Everyone’s a critic.

Not gonna lie — I’m amused by all the art critics in the world. Who knew, in a country with so few college degrees, that so many were qualified to pass judgment on a couple of portraits?

Of course, anyone can pass judgment on art, and you don’t need a college degree to do it. But a 100-level humanities class will probably cover the 1913 Armory Show, and the debate over traditional representational vs. nontraditional modern art. You could hear echoes of it in the many who said, “But that pitcher don’t look nothing like Michelle Obama.”

I am showing my cards here, not that they were ever in doubt. I loved Kehinde Wiley before he was announced as POTUS 44’s official portraitist, and I was willing to give Amy Sherald the benefit of the doubt on the FLOTUS portrait. I knew both paintings would be nontraditional, which would befit a nontraditional first couple. We all knew that once the drape was dropped, the usual suspects would find something, anything to hate about them, because that’s what they do. Their vinegary souls are fed in the dankest basements of the internet, and it sucks to be them because they are crabbed, broken people.

Long, elegant fingers.

I have my own disappointments. I wish Wiley had just walked out in his windowpane-check suit and said, “It’s yours now. Your meaning is your own,” instead of explaining the symbolism of the various flowers in the background. The world is full of sleuths who would have been comparing them to floral databases and have them named within the hour, and we would have at least have the pleasure of figuring it out for ourselves.

But the people whose opinions really chap my ass are the ones who say the paintings are somehow “lacking in dignity,” or some other bullshit. I was in the Michigan state capitol shooting photos a few weeks ago, and took a lap of the gubernatorial portraits. They had all the dignity these littlebrains want, the stuff they can explain to fourth-graders: “He’s looking out the window, which represents the future. And his hand is resting on a globe, because he was interested in foreign affairs. The stack of books on his desk shows his commitment to education…” And so on. Blech. All but one was utterly forgettable, a white man in a business suit and a tie. The one that wasn’t was remarkable only because it was of a white woman, and look, her hand is on a globe. Only this globe represents tax incentives. OK.

I notice some of the conservative “news” sites posted a composite of presidential portraits, including the newest one, asking “which one doesn’t belong?” Well, Obama’s, obvs, because it’s the one that actually qualifies as art instead of a wall-filler in some national museum.

At least in the opinion of this art critic.

There was a painter in Fort Wayne I wrote about once. Nice guy, very Catholic, extremely traditional. I forget what the angle was — he was trying to give an altarpiece to the Diocese, or something. He explained the panels to me: “Now this represents pro-life,” he said, pointing to a bunch of intertwined babies. Thanks for explaining that, because man that would have been impenetrable otherwise. I don’t know what he’s doing now. Maybe he morphed into this guy, who’ll surely be tapped to paint 45’s portrait.

There may be more to Michelle’s picture than you think, and it’s all in the dress.

What else? Louise Linton, Bond villainess of the current administration, explains herself. She lives at SoulCycle!

My best friend used to work at a magazine dedicated to the good ol’ days, almost all the content written and submitted by readers, who had one thing in common: Rose-colored glasses. It shouldn’t surprise you to learn that the good ol’ days really were swell, and in the course of her time there, the magazine published a book all about the Depression, which readers remembered quite fondly. I understand that one good thing about times that hard is that almost everyone is going through it together, and poverty isn’t so obvious and painful when your neighbors are in the same boat. But man, some of these old people were weird. They loved, loved their memories of public assistance, when you didn’t get food stamps or an EBT card or cash for clothing, but actually had to go to the local fairgrounds, stand in line and carry your allotment home in boxes. (You all remember government cheese, right? Like that, only all your groceries, not just cheese.) It was better this way, the old people all said. So I guess they’re going to love the new idea for a downmarket Blue Apron for the poor.

You know what was really weird about that Depression book? Some readers recalled that if you got “relief,” as it was called, you had to eventually pay it back, and oh that was just wonderful, when daddy made the last payment! Why don’t we do that now? And so on.

OK, have to walk Wendy and figure out what frozen dinner to make in the microwave. Man, I want this project to be capital-O Over.

Posted at 4:34 pm in Current events |
 

126 responses to “Everyone’s a critic.”

  1. Deborah said on February 13, 2018 at 4:52 pm

    Your project just started!

    Your comments about the Obama paintings were good. I don’t like it when people tell me what to see before I’ve had a chance to see for my self but that doesn’t stop me from spouting off my own opinions. I do try to wait to reply to someone else’s opinion I don’t agree with.

    The one criticism that I read on Twitter about the Michelle portrait that was a good one to me was this https://mobile.twitter.com/briebriejoy/status/963505498527059968

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  2. Deborah said on February 13, 2018 at 5:14 pm

    We have a minor slow leak in our garbage disposal. Every other week or so I have to take a bleach wipe under the sink and wipe up a stain. I’m working on talking my husband into agreeing with me that we need to replace it and while we’re at it replace the sink and faucet and maybe the counter too. He is ok with replacing the disposal and the faucet so far but not necessarily the sink or counter yet. I’m not giving up.

    And this morning the mirror finally came off of the medicine cabinet. It’s been working on coming off for a few weeks. We have a weird bathroom with lots of mirrors even though we removed some of them. We didn’t even know we had a medicine cabinet for about a year. One time my husband was messing around with the mirrors in there and he accidentally opened the medicine cabinet. We were astounded and very happy that we had an efficient place to put our stuff.

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  3. Icarus said on February 13, 2018 at 5:46 pm

    @deborah you just have to convince him it’s more cost effective to do it all at once than in piecemail. Good luck.

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  4. alex said on February 13, 2018 at 6:04 pm

    Yay! David Long is retiring from the Indiana senate. Not sure if he’s facing a challenge from further on the right or a lucrative lobbying firm offer, but I certainly hope his cockamamie idea for a new U.S. constitutional convention is disappearing along with him.

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  5. basset said on February 13, 2018 at 6:12 pm

    Looks as if I’m supposed to like the portraits, but I don’t. Sorry.
    We didn’t get government cheese but some of our neighbors did. My mother used to trade them for it, and for big cans of boned chicken. Government chicken just doesn’t have the same ring to it, though.
    And that letter from the reunion committee is still sitting next to my computer, unanswered.

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  6. LAMary said on February 13, 2018 at 6:13 pm

    I like the portraits. Someone I know well hit FB before I saw the paintings and went off on a thing about how lousy they were. When anyone replied disagreeing with him he went on about their lack of taste/education/sophistication. I nearly replied with an F.U. but he’s an old friend and it’s not like I didn’t know he had the tendency to go all assholish occasionally.

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  7. David C. said on February 13, 2018 at 6:24 pm

    However ill-informed anyone’s take on the portraits is, at least it isn’t as bat-shit crazy and Shit-fer-brains Sean’s. https://www.rawstory.com/2018/02/sean-hannity-comes-completely-unglued-alleged-secret-sperm-hidden-obamas-portrait/#.WoNKyV9x_Z8.twitter

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  8. LAMary said on February 13, 2018 at 8:48 pm

    Why is Sean Hannity employed? There are weird demons in that man’s brain.

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  9. alex said on February 13, 2018 at 10:00 pm

    Well I know what Dr. Freud would say about a man who fantasizes about seeing jizz everywhere.

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  10. basset said on February 13, 2018 at 10:37 pm

    Guess I don’t know enough about art to know what I’m supposed to like. Might be better just to whack a couple color fields up there, or better yet blank canvases, and see who makes the correct interpretation.

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  11. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on February 13, 2018 at 11:34 pm

    My grandmother, when people would head into “the good old days” category of chatter (and this was a very prim and proper Christian woman in downstate rural Illinois) would tartly observe “when I was a girl, we had to flick out of our breakfast glasses the bits of cow manure floating in the milk that was poured for us out of the pail.”

    The conversation never failed to change course after that comment, which was her intent.

    I nominate Ralph Steadman to do Trump’s official portrait.

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  12. Julie Robinson said on February 13, 2018 at 11:44 pm

    Ha! In the good old days I would have bled to death. Or died from a massive infection. But before that our second child might have died of Rh incompatibility. Give me the good old days of modern medicine, please.

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  13. Deborah said on February 14, 2018 at 1:19 am

    Ralph Steadman, good one. Or maybe, if he weren’t dead, Ivan Albright.

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  14. Dexter said on February 14, 2018 at 1:51 am

    JmmO: Good one! I love Ralph Steadman’s art. I can’t claim to be any sort of art critic…only artists I go ga-ga over are Edward Hopper, Peter Max, Paul Gauguin, and Diego Rivera and Vincent Van Gogh. Sculpture? I saw the Rodin Museum in Philadelphia years ago and was thrilled to see the 1902 creation, “The Thinker”. http://www.visitphilly.com/music-art/philadelphia/the-thinker/

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  15. Andrea said on February 14, 2018 at 5:29 am

    Let’s hope that whoever paints Trump’s portrait takes at least as subversive an approach as the artist did to Bill Clinton’s:
    https://www.theatlantic.com/entertainment/archive/2015/03/the-subtle-satire-of-a-bill-clinton-portrait/386558/

    I love the Obama portraits and their boundary-pushing approach to the genre.

    Honestly, the right wing — Hannity, et al — have no business ginning up fake outrage over trivial things when we have daily, even hourly, examples of outrage pouring out of this administration and Congress. Just a list of the real and proposed horrors from any one week of this administration would shock anyone pre-2016 and be enough to take down a presidency or end a congressional career. Today, we just roll our eyes. God, I hope people don’t get apathetic and let this go when it comes to election day! This is an actual prayer, not an exclamation.

    Deadline to register to vote in the Illinois primaries is Feb. 20. My 17-year-old daughter got registered to vote this week. The students at her high school organized a voter registration drive and all eligible students who registered got to take a selfie with Vic Mensa (a hip hop artist who is an alumnus of her HS). She was really excited. Of course, when she sent the selfie to the rest of the family, my other kids were super excited and my husband and I were like — who is that dude?

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  16. basset said on February 14, 2018 at 6:56 am

    Steadman, or maybe Gerald Scarfe.

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  17. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on February 14, 2018 at 7:15 am

    Scarfe’s a good backup, nice idea. I looked, but Steadman hasn’t yet done a Trump depiction that I could find online.

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  18. Alan Stamm said on February 14, 2018 at 7:34 am

    Props to Politico for its accurate hed at your link [“Trump pitches plan to replace food stamps with food boxes”], in stark contrast to widespread lazy “journalism” (aka stenography) elsewhere:

    * “Trump Wants to Replace Food Stamps with Blue Apron-Like Program” — Fortune headline

    * “White House wants to deliver food to the poor, Blue Apron-Style” — CNN

    * “Trump Wants to Slash Food Stamps and Replace Them with a ‘Blue Prop-Type Program” — Washington Post

    Daniel Dale, Washington correspondent for The Toronto Star, tweets: “It’s strange how willing headline writers can be to accept the White House’s comically absurd framing, like their calling a monthly box of packaged cheap food that is nothing like Blue Apron a ‘Blue Apron-type program.'”

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  19. Peter said on February 14, 2018 at 7:40 am

    Re: that SLT article – it claims that in the portrait Trump is standing on a snake – to me it looks more like his tail, or the business end of something that Melania stuck up his ass. Just saying.

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  20. Pam said on February 14, 2018 at 8:31 am

    Outrage is the most virulent and communicable disease of our times (well, not so new). A way to get ignint people ginned up over nothing. You don’t like the portraits, don’t look at them. I agree with alex @9 above. The far right should be happy, one more thing to outrage over at the Obamas. Such an unexpected pleasure for them. I like both portraits and was not in the least surprised that they were not standard issue. BUT, I think Mrs. Obama’s portrait, which I like a lot, should have been brighter. Her personality and intellect are like the sun and the painting doesn’t reflect that (IMHO). Which is why so many people are talking about the dress instead. The dress is awesome and I want to see her in it for real.

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  21. Pam said on February 14, 2018 at 8:40 am

    Ok, then there is this pov: https://www.newyorker.com/culture/annals-of-appearances/the-mystery-of-amy-sheralds-portrait-of-michelle-obama

    I guess I can come around and see it in a different way.

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  22. BethB from Indiana said on February 14, 2018 at 9:23 am

    Thanks, Dexter, for the rollator link. I’ll check it out.

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  23. adrianne said on February 14, 2018 at 9:51 am

    In the meantime, while we’re all debating over the Obamas’ portraits, the Idiot-in-Chief continues on his path of destruction. The latest story: His lawyer paid $130,000 to Stormy Daniels to shut her up. It didn’t work.

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  24. Deborah said on February 14, 2018 at 9:58 am

    I had to look up Scarfe. Pretty good too.

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  25. susang said on February 14, 2018 at 10:16 am

    My grandmother grew up in the good old days-Bluffton, IN. She hated poverty, dirt and the farm. She was FDR all the way.
    She told this gruesome tale of her niece catching on fire in the barn. There was no hospital, no healthcare, the poor girl was strapped to a board until she died. A reminder not to get soft or sentimental about the past.

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  26. john (not mccain) said on February 14, 2018 at 10:30 am

    If Raymond Pettibon doesn’t do Melania’s portrait, preferably dressed as a nun, there’s no god.

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  27. Brian said on February 14, 2018 at 10:41 am

    When people talk about taking in ironing during the Depression, I’ve always wondered, who could afford to send out their ironing during the Depression?

    My father, who grew up on a small farm in southeastern Ohio, said of the Depression, “We didn’t notice.”

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  28. Suzanne said on February 14, 2018 at 10:44 am

    Trump’s lawyer, not Trump, paid to keep the porn star quiet. Sure, he did.
    My husband & I need a new will. Wonder if I can get my lawyer to pay for my kids to have a nice inheritance? Why not? Trump gets his lawyer to pay for things…

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  29. Mark P said on February 14, 2018 at 10:47 am

    I like Barack’s portrait. The pose really captures him. Michelle’s portrait, on the other hand, not so much. It’s not the pose or the dress. It’s just that I think one of the primary requirements of a portrait is that it look like the subject. Call me a traditionalist. I wonder, though, whether one day these portraits will look dated, too much of their time. Maybe that’s OK. Maybe people will look at those portraits and think, “That was back before the United States became what it is today, back when people thought progress was a constant, and we were headed to greater things. Yes, that really marked the turning point.”

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  30. Bitter Scribe said on February 14, 2018 at 11:00 am

    The only thing I could ever be remotely nostalgic for is how, when I was a boy, companies treated their employees like partners, not nuisances who were to be paid as little as possible so that more cash could flow to shareholders. It’s what allowed my autoworker father to put me and my sister through college and provide us a nice home (with the assistance of my mother).

    Of course, when you take the long view, that period was a blip in America’s history of ruthlessly exploiting workers. See the Gilded Age, bloody labor wars, etc. So I guess now we’re back to normal, except with computers.

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  31. susan said on February 14, 2018 at 11:22 am

    Steve Brodner would do a righteous Dumpthph portrait, viz.:
    here

    here

    here

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  32. Deborah said on February 14, 2018 at 11:58 am

    Bitter, the unions were strong back then, that’s why those things were possible.

    Happy Valentine’s Day, or you can celebrate the bombing of Dresden today, whichever works for you. I think VD is a con. I remember the day when smug women in the office got red roses from their boyfriends, occasionally husbands. I never liked red roses, because of that, I think.

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  33. Jakash said on February 14, 2018 at 1:21 pm

    My “vinegary soul” isn’t “fed in the dankest basements of the internet” — many meals are taken right here in the toasty warm sunroom, in fact — but, as I noted in the thread a couple days ago, I *am* somewhat of a philistine. So, I guess my opinion is being mocked by today’s post, along with those of the Faux News minions. Whatever. To put it simply, I’m less than enthusiastic about the portraits largely *because* they seem to be more about the artists than the Obamas.

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  34. Jakash said on February 14, 2018 at 1:35 pm

    “So I guess now we’re back to normal, except with computers.” And robots, of course. Almost ideal for today’s corporate chieftains in that they share the attribute of having no heart; lacking in that robots can’t vote against their own interests, even if they could be programmed to watch Fox News.

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  35. Dorothy said on February 14, 2018 at 1:36 pm

    https://instagram.com/p/BfL9IN4hJSe/

    Happy Valentines Day from my granddaughter and me. Her Aunt knitted the blanket, not I! She was feverish yesterday so could not go to daycare. I’m called up from the bullpen to help out today. Loving every minute!

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  36. Deborah said on February 14, 2018 at 2:03 pm

    Adorable, Dorothy. Great photo.

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  37. Jolene said on February 14, 2018 at 2:47 pm

    Adorable picture, indeed. And great blanket too, Dorothy. Was it Laura or an aunt from her mother’s side who knitted it?

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  38. Dorothy said on February 14, 2018 at 3:08 pm

    Laura of course!

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  39. Jolene said on February 14, 2018 at 3:13 pm

    Ah yes, I see now. I didn’t look at the caption. My compliments to her. It’s an impressive piece of work.

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  40. Icarus said on February 14, 2018 at 5:01 pm

    I have not watched any olympics but I am seeing conservatives do some pretty amazing cognitive gymnastics trying to justify Shaun White dragging the flag as being okay and not the same thing as kneeling before it. something something.

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  41. Deborah said on February 14, 2018 at 5:24 pm

    Nancy on Twitter showed a digital landscape rendering by a developer of something in Detroit, that included some of the Wire characters in it, Stringer Bell and I forget the other ones. Having worked in design I can say this happens all the time and most of the time no one notices. I love it when people do this. Once when I designed a poster for an anniversary for a Botanical garden that had a William Morris-esque floral edging around it I incorporated my daughter’s name into the swirls and vines, thousands were printed and no one knew it but me and people I happened to tell. Also, if you go to the grounds of the Federal Reserve Bank in Minneapolis, you will see five exhibit kiosks that I designed, that show the physical history of the area done in bronze and Kasota stone, each circular kiosk shows a particular time period, and what it sort of looked like then. The first one shows the natural lay of the land, before there were built structures on it, if you look at one of the etched bronze images of flora and fauna on it, I incorporated my sister’s name into the image of a beaver with vines around it. Her name is Roz, and if you know to look for it you can see it. She lives in Minnesota and she and her nieces have taken their friends there to see her name in bronze. I’ve done other things like that, too numerous to mention. It makes it more fun to design, when you can do things like that on the sly. Of course you have to be very careful about how you do it, you can’t distract from the overall meaning or aesthetic of the piece.

    If you saw the movie Phantom Thread, the main character describes how he sewed secret messages into the garments he made. Sort of the same idea.

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  42. Deborah said on February 14, 2018 at 5:32 pm

    I should have said “my nieces” not “her nieces”.

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  43. susan said on February 14, 2018 at 6:42 pm

    Deborah @ 41, your subterfuge reminds me of looking for the Ninas.

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  44. Julie Robinson said on February 14, 2018 at 8:19 pm

    Dorothy, what a little sweetheart, and that’s a very special blanket. She is well-loved!

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  45. Dorothy said on February 14, 2018 at 8:32 pm

    Thx. The blanket is made from leftover sock yarns. Laura sometime traded or was gifted the little balls of leftovers. She originally was going to make it a throw big enough to take a nap under. But it was growing slowly, and then the baby was coming. She quickly decided to give it to Olivia instead.

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  46. Deborah said on February 14, 2018 at 10:02 pm

    Susan, I think that’s probably where I got the idea. I’ve done other things besides names too. My friends who do architectural computer generated renderings like the one Nancy showed on Twitter have put their family members in crowd scenes, stuff like that. A friend of mine’s brother was a reporter on a public radio station and he used to make a tiny little popping or kissing sound on air every day which was a signal to his mother who was always listening. He did it at a different time in his broadcast so his mom would listen expectantly for it.

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  47. Jolene said on February 14, 2018 at 10:42 pm

    I think the kind of thing you’re talking about, Deborah, has long been a part of the work of artists and craftspeople. I’ve heard of faces of workmen being carved into the facade of cathedrals. I couldn’t readily find anything online about it. Anyone know whether it’s true?

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  48. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on February 14, 2018 at 11:55 pm

    The Washington National Cathedral has a Darth Vader carved into a finial way up on one of the spires . . . https://cathedral.org/what-to-see/exterior/vader/

    I bet they did, but this only obliquely refers to the possibilities (about halfway down):

    https://www.washingtonpost.com/archive/lifestyle/1990/09/29/the-devotion-of-the-cathedral-craftsmen/fdbbbe4c-c1ae-49fe-a945-0b7fc98a84be/

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  49. Deborah said on February 15, 2018 at 12:28 am

    Jeff tmmo, I loved reading what the artist and craftspeople had to say in your link. I had an experience working with some fabricators, the same project I mentioned above for the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, the micro sculptors and bronze workers who made the models that made the exhibits. They were so proud of their work they wanted to sign it, but that wasn’t appropriate. In one of the kiosk models there’s a 3 dimensional bridge, so the guys etched their names and mine, on the underside of the bridge backwards, so that if you hold a mirror under the bridge you can read our names. Here’s a link to a photo on Flickr that shows the bridge on the kiosk https://www.flickr.com/photos/jvstin/747098367/in/photolist-CX2VaS-Du4T77-7WkDfH-akxvD1-nFU66f-2925jk-atQpqK-MvkgKX-hfmmja-nY6fxV-ov7KyB-nYhLzQ-akxbWE-akxw1S-9btDvu-nFV15D-296uzA-nYgSb9-dNosh-2926Ak-nYhGh1-6Mjpgn-akxuo3-auvKYS-ovQ5yg-aut7qt-nQadso-qsAc3i-egQuZn-nYhBpL-9hJEvN-b7gojR-5BnP5V-7VKvw9-auvKUm-2927bD-4VdaaM-auvLmu-r7Vuv4-nePWL6-gshXCu-k6hmJV-r7Q9JS-aut77k-qsuQKu-H482gs-iFquH-PNDpUU-PFFxHn-efBkin

    Whoa, that’s a ridiculously long link, sorry about that.

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  50. Dexter said on February 15, 2018 at 3:28 am

    Nice, Deborah. I have an eternal vanity monument to me, also. A captioned brick in the Gate 31 plaza, my name and a line from the Michigan alma mater. It cost me about 6 hours factory work , but it’s there and I am not in the factory anymore. UM has thousands of working class football fans; I never pass myself off as a college graduate. Many years ago at a cold-weather game I was wearing a Detroit Lions jacket which I had had customized with huge letters “LIONS” on the back. Some little kid there with his dad thought I was some player on the Lions and kept asking me if I was that certain player and I just smiled and said no. The dad leaned over and asked me why I just didn’t say I was Player X or whoever and made that kid’s day. I didn’t know how to act or what to say, but that crap ain’t my style.

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  51. bb in de said on February 15, 2018 at 7:17 am

    Speaking of having nostalgia for times that don’t deserve it, my mother was born in Latvia. After Nazi Germany broke the Hitler-Stalin Pact she and her family were forced from their home and became refugees until the end of WWII. They wound up at Insula, a displaced persons’ camp in Berchtesgaden, just down the mountainside from the Eagle’s Nest. They lived there–along with a collection of other Latvians, Lithuanians, Estonians, and assorted nationalities–until ’49, when her family finally received permission to sail to America and settle in Kansas as the equivalent of share croppers for a farmer with a big plot of land. Old age has robbed her in all the usual ways so if you ask her the day of the week or month of the year, you’re likely to get a blank stare. Ask her about those years in the DP camp though, and settle in for an hour of reminiscence. On the one hand her fondness for the place is kinda nuts; they literally slept 10 to a room and had nothing but whatever arrived in the Red Cross packages that month. I suspect it’s more about the sense of community and safety she enjoyed at Insula, 2 things in short supply during those refugee years.

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  52. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on February 15, 2018 at 7:39 am

    “Discipline or deny” is the guideline we need around firearms — if you can’t and don’t maintain proper standards for care and supervision, you should be able to be legally sanctioned as a firearms owner. That’s NOT disrespecting the Second Amendment — which starts with the words “a well-regulated militia” which means private ownership of firearms has to come with responsibility, or stern consequences.

    It’s just crazy that we have 8 million AR-15s rattling around basements and in closets.

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  53. Jolene said on February 15, 2018 at 8:39 am

    A former ATF official who serves as a commentator on MSNBC said that it would be a step forward if local authorities (mayors, school principals) would speak publicly about keeping guns secured at home. Although this kid seems to have had his own weapons, fairly often kids simply take weapons from their parents. Certainly, keeping guns secured would prevent some accidents.

    So I agree with the ATF agent, but, as horrible as mass shootings are, they are a small part of the gun violence in this country. We need to do a lot of things differently.

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  54. Connie said on February 15, 2018 at 8:43 am

    Dexter, I hate those bricks and I find them almost impossible to walk on with a prosthetic foot and cane/or/walker. They create a non level surface. I am working very peripherally with the development of a fully handicapped accessible playground which will be built in my library park location. When they started talking brick fund raising I spoke with the person in charge. After all, this million dollar playground for which she is raising the money is being built in honor of her handicapped granddaughter. And the decision has been made to use the memorial brick/blocks as borders to sidewalks and landscaping not as walk on surfaces. Thank you Scarlet’s Smile Foundation, I may spend $200 on a block myself.

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  55. alex said on February 15, 2018 at 8:46 am

    The NRA… Watering the tree of liberty with the blood of schoolchildren since 1977!

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  56. Deborah said on February 15, 2018 at 9:24 am

    Connie, I did not know that about those bricks with names on them being a problem like that. Good to know for future projects, because I have worked on design projects in the past where we had designed those into it. I will not do that again.

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  57. Sherri said on February 15, 2018 at 10:03 am

    The pro-gun people are absolutist on the issue. That doesn’t mean there isn’t possibility of compromise and incremental progress, but until we bring the same level of commitment and intensity, and refuse to accept elected officials who will vote with the NRA, nothing with change.

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  58. Judybusy said on February 15, 2018 at 11:22 am

    Today on Marketplace, I heard this stat, which Ryssdal apparently says after every mass shooting: there are more gun stores in the US than all Starbucks worldwide.

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  59. Julie Robinson said on February 15, 2018 at 11:31 am

    3,2,1…and Paul Ryan says the heinous murder of 17 children “should not threaten citizens’ rights to own guns”. He’s heading for that special circle in hell, isn’t he?

    When traveling with my sister and her walker or my mother and her cane, we’ve also seen that decorative bricks can be difficult to navigate. We’ve also noticed that some of them deteriorate much faster than the regular bricks surrounding them. It’s a nice idea and I get that it spurs donations, but it needs to be re-thought.

    Back in my long ago college days I studied cathedrals in both art history and religious studies classes* and the tradition of real people as models goes back to the middle ages. They were used both in gargoyles, interior carvings, and paintings.

    The craftsmen had wide latitude in how they carried out their art, and they would honor family members/friends/those they admired, or sometimes satirize those they didn’t admire. The latter, especially, in the gargoyles which were used to decorate the water spouts and gutters on the outside. Some of those of are quite humorous and even bizarre, sometimes obscene.

    *I’v’e just outed myself as a liberal arts major, haven’t I?

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  60. beb said on February 15, 2018 at 11:36 am

    Jeff(TMMO) and alex both have good points about sensible gun control. I would like to see a law where if the own of gun does something stupid like accidentally discharging a gun or allowing their children access to their gun but banned from owning guns ever again. This would legal under color of the “well regulated militia” clause of the second amendment as well as the argument that the Constitution isn’t a suicide pact.

    Secondly we need to reinstitute the assault weapon ban. There is no need for anyone to own an AR-15 or any other automatic or semi-automatic weapon.

    But Sherri’s right, the NRA are absolutist. Maybe the probe into whether the NRA took Russian money to interfere into the 2016 election will take them down a peg.

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  61. Deborah said on February 15, 2018 at 11:36 am

    My husband just found out that all of his former students from the Mideast are being deported. They all have visas of one sort or another, they’ve gotten jobs at architecture firms and they are highly educated talented people but it doesn’t matter. They are trying as a group to gather testimonials from American professionals and they contacted my husband to write one for each of them. It’s a program called Aliens of Extraordinary Ability, sometimes it works, sometimes not. My husband wrote one years ago for a young friend of ours from India who was working in Boston. It worked for him, but that was years ago when things weren’t so crazy.

    Holy cow, Judy Busy, I’m astounded by that statistic, there’s a Starbucks on every corner in Chicago.

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  62. Heather said on February 15, 2018 at 12:20 pm

    Deborah, it might be worth reaching out to some reporters to get publicity about this gross treatment of your husband’s former students. Are any of them in Chicago? Regardless, the connection with your husband means that local media might be interested. Maybe reach out to Blair Kamin?

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  63. Jolene said on February 15, 2018 at 12:22 pm

    3,2,1…and Paul Ryan says the heinous murder of 17 children “should not threaten citizens’ rights to own guns”. He’s heading for that special circle in hell, isn’t he?

    Jim Jordan (R-OH), who is part of the rabid right wing said something similar. His phrasing was, “Whenever one of these tragedies takes place, there are always folks who want to infringe on fundamental liberties that we as Americans enjoy.”

    Quite a few people in Florida are not enjoying much of anything today.

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  64. Julie Robinson said on February 15, 2018 at 12:47 pm

    Jolene, that includes my adult children, who are flashing back to Pulse and understanding on a personal level how devastating it was to the families, friends, and communities of those killed there.

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  65. Julie Robinson said on February 15, 2018 at 1:03 pm

    And I should add that I spent yesterday piecing my mother back together, since it was the 10 year anniversary of the Northern Illinois University shooting in DeKalb, Illinois. She lived only a block from campus and loved to walk there and attend performances, and she felt like those students were her kids. She was terrified by the helicopters hovering right over her house and mourned for weeks.

    Other friends worked at the university and recalled being in lock down, huddling in offices for hours without knowing why. They still carry pain too.

    Of course the families of the five who were killed will never be the same, as well as the other students who were shot or in the classroom. The circles continue to ripple and affect thousands.

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  66. Suzanne said on February 15, 2018 at 1:15 pm

    I truly believe that most NRA-type gun proponents believe that a bunch of dead school kids or concert goers or movie watchers is simply the price you pay for liberty. Odd thing is that most of them also identify themselves as pro-life.

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  67. Deborah said on February 15, 2018 at 1:18 pm

    Heather, good suggestion. I mentioned it to my husband, he said he’d need to think about it long and hard. I said maybe he could mention it to the former students and let them decide if it would be something professionals could try to make happen for them. He said they’re under siege right now and may want to be very cautious about doing anything publicly that might backfire on them. It may come to that as a last result though. And, yes there are some in Chicago, in fact most of them are here, since they went to school here most of their professional contacts were here, for internships etc also, a lot of the adjunct professors practice architecture at various offices and studios in the city so they get to know the students abilities that way and often hire them. It’s a good way for practitioners to find competent employees, they don’t get paid much as adjuncts so it’s one of the things that makes it worthwhile for them to take on.

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  68. Heather said on February 15, 2018 at 1:22 pm

    Deborah, that’s understandable. And here I thought Trump wanted to base immigration on merits, which these individuals would have in excess! But oh yeah, they’re the wrong color and probably religion too.

    I got in an argument a while ago with a friend of a friend on FB who insisted that all the deportations of undocumented people who haven’t committed crimes were all “mistakes.” Lots of mistakes being made these days, I guess. Someone should look into that.

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  69. Deborah said on February 15, 2018 at 2:06 pm

    My husband has this student this semester a young woman from the Mideast, she’s a special student of some kind, she’s not in his regular studio, she’s getting her Ph.D. I think (?). Anyway my husband says she is by far the best student he’s ever had in his life, she wears a hijab and long clothing, covering everything but her face, but not a burka. He said she probably won’t be able to stay in the US now, if she even wants to. Which he says is a real shame because she is super smart and talented. Our loss.

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  70. Mark P said on February 15, 2018 at 3:46 pm

    The NRA nuts are perfectly happy to sacrifice your children for their right to own assault rifles. I wonder how they would feel if it were their own children. Probably OK with that, too. It’s a horrible thought, but I would kind of like to know the answer to that question.

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  71. Sherri said on February 15, 2018 at 3:48 pm

    With all due respect to Jeff(tmmo)’s suggestion, our problem is not that we lack ideas for sensible solutions to irresponsible gun ownership. There are lots of reasonable, incremental, constitutional ideas that a majority of the country would support completely.

    The leadership program I’m in talks about the difference between a technical challenge and an adaptive challenge. A technical challenge is one that has a known solution that can be implemented with current know-how and existing authority. Adaptive challenges require changes in people’s priorities, beliefs, habits, and loyalties.

    There are many potential solutions to the gun problem, but none can be implemented with the existing authority. The conditions around that authority have to change for any solution to take hold: voters and donors have to hold electeds accountable for gun violence. Gun advocates do not let electeds off the hook just because they’re otherwise happy with the official or are afraid of who might replace the official. They demand support for their position, or they find someone else. It’s not about the money that Senator Fucking Piece of Shit (R-KY) takes from the NRA. It’s about the people who will vote for a primary opponent if he doesn’t toe the line.

    So, the next Bernie Sanders should not get a pass on his gun voting record like Sanders did. It should be disqualifying.

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  72. Jolene said on February 15, 2018 at 5:08 pm

    An important article about how school shootings are defined and counted. Short version: The “18 school shootings already this year” headline that has been everywhere on the Internet is wrong.

    https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/no-there-havent-been-18-school-shooting-in-2018-that-number-is-flat-wrong/2018/02/15/65b6cf72-1264-11e8-8ea1-c1d91fcec3fe_story.html?utm_term=.2efe74413638

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  73. Bob (Not Greene) said on February 15, 2018 at 5:22 pm

    Deborah, If any of your husband’s students have a connection to the Oak Park area, that may be something we’d do a story on. You or your husband can email me at buphues@wjinc.com if there’s a possible connection to be had.

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  74. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on February 15, 2018 at 5:31 pm

    If you’re surprised to hear there are more gun shops than Starbucks, drive with me through exurban & rural eastern Ohio sometime. Towns that lost their one IGA years ago, don’t have a pharmacy anymore, barely have a no-name gas station, but the best signage and lighting is on the gun store.

    Which tells you something about the markups and economics on that business. Which is what it’s become. Glocks and Sig Sauers and Rugers and Colts are a whole secondary economy: “Whaddaya give me for that car; make me an offer” “Um, give ya a Glock 17 and a reconditioned trolling motor?” “That’s a deal.”

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  75. Sherri said on February 15, 2018 at 5:45 pm

    If it were just a business, that would be easier. Alcohol is a business. Tobacco is a business. Guns have become an identity marker, a way of determining who is in and who is not, even for those who don’t own guns. God, guns, and gays, as the phrase goes; race is subtext.

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  76. Deborah said on February 15, 2018 at 5:58 pm

    Thanks Bob (NG), I’ll keep that in mind.

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  77. Deborah said on February 15, 2018 at 6:10 pm

    Just to clarify, my husband’s current student isn’t in jeopardy of Losing her ability to finish her education here, it’s just when she’s done with school that she’ll probably lose her ability to stay. That’s what I meant.

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  78. beb said on February 15, 2018 at 6:17 pm

    Gun-hugger talk about how we need to address the mental health issue. Well… OK. How about anyone wanting to buy a gun having to be interviewed by a county-appointed psychologist to determine that they don’t have any issues.

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  79. Sherri said on February 15, 2018 at 6:25 pm

    I’m all in favor of improving mental health care. Let’s make counseling accessible and affordable to everyone. How about we pay for it by taxing ammunition?

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  80. Joe Kobiela said on February 15, 2018 at 7:06 pm

    We can argue banning guns till the cows come home but it’s just not possible, one you have to change the Constitution, and two how are you going to go door to door confiscating them? Do we need to address how to stop these shootings? Absolutely, where do you start? It seems other than the Texas collage shooting I really can’t recall a string like we have had, my question is what has changed in the last 30 years? Lack of accountability? Mental stress? Less religion? More religion? I’m really at a loss. Maybe if we know why we can find a answer.
    Pilot Joe

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  81. Heather said on February 15, 2018 at 7:21 pm

    Hmm, yeah, what’s changed over the last several decades? What could it be? https://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2017/10/12/16418524/us-gun-policy-nra

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  82. Sherri said on February 15, 2018 at 7:34 pm

    The only way I can see to move forward is to defeat them.

    https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2018/02/parkland-immigration-congress/553499/

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  83. Deborah said on February 15, 2018 at 7:36 pm

    Joe, it’s about money.

    Some of you here have talked about British TV series. I’ve started watching a series called “The Last Tango in Halifax”, on Netflix which is delightful. The fantastic actor Eric Jacobi is in it, you don’t get much better than him. Have any of you watched it?

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  84. alex said on February 15, 2018 at 8:10 pm

    No we can’t argue it, Joe, because your arguments are all canned talking points from the NRA, including the deflections about having to change the Constitution, which has Wayne LaPierre’s hand up its ass working it like a sock puppet for the amusement of the same dumb jagoffs who voted for Trump.

    I notice today the Republicans are all pissed off because liberals have supposedly ruined “thoughts and prayers” and made them a bad thing. Yeah, too bad for “conservatives” they now have to find some other flimsy cover than wrapping themselves in God and the flag so they can appear sympathetic while not giving a fuck. The new tack? People who get shot only have themselves to blame because they failed to rout out mental illness in their midst.

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  85. Suzanne said on February 15, 2018 at 8:21 pm

    What has changed since I was in school & we didn’t have the weekly shooting? For one thing, there weren’t gun shows every few weeks, gun stores & shooting ranges on every other corner, and stockpiles of weapons in people’s basements (trust me, they are there. I know a number of them), and no one that I can recall ever swore it was his right to walk through the grocery store or pharmacy with his rifle strapped to his shoulder.

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  86. Icarus said on February 15, 2018 at 9:06 pm

    Joe, a gun is essentially useless without bullets. So the answer is frst, stop the supply of bullets. In the world today, most guns are ..22, 38, .357, .44,so stop manufacturing those calibers and switch to something like .25 for hunting, .35 for home defense and .50 for warfare (I really don’t want to argue caliber, you know what i mean).

    Next, you do follow the roadmap of European countries

    https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/worldviews/wp/2018/02/15/europe-had-school-shootings-too-then-they-did-something-about-it/?utm_term=.65a576a39cd1

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  87. David C. said on February 15, 2018 at 9:18 pm

    We’re a country in decline and all the guns and opioids are part of the circus intended to keep us amused while the billionaire class steals everything else that isn’t nailed down.

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  88. Jolene said on February 15, 2018 at 9:27 pm

    Deborah, I’ve watched “Last Tango” too and agree that it’s delightful.A story that is, by turns, comic and serious and excellent actors in all the main roles. I recommend it.

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  89. Joe Kobiela said on February 15, 2018 at 9:29 pm

    Icarus,
    What do you do about the gun owners that reload there own ammo?
    I couldn’t read your article it has a pay wall.
    I know something needs to be done, just think if we could figure out the why it might be easier to come up with a solution everyone could be happy with.
    Pilot Joe

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  90. David C. said on February 15, 2018 at 9:37 pm

    Joe, we can’t even get stronger background checks passed and polls say something like 80% support that. That’s as close to everyone you are ever going to get on any issue, yet we can’t even get that done.

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  91. LAMary said on February 15, 2018 at 9:47 pm

    Joe, I can’t argue about this. To me it’s obvious that weapons like AR15s shouldn’t be available to anyone who comes up with the cash. Civilians don’t need this sort of weapon. No good argument for it. None. Look at the carnage.

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  92. susan said on February 15, 2018 at 9:54 pm

    lamary @91, b-bbbbut the gummint! If civilians cain’t have all the gubs they want, the gummint gubs will out-number civilian gubs. We have to protect ourselves from gubmint over-reach, dontcha know.

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  93. Sherri said on February 15, 2018 at 9:58 pm

    I don’t think there’s one cause, Joe, but I’d say that easy access to semi-automatic weapons, stagnation and erosion of the middle class, dismantling of the social safety net, and a refusal to take collective responsibility in the form of taxes, especially on the part of our corporations and elites, all played a part.

    Now, do you think we can solve it?

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  94. Joe Kobiela said on February 15, 2018 at 10:02 pm

    L.A.
    I realize that, but again how do you confiscate, the ones that are already out there? Why so many shootings now? What’s triggering this? American’s have always had guns but, we haven’t had the mass shootings. Why now?
    Pilot Joe

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  95. Jolene said on February 15, 2018 at 11:37 pm

    Netflix is putting out lots of stand-up comedy specials. Here’s a review of a new one by Chris Rock.

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  96. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on February 15, 2018 at 11:53 pm

    If the Acme Aircraft company made a passenger jet called the, say, AR-15, & four of the five worst crashes in number of fatalities since 2012 involved the Acme AR-15, I’m thinking there’d be Congressional hearings, NTSB investigations, and new FAA safety requirements by now.

    Having said that, Joe, I also think the fact that this is a relatively recent phenomenon, and so focused on young males as the perps, overwhelmingly white, mostly living in fairly prosperous areas, is pointing us somewhere we need to be looking.

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  97. LAMary said on February 16, 2018 at 12:32 am

    Yes, there is something going on with the people who are committing these massacres, but can we make it harder for them first and then work on figuring it out? That guy in Las Vegas wouldn’t have injured or killed as many people if he wasn’t armed the way he was. There is no reason civilians should have these weapons. I know a guy who has six AR15s. He stocked up after Sandy Hook because he thought Obama would make them illegal, and he bragged about it online. That is just plain sick.

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  98. Dexter said on February 16, 2018 at 1:22 am

    Columbine gave me nightmares, Sandy Hook/Newtown had me choking back tears, Aurora had me throwing up my hands in disgust…a weirdo in a Batman costume, was that the one?—all the rest affected me and made me angry…Virginia Tech, all of them. There have been so many I may have even missed hearing about one of maybe more. And man, America has had it with all the politicians’ “thoughts and prayers”. Florida’s governor Rick Scott was the only pol I heard, in hours of watching coverage, who uttered the word “gun”. Stephanie Ruhle on msnbc showed pols sending thoughts and prayers atop a crawl showing the $$$ accepted from the NRA…McCain, 7.7 million…Trump, 21.7 million, many many others…thoughts and prayers are nice, but cool that shit and let’s quit selling AR-15s to mentally ill people who post their own name on YouTubes, get reported to the FBI, and have FRI agents go on TV and say “we couldn’t track down his identity.” What the FUCK!? He posted his damn name ON THE VIDEO!

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  99. Dexter said on February 16, 2018 at 1:35 am

    43 years ago “Barry Lyndon” , a Stanley Kubrick film, was released in theaters. Tonight I am watching it for the first time. I heard about it in ’75, but the setting threw me off…how did I know it was a great film? It is. Better late than never.
    Carla Lee was transported to Cleveland via ambulance, made to wait in a wheelchair 7 hours before being taken to a room, pre-surgery tested at 7:00 PM, and finally was left alone to sleep. They’ll take her to surgery (knee replacement-replacement) at around 10:00. I was talked out of going because it’s a big place and I have trouble sitting on hard chairs and just moving around so much…all three daughters will be there and I’ll see Carla Lee in a few days. Personally…well, there are all kinds of hospitals a helluva lot closer than clear across a big state…Cleveland Clinic is so good, they say, but it’s a helluva long ways to drive. Yep, thoughts and prayers for her, too. She’s been in hospitals and 2 nursing homes since December 3, 2017. That is over 10 weeks.

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  100. Claudia said on February 16, 2018 at 2:18 am

    Where is coozledad?

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    • nancy said on February 16, 2018 at 8:13 am

      I had to tell him to stop needlessly insulting people here, and I think he left in a snit. But he’s been gone for long times in the past, and come back. I hope he does.

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  101. ROGirl said on February 16, 2018 at 5:10 am

    A few thoughts about mass shootings. They have become normalized; guns are more available; angry, marginalized, young men/boys (almost exclusively male) with known mental health issues turn to social media for confirmation of their feelings; extremism is part of the zeitgeist these days, vulnerable people are attracted to the certainty it projects.

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  102. Connie said on February 16, 2018 at 8:03 am

    Dexter, my now husband and I walked out of Barry Lyndon at the intermission. Yes a movie with an intermission. It was beautiful and boring.

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  103. Deborah said on February 16, 2018 at 8:56 am

    The gun companies make lots and lots of money and they want to keep doing it by selling lots and lots more guns. They brilliantly (but evilly) figured out a way to dupe a bunch of gullible people into buying them. Using fear and patriotism as the basis. And of course there are the mentally ill young white men who have warped the original message, too bad, but oh well, it’s not going to stop them from keeping their ruse going. They’ve bought a lot of legislators to get the money rolling in from gun sales, they’re not going to stop now.

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  104. Mark P said on February 16, 2018 at 9:32 am

    Leon Panetta was on CNN Thursday talking about gun control and mass shootings. He pointed out that after the Las Vegas shooting everyone — EVERYONE! — agreed that something should be done about bump stocks. Even the NRA, that den of vipers. But nothing was done.

    Whom the gods would destroy they first make mad. As a country we are simply mad. There is no other explanation for our inability to do anything at all about the gun problem. I think the gods are just tired of the United States and they are toying with us before the end.

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  105. Suzanne said on February 16, 2018 at 9:36 am

    I saw Barry Lyndon in the theater all those years ago. I loved it! I’d love to see it again.

    In response to Joe@94’s question:
    Why so many shootings now? As I said above, the kinds of weapons that are being used in these massacres, the AR-15s, the bumpstocks, simply were not available to the general public back in the day. I worked at a store in high school that had a sporting goods section that sold rifles, but just the standard hunting rifles. I don’t recall there being gun stores all over the place and no gun shows. Stockpiling weapons would have raised the ire of friends and relatives but now? With news sources like Breitbart and others fueling the fire, there is incredible paranoia out there of what? The strange white kid down the road who likes to train with paramilitary neo-nazis? No, those news sources never cover that. They double down on Muslims, and blacks, and other “others”. Trump keeps talking about MS-13 gang members, which are bad, but how many of us out here in middle America will ever encounter them? And yet, we stockpile weapons and our friends and neighbors say, “Well, you just never know…protection. There are gangs. And terrorists” while they completely ignore the white middle class nominally Christian kid down the road who is using social media to publicize his intended attack.
    If this Florida shooter had been Muslim or a recent immigrant, there would be cries for sending them back, banning them from our cities and towns. But since the shooter was one of us, we hear from our leaders that nothing can be done. And the money keeps flowing…

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  106. basset said on February 16, 2018 at 10:38 am

    I may be the only hunter and/or gun owner here. I own… let’s see… eight guns, all of them locked in safes right now and none of them an AR/”black rifle”/”modern sporting rifle” because I just don’t need one, not for shooting deer, not for defending the house (they are exactly the wrong gun for that in an urban/suburban setting), not for target shooting. I understand why some others want them and the reasons aren’t all good but they’re not for me.

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  107. Mark P said on February 16, 2018 at 10:56 am

    Bassett, I’m a gun owner, too. I have fond memories of my father taking my brother and me shooting our .22’s down along the creek where he roamed as a kid. But I’d give all my guns up if it would prevent another Sandy Hook.

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  108. Heather said on February 16, 2018 at 11:00 am

    It’s also hard to answer why this is happening since the CDC is prohibited by law to study gun violence as a public health issue. Guess which party was behind that one?

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  109. Sherri said on February 16, 2018 at 11:16 am

    And enough with blaming mental illness. I have a mental illness. I also have the resources to treat and manage my mental illness, beyond just getting a prescription. Nobody talking about mental illness to distract from guns has any intention of doing anything to expand access to quality mental health care, they’re just adding to the stigma of mental illness.

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  110. beb said on February 16, 2018 at 12:16 pm

    JoeK: The Constitution is not a suicide pact. If some part of it becomes a detriment to a better society the courts will find ways to limit those parts. Free speech is not an absolute, the fourth amendment against searches and seizures is riddled with exceptions, likewise the 5th. There’s no reason for the second amendment to be absolute when all the others amendments are limited. Secondly, machine guns are already banned and no one made a 2nd amendment argument against that. We had a ban on assault weapons. It that was allowed to expire but there’s no reason why it can’t be revived. Another possibility would be to raise the minimum age for possessing a gun to 25. Minors would be allowed to use their parents guns in their parents presence. In Florida you can’t buy a drink at 18 but you can buy a gun. Considering that some of their school shooters are the same age as or only slightly older this seems like a good idea. If the Constitution didn’t think a person under the age of 35 was mature enough to become president I think it’s reasonable to assume that someone under 25 is likewise not mature enough to own a gun. It would also help to a have a national registry of guns that can be linked to domestic violence reports so we could impound guns of anyone with a restraining orders

    We are seeing a lot more people not just upset but demanding that something be done. I’m not sure if we’ve hit a tipping point yet but it seems closer and closer. Atrois (aka Duncan Black) frequently suggests that people who are most amoured of their guns harbor a deep down desire to use them to shoot black people.

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  111. Julie Robinson said on February 16, 2018 at 12:44 pm

    It’s way more complex than blaming mental illness, but I love Sherri’s idea of taxing ammunition to provide more mental health coverage.

    Last summer we visited St. Augustine and its fort, and I was mightily impressed by a demonstration by the soldiers there. Their weapons took a minute or more to reload, and you were unlikely to own more than one. That was the norm when the Second Amendment was passed. It gave me great perspective.

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  112. Jakash said on February 16, 2018 at 1:00 pm

    Sherri’s point @ 109 is the one that’s been particularly bugging me lately. “It’s not guns, these people are mentally ill.” Uh, okay, how’s about working to greatly improve access to the treatment of mental illness in this country, then? “Aw, hell no!”

    Let’s all give credit where credit is due: Mitch “Strict Obstructionist” McConnell. It’s amazing that one benighted Senator from Kentucky has been able to act as such a devious, destructive and powerful force in a country as vast this one.

    https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2018/02/deeply-saddened/553478/

    Then, you’ve got Chuckles Grassley, too. “Sen. Chuck Grassley says Congress needs to concentrate on how people with ‘mental reasons for not being able to handle a gun’ are able to get them.” But, of course…

    “Sen Grassley was the lead Senate sponsor of a bill to make it easier for mentally ill people to buy guns — it was a standalone bill; that’s all it did. It passed Congress a year ago today, and Pres. Trump signed it into law.”

    https://twitter.com/maddow/status/964270202006405120

    As for the sanctity of the Second Amendment, even Antonin freaking Scalia wrote in the Heller decision: “Like most rights, the Second Amendment right is not unlimited. … Nothing in our opinion should be taken to cast doubt on longstanding prohibitions on the possession of firearms by felons and the mentally ill, or laws forbidding the carrying of firearms in sensitive places such as schools and government buildings, or laws imposing conditions and qualifications on the commercial sale of arms.”

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  113. Deborah said on February 16, 2018 at 1:13 pm

    I agree that we seem to be closer to a tipping point with each one of these catastrophes. But I would have thought that Sandy Hook would have been tipping point enough, not that the ones that came before weren’t bad enough. When you think about kindergarteners and first graders getting mowed down, it takes a lot of cravenness by politicians (and anyone else) not to insist that something must be done.

    Basset, I don’t think anyone here thinks that hunters who enjoy hunting with normal hunting rifles are in the same league as hoarders with assault rifles and bump stocks etc. I don’t understand how anyone can find enjoyment in hunting, but lots of people don’t understand how I can find enjoyment in opera. Although I’m pretty sure there’s less danger involved in opera than hunting.

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  114. Sherri said on February 16, 2018 at 1:34 pm

    I grew up in a conservative family in a conservative area. That area is now represented by Marsha Blackburn, To give you an idea of how conservative it is. I knew lots of hunters, had lots of family members who owned guns and hunted.

    When I was a teenager, a police officer and his wife, an elementary school teacher at the local school, were volunteer coaches for a girls softball team. One day, the police officer came to a game straight from duty, in uniform, and failed to remove his firearm before coming to the field. You’d think he’d pulled out the gun and begun threatening the umpire from the reaction. People were horrified that he’d brought his gun around these young girls!

    Needless to say, Marsha Blackburn gets an A from the NRA.

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  115. Jolene said on February 16, 2018 at 1:53 pm

    Robert Mueller has indicted 13 Russian nationals and a Russian troll farm.

    Not sure what that means legally or politically. Prosecutors can’t prosecute people in another country unless the other country agrees to extradition. And that won’t happen. Trump and his GOP apologists have so besmirched Mueller that it will be hard for many people to accept anything he says as credible or important.

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  116. Deborah said on February 16, 2018 at 3:16 pm

    Jolene, won’t Mueller’s actions force Trump’s hand in coming out and saying something negative about Russia? It will be a reason for sanctions that Trump can’t ignore, because Putin won’t do anything about it on his end. Maybe?

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  117. Jeff Borden said on February 16, 2018 at 3:35 pm

    This is why the Republican Party as it currently exists is doomed:

    https://www.rawstory.com/2018/02/parkland-survivor-slams-gop-shrugging-off-dead-kids-freaking-rainbow-wedding-cakes/

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  118. Dorothy said on February 16, 2018 at 4:02 pm

    I’m swooning because Alex so beautifully deployed the Pittsburgh word “jagoffs” somewhere in the comments! (Forgive me if I’m incorrectly giving credit to Pittsburgh for the creation of that word. I grew up knowing the word and had heard it was a Pittsburgh thing.)

    Connie @ 102: I recorded the director’s cut of the Woodstock movie recently and am watching it in fits and starts. This morning at about the two hour mark, there was a slide on screen that said “Interfuckingmission.” Cracked me up.

    I’m trying not to be worried that Mueller has diddly squat on Trump and his ass kissers. Praying that he’s saving the best for last. Please Lord let there be proof of obstruction of justice on the horizon.

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  119. David C. said on February 16, 2018 at 4:51 pm

    I hope you’re right Jeff, but I doubt it. The Rs have more money than Croesus, well established propaganda shops, and a fan base that’s eats up with a spoon anything they’re fed. They’re a problem that will be with us for a long time to come. They’re a kind of stage 3 cancer. Not terminal yet, but…

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  120. Dexter said on February 16, 2018 at 5:16 pm

    Dorothy…youse Yinzers invented “jagoffs”; I would guess it’s sort of universally attributed to all pissed-off American boys. I have used it forever. It’s a Pittsburgh thing though.

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  121. Jakash said on February 16, 2018 at 5:17 pm

    Dorothy,

    “Jagoff” is popular in Chicago, as well. Here is an article delving into its uses, origins and the fact that both Pittsburgh and Chicago seem to claim it as their own.

    “Carnegie-Mellon professor Barbara Johnstone points out, the term originates in northern England, where ‘the verb “to jag” means to prick or poke.'”

    “’Jagoff,’ it turns out, comes from the same root as ‘jagged,’ a term for something that pokes or annoys.”

    “Back to Chicago v. Pittsburgh: we could get into a throw-down with Pittsburghers over ownership of ‘jagoff,’ but it’s probably better to acknowledge that many Rust Belt towns have parallel linguistic heritages, and we all should team up against Houston, Phoenix, and Tampa-St. Petersburg.”

    http://www.lumpenmagazine.org/on-jagoffs/

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  122. Dexter said on February 16, 2018 at 5:31 pm

    Deborah, this old clodhopper kid doesn’t know opera from anything, but my late friend from NYC who basically lived in hospitals fighting cancer the last nine years of his life always said Mahler sustained his soul as his body weakened. He even got me listening to certain pieces on You Tube and web pages…this may have been his favorite:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ag18Np_JInY

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  123. Jolene said on February 16, 2018 at 5:54 pm

    Item #5734 in the Catalog of Strange Things People Do comes from an online chat conducted by Carolyn Hax, who writes a kickass advice column for the Washington Post.

    Somebody wrote in with this problem:

    I’ve been pretending to go to college for the past almost four years when I actually dropped out in my freshman year. I’ve been working as a temp since then and living “off campus”. My family doesn’t know since I fake my grades, account statements, everything. None of them went to college so it hasn’t been too hard to fool them. I’ve been using the money they’ve been giving me to help me afford my room and board. I know I’m going to have come clean soon since they’re expecting me to graduate this spring with an engineering degree. I just don’t know how I’m going to do this.”

    I found it stunning that anyone would go to this level of effort (Fake tuition bills! Fake grades!) to fool their parents about what is, after all, fairly common—dropping out of college. But then two chat participants wrote in to say that they had family members who’d done something similar.

    At my advanced age, I should no longer be surprised at the kooky things humans do, but I’m still shaking my head about this one.

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  124. Sherri said on February 16, 2018 at 6:15 pm

    Detecting cyclists is a difficult problem for autonomous vehicles.

    https://slate.com/technology/2018/02/self-driving-cars-struggle-to-detect-cyclists-bicycle-to-vehicle-communications-arent-the-answer.html

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  125. Claudia said on February 17, 2018 at 4:11 am

    Thanks for answering

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