TV explains it all.

I expect we’re heading for cord-cutting within the next few months. (When “Mad Men” wraps, and then “Ray Donovan,” and then “the Knick” and oh, it’s just gotta go.) But we’ll be doing the HBO Now when we do, and in part because of shows like “Silicon Valley,” which in its most recent episode introduced a character who explained digital-economy finance better than anyone or anything else I’ve heard or read. Mike Judge really has a great sense of satire. I can’t reproduce the dialogue, but this recap nails it:

As usual, “Silicon Valley” is gleeful about ripping off real-life story lines of the Valley. So you have Hanneman espousing one of the tech businesses’ happy secrets, which is that for young companies, making any money can actually be detrimental to its prospects. “If you show revenue, people will ask how much, and it will never be enough,” he advises Richard, who’d foolishly believed that the point of starting a company is to make money. “It’s not about how much you earn but what you’re worth,” Hanneman says. “And who’s worth the most? Companies that lose money.”

Hanneman’s analysis is largely correct. Google bought the home-device company Nest last year for $3.2 billion, a relatively small sum for a company that actually sold products that people were willing to pay for. Meanwhile companies that had, at the time, spent little time trying to make any money at all — like Snapchat and Pinterest — were valued at many billions more.

Thank you, fictional Hanneman guy. This has baffled me forever. How can Instagram be worth $1 billion? There are no ads and it’s free. ‘Splain this. No one can.

Much good to read today, so let’s get to it.

On the Baltimore situation, here’s Hank on CNN:

On a night like Monday, no one involved — Baltimoreans, city officials, CNN reporters, and, indeed, all journalists doing live TV or filing dispatches tweet by tweet and photo by photo — had the time to parse their own words. Words such as “riot,” words such as “thug,” combinations of words that are mostly metaphorical exaggerations, such as “the city is burning.” You can only be so careful with the sting of smoke in your eyes and the taste of pepper spray in your mouth.

Likewise, CNN doesn’t always have the time to think deeply about the images it beams live back to the rest of the country. One assumes there are a lot of people calling the shots at CNN, but it’s hard to see the power of a guiding hand or principle. It is CNN’s nature to jump into the fray and seek out the most dramatic events it can capture on camera and then summarize them as they occur, while queueing up a long line of experts to weigh in.

The strongest visual will always win. CNN would be shirking its duty if it declined to show such events to appease some nobler effort to accentuate the positive, which, in this case, included the many people who chose peaceful protest. TV news frequently finds itself explaining why non-burning buildings and people standing still (or staying home) don’t make the cut.

I’ve really come to despise live cable news in a breaking story, even while I freely acknowledge that it’s the first place I turn when news is breaking (plus, y’know, Twitter). Sometimes I hate myself as a news consumer.

Also, from the WashPost: The burning of Baltimore and “The Wire.” Some smart stuff, some dumb stuff, but if you were a fan and you were watching CNN Monday night, you had to think it: Is that the street where Kima was shot? It looks so familiar.

Time to return to Twitter.

Posted at 12:39 am in Current events, Television |

45 responses to “TV explains it all.”

  1. Dexter said on April 29, 2015 at 2:13 am

    Ala carte TV programming will soon be the norm and I’ll keep paying my two benjamins a month until it becomes easy. I saw an ad for FIOS …if not already, soon they will offer menu TV. The Time Warner -Comcast merger went into the toilet and TWC is about to hook up with Charter if the money is right. When the Comcast failed deal was still being negotiated, TWC cut my bill about 10% for a few months then jacked it up immediately after the merger actions ceased.
    After all these years, if I had to give up cable or satellite sports I would be very pissed off and miserable. I just gotsta have my beisbol in the spring summer and fall. The main networks show very little baseball any more. This year, “the greatest sports day in America”, the Saturday sessions at the men’s NCAA basketball Final Four, was shown on cable only. Geez…time to study up on the Derby, too…Kentucky Derby is Saturday, right?

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  2. ROGirl said on April 29, 2015 at 5:33 am

    I was a kid when the Detroit riots happened (we lived in the safe suburbs) and my thoughts turned to those events all those years ago. It’s still about poverty, hopelessness, racial inequality and police tactics. The world has changed so much since then, but those issues still resonate.

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  3. alex said on April 29, 2015 at 6:54 am

    ROGirl, you forgot to add Dixiecrats politicking, only now they call themselves Republicans.

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  4. beb said on April 29, 2015 at 8:18 am

    I was reading an interesting article yesterday which said that studies of mob psychology all agreed (or mostly agreed) that mobs are more likely to turn violent when confronted by heavily armed police. So the violence on Monday was to be expected.

    The other counter-intuitive thing is that the problem of violence in cities are the cops. Their systematic harassment of blacks is a bigger issue than gangs or drugs. Pick a city — New York, Chicago, South Beach, Florida and the stories of police harassment of blacks — stop and frisk sort of stuff — is astonishing in its numbers and in the frequency that it turns violent. But the media, city government, middle and upper classes refuse to acknowledge any of this. To them cops are their protectors, their heroes. To everyone not them cops are just legalized knee-crackers.

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  5. Connie said on April 29, 2015 at 9:00 am

    Growing up in a small town in W. Michigan, when the Detroit riots happened I was terrified. Because I heard my Dad and the neighborhood men talking about how they could be coming here next.

    Dexter, when my daughter was in HS we swore her boyfriend loved her for our cable. We got WGN out of Chicago and thus all the Cubs games, his house didn’t.

    A quick update: I am back to work this week after 14 weeks off on disability. (Thank you township for the short term disability insurance you provide for your employees) I have been and still am in a wheelchair and will be switching to an orthotic boot in the next week or so. Still no weight bearing on my right foot. I am looking forward to standing up to look in the mirror.

    The wheel chair thing has been interesting. Here’s a little test. Pretend you can only get from your car to your destination if you use the curb cut. First you have to find it. Then you have to hope the beauty salon didn’t put a bench on the sidewalk that blocks the sidewalk between the curb cut and your destination.

    I will also note that this all started during the deepest coldest depths of winter and is ending in a big burst of spring. Too bad I can’t do the two steps up to my deck.

    Jeff(tmmo) my wheelchair and a few other items were borrowed from the local senior center which keeps a stash of donated stuff.

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  6. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on April 29, 2015 at 9:17 am

    Yay, your senior center! And yay for being well.

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  7. Deborah said on April 29, 2015 at 9:48 am

    I was in a wheelchair once when I fractured my foot, we took a previously scheduled trip and I was at the airport. They first parked me in a spot with a bunch of old people in wheelchairs while my husband stood in line and got our bags checked. Then they wheeled me to security where I got the most scrutiny I’ve ever gotten by TSA. Then they wheeled me to the gate which was terrifying, I was zooming by people and was scared I was going to crash into them fractured foot first. The only good thing about it was that I got to be the first one on the plane.

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  8. Bitter Scribe said on April 29, 2015 at 10:00 am

    The “Silicon Valley” stuff reminds me of a line from Lennie Briscoe on “Law & Order”: “Why do rich guys always owe a billion?”

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  9. Jeff Borden said on April 29, 2015 at 10:02 am

    The story I’m rewriting for the German financial newspaper Handelsblatt this morning focuses on Baltimore and references “The Wire,” which never aired in German but has been seen and admired by the reporter. The timing couldn’t be more fortuitous for Johanna and I to start bingeing on “The Wire,” which we have access to through HBO On Demand. All the other great series are there, too.

    BTW, the author’s contention is that the general avoidance of government power by Americans has resulted in institutions that are immature by design and can only react viscerally to events rather than try to plan for them. Europe, in contrast, has more highly evolved institutions.

    It’s just one guy’s opinion. If anyone is interested in the view of world through the eyes of what is essentially Germany’s version of the Wall Street Journal, here is a link to the Global Edition, which is in English. It’s free, too.

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  10. susan said on April 29, 2015 at 10:16 am

    Jon Stewart put the Baltimore “riots” perfectly in context. Boy, I am going to miss him.

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  11. brian stouder said on April 29, 2015 at 10:32 am

    Well Jeff, setting aside the darkly humorous aspect of a German lamenting America’s

    general avoidance of government power …result[ing] in institutions that are immature by design

    I couldn’t get past the password thing.

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  12. Jeff Borden said on April 29, 2015 at 10:48 am

    Tell me about it, Brian. We were visiting my American friends in Vienna many years ago and a neighbor, who happened to be a schoolteacher married to a playwright, asked Johanna and I to her home for cocktails and snacks. She invited several other teachers and artisans, too.

    It was all quite pleasant, but a recurring theme was their amazement at gun violence in America and how it showed we were not yet as civilized and sophisticated as Europeans. We were polite guests and bit our tongues when we really wanted to point out the Viennese gleefully welcomed Adolf Hitler and happily outed their Jewish friends and coworkers to the Gestapo and the SS. We’d visited one of the palaces the day before and seen a large, black and white photo of Der Fuhrer addressing hundreds of thousands of cheering Austrian Nazis.

    I will say the Germans are obsessed with the rule of law and privacy, which directly links to both the old Nazi regime and the spying tactic used in the old GDR. Thus, the NSA spying scandal was a huge news story in Germany. And, in fairness, after trying to commit suicide twice in the 20th century, maybe Europe finally figured out that war sucks.

    Still, every European country I’m familiar with has its own issues with race, immigration, radical nativists and radical Islamists, commerce vs. environment and, increasingly, even with the wealth gap.

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  13. brian stouder said on April 29, 2015 at 11:01 am

    And speaking of race – didja notice that mayor of Baltimore is BLACK?

    And, she’s a WOMAN???!

    And, as if THAT wasn’t enough, she’s beautiful – and looks a bit like the First Lady – who is married to the secret-Muslim usurper who currently occupies the White House…..

    so of course, Fox News/Oxy-Rush/Shit-for-brains-Sean (et al) have placed ALL blame for the troubles in Baltimore squarely upon her!!

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  14. Jeff Borden said on April 29, 2015 at 11:18 am

    I rather enjoyed the lecture Rand Paul delivered to the black citizenry of Baltimore, about what he saw in the streets was a lack of fathers and morality. This statement was made shortly before his own son was arrested for DWI.

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  15. brian stouder said on April 29, 2015 at 11:23 am

    Maybe we should call him ‘appalling Rand’

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  16. Jolene said on April 29, 2015 at 11:31 am

    Anyone watch “The Last Days of Vietnam” last night on PBS last night? A great example of TV explaining it all. Was about the evacuation of Americans, Vietnamese civilians who had worked with Americans, and, to a lesser extent, ARVN officers and their families in the days–hours, really–before Saigon fell to the North Vietnamese.

    Lots of tension as people struggled, initially, over whether to accept the reality that evacuation was necessary and, then, how to get all those thousands of people out and where to take them. Lots of fascinating historical footage, along with commentary from people who played various roles in the events portrayed.

    A great bit of filmmaking, I thought. I was embarrassed that, having lived through these events, I didn’t know more about them, but am glad that I had the chance to learn about them in some detail now.

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  17. Julie Robinson said on April 29, 2015 at 11:35 am

    Jeff, I couldn’t bellieve it, but sure enough:

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  18. Jeff Borden said on April 29, 2015 at 11:37 am

    If only that young Paul boy had a decent father and a sense of morality, eh Julie??

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  19. alex said on April 29, 2015 at 11:49 am

    Morality, schmorality. Look at the paternal line of sociopaths and you know there’s no fixing that hot mess of a son. What do you wanna bet he goes into politics?

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  20. Dorothy said on April 29, 2015 at 11:49 am

    I admit it. Last night during a news segment about Baltimore, I semi-squinted at the t.v. screen and said “Is that Hamsterdam?”

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  21. Jolene said on April 29, 2015 at 11:52 am

    Sounds like William Paul has a real drinking problem. A third offense by age 22 is impressive. Smashing into a parked car at 11:30 AM is not a good sign.

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  22. Jolene said on April 29, 2015 at 12:25 pm

    A great interview with David Letterman, whose retirement is now imminent. I confess I am already having withdrawal pains. Without the prospect of Steven Colbert taking over the show in the fall, I’d be despondent, but I’m fascinated to see what he will do.

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  23. Sherri said on April 29, 2015 at 1:09 pm

    Maybe Paul the Elder forgot to tell Paul the Younger about the relative merits of marijuana over alcohol as a mood-altering substance…

    Three arrests for alcohol by age 22 does suggest a pattern of problematic behavior.

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  24. Kirk said on April 29, 2015 at 1:15 pm

    Jolene@16: I watched the Vietnam evacuation documentary on PBS last night, too, and agree that it was very good. After Lodge and Bunker, I had forgotten about Graham Martin, the last U.S. ambassador to South Vietnam.

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  25. Dorothy said on April 29, 2015 at 1:22 pm

    I saw half of the documentary, Jolene, but it’s on the DVR so I’ll be anxious to see the rest of it. And I avidly read the article on Letterman. I’m scratching my head wondering why the article was run so soon? His last night on the air is May 20 so why did the TIMES run that now? I’m guessing he’ll be on the cover of several magazines in the next couple of weeks. I’ve been a Dave fan since 1985 when I saw him on an episode of Phil Donahue (WHO!?!). I really will miss him a lot but I think he’s looking very old, older than 68 in my opinion. I hope he won’t be miserable in retirement. CBS is running a 90 minute special about him next Monday evening – it starts at 9:30.

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  26. Sherri said on April 29, 2015 at 1:25 pm

    More David Simon:

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  27. Sue said on April 29, 2015 at 1:57 pm

    Well, no wonder the Paul kid was acting out, hitting back at a world that’s been so cruel to him. Surrounded by wealth and privilege, he probably sees, every day, the disparity in his economic situation compared to those around him and lashes out in the only way he knows how. The poor child, forced to drive a 9 year old vehicle. My gods, what if it’s not even HIS?
    But even with his outrageous behavior, I will not call him a thug.
    Not when ‘little weenie’ seems so much more appropriate.

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  28. BethB said on April 29, 2015 at 2:19 pm

    I taught at a private international school outside of Frankfurt, West Germany, from 1985-1987, one of many teachers from the US, the UK, France, and Germany. Two comments about this job seem appropriate in light of various discussions and links on this blog and also the 70th anniversary of the liberating of Dachau.

    1. There were many older Germans who also worked at the school in various capacities. I always had questions for them in the back of my mind that I was too afraid to ask, “Where were you during the war? What were you doing?”

    2. The cleaning staff at the school was made up entirely of immigrants from Turkey. It seemed that the position was too lowly for German workers even though unemployment was high for Germans then.

    Jeff, the obsession of Germans with the rule of law was quite evident in rules governing employment, for instance. A German doctor friend just couldn’t open an office and start a private practice. There were laws governing how many doctors could do this, apparently, because there were too many doctors. She could only get work at a hospital a couple of weekends a month. The school couldn’t hire an American to be is Middle School Guidance Counselor until it proved that a “counselor” was not synonymous with a psychologist, since there were too many trained German psychologists who needed work. A German counselor would have been fine if that person had spoken English and had had any idea how to do the kinds of things school counselors do.

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  29. Sue said on April 29, 2015 at 2:23 pm

    News form FDChief’s blog:

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  30. Dorothy said on April 29, 2015 at 2:39 pm

    Connie I forgot to say I’m so glad to hear you’re back to work! I hope you didn’t lose too much of your mind while you were at home for 14 weeks.

    I just got some really wonderful news and it’s not public (i.e. on Facebook) yet but my brother emailed me and our siblings. His daughter-in-law is expecting again, and this time it’s twins! This is a first in our family – so I’m over the moon excited! Their first baby was born on Christmas day in 2013. So just before he turns two, he’ll have two new siblings. If only they lived closer than Tampa….

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  31. brian stouder said on April 29, 2015 at 2:50 pm

    Dorothy, your good news nicely bookends Sue’s contemplative link.

    And as Dorothy says – that was awfully good news from Connie, too

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  32. Deborah said on April 29, 2015 at 3:00 pm

    FDChief, sorry to hear about your dad, hope it all goes peacefully. Your blog is certainly well written. Thanks for the link Sue.

    I’m off to St. Louis for a whirlwind trip. My husband has been asked to review one of the thesis classes finals at Washington University, so his trip and hotel are paid for. So our flight is in a couple of hours. We come back late tomorrow night because my husband has reviews for his own class at IIT on Friday. While there I’m going to visit the shop of one of the fabricators of the playground equipment I designed so that should be interesting, and I’m going to see some old friends from when I used to live there.

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  33. MarkH said on April 29, 2015 at 3:07 pm

    Sue! Thanks for sharing that from FDChief. I have bookmarked his site right next to this one. His is a welcome voice to nn.c. Prayers and condolences to him and his family on the departure of his dad.

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  34. Dexter said on April 29, 2015 at 4:16 pm

    The Rory Kennedy doc was shown quite a while ago, so I did not watch again..PBS is showing many docs about Vietnam and the Dick Cavett special which puts together many clips from his old show is priceless and real must-see TV for history students who are too young to have lived through all that.
    I remember April 30, 1975 so clearly …the war was truly over that day, and yes, though the USA had just been defeated in a war, my friends and I celebrated by going on a Fort Wayne pub crawl and someone broke out some PCP which we all took (me for the first and only time) and we all got so trashed on beer it’s a wonder I lived through that night. No, HELL no there was no sadness that day because we had been struggling with that goddam war since Tet 1968 and anybody who thought we were winning that fight had not been there or had been listening to a fucking bunch of charlatans, because the way the US approached that incursion, there really was no plan to “win” in Vietnam. “They” called it a quagmire…and “they” were right. Sp4 Dexter, USA, retired (sorta…I was a draftee after all).
    I don’t think any nallers are fans or even casual watchers, but the Don Imus time is soon to be up on Fox Business News. One more month, and apparently Imus will be doing his radio show from Texas and his new ranch.

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  35. Dave said on April 29, 2015 at 4:19 pm

    Thinking about the evacuation of Vietnam, I remembered that my father worked with a man at Newark Air Force Station who lost his daughter because she was on the plane full of orphans that crashed. I want to say she was a aid worker or possibly a missionary, but I’m not certain.

    My uncle, several years ago, went to Germany on business. My uncle wears a cowboy hat as a matter of course, he’s done it for years, and a German family struck up a conversation with him because of the interest in the cowboy hat, which led to a dinner invitation. The grandmother told him her husband had been a Nazi and it was what you did.

    Sue at 27, +1.

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  36. Dexter said on April 29, 2015 at 4:20 pm

    Baseball is a lonely sport …more-so today in Bal-More:

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  37. ROGir; said on April 29, 2015 at 4:53 pm

    I worked for a German company and it wasn’t a good experience. I should have walked away when I went to their website and viewed a timeline of the history of the company. The years 1939-1945 were missing. They built airplane seats back then.

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  38. ROGirl said on April 29, 2015 at 4:54 pm

    I worked for a German company and it wasn’t a good experience. I should have walked away when I went to their website and viewed a timeline of the history of the company. The years 1939-1945 were missing. They built airplane seats back then.

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  39. Bob (not Greene) said on April 29, 2015 at 5:56 pm

    Totally off topic but this is really for Brian Stouder, who is a keen watcher of school boards. But even veteran school board watchers have never seen this kind of shit before.

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  40. Wim said on April 29, 2015 at 6:11 pm

    My wife, many years ago, was in a meet-and-greet with some clients of her firm, back when she was a Wall Street analyst. Said clients revealed they were Germans and my wife said, ‘Oh! My parents were in Germany in the Forties.’

    The clients said something like, ‘Really? Where, in Germany?’

    ‘Bergen-Belsen,’ my wife said.

    There was a long and awkward pause before one German said, ‘Those were TERRIBLE times.’

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  41. Jeff Borden said on April 29, 2015 at 7:11 pm

    Germans at least have faced up to their role in World War II and all the horrors it spawned. Another close ally, Japan, continues to pretend it was the victim in the war, not the perpetrator, and refuses to acknowledge the rape of Nanking, the use of the Korean “comfort women,” etc.

    One of the things the Germans did was leave standing the shattered remains of Kaiser Wilhelm’s cathedral, it’s spire broken off like a tooth near the most exclusive shopping district in Berlin. Inside is a heart-stoppingly beautiful marble statue of Christ, minus his limbs, which were destroyed in a bombing raid. Alongside that church is an ultra-modern cathedral of peace, which is constructed of blue glass. Whatever their many and ongoing faults, they have confronted their shameful history and done it honestly, at least in my opinion.

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  42. brian stouder said on April 29, 2015 at 9:21 pm

    Bob NG, fortunately Fort Wayne Community Schools is blessed with a sensible board that understands their role and duties.

    Just east of us is East Allen County Schools, and they have a fairly loose cannon on their board, bringing derision and discredit to their institution

    the lead:

    East Allen County Schools board member Arden Hoffman knows he can be direct. He’s been told he’s disrespectful to staff and board guests. But he sees his role as a champion of his constituents, actively fulfilling board policies to directly help members of the East Allen community. Most on the seven-member board believe differently and are about to censure him. For the board, which has a reputation for disagreements, voting to censure another member would be an unusual move. Censure is rare in Indiana, said sources who were hard pressed to remember the last one.

    and then

    He has been told he speaks disrespectfully to administration and guests who make presentations at the podium during board meetings. The board has also told him that he was wrong to leave his board seat at the March 17 meeting to address fellow board members as a private citizen. At the same meeting, he left his board seat and was seen speaking to constituents just outside the board room.

    Fort Wayne had a board that was tilting toward crazy 10 or 15 years ago, but we seem to have gotten that out of our system, at least for now…

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  43. MichaelG said on April 29, 2015 at 9:45 pm

    Not entirely true anymore, Jeff. Prime Minister Abe owned up to Japanese guilt without going the full apology route. I’m not fully up on the details but progress was made today.

    Deborah, one of the few good things about getting older is a lifetime’s perspective and a lifetime’s worth of contacts.

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  44. Deborah said on April 29, 2015 at 11:43 pm

    Yes MichaelG, we just had a lovely dinner with old friends in St. Louis. It’s so relaxing to be back here, it’s so much more laid back than Chicago. Makes me nostalgic for old times.

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  45. brian stouder said on April 30, 2015 at 4:27 pm

    Deborah – it seems to me that years ago Pam and I were charmed by St Charles – west of St Louis.

    It was touristy, but in a good way. Also, I recall we ventured onto one of those river-boat casinos, which was a singularly off-putting experience. Walking down the corridor from the entrance to the vessel itself was like going down a cattle-chute at the stockyards.

    When we reached the casino, it was not open yet. Then, we spotted a cool looking restaurant and headed for it, only to find that IT didn’t open ‘til the casino did – so we bailed on the whole thing. We were fish-out-of-water aboard that vessel (so to speak).

    But you gotta love the St Louis Zoo, and the Arch & museum was very cool, indeed.

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