Step into my bubble.

Gotta love a sick day when you barely leave your bed, but still get as much done as you would on those when you shower, get dressed, make up your face and interact with your co-workers in the flesh, rather than via the various electronic channels. And now more stuff awaits, a rewrite I would happily suffer a broken collarbone to get out of, but OK, not really.

Anyway, I put together a couple of links I hope you like, and I’m timing this to publish after they go live in the early morning hours Thursday.

As you may have noticed, Bridge is doing a yearlong Divided Michigan project, and Thursday’s installment is entertaining, if nothing else: We persuaded two parties, a gay couple in Ann Arbor and a rock-ribbed Trump voter in Troy, to switch their news bubbles for a week. The gay guys agreed to read the Drudge Report and listen to a talk-radio station called The Patriot, and the Trump voter was subjected to NPR, the New York Times and Jezebel. (Yeah, I know — a couple of dudes who read Jezebel? It is entertaining, I guess.)

I’ll let you ponder how it turned out. Spoiler: Not well. But it’s a good read.

And in the same spirit, there’s this Alex Pareene essay from one of the former Gawkers — Fusion, I guess. He points out the obvious, which anyone who’s had an older relative skate off the cliff will recognize:

If you want to understand intra-GOP warfare, the decision-making process of our president, the implosion of the Republican healthcare plan, and the rest of the politics of the Trump era, you don’t need to know about Russian espionage tactics, the state of the white working class, or even the beliefs of the “alt-right.” You pretty much just need to be in semi-regular contact with a white, reasonably comfortable, male retiree. We are now ruled by men who think and act very much like that ordinary man you might know, and if you want to know why they believe so many strange and terrible things, you can basically blame the fact that a large and lucrative industry is dedicated to lying to them.

Because there was a lot of money in it for various hucksters and moguls and authors and politicians, the conservative movement spent decades building up an entire sector of the economy dedicated to scaring and lying to older white men. For millions of members of that demographic, this parallel media dedicated to lying to them has totally supplanted the “mainstream” media. Now they, and we, are at the mercy of the results of that project. The inmates are running the asylum, if there is a kind of asylum that takes in many mostly sane people and then gradually, over many years, drives one subset of its inmates insane, and also this asylum has the largest military in the world.

Long, but absolutely worth your time. Gotta get on that rewrite at this end. Enjoy.

Posted at 6:30 am in Current events |

50 responses to “Step into my bubble.”

  1. ROGirl said on April 6, 2017 at 7:15 am

    Because Make America Great Again for White Men.

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  2. David C. said on April 6, 2017 at 7:31 am

    Tom Herbon sounds like 75% of all the engineers I know, and I know a lot of engineers. If you removed “I know for a fact”, said while grinding their fists into their hips, from their vocabularies, they’d be struck dumb. I assume both agreed to the ground rules, yet only the lefties tried to stick to them. Rather telling.

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  3. Suzanne said on April 6, 2017 at 7:48 am

    I’ve known a number of engineers over the years, mostly men. Yes, the I-am-pretty-sure-I-know-everything-about-everything gene seems pretty strong in them. Not all, but many, at least in my experience. I’d hate to have one for a patient if I was a doctor because I don’t doubt that everything you said or did would be questioned.

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  4. Suzanne said on April 6, 2017 at 7:55 am

    Alex Pareene nailed it. My mother, my aunt, and a number of my other friends & relatives still tell me that Obama is a foreign born Muslim. Sensible right leaning people I have talked to are starting to admit that Trump is a train wreck, but will still contend that he was better than the alternative.

    Fear sells and as Pareene pointed out, fear sells better when the government is in chaos. We’ve reached the tipping point at which there is so much false and skewed information out there, credible fact checkers can’t keep up, not that many of the true believers would listen anyway.

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  5. alex said on April 6, 2017 at 8:07 am

    Amen to David C at 2. I fully expected Herbon would be a bad sport even before reading the story, but then I have to listen to Republicans all the time and good faith isn’t part of their credo.

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  6. Danny said on April 6, 2017 at 8:19 am

    Barry Manilow. Wow, I didn’t see that coming!

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  7. Suzanne said on April 6, 2017 at 8:24 am

    Barry M is in his mid-70s! Now that really shocked me!

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  8. Deborah said on April 6, 2017 at 8:52 am

    Reading about the conservative guy made me tired, it was a great story, but it makes me sad to know there are lots of people out there like Herbon. It’s a life that I am so glad I’m not a part of, how boring and full of hateful noise (talk radio). The gay guys are my kind of people, the only thing I thought was too bad about their existence is that they listen to NPR while they eat dinner. Dinnertime is for conversation in my world. If I’m eating alone for some reason I usually read while I eat. I never listen to NPR anymore because I don’t drive in Chicago (no car anymore) and when I do in Santa Fe, Little Bird is usually in the car with me and we talk. I realize if I don’t expand out of my bubble and start talking and listening to more conservative people things will never change. But right now I’d have to go way out of my way to even find conservative people to interact with, except for extended family there aren’t many around here. I live in two quite blue areas.

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  9. Julie Robinson said on April 6, 2017 at 9:43 am

    Herbon sounds exactly like my uncle in Iowa, who is also a retired engineer. Except my aunt pretty much only leaves the house to grocery shop. Her only job is caring for the house and him. Blech.

    When Manilow was here a few years back ticket sales were really slow and we were offered free seats. I thought it would be a snark fest, but Barry puts on a really good show, and for all his years in Vegas comes across as genuine. And somehow I found myself singing along to all his songs, though I didn’t realize I knew them. It turned out to be an enjoyable evening.

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  10. coozledad said on April 6, 2017 at 9:53 am

    Pareene only missed the part where Fox plays on the homosexual angst of Republican males. Those cookie-cutter blonds are surrogates for an old white guy’s sexual self image- particularly the ones who’ve had to suck up to some authoritarian or another without interruption, from childhood on.

    Billo is their gumma faced dom, the sum of both their sexual desire and loathing.Several years ago on the East to West Campus bus at Duke I heard future Trump toady and jaundiced Nazi twink Stephen Miller tormenting some woman with his theory about Bill O’Reilly’s debating skills. I was only half listening to him and it was obvious young Stephen wanted to fuck Bill. it’s that way with all of them. The rest is just dissembling.

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  11. coozledad said on April 6, 2017 at 10:10 am

    Devin Nunes has stepped aside from the House Intel Committee’s Investigation, to be replaced by his high school yearbook photo and a couple of squirts of Aramis.

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  12. Heather said on April 6, 2017 at 10:13 am

    The problem with guys like Tom Herbon is encapsulated by his attitude toward the story about the LGBT population in Havana, “which he felt had no relation to his life.” UGH, these guys are SO used to having everything and everyone cater to their worldview. There are a lot of other people out there, guys, with their own perspectives and experiences that yes, may be quite different from yours.

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  13. brian stouder said on April 6, 2017 at 11:54 am

    ‘Divided Michigan’ – indeed.

    How on earth that state went for DT, I just don’t know.

    I’ve read many explanations (HRC to complacent/DT singin’ Happy Days are Here Again, xenophobia, etc) but – wow.

    I’m almost ready to concede that HRC’s campaign took too much for granted….but I didn’t think that, at the time.

    I was taken ‘common’ sense for granted, too

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    • nancy said on April 6, 2017 at 11:56 am

      Brian, take a look at this map and reflect that the margin in Michigan was about 10,000 votes. Repeat after me: Turnout, turnout, turnout.

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  14. Charlie said on April 6, 2017 at 11:55 am

    A tweet I came across yesterday made me (a gen-x kid) laugh out loud. I can’t find it now but it was something like “Fox news and talk radio did to our parents and grandparents what our parents and grandparents thought video games would do to us”. That had never occurred to me.

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  15. Jeff Borden said on April 6, 2017 at 12:18 pm

    Anger and fear are pretty much all the GOP has to offer its rank and file lest they notice the party is focused solely on funneling ever larger sums to their corporate and plutocratic masters. If guys like the engineer in Troy weren’t fuming over some triviality whipped up by Fox or Drudge or their many imitators, they might notice the Republican Party isn’t doing anything to look out for their interests. I am mildly surprised an engineer is so comfortable with the anti-science, anti-logic, anti-intellectual face of the Republicans, but then a former high school acquaintance who taught high school physics –he has since cut off contact with me after the election– argued passionately against the theory of global warming. He’s also so vehemently anti-immigrant it borders on outright hatred. Needless to say, he consumes only right-wing propaganda sites.

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  16. Mark P said on April 6, 2017 at 12:20 pm

    I’m an old white man and I have absolutely no understanding at all of people like Herbon. None. I am reasonably empathetic but I cannot place myself in his position and understand how he thinks. I suspect that there is some kind of pathology involved.

    I am ambivalent about engineers in general. I have worked with some very good ones. Most are, I’m sure, competent at what they do, and some are actually intelligent and would make good scientists. The rest have rules of thumb that work in most cases, which makes them think they understand the principles behind the rules. For some reason they think that makes them experts in other subjects (a failing scientists share).
    One engineer in particular I know to be a very intelligent person, probably one of the most intelligent I have ever known. But he thinks a lot like Herbon. A few years ago he traded his Chevrolet in for a Mercedes. He said he didn’t want to buy a GM product because the federal government bailed them out. I’m sure he’s unaware or ignores the fact that the government was repaid most of what GM got, and that Mercedes certainly received tax breaks from the state of Alabama to locate one of its plants there. But, then again, he really, really wanted that Mercedes.

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  17. brian stouder said on April 6, 2017 at 12:29 pm

    Ah yes – the old “Government Motors” canard.

    I’ve deal with folks who swear by Ford – because THEY didn’t take any money from Uncle Sam….and leaving aside all the ‘except for’s and ‘but’s and so on, how many parts suppliers would still be around for Ford, if GM had vaporized?

    For that matter – it sounds to me like the coal-country people WANT ‘guh-mint coal’ – no?

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  18. jcburns said on April 6, 2017 at 12:30 pm

    I keep coming back to the lost art of reporting versus storytelling. After reading the Bridge piece, I went to the NYTimes site and read a half-dozen articles about factual, observable events that, for some reason, were sprinkled with phrases like “the embattled House republican” and “the beleaguered Republican chairman” and “Many on Capitol Hill have said” and “came under fire” that make me reach for my blue pencil.
    What about NPR’s site? “The incident cast a cloud”, “There was outcry”, “the storyline has settled into a familiar arc.” Yee-gads.
    And these are the news organizations who have been labeled “from the left” in the Bridge piece. If I broaden my focus to the more general media landscape, or to Fox News / Drudge / Breitbart, the distortions and fictional reports are, astonishingly, somewhat less spinny and snarked-upon largely because they’re made up of stuff that simply did not happen.

    I long for reporting filled with substance, anchored firmly to well- and transparently-sourced facts and lean on style. I will pay for it. I’m finding it harder to pay for the NYT, but I still do.

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  19. Sherri said on April 6, 2017 at 12:33 pm

    The most arrogant engineers, in my experience, are the ones who think they are the smartest. The really smart ones can still be arrogant challenging pains, but they’re not convinced they have all the answers, they just don’t accept anyone else’s’ answer as right, either, without probing it. This is a vital skill at work, but can be wearing in interpersonal relationships (says the veteran of 29 years of marriages between two engineering types!)

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  20. jcburns said on April 6, 2017 at 12:34 pm

    By the way, the copy editor in me is going through most of today’s comments and editing “Hebron” to the correct “Herbon” because, well, one is the guy’s name and the other is a town in Ohio (and, I guess, Palestine?)

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  21. Julie Robinson said on April 6, 2017 at 12:51 pm

    And the OCD in me went back to the source material twice, thinking I had gotten it wrong!

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  22. Sherri said on April 6, 2017 at 1:02 pm

    If you haven’t read the Rick Perlstein article Pareene links to, you should. The right wing grift has been going on for a long time, but Limbaugh and Fox News raised the potential to a whole new level. There’s a limit to what you can do with direct mail, but with Fox News screaming at people all day to be very afraid, the marks are softened up very nicely for the hiscksters.

    And then there’s the right wing fondness for pyramid schemes, aka MLM, aka Mormons Losing Money. The DeVos family fortune, remember, is from Amway.

    Read Pearlstein’s books, too, beginning with his book on the Goldwater era in conservatism, Before the Storm.

    What are the left-wing equivalents of grift? What dubious products are marketed to left-wingers to separate them from their money, other than Jill Stein’s recount? The podcasts I listen to all advertise things like Blue Apron (incessantly), the Great Courses, mattresses, bedding, Joule, Texture, Audible. None of those seem to promise anything other than what they deliver.

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  23. Suzanne said on April 6, 2017 at 1:02 pm

    We have an engineer that lives near us and attends the same church. He has a small plane but I won’t fly with him. He’s one of those who think he’s the smartest and thinks he can’t make a mistake. Everyone who has gone up in his plane tells me how careful he is, etc. but for me, it’s his personality. He can’t ever admit being wrong, so careful as he is, I’m sure he would never account for his own human error. And that is what will get you every time.

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  24. Sherri said on April 6, 2017 at 1:12 pm

    I don’t want to ever hear any currently sitting Republican Senator referred to as principled or a moderate ever again, nor should the word maverick ever appear in the same sentence as John McCain. John McCain, Susan Collins, Chuck Grassley: you might not have been able to force hearings on Merrick Garland, but you certainly had the power to stop the nuclear option that you say is so harmful to the Senate. Three votes would have stopped it.


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  25. jcburns said on April 6, 2017 at 1:18 pm

    I just think there ought to have been a way for the Judiciary to step in and say “Okay, the executive presented this nominee. Your job was to advise and consent. You neglected to do that. So, by default, the nominee is approved.”

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  26. ROGirl said on April 6, 2017 at 1:34 pm

    I like working with engineers, but their worldviews are very narrow. The are knowledgeable about things that most people know very little or nothing about, but that’s it. There’s a whole wide world out there that they have no contact with or interest in (with a few exceptions). They also know what they are going to do for their entire careers when they go to engin school.

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  27. Sherri said on April 6, 2017 at 1:46 pm

    Traditional engineering curricula are usually pretty tightly structured, which doesn’t leave a lot of room for electives. That’s the biggest reason I have an undergraduate physics degree rather than an engineering degree; I wanted more freedom. My daughter didn’t want to do engineering for the same reason; she wanted to have the flexibility to take four years of Japanese, for example. So, she’ll get a chemistry degree next month. My husband’s interests, on the other hand, were less wide-ranging, and he was happy in the engineering program.

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  28. Sherri said on April 6, 2017 at 1:52 pm

    Jared better remember that daddy-in-law doesn’t like anybody else in the spotlight, even if he put you there.

    Moreover, Mr. Bannon’s Svengali-style reputation has chafed on a president who sees himself as the West Wing’s only leading man. Several associates said the president had quietly expressed annoyance over the credit Mr. Bannon had received for setting the agenda — and Mr. Trump was not pleased by the “President Bannon” puppet-master theme promoted by magazines, late-night talk shows and Twitter.

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  29. Jeff Borden said on April 6, 2017 at 1:59 pm

    Sherri, it looks as if Steve Bannon already is taking his revenge though his shithole rag. Check this out. . .

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  30. Sherri said on April 6, 2017 at 2:02 pm

    Yeah, Bannon has independent resources (Breitbart, Mercer). Who is Jared’s champion besides trump?

    I don’t think Jared understands the game he’s playing.

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  31. Icarus said on April 6, 2017 at 2:30 pm

    I’m an engineering school drop out. 🙁

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  32. Sherri said on April 6, 2017 at 2:53 pm

    This is why I donate to candidates, not the DCCC or the DNC. They’re too incompetent.

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  33. coozledad said on April 6, 2017 at 2:54 pm

    Maybe McCain can cut a couple of propaganda videos directly for the Russians, instead of having to go through the middle men in Hanoi.

    He’s always been a shameless fraud.

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  34. Dorothy said on April 6, 2017 at 3:17 pm

    I’m married to an engineer (mechanical) and I have to chime in here and say I don’t recognize him having any of these traits many of you are using to describe engineers. And I’m glad of it! He’s definitely smart and knows a lot about many, many things. But he’s not arrogant or show-offy at all. I have no degree, but he says I can go toe-to-toe with him on many issues (just not anything to do with engineering). My favorite thing he ever said to/about me: “My next wife has to be dumber than a box of rocks.” That is, if he outlives me.

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  35. Danny said on April 6, 2017 at 4:45 pm

    Dorothy, my wife and I have the same educational demographic as you and yours, and I have never one an argument in our entire 19 years of marriage. I tried explaining to her that I am a reasonably smart guy and that it would be statistically improbable for me to always be wrong. She just shrugs and says, “Funny how that works out, eh?”

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  36. Danny said on April 6, 2017 at 4:45 pm


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  37. Bitter Scribe said on April 6, 2017 at 5:01 pm

    That right-wing guy’s world view can pretty much be summed up as, “Everyone who doesn’t agree with me is stupid.”

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  38. Deborah said on April 6, 2017 at 5:08 pm

    There are a lot of different types of engineers. The ones I know are mostly structural engineers and boy do I have a lot of respect for them. Of course there are probably some who are arrogant and know-it-alls but the ones I know are cool and smart as whips. We had a structural engineer help us when we were designing our cabin because it’s so narrow and tall, it’s basically a sail in the wind, and the wind can be fierce in northern NM. I loved going to Bill’s office in his house in Santa Fe and he was super fun to talk to. My husband teaches with a structural engineer who commutes from San Francisco to teach in Chicago. The guy is a genius, his structural solutions always seem to be in sync with the design, he really thinks outside of the box. And the ones that practiced at the architecture firms where I worked were all stand up guys.

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  39. Sherri said on April 6, 2017 at 5:17 pm

    I’ve known really great engineers who were a joy to be around because they were so smart and interested in many things and brought the same intellectual curiousity to those passions that had attracted them to engineering. Others, not so much. Those were the arrogant, I’m always right, pains in the ass. You can imagine how well it went when they encountered me.

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  40. Charlotte said on April 6, 2017 at 5:24 pm

    Sherri — thanks for the link. The DCCC and the DNC have done BUPKIS for Rob Quist — Gianforte seems to be in hiding with his buddy Daines, but he doesn’t even have to stump — the GOP dark money folks are throwing a ton of ads and bad press into the pool. The one thing we’ve got going for us is that Quist is genuinely beloved around the state, even in deep red towns and Gianforte is pretty well disliked. But like NNC said above, it’s going to come down to turnout turnout turnout.

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  41. Deborah said on April 6, 2017 at 5:32 pm

    So I just read that Trimp told a bunch of reporters on Air Force one that he thought he’s had the most successful first 13 weeks of any presidency. Never mind that it’s only been 11 weeks. It’s obviously exactly the opposite, at least compared to any presidency in my lifetime.

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  42. Sherri said on April 6, 2017 at 5:49 pm

    How do you explain to somebody that claiming to be blind to gender and race doesn’t mean you’re unbiased with respect to gender and race? That actually, you’re more prone to being blind to bias, instead?

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  43. Sherri said on April 6, 2017 at 5:56 pm

    This is the kind of consent decree that Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III hates:

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  44. Charlotte said on April 6, 2017 at 6:18 pm

    Jared Goes To War, A Picture Story!

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  45. Danny said on April 6, 2017 at 6:29 pm

    …he’s had the most successful first 13 weeks of any presidency. Never mind that it’s only been 11 weeks.

    Deborah, maybe he was counting the two additional weeks from before he took office officially, but was colluding with the Russians?

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  46. Jolene said on April 6, 2017 at 6:38 pm

    That story re police reforms in Seattle is very impressive. Meanwhile, the DOJ is working to undermine a reform plan in Baltimore that the city is eager to begin.

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  47. Sherri said on April 6, 2017 at 7:04 pm

    I think a big key to police reform succeeding in Seattle was a hiring process that accepted input from diverse sources and a mayor and city council that has backed the chief when she has cleaned out some of the problems. The police union fought the process, but after a lawsuit failed and leadership at the union changed, things seemed to have moved more smoothly. there are still problems, but there aren’t stories in the paper every week with a white cop punching out a black kid over a jay-walking stop.

    Now, the King County Sherriff’s office, on the other hand…

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  48. Sherri said on April 6, 2017 at 7:07 pm

    Well, after all the good things I said about Murray, I didn’t expect this:

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  49. basset said on April 6, 2017 at 8:02 pm

    Engineers may be carrying some ego, but they’re not a patch on surgeons. Mrs. B used to be an operating-room tech and has many stories.

    Off topic… if you get a chance to see Richard Thompson on this tour, we’d definitely recommend it. Solo acoustic, last night in a 200-seat Thirties theater that’s gone through a $7M restoration… just amazing.

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  50. Colleen said on April 7, 2017 at 9:31 pm

    I didn’t make it through surg tech school because part way through my degree, I realized I didn’t like surgeons and didn’t have the personality type that was needed to deal with them. I don’t have thick enough skin.

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