Re: Harper Valley PTA.com

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Jack Schafer, wherever he writes now, will no doubt describe it as a bogus trend story, but I thought it was interesting as a little slice-of-life type story. I had never heard of Topix, and the existence of a forum that seems to appeal primarily to rural folks is interesting.

His wife, Jennifer, had been the target in a post titled "freak," he said, which described the mother of two as, among other things, "a methed-out, doped-out whore with AIDS." Not a word was true, Mr. and Ms. James said, but the consequences were real enough.

However, this is weak, he-said-she-said journalism. All they got from the Jameses was a denial. The NYT doesn't seriously attempt to answer the question: Is Ms. James a methed-out, doped-out whore with AIDS.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 09-20-11 5:29 AM
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This was the NYT story this morning that I took issue with. In a discussion of a potential Greek default, the story says of economists:

They are beginning to wonder whether the consequences of a default or a more radical debt restructuring, dire as they may be, would be no worse for Greece than the miserable path it is currently on.

"They are beginning to wonder ..."

The NYT needs to read its own Nobel Prize-winning columnist, who has been "wondering" about this for a long time now.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 09-20-11 5:33 AM
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I just checked out the forum for my sleepy little home town, and it's pretty much exactly as advertised: the news of a woman lying unconscious in the hospital after being hit by a car spawned a forum discussion about how she was sleeping with someone else's husband, how she was walking home from the tryst because she was too drunk to drive, etc.


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 09-20-11 5:38 AM
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However, this is weak, he-said-she-said journalism. All they got from the Jameses was a denial. The NYT doesn't seriously attempt to answer the question: Is Ms. James a methed-out, doped-out whore with AIDS.

Well, yes. Because it's not an actual newspaper, it's the New York Times.

"Unsourced internet rumour says Ms. James is a methed-out, doped-out whore with AIDS. She denies it. The truth is probably somewhere in between."


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 09-20-11 5:39 AM
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What would qualify as "an actual newspaper"? Just the Guardian?


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 09-20-11 5:40 AM
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The whole thing reminded me of a line in Jeff Foxworthy's "You might be a redneck if..." routine: "If you've ever had to haul a can of paint up a water tower to defend your sister's honor..."


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 09-20-11 5:41 AM
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Heh. It's by that A.G. Sulzberger guy, who is apparently taking a few years to familiarize himself with the heartland (in the guise of a slightly thick anthropologist from Planet Park Avenue) before ascending the masthead.


Posted by: Bave | Link to this comment | 09-20-11 5:42 AM
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But I think we can all agree that people who spend their time gossiping anonymously in Internet fora are losers.

Definitely.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 09-20-11 5:43 AM
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Apropos of an earlier discussion, google shows 164,000 hits for "bless his heart" on the domain topix.com.


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 09-20-11 5:43 AM
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My local "Topix" contains better discussions than I expected after seeing that every comment is by some anonymous person. "Who do you support for Governor?" and "Who do you support for Senator?" have the biggest discussions by a factor of ten, and those are obviously a cesspool, as are all the ones that involve immigrants in any way. Surprisingly little racism in the discussions about shootings at inner-city bars or police brutality or domestic violence. And a surprising number of people who seem to know what they're talking about, if only to say "This business owner is a good man, he's been doing this for fifteen years, he doesn't deserve this" or whatever.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 09-20-11 5:48 AM
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Huh. I am in rurual OH currently, and I see various discussions of "when is fun time?" at various highway rest stops. Servicey!


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 09-20-11 5:53 AM
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11 con't.: And then someone wishes them death. Charmed, I'm sure.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 09-20-11 5:54 AM
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Can I claim this as support for my "gossip" view of the church sign?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-20-11 5:56 AM
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Looking at the little Southern town I lived in for a couple of years, I see that there's been a murder. One commenter notes that the victim shot the murderer two months previously, but the widow jumps in on behalf of her husband, saying the prior shooting was self-defense.

While the murderer was in the hospital having surgery on his hand he told people he was going to sit on his front porch and wait for my husband to come riding by and he was going to shoot and kill him. That is exactly what he did. My husband was not armed and did not have a chance. I just wish people would make sure they know the details before they run their mouth.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 09-20-11 5:56 AM
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What would qualify as "an actual newspaper"? Just the Guardian?

No. So would the Telegraph, Le Monde, FAZ, The Times of India, to name a few at random. So would any American paper which doesn't subscribe to the silly ideology of "balance" which has largely destroyed the credibility of the noble tradition of news reporting in that country (and which isn't owned by Murdoch).


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 09-20-11 5:58 AM
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It's going to be awesome when the hippies at last pull down the NYT, leaving a media landscape lit only by Rupert Murdoch's glower.


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 09-20-11 6:07 AM
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Looking in my town's forum, the first thing I read was about dispute between the sheriff and the county attorney. There were four comments, in one a police chief was called a dirty cop and another said that the county attorney was a drug user. However, the thread was four years old and still on the front page, so I'm going to figure the town is doing well.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-20-11 6:08 AM
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My first thought about this was to wonder how much of the gossip is being generated by people genuinely in the community with whatever grudges or axes to grind, and how much is from total trolls who just see a name and make things up purely for the pleasure of shitting in the punchbowl.


Posted by: Nathan Williams | Link to this comment | 09-20-11 6:10 AM
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18: That's just crazy talk. This is the Internet.


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 09-20-11 6:13 AM
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I watched MacGruber and learned that shitting in the tank of a toilet is called an upper decker. Apparently, I can't not remember certain types of information.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-20-11 6:14 AM
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A generation ago, even after technology had advanced, many rural residents clung to the party line telephone systems that allowed neighbors to listen in on one another's conversations.

The hell? People had party lines because that's what the telephone company offered in their area. No one was up in arms when they finally went to all private lines (around 1990 in my area), so long as it wasn't going to cost more.


Posted by: Blume | Link to this comment | 09-20-11 6:16 AM
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21: The switch was before my time in my area, but everybody was still telling jokes about how old so-and-so wasn't the same now that she couldn't listen anymore.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-20-11 6:21 AM
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I'm now reading what my community has to say about "obesity children." Woohoo!


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 09-20-11 6:22 AM
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I'm going to assume "obesity children" are like dogs to assist the blind, except they get stuff for people who are too large to move from the chair.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-20-11 6:23 AM
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Wow, the boards from the town where I went to HS are awesome.

So you don't care what they stand for? I guess you would have voted for Hitler if he had been a Democrat??

Posted by: Blume | Link to this comment | 09-20-11 6:30 AM
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Also, about half of the contributors are definitely not voting for Obama in the Missouri Senate race.


Posted by: Blume | Link to this comment | 09-20-11 6:31 AM
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He only needs a plurality, so he might be O.K.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-20-11 6:33 AM
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I watched MacGruber and learned that shitting in the tank of a toilet is called an upper decker.

I learned this from watching The Ultimate Fighter. I also learned that some guys get really, really angry about upper deckers.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 09-20-11 6:39 AM
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My old hometown must not be sufficiently rural; there's no actual discussion there, just the auto-selected news stories from the surrounding area.


Posted by: Nathan Williams | Link to this comment | 09-20-11 6:40 AM
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If Obama is elected to the Missouri Senate, will he have to quit his other job?


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 09-20-11 6:42 AM
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He's running to represent Missouri in the U.S. Senate, not the Missouri Senate. Anybody can get into a state legislature.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-20-11 6:47 AM
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30,31: can't be in leg and exec branches simultaneously. He'd have to quit one. At this juncture I bet he'd be hiring a moving van and saying "goodbye to all that."


Posted by: Annelid Gustator | Link to this comment | 09-20-11 6:52 AM
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He's just pardon himself for being in the leglislative branch, like Hayes did.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-20-11 6:57 AM
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http://missoulian.com/news/state-and-regional/article_0d0e83fc-e33a-11e0-9b71-001cc4c03286.html

Hell of a story.

I suppose we can check Topix later today and see what the young heroine does on her off time.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 09-20-11 6:59 AM
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It's going to be awesome when the hippies at last pull down the NYT, leaving a media landscape lit only by Rupert Murdoch's glower.

I think the plan is to pull down Rupert Murdoch as well. Or indeed first.
Also, I understand that the US has a few newspapers that aren't owned by Murdoch and aren't the NYT either.

I would be embarrassed to work for the NYT. I think I'd rather write for Maxim. At least that's honest.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 09-20-11 7:04 AM
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No one was up in arms when they finally went to all private lines (around 1990 in my area), so long as it wasn't going to cost more

From what my mother says, my grandmother was generally disappointed when the switch occurred.


Posted by: CJB | Link to this comment | 09-20-11 7:05 AM
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34: That is a great story.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-20-11 7:08 AM
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Also, I understand that the US has a few newspapers that aren't owned by Murdoch and aren't the NYT either.

This may be true, but all of them would fall short of your definition of "newspaper" as well. The he-said, she-said treatment of political issues is as much a truism here as the idea that racism is bad. We have magazines if we want to read something interesting.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 09-20-11 7:09 AM
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34 is amazing. Tragically it does not mention exactly what Ms Bolster was screaming at the bear as she charged, but I like to think it was "FILL YOUR PAW YOU SONOFABITCH!"


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 09-20-11 7:11 AM
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Tragically it does not mention exactly what Ms Bolster was screaming at the bear as she charged...

"Obama would be the best Senator Missouri ever had!"


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-20-11 7:15 AM
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What would YOU scream as you charged a bear, Moby?


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 09-20-11 7:17 AM
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"I WILL NOT PAY A LOT FOR THIS MUFFLER!"


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 09-20-11 7:18 AM
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Man. You have to wonder if the horse has a rich, full fantasy life in which it gets to ride in battle with one of those cool lobster-tail neck-and-nose guards. (Maybe only I have to wonder that, but the horse was as remarkable as the rider.)


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-20-11 7:27 AM
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MY PLUS THREE STEED HAS A BLUE STEEL CHAMFRON WITH MYSTIC INSCRIPTIONS


Posted by: OPINIONATED HORSE NERD | Link to this comment | 09-20-11 7:29 AM
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what the young heroine does on her off time.

Whatever she wants.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 09-20-11 7:30 AM
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41: "I'm doing this ironically. Please don't eat me."


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-20-11 7:33 AM
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That had to be awfully stressful for the bear. "Almost there! Almost there! Wait, what the hell? Aaaaah!"


Posted by: Beefo Meaty | Link to this comment | 09-20-11 7:34 AM
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You have to wonder if the horse has a rich, full fantasy life in which it gets to ride in battle with one of those cool lobster-tail neck-and-nose guards.

There's gold in that thar Misty of Chincoteague fan fiction, I tells ya.

There's a series of mystery novels set in Gilded Age Manhattan, in one of which the protagonist incites a squareful of hansom cab drays, retired fire-fighting horses all, to rush into traffic and obstruct his pursuers by screaming "Fire! Fire! Help! Save my little babies!"


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 09-20-11 7:37 AM
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What would YOU scream as you charged a bear, Moby?

"Paper or plastic, bitch?"


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 09-20-11 7:38 AM
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Do stores even offer plastic anymore?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-20-11 7:58 AM
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50: Now swerving fully off topic, I noticed this summer in Quebec that one had to basically plead for a plastic bag, only to be met with a withering stare and a 75 cent charge. Frankly I approve of this although I sure that Americans would fall down in the withering stare department. Most helpful were the parking lot signs asking if you've oublié'd your eco-sacs -- because 98% of the time I have in fact oublié'd my eco-sacs in the car.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 09-20-11 8:05 AM
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We have a metric fuckton of reusable grocery bags and I never have one with me when I get to the grocery store.

You do get plastic bags at the local grocery chain, but Whole Foods will only give you paper. Which isn't bad because the paper bags are what you need to put out paper and cardboard for recycling.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-20-11 8:08 AM
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My eco-sac is an oubliette.


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 09-20-11 8:10 AM
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All the cool shoppers have insulated reusable grocery bags and Prii hybrids and shopping lists that involve crap from the bulk bins.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-20-11 8:13 AM
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"Gee, I'd love to get my cereal from the picked over leavings of half the town instead of this nice, clean box of cereal which includes a toy car."


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-20-11 8:15 AM
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54: I feel that kombucha must enter into it somewhere.


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 09-20-11 8:15 AM
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56: Usually through the mouth, I think.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 09-20-11 8:16 AM
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43: (Maybe only I have to wonder that, but the horse was as remarkable as the rider.)

That's an awesome looking horse. Also, awesome looking woman.

Thanks for linking this - I discovered that a small town where an old friend of mine lives features a forum with a long-lived topic about some kind that killed some other kid in ostensible self-defense - he shot him three times in the back of the head and walked. Huh. Lots of people not from around there arguing about gun rights. Whee!

Anyways, the upshot of Topix seems to be that people can speak anonymously and the usual shit is happening. Why anybody thinks this is different from the rest of the internet, ever, is beyond me. On the one hand, there's a lot of assholes out there, kid, and on the other, the internet breaks down social controls. And it turns out that mostly people want to bitch. Shock, horror.

Speaking of horses, here's a picture and story about a brand new baby Onager, making for 26 of them now in the US. There are only about 600 left in Persia. Thank you, Topix.

max
['NYT pearl-clutcher says, bad on hyperlocal news sites, because they are not urbane. Audience snoozes.']


Posted by: max | Link to this comment | 09-20-11 8:16 AM
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New Yorkers live for giving you plastic bags. You can't buy a bottle of Coke without getting a straw and three napkins in a plastic bag. You have to be really quick to say no, even if it's a small purchase and you're carrying a bag that would obviously fit the purchase. It was one of the bigger culture shocks about moving here from Berkeley.


Posted by: Unfoggetarian: "Pause endlessly, then go in" (9) | Link to this comment | 09-20-11 8:27 AM
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Onagers look similar to donkeys, although zoologists classify them officially as part of the horse family.

Donkeys: also classified officially by zoologists as part of the horse family. Lead on, son, I is a-flyin' blind.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 09-20-11 8:30 AM
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My eco-sacs are unforgettable.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 09-20-11 8:39 AM
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59: Pretty much that way here in NC too.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 09-20-11 8:39 AM
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60: Onagers taste like chicken, but zoologists don't classify based on that.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-20-11 8:40 AM
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Not only are donkeys and onagers both in the horse family, all three animals are in the genus Equus.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 09-20-11 8:48 AM
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If an onager has sex with a horse, the resulting offspring is called an onule.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-20-11 8:53 AM
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51: The five-cent bag tax out here is already changing behavior plenty.


Posted by: Benquo | Link to this comment | 09-20-11 9:06 AM
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What if an onager has sex with a dowager?


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 09-20-11 9:09 AM
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Everyone will see the video and mock the dowager in the forums.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-20-11 9:10 AM
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67: The offspring ends up flinging its inheritance away.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 09-20-11 9:17 AM
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67: A new-ager.


Posted by: Mr. Blandings | Link to this comment | 09-20-11 9:22 AM
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You can't buy a bottle of Coke without getting a straw and three napkins in a plastic bag.

My theory is that the storeowners are trying to encourage solidarity with the guys drinking beer on the down-low. Not sure how the napkins come into that theory, though.


Posted by: Jackmormon | Link to this comment | 09-20-11 9:27 AM
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Not sure how the napkins come into that
Usually, it's the other way around.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 09-20-11 9:30 AM
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70: Mr. Blandings has won-ager.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 09-20-11 10:07 AM
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||

My one-a-day

Everybody is talking about the Suskind book, and quoting a passage about the stimulus, but only Mark Thoma has the balls to include the larger context.

"The room went painfully quiet, as a mortified Romer sat quietly. Obama so rarely raised his voice. "He really came down on me," she later recalled....It would be weeks before she spoke again at a presidential briefing,

...now Summers stepped up, offering, almost word for word, the position Romer had voiced previously. This time Obama listened respectfully.

I told you what kind of sexist that son-of-a-bitch was when he assaulted Clinton on the airport tarmac, and y'all were outraged and laughed. You didn't want to hear it then, and you don't want to hear it now.

And I wouldn't care about the sexism so much except that certain macho attitudes bleed into economic ideology. "Tough it out" kinda stuff. Keynes was gay. Schumpeter chased anything in a skirt.

|>


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 09-20-11 10:15 AM
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I guess it's DeLong in 74


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 09-20-11 10:16 AM
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bob, why, precisely, did you elide "a few weeks later" and the fact that Obama still disagreed with the position?


Posted by: Hamilton-Lovecraft | Link to this comment | 09-20-11 10:25 AM
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74: "Schumpeter claimed that he had set himself three goals in life: to be the greatest economist in the world, to be the best horseman in all of Austria and the greatest lover in all of Vienna. He said he had reached two of his goals, but he never said which two.[4][5] Although, he is reported to have said that there were too many fine horsemen in Austria for him to succeed in all his aspirations!"

From Wikipedia.


Posted by: x.trapnel | Link to this comment | 09-20-11 10:40 AM
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I took a look at this Topix thing. It auto-recognized my location as the small town in Oregon where I've been stranded for the last few days after my engine exploded. Topix doesn't seem to be heavily used here; there were only a few posts, and none of them seemed to be active discussions.

As for the NYT article, in addition to doing the usual conflation of "rural" and "small-town" it didn't really address the possibility that some of the dynamics it was identifying are due to regional rather than rural-urban differences, although it kind of alluded to the possibility with that stuff about the Hatfields and McCoys.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 09-20-11 10:53 AM
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When I poked around there seemed to be lots of variation. Rhymeswithmaria's hometown (small town, relatively isolated) fit the article (someone died and the person's mother and friends were arguing about whether he would have wanted a public funeral). While small towns in my (more densely populated) home county didn't seem to have much gossip, and the small town I used to live in, in a less densely populated part of southern PA didn't seem to have anything scandalous.


Posted by: Unfoggetarian: "Pause endlessly, then go in" (9) | Link to this comment | 09-20-11 10:57 AM
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The regional pattern that struck me was that all of the examples in the article seem to be from the South (broadly construed). Discussion in this thread seems to largely echo that pattern, with many of the Southern towns people have checked out fitting the NYT characterization while towns in other parts of the country generally don't.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 09-20-11 11:28 AM
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Teo, is this a $ blowup or a $$$$ blowup? Will it upset your timeline to get to Palinia?


Posted by: md 20/400 | Link to this comment | 09-20-11 11:31 AM
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I'd rank it a $$$ blowup. It will delay me by a week, since I have to catch the ferry this week rather than last week. The main issue has just been that it has taken a while to get the replacement engine shipped here, but it's here now and they're almost done putting it in. Hopefully I'll be on my way this afternoon.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 09-20-11 11:34 AM
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when he assaulted Clinton on the airport tarmac, and y'all were outraged and laughed

I wasn't outraged, but I'll still laugh at the notion that placing a hand on somebody's arm during a conversation constitutes assault.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 09-20-11 11:37 AM
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Good luck getting moved. I suppose there are worse places to be stuck than Oregon.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-20-11 11:37 AM
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Yeah, as places to break down go, this isn't such a bad one.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 09-20-11 11:40 AM
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If you click through on 74 to the full page on Delong's site, the full thing is more disturbing than Bob's clip. And not because of sexism either.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 09-20-11 12:01 PM
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The first thing on the page is certainly interesting.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 09-20-11 12:04 PM
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86 Yep.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 09-20-11 12:09 PM
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I looked up the New England town where I grew up in Topix and there was an article about a guy named Santisteban who was accused to stabbing another man in the parking lot of a strip club. The comments were about how fast they could deport the guy because clearly he's not a US citizen and even if he has a visa it should be revoked. Charming.


Posted by: LizSpigot | Link to this comment | 09-20-11 12:09 PM
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Although the axis on the left runs from 58 to 65.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 09-20-11 12:14 PM
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What exactly is that graph describing? Something other than just the employment rate?


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 09-20-11 12:15 PM
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It's going to be awesome when the hippies at last pull down the NYT, leaving a media landscape lit only by Rupert Murdoch's glower.

After I responded to a local news provider's survey with a small novella diagramming the ways in which their site is failing to a) report news in b) a readable format that c) reflects in any way the online medium, I got invited to a focus group.

I'm now trying to decide how blunt I can be.


Posted by: ttiW | Link to this comment | 09-20-11 3:02 PM
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91: Percentage of the civilian population that's employed. So, not the unemployment rate which doesn't account for anyone who's given up looking for work -- I think it's straightforwardly the number of people in the US with jobs (not in the military) divided by the number of people (not in the military) in the US, babies, old people and all.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-20-11 3:05 PM
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A small novella is like a short story, right?


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 09-20-11 3:06 PM
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WMYBSALB?


Posted by: ttiW | Link to this comment | 09-20-11 3:08 PM
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93: is there a good reason to exclude people in the military? They've got jobs.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 09-20-11 3:39 PM
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93. I just looked at BLS and they say it is 16yo and over. So no youngsters.


Posted by: md 20/400 | Link to this comment | 09-20-11 3:42 PM
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92: The last focus group I was in was for a bank that my employer did business with. I sat there listening to all these small business owners complaining about how heartless and cruel the bank had been with their loan applications, and when it was my turn, all I had to say was "Gosh, the tellers are sure friendly!" I felt like a bad anarchist.


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 09-20-11 3:43 PM
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I'm in the BLS survey. They call me every month to inquire. Amber cut out early today to make some cookies for her kids -- it's kind of frightening to think that this small drop in hours might end up getting magnified, through the magic of statistics, into some kind of slow-down.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 09-20-11 3:51 PM
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96: I dunno, I was working off the graph title (rather than actually doing any research which would have told me about the over-16 bit.)


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-20-11 3:52 PM
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99: I dunno, the few BLS people I've ever had contact with came off as exceptionally smart and cautious. I don't know beans about statistics, but I'd trust theirs over a lot of other people's.

I just like the fact that you can, like, pick up the phone and call the Census Bureau. And they answer! And they tell you stuff! In a friendly way!

It is a source of endless wonder and amazement to me. Maybe in my next life I'll be a demographer.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 09-20-11 4:12 PM
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Well, thank god for the days where gossip wasn't a big issue in rural American life.

Um.


Posted by: Timothy Burke | Link to this comment | 09-20-11 5:09 PM
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It used to be much more difficult to get good gossip.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-20-11 5:12 PM
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104

|?

Ezra Klein on the Romer vs Obama economic argument

You know, I don't think I have read anybody yet today who gets it. Yggles, DeLong seem to be talking supply-side, that increased productivity should increase profits, investment & expansion and therefore new jobs. These people keep talking about finding new areas for business growth.

The best example is 1945-1965, when productivity skyrocketed. DeLong was talking around 2002-2003 about why the productivity hasn't gone to wages, and that is the fucking key. The increased productivity goes to wages, and that increases aggregate demand, and the business community discovers or creates consumption goods. Consumption based on wide distribution of the gains from productivity drives growth.

Guillotines. Now.

|>


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 09-20-11 5:53 PM
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Nobody predicted or centrally planned hula-hoops and tv dinners.

It is real simple: tax the fuck out of everybody, give it back in guaranteed services, infrastructure (National Endowment for Arts is infra), or secure government jobs, and the people will find a way to spend.

At around a government share 40-60% of GDP for a while, I think. We are current around 30%. Not full socialism.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 09-20-11 5:58 PM
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106

101.1 does not strike me as a terribly good way to evaluate statistics. For, as it turns out, basically statistical reasons.


Posted by: Beefo Meaty | Link to this comment | 09-20-11 6:04 PM
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107

106: but how did you evaluate those statistical reasons?


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 09-20-11 6:10 PM
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I'm now trying to decide how blunt I can be.

What would be the reasons for not being blunt?


Posted by: Blume | Link to this comment | 09-20-11 6:17 PM
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Bob, if you can manage to drag yourself away from the doom and gloom for just a minute,* I have some potentially heartening news. A couple of dogged researchers have managed to talk a handful of employers into trying something surprisingly humane:

In late summer, with the back-to-school shopping season in full swing, a small group of clothing retailers in Chicago will challenge convention by offering their low-wage, mostly part-time workers a list of perks normally reserved for management: flexible hours, time off when needed, and a locked-in schedule of shifts that allows workers to plan a full month, rather than a few days, in advance.
If researchers overseeing the experiment are correct, higher worker satisfaction at those stores will boost employee morale, retention rates and productivity, pushing labor costs down and revenues up. Meanwhile, those workers will report reduced stress, better physical and mental heath, and stronger relationships with family and friends.

*If you must persist, I will agree that comments I heard recently from a major labor economist confirmed the general outlines of this McKinsey [!] report. Ain't going to be no big jobs boom in the US any time soon.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 09-20-11 6:20 PM
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108: Well, I don't know if the people running the focus group have any control over the variables that make the site so dreadful to use. There's no sense giving them frank feedback if they can't change anything -- it will just make them feel bad, or even defensive.

If they're stuck with the template, it's just not productive or helpful of me to tell them how backwards it is, so I'd do better to give them some less-pointed but still honest feedback about marginal improvements they could make in the selection of topics, recruitment of columnists, use of links, etc.

I suspect that a lot of the mess comes from the fact that it was a foundation-funded project and the people implementing it are writers and editors without a nuts and bolts understanding of the web. I myself know just barely enough tech-speak to be dangerous, but I know enough about what *kind* of ignorant I am to know where to turn for help.

(Btw, it's okay with me if you guys are figuring out what this place is, but since this city is such a small town I'd rather not name or link the site in this thread)


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 09-20-11 6:26 PM
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I myself know just barely enough tech-speak to be dangerous

You do?!? Do tell. I certainly know a shitload about the web, but nothing that I would have ever imagined could make me dangerous.


Posted by: Beefo Meaty | Link to this comment | 09-20-11 6:41 PM
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I will cut you, motherfucker: my contextual menu elements are neatly hierarchical!


Posted by: Beefo Meaty | Link to this comment | 09-20-11 6:42 PM
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113

I'm sorry, Sifu, but the ninja librarian code is very strict. I couldn't possibly break it.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 09-20-11 6:49 PM
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114

110: Is that something you could ask in the session? "Would it be more productive if I gave you feedback about x or about y?"


Posted by: Blume | Link to this comment | 09-20-11 7:07 PM
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114: Yes, I'm hoping so. In general I'd really *like* to see them succeed, so I'd rather tailor my feedback to topics that they can actually use.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 09-20-11 7:13 PM
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Are there any movies about ninja librarians? If not, why not?


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 09-20-11 7:21 PM
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117

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rYDb4fzowB8


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 09-20-11 7:57 PM
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118

||

Car fixed, made it as far as Kennewick. Woo!

|>


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 09-20-11 11:14 PM
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119

Are you going to try to see the man?


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 09-20-11 11:25 PM
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120

I don't think that's possible anymore (if it ever was). It is of course the main thing I associate with the place.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 09-20-11 11:43 PM
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Yeah, I vaguely remember hearing that they re-buried the body. Or at least put it off-limits.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 09-20-11 11:52 PM
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Putting it off-limits from scientific study was what the main controversy was about, but I think they did eventually rebury it.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 09-20-11 11:56 PM
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Wow, LB was right. Witt really is a ninja librarian.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 09-21-11 12:11 AM
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122: I remember the tribe lost in court and there were studies done on the skeleton. I think they're still at UW.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 09-21-11 12:48 AM
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There were studies done eventually, yeah. I'm not sure what happened to the bones after them, though. I haven't really read up on it because it's the kind of controversy that drives me crazy, but I did just download some articles on it that I'll probably read at some point. I think I'll take some pictures of Kennewick tomorrow morning to use as illustrations if I ever do a post on it.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 09-21-11 12:54 AM
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Wikipedia has a surprisingly good summary that says they are indeed still at the Burke Museum at UW, although they're technically owned by the Corps.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 09-21-11 1:04 AM
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I'm pretty solidly on the "let's study them bones" side. Any modern group trying to claim a 9k year old skeleton is ridiculous.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 09-21-11 1:17 AM
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Huh. That's clearly one of my vaguer vague memories. I had sort of followed the story in the late 90s or early 2000s and then didn't check back, but I had never realized the bones were at UW that whole time.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 09-21-11 1:53 AM
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126: I don't know what the big mystery is. Look at the reconstructed face. You can clearly see that Kennewick Man is the remains of Jean Luc Piccard, who must have time-traveled to the past and died in the course of saving the universe.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 09-21-11 6:00 AM
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yeah, it's picard, obvs. like when data lost his head but then he retrieved it like 500 years later because time travel? yeah. that was cool.


Posted by: alameida | Link to this comment | 09-21-11 6:30 AM
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I'm pretty solidly on the "let's study them bones" side. Any modern group trying to claim a 9k year old skeleton is ridiculous.

Me too.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 09-21-11 8:21 AM
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131: I'd feel differently if there were a continuous archeological record connecting the bones with some modern group -- 9K years makes this implausible, and it seems to be not true for Kennewick Man, but it's not impossible.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-21-11 8:25 AM
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Knowing what happened in the late 19th c to the bones of recently deceased Natives on the plains, I'm inclined to cut a lot of slack.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 09-21-11 8:28 AM
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Sure, which is what makes both sides very sympathetic.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 09-21-11 8:35 AM
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In 131, I should really just agree with the first sentence.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 09-21-11 8:36 AM
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Out of respect, I'm not going to make a joke about "studying bones."


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-21-11 8:48 AM
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Out of respect

There's a first time for everything.


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 09-21-11 9:06 AM
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132. You can do a surprising amount with genetics in fact (This guy is about the same age as Kennewick and they matched his mtDNA to the modern people in the area).


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 09-21-11 12:16 PM
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re: 138

Yeah. The few DNA studies I've seen reported over that time scale for Europe often find surprisingly deep historical roots for populations in particular areas.

Which takes us back to Ken MacLeod's tongue in cheek:


This is Europe. We took it from nobody; we won it from the bare soil that the ice left. The bones of our ancestors, and the stones of their works, are everywhere. Our liberties were won in wars and revolutions so terrible that we do not fear our governors: they fear us. Our children giggle and eat ice-cream in the palaces of past rulers. We snap our fingers at kings. We laugh at popes.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 09-21-11 12:46 PM
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I thought the Germans took away the ice cream with all the other austerity measures.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 09-21-11 12:50 PM
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I believe the exact phrase the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act uses is "cultural items" and this does cover remains. It's certainly not impossible that a modern tribe would have a genetic link to something as old as Kennewick but I think it's really stretching to claim he'd be culturally recognizable as an Umatilla or Nez Perce.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 09-21-11 1:00 PM
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||

Peter Fir/chow's translations of Schlegel are not very reliable. Two examples from "On Goethe's Meister":

1. "gebildete Willkür" as "cultivated randomness", making it impossible to tell that the same thing (Willkür) is under discussion here as in many of the fragments (e.g., somewhat importantly, "[Romantische Poesie] allein ist unendlich, wie sie allein frei ist, und das als ihr erstes Gesetz anerkennt, daß die Willkür des Dichters kein Gesetz über sich leide.")

2. German: Der angeborne Trieb des durchaus organisierten und organisierenden Werks, sich zu einem Ganzen zu bilden, äußert sich in den größeren wie in den kleineren Massen.

English: Both the larger and the smaller masses reveal the innate impulse of this work, so organized and organizing down to its finest detail to form a whole.

Somehow the subject of the sentence has become the object, and the object of a preposition has become the subject of the sentence, and the main verb has been mistranslated, and at the very least there should be a comma after "detail" to indicated that the innate drive (impulse?) of the work is a drive to form itself (the "itself" has gone away, note) into a whole.

|>


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 09-21-11 1:10 PM
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There is significant commercial work for anthropologists and archaeologists in connecting ancient burial sites (not of the 9,000 year old kind, but still old) with existing Indian tribes.

The reason is that tribes can use the evidence of the past extent of their tribal territory for purposes of establishing "land into trust," that is new land available to the tribe through purchase that can be treated as Indian land following purchase. The reason why tribes want to take "land into trust," of course, is to establish casinos near population centers.

I once had the pleasure of reading hilariously conflicting (and obviously 100% bought and paid for) expert archaeologists' declarations concerning a burial site. Oh yeah, the burial was conveniently located next to the main freeway between LA and Las Vegas.

The whole world of Indian gaming is ludicrously corrupt.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 09-21-11 1:15 PM
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Reindeer gaming is worse. They fix matches by using discrimination to keep out the best athletes.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-21-11 1:18 PM
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I fully believe that the whole world of Indian gaming is ludicrously corrupt, but every time I go to an Indian casino, it strikes me that I have rarely seen anything so just.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 09-21-11 1:19 PM
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We took it from nobody; we won it from the bare soil that the ice left.

Racist!


Posted by: Opinionated Neanderthal | Link to this comment | 09-21-11 1:21 PM
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143: The reason why tribes want to take "land into trust," of course, is to establish casinos near population centers.

Or, you know, to recover the land that was stolen from them, some of it fairly recently.

White Earth Land Recovery Project
http://www.welrp.org/


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 09-21-11 1:22 PM
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Honestly, it's really mostly about the casinos. Which may or may not be rough justice in some sense, but man oh man are they corrupt.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 09-21-11 1:23 PM
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to recover the land that was stolen from them and put casinos on it.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 09-21-11 1:24 PM
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I was in New Mexico recently. Twice, next to the large-ish casinos by the highway, there were very new large buildings signed as medical centers and schools. It looks like some of the money is getting spent with civic intentions, that puts a lower bound on corruption.

Is casino administration more or less corrupt than the BIA? How about state lotteries?


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 09-21-11 1:24 PM
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Do certain tribes have deep beliefs about paying 3:2 on blackjack? Because 6:5 is an abomination.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-21-11 1:25 PM
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every time I go to an Indian casino, it strikes me that I have rarely seen anything so just

It's fair that they are profiting from our vices because we slaughtered their ancestors and stole their land?


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 09-21-11 1:27 PM
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They stole the land from Jean Luc Piccard and he stole from all of us by somehow sucking worse than Shatner. It all works out in the end.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-21-11 1:33 PM
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What do you mean "our vices," law-man?


Posted by: Annelid Gustator | Link to this comment | 09-21-11 1:34 PM
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148: Mostly in terms of number of cases, probably. But have you seen the maps of reservations? It's as bad as the West Bank -- little patchwork acreages with big swaths of white-owned land in between them. I think there is a very legitimate desire on the part of many Native people (based on what I have heard and read) to see land recovered for general tribal use. Of course, those are the Native people who are writing and speaking in ways that leftists like me can hear them. The ones with the money to hire lawyers are mostly not saying that kind of thing, or if saying it, not meaning it.

If the Alien Space Bats caused every casino to evaporate tomorrow, many tribal governments would still be impossibly corrupt, based on the legacy of theft, fraud, torture, murder and genocide that they've had to deal with.

Too, it has to be said that there are plenty of Native people who aren't really into traditional practices or land recovery or casinos, and are just trying to scrape by like everybody else. They can certainly tell you about the funny habit that river of casino money has of drying up before it can reach struggling Native communities.


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 09-21-11 1:38 PM
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150 -- Boss Tweed built nice courthouses.

Anyhow, I'm kind of agnostic on the overall question of whether Indian gaming is a good idea or not, but this is not a world that the more squeamish want to look at too closely. Very poor people+shady gangster casino operators with large amounts of cash+the corrupt/incompetent BIA+things going on way out of the range of media+tribe vs. tribe vs. Vegas disputes=lots of juiciness and work for lawyers.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 09-21-11 1:40 PM
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They can certainly tell you about the funny habit that river of casino money has of drying up before it can reach struggling Native communities.

And this, absolutely.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 09-21-11 1:41 PM
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156: See for instance, Jack Abramoff, Ralph Reed and Grover Norquist. It hardly gets noticed if you are a Republican exhibit #2174: Abramhoff was on the Bush transition team for the Interior Dept.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 09-21-11 2:03 PM
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It hardly gets noticed because they don't wear lycra.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-21-11 2:16 PM
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They prefer the fabric of lie-cra.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 09-21-11 4:03 PM
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Twice, next to the large-ish casinos by the highway, there were very new large buildings signed as medical centers and schools. It looks like some of the money is getting spent with civic intentions, that puts a lower bound on corruption.

Yeah, some of the Pueblos that have done pretty well with their casinos have reinvested a lot of the money in the community in very conspicuous ways. Others have reinvested it in bigger and fancier casinos. Some have done both.

In general, there's a huge amount of variation from tribe to tribe in how this casino stuff works out and to what extent it benefits ordinary tribal members. Some tribes get totally ripped off by the casino management companies they hire to run the things, while others manage to negotiate more shrewdly and hang on to a lot of the money. The extent of corruption in tribal governments also varies a lot.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 09-21-11 10:50 PM
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And as for Kennewick Man, IIRC (and I really should look into this more carefully but haven't yet) the irony of the whole thing was that once they were finally able to do the studies they didn't end up learning very much, so in scientific terms it was all basically a bust.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 09-21-11 10:52 PM
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Also, as I'm sure some of you recall from the last time we discussed this sort of thing, I'm generally more sympathetic to the tribes in these disputes. I think the knowledge that can be gained from archaeological research is enormously important, but there are other things that are also important, and sometimes those take precedence.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 09-21-11 11:09 PM
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142: that translation is hideously awful. Ain't nothing random about Willkür. (It literally means "selection or appointment by whim", practically translates as "arbitrariness", and has strong overtones of tyranny and/or deliberate caprice.)


Posted by: Alex | Link to this comment | 09-22-11 1:36 AM
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