The age of grief.

I’m getting Alan’s cold. It’s a chest-living variety, and yes, we both tested, him twice, and we’re both negative. People still get colds. Especially after two years of living behind masks. As if trying to civilize this fucking dog isn’t enough of a stressor, now this.

But I did get about 20 minutes of down time yesterday afternoon, and caught up in nostalgia, I did a little Facebook-searching for old colleagues, classmates, etc. — the sort of people I don’t stay in touch with, but am intermittently curious about from time to time.

I looked up a guy I used to work with, who I remember as a gentle soul who was certainly traditional and probably Republican — like 90 percent of Hoosiers — but the sort of Republican I remember from there, which is to say, wrong but not an asshole about it.

You see the punchline coming, right?

He’s fond of memes. This is the one that rocked me back on my heels:

Oh. OK. I sent this to a friend, who also worked with him, and he replied:

The greatest underrecognized impact of Trumpism is grief. I feel it so often when I look at all the people who taste-tested authoritarianism and decided they wanted more. They’ve been carried away by some kind of psychological contagion, but I remember so much else about them and share so much history and experience with them before the mess we have now become. In the shortest form, I stand by what I told (my wife) the morning after Trump’s election, when she demanded some kind of explanation from me, because I’d been pretty confident about an HRC win: “I guess there are a lot more rotten people in America than I thought.” I can posture as smug or contemptuous or dismissive, but five or six years later, more than anything else, I’m still grieving the loss of so much regard for so many people. Living with so many fellow citizens who are so diminished makes me feel diminished, too.

I think that is exactly right. It’s less so for me — I tend to skip grief and go straight to anger — but I, too, have that disorienting, dispiriting feeling of looking at someone you thought you knew and realizing: I didn’t know. Of course you don’t know, in the know-know sense, someone you work with. But every day we have to interact with people we aren’t intimately acquainted with, and that’s the feeling I’m talking about, of going through a day, buying groceries, working, commuting, walking in the park, and having to think: Is it you? Are you one of them?

The day after the 2016 election, I walked Wendy in the morning, still feeling utterly shell-shocked, and a man passed me on the street. He looked me in the eye and gave me a smirk-smile that I still remember. And that was before we knew how terrible Trump would turn out to be! In 2016, that smile said, “I hate Hillary.” Today it would say, “I’m OK with all of it.” I’ve lived deep in Republican country for most of my life. Like I said, I thought I knew these people. I didn’t know them.

Oh, well. Let’s uplift the mood a little, shall we?

I found this story, which someone in my network posted, the other day. I’m astonished this is the first I’d heard of it. Just the headline, OMG: The guitarist who saved hundreds of people on a sinking cruise liner, and it does not disappoint:

“I was calling, ‘Mayday! Mayday! Mayday!’ and just waiting for somebody to answer,” Moss says.
A big, deep, rich voice eventually replied. “Yes, what is your Mayday?”

Relieved, Moss explained that he was on the cruise ship Oceanos and that it was sinking.

“OK. How long have you got left to float?”

“I don’t know – we’ve got the starboard railings in the water, we’re rolling around, we’ve taken on a huge amount of water,” Moss said. “We still have at least 200 people on board.”

“OK. What is your position?”

“We’re probably about halfway between the port of East London and Durban.”

“No, no, no, what are your coordinates?”

Moss had no idea what their coordinates were.

“What rank are you?”

“Well, I’m not a rank – I’m a guitarist.”

Why has no one made this movie? You know who helped him save all those people? His wife. His wife the bassist. It’s too good.

OK, off to shower and consider how I’m going to handle Kevin today. Yesterday started well and ended badly. Today is calm so far. We’ll see.

Good weekend, all.

Posted at 8:57 am in Same ol' same ol' |

41 responses to “The age of grief.”

  1. FDChief said on April 8, 2022 at 9:22 am

    “No one in this world, so far as I know — and I have searched the records for years, and employed agents to help me — has ever lost money by underestimating the intelligence of the great masses of the plain people. Nor has anyone ever lost public office thereby.” ~ H.L. Mencken, 1926

    (who was a pretty nasty piece of work himself)…

    “GIs, eh, chief? They could fuck up a wet dream.” ~ Specialist Tenney, 1987

    Think about it, Nance; the definition of “average intelligence” means that half of all human beings are below average. Same with moral integrity, human decency…the real genius of the Newt Gingrich strain of the GQP Virus is that it doesn’t need to kill the host organism, just find that particular thread of smallness, greed, anger, and stupidity and let it take over the joint.

    So these people are who they always were. But, like the Republican Party, they’re tired of pretending to be sober, responsible adults and decent human beings and as such constrained by sense and decency and have decided to just let their freak flag fly.

    And Trump? He’s just the symptom of the third-stage-syphilis era of American “conservatism”.

    With Trump it’s just because he’s a walking prostate gland, something whose primary function is to make lust and greed happen unhampered by frilly things like compassion and empathy.

    With his Republican meatbags, it’s because by doing all that in public he proved that you CAN be a walking prostate gland, all inflamed with anger and stupidity, and you can not just be made large but be the biggest, the primus inter pares of American nobility.

    And so we enter the end of the American Experiment; not with a Wagnerian heldentot but with Margie Greene, Josh Hawley, and the idiots from Duck Dynasty.

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  2. Deborah said on April 8, 2022 at 10:29 am

    I did that once too, looked up old acquaintances on FB and I was bowled over by old high school and college friends. I kind of expected my college friends might be serious rightwingers, afterall I went to a Lutheran college and sure enough many bragged about horrible RW tropes and had Fox News on their list of favs. But highschool friends turned out to be the most ruthless RW assholes imaginable, yes a lot of them still live in Florida so they’re surrounded by nuttiness in general. That little exercise was so depressing I never did it again. Plus I’m no longer on FB.

    One of the more depressing things I found was a college friend that I always thought had potential to be a writer someday, now writes Romance novels about cowboys in the wild west and they seem positively awful. They’re the kind of books I wouldn’t read unless I was trapped somewhere and forced to, and she’s written scores of them.

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  3. Julie Robinson said on April 8, 2022 at 10:43 am

    Of the friends who were so open to exploring ideas in college, only one landed in the same camp as I. It is truly disappointing, since they are intelligent and well-educated.

    That BBC story is incredible and well worth your time reading. Agreed it should be a movie.

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  4. Jeff Borden said on April 8, 2022 at 12:03 pm

    I’ve lost three friends over the past two years including one who went straight down the rabbit hole of QAnon after being a very vocal Bernie Sanders supporter. The others were outspoken anti-vaxxers who also dabbled in dumb conspiracy theories, though not as outlandish as the Jewish space laser crowd.

    One guy was constantly whining about the CDC changing its recommendations, which proved they were idiots who knew nothing. My mistake was reminding him science is always evolving –as is the virus– and that he was wrong to ascribe any motive other than scientific to things. He responded with one of the cruelest emails I’ve ever received –including those directed at me as a journalist over three decades– accusing me of being a liberal elitist snoot and labeling Nancy Pelosi “a diseased cunt.” He also expressed enthusiasm for tRump’s reelection because it would make me miserable. And I thought of him as a good buddy, which makes me wonder just how insightful I am when it comes to others. How could I have failed to see the angry little man inside him?

    I believe FDChief is correct. We’re in the endgame of American democracy, which correlates somewhat with what is happening in Europe, where two Putin-backing strongmen were just reelected and where French president Macron may be taken down by the super far-right party of Marine LePen. Apparently, the lust for a big daddy dictator to tell people what to do –so long as it is the right people being targeted, of course– is spreading fast around the globe.

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  5. Little Bird said on April 8, 2022 at 12:21 pm

    I don’t think I’ve spoken to my fathers side of the family since that election. Probably since before it. One of my aunts literally has a tea party membership card. Most of my friends and high school classmates are more like me politically, but I did cut a few after Covid hit, they felt it was their right to not wear masks and were livid that people were getting tested. It was really weird.

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  6. Alan Stamm said on April 8, 2022 at 12:23 pm

    Thanks very much for the BBC link, saved to savor later. My debt swells yet again.

    I already savor your News-Sentinel pal’s well-put smartness: Living with so many fellow citizens who are so diminished makes me feel diminished, too.

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  7. JILL said on April 8, 2022 at 12:33 pm

    “that’s the feeling I’m talking about, of going through a day, buying groceries, working, commuting, walking in the park, and having to think: Is it you? Are you one of them?”

    This, so much. It’s like I’m waiting for the next big disappointment. Because let’s face it, we are past the point of respecting everyone’s point of view.

    There’s ignorance: I have a 78 year old co-worker who told me on Tuesday that there hasn’t been racism since the 60’s. And given what I know about her and her family and how hard she’s worked in her life. I can see where she would not have the brain space to wrap her head around what’s been going on. It makes me sad, but I can see where everything went wrong.

    And there’s gleeful embrace: These are people who see and hear the MTGs and DTs and go YES THANK YOU FOR SPEAKING MY MIND! And this is when the grieving begins for me.

    Of course perhaps I give my coworker a pass because I know and love her and her story is so hard. But are the millions of people voting for the mean people also from the same background? I don’t think so.

    Ugh. I haven’t gone to church since 2018 because of all this.

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  8. Scout said on April 8, 2022 at 12:43 pm

    Thank you for sharing the paragraph sent by your friend. “…five or six years later, more than anything else, I’m still grieving the loss of so much regard for so many people.” So much THIS. I grieve it daily. For me it manifested in my family, which has caused me so much suffering. The grief we are collectively feeling is discussed extensively in Brene` Brown’s latest book, Atlas of the Heart. I am listening to it on audio and I have been doing a lot of ‘rewinding’ to more fully absorb the strategies for healing.

    Hope you feel better soon, Nancy. I caught a terrible cold at the end of February and am still experiencing PND. Both home and drive up Covid tests I took were negative. Looking forward to getting my 2nd booster next week.

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  9. alex said on April 8, 2022 at 1:35 pm

    I’m still reeling from a conversation with co-workers over lunch yesterday who were bad-mouthing Obamacare and all the you-know-whats who ruined it by leeching off of it so that the rest of us can’t get affordable health care. I interjected that the Republicans cut the legs out from under Obamacare and that’s why it’s not working as well as it did at first. Didn’t go over well at all.

    Cray-cray everywhere. Makes me want to retire and get out of this madhouse ASAP. The daily disillusionment and dismay are too much for any soul to bear. At least if I weren’t working I could choose my own company.

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  10. FDChief said on April 8, 2022 at 1:39 pm

    I don’t feel a bit diminished living with all these diminished people, largely because the miserable sonsofbitches are intent on ruling me. Instead I’m incandescently furious with them, and it makes me long, as the emperor Caligula longed, that they all had one throat so I could cut it and be well rid of them.

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  11. Deborah said on April 8, 2022 at 3:21 pm

    So the guys who were planning to kidnap the Gov of Michigan got found not guilty? At least 2 of them anyway it seems. And then what happens to the 2 that had a hung jury? This is depressing. I get that the case was about free speech and when talking about doing the kidnapping became a crime. Which seems weird to me because aren’t there people who are caught in sting operations while they’re planning a crime and they get convicted for intending to do the crime? I have to admit I hadn’t been following the case before until today so I’m confused.

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  12. Peter said on April 8, 2022 at 3:32 pm

    One time I was reading Neil Steinberg’s blog, and he posted a few letters that someone had sent to him. They were your typical wacko rants, complete with superfluous capital letters and run on sentences longer than this one, and when I got to the end of the letter, I found out it was someone I knew and had worked with for over 20 years. I wanted to contact him and say anything to get him off the ledge, but I figured it was a one time occurrence. Oh no – he keeps on sending them, Neil keeps on posting them (and not that I blame him – they’re something else!), and I get sicker to my stomach.

    What gets me is that you think you can pick out the whackos in a crowd. This person was nothing like that. Friendly, professional, kind, he was the kind of person you’d be happy to refer other customers to. When I read one of his screeds now I can’t believe it’s from the same guy I know. Not ONCE did I hear him say anything that would be considered a slur, and in the construction industry, you have plenty of opportunities to let people know what you think.

    I don’t know what else to say.

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  13. Deborah said on April 8, 2022 at 3:51 pm

    Peter, now I’m wondering if I might know this guy too. Lol.

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  14. alex said on April 8, 2022 at 4:49 pm

    While I can’t say that I feel diminished, exactly, what I feel is revulsion at the fact that so many of my fellow citizens are both abjectly stupid and hateful and that I live every day in a state of hypervigilance and stress over uncertainty about the future.

    And then we have Donald Trump not being held accountable for anything.

    And then we have a jury in Michigan acquitting domestic terrorists because they’re probably as brainwashed as the defendants.

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  15. ROGirl said on April 8, 2022 at 5:47 pm

    And today someone at work told me that what’s going on in Ukraine is Biden’s fault.

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  16. Suzanne said on April 8, 2022 at 6:10 pm

    I feel diminished. I have lost respect for so many people that I previously thought were decent, kind hearted, loving people but who say the most horrible things about Biden or Fauci or anyone else they perceive as on the wrong side. I am completely gobsmacked at the number of people who believe these crazy conspiracies.
    As I navigate this cancer treatment, I wonder what my doctors and nurses think. If they are conspiracy theorists or crazy right wingers, I don’t want them near me. But how can you know unless you flat out ask?

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  17. LAMary said on April 8, 2022 at 6:44 pm

    A guy I’ve known since second grade sent me a friend request on FB. I looked at his home page and there was his boat in Trump boat parade in Texas. We chatted briefly and he said I must be a libtard. I went low. I asked him if he remembered my brother Bob. Bob was what we called back then retarded and in a small town people know each other and their families. I asked him if he was proud of using a cruel playground insult towards me. This guy’s father was a doctor whom I know saw my brother several times as a patient. I told him that when one of my sons was 8 or 9 years old he got into the only fight he ever had on the playground because someone called someone a retard. I told this old classmate that he had a limited vocabulary and that I would just call him ignorant and that explained his political choices. Not a retard, a contard, or any portmanteau word that included retard. He apologized and I blocked him.

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  18. Ann said on April 8, 2022 at 11:16 pm

    LAMary, Good for you. I went straight past the politics to the feel good story, but even that raised my blood pressure a bit. Some pretty tense hours there.

    I’ve just finished my season as a volunteer AARP tax preparer. We required (and wore) masks. A friend asked if we’d gotten any grief. I said no. But then my last guy today had to be told to pull his mask back up. He told me he knew about ventilation and he knew masks didn’t prevent diseases from spreading and also that rebreathing all the CO2 was unhealthy but he wasn’t belligerent about it and pulled the mask back up. I gave him my standard line about how I have a sister with leukemia and a daughter-in-law with MS and I don’t want either of them to get sick. All true. I didn’t mention that both of them live thousands of miles away. We switched the conversation to wildlife encounters and I finished his taxes. He said “God bless you.” I’ll take it.

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  19. Dexter Friend said on April 9, 2022 at 2:35 am

    Dennis Hopper described the late 60s and 1970s by saying it was us versus them, man. Everybody knew what he was talking about. Freaks versus straights and the whole bit. And now it’s just gone totally mad. Like, really…is flying a giant “F… Biden” flag is what the framers had in mind in Philadelphia? A man I know was arguing with me about how it’s a first amendment right, blah blah, and said he defends the right of swastikas displayed…I said OK…try that in Germany and see how long your little display lasts. Not long. Of course he said “this isn’t Germany”. I was born when Truman was President and I remember Ike well, and all the rest, and I never ever saw a “F… Nixon” flag, even. It’s just not civilized anymore.

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  20. FDChief said on April 9, 2022 at 9:18 am

    I’d suggest that the real trouble with all of this this is that “I’m so sad about (fill in the blank)” is that it’s the political equivalent of “I’m so sad that you want to kill me and take my stuff.”

    Sad? Diminished? Ummm…why on earth would you feel “sad” about your enemies? Enemies are simple; you fight them. Ask anyone in Ukraine how sad they feel about their former Russian pals.

    The left (hell, not even…anyone not completely in headcase-GQP-world) needs to tighten their helmet straps and get on with the critical business of fighting these people. They’re all in on doing that to you.

    This blabber about “grooming” and “pedophiles” and “communists”? It’s Blood and Soil, preparing their C.H.U.D.s for the Day of Jubilee when they get to actually beat and kill “those people”; homosexuals, non-handmaiden-women, minorities, liberals.

    The Right knows. They’ve already declared war. Now our choice is simple; we fight them, or we lose. Thuycidides wrote that the strong do what they can and the weak suffer what they must.

    It’s suffering that I’d be diminished by. So I prefer not to be the one that suffers, thanks.

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  21. alex said on April 9, 2022 at 9:27 am

    Why this experience is so fucking weird for me:

    I grew up gay at a time when I knew I had to keep my identity secret because the majority around me were miseducated and intolerant and just plain wrong. I knew very well that the majority were wrong not only about this but a whole lot of things.

    I credit the fact that I had access to science versus superstition, and could tell the difference between objective books in the library versus religious and political derp with an agenda. I had contact with people who were both intellectually and morally deep and it served as a counterweight to those who were ignorant and hostile and wore their “Christian” identity very superficially.

    The atmosphere has changed a lot over the 60 years of my existence. These days people don’t even bother to ask if I’m gay before communicating their acceptance, which can feel kind of cringeworthy and patronizing, but it helps me understand what Black people feel when White people do the same thing to them.

    So now I find myself being fawned over by the same sort of people who would have gladly burned me at the stake like a heretic in Puritan times, and are actively petitioning to return to just such a society.

    It’s a total mind fuck, and my only hope is that the good will prevail because I know damn well that if the fascists get their way they’ll need an enemies list and I know damned well what groups will end up on it.

    The right keeps arguing that the increasing number of people who identify as gay is the result of “grooming” by educators. I know that the increasing number is owing to the simple fact that polite society no longer tolerates disparagement and persecution as it once did and a greater number of people are no longer afraid to be themselves.

    It’s hard to remain optimistic in this bizarre atmosphere, one in which I feel I can’t trust anything anymore.

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  22. Icarus said on April 9, 2022 at 11:15 am

    My inlaws are a bit confused right now. They so badly want to believe and follow what Tucker Carlson and Faux News tell them, but they also worshipped Ronnie St Reagan who told us that the Soviets are evil. Every last one of them. Always and forever.

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  23. Icarus said on April 9, 2022 at 11:16 am

    Here’s some Fuckery that is making my wife very nervous.

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  24. alex said on April 9, 2022 at 11:28 am

    So now you’ll risk facing a Salem Witch trial if you’re a nurse or a teacher.

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  25. LAMary said on April 9, 2022 at 12:10 pm

    Neither of my sisters in law are geniuses. One is somewhat better than the other. She was telling me why she could never vote for a Democrat. She said that Nancy Pelosi has forced emergency departments in Texas (specifically Texas) to care for illegal Mexicans. She knows a nurse from Texas who told her that. I told her that was the law and it had nothing to do with Nancy Pelosi. That if someone comes into the ER injured or in labor or in serious need of care any hospital, public or private or whatever, has to either care for or stabilize the patient for transfer to a public hospital. My sister in law said we needed to vote Pelosi out. She’s going to vote against Pelosi in the next election, she said, and that will be tricky since my sister in law lives in NJ.

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  26. Mark P said on April 9, 2022 at 12:32 pm

    LAMary, that’s one of those things that is not even wrong. Someone needs to find her civics teacher and fire them.

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  27. Jeff Borden said on April 9, 2022 at 4:20 pm

    Well, now. A young Hispanic woman in Texass, admitted to a hospital after she tried to induce an abortion and turned in by staffers at said hospital, is now charged with murder and being held in a county jail with bail set at $500,000. Yes. A half-million for “murdering” a blastocyst.

    Someone tell me again what is so fucking great about Texass aside from the music scene. God, what a horrible place to live.

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  28. Heather said on April 9, 2022 at 7:31 pm

    One of my FB friends, a white man, is arguing that the reporting on that story about the woman who was arrested is “sloppy” and that the law doesn’t actually outlaw abortion in pregnancy as early as hers was. So he’s “surprised” at the murder charge. You know who’s not surprised? Women who have been screaming about what the GOP is doing to reproductive rights for the last 40+ years. And now they’re doing it.

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  29. Jeff Gill said on April 9, 2022 at 9:48 pm

    “Oh, Moses, Moses, you stubborn, splendid, adorable fool.”

    (It’s a tradition.)

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  30. Heather said on April 9, 2022 at 10:25 pm

    Just FYI, I commented in good faith on the “friend’s” post and he replied in the rudest, most condescending way possible. Oh yes, how dare I, a woman whose healthcare and wellbeing may be directly affected by the GOP, have an opinion that differs? This is someone who considers himself progressive, of course. I unfriended post-haste. I don’t have time for this shit in my life.

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  31. alex said on April 10, 2022 at 9:10 am

    When the going gets tough, the tough go shopping.

    Heading out this morning to IKEA in Indy for the new medicine cabinet I’ve been needing forever and a new cushion for my Poang chair. Part of this year’s effort to get the house spiffed up for Easter Brunch, which has been called off the last two years because of COVID.

    Getting a dark-colored Poang cushion this time. The last one got trashed at the last Easter Brunch three years ago when children in muddy footwear decided to climb all over it.

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  32. Deborah said on April 10, 2022 at 9:54 am

    I had to look up what a Poang chair is, much as I love IKEA I’m surprised I hadn’t heard of it before. Nice. Although I have to say lately I’m kind of disappointed in what IKEA has to offer. Their little kitchen do-dads have fallen short for sure. Our place in Santa Fe has a lot of IKEA pieces.

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  33. basset said on April 10, 2022 at 10:04 am

    Finally cut the cable this week after probably close to forty years and moved our phones from Verizon to Comcast, which came with three new iPhones so I have been doing lots of fiddly little setup adjustments. I can now, however, get a reading from Mrs. B’s glucose monitor wherever in the civilized world I might be able to find a net signal.

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  34. LAMary said on April 10, 2022 at 10:37 am

    A classic, Jeff. Another classic line although it’s not season specific is from King Richard and the Crusaders, 1954:

    War, war! That’s all you ever think about, Dick Plantagenet!

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  35. Knowlson said on April 10, 2022 at 11:34 am

    Living with so many fellow citizens who are so diminished makes me feel diminished, too.

    It reminds me somewhat of the old movie “Invasion of the Body Snatchers.” I’ll be speaking with someone, a neighbor or relative or tradesman and during a brief conversation they parrot some conservative radio talking point, and it’s like they’ve been taken over.

    Anyway, I’m new here. I just discovered this blog. I’m enjoying the posts and the comments.

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  36. Julie Robinson said on April 10, 2022 at 1:17 pm

    Good luck at IKEA. The supply chain issues really hit them hard, and they’ve been out of half the things we’ve wanted to buy. You make your plans then you have to rethink them at the store.

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  37. Sherri said on April 10, 2022 at 4:48 pm

    I’m just so tired. I’m tired of the right wing nuts who deny reality. I’m tired of gutless Dems who pretend you can work with people who deny reality. I’m tired of people who call themselves progressives and environmentalists and complain about every apartment building being built and the lack of free parking.

    I’m tired of people who believe that the First Amendment gives them a right to speech without consequences. I’m tired of media that treats politics as theater. I’m tired of the Senate.

    Just so tired.

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  38. David C said on April 10, 2022 at 5:11 pm

    Damn straight, Sherri.

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  39. basset said on April 10, 2022 at 5:29 pm

    Same here.

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  40. alex said on April 10, 2022 at 10:18 pm

    Welcome Knowlson. If you look at NN.C history you’ll see that we weren’t always so depressed about politics and have had some lively discourse on all kinds of cool things. Wishing we could find our way back to that mood.

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  41. Knowlson said on April 11, 2022 at 6:27 am

    Thank you, Alex.

    I try to be optimistic, but I’m depressed every time I watch or read the news!

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