Re: Milestones Big And Small

1

It's easier to believe when you factor in that "some places" = Mississippi backwater. What I find hard to believe is that a town with a total area of 1.4 square miles and ~2200 people in it has enough high school students to field two separate proms.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 01-19-09 2:15 PM
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Where is the polling and prediction market for 44's first ten executive orders ?

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Or is this an on-topic next ten milestones ?


Posted by: Econolicious | Link to this comment | 01-19-09 3:08 PM
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From the link:

Saltzman and his wife, producer Patricia Aquino, spent about four months filming in Charleston during the buildup to the prom, interviewing students, sitting in on planning meetings and chatting up the handful of parents willing to talk.
Many adults refused to be interviewed, and the filmmakers soon learned that amid preparations for the integrated prom, a separate, white-only prom had been organized.

Here's what mystifies me. What on earth is the motivation here? Is it just "we won't be pushed around by outsiders" reactionary racism? Is it a sense of grievance? (Over what?) Is it a not-at-all-subtle message to the non-white people in town that they'll never be able to break in to the in-group?

I have no sense of the dynamics of these kinds of towns, so I'm fully prepared to believe that there's all sorts of stuff going on that an AP story can't explain, but I really wonder.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 01-19-09 3:15 PM
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Some topics are evergreen here, it seems.


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 01-19-09 3:19 PM
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But the integrated prom didn't integrate in those losers lacking hi-skool girlfriends/boyfriends.


Posted by: W. Kiernan | Link to this comment | 01-19-09 3:23 PM
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I really wonder

Behold, conjecture: I would expect that some - not all and not most, but some - of those parents went along with the separate prom purely out of fear of the people who had organized it. That's a strong dynamic in a lot of little towns like that. There were probably a couple of brow-beaters who pulled whatever rank they have in the local economy of influence - job, church, whatever - to make a few others play along with them. It's shameful that anyone would play along, but when someone's job is already teetering and the boss cusses about the integrated prom and then says, tweaking moustache, "Jones, you're not sending your kid to that thing, are you," well...

Actual brow-beaters may not be necessary. For some people, the worrisome question of what others will think of them in case they participate carries altogether too much weight even when no one is around who matters and would think poorly of them.


Posted by: Robust McManlyPants | Link to this comment | 01-19-09 3:27 PM
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My brother has a pair of extra bleacher tickets along the parade route. Email by 6:30pm if you want them and he'll fedex them to you.
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Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 01-19-09 3:31 PM
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Once integrated, proms don't always stay integrated.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 01-19-09 3:33 PM
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4: Since Ogged, we really don't have anyone as dedicated to trolling his/her own blog.

6 is fascinating, and sounds very plausible, as far as attendees #2 through 20 or whatever. But what about attendee/organizer #1? Just an old-fashioned racist?


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 01-19-09 3:35 PM
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I see 8 is another source for 4. It's too bad the CBC pulled the archived audio of that broadcast.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 01-19-09 3:35 PM
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For some people, the worrisome question of what others will think of them in case they participate carries altogether too much weight even when no one is around who matters and would think poorly of them.

And I guess this would also answer the question of why not just stay home, and not go to a prom at all, if you're so scared of going to the integrated one.

Hmmm. The whole thing just seems so depressing, and the link in 8 even more so.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 01-19-09 3:38 PM
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People want to be among people they feel comfortable with. Especially at special events.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 01-19-09 3:40 PM
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"Milestones" s/b "millstones"


Posted by: TJ | Link to this comment | 01-19-09 3:47 PM
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But what about attendee/organizer #1? Just an old-fashioned racist?

Sure, why not? There are still people around who see themselves as the local aristocracy and believe/do all sorts of stupid things, from simple racism to reflexively opposing anyone who tells them that The Way It's Always Been Done isn't good enough. I would not at all be surprised to learn that someone involved is the descendant of a person who owned the ancestors of some of the kids at that other prom and believes they still have a right to tell them what to do and where to do it. Though those days seem an eternity ago, they really aren't. I have an uncle whose grandparents - still alive and kicking in his childhood - had experienced the Civil War as adults.

Every small town has a couple of self-appointed brow-beaters in it. They don't always express their claim to authority as racism. In my hometown, for a variety of factors, it was most recently expressed as a fight over incorporation and annexation.

I also think that #1 could be just like #2 through #20: they sit around discussing it and nervously say, "But what will people think? What would your Uncle Mack think if he were around? Tsk, tsk, tsk," because they think that's the safe thing to say, unsure what anyone else thinks, and then numbers 2 through 20 nod and tsk and don't oppose them because, my heavens, someone really is paying attention to what we do! We must go along to get along!


Posted by: Robust McManlyPants | Link to this comment | 01-19-09 3:48 PM
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12 fails to explain why black people are typically opposed to segregated proms.


Posted by: Merganser | Link to this comment | 01-19-09 3:50 PM
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The whole thing just seems so depressing

I agree, but note that the CBC story got written because that was an exception. The parents and possibly the kids involved in the segregated event got left on the sidelines last year. There's no convincing themselves otherwise. If they choose the past, so be it. The article says the rest of the town had a good time.


Posted by: Robust McManlyPants | Link to this comment | 01-19-09 3:59 PM
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From the link in 8:

She was the black junior class president. She started holding meetings with the president of the white students.

So bizarre.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 01-19-09 3:59 PM
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17: That caught my eye as well, and I wasn't quite sure what to make of it.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 01-19-09 4:03 PM
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Googling the phrase "black junior class president" turns up another article that confirms the school elects separate black and white class presidents.

What. the. fuck.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 01-19-09 4:09 PM
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Sunnydale, CA (population 38,500 and falling steadily) had segregated high schools until the whites-only one was blown up by one of the students in 1999.


Posted by: Jesurgislac | Link to this comment | 01-19-09 4:15 PM
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15: Decent enough explanation, to my mind. If the school's odd enough that they have segregated student body presidents, it doesn't seem all that likely many would be pushing for an integrated party (why go to a party with people who are going to resent? why not have your own prom queen?)


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 01-19-09 4:20 PM
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14, etc: Don't forget fear of moral contagion. For a lot of racists, simply being around black people means getting their blackness on you, in some way that isn't thought out but is obviously bad.

You see the same emotion at work overtly with Brahmin who have to ritually purify themselves after contact with a Dalit. As I understand it, this sort of behavior goes on in India to this day.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 01-19-09 4:29 PM
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21: Did you read 'integrated' for 'segregated' in 15? 12 would (for reasons like those you suggest) predict support for segregated events among black students. But, from the link in 8:

White students voted for separate proms, black students chose an integrated event. The pain of racism is palpable among members of the county's black community...

Posted by: Merganser | Link to this comment | 01-19-09 5:03 PM
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23: Possibly.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 01-19-09 5:15 PM
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On a somewhat related note, if this LA Times article can be believed, a teacher who wrote an op-ed suggesting that classics of the high-school canon be changed is now somehow being accused of censorship. Talk about "I think this word does not mean what you think it means":

"It's just my experience teaching, especially 'Huck Finn.' Every year, it seems to be a tougher sell to the kids. I have a lot of passion for 'Huck Finn,' and my enthusiasm usually carries the book. But I have kids come up to me, very smart kids, who say, 'Mr. Foley, I hate this book.' " They hate not only the difficult dialogue, he said, but what students -- usually white ones -- object to as "demeaning stereotypes."
"Our new president is this very intelligent, highly articulate guy, and the literature we're foisting on our children typically depicts black men as ignorant, inarticulate, uneducated. And the contrast just jumped out at me," he said.
Foley said his students were now reading "To Kill a Mockingbird." The character Tom Robinson is very noble, he said, "but again, he's uneducated, inarticulate. I was just thinking, for students here in Washington anyway, wouldn't 'Snow Falling on Cedars' be just as valuable?"
That book, written by David Guterson, documents the internment of Japanese American residents of the San Juan Islands during World War II and the efforts of a few islanders to defend their neighbors against an onslaught of bigotry, jealousy and false accusations.
If Foley could, he would replace "Huck Finn" with the epic tale of two old cowboys' last great cattle drive, Larry McMurtry's "Lonesome Dove," and "Of Mice and Men" with Tim O'Brien's Vietnam novel, "Going After Cacciato."

Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 01-19-09 5:24 PM
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If Foley could, he would replace "Huck Finn" with the epic tale of two old cowboys' last great cattle drive, Larry McMurtry's "Lonesome Dove,"

Tangential to the main point, but Lonesome Dove is really, really, really, really, really, really, really long. Huckleberry Finn not.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 01-19-09 5:30 PM
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If you read Huckleberry Finn with full historical knowledge and adult understanding of irony and humor, it's a really, really savage critique of American racism.

Since Mark Twain deliberately wrote Huckleberry Finn to be read on two levels, one of which was a straight novel with complete acceptance of the values of the America that Huck grew up in, and since that simpler level is the one which I would expect kids to read, I really don't see what the issue is: it's a hideously, uncomfortably racist book on the level on which Mark Twain expected readers at the age these kids are to grok it. Of course they don't like it. Let them read something else.


Posted by: Jesurgislac | Link to this comment | 01-19-09 5:35 PM
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Sunnydale, CA (population 38,500 and falling steadily)

It's that Hellmouth thing, y'know...

My sister lives in a high-income suburb of Atlanta. Her church discourages black people from attending and her kids' high school had two proms when my nephew was a senior. One does not have to live in a small town to experience this sort of shite. [This is the sister who is convinced an Obama presidency will bring about a race war. Because he's a "racist and an elitist". This poor woman used to be a liberal Democrat.]


Posted by: DominEditrix | Link to this comment | 01-19-09 5:49 PM
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Atlanta seemingly turns Yankees into crackers. Gingrich is form PA.

Oddly, it's a sort of Mecca for the black middle class.

My niece returned to Fargo. Can't take the Fargo out of the girl.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 01-19-09 5:55 PM
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27: One would think that the higher-order critique would be teachable at the high school level. Absolutely nothing wrong with changing the curriculum, and his choices seems to be good, but the argument that ends with "All Right, then I'll go to Hell" is brilliant, and I'm glad I read it in high school.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 01-19-09 6:03 PM
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|| From yesterday's inauguaral concert --

Worst moments:

--general proto-fascist gigantosity of whole thing. "We Are One"?

--only Hollywood celebrities. You couldn't find an ordinary citizen more deserving of speaking than Steve Carrel?

--Garth Brooks, mediocre swing-voter-of-the-music-world, gets three solo songs and Stevie Wonder gets one duet.

--bound eagles brought on to symbolize freedom, allowed to fly only two feet before being jerked back by handler. Symbolic!

--clip of Ronald Reagan.

Best moments:

--happy joyful crowd, full of good vibes.

--Lincoln's statue presiding over the whole thing like a benevolent deity.

--Roosevelt inauguaration clips.

-- Mary J. Blige blows away "Lean on Me".

--Pete Seeger leads the crowd in "This Land is Your Land"

Most unclassifiable moment...

Mellencamp rocking "Little Pink Houses" w/ gospel choir. The point of this song is that America *sucks*, people.

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Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 01-19-09 6:27 PM
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What better way to celebrate Obama's inaguration than by buying a really expensive handbag? Get yours today!


Posted by: Gaijin Biker | Link to this comment | 01-19-09 6:36 PM
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My prom is fully integrated ... laydeez.


Posted by: paranoid android | Link to this comment | 01-19-09 6:39 PM
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That is just a handbag the company wasn't quite managing to sell as just a luxury clutch with an oversized round snap closure. Some of the Obama merchandise is really pretty embarrassing.

Not as embarrassing as the scads of Twilight themed merchandise at Etsy, though. Damn, there are some crazed Twilight fans out there.


Posted by: Jackmormon | Link to this comment | 01-19-09 7:28 PM
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Her church discourages black people from attending

Dare I ask how they do that?


Posted by: Klug | Link to this comment | 01-19-09 7:28 PM
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You couldn't find an ordinary citizen more deserving of speaking than Steve Carrel?

Not if HBO wants its copyright to be worth the most they can get.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 01-19-09 7:40 PM
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clip of Ronald Reagan.

oh. for shame.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 01-19-09 7:48 PM
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I tried to integrate my prom, but we hadn't got to Lebesgue yet and the limit didn't exist.


Posted by: TJ | Link to this comment | 01-19-09 7:54 PM
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should have used a distribution, TJ.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 01-19-09 7:57 PM
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Speaking of bigotry,This Thread at Thoma's has the most careful explication of the anti-Semitism of John Maynard Keynes. Be warned:foul.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 01-19-09 8:05 PM
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I was naive, soup.


Posted by: TJ | Link to this comment | 01-19-09 8:13 PM
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31 -- What on earth were they thinking with the eagles? And after the first eagle fizzled, they brought out the second?

At least the HBO people cut it . . .


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 01-19-09 8:44 PM
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Huh. The inaugural committee has the copyright but HBO has a six month license. (See the updates here.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 01-19-09 9:10 PM
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If Foley could, he would replace "Huck Finn" with the epic tale of two old cowboys' last great cattle drive, Larry McMurtry's "Lonesome Dove," and "Of Mice and Men" with Tim O'Brien's Vietnam novel, "Going After Cacciato."

As... high school English texts? For serious? And an O'Brien book about Vietnam that's not The Things They Carried?


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 01-19-09 9:25 PM
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Also, if you wanted to pick a novel that was supposed to reveal the full humanity of African-Americans, there are actually novels written by fully human African-Americans. Maybe they're reserved for the other English class.


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 01-19-09 9:26 PM
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45, 46: Points taken, but I actually felt pretty sympathetic to the guy, at least based on the article. It almost doesn't matter what you give a high school class to read; there will be parents and students who object to it on the grounds of not hard enough or too hard or not mainstream enough or too mainstream or too long or already read it in middle school....


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 01-19-09 9:35 PM
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#42: And after the first eagle fizzled, they brought out the second?

You should always have a backup eagle.


Posted by: Gaijin Biker | Link to this comment | 01-19-09 10:39 PM
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They should have had the backup on an identical soundstage so the could switch the feed from one to the other if it didn't pan out. They were probably discouraged by the producers saying how hard it is to shoot a double eagle.


Posted by: TJ | Link to this comment | 01-19-09 11:20 PM
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48: Obscure sports reference or obscure Hapsburg reference?


Posted by: Jesurgislac | Link to this comment | 01-20-09 2:22 AM
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Holy farking crap, check this CNN feed -- Bush says military response to events in Gaza necessitates delaying the inaguration by 1 week.

Holy. Farking. Craaaaap...


Posted by: Gaijin Biker | Link to this comment | 01-20-09 2:34 AM
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49: almost certainly the former. Shooting Habsburgs is demonstrably extremely possible.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 01-20-09 3:26 AM
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Don't forget fear of moral contagion.

The African male has enormous genitals and exercises an animal magnetism that will draw our precious young women into his arms to be violated. Laydeez.

It's straight up purity concerns, I think.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 01-20-09 7:31 AM
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50: Dickhead.


Posted by: Chopper | Link to this comment | 01-20-09 7:47 AM
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This is the sister who is convinced an Obama presidency will bring about a race war. Because he's a "racist and an elitist". This poor woman used to be a liberal Democrat.

I generally adopt my world-weary cynical pose in conversations about the effect of a black president on race relations, but there really are a large number of people out there completely disconnected from racial reality, and an omnipresent black man in a position of power is going to change some attitudes - even if the folks whose attitude is changing don't recognize it while it's happening.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 01-20-09 8:08 AM
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Man, I have the TV on, and people really seem to like this Obama person. Even Doris Kearns Goodman isn't being completely stupid.............

Cancel that, she just segued into stupidity.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 01-20-09 8:30 AM
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53 gets it exactly right.

As does 54.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 01-20-09 8:44 AM
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55: BBC coverage much less stupid, but not entirely immune to stupidity. The correspondent just asserted that the American first lady has a Constitutional role.


Posted by: KR | Link to this comment | 01-20-09 8:49 AM
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I do not have the TV on, but I have also gotten the sense that people really like this Obama guy.


Posted by: Jackmormon | Link to this comment | 01-20-09 8:50 AM
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The conference-call service provider just told us that our 11AM presentation might be choppy because inauguration stuff is slowing down the Internet. Damn series of tubes!


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 01-20-09 8:54 AM
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I, too, am watching the CNN live feed. WE ARE ALL PART OF THE PROBLEM HLPHPLGPH


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 01-20-09 8:55 AM
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Oh, god. I've waited so long for this day. Watching the motorcade start to the inaugaration site is making it real.


Posted by: Chopper | Link to this comment | 01-20-09 8:59 AM
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We're *all* going to have to pitch in and not watch the inauguration.


Posted by: Merganser | Link to this comment | 01-20-09 8:59 AM
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Can we have a separate inauguration thread, please?


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 01-20-09 9:14 AM
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5: But the integrated prom didn't integrate in those losers lacking hi-skool girlfriends/boyfriends.

Actually, at least at my kids' school (and a few others that I know of) this has generally changed in that there seems to be a fairly good comfort level with kids showing up in groups rather than as paired off dates for prom and homecoming.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 01-20-09 9:15 AM
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I have MSNBC on. These kind of events, as you might expect, tend to lead me to a manaically analytic overinterpretive mode, I suppose as some kind of escape from the mass sentimentalityand my own emotions.

The contrasting fonts of "The Inauguration of" "Barack Obama" are driving me nuts. What does the flowing script of the first half contrasted with the Times Roman(?) assertiveness of the name...signify?


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 01-20-09 9:17 AM
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C-Span is glorious


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 01-20-09 9:19 AM
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PM on radio 4 will be better than the woman on BBC TV. She's the one who goes on Chris Matthews all the time.


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 01-20-09 9:21 AM
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OT
so my niece and a friend are not able to come to visit me in February, so i have two extra tickets for the Gypsy Kings on the 17th Feb, it's Tuesday, 8pm at the Radio City Music hall
if anyone is interested, email me, please? i'll send it by mail, i'm not sure whether those can be printed out again or maybe the ticketmaster allows emailing the links
i'd be glad to attend any other concerts, like, in return
the ticketmaster also looks like it allows to resell it so I'll wait perhaps 2-3 days


Posted by: read | Link to this comment | 01-20-09 4:46 PM
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perhaps i'll give the tickets to some homeless people
can't even sell it back at the site, coz the tickets seem are not preapproved for their ticketExchange function
never knew that the Gypsy kings are this unpopular here, coz always loved listening to them


Posted by: read | Link to this comment | 01-22-09 8:11 PM
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The tickets can be e-mailed and printed and whatever as many times as you like, read, as long as the barcode only gets scanned once. You should bring, um, AWB and Bave with you. That's my vote.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 01-22-09 8:14 PM
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Actually, at least at my kids' school (and a few others that I know of) this has generally changed in that there seems to be a fairly good comfort level with kids showing up in groups rather than as paired off dates for prom and homecoming.

We had a controversy at my school over whether two people of the same sex could go with each other. Not gay people, there was no precedent for gay people going with each other, but these were two male exchange students from the same country who were quite friendly but bashful around girls, and there were no female exchange students from their country.


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 01-23-09 10:33 AM
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Is the NY contingent of unfogged going to let read down again?

Say it isn't so!

This:
We had a controversy at my school over whether two people of the same sex could go with each other.

is completely insane.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 01-23-09 10:36 AM
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oh, i should say that i found people to go with me,
thank you, ST and SB, for your concern


Posted by: read | Link to this comment | 01-23-09 10:39 AM
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I went to my senior prom with another girl. Nobody noticed or cared.


Posted by: Jackmormon | Link to this comment | 01-23-09 10:40 AM
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