Thursday’s Forum

FILED UNDER: Open Forum
Steven L. Taylor
About Steven L. Taylor
Steven L. Taylor is a Professor of Political Science and a College of Arts and Sciences Dean. His main areas of expertise include parties, elections, and the institutional design of democracies. His most recent book is the co-authored A Different Democracy: American Government in a 31-Country Perspective. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Texas and his BA from the University of California, Irvine. He has been blogging since 2003 (originally at the now defunct Poliblog). Follow Steven on Twitter

Comments

  1. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Multiple internal FBI reports over the past 15 years have labeled white supremacist infiltration of police departments as a serious threat. But last year, FBI officials refused to testify in a hearing about the topic, repeatedly telling congressional staffers that “it did not believe that this threat was supported by evidence” and “that there would not be any utility in the bureau offering testimony”, the Maryland congressman Jamie Raskin wrote in a letter to Wray on Tuesday.
    …………………..
    Last August, an external report authored by a former FBI special agent documented links between serving officers and white supremacist and militia groups in more than a dozen states…

    “Time and time again, when the FBI fails to protect the public from a foreseeable threat its managers claim they had no warning and seek new powers,” German wrote in an email. “Yet the records often show agents in the field collected the proper intelligence and gave timely warnings. The problem is not a lack of intelligence, it is FBI managers who dismiss intelligence they receive when it doesn’t fit the preconceived narratives they or their bosses prefer about what threats to prioritize.”

    In 2015, for instance, an FBI counter-terrorism policy guide warned agents building domestic terrorism cases against white supremacist and other far-right groups that “the subjects of their investigations often have active links to law enforcement”, German wrote. If the infiltration of law enforcement agencies is serious enough that FBI agents have to be warned to modify their tactics during investigations, German wrote, it should be serious enough for the FBI to have a national strategy to protect the public.

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  2. sam says:
  3. Scott says:

    I know that this crowd doesn’t often swim in these waters but this is big news.

    Beth Moore Says She’s No Longer Southern Baptist

    For nearly three decades, Beth Moore has been the very model of a modern Southern Baptist.

    She loves Jesus and the Bible and has dedicated her life to teaching others why they need both of them in their lives. Millions of evangelical Christian women have read her Bible studies and flocked to hear her speak at stadium-style events where Moore delves deeply into biblical passages.

    Then along came Donald Trump.

    Moore’s criticism of the 45th president’s abusive behavior toward women and her advocacy for sexual abuse victims turned her from a beloved icon to a pariah in the denomination she loved all her life.

    “Wake up, Sleepers, to what women have dealt with all along in environments of gross entitlement & power,” Moore once wrote about Trump, riffing on a passage from the New Testament Book of Ephesians.

    Because of her opposition to Trump and her outspokenness in confronting sexism and nationalism in the evangelical world, Moore has been labeled as “liberal” and “woke” and even as being a heretic for daring to give a message during a Sunday morning church service.

    Finally, Moore had had enough. She told Religion News Service in an interview Friday that she is “no longer a Southern Baptist.”

    “I am still a Baptist, but I can no longer identify with Southern Baptists,” Moore said in the phone interview. “I love so many Southern Baptist people, so many Southern Baptist churches, but I don’t identify with some of the things in our heritage that haven’t remained in the past.”

    This is a big deal. Beth Moore is huge in this circles, not a hustler or grifter. Her reach extended far beyond conservative Baptist. Her books, lectures and lessons are found even in our liberal Episcopal church.

    This shows how truly deep the rot of Trump has permeated and corrupted the far right evangelical movement. You can’t deal with the problems in this country unless you are willing to face up to the problem of faith and religion.

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  4. MarkedMan says:

    The COVID relief bill may be a once in a lifetime event. By completely removing themselves from the negotiations, the Republicans rendered themselves and their patrons powerless. If there was the chance of even a few Republican votes do you think it would have contained pro-union clauses? Bottom line, $1.9T was apportioned and all the businesses heavily invested in the Republicans got nothing. No drilling in wildlife preserves for big oil like in Trump’s Bill. The Republican donors and right wing lobbyists such as the Heritage Foundation weren’t conducting late night planning sessions in order to maximize the benefits to them – instead they were watching helplessly as their pet poodles railed on about Mr. Potatohead, Dr. Seuss and Britney Spears.

    This is a one off. Business is business and if their paid professionals in the House and Senate can’t deliver, they will get new ones. Billlions will be spent on getting a seat at the table, and I’ve no doubt it will be effective. I don’t know how much of that will be newly co-opted Dems, how much will be money in the coffers of “reasonable” Republican primary challengers and how much will be come to Jesus meetings with their current lot, but it will come.

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  5. CSK says:

    @Scott:
    I saw this the other day, and read it with great interest, even though, as I’ve mentioned, I was raised in an irreligious household. Moore sounds as if she actually thinks about things, and, even if I don’t share her convictions of faith, I respect her courage in calling out the utter hypocrisy of Trump-worshiping Southern Baptists.

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  6. CSK says:

    @OzarkHillbilly:
    There’s an article in the Daily Beast (unfortunately behind the paywall) that describes how the LAPD had a parler.com account, which it claims it’s dropped. Others say they just lurk there.

    ETA: More here: http://www.news.yahoo.com/lapd-joined-maga-hellsite-parler-100215782.html

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  7. MarkedMan says:

    @sam: One thing I love about the Katie Porter interactions is the look on the various business tycoon’s faces when they suddenly realize that not only did she come prepared but that she knows more about this particular aspect of their business than they do.

    I suspect they are used to dealing with highly sympathetic Republican chairs who are going to protect them from such attacks. I’m sure they are confident they know how to deal with all Senators and Reps because they’ve had so many conversations with their pet politicians at various Republican think tank mixers and so forth. And let’s be realistic – understanding policy and legislation has not been a key to advancing up the party hierarchy since Reagan, and has been an actual detriment since Gingrich. Your typical Republican congress critter is, at best, like the frat boy that actually crams for a test, spending hours pontificating about things they know nothing about over keg parties, while they tell each other how they are masters of the universe. And that’s at best – probably 95% are like the frat boys who don’t even bother to cram but rely on the one nerd member (i.e. their staffer) to slip them the answers right before they walk in the door, and still manage to only eke out a “C”.

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  8. KM says:

    @CSK:
    The rot was always there or he couldn’t have gotten in with them so quickly or so deeply. It’s en vogue for people to blame Trump for them choosing to follow Trump. Unless the soil is fertile, the seed cannot grow. He’s so popular because he’s a walking example of everything they are and want to be.

    Evangelicals have always had a problem with con men and abusers like Trump flourishing among their ranks. For all the shit the Catholic Church gets for their decades of covering up horrors, at least it’s talked about and being somewhat dealt with. There’s no such cleanup for evangelicals – they just cry fake tears on screen if caught , claim God’s forgiven their sin (forget what the victims have to say) and keep on grifting. If Trump started saying Jesus every few words like Giuliani used to bleat 9/11, he could easily gain a flock as “a different type of pastor”.

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  9. MarkedMan says:

    @MarkedMan: Just to reinforce what I said above about Republicans neutering themselves, it turns out the COVID relief bill will have the effect of raising taxes on billionaires and mega-corporations. If even a couple of Republican votes were possible, do you think those would have been in there?

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  10. CSK says:

    @KM:
    Oh, I know. I’ve always wondered what it is about these people in particular that makes them so willing and vulnerable to falling for con men. And con women.

    I’ve read in several different places that Trump would welcome these “pastors” into the Oval Office, accept their blessings, participate in a laying on of hands, and then openly mock them as soon as they’d walked out the door.

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  11. CSK says:

    Presidents Carter, Clinton, Bush, and Obama have made a public service announcement urging people top get vaccinated. Guess who didn’t participate?

    On the other hand, Trump had an announcement of his own: “I hope everyone remembers when they’re getting the COVID-19 (often referred to as the China Virus) that, if I wasn’t President, you wouldn’t be getting that beautiful ‘shot’ for 5 years, at best, and probably wouldn’t be getting it at all. I hope everyone remembers!”

    Pathetic.

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  12. charon says:

    @CSK:

    Oh, I know. I’ve always wondered what it is about these people in particular that makes them so willing and vulnerable to falling for con men. And con women.

    Indoctrination that it is virtuous to believe based on faith. So how to decide what to believe on faith? Answer: the “appeal to authority” fallacy.

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  13. reid says:

    @CSK: I’m always amazed when people aren’t repulsed by such childish, disgusting statements. The whole Trump phenom was an eye-opener.

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  14. Kylopod says:

    @MarkedMan:

    By completely removing themselves from the negotiations, the Republicans rendered themselves and their patrons powerless.

    That was essentially the criticism David Frum leveled at the GOP after the passage of the ACA, leading to his departure from AEI. (Damn, the acronyms.) He called it “the Republican Waterloo.”

    Of course, I also think Dems learned their lesson from the Obama years when they wasted months trying to woo Republicans who would go on to vote against the bills in question anyway.

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  15. Joe says:

    @CSK: Even Trump’s own whiny quote about developing the vaccine, he still never says vaccine.

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  16. CSK says:

    @reid:
    I think most of us are repulsed. Weren’t we all taught from childhood to be modest about our own achievements? Trump takes credit for things he hasn’t done.

    Tom Nichols had an interesting article in The Atlantic a year or so ago entitled “Donald Trump, The Most Unmanly President,” in which he talks about the mystery of why Trump, who typifies an unmanly man (he fusses over his hair, he wears make-up, he brags, he’s a physical coward, he jabbers, etc.) should be so beloved of rough, tough working class men who’d despise him in other circumstances. Or why working class women dote on Trump.

    The only answer Nichols could come up with is that Trump is a child, so he gets away with being a small boy who’s a whiny, petulant braggart. I think it’s more than that. On some level, such men and women envy Trump: He gets away with things they wish they could. They cover that up by admiring him because he’s a “fighter.”

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  17. CSK says:

    @Joe:
    Actually, that was my mistake. I neglected to put in the word “vaccine” after the closed parenthesis
    when transcribing the quote.

    I see he’s back to using the word “beautiful” inappropriately. This is not the adjective one might normally choose to modify a shot/vaccine/stick/injection, whatever you choose to call it.

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  18. charon says:

    I see he’s back to using the word “beautiful” inappropriately. This is not the adjective one might normally choose to modify a shot/vaccine/stick/injection, whatever you choose to call it.

    His vocabulary shrinks as his senile dementia progresses.

    And, of course, it’s no wonder he says really stupid things.

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  19. CSK says:

    @charon:

    http://www.indy100.com/news/donald-trump-beautiful-9634036

    A comprehensive list of weirdly inapt ways in which D. Trump has used the word “beautiful.”

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  20. Kylopod says:

    @CSK: Somehow that list doesn’t get around to mentioning the “big, beautiful tax cut.”

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  21. Kathy says:

    Things seem to have gone well, but I’m still too out of it.

    I’ll try to post details tomorrow.

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  22. CSK says:

    @Kylopod:
    Despite what I said, it’s probably difficult to furnish a comprehensive list of Trump’s linguistic atrocities.

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  23. CSK says:

    @Kathy:
    Good. Get some rest. And keep us apprised of how things are going.

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  24. Sleeping Dog says:

    @MarkedMan:

    …highly sympathetic Republican chairs who are going to protect them from such attacks.

    That and the fact that most committee members, regardless of party, spend much of their allotted question time bloviating. It is the rare congress critter that comes to a hearing having gamed out a line of questioning and is prepared with subsequent questions that challenge the witness. Most witnesses can state a cheap lie and get away with it.

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  25. Joe says:

    @CSK: I am a big believer in cut-and-paste for just this reason. In your defense, the omission seemed very Trumplike.

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  26. CSK says:

    @Joe:
    It did, didn’t it? A colleague of mine once observed that he was picking all the bad linguistic habits of his freshman comp students, while they were picking up none of his good ones.

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  27. Gustopher says:

    @Kathy: woo-hoo. I hope the recovery goes smoothly.

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  28. de stijl says:

    After China’s ban on Taiwanese pineapples and the culinary ingenuity to deal with the excess, I decided to try myself. No Taiwan export, but I am there in spirit.

    Bought a whole one instead of processed cans from Dole I use for my crap version of at home al pastor (it never works properly because the spit grill is key.)

    I added diced bits to a curry fairly early in. That worked very well. Heat plus acidic sweet works well and they don’t go to mush after an hour of slow bubbling. I like raw crunchy bits atop my curry and usually do a sprinkle of small diced white onion. Next time, I’ll try a 50/50 mix of raw onion and pineapple.

    I did a chutney and used that with roasted pork. Also excellent. Took a lot of time.

    It had been awhile since I’d used a whole pineapple so I had forgotten to just do a crosswise cut of the amount needed and pare and core that. Instead I pared the whole thing right away. Live and learn.

    Pineapple is acidic enough so there will be no oxidization issues, but I prefer to keep nature’s evolved built-in packaging as long as possible.

    (My “al pastor” isn’t bad, but it’s not true. Vertical spit roasting of spiced chunks gyro style adds so much more.)

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  29. Gustopher says:

    @charon:

    Indoctrination that it is virtuous to believe based on faith. So how to decide what to believe on faith? Answer: the “appeal to authority” fallacy.

    Oh, god, not you too…

    Everyone uses “appeal to authority” for the vast majority of their information. We simply don’t have the mental capacity to research everything, conduct our own experiments, etc. Religion doesn’t have a monopoly on faith.

    Here’s an example: any time Trump says something, you assume it is untrue.

    No effort is done to weigh a statement of Trump’s before that decision is made, any weighing comes later to confirm that decision.

    In fact, a lot of people who find a religion later in life effectively do experiment, and don’t rely on the appeal to authority, because they haven’t recognized an authority yet. They try believing and following the rituals, and see if it makes them feel good. There are all sorts of things wrong with that, but appeal to authority isn’t one of them, and then they believe in the magical powers of Jesus, crystals, Crystal Jesus, or composting.

    Religion is some pretty stupid shit, but the mental deficiencies it depends on are fundamental to humans and human progress. We wouldn’t have our current scientists standing on the shoulders of giants, as it were, if they weren’t able to accept large swaths of information without needing to carefully validate each part. X, Y and Z were peer reviewed, and we have faith that the peer review process mostly works, and they haven’t been overturned in the last 20 years, so they’re probably close to true.

    We wouldn’t have a country if we didn’t revere our founding fathers and their creation — a problem America has right now is that we have competing visions of that, with some revering the actual text (woo, slaveholding, yeah!) and others revering the aspirations that the founding fathers never seemed to actually live up to.

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  30. Gustopher says:

    @Gustopher: We all depend on appeal to authority. We often have different authorities, but that’s a matter of happenstance — we inherit some from our parents, and others from our peer groups, and make a conscious choice on a very select few.

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  31. MarkedMan says:

    @Gustopher: (Spinning off on a tangent here…)

    any time Trump says something, you assume it is untrue

    That’s not quite accurate for me. I assume any time Trump says something it is not worth my time. More so, engaging with it in any way degrades me and my little piece of society. I feel the same way about most Republicans, Fox News and of course NewsMax and the other one. If they actually say something worthwhile (probably by accident) it will eventually reach me through a reliable source.

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  32. Kylopod says:

    @Gustopher:

    Here’s an example: any time Trump says something, you assume it is untrue.

    While I don’t necessarily disagree with your overall point, this is a bad example. Assuming that things Trump says are untrue isn’t an appeal to authority–it’s based on the repeated experience of hearing Trump say things that are demonstrably, empirically false over and over and over.

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  33. de stijl says:

    @CSK:

    Composition courses too often jump to advocacy and argumentation.

    I have argued in the past that basic composition should start with student exercises being entirely descriptive: tell me how a multi-step semi-convoluted process works before arguing for or against it. Forget the thesis and definitely exclude footnotes.

    Just describe. Play with sentence construction, tenses, conditions, clauses.

    Bring in argumentation later after a primer on basic rhetorics.

    The way composition was taught in my day threw you in to the deep end to soon.

    In math, you learn geometry before algebra.

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  34. CSK says:

    @de stijl:
    That’s interesting. With respect to math, I learned algebra first, then geometry, then algebra II.

    As for freshman comp, (Expos as it’s called at Harvard), it really depends on the level of ability of the students. At a lousy college, half of them will be functionally illiterate. At a good college, some of them might need a little help with the use of the subjunctive. Been there, done that.

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  35. Joe says:

    Here’s an example: any time Trump says something, you assume it is untrue.

    @Gustopher, MarkedMan and Kylopod:
    I used to say about an ex of mine, the fact that she said she would do something didn’t it more or less likely she would do it. It was simply a statement that lacked information. Similarly, the fact that Trump says something doesn’t make it more or less likely to be true, it’s just not information. On the other hand, the fact that Trump accuses someone else of doing something, makes it almost irrefutable that he has done it.

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  36. Sleeping Dog says:

    Electoral politics, being a zero sum game, should make an idea like this attractive to Dems. There is an advantage in having/padding the majority, even if a particular critter won’t support a large part of the parties platform.

    https://thebulwark.com/red-dog-reality/

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  37. CSK says:

    @Joe:
    “I used to say about an ex of mine, the fact that she said she would do something didn’t make it more or less likely…”

    😀

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  38. Kylopod says:

    @Joe:

    On the other hand, the fact that Trump accuses someone else of doing something, makes it almost irrefutable that he has done it.

    I’d expand that a bit. Trump has a number of tells. If he vehemently denies something, then very likely that something is true. If he brags about something, then very likely it’s something he either botched or had nothing to do with. If he talks about someone calling him “Sir,” he’s likely making up the story out of whole cloth.

    While this reasoning isn’t an appeal to authority, it isn’t airtight. I’m sure that not every allegation made about him over the years is true, yet we tend to assume they always are. There are serious questions about the accuracy of Michael Wolff’s book, for instance. I don’t know that the pee-tape is real. So it’s basically the crying-wolf principle. It’s like if tomorrow a group of white MAGA dudes attacked Jussie Smollett, absolutely no one would believe him if he reported it.

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  39. charon says:

    @Gustopher:

    Everyone uses “appeal to authority” for the vast majority of their information. We simply don’t have the mental capacity to research everything, conduct our own experiments, etc. Religion doesn’t have a monopoly on faith.

    Understood, but that is not the point.

    One point is some people are a bit more discerning about what is a trustworthy authority than others. A second point is that I believe my sources provisionally, i.e., absent later disputing information. But other people refuse to let go of a belief once held.

    It does not, for example, take much thought to figure out that the Bible is not “inerrant” no matter what the Southern Baptist doctrine demands – this belief is an employment requirement at Liberty University..

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  40. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Gustopher: any time Trump says something, you assume it is untrue.

    That’s a pretty safe bet. Having divorced a pathological liar it was in fact a matter of sanity, even survival. It wasn’t that she never told the truth, it’s that she was all but incapable of uttering an unadulterated truth, and on the few occasions she did it was in service to a lie.

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  41. Joe says:

    @CSK: Cut and paste doesn’t help with original text. We are even on the day.

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  42. Mister Bluster says:

    @OzarkHillbilly:..Having divorced a pathological liar it was in fact a matter of sanity, even survival. It wasn’t that she never told the truth, it’s that she was all but incapable of uttering an unadulterated truth, and on the few occasions she did it was in service to a lie.

    Been there and I have it on good authority that she learned how to lie at a very young age from one of her parents.

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  43. Kathy says:

    @Gustopher:

    I wish someone had mentioned a urinary catheter before. It’s really uncomfortable.

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  44. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Mister Bluster: Neither of her parents were liars, but her father was very fond of not facing ugly truths.

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  45. CSK says:

    @Kathy:
    Oh, boy, those are awful. My sympathies to you.

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  46. de stijl says:

    @OzarkHillbilly:

    Boy, do I know that.

    The unstated fact about ugly truths is that they are continually salient even if unspoken. The past is never dead. It’s not even past.

    The topic is breached through passive-aggressive “comments” during family gatherings. The recipient is supposed to suffer in silence. Grateful she is allowed presence there after her fall from Grace.

    Fuck that nonsense forever.

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  47. just nutha says:

    @de stijl: Aha! That’s what went wrong in my education. The sequence in my school district was Algebra, Geometry, Advanced Algebra/Trigonometry, pre-Calculus. In fact, that’s the order at the school I’m teaching at today–9th and 10th graders are taking Algebra, 11th take Geometry, and 12th take Calculus.

    And when I was in Uni, we didn’t take Freshman Comp at all. A few years back, I reread the thesis I submitted for my degree. Even the most illiterate of my comp students is a better writer than I was after 4 years of university.

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  48. JohnMcC says:

    @Scott: Grew up in the South with Southern Baptists everywhere in the family. There ought to be a sub-head to the domination’s logo: SBC, Schismatics R Us. That’s how they became a “denomination” of course, by splitting from a national Baptist church. (Over the issue of God’s blessings for sending Missionaries abroad who owned slaves back home.)

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  49. Mister Bluster says:

    Duckworth slams Tucker Carlson over remarks on women in the military
    F*ck Tucker Carlson. While he was practicing his two-step, America’s female warriors were hunting down Al Qaeda and proving the strength of America’s women.

    I’m glad I voted for her.

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  50. Kylopod says:

    @JohnMcC: Jimmy Carter left SBC in 2000 over the issue of ordination of women.

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  51. de stijl says:

    I was taught Geometry before Algebra I and thought that was the norm. New thing learned.

    I should never have taken Trig or Pre-Calc. I was baffled and passed by pure rote recitation. Brute force. Did not begin to even crack that mystery. Cost me a speaking slot on graduation day I did not want. Decent trade, there.

    I butted up against something my brain couldn’t grasp. I needed that humility then.

    Need it still, I reckon.

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  52. de stijl says:

    @just nutha:

    Advocacy can easily expose our worst habits: both as writers and thinkers.

    Description allows for growth. Prescription locks us in.

    Too much writing education is designed to bolster the quite arcane requirements of future academics. That bias benefits a few and distorts that class for many.

    Many more folks will have to write persuasive emails to colleagues than will ever submit academic papers to journals.

    The latter skills should be specialized education, and not forefront in general. A missed opportunity.

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  53. CSK says:

    @de stijl:
    The point of freshman comp has never been to enable people to write academic papers. It’s to enable them to write prose that communicates a message written with proper grammar, syntax, punctuation, and spelling.

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  54. JohnMcC says:

    @CSK: Fifty plus years ago in state universities Freshman Comp was also a way to limit the number of Sophomores.

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  55. de stijl says:

    @CSK:

    That has changed, or I got shoddy education, because I was taught that as the primary focus.

    I kinda like reading the abstracts of academic papers. The prose is so super dense. It is a language of its own, I swear.

    It would not even be the first time today that I extrapolated my experience with educational “standards” as being non-standard by other commenters.

    I woulda swore before today that Geometry proceeds Algebra was the go-to consensus in math education.

    Likewise, I assumed formal writing was the preferred entry point.

    My experience was not universal.

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  56. de stijl says:

    @Mister Bluster:

    Duckworth kicks ass both generally and specifically.

    I have a very high regard for her.

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  57. Jax says:

    So I have to apologize for anyone I may have offended or anything since Sunday. My kids started getting sick two weeks ago, I had them both tested and they were negative for COVID, I came down with it Sunday evening. Regular old rhinovirus, right? Stuffy nose, fever, slight cough in the youngest.

    It hit me like a ton of bricks. 103 fever Monday and Tuesday night, nonstop coughing, couldn’t breathe through my nose OR get a deep breath in my lungs. O2 pulsometer said I was down in the high 70’s/lower 80’s Tuesday night when it was at it’s worst.

    My teenager finally started dosing me with her high-powered asthma meds Tuesday morning. She said I did a bunch of shit to my computer and had it all over my table, and then I did it again because I forgot I had a new graphics card. I honestly don’t even remember much of it. I remember being pleased at my computer the next morning, and then I went back to bed. The rest is kind of a blur, until today. I feel kinda human again.

    So, sorry I was weird, or if I offended somebody. Except bill. bill deserves it.

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  58. CSK says:

    @de stijl:
    I’m not sure what you mean by an “academic” paper. They are, or can be, incomprehensible to non-specialists in whatever the field is–particularly science, medicine,or technology–but the point behind freshmen comp has always been to get students to write prose that’s organized, with an opening, a body, and a conclusion, and as free of grammar, punctuation, spelling, and syntactical errors as possible. In other words, something that any reasonably literate person can understand.

    The point of composition courses is to get the students to write (in addition to a comprehensible email) a comprehensible paper on “Imagery in Thomas Wyatt’s ‘Whoso List to Hunt’,” not a monograph on the hermeneutics of transgressive post-modernism.

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  59. Mimai says:

    @de stijl:

    I kinda like reading the abstracts of academic papers. The prose is so super dense. It is a language of its own, I swear.

    This is a massive problem with the literature (at least the scientific literature that I’m familiar with). For some reason, people have gotten it into their heads that less scrutable writing means…..

    Well I don’t know what exactly. That the writer is wicked smart? That the topic is super special?

    In fact, it’s much more difficult to write simply and legibly, especially when the topic is complex. In my lab, I’m constantly hammering my trainees to “pass the smart grandma test” – If your reasonably smart, but otherwise unlearned, grandma read this, would she understand it? If not, you’ve failed the test. Start over.

    Sorry, this is a sore spot for me…..it really chaps my ass!

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  60. CSK says:

    @Jax:
    Well, you didn’t offend me. But an oxygen saturation level such as the one you described is very, very dangerous. A value under 90% can be serious indeed.

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  61. Sleeping Dog says:

    @JohnMcC:

    As was freshman biology, math and western civ. All frequently referred to as freshman flunk-out classes. Math nearly got me, composition would have, but I was a fast learner there.

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  62. Mimai says:

    @CSK:

    something that any reasonably literate person can understand.

    In other words, this. You get all the upvotes for stealing my thunder.

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  63. CSK says:

    @Mimai:
    Not my intent, I assure you.

    This whole conversation reminds me of a colleague of mine describing to me her first published novel as “very literary, slow, and boring.” She also expressed surprise that her landlords (she was living in a run-down extended stay motel at the time; don’t ask) wanted to read it. I thought that was rather odd. Then I realized that she’d written a deliberately turgid book in order to get tenure, on the grounds that anything slow and boring will be taken more seriously than something that’s pleasant to read. I was also amused by the notion that something literary is, by default, slow and boring.

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  64. Mimai says:

    @CSK: she was living in a run-down extended stay motel at the time; don’t ask

    No fair….you can’t dangle that bit of juiciness in front of me and expect me not to bite. But, alas, I won’t ask. Directly.

    That is such a sad (and amusing, as you say) commentary on our species. Makes me think of people who trash talk fiction as some sort of inferior product to the super important wisdom bombs that populate the non-fiction section of the library. Ugh.

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  65. Mimai says:

    @Mimai: Block quote gets the better of me again.

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  66. Jax says:

    @CSK: I’m just glad I didn’t ruin my computer. I’ve instructed the kids to hide the tools and the computers if I ever get sick like that again. 😉

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  67. Bill says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: I’d worry if they became what, 20% as violent as “the community”! The whole ws thing is so lame, even the dimmest people in here know that…and it’s not a contest. Last I checked nationwide murder rates were skyrocketing, and it ain’t due to the phantom ws crowd.

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  68. Bill says:

    “As attacks on Asian American communities continue, we’re asking New Yorkers to show up for their neighbors and intervene when witnessing hateful violence or harassment. I know that can be frightening when you aren’t sure what to do or say, but you can learn.”

    Guess who posted that choice morsel of inanity?

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  69. Kathy says:

    Sorry for the fragmentary way I’m going on about. I’m still a bit out of it. but I have good news.

    The surgeon just did a follow up visit. I asked about the biopsy, and, get this, he said they found no ganglia. So apparently that’s the end of that.

    On more good news, he thinks he can remove the urinary catheter tomorrow as well. He’d better.

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  70. CSK says:

    @Mimai:
    You may ask. And I’ll tell.

    She was working in western Mass., and absolutely hated the area. (It’s extremely unwelcoming to single straight women.) So she had an apartment right outside Boston that was her Thursday night-Friday-Saturday-Sunday-Monday residence, and stayed Tuesday and Wednesday nights in the flophouse to fulfill her teaching duties on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday.

    She was also a little weird, but that’s not unusual for academics in the humanities.

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  71. de stijl says:

    @Jax:

    Get your sorry butt to an ER next time you go below 88, maybe 90. You got scary low there. Like @CSK said. That is you might not wake up tomorrow bad.

    You offended no one as far as I saw. Don’t even worry about it. What is worrying is you futzed about with your computer a good portion of the evening without recall.

    Next time it goes that bad please seek professional health care input. Teach your daughters to call for help if they see those symptoms cuz you’ll be too gonked to react with adult / mom responsibility.

    Down in 70s is you dodged a bullet bad oxygenation.

    You were flirting with death O2 levels there.

    You’re my bae. Don’t die from a hubristic interpretation of “I can beat this.”

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  72. Jax says:

    @Kathy: So glad it went well! I was hoping it would all be fine (minus the catheter, of course!)

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  73. de stijl says:

    @Bill:

    I don’t care. Besides the correctness of the quoted wish and thought. Bad people can mouth good things.

    Really don’t.

    You’re gonna flabbergast me with the answer. Cuomo is my bet.

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  74. Mimai says:

    @CSK:

    She was also a little weird, but that’s not unusual for academics in the academy.

    FTFY. What an experience. I suspect she’s got beaucoup stories to tell.

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  75. CSK says:

    @Mimai:
    Probably no more stories than the other single straight women working in academe there. I never met one who didn’t have a primary residence in the greater Boston area. Obviously they thought a 2-3 hour commute each way was better than having to live there.

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  76. de stijl says:

    @CSK:
    @Mimai:

    I’m with Mimai. There are some story fragments you gotta finish. Thank you.

    I got stuck in an extended stay motel for like five weeks until I could get a rental squared away. It was a decent enough place in a blah commercial district. Did me fine.

    The other residents were a hoot. I have a high tolerance for low-key shenanigans.

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  77. Jax says:

    @de stijl: It was more of a “Well, I know it ain’t COVID, so it ain’t gonna kill me”….I think. I don’t really know. It kicked my damn ass. I was super happy to wake up this morning and feel semi-coherent. I hear now from my kids and my parents and the guy who works for us that they were following me all over the ranch yard as I was trying to do my normal chores and not fall over. I remember coming home from doing my chickens and thinking maybe I should give up chickens.

    Psssh. I’m 100 miles from a hospital. Just rub some dirt on it and it’ll be fine. 😉

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  78. Jax says:

    @de stijl: One of my fever dream songs. 😛

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CUct4NZaaso

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  79. Mimai says:

    @Jax: Where I come from, a little tussin fixes everything.

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  80. de stijl says:

    @Jax:

    You can’t rub dirt in to your lungs or red blood cells.

    Well, technically maybe. It would hurt. It wouldn’t help.

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  81. de stijl says:

    @de stijl:

    Pretty sure an extended stay neighbor was a dealer given visitors and timing. Not my issue. Everybody was cool.

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  82. de stijl says:

    @Mimai:

    Rub that ‘tussin in. Spread it around. Fixes you right up.

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  83. Mimai says:

    @de stijl: Sounds like something your extended stay neighbor might say (has said).

    Doesn’t make it less true.

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  84. Jax says:

    @de stijl: You don’t even want to know what happened with a cow Tuesday morning. I apparently took a video. Even the video is slow motion and horrible. We’re in the middle of calving season and there is no rest for the wicked. He called and said “So there’s a cow with feet hanging out, and they’re skeletal feet, so you better figure that shit out because I’m off to a bull sale”. Me being sick and all, I suggested we dart her with the dart gun, lay her down, and carefully pull whatever’s in there out. Because I’m not all up on that roping shit when I can barely stand up.

    It was every bit as awful as “skeletal feet” conjures up.

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  85. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @CSK: Rather than use the term “proper” (I was teaching in a mill town), I used to say “standard formal written English” and explain that it was the form that most thoroughly enables you to say what you want to say without being “misunderstood” either by mishap or design on the part of the reader. But writing papers in the academic style was the major tool that I used–to the gratitude of both the student that I taught and the professors who read their subsequent papers. I also taught business communications and technical writing, where we would cover the topics that make the heart of our friend de stijl sing. Either way, the modes don’t change much regardless of topic or purpose, and I wasn’t in the business of telling people what to write as much as how to reach the audience.

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  86. de stijl says:

    @Jax:

    I was not expecting that at all. Awesome!

    One week I had Peanut Butter Jelly Time running through my head nonstop until I thought I would go insane.

    I had the vivid dreams big time. Enjoy them.

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  87. Kurtz says:

    @Mimai:

    This is a massive problem with the literature (at least the scientific literature that I’m familiar with). For some reason, people have gotten it into their heads that less scrutable writing means…..

    This is interesting, because public intellectualism has grown as an industry. On the surface, this is good. But it’s just like any other industry. Mass producing intelligent discourse doesn’t work, because one can’t take shortcuts. Easier to just sound a certain way.

    This is a blog post about the celebrity status of philosophers in France.

    Searle has been careful to separate Foucault from Derrida, with whom Searle had an unfriendly debate in the 1970s over Speech Act theory. “Foucault was often lumped with Derrida,” Searle says in a 2000 interview with Reason magazine. “That’s very unfair to Foucault. He was a different caliber of thinker altogether.” Elsewhere in the interview, Searle says:

    With Derrida, you can hardly misread him, because he’s so obscure. Every time you say, “He says so and so,” he always says, “You misunderstood me.” But if you try to figure out the correct interpretation, then that’s not so easy. I once said this to Michel Foucault, who was more hostile to Derrida even than I am, and Foucault said that Derrida practiced the method of obscurantisme terroriste (terrorism of obscurantism). We were speaking in French. And I said, “What the hell do you mean by that?” And he said, “He writes so obscurely you can’t tell what he’s saying. That’s the obscurantism part. And then when you criticize him, he can always say, ‘You didn’t understand me; you’re an idiot.’ That’s the terrorism part.” And I like that. So I wrote an article about Derrida. I asked Michel if it was OK if I quoted that passage, and he said yes.

    On the other hand, the right-wing has maximized Wallace’s “pointy-headed intellectual” trope by convincing everyone that the world is simple. That’s the space that Trump has operated in.

    Aside: your contribution here have been great for me, because you ask me what I mean hy things. I strive for clarity, but a lot of what I write here is to expose my thinking to other smart people. Often it’s the act of writing it down that helps me figure out how I think about something.

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  88. Mimai says:

    @Jax: Major respect. I assisted on a couple fetotomies recently. The first was easy peasy – 20 minutes, 2 cuts, done. The second was not – 4+ hours at the end of a long (!) day. It wrecked me and I wasn’t even doing most of the work. I don’t know how you folks do it day in and day out. Like I said, major respect.

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  89. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @JohnMcC: Indeed. One of my professors in my teacher training program was describing her graduate assistanceship at one of the U of Texas outlets where the school policy was that 50% of all Freshman Comp students would receive grades of “F.”

    My professor as Graduate Assistant: But what if all of my students meet all of the course requirements satisfactorily?

    Her Department Chair: Then you’ll have to rank the students numerically to find the 50% who met them least thoroughly.

    I had a similar situation in Korea. The grading curve was 10% A, 15% B, the balance C or below. Then the university discovered that the classes in some majors were skill-ranked (sometime called “tracked”) cohorts–high achieving students in the major took their classes together to keep competition high. The problem was that the tracking meant that some of my best students might not be as good as the average students in the more competitive cohort. The university solved the problem by cutting my curve to 2% A and 7% B and transferring the difference to the more competitive sections. They decided this the week before finals–“I worked really hard to earn my A. Thank you teacher.” “Actually, you’re not even getting a B anymore, my curve was from 5 As and 9Bs to 1 A and 2 Bs. With you as the 5th A, …”

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  90. de stijl says:

    @CSK:

    “Literary” is a catch-all and a cop-out.

    Often the protagonist is a prof at a back-water college. Underappreciated. There is professional angst. Relationship issues. Navel gazing (hey, now!).

    The good ones turn the formula to new places. A la The Secret History by Tartt. But that was a student perspective. Hmm.

    Writing a boring “literary” novel on purpose is absurdly weird careerism that frankly needs a book written about that.

    Not a hard-and-fast rule, but pretty solid late 20th, early 21st rule-of-thumb is that if protagonist is a professor it will suck as a general rule.

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  91. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Mimai: Again, one of the things that I used to have to teach my students was when and how to use jargon–the technical language that all disciplines have to precisely communicate to the people who speak the language of the discipline. The thing that they hated was that when you don’t use jargon, the task of explaining becomes harder, so you either have to be more verbose (wordier, for those who don’t speak “writingese”) or define the jargon–as I just did in the parentheses.

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  92. de stijl says:

    @Jax:
    @Mimai:

    I expect skeletal feet mean a calf that died inside the womb.

    I have attended a few calvings. Some ended so easy and fast it was easy to miss if you weren’t paying attention. Plop. Cow was licking the calf clean before we realized it was done.

    Some with huge bellows to high heaven.

    One where we had to lash ropes on to little dudes extended feet and pull him / her forth because it was breach. I was too young to understand what was going on and just pulled when told to.

    One stillborn.

    Skeletal feet would be heartbreaking. Dead in the womb.

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  93. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @CSK: You just reminded me of a time when I was lamenting that I had been passed over for a soft money (not state funded) full-time job at the school as which I’d been adjuncting. My fellow teacher noted that I represented the “trifecta of evil” for instructors of English at the school–I was “white, male, and heterosexual.” (Which was interesting to me considering that most of the full time faculty in the department was still white and male. Still in all, during the time I was at the school, they hired exactly zero new faculty who weren’t female–even in the adjunct pool, I was the last male they hired while I was there. I have no gaydar, so I can’t comment on orientation of anybody. I have no clue.)

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  94. Jax says:

    @Mimai: It was even worse because it was so tiny. We suspect it was the second twin, she looked like she’d slipped her calf two weeks ago, we saw afterbirth, figured it was done. Then the tiny skeletal hooves came out. By then, Mom had a raging infection. Second twin was backwards, and fell apart when we pulled. We had to fish for it.

    Yeah, in my fever mind, I video’d it. It will never see the light of day. Nobody wants to see that shit.

    You fascinate me a little bit more every time you comment, to be honest. In a good way. 😉

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  95. de stijl says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker:

    I am fine with business communications and technical writing. Encourage it.

    My point is to allow practice at descriptive writing where no POV is criticized which may be a better way to teach basic to intermediate skills. Introduce argumentation after.

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  96. Mimai says:

    @Kurtz: Unfortunately, much of what passes for “public intellectualism” seems to be heavy on the public (performative) and light on the intellect (informational). Somewhat relatedly, there does seem to be a renewed interest among the sciences to bridge this gap.

    In my own sandbox, there’s a major push for participatory science that truly incorporates the input from patients with lived experience (not just as tokens). And there’s a complementary push to disseminate our science outside of the traditional academic outlets, which necessarily involves packaging it in a digestible way (note, this does not mean dumbing it down). These trends predated COVID, but my sense is that COVID has accelerated them. Here’s hoping that they don’t die out.

    That blog post on French philosophers is interesting. The terrorism of obscurantism is a great phrase – hits the nail on the head. Of course, esotericism (ala Strauss) has a place, but that’s different than obscuring out of cowardice and/or in service of some silly game of status.

    Re your aside: I appreciate that. I realize that as a stranger, my question asking style can be off- putting, like I’m playing a game of gotcha or something. I don’t do that (unless my playing partner has agreed to the game). Rather, I ask questions to learn about how other people think, which hopefully sharpens and expands my own thinking. I’ve enjoyed my discussions here so far, so I’ll stick around. And your point about writing very much resonates with me….I write to think just as much as I write to express.

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  97. Mimai says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker:

    when and how to use jargon

    Yes, this is a keen point. I’m glad you made it. The poison is always in the dose. And route of administration. For efficiency – great use. For show – poor use. Judgment and self-awareness required.

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  98. de stijl says:

    @Jax:

    “We had to fish for it.”

    There are people way more accomplished at dealing with some aspects of life than me.

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  99. Mimai says:

    @Jax: Yikes, that’s rough. I’ve seen fetal mummification once. And I kinda wish I could un-see it (though not really). I repeat, major respect to you.

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  100. de stijl says:

    @Mimai:

    You are a decidedly interesting person to be around.

    This will sound smarmy, but I truly mean it: I like your style.

    You probe interestingly.

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  101. Jax says:

    @de stijl: In another life, I’d be selling hair products to these boys….

    Look at how tiny the lead singer is! Little man with a big voice.

    I think I better shut my shit down lest I overdo it. Goodnight, bae. Love you mostest!

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T80B7s7ekGo

    Also, bill, you still suck. Saddle that horse back up and ride on out.

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  102. Mimai says:

    @de stijl: My sense is that you couldn’t manufacture smarmy even if you wanted to. Thanks nonetheless.

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  103. de stijl says:

    @Jax:

    One of my favorite dudes of all time is Har Mar Superstar.

    Best cover of When You Were Mine ever. Better than Prince might be blasphemy. Pretty damned close though. Way less keyboardy.

    He’s a wee man. And from a place I stomped around in for years.

    Maybe he’s a jackass in real life or not, I enjoy this wholeheartedly.

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  104. Jax says:

    @de stijl: I forgot I’m on “every two hour” heifer checks tonight, so yessss, dear, I remember your love for Har Mar Superstar. I actually found a way and put him on my “haying playlist” a couple years ago. Every time it comes up I’m like where in the eff did I find THIS?! Riiiiight. De Stijl. (Heart emoji) 😉

    Now you can put Big Block Sing Song on your Jax playlist. I mean….they kinda got some good shit, if you got kids running around. Definitely keeps the under 5 crowd entertained.

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  105. de stijl says:

    @Jax:

    Probably not your jam, but also from St. Paul is Selby Tigers.

    I lived on Selby Ave. Directly behind W.A. Frost bar. Back then poor whites and blacks and a healthy amount of Hmong and Vietnamese.

    We were maybe 2 1/2 blocks from the richest street in St. Paul – Summit Ave. It was maybe 5 blocks to the James J. Hill mansion.

    That stretch of Selby was cheek by jowl to Summit Ave, overlooked downtown, and 3 blocks to the St. Paul Cathedral.

    Harnessed In Slums by Archers Of Loaf

    I walked thru in 2019 and it so gentrified now. Fairly big bucks to live there.

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  106. Jax says:

    @de stijl: One of my favorites from the early 90’s was Slim Cessna’s Auto Club out of Denver. The first time I saw them live they were in a grungy bar in the industrial side of town. I lived Downtown at the time. They were a good band to watch live, they still do a New Year’s show every year in Denver.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3bQ8hlszTYE

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  107. Jax says:

    @de stijl: Before the early 90’s, I literally had to turn the rabbit ears on my boom box to catch Radio Free Europe. That was pretty “wild” for where I grew up in BFE. 😉

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  108. de stijl says:

    For @Gustopher

    Kokopelli Face Tattoo by fka Andrew Jackson Jihad nka AJJ

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