Not what you think it is.

My comments on “Go Set a Watchman” come from a place of near-total ignorance of the text itself. I read the reviews and the first chapter online, and that’s it. So that’s your serving of salt grains with this, and here goes:

The only reason to read this book is as a case study in the power of a good editor. It’s not a lesson every reader wants to learn, or even cares about. Of all the movie fans in the world, how many want to learn about depth of field, how different lenses and film stocks work, the director’s art, or the color timer’s? They just want to enjoy the story unfolding in the dark. But in the case of these two books, all the evidence points to a single truth: This publication is an object lesson in the need for rock-solid estate planning and the need to appoint trustworthy guardians who will carry out your wishes, wishes you express when you still have the vigor to do so.

So when I hear Jeff say that lots of older people grow rigid and crabbed in their beliefs, and this is not a ridiculous turn of events for Atticus Finch, it makes me sad. Of course it’s true. But the Atticus of Watchman is not the same man of Mockingbird, for a very good reason: He’s a fictional character, and in her rewrite, Lee essentially crumpled up the paper she was sketching him on and started from scratch. Just because he has the same name doesn’t make him the same person, because he isn’t a person at all.

Although I will admit chuckling over a tweet I saw earlier today (and didn’t note the provenance of, sorry) something about of course Atticus is a bitter old racist 20 years after Mockingbird, because he’s been watching Fox News.

Speaking of estate planning… or rather, not speaking of it, because this story has nothing to do with it. Rather, it’s one of those stories we should all read from time to time, because it drives home just what real poverty is, how many poor families live in Detroit. And everywhere:

Oscar Edwards was born mentally disabled. He’s gentle, speaks only to his family and has the mind of a child.

For his whole life, the 68-year-old has had relatives taking care of him — feeding him, bathing him, keeping him company. And for most of that life he’s lived in an old house on Petoskey Street on the city’s west side; first with his parents, who died long ago, then with his two brothers, who both passed away recently.

Now, the house is falling apart. The warm air inside reeks of mold. The ceiling in his bedroom collapsed. The repair estimates are skyrocketing. And nobody in the family has any money to fix any of it.

So the family set up a GoFundMe site, hoping to raise enough money to make the repairs. It included a video of the interior of the house. Which is not pretty:

Evans was invited on an AM talk radio show, where the host called her a scammer and urged listeners to report the family to the state. A local TV station did a couple of stories about Uncle Oscar, and viewers posted comments online accusing the family of being negligent. A racist website stumbled on the fund-raising page and posted an unflattering photo of Uncle Oscar and mocked him and the family.

“They called us ‘silverbacks’ and ‘gorillas,’ things like that,” Evans said.

The family sought $30,000 in donations. In three months only $2,787 came in.

Another great, nuanced look by John Carlisle.

Now, back to reading the scariest article I’ve read in a long damn while. I bid farewell to our readers in Seattle, Portland and other places in the Pacific Northwest, should the big one, or the really big one, hit before we speak again.

Posted at 12:30 am in Current events, Popculch |

85 responses to “Not what you think it is.”

  1. Sherri said on July 16, 2015 at 1:48 am

    Yeah, we’re all going to die. The article was a little over done, but only a little. Everything west of I-5 won’t be toast, but yeah, there will be a lot of damage, and the tsunami risk on the coast is pretty high. The most misleading part of the article is where writes that we are 315 years into a 243 year cycle, like we’re overdue. It doesn’t really work that way. The big one could happen tomorrow, or it could happen 600 years from now. It’s not a linear process.

    The good news is, the big one isn’t too likely to trigger an eruption of Rainier in the process, so there’s that.

    (I live east of I-5, and higher and farther than any tsunami risk.)

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  2. Deborah said on July 16, 2015 at 1:53 am

    Well I finished the Ta-Nehisi Coates book, Between the World and Me, just before we touched down in Chicago tonight. I was absolutely blown away by how good it is. Wow, just read it, as Toni Morrison says, it should be required reading. I had every intention of rereading it but unfortunately somehow I managed to leave the book on the plane. I can’t believe I did that, but I can’t find it anywhere. I only hope that someone finds it and reads it. I’ll have more to say about it tomorrow, it’s late and I’m tired.

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  3. Hattie said on July 16, 2015 at 3:58 am

    Both of my daughters and my grandkids live in Seattle. They would probably be OK, though it could be quite a mess after a big earthquake. I worry most about my friend who lives on Long Beach, Washington, which is essentially a sand bar with no elevations. There would be nothing left there after a quake like the one predicted.
    Got to get the Coates book. I read an excerpt and was struck with how powerful it was.

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  4. Jolene said on July 16, 2015 at 7:21 am

    The good people of Oklahoma are arranging a welcome for President Obama during his visit there today.

    It seems, however, that their advance work was not the best. They may be a little tired of waiting in their pickups by the time he arrives for a 5 PM speech.

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  5. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on July 16, 2015 at 7:23 am

    So far, because I haven’t finished, Atticus in “Watchman” says some racist things; he’s not turned into some unrecognizable caricature of the “Mockingbird” character. Which, if it’s fair to claim any continuity at all between the two books (Nancy says no, I’m gonna say “uh, some”), means Lee is saying something there about the relationship of the older and younger Atticuses. I don’t see them as discontinuous, a start from scratch. And like my own father, he’s not showing a whole ‘nother side, but he is occasionally letting weariness and temper and perhaps even some enfeeblement tug at the persona he’s worked to create for himself that’s in contradiction to much of his upbringing, and can seem in that moment like a repudiation of what they’d said in years past. What I’m liking about the newer, older book is that I think she’s making it clear “no, it isn’t a repudiation; you can’t let your stand and perspective be tied to someone else your whole life, anyhow — this person who set you on a certain course gave you something, and their stumbles later don’t change that gift, and should not jar your course.”

    Which is where what’s even more important is the tension between Atticus and Henry for the protagonist. But I don’t know how it turns out yet!

    Having said all that, it’s clear there was a better, more insightful editorial hand at work on “Mockingbird.” But there’s plenty here to show that was no fluke, nor just the work of influences (Capote etc.). There’s good writing here, it’s just not finished work.

    Nancy, if they’re not persons, why do they order their authors around so in the writing of them? Some characters are just so willful it’s infuriating, and they all push back against what we intend to do with them. Anthony Trollope had to kill the archdeacon’s wife off just to get her to stop bullying him . . .

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  6. Suzanne said on July 16, 2015 at 7:52 am

    I doubt I’ll read Lee’s new/old book. Mockingbird was so nearly perfect and I don’t want to ruin that in my head. A good editor seems to be a thing of the past. I read Tartt’s Goldfinch recently and the main thing it seemed to lack was an expert editorial eye. It was an interesting story that could have been great but, IMHO, dragged on & on and was nowhere near great. I was surprised it won a Pulitzer. Maybe I’m becoming an old grouch, but so many modern novels I’ve read seem to suffer from the same issue of needing some guidance or something to steer them beyond mediocrity. Of course, I am not a writer, so what do I know?

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  7. Diane said on July 16, 2015 at 9:13 am

    Suzanne @6 That’s exactly how I felt about The Goldfinch. It was excellent in many ways, excellent enough for me to keep plowing through, but it was obvious she had not heard of the concept that killing a few of her darlings could move it from good to great.

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  8. Ann said on July 16, 2015 at 9:21 am

    That Uncle Oscar story–what a heart-breaker that is. “Though there were a few irate calls for Uncle Oscar to be forcibly removed from the home, the state has made no effort to do so, Evans said. He’s fed and cared for by the family, and a doctor visits him monthly. And if the criteria for removal is an old person living in a crumbling house, then there are thousands of Uncle Oscars out there.” Yes indeed.
    Suzanne 6 and Diane 7, I agree entirely about The Goldfinch. It could have been a better book if it had been 300 pages shorter. The Las Vegas section, in particular, dragged on forever.

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  9. Deborah said on July 16, 2015 at 9:47 am

    Here’s a good interview with Ta-Nehisi Coates that speaks to many of the things in the book that I found most profound
    There is also a piece in it about editors and publishers related to today’s topic here.

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  10. Julie Robinson said on July 16, 2015 at 9:48 am

    Another affirmation on The Goldfinch’s need for editing. And of course, no one could touch the Harry Potter books after they got so big, but the last few needed to be shorter also.

    Speaking of disappointing books: Girl on the Train. I don’t understand its popularity. It gave me the same squicky feelings as Gone Girl. It’s going to be a movie, and I’m not planning on seeing it either.

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  11. brian stouder said on July 16, 2015 at 9:52 am

    I’m having a bit of a time pressing into a biography of Nelson Rockefeller by Richard Norton Smith. I saw in on Book-TV and thought he sounded interesting, and got the book (for either Christmas or a birthday) and in our late household-catastrophe picked it up and began reading it. By turns, Smith digresses and meanders, and he uses nick-names and real names for various people interchangeably (which becomes annoying). I went and found a review of the book, and this –

    actually tells one a great deal:

    After 14 years and a long-depleted $50,000 advance, Mr. Smith’s “On His Own Terms: A Life of Nelson Rockefeller” will be published on Tuesday by Random House. Jeffrey Frank, writing in The New Yorker, has said that it “will probably stand as a definitive life.”

    A Renaissance man who first ran for public office at the age of 50, Rockefeller was elected four times as governor and left a powerful imprint on New York State. Nationally, he epitomized a brand of progressive Republicanism summed up by his credo, “If you don’t have good education and good health, then I feel society has let you down.” To imbue his larger-than-life subject with sufficient dimension to justify an 880-page biography, Mr. Smith delves into subjects as diverse as dyslexia, Abstract Expressionism and the inscrutable statecraft of Latin American capitals and Bronx political clubs.

    That “delves into subjects as diverse…” bit literally speaks volumes.

    But – we digress!

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  12. Deborah said on July 16, 2015 at 10:32 am

    The good news is that I found my Ta-Nehisi Coates book, I had slipped it into my lap book case instead of my bag. Yay! Now I can reread it. My husband wants to read it so we’re going to be fighting over it.

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  13. Jolene said on July 16, 2015 at 11:05 am

    Another example of the hospitality President Obama is experiencing in Oklahoma. Infuriating.

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  14. Bitter Scribe said on July 16, 2015 at 11:08 am

    I just gave $50 to Uncle Oscar’s GoFundMe. That situation reminds me so much of the one with my autistic brother that it’s scary, although thank God he’s nowhere near that desperate.

    That radio talk show host and the ones who called the family gorillas are the grownup versions of the kids who used to bully Oscar when he was young. If they’re not actually the same people.


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  15. Jolene said on July 16, 2015 at 11:22 am

    Thanks for the link to the Coates interview @9, Deborah. Very good interview.

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  16. FDChief said on July 16, 2015 at 12:58 pm

    What’s kind of sad-funny is how many people have referred the New Yorker article to me with observations about how it’s SO over-the-top and not to panic. Which just makes me laugh cynically, because 1) the geotechnical community in Portland has known this for decades; the original work in the SW Washington coast of Brian Atwater comes from the late 80’s and Curt Peterson of Portland State did very similar work for the Oregon Coast in the late 80’s and early 90’s. Yumei Wang from the Oregon Department of Geology and Mineral Industries (DOGAMI, the Oregon geological survey) has been running around Salem (and Washington D.C.) with her hair on fire talking to everyone she can about the vulnerability of lifelines – pipelines and bridges – for more than a decade.

    The response, both from the public and the various government bodies, has been a frantic series of yawns and a panicked scramble for the remote to see what channel “Dancing With The Stars” is on. There HAS been some minor movement; Oregon upgraded its Seismic Hazard Zonation from 2B to 3 along the part of Oregon west of the Coast Range in 1993 (meaning that construction standards for public buildings and critical facilities like hospitals and fire stations were stiffened); in the Oughts the southwest coast was upped again to SHZ 4 (which is basically the Japan/Souther California standard-level).

    The thing is that Oregon, like the rest of the nation, is infested with Norquistitis, that is, there’s never a good reason to tax oneself for anything, ever. And that applies to the sorts of municipalities and school districts that Goldfinger describes in the article. When we sit down with a developer or a school board and try to explain the situation the response is almost always “Gee, that’s terrible! We should…ummm…wait, HOW much did you say? THAT much? Gee, that’s a lot of money. We…maybe…wait, is that a squirrel? Squirrel!

    So it’s highly likely that 1) we’re going to get a large earthquake sometime in the next 50-100 years, and 2) it will cause widespread destruction and loss of life, and 3) many, many people will do very, very little to mitigate that destruction and loss of life because of cost, difficulty and…squirrel!

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  17. FDChief said on July 16, 2015 at 1:11 pm

    The only mildly interesting thing about Watchman to me is the furor from all the folks who seem incredibly invested in a fictional character.

    I grew up in the late Sixties and early Seventies, so Mockingbird was just one of those Great Novels you had to read in high school (I learned to loathe a lot of really good Victorian literature because of that, sadly…) I remember the original story as, at least, less of a slog than Moby Dick simply because it was written in a more familiar vernacular. But I certainly didn’t come away treasuring it or its characters.

    What I do understand is how a young Southern writer – writing in the Fifties, having fled North – might have started out with a polemic about a South that both nurtured and frustrated her, and about the small-town people that she loved but drove her kind of batshit crazy with their racial and social attitudes. And how a smart editor – seeing that a whole lot of people probably didn’t want to read anything like that – fastened onto the flashback part of the story and recommended that she write that, instead. So you ended up with the happy-childhood-coming-of-age part of the larger disillusionment-coming-of-age story instead of this, the bigger-picture version the author started with…

    Doesn’t bug me but, again, I wasn’t really heavily vested in the original…

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  18. Julie Robinson said on July 16, 2015 at 1:31 pm

    FD, that makes a lot of sense to me. I’ve got the book on hold, but I suspect I’ll be skimming rather than reading closely.

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  19. brian stouder said on July 16, 2015 at 2:02 pm

    1. So another day, and another ‘active shooter’, this time in Chattanooga.

    2. I still cannot get over the rock-solid right-wing/Republican unanimity, regarding the Iran deal. One would have guessed that Bloody-Dick Cheney is four-square against the agreement, and for war; but not one single candidate on the GOP side ran against the grain?

    3. I liked the Coates interview, also.

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  20. Connie said on July 16, 2015 at 2:32 pm

    Nancy, please let the appropriate person know this silly mistake: The Bridge’s facebook post about the success of the state recreation passport is illustrated by a picture of Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. Photo taken from Empire Bluff looking north to SB point. National park in state park story. 9 more days till I am there.

    Also, Sleeping Bear/Glen Lake family cottage has been sold, this will be my last time there. Anyone have an up north place to recommend to me for new adventures in my old age?

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  21. Sue said on July 16, 2015 at 2:39 pm

    Connie, try Sue Woodward, she’s on Little Glen. You might be able to check the place out while you’re there. Also called Sundowne Dey cottages I think, or used to be called that. Have Nancy give you my email for a few important bits of info if you are interested.

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  22. Connie said on July 16, 2015 at 2:45 pm

    Sue I know roughly where that is, thanks for letting me know, I was going to ask you and Holly about that.

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  23. Dexter said on July 16, 2015 at 3:02 pm

    Yeah. A hornet’s nest, poked with a stick. Backlash, raw emotions…and we have to look at that fucking stars and bars all over our media devices, all day, all night, in between coverage updates from Chattanooga. Five dead, two locations.
    Gun sales off the charts. It’s embarrassing to be a US citizen.

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  24. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on July 16, 2015 at 3:25 pm

    Arrrgghhh. No spoilers, but the wheels come off “Watchman” about 40% of the way through, and it just keeps ploughing into the roadbed, chugging but not getting anywhere. I scent editing perhaps on the first third, and then I’d really like to know the state of the manuscript through the second half. Many cooks, perhaps? Or just the rough material that made Tay Hohoff say “she’s got something there, starting out, but this is gonna need a great deal of work.” Which went on to become . . . anyhow, it’s not horrible, and I’m still mulling. But I think the author and the characters, having been so significant in our culture the last half-century and more, are worth the attention.

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  25. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on July 16, 2015 at 3:30 pm

    FWIW –

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  26. CW said on July 16, 2015 at 4:30 pm

    A lot of info in the New Yorker article, at least the geology and search for the historical evidence of the 1700 Cascadia quake, is covered in a really interesting, alarming book called “cascadia’s fault: the coming earthquake and tsunami that could devastate North America.”

    It has a foreword by Simon Winchester, whose Krakatoa book is just wonderfully researched and written. another gripping story from the Ring of Fire.

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  27. CW said on July 16, 2015 at 4:52 pm

    Here’s my confederate flag tale: Tuesday night my wife and I went to see .38 Special, who were playing an outdoor concert in Elk Grove (west Chicago suburbs). We are not huge fans of the band, but it was something to do on a Tuesday, it was free and it’s only 10 minutes from home.

    So we’re enjoying the show when this guy in the crowd suddenly stands up mid-song about 10 rows back from the stage and pulls out a huge confederate flag. He displays it, arms spread wide, with a defiant look on his face for a half-minute before turning around and marching off, still holding his Rebel standard high for all to see.

    Everyone pretty much ignored him, but I just wanted to say “Hey buddy, look at your license plate. Land of who’s-it? You know, the guy who led the winning side in the Civil War?”

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  28. susan said on July 16, 2015 at 5:06 pm

    This is the go-to book on the coming big quake in the Pacific Northwest. Really. Sandy Doughton is a superbly clear and thorough and readable science writer, for the Seattle Times. She’s been covering this topic for some years, now. Dan Savage had a neat interview with her the other day.

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  29. brian stouder said on July 16, 2015 at 5:07 pm

    “Hey buddy, look at your license plate. Land of who’s-it? You know, the guy who led the winning side in the Civil War?”

    Indeed! And, not for nothing, but unless you’re a Donald Trump sort of person, guys (like me) would simply be cannon fodder.

    Think of it; at the ground-level, the rebels had to draw the boys away from their families and off the farms (and so on) – and then lead them to destruction.

    How’d the so-called Southern Confederacy pull THAT off? Why wouldn’t southern people say “ehhhh….pass!” when confronted with going to war?

    After hashing over some of the “big” reasons for the war, how did they get common Johnny Reb to go fight?

    Meta-factors such as the Slave Power or the abolitionists or the Eastern traders and shippers or the western expansionists have their inning in history; still – how do you get all those farm boys and others (that would otherwise be referred to as “mudsills”) to line up and fight – in one slaughter-pen battle after the next, for four years? (and for the benefit of very rich people who owned and traded slaves)

    I think one big integral piece is another ‘hidden-in-plain sight’ factor, that has been addressed hereabouts from time to time: the proximity to their own “Greatest Generation” that fought and won the Revolutionary War (or rebellion against the king), and the idea that this would redeem an otherwise pointless lifetime.

    Anyway, once again we digress.

    Just thinkin’ out loud, as we face another mass-shooter aimed at the US military in Chattanooga

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  30. DanB said on July 16, 2015 at 5:20 pm

    On the topic of earthquakes (and race and the legacy of the Civil War, too), this is a beautifully written piece about the New Madrid fault: It’s the first of a two-post series; a lot of the best stuff is in part two.

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  31. Deborah said on July 16, 2015 at 5:51 pm

    When I was a freshman or sophomore in college 45 years ago or so (yikes), I remember a big brouhaha that California was about to crack off into the Pacific. We read a bunch of doom and gloom, then it didn’t happen when it was predicted and everyone just immediately forgot about it. Does anyone else remember that?

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  32. FDChief said on July 16, 2015 at 6:18 pm

    Another terrific publication about Cascadian earthquakes is The Orphan Tsunami of 1700 (U.S. Geological Survey Professional Paper 1707) available here:

    It’s a “whodunnit” about the researchers who started out looking for clues to the exact date of the event that they knew (from both anecdotes and stratigraphic and radiocarbon data) had happened roughly 300 years before present. They figured that the records kept in the eastern provinces of Japan that spanned that date might include reports of a tsunami without an earthquake – and “orphan” tsunami – that could be traced back to a great Cascadia quake. Spoiler alert; they did, and we now have not just a date but a time of the last great Cascadia earthquake…

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  33. Scout said on July 16, 2015 at 6:59 pm

    I just read that the Aurora Colorado movie shooter was found guilty. That must be a huge relief to the families of the victims.

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  34. alex said on July 16, 2015 at 7:29 pm

    For some levity on this otherwise somber day:

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  35. Wim said on July 16, 2015 at 7:58 pm

    Thanks for that link, DanB. Enjoyed it immensely.

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  36. Dave said on July 16, 2015 at 9:21 pm

    Yes, Deborah, Steely Dan even sang about it.

    Still haven’t bought a gun, still won’t be buying one, still wonder when we go out how many idiots are carrying. So tired of reading and learning about (almost every) gun of the day incident.

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  37. Sherri said on July 16, 2015 at 9:24 pm

    I don’t know, Scout. The Aurora shooter offered a guilty plea in exchange for a life sentence, but the prosecutor wanted to seek the death penalty. Capital cases don’t resolve for many years. Had the prosecutor been willing to accept the deal, the case would already be over.

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  38. beb said on July 16, 2015 at 9:28 pm

    Great posts from FDChief. My favorite apocalyptic nightmare is rhw YellowstoneSuper-volcano. It has a history of popping off every 100,000 years. The last one was … wait for it … 100,000 years ago. And there has been increased seismic activity in Yellowstone. If it blows everything west of the Mississippi is toast.

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  39. brian stouder said on July 16, 2015 at 9:35 pm

    Alex – I’d say the Trump Rump Plug gives butt plugs a bad name (for one thing, he’s over-qualified)

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  40. Tori said on July 16, 2015 at 9:37 pm

    Nancy! Have you heard about this? Michael Bolton is making a documentary about Detroit’s rebirth! Mitch Albom is interviewed, which is troublesome.

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  41. MichaelG said on July 16, 2015 at 9:38 pm

    I really liked the Sandi Doughton interview. She sounds extremely smart, extremely well informed and has a great sense of humor.

    There’s a town east and north of Paso Robles called Parkfield. It’s in the middle of nowhere on what, toward Coalinga to the north, is basically a one lane road that goes over a mountain. It’s located smack on top of the San Andreas fault and sports a permanent (if unmanned) USGS research station. Driving through Parkfield is weird. You can see the fault. The ground on one side is higher than that on the other side and there is a gap of up to a foot or more along the fault. I had heard about the place and one day driving from Atascadero to Sacramento I decided to pass through it. I guess it was worth it since I was sort of going that way anyhow but it added about two hours to my trip. I don’t think I’d do it again.

    People seem to overanalyze things like the Trump butt plug. My reaction was to laugh. It’s a joke and an insult. Sure. Take it for what it’s worth. We really don’t need that lady’s take on anal sexual politics.

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  42. MichaelG said on July 16, 2015 at 9:40 pm

    Oh, and Deborah @31. That’s been around for years and still is. The idea is that it would be a good investment to buy beach front property in AZ.

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  43. Tori said on July 16, 2015 at 9:44 pm

    CW- I live in Elk Grove, which I like to think of as the Kentucky of Cook County. While I wasn’t at the show, I think there are more than a handful of guys here who have a lot of love for the Stars and Bars. In fact, my neighbor has had it displayed in his garage since we’ve moved in. Ugh.

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  44. Sherri said on July 16, 2015 at 10:23 pm

    This story may be news to the New Yorker, and yes, the PNW is underprepared (though, for once, Portland has done a worse job than Seattle on this), but really, this is life on the Ring of Fire. I’ll still take it over hurricanes.

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  45. susan said on July 16, 2015 at 11:18 pm

    DanB @ 30- Thanks for that link to the article about the New Madrid earthquake. What a terrific piece of writing and particulars. His is a great summary of what is known about that quake, and the lands all around, the histories of the various small enclaves, including the sad decay and political decadence that keeps places down. And wry. He made me laugh with his turns of phrases.

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  46. Jolene said on July 16, 2015 at 11:21 pm

    James Holmes, the Aurora killer is very interesting from a mental health point of view. There’s lots of evidence that he was severely mentally ill, yet he was able to plan a crime that required substantial organization over a period of time. Usually, people with such severe thought disorders aren’t able to plan and execute such complex activities.

    The Tucson shootings, also carried out by a schizophrenic, were similar in that Jared Loughner, the shooter, was later revealed to have had an unfounded antipathy toward Gabby Giffords, but he seems to have been more opportunistic. Holmes ordered equipment through the mail, assembled a costume, and booby-trapped his apartment. That’s a lot of planning for a disturbed individual to be able to carry out.

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  47. susan said on July 16, 2015 at 11:35 pm

    FDChief @32- The Orphan Tsunami of 1700 is another terrific read. Our Ice Floods group had Brian Atwater over to talk about his work on that project; and then had him come speak to us again, after the book was published. What a neat bit of sleuthing and deducing, a great story with an actual ending. He sure had fun figuring that out. So many clues–geological (and a few archaeological) features in disparate places that had no obvious links. Until they came together in his mind from his expansive field work. And his trip to Japan… Not everyone could have done what he did.

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  48. MarkH said on July 17, 2015 at 5:47 am

    All of your earthquake talk is contagious. At 2:25 AM we were awoken by a likely 4.0-4.5+ quake here in Jackson Hole that shook our house pretty good for 10 seconds. What may have exacerbated it for us is that one of the numerous Teton fault lines runs directly under our home. Here’s what the seismic monitor reading two miles away looked like:

    The major fault line that formed the Teton Mountain range is also way overdue for a large movement. Recent measurements show the valley floor actually dropping as the mountain range pushes east against it.

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  49. FDChief said on July 17, 2015 at 10:27 am

    Since it’s my own horn I might as well toot it; my own take on the “orphan tsunami” of 1700:

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  50. beb said on July 17, 2015 at 10:30 am

    The thing about the Confederate Flag is that as flags go, it’s pretty colorful graphically interesting. I’m thinking back a week or so to a column Nancy linked to which declared all 50 state flags were crappy. Most of them are but the stars-and-bars ain’t one of them.Pity it’s a declaration of racist bigotry.

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  51. Deborah said on July 17, 2015 at 10:45 am

    Sad. Brooks on Coates And read the comments too.

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  52. Dorothy said on July 17, 2015 at 10:55 am

    MarkH I’m guessing that earthquake would not have been strong enough to be felt in Salt Lake City…? My son, his wife and her parents arrived there yesterday for a long weekend vacation. I think they’re headed to Wyoming for part of it, but honestly I can’t recall all the places they told us they were going to visit. The couple of pictures he sent us already look very pretty.

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  53. Sue said on July 17, 2015 at 11:06 am

    susan@47, just checked Amazon for Atwater’s book. It’s priced between $58 and $275. It must be out of print or something and rare, too bad for me.

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  54. brian stouder said on July 17, 2015 at 11:28 am

    Deborah@51 – thanks for the link.

    That guy is a doofus. His criticisms are precisely like the original critical panning of impressionist art, in that he entirely misses the point, and in so doing, he deprecates the validity of another person’s experience. I’d pay to watch a discussion (conducted by Rachel Maddow, or Bill O’Reilly – either way) with Mr Coates and Mr Brooks at the table.

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  55. Deborah said on July 17, 2015 at 12:16 pm

    Yes, Brian. I do think Brooks is an intelligent man, he is just so steeped in the conservative (white) mindset, that he can only open up so far and in so doing “he deprecates the validity of another person’s experience” as you so eloquently said. At least he read the book and encourages everyone to do so. That would be an interesting debate for sure, but I’m not sure it would change anyone’s mind, and from what I gather from his writings, I suspect that Coates would agree

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  56. Danny said on July 17, 2015 at 2:04 pm

    Maryland’s state flag has always stuck me as pretty cool.

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  57. Danny said on July 17, 2015 at 2:04 pm


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  58. MarkH said on July 17, 2015 at 2:12 pm

    Correct, Dorothy, not likely for a temblor like this one to be felt 200 miles away. Last significant one we had like this was five years ago and came in at 4.5. Have not yet found the Richter score on last night’s.

    Lots to enjoy out here, certainly. Hope you family has a great trip!

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  59. brian stouder said on July 17, 2015 at 2:24 pm

    Danny, agreed! The Maryland flag looks a bit racey – in the “vroom-vroom” sense

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  60. Brandon said on July 17, 2015 at 2:54 pm

    What’s Brooks complaining about? His book gets the spotlight, at least in the Dartmouth bookstore:

    Dartmouth Bookstore, upstairs, back of store, tiny Af-Am section: Ta-Nehisi Coates. Up front, display: David Brooks.— JeffSharlet (@JeffSharlet) July 15, 2015

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  61. brian stouder said on July 17, 2015 at 4:05 pm

    So the rightie-radio yappers and pundits are hitting the point that our latest mass-shooter is another example of RADICAL ISLAM!!! – and b’God, they’re TIRED of our traitorous president being reluctant to call a spade a spade (so to speak)

    here’s an example –

    and we’re being generous to the looney side using that example, as Oxy-Rush and the others go much, much further than Chuckie K does.

    So this made me curious, and Uncle Google helped me to construct the following mass-shooters match-game. See if you can match the following lunatics to their religions (a, b, c, d or e):

    The Aurora shooter

    The Sandy Hook shooter

    The Columbine shooters

    The Rep Giffords Shooter

    a- Catholic
    b- Lutheran
    c- Atheist
    d- Islamic

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  62. brian stouder said on July 17, 2015 at 4:12 pm

    (forgot the ‘e’. What the hell, let’s say ‘e’ is Rastafarian)

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  63. brian stouder said on July 17, 2015 at 4:52 pm

    Bonus points for the religion of:

    The Navy Yard shooter

    Virginia Tech shooter

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  64. Dexter said on July 17, 2015 at 6:09 pm

    This is like when we wait for something to come in the mail, with great anticipation…then when it gets here, finally, we want to return it and wish it never came at all.
    93F Saturday, maximum humidity, miserable. Bah. In France Thursday, it was 96F, cyclists were downing liter bottles of water and electrolyte drinks continuously.

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  65. susan said on July 17, 2015 at 6:31 pm

    Sue @53 – Holy cow! It didn’t cost that much when I bought it. I just called the U of Washington Press, who published it in 2005 (for $30). The lovely woman I spoke with (in Baltimore) said the book has been “backlisted,” which is a way to say it is out-of-print without saying it is out-of-print. (At least it is not blacklisted.) She suggested I call Rachael Levay, the main contact with UW Press (marketing and sales director), to find out what the deal is. It being Friday afternoon, the message machine kicked in. You could try calling her, too, maybe on Monday: 617-871-0295. That is a western Washington state number. Here’s her email:

    I bet the local library has it, though, no?

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  66. Sue said on July 17, 2015 at 8:59 pm

    Thanks susan, I’ll call. I’m always looking for books for gifts for my kids and this one would interest 2 of them. I think.

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  67. brian stouder said on July 18, 2015 at 10:34 am

    And now for something completely unrelated. If you click here, there’s an article about the (altogether marvelous) Fort Wayne Children’s Zoo –

    and if you look at the photo, the seated young lady, pictured just to the right of the guy with the tie, is Chloe, our 11 year old, at Zoo-camp!

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  68. brian stouder said on July 18, 2015 at 10:39 am

    And I for got to give Nance a hard time about not hitting this altogether marvelous OID story ––veteran-to-meet-Obama-7763473

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  69. Deborah said on July 18, 2015 at 12:38 pm

    Brian, loved the link about the oldest living vet. 110 wow!

    I’m here in Kewanee, IL with my husband’s family, including his 96 yr old mother, who is sharp as a tack. Her hearing and vision are still good, but she’s shrinking. That’s about the only difference. She’s beautiful. It’s hot as hell here, and so humid my hair is a frizzball, which doesn’t happen ever in Santa Fe to be sure.

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  70. brian stouder said on July 18, 2015 at 1:12 pm

    Deborah – I LOVED the lead on that article:

    A 110-year-old woman believed to be the nation’s oldest veteran is preparing to visit Washington on an honorary trip that includes meeting President Barack Obama. There’s just one glitch: She wants a jacket to wear with her official trip T-shirt, because she doesn’t have “Michelle Obama arms.”

    See, she would fit right in here, at nn.c.

    The heat and humidity today is quite oppressive – but you’re an Illinois ‘sucker’ (as ol’ Abe would say) from way back, so you know how it goes.

    On the other hand, I cannot do your southwestern dry heat. That stuff just kills me

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  71. Deborah said on July 18, 2015 at 2:58 pm

    But Brian, northern NM does not have horrible heat because of the altitude. Although when Jeff (tmmo) was there it was about as hot as it gets there.

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  72. Danny said on July 19, 2015 at 9:56 am

    It’s like Hawaii in San Diego today. Yesterday, we got a rare thunderstorm. I think I can count on one hand the number we have gotten since I’ve moved here in 1984. And since my mother-in-law was arriving yesterday, each thunderclap brought to mind Endira from Bewitched. Heee

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  73. brian stouder said on July 19, 2015 at 5:39 pm

    Y’know, I was all set to comment on Donald Trump’s latest blathering, but really, we should just go set a garbage-man.

    It is sort of funny that the Republican Party has been drinking all of this small-minded know-it-all swill, and now ol DT has given them a bad case of delirium tremens

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  74. Dexter said on July 19, 2015 at 7:35 pm

    McCain a hero? He was a pain in the ass to his compatriots, if you choose to believe this guy’s account:

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  75. brian stouder said on July 19, 2015 at 7:53 pm

    Dexter – I have no standing to have any opinion at all, regarding how we define what a military hero is.

    It does strike me, though, that a billionaire blow-hard with 5 draft deferments might better make no comment at all, then to joke and make flippant remarks about a naval aviator who flew off the decks of aircraft carriers, and who spent 5 years in an enemy prison camp, and who endured torture at the hands of our enemies.

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  76. Dave said on July 19, 2015 at 8:21 pm

    What Brian said. Dexter, you were in Vietnam and have every right to say anything about it, I was never in and never say anything about it but this is exhibit one of what is wrong with Donald Trump and why the other pitiful Republican candidates are a bit scared of him. Cruz must be so scared that he won’t say anything. Trump might not come close to the nomination but he can sure hurl out the insults and snide remarks, because he’s not indebted to any of the casino owners or Koch brothers or any of the other deep-pocketed guys funding these clowns. He might bring his wrecking ball to the election by becoming an independent candidate, too, which would seem to give the Democratic opponent quite an advantage.

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  77. Sherri said on July 19, 2015 at 8:28 pm

    Just trying to keep it straight, here: if you’re a Republican and served in Vietnam, your service is not to be questioned, but if you’re a Democrat, anything’s fair game (see Kerry, John and Cleland, Max).

    I think Trump is a blowhard who doesn’t belong in decent society, but I’m amused to see all the Republicans so offended.

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  78. nancy said on July 19, 2015 at 8:31 pm

    Honestly, I think Trump is a Democratic plant. Nothing else explains him. It’s like an extended performance piece.

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  79. alex said on July 19, 2015 at 9:10 pm

    Where was the outrage when Dubya swiftboated McCain’s record of military service during the 2000 primaries? Bush essentially called McCain a self-aggrandizing fraud. That’s acceptable in politics but Trump’s antics crossed the line? Puhleeze. And where was the outrage from Republicans when Trump was maligning Mexicans last week? There wasn’t any. The GOP was too busy figuring out how to kick Trump out of the race because he wasn’t playing by the rules and was enunciating the GOP’s positions instead of dog-whistling them, thus scaring the living shit out of the supposedly more serious candidates.

    Almost every public figure who offends, intentionally or otherwise, makes a big public apology once he or she is called out for it. Trump just doubles down and says fuck you and go fuck yourself. And the GOP base is eating it up! He may be a gross pig but he’s the greatest gift to presidential politics evah.

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  80. Sherri said on July 19, 2015 at 10:08 pm

    Maybe Trump is a Republican plant, to make all the rest of the Republicans look sane. Won’t Walker look like a grownup compared to Trump? Will all the money coalesce around Jeb! out of fear of Trump?

    We’ll know he’s a Democratic plant if he runs a third party campaign.

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  81. brian stouder said on July 19, 2015 at 10:22 pm

    With reference to the 2016 Republican presidential field, we might restate the saying “in the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is king”

    to “in the land of 16 candidates, any moron that can draw a 15% approval rating is GOLDEN

    Ms Maddow has been zeroing in on the Fox News channel’s First Big Debate (coming August 6th! Do you believe it?! and in Ohio) and their rules about having to be in the Top 10 in national polls, to get onto the stage.

    This means that a know-it-all/know-nothing like the Donald is as happy as a pig in mud. He’ll get to be on the stage, regardless that his poll numbers are (almost certainly) topped-out at the 20% mark, and he has no up-side, at all – whereas a John Kasich/Marco Rubio type, who has actually won elections and have an actual record of public service (for better or worse) could well be on the outside looking in.

    The bright lights and the political back-and-forth is the whole point, for Donald “One Eye” Trump, who is simply a Mad Max/gadfly crank. The pageantry(!) and the bright lights are the whole point, for him (certainly not actually governing). If lightening strikes, and he actually WINS a primary race or two (or more) the Republican party will go grinding into a national electoral wall of rejection, and he would easily Trump Barry Goldwater for the title of “Mr Worst Candidate in the World”

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  82. brian stouder said on July 19, 2015 at 10:52 pm

    Almost forgot to post the answers to the pop-pop-pop quiz, about the religion of American mass shooters:

    The Aurora shooter (B)

    The Sandy Hook shooter (B)

    The Columbine shooters (A & B)

    The Rep Giffords Shooter (C)

    Bonus points for the religion of:

    The Navy Yard shooter (E)

    The Virginia Tech shooter (F)

    a- Catholic
    b- Lutheran
    c- Atheist
    d- Islamic
    e- Budhist
    f- local Christian(?)

    and for the record, what is the distinction between a “terrorist” and any other mass shooter who might pop in at our local movie theater, or elementary school, or college, or church? Aren’t they ALL terrorists, if that word means anything at all?

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  83. Julie Robinson said on July 19, 2015 at 11:23 pm

    From that list, it looks like we Lutherans are churning out more terrorists than the Muslims. Hmm.

    In this house we are loving the Trumpster while being appalled at ehat he says. Let the Republicans drag each other down into the mud, and let them spend all their $$$ in the primaries. Then let a sensible Democrat cakewalk the general.

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  84. Deborah said on July 19, 2015 at 11:30 pm

    I think we need to watch out for Lutherans, from your list Brian. As a former Lutheran, MO Synod. That’s probably a good idea.. I think that’s the first time I’ve ever used an emoji.

    Little Bird visited the ER this evening. An issue with her tumor on her thigh, that she had surgery on last fall. It gave us all a fright but everything seems to be ok now. Better to be safe than sorry.

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  85. Deborah said on July 19, 2015 at 11:31 pm

    My emoji disappeared, probably a good thing.

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