the rich used the government to protect them from paying their debts. At the head of every soup line their was a David Brooks means testing, dividing those who weren’t worthy of “poor soup” from those who contorted their faces and mouths in a suitable Jeebus spasm.

    Brooks is remarkably quiet when it comes to the trashy children of the rich, like Parker Rice, or Paris Hilton.

    The Republicans are fine with the most excessive, draconian uses of government, as long as its principal aim is to keep the rich rich, and to grind the poor down. You can take it to the bank, but don’t expect them to give you specie in exchange for paper. They’ve never been bound to, and they never will.

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  15. Deborah said on March 11, 2015 at 9:22 am

    So the frat boy leading the racist chant on the bus has made an apology, a fine apology until he says that he and his parents haven’t been able to stay in thier house because they’re being threatened. Here’s what Charles Pierce has to say about using threats as an alibi I think it’s too bad that people use threats when they’re upset about something instead of taking the high road. The kid’s parents made the best apology though and they didn’t mention the threats to water it down.

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  16. coozledad said on March 11, 2015 at 9:31 am

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  17. Jeff Borden said on March 11, 2015 at 9:33 am

    To Cooz’s point, I would note that in Texas, which most folks would say is a very conservative state represented by a tea party Senator and many other luminaries of the far right, small government is good only when it doesn’t interfere with the wishes of wealthy contributors. When Denton, Texas, voted overwhelmingly to ban fracking operations, the Texas Legislature just sat down and wrote themselves a nice little bill forbidding local communities from contradicting the big state government and outlawing things like fracking. The energy companies can tromp on into Denton or any other Texas town with impunity because there’s not a damned thing local governments can do to stop them.

    Meanwhile, up in Wisconsin, the wannabe presidential contender Scott Walker just signed Right-to-Work legislation into law at the urging of the business lobby. It was noteworthy that the governor was surrounded by a phalanx of white men in coats and ties. There were no folks in coveralls or hardhats or fast-food uniforms cheering their “liberation” from those awful union dues, though the law was touted as a great boon to the average worker.

    Ironically, immediately after passage, a Wisconsin construction company said it would expand operations in Minnesota. The owner said the union dues fund worker training programs that consistently deliver skilled tradesmen to him and he fears that pool of trained people will dry up without union support, so he’s concentrating on the state without RTW laws.

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  18. Sue said on March 11, 2015 at 10:44 am

    I used to teach a Sunday School class made up of all ages (small church), and there was only one older kid attending the day we held a food drive during service. All the kids were sorting the food that was brought and the littles were having fun with it, sorting and stacking and deciding what went in which bag, when the bigger kid held up this rusty can of mixed vegetables and just looked at me. I said, ooh, someone cleaned out their pantry, and we started laughing. There was probably a teaching moment there but we were laughing too hard.

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  19. Bitter Scribe said on March 11, 2015 at 10:46 am

    Friedersdorf was IMO far too willing to give “movement conservatives” the benefit of the doubt when it comes to being motivated by racism. Heather MacDonald (a prep school classmate), for instance, has made a cottage industry out of calling black people incipient criminals who deserve whatever abuse the police feel like dishing out. As the first comment says: “Racism is a constitutive element of American conservatism. THIS is why it’s difficult to find American conservatives willing to see Ferguson for what it is.”

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  20. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on March 11, 2015 at 10:50 am

    Sherri — don’t forget “and consumerism.” Which has done as much damage to congregational life as the flag in the sanctuary debates. And the only reason I won the Memorial Day argument about rifles in the sanctuary with a color guard during services, that just about broke my predecessor, is that I’ve got the honorable discharge he doesn’t. That gave me just enough standing to say “yes, I know, but I fought so we don’t HAVE to put it there, either.”

    But the tentacles of consumerism suddenly poke up and grab at me in corners of church and community life I’d not have expected, and they aren’t the market, they’re metastasized moneychangers. Just as I keep being amazed by where and how they can stick video ads into webpages, there are brands and business interests getting their grip into everything from community recreation programs to the women’s fellowship outreach effort. I think I’m the only pastor in a five mile radius who won’t push the “shop here and we give your church/group 5% (on selected items” promo scam. “But Jeff, many of our people shop there anyhow?” “Yes, and it’s a loyalty program — that’s what they call it, you know — should we be investing in someone else’s loyalty program to support our commitments here?”

    Then they come to me with a pitch for a 25% money back one day promo at City Barbeque. And I love their potato salad and corn pudding. But no.

    I’m not kidding, consumerism is as pernicious a threat as racism or patriotism to churches, and I’m not lowering my concerns for those two one iota to make that statement.

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  21. Basset said on March 11, 2015 at 12:26 pm

    Now, Jeff, that’s just free enterprise at work. Why DO you hate America?

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  22. alex said on March 11, 2015 at 1:11 pm

    Oh, the tyranny and oppression.

    As the resident of a state that wants to recast discrimination as religious liberty, I don’t see how conservatives think their actions are anything but a wide-open invitation for federal authority to step in.

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  23. Suzanne said on March 11, 2015 at 1:11 pm

    Jeff, your post got me thinking about the many church people I know who follow Dave Ramsey type financial thoery. While some of the advice is good, I’m always struck by their love of American capitalism ( aka consumerism) along with the call to live simply within one’s means. But living simply brings any economy based on consumerism to a grinding halt, doesn’t it? We’ve seen what happens to the economy when there is little demand for goods & services. And isn’t much of the current capitalistic/consumeristic economic mindset simply a race to the bottom to see how many corners can be cut & how little capital can be put into the product or human resources? Where does it end?

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  24. beb said on March 11, 2015 at 1:26 pm

    There was an interesting article about a moderately large city that tried a new approach to treating the homeless. The normal way is to get them off drugs first and then find them affordable housing. This city put them in housing first and found that the follow up rehab, and doctor’s visits and so on was a lot less costly than trying to deal with their problems while leaving them live on the streets. The authors of the report wasn’t sure the plan would work in cities with large homeless problems but it did work here. This kind of ties in with what I’ve heard about the poors doing so badly in school. There are a lot of reasons why but one of them is that their lives are so chaotic that it’s hard to focus on learning. It’s not that the poors need to improve their moral lives, they need steady work, full-time work, decent-paying work, access to that work (better bus systems) and affordable health care. All of these things are opposed by the wealthy in America. They may call it conservatism but, really, it’s a war on the blahs.

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  25. Linda said on March 11, 2015 at 1:47 pm

    “I get that the conservatives are so fearful of federal government overreach that almost any other solution is preferable.” Jeff, I believe it from you, but not from other conservatives. Conservatives are fine with rules being created by whatever level of government they have their hands on. In the 60s, the conservative complaint with federal government was that it was too far from the people. Until conservatives got ahold of the federal government, and made filtering software for public libraries a necessity, for instance. Or when they wanted a federal law to deal with marriage, traditionally a state perogative. Or got ahold of state governments and outlawed the creation of local, public internet providers. Also, the abuses at Ferguson are an ugly reminder of how abusive the level of government “closest to the people” can be.

    Many conservatives in power and their followers used to be cleverly disguised as people with principles, until they were just nakedly about winning and putting their mitts on other people’s lives.

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  26. coozledad said on March 11, 2015 at 2:11 pm

    The Republicans closed ranks around these monsters. Asa Hutchinson included.

    Every one of them ought to be locked in solitary, away from the sun, until they rot.

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  27. Sue said on March 11, 2015 at 2:25 pm

    Our little church has had to hire a cleaner after we ran out of little old ladies willing to bust their chops to keep it clean. As consumers, we are avoiding hiring a cleaning company due to the top-down model that ends with actual cleaners making minimum wage with no benefits, and have put out a call for an individual cleaner. Although we would not provide bennies, we understand that an hourly wage of $35 – $50 is the norm for an independent cleaner who provides his/her own benefits.
    The area nursing home/assisted living place associated with my denomination just went the other way, mass-firing employees and bringing in a cleaning/maintenance company. Tough decisions had to be made, doncha know, and of course the fired employees were encouraged to apply at the new company, with appropriately reduced wages. Benefits I assume are not even part of the equation.
    I’d love to see how much money they save. I’ve seen the invoice for the company I clean for – the service does not come cheap.

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  28. adrianne said on March 11, 2015 at 2:43 pm

    On a brighter note: An Indiana congressman has been snared by the same sexting temptress who led to Anthony Weiner’s downfall. Rep. Justin Moed, a Democrat, (must be from Indianapolis), sent graphic sexual texts to Sydney Leathers (I don’t think that’s her Christian name) using the Twitter handle “Bitch Boy.” The sexting relationship started when Moed responded to Leathers’ Twitter post in February in which she said she was looking for a “new, legitimate #findom slave. Must actually be willing to spend money or you are useless to me.”

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  29. alex said on March 11, 2015 at 2:54 pm

    Moed’s kinda cute. Anyone publish his junk and is it worth seeing?

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    • nancy said on March 11, 2015 at 2:57 pm

      She was looking for a slave, Alex. The story I read said the picture she leaked was of his bum.

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  30. adrianne said on March 11, 2015 at 3:33 pm

    The question that must be asked of Congressman Moed? Didn’t you do a Google search of Ms. Leathers before contacting her?

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  31. Julie Robinson said on March 11, 2015 at 4:06 pm

    Our church has run the Dave Ramsey thing, and I know it helped some people who were out of control on their spending. But, and it’s a big one, if you go to his website, it’s full of companies that Dave Recommends. I haven’t checked them out, but one is Hillsdale College. ‘Nuff said.

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  32. Sherri said on March 11, 2015 at 4:24 pm

    Dave Ramsey represents another aspect of consumerism in churches, what I’ll all the church industrial complex. Take something from secular culture, slap some Bible verses on it, and then turn around and sell it to churches! Ramsey’s Financial Peace University (which my church regularly runs) is “biblical”, but really, it’s just basic financial advice not that different from a host of other sources. When my church did a capital campaign a few years ago, we had an adviser who specialized in church capital campaigns, but his strategy, other than the Bible verses, was pretty much just like other capital campaigns I’ve been involved with (and I was less than impressed with his execution.)

    And don’t even get me started on house-building mission trips to Mexico…

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  33. Sue said on March 11, 2015 at 4:32 pm

    “And don’t even get me started on house-building mission trips to Mexico”
    What? Why?

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  34. David C. said on March 11, 2015 at 4:36 pm

    I know plenty of conservatives who aren’t racists. But I also know that whenever you hear someone saying something racist, there is probably a 99% chance it’s a conservative/Republican. According to my brother, that’s because liberals/Democrats are just as ricist, but are too PC not to admit it. Even if that’s true, which in my experience isn’t, it’s OK by me. I’ll take a PC hypocrite over an honest asshole any day.

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  35. coozledad said on March 11, 2015 at 4:45 pm

    One of the benefits of living near a church is we sometimes their junk mail winds up on our road frontage. One piece was a full color 9×12 glossy.

    I wrote the text down it was so good.


    Picture of hands reaching through prison bars, (though curiously minus collection plate).

    “I Give You My promise This Will Never Happen To You!”
    Michael Chitwood

    IRS Audits Increase For Churches and Ministries!


    $145 $99!
    -Church check or credit card
    -Personal check or credit card
    Firstborn child or sexually mature goat

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  36. Suzanne said on March 11, 2015 at 4:50 pm

    House building trips to Mexico. Ah, yes! Done, often, by people who wouldn’t think of making their kids volunteer for Habitat for Humanity, or get a groups of friends to volunteer at the food pantry, or just help the guy down the street paint his house.

    I ran across an article a few years ago that mentioned a church in, I think, Africa that had been painted 8 times by 8 different mission groups. The locals apparently thought it was pretty humorous. We once received a catalog at home listing all the mission trip packages that your church group could sign up for, including descriptions of amenities and fun things to do near the mission site. Missionary tourism.

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  37. Julie Robinson said on March 11, 2015 at 4:53 pm


    Ramsey’s big thing is not using credit cards, and I’ll hand it to him that he doesn’t accept them as payment for his classes. But he precludes even the responsible use of CC’s. We pay ours off in full every month and just paid for most of our new computer with our rebate check. Dave-bots tell me that’s wrong, and they can’t explain why.

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  38. alex said on March 11, 2015 at 4:56 pm

    I find monomaniacal liberal blowhards who can’t shut up about politics every bit as tedious their conservative counterparts, but in my experience the people who think it’s okay to tell me an offensive joke at the expense of minorities or women without knowing anything about me or my politics are without exception conservatives.

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  39. Sherri said on March 11, 2015 at 5:11 pm

    Suzanne highlights my problems with house-building mission trips, but my bigger question has always been, is lack of labor the biggest problem preventing reasonable housing in Mexico? Wouldn’t Mexicans be better off with jobs building their own houses, rather than well-meaning do-gooders from the US spending a week slapping together a house?

    (My church regularly does a mission trip to Juarez to build houses, but in a rare attempt to not stir up trouble, I’ve not asked this question there. I just don’t participate.)

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  40. alex said on March 11, 2015 at 6:08 pm

    I always thought the missionary stuff was about evangelizing the heathens. There are plenty of people in need of charity right here in most people’s own backyards, but their souls evidently aren’t considered worth saving.

    And when the secular Bill Gates Foundation spends money on the poor abroad, people complain that the money should be spent here instead, forgetting that it’s not theirs to spend.

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  41. David C. said on March 11, 2015 at 6:53 pm

    If Gates would spend less money here trying to create schools in the image of Microsoft, I’d be happy.

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  42. beb said on March 11, 2015 at 7:19 pm

    Disrespect or honroing, soldier cradles infant in American Flag.–abc-news-topstories.html

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  43. David C. said on March 11, 2015 at 8:39 pm

    Good lord. If that photo gets people’s nose out of joint, they need something better to think about. If they were wiping the baby’s ass with it, go ahead pitch a fit, but that? Must be a slow news day.

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  44. coozledad said on March 11, 2015 at 8:57 pm

    Lindsey Graham is a turgid motherfucker:

    He’s almost got as big a hardon for absolutism as he does a plate of hush puppies and taters and some of that fizzy wine. Now I wonder if all the Confederates talked like him.

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  45. Sherri said on March 11, 2015 at 10:00 pm

    The questions over “Go Set a Watchman” haven’t settled down:

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  46. Deborah said on March 11, 2015 at 10:47 pm

    I just got caught up with Better Call Saul. Those of you who are also watching, isn’t it fantastic? It gets better and better every week.

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  47. Dexter said on March 11, 2015 at 11:11 pm

    Odenkirk is just great alright. Another excellent show is Fox’s “Backstrom”. I used to really hate Rainn Wilson’s act but he has found his niche as weirdo police lieutenant Backstrom of the Portland PD. Backstrom is almost dysfunctional but he’s also brilliant at times. It’s still easy to hate him, though.

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  48. Joe K said on March 11, 2015 at 11:20 pm

    Mikes back story helped me understand his ways on breaking bad a lot better.
    Need a will call Magill.
    Pilot Joe

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  49. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on March 11, 2015 at 11:28 pm

    Lovely, lovely, lovely news. Someone worth honoring. If you can just watch the first four minutes of the video, you’ll be glad you did.

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  50. coozledad said on March 12, 2015 at 12:11 am

    The idea that there are non-racist Republicans is bullshit. If they’re Northerners, they’re just racists who’ve been co-opted into the Southern white trash program.

    Quit arguing a counter-factual.

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  51. MarkH said on March 12, 2015 at 12:55 am

    Deborah, you’re not involved in this, are you? Obviously this season 3 episode hit home with some.

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  52. Dexter said on March 12, 2015 at 2:26 am

    Mike Ehrmantraut=Bad Ass First Class

    ‘s’all good, man = Saul Goodman

    This year I am going to make Irish scones again for St. Paddy’s Day. Most of the parades are already over out east…every year they have them earlier and earlier, but I believe NYC will have theirs properly on the 17th..yes they will.

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  53. Deborah said on March 12, 2015 at 3:38 am

    Mark H, ha ha. I hadn’t heard about that before. I wouldn’t know where to find the house. I’ve been to the car wash they used for show, however.

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  54. MarkH said on March 12, 2015 at 4:01 am

    Via the NYT, some pretty stunning photos of Mars from the Curiosity rover:

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  55. Kirk said on March 12, 2015 at 9:49 am

    I never get tired of looking at those pictures of Mars. It’s another whole world, for god’s sake.

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  56. Dorothy said on March 12, 2015 at 9:58 am

    I’m so behind on reading this blog but today I had some extra time. I find your comments very illuminating wrt church mission trips. At a quilt guild meeting I went to two weeks ago (held at a local Methodist church), they made time for a doctor who is a member of the congregation to do a slide show for us. He proudly showed off how they presented these little “dresses” (and I use the term loosely) made by members of the guild (not I). They are made from pillowcases. I think they look like the dumbest thing ever – the time and money spent on making these simple sack dresses could be better used to buy used clothing at Goodwill, clothing that these little girls might actually want to wear. The doctor showed more pictures of other things they did on this trip to Belize – very good things happened because several dentists, doctors and nurses provided very important health care. Then they also built a small school for the community. These are very good things for missionaries to do, but I kept looking at the Belize natives in the pictures. The children were wearing regular clothing – blue jeans, tee shirts, tennis shoes or sandals. Most likely those things were donated as well. But I thought those little sack dresses were just kind of sad looking. Maybe you’ll think I’m nuts but it was just my opinion that they’d rather have clothing that is more “current” rather than those little pillow case dresses.

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  57. Sue said on March 12, 2015 at 10:47 am

    One of the reasons I had to stop watching B.B. was because of the violence, but I always read the recaps from a couple of columnists the next day. I thought I would have to do the same thing with B.C.S. after the leg-breaking episode but that’s toned down and I’ve continued to watch the show. It is getting better. I found last Monday’s episode kind of confusing because (for me) there wasn’t enough differentiation between modern day and flashbacks. I’m interested in the Jimmy’s brother storyline too, as well as the kinda/sorta girlfriend, I assume they can’t remain in the picture?
    And… I note that no one has responded to Nancy’s ‘How much longer can it go on’ question.

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  58. Danny said on March 12, 2015 at 11:22 am

    “I find monomaniacal liberal blowhards who can’t shut up about politics every bit as tedious their conservative counterparts”

    Irony alert

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  59. Sherri said on March 12, 2015 at 11:58 am

    RIP, Terry Pratchett.

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  60. Deborah said on March 12, 2015 at 12:06 pm

    Sue, regarding “how long can it go on?” Of course my hope is for a long time yet to come. I enjoy this blog so much, it’s a big part of my day. On the other hand that’s asking a lot of Nancy. I certainly appreciate it.

    Busy day today in Chicago. We head back to Santa Fe this weekend, and then phase 2 of our building project in Abiquiu starts. It was a quick trip to Chicago made shorter by my flight cancelation. The first part of my stay here was brutal weather-wise but the last half has been lovely.

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  61. nancy said on March 12, 2015 at 12:06 pm

    Hey, guys. I’ll put this in tomorrow’s post, but wanted the NN.c commentariat to see it hot off the press. Bob Pence, who read this blog and (rarely) commented here, died in 2012. I interviewed him in FW a couple times; he was one of those funny, dry eccentrics who are always interesting to talk to.

    It turns out he was pretty generous, too.

    The gift he left to ACRES land trust will enable them to preserve more natural areas in northeast Indiana. A fine legacy, indeed.

    Alex knew him pretty well. I’m sure he’ll ring in.

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  62. Sue said on March 12, 2015 at 12:36 pm

    Oh, man.
    Such a loss. A lover of words and my introduction to that wonderful language, dog latin.
    I feel like I have lost a wonderful friend. It’s so sad not to have Terry sharing the our world and his worlds with us anymore.

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  63. Sue said on March 12, 2015 at 12:37 pm

    I will have to wear my Unseen University shirt tomorrow in honor of Sir Terry. Screw the dress code.

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  64. beb said on March 12, 2015 at 12:55 pm

    I used to read anything science fictional, then I quit and the only thing SF I’d read was Terry Pratchett. Now I have nothing to look forward to.

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  65. Sue said on March 12, 2015 at 1:04 pm

    Me too, beb.
    I’ll start with Guards! Guards!, then maybe Good Omens, then the Johnny Maxwell trilogy, then maybe Equal Rites or Wyrd Sisters…

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  66. Danny said on March 12, 2015 at 1:28 pm

    I was similarly sad when Iain Banks passed last year and a few years back when Robert Jordan passed. I highly recommend Banks’ novels set in his “Culture” universe.

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  67. Deborah said on March 12, 2015 at 1:29 pm

    Will someone explain to me how the Mars rover takes selfies? I don’t see any arm coming off of it? Amazing pictures, by the way.

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  68. MarkH said on March 12, 2015 at 1:57 pm

    RIP, Bob Pence. Funny, I knew he had passed and was sure I read it here at that time, Nancy. Anyway, he and I had communicated a bit, as, if I’m not mistaken, some of his fine urban photographs were of my original hometown, Pittsburgh.

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  69. alex said on March 12, 2015 at 2:01 pm

    Great news about Bob Pence!

    I didn’t realize that he had so much money as he always lived rather modestly. That he planned his estate this carefully makes me optimistic also that he has likely placed his lifelong photographic works in good hands. He was an outstanding photographer who documented a lot of lost architecture and infrastructure not only in Fort Wayne but in many other cities, and I would love nothing more than to see a retrospective exhibit of his work some day. He and I shared many of the same interests, a love of ACRES and its preserves being just one.

    I miss seeing him around. And his acerbic wit. He was truly one of a kind.

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  70. MarkH said on March 12, 2015 at 2:13 pm

    alex, and others who knew Bob, you were fortunate indeed.

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  71. Jolene said on March 12, 2015 at 2:40 pm

    Indeed, hats off to Mr. Pence. Hard to think of anything more important that one can do with money than preserve the natural world.

    Re how long this blog can go on: Like Debirah, I’m hoping for forever. Would miss it terribly if it went away.

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  72. brian stouder said on March 12, 2015 at 4:05 pm

    Let me just say: I hope this blog outlives me.

    And if it doesn’t, I’ll still always be the better for it having existed.

    And regarding mission work, allow me to plainly confess I’d never really thought critically about it, before a few months ago. Shelby, our 16 year old, has signed up to travel to Guatemala in June, right when school ends.

    And further, I agree that – whatever they accomplish down there – to me the main thing is that she will see more of the world, and she gets to test whether the ‘A’s she always gets in Spanish really mean anything. If they acutallu accomplish anything for the folks down there or not, it’s a “win” for the kids involved (I think) in terms of broadened horizons.

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  73. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on March 12, 2015 at 5:02 pm

    Not all mission trips are created equal. Some are poverty tourism, some do good work, some do work poorly. It’s all about the planning and the local participation, not just parachuting in and proclaiming “what y’all need is” — but there are many groups and processes that do amazing work right where it’s needed.

    But Jean Vanier, and the long slow journey to seeing humanity in everyone, and that everyone is precious and of worth — that’s the mission work that starts with your neighbor, and only works outwardly person by person. Bless that man, and L’Arche. We have at our church a close family relationship with a number of developmentally disabled adults, and they truly teach us more about humanity and humanness than we help them. The home repairs and shared meals and prayers together are all part of helping us re-set our blinders a little more widely as to who we are, all of us. A mission trip that really connects to the people who live where we’re serving, in the US or beyond the borders, does much the same.

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  74. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on March 12, 2015 at 5:06 pm

    If you don’t know anything about Vanier or L’Arche, this transcript has a good summary –

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  75. Deborah said on March 12, 2015 at 5:41 pm

    Dorothy, I had a good chuckle about those pillowcase dresses. I googled it and you are right, they are very frumpy looking. I think they may be popular with missionary types because they’re rather modest, longish and not tight, something the Duggar girls might wear in the summer.

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  76. Sherri said on March 12, 2015 at 6:08 pm

    I’m sure Shelby will gain something from her experience, Brian.

    I’ve just become more jaded about mission trips and foreign aid NGOs the more I dig into them. Some have the strong scent of fraud around them, where much more of the money is spent on the NGO than on people the NGO is supposedly helping. Many more have the parachuting problem; even the most well-intentioned can fall prey to that. Mosquito nets for malaria, for example; they seem like an obvious solution to a problem from here, but the problem is more complex than it appears. A good strong net is more immediately useful for other purposes, like fishing, only the mosquito nets collect more than fishing nets and contribute to overfishing, plus they’re treated with pesticide. We want to solve malaria; they want to eat.

    Government foreign aid is often even worse; it’s more about helping us than helping them. I know many Americans think we spend outrageous amounts on foreign aid, even though we spend very little, but what we do spend often actually gets spent right here: paying for the Navy to go the site of a disaster, or buying surplus crops to send somewhere (and undercutting that area’s agriculture in the process.)

    Jeff is right; there are many groups that do amazing work. I try to look for organizations that involve lots of local participation, in the decision-making as well as the execution, and that are there for the long-term. I try to avoid groups with a “white man’s burden” viewpoint, even if well-intentioned.

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  77. brian stouder said on March 12, 2015 at 6:19 pm

    Jeff at 49 – good stuff, indeed.

    Over the past year or two (or 5 or 10!) I’ve slid into thinking humanity is simply, intrinsically, and inescapably cruel.
    As animals, we’ve a basic cruelty that we cannot deny. War for war’s sake, and “terrorism” just for the sake of it, and hostility toward anyone who is (somehow or other) not in my group – that’s humanity.

    And the hell of it is, a small group of horrible people (think 1920’s German saloons, or late-20th century Afghanistan hills, or 21st century Syrian villages) can create and unleash massive cruelty – just like always.

    But Jeff’s linked video/story points out that the better angels of our nature can also get an at-bat, too…

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  78. brian stouder said on March 12, 2015 at 6:30 pm

    Sherri – good point about “white man’s burden”.

    Here locally, Vera Bradley just shut down a major production facility, and chucked 200 people out of their jobs. They make textile bags and so on, and make more money than God. The leadership of this enormously profitable business explained that moving production to Asia was something they are compelled to do, to maximize shareholder profits.

    I say that this very simply indicates that whatever the hell our tariffs are, they’re TOO LOW!

    If a profitable company can shut down a profitable plant, and move their production to the other side of the damned planet, with the full expectation of simply re-starting production and then shipping all the crap they produce BACK to the United States, and at a GREATER profit –

    something is very, very wrong.

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  79. David C. said on March 12, 2015 at 6:58 pm

    Our niece is a teacher at a missionary school in Thailand. Or rather, a school for the children of the missionaries. How many Thai Christians could be hired to probably do a better job of selling Jesus to people just like them for the money spent to set up a little bit o’ the USA for American missionaries. It seems so wasteful.

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  80. Jolene said on March 12, 2015 at 7:14 pm

    I agree that giving money to relief organizations and such can be problematic, but there’s definitely better and worse, and it’s not that hard to figure out the difference–the mosquito net example being, perhaps, a counter-argument.

    But Doctors Without Borders is on the ground, with lots of experience and expertise, in the most difficult circumstances. They move fast, and, wherever possible, they employ local people. Partners in Health focuses directly on capacity-building in the delivery of aid. They are not only responding to crises, but also creating the institutions needed to improve community health in the long term. Mercy Corps is a relief organization that emphasizes long-term help in crisis areas, which means, wherever possible, buying supplies locally and employing local people, both of which help to regenerate the economy following disasters and in areas where conflict has suppressed economic activity.

    These are just a few that I happen to know about. There are many more. And all these organizations and many others are audited by Charity Navigator, which rates them on administrative criteria such as transparency in accounting and other procedures, as well as on efficiency, i.e., the proportion of dollars collected actually spent on providing services.

    Surely these organizations have made and will make mistakes, but the best of them do a tremendous lot of good. Some of the basic lessons of helping–such as avoiding the liabilities of the parachute approach–have been learned.

    I realize as I write this that I am talking about experienced, professional service providers, whereas this conversation started out with church mission trips by well-meaning amateurs. But, as Jeff said, with the right planning and decision-making, those too can yield excellent results.

    So, a critical perspective, yes, but the world needs our help too much to allow ourselves to become too cynical.

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  81. Jolene said on March 12, 2015 at 7:16 pm

    P.S. Deborah, sorry about the typo in your name above.

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  82. Dexter said on March 12, 2015 at 8:03 pm

    I found Bob Pence on a photo-blog and exchanged a few messages with him before I discovered that Nancy and Alex knew him.

    And hey…if you have a drug and alcohol problem and are shaky about getting treatment and really don’t want to quit but your employer is on your ass…just apply to the United States Secret Service…no problem! They are looking for people of your status.

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  83. Deborah said on March 12, 2015 at 9:22 pm

    I realize I’m probably a little too obsessed with the fate of the shithead frat boys who lead the racist chant on the bus in OK, but amen to this from Tbogg about it

    May they and their friends learn a lesson. But I doubt it.

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  84. Deborah said on March 12, 2015 at 9:32 pm

    Indiana born architect Michael Graves has died at age 80. You may know him for his design of housewares for Target a few years back. He was wheelchair bound for quite awhile before his death.

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  85. Jolene said on March 12, 2015 at 9:50 pm

    Agree that Tbogg has it right. I thought it was outrageous that the one guy’s parents did the apologizing. Whatever their words, that ain’t right.

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  86. Jill said on March 12, 2015 at 10:28 pm

    A plug for another not-for-profit doing good work around the world: The Rotary Foundation. It’s got excellent marks on Charity Navigator. All international projects have host sponsors on the ground wherever they’re being done so they can be monitored, and they’re tested for sustainability before being funded. The Rotary Foundation has been leading the charge to eradicate polio since about 1980.

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  87. alex said on March 12, 2015 at 10:58 pm

    Michael Graves is also known around here for his unlivable international-style houses. Dr. Nancy Snyderman of NBC grew up in one that disintegrated until someone mercifully burned its remains a few years ago.

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  88. Sherri said on March 12, 2015 at 11:00 pm

    I don’t mean to discourage anyone from giving to their favorite non-profit. There are NGOs doing good work, there are mission groups and churches doing good work, and there are people in need all over the world. There aren’t many NGOs that are frauds, though some do exist. There are many more that are well-intentioned, but not effective. There has been an incredible boom in non-profits, both here and abroad; India has an astounding per capita rate of one NGO for every 600 people.

    So, I’ve become much more particular about my charitable giving, giving more to fewer organizations, and am less likely to give to organizations with solutions, because I’m more skeptical that the problems are understood and that the people for whome the solutions are intended have been listened to.

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  89. Kirk said on March 12, 2015 at 11:07 pm

    My impression, and I could stand to be corrected, is that Jimmy Carter’s outfit does some thoughtfully effective work.

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  90. Jolene said on March 12, 2015 at 11:11 pm

    Here is an essay by a man who died last night, way too early. He was 36 years old and had recently finished a residency in neurosurgery at Stanford and become a father. Posting because it’s beautifully written, especially the last paragraph–a message to his very young daughter.

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  91. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on March 12, 2015 at 11:19 pm

    Habitat for Humanity International, or often just “Habitat,” is the organization many associate with Jimmy Carter; they were founded by Millard Fuller with roots back to Koinonia Farms & Clarence Jordan (think “Cotton Patch Gospel”). They have chapters in most cities and many counties; I’ve helped launch three chapters in different places I’ve served as a pastor, and our local chapter recently merged with others to become Mid-Ohio Habitat around the Columbus, OH area — but yes, Habitat does good work in the US and in the developing world, and makes the most of grunt labor, whether done by church people, congresscritters, or the sweat equity of the soon-to-be homeowner who puts in their time as they’re able, and in return gets a home with a no-interest loan. The payments to that loan go into the revolving fund to start the next Habitat build . . . coming up on our 30th house in Licking County since 1989.

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  92. beb said on March 12, 2015 at 11:24 pm

    Brian @78: I just read a post on Washington Monthly which mentioned “shareholder value” as one of the reasons for wage stagnation, also the lack of innovation in American companies. Over the past 20-30 years too much money is being sent to stockholders instead of spent on R&D or on simple wages. GM is spending $5 billion in stock buybacks, which will only benefit stockholders. Money for workers? Well, the UAW’s contract ends soon. You can bet they will be asking for a piece of that big, fat pie.

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  93. Little Bird said on March 12, 2015 at 11:57 pm

    Seems like a sad day all around.
    RIP Jimmy Greenspoon.

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  94. MichaelG said on March 13, 2015 at 12:00 am

    Alex, do you mean the Dr. Nancy Snyderman of NBC who resigned today? Don’t know whether she jumped or was pushed but Mr. O’Reilly is still smugly going about his sleezy business.

    Doctors without Borders is at the top of my list.

    And beb, buying back stock is a popular activity these days among megas. See BofA. Don’t get me started on GM’s pissing away of money and that incompetent boob Roger Smith.

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  95. Sherri said on March 13, 2015 at 12:35 am

    When Milton Friedman promoted the idea that corporations had a fiduciary responsibility to maximize shareholder value back around 1970, it was a dangerously radical idea. Now many people think it’s the law, even people who should be old enough to remember a different time.

    Corporations are not compelled to maximize shareholder value. However, the executive compensation model used in most corporations guarantees that the actions taken by executives will maximize short-term shareholder value, because that also increases executive compensation.

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  96. Dexter said on March 13, 2015 at 1:20 am

    Some years back Habitat for Humanity built a home just east of my house about three blocks. Now, they have built several others, but this one I remember because Rosalynn Carter hammered nails into this one. The local paper and radio barely mentioned it, and there was no blocking off the streets or police presence at all. I have no idea how long she stayed, but she was here for a while anyway.
    By contrast, during the 2004 campaign Dick Cheney gave a speech to his base in a barn between Wauseon and Stryker. I was heading to a meeting in Wauseon and heavily armed sheriff deputies had blocked every road even remotely close to that barn in the country. I later saw pictures…Cheney spoke to people sitting on hay bales.

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