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FW: Dino

Something's afoot in the land of GOPasaurs, those crass, craven  creatures who rumble across the craton, roaring and wreaking havoc, stealing our resources, despoiling our environment, threatening the young, the sick, the weak, the differently-colored, differently oriented, and differently-abled with all manner of anguish, and generally consuming oxygen better spent on others. Despite their long dominance, some of this Mesozoic miscreants are showing serious signs of mortality. With millions of clever little mammals waiting in the wings, this could indeed be the Summer Of Discontent for some life-forms whose extinction is long overdue.

Here are just some of the entries on the Grim Reaper's list. As always, dear reader, your own contributions to the list are most welcome, as the Reaper clearly has his hands full with this Mesozoic mess.

Brontosaurus romneii, who should be basking on Caymanian shores on a substrate of cash, is instead roaming the craton, vocalizing his discontent with Obamasaurus rex. Still licking his wounds (a task he could easily afford to outsource), the always tiresome B. romneii, having avoided the miasmas of the Indochinese peninsula comfortably ensconced en France, has re-emerged as a military strategist par excellence. Or perhaps par excresance. Given his unparalleled wealth and dynastic brood, B. romneii can wait out the most patient of predators. One simply hopes he could do so in silence.

Behemasaurus christii: Time has not been kind to this former top predator, who was set to leave the New Jersey shores for the rarified air of the White Cave. Interference with land bridge migrations triggered his sudden decline to extinction, despite B. christii's insistence that Lower Life Forms in his basin were at fault for these Mesozoic misdeeds. An apparent paleo-pay-to-play scheme has also attracted the attention of Prosecutosaurs who smell blood in the water. These saurian scandals have eroded what clout remained, and this once powerful carnivore may soon be worth little more than his BTu value.

GetOffMyLawnASaurus mccainii: What? Still not extinct? Thousands of paleontologists shake their head, setting off fracking-induced-like quakes across the subcontinent. No, this gazilliagenarian, who unleashed the vile Griftasaurus palinii (q.v.) upon us, still bellowing his dismay with the Current State Of Affairs. The possibility of a re-engagement in the Tigris-Euphrates basin has re-animated this fossil, who cannot wait to send your offspring in search of the seven barrels of fossil fuel that will remain after ISIS torches the place.

Also eluding extinction with the help of Mesozoic medical miracles is the despised Cheneysaurus dickii, now joined by his satanic spawn, Cheneysaurus lizii. C. dickii and his Halliburtonian Hadrosaurs created a fabrication so convincing that thousands of Americasaurs headed to the Tigris-Euphrates basin and laid down their lives. The limbic-brained Cheneysaurs, despite their billions in fossil-fuel wealth, their tiny forelimbs dripping the blood of patriots, cannot wait to double down on their bet. Since their previous foray, however, the North American craton has become populated by clever little mammals who will not fall for this shit again.

Kochasaurus scottywalker: This witless puppet of the Kleptocracy has found himself mired in the Tar Pits of Malfeasance, leaving behind him a trail of electronic evidence that even the most mentally challenged saurian cretin could unravel. Will the Jurassic judicial system - a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Kochasaurs - be able to save little K. scottywalker from his half-witted hijinks, or will his fall into the abyss delight the schadenfreude-craving mammals? Paleo-economists suggest investing in popcorn futures.

Griftasaurus palinii: Unleashed upon the continent by the spiteful G. mccainii, this shrill harpy is the grift that keeps on giving. Prone to incomprehensible vocalizations, G. palinii has attached herself to such paleo-luminaries as Corposaurus tednugentii (q.v.) in a last gasp of relevance, utterly unaware that the continent has drifted out from beneath her Christian Louboutin-clad feet. Attempts by G. palinii's offspring to capitalize on her notoriety and establish a dino-dynasty have fallen short of laughable.

Archeopteryx bachmanii, another sad casualty of the Logic Wars, appears to have retreated to the cave she shares with the curious Marcusaur, emerging occasionally to splatter the unwitting forest inhabitants with another verbal "gift". One recalls with no small degree of uneasiness that this creature served as parent and role model to her own brood and many other offspring in an environment rife with disturbing phobias and beliefs. The fossil record will tell, but one has one's suspicions.

Lachrymosaurus boehnerii: Proof(!) positive that fermented liquids can preserve the long dead, this orange-skinned throwback to Triassic times is still among us. One can only wonder, "why"? Despite its vaunted position in the GOPasaur food chain, its entire existence appears focused on obstruction of any forward progress, hardly a sustainable plan for survival as those pesky little mammals are eating your lunch.

Coprosaurus tednugentii: The late Cretaceous has seen more than its share of disturbing mutations and unusual biological alliances. Both phenomena combine in this vile specimen, who wallowed in his own excrement to avoid combat and sought out extremely young females for sexual predation. For reasons too sickening to fathom, these behaviors endeared him to many GOPasaurs who saw in him... Who the hell knows what.

Velociraptor cantorii: Score one for the Grim Reaper! The beady-eyed schemer, known for his cold blood and quick reflexes, has Left The Building. V. cantorii, despite adjusting his gait to lurch ever further to the Right, was cruelly eviscerated by one of his own kind. Well, to be fair, an extreme version of his own kind. Shock waves rocked the craton with the news of the Clammy One's demise, for never did one reptile so completely embody the GOPasaur philosophy of self-preservation and self-advancement as did V. cantorii. Rest well, Clammy One. We've got this.

Finally, a special saurian shout-out to the rest of the GOPasaur governors, those Jurassic jackasses so obsessed with obstruction of Obamasaurus Rex that they let their own people go extinct rather than provide them with life-giving care. It takes a special kind of reptilian cold-bloodedness to doom your own species. Give yourselves a pat on the back, jackasses. Oh, sorry. Forgot you had those dinky little forelimbs. My bad.


Wed May 21, 2014 at 11:51 AM PDT

Hungering For Answers

by cassandracarolina

This past Saturday was the annual Stamp Out Hunger Food Drive event.

Every second Saturday in May, letter carriers in more than 10,000 cities and towns across America collect the goodness and compassion of their postal customers, who participate in the NALC Stamp Out Hunger National Food Drive — the largest one-day food drive in the nation.

Led by letter carriers represented by the National Association of Letter Carriers (AFL-CIO), with help from rural letter carriers, other postal employees and other volunteers, the drive has delivered more than one billion pounds of food the past 20 years

I've participated in this event for years, as have many of my neighbors, whether here in North Carolina or in my former home state of Texas. Hunger is pervasive here in North Carolina, just as our GOP overlords hoped it would be:

According to the web site Hunger in North Carolina,

North Carolina and Louisiana lead the nation with the highest percentage of children under 5 years of age who are food insecure on a regular basis:  in N.C. over 1 in 4. (27.6%)
Think about that. "Food insecure on a regular basis". Childhood hunger is the "new normal". Regrettable, but that's simply the way that it is.

Paul Ryan wouldn't have it any other way. Even though he himself was a major beneficiary of the Social Security safety net, he's a regular Edward Scissorhands, shredding the net behind him, smirking as children, parents, veterans, and the elderly fall through the gaping holes.

Rush Limbaugh, always at the cutting edge of civic-mindedness, has suggested that kids hone their dumpster-diving skills. This, coupled with Newt Gingrich's child janitor scheme ought to solve this hunger problem with some good old-fashioned Dickensian practicality. In the rural parts of the county, however, the pickings for dumpsters are slim indeed, and school budgets have been cut to the bone such that even a push-broom is probably on each school's wish-list.  

North Carolina's GOP legislators, under the tutelage of Art Pope, the Koch Brothers' other brother from another mother, have made headlines with their dystopian plans to drive our state to the bottom on every list of economic, social, medical, and educational achievement.

We're not taking this lying down, as our own DocDawg has so aptly chronicled in a diary yesterday.

But, as always... I digress. Let's get back to the food drive once again. Many of my neighbors dedicate their volunteer time to the local food bank which is the only thing keeping many folks in the county fed. Collecting and distributing food is a major endeavor, every day, every week, all year long. The letter carrier drive, laudable as it is, constitutes only a small piece of this daunting puzzle.

I spend a fair amount of time at our local post office, and asked one of the clerks how much food they collected this year. "About 11,000 pounds", they answered. "Way down from last year". Perplexed, I asked them what the 2013 total was. "Over 20,000 pounds. A LOT more."

"What accounted for the difference?" I asked, and in a nanosecond, two of the clerks said "plastic bags!" In previous years, they'd handed out sturdy paper bags for the customers along the postal routes. This year? Flimsy plastic bags of the sort that I absolutely despise. The bags held less food than the paper bags. People were wary of overloading them and tearing the bags.

Someone, somewhere opted for plastic. As a result, letter carriers worked just as hard for about half as much food, and hunger will be returning to the dinner tables of our kids a whole lot sooner.

The only thing that would infuriate me more would be finding out that the plastic bags were made from petroleum products that enriched the Koch Brothers. Or that the whole "flimsy bag" scheme was part of the Koch Brothers' deliberate plans to further destroy the remaining shreds of our economic and social safety net. Or that sub-minimum-wage workers in a dangerous Art Pope factory made the bags, returning at night to their own families, too impoverished to feed themselves or their kids.

Years ago, such thinking might have branded me a cynic. Nowadays, it's probably a rosy-eyed view of the true evil that steals food from the hungry child and enslaves the weary parent in a cycle of bone-crushing, soul-crushing misery.


How does food insecurity factor into your life?

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Logan exploring the back porch

When I settled in North Carolina this past summer, my first order of business was adopting a shelter dog. My husband and I found this gorgeous Lab mix at a no-kill shelter. He had spent most of his nearly three-year life after being found as a stray near a river. You needn't spend much time in this part of the country before you become aware of the extensive networks of dogfighting, supported by backyard puppy mills where dogs are churned out as quickly as biology allows.

The result: a massive oversupply of dogs, far exceeding society's demand.

Not a day goes by that I don't feel an enormous debt of gratitude for the folks who found my dog and brought him to the shelter, then nurtured him, taught him to walk on the leash, sit, take food gently and countless other far-from-stupid pet tricks. These kindly people - most of them volunteers - prepared him for adoption and optimized his chances for a good life.

Debts of gratitude are best repaid in kind. With this in mind, I'm now volunteering at our local county shelter which is run by our Sheriff's department under the umbrella of "Animal Protective Services". Their mission has become skewed towards protecting animals from people, more so than protecting people from animals. Their paid staff respond to cases of abuse, abandonment, dogfighting, puppy mills, strays, and other problems created by humans. Hundreds of volunteers do the rest of the work, supplemented by inmates performing community service.

It's a massive operation. Last year, they took in about 6,000 animals (primarily dogs, cats and livestock); of these, about 1,900 were adopted or placed with private no-kill shelters or breed rescues. This leaves about 4,100 euthanized, an average of 11 per day.

Pretty depressing, right? Well, not if you're one of the ones rescued from cold, hunger, overbreeding, dogfighting, disease, abuse, or abandonment. For these dogs, the new "leash" on life is just terrific.



The secret to this successful adoption rate? Close involvement with the community. In addition to adoption fairs, social media mobilization, and an extensive network of volunteers, the Sheriff's department sponsors educational events for kids and adults. Here's a mural that the elementary school kids created to be auctioned off for "the animals":


Spaying and neutering - vital to stemming the tide of the canine population boom - is provided at no cost, even for animals already owned by county residents.  Sadly, many of the young female dogs at the shelter have already had a litter while they themselves were barely older than puppies. Shelter volunteers step forward to foster puppies found abandoned and too young for shelter life.

My "job" as a volunteer involves walking and socializing dogs at the shelter. It's the greatest unpaid job in the world. When I see that one of "my" dogs has been adopted, it's just awesome.

Most of the dogs love to get outdoors and, to varying degrees, they can walk on a leash. With some dogs, this is an aerobic event, pulling and jumping; with others, a relaxing chance to snuffle along in the woods around the shelter away from the antiseptic smells of the shelter.


Interestingly, many of these dogs are not all that interested in food as a motivator. They love to be petted, stroked, brushed, and massaged. They love to hear praise, to evoke a smile, to make us laugh at their antics.


The dogs can also romp around off-leash in an enclosure with agility features and a big basket of toys. We're not just exercising them; we're also reminding them - or teaching them for the first time - what it is to lead a "normal" dog life.


It may surprise some folks to find out that the shelter takes in a lot of "purebred" dogs. They work closely with legitimate breed rescues who can find suitable homes for these dogs, many of which would benefit from an "experienced' owner.

Even our North Carolina state dog, the Plott Hound, can be found in the shelter, a sad commentary indeed:

Plott hound

Follow along below (and watch where you step...)


What's your rescue dog situation?

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Continue Reading

As revelations of Chris Christie's "bridge-gate" mischief come to light, speculation abounds on whether this will harm his political career. Other diarists and commenters have offered their thoughts, and I'll let them cover that aspect of this unfolding debacle.

This single incident beautifully illustrates the contempt with which the GOP holds their constituents, little people who - evidently - can be put into one of two categories: "my" supporters or "my opponent's" supporters. The former are to be rewarded; the latter punished. In real life, most people don't vote, and they aren't anyone's "supporters". They are, however, someone's parent or child, employer or employee, customer, friend, or neighbor. In short, real people, just trying to hold up their bit of the sky and look after their families, their home, and their jobs.

In our mobile society, many of these folks spend time in a car heading to or from their jobs, the doctor's office, the store, their kids' activities, their duties as caregivers to their elderly parents. They volunteer, filling the many gaps in a social safety net being ripped to shreds by those desperate to appease the already-rich. Their days are spent juggling the expectations of children, spouses, and other family members, their employers, their communities, and - usually at the end of this list - their own health and wellbeing.

Chris Christie probably has the resources available to outsource most of these functions. This allows him to devote his energies where they will have the most impact (and bring him the most joy): punishing those who have dared to oppose him.

As in any decent Greek tragedy, the protagonist need not be truly "evil". Indeed, it's best if they embody some positive traits that would destine them for greatness and elevate them in the eyes of all around them. It makes for a much better story if they have just one little character flaw that leads to their undoing; one vulnerability to which they will eventually succumb. Hopefully, this process rolls along at a slow enough pace that the protagonist's detractors, the Cassandras whose warnings went unheeded, can bask in well-deserved schadenfreude.

Before we break out the popcorn, however, let's go back to those folks in the cars on the bridge. They might include:

A mother or father, desperately trying to get to the day-care provider before closing time to pick up their child

An employee, realizing that their tardiness in arriving for their shift at work will likely result in being fired

A surgeon whose specialized skill is needed for a delicate life-saving operation at a local hospital

A volunteer who was scheduled to deliver Meals on Wheels to elderly veterans

A public defender expected in court to explain their client's situation and keep them out of jail

A contractor heading to a job site to make critical repairs to our crumbling public infrastructure

While each of these vehicle occupants is essential in the life of "someone", that "someone" is clearly not Chris Christie. The only person in his calculations is Barbara Buono who, through the proxy suffering of her supposed "supporters", will feel genuine - and deserved - pain. It's a simple, zero-sum game for Christie and his GOP associates: for me to feel happiness, you need to feel pain.

The pain, however, falls on the non-combatants, those who pay their taxes, obey the law, and honor their personal commitments. Their lives are inconvenienced at best, put in risk of fatality at worst.

It's nothing personal, some politicians assure us, as they slip the knife between our ribs with the practiced grace of a fishmonger. It's just business. Their business. The business of meting out punishment, filling the void in their lives by tearing a void in ours.

The coming months will reveal whether this petty vendetta damages Christie in New Jersey or derails his ambitions for national office, or whether it further endears him to supporters. What's clear now is this: he's the prototypical GOP bully who will casually endanger those he has sworn to protect, and will relish the pain that he imagines that he's inflicted on his enemy-du-jour. The collateral damage of disruption of tens of thousands of people's lives in the process? Priceless!


Observers of life - canine and human - can learn a lot at the dog park. Our dogs probably view this as a little piece of heaven where they can run free, finally disconnected from the leash and its daunting responsibilities. In the park, they needn't worry about us, but we need to abide by the rules in order to keep the place from, well... going to the humans. The rules aren't complicated:

Dogs must be on a leash entering and leaving the park
Owners must watch their dog and remove it if it's aggressive
Owners must pick up after their dogs (bags are provided)
Large dogs must be on the "large dog" side, small dogs on the "small dog" side
Dogs must be kept from digging or owners must repair damage
Smoking, eating, and glass containers are prohibited
Any dog bites must be reported to the proper authorities
That sort of thing... Not rocket science...
My recently adopted shelter dog has been enjoying his forays to the dog park, leaving behind his usual on-leash trepidation and mixing it up with the other dogs, many of whom are also "rescues". Size, color, breed, reproductive status - none of these matter to him. Any dog willing to join him in barrel-racing around the park is his new BFF, as his fiercely wagging tail and wide grin can attest. For the most part, he's been well-behaved, and the other dogs mete out polite suggestions for behavior modification if he gets out of line. It's all good.

The humans are mostly terrific people. Some have taken on "problem dog" rescues that make my dog's tales of woe and lamentation seem like the ideal life. The lengths to which these folks have gone to return their dogs to some semblance of dog life are simply amazing. They're willing to share their stories and welcome newcomers like us.

Still, there are one or two humans who seem to think that they own the place, that their dog has some special rights, and that the rules don't apply to them. Their dogs - unsurprisingly - display a similar sense of entitlement and annoy and intimidate other dogs and other dog owners. This small, obnoxious minority can make the entire place unpleasant, much as the Tea Party has permeated Washington - and much of the country - with fear and angst.

The Bad Dogs of the Tea Party have been tearing up the place, barking, drooling, sinking their teeth into members of their own party, jumping on the old, the weak, and the poor, and sticking their nose into the private parts of anyone who can't outrun them. With so much unmitigated mischief, one wonders: how did these dogs pick up all these bad behaviors?

The "default" condition for most dogs is one of trust, loyalty, congeniality, and cooperation. For thousands of years, dogs have willingly ceded some of their liberties to sleep at our hearth, enjoy a steady supply of food and treats, assist with our work or play, and participate as members of our family. It's worked well for everyone. Some dogs, however, want to go back to the "pre-domestication" days. For these reactionary Rovers, all that matters is "FReeDoM!!!!" (theirs, not yours), and they're willing to shred the fabric of society to return to the days of scary dog packs roaming the streets, terrorizing men, women, and children. But WHY??

In previous installments of this series, my shelter dog and I have offered some suggestions for the Tea Party bad dogs to help them assimilate into polite society. In part one, we covered the basics:

If it's not your yard, it's not your problem
Leave other people's food alone
Don't crap on other people's lawn
Nobody wants to hear your barking
Be a good pack member
Try a little tenderness
Wag your tail once in a while
In part deux, we added a few more rules of civilized living that are well understood by many sentient life forms, including:
Yes, the rules apply to YOU
Don't take more than you need, just because you can
Don't whine
Protect the kids
Respect your elders
Needless to say, our well-intentioned suggestions were lost in the barking, scratching, clawing feeding frenzy of the Tea Party Bad Dogs. So today, we turn our attention to the Bad Owners, a pair of brothers who turned a bunch of ordinary garden-variety canids into a Weapon of Mass Destruction to advance their evil objectives.

All dogs start out fine, so how did these dogs become so utterly loathsome, such a disgrace to their species? We don't know for sure, but we suspect that the Evil Brothers' plan looked something like this:

Find some dogs with time on their paws: The recruitment scheme was pretty simple - use a dog-whistle to awaken sleeping dogs and get them to leave their dens and follow the sound.

Prey on their fears: Every dog can be made to fear or hate someone or something. Dogs soon associate the dog-whistle with a state of intense aggression. Even a television tuned to Fox News can do the trick.

Replace their water with Kool-Aid: We don't know what's in the Evil Brothers' proprietary mix (fracking wastewater?) but it makes the Tea Party dogs more susceptible to manipulation to the point where they will blindly follow directions from Headquarters.

Develop pack "leaders": They needn't be the smartest members of the group, only the ones who bark the loudest or bite the hardest or "mark" the most trees. Occasional "red meat" offerings keep the pack seething with rage.

Control messaging: Reliance on social media is vital. No thumbs? Not a problem! The Evil Brothers' minions will fill cyberspace with hate-speech. All the dogs need to do is keep on barking, jumping, biting, and terrorizing people.

The Tea Party Bad Dogs performed their parts well. Too well. Why, they even imagined that this was "their" movement, and that the terror resulting from their rampage was "their" achievement. Frightened by the chaos they'd unleashed, the Evil Brothers wonder whether their Astroturf pack of Bad Dogs had gotten out of control.

YA THINK???!!!

Let's see: Crazed dogs foaming at the mouth, racing through the streets? Check! Bloody-fanged beasts turning on their own kind? Check! Food stolen from the mouths of babies? Check! Elderly people living in terror as roving packs ravaged their homes? Check! Dog packs preying on other dogs just based on their color? Check? Night air filled with mindless barking, leaving everyone tossing and turning in fitful sleep, waiting for the next shoe to drop? Check! Steaming piles of crap left all over the countryside? Check.

Speaking of steaming piles of crap... Life in civilized society demands that we clean up after ourselves and our dogs in order to keep the place livable. Owners who don't take action when their Bad Dogs crap on our lawns can expect some pushback, from an evil glance or a critical remark to a flaming bag of dog crap appearing on their front porch at dusk. For their sake, I hope that the Evil Brothers' porches can handle the load when everyone returns their "gifts". It might be enough to set off a tectonic reaction, and the flames will dwarf this past summers' wildfires.


The Tea Party pack is still on the loose, yapping, foaming at the mouth, and sinking their fangs into the old, the young, the sick, the elderly and the poor. They've even turned on their own party, biting - or biting off, really - the hand that feeds them. Even their handlers, the once fearless Koch Brothers -  have distanced themselves from their creation run amok. Veterans, teachers, children, women, immigrants... nobody's safe from the ongoing rampage. We watch in dismay as a small horde of crazed beasts tear up the landscape, leaving scorched-Earth carnage in their wake with no end in sight.

In trading their freedom for a place at our hearth (and an always-refilled dish, a soft bed, a bunch of plush squeaky toys, leash walks,  treats, medical and dental care, and the loving attention of humans), dogs have accepted what the Tea Party cannot: that their pack has rules, and they must play by the rules. Dogs accept, even crave, a structure, a pack hierarchy, and the sustained and reliable relationship between actions and outcomes. They understand that in this covenant with humans, they need to check their aggression, cooperate with others, play nicely, and otherwise "behave themselves" in order to reap the rewards of The Life Domestic. It's not rocket science.

Rules, as one of my professors once noted, may indeed be for the "obedience of fools and the guidance of wise men", but they're there for a reason: maintaining civil order, security, and fairness. Society requires us to "behave ourselves" for the good of all. For the most part, Americans understand and accept this. Even young children can grasp the concept.

However, the Tea Party terror-pack believes that rules are just for YOU. They're exempt because... freedumb! Every aspect of your life, particularly your sexual and reproductive life, requires their constant and invasive scrutiny, while they are free to rape, pillage, cheat and steal and laugh it off because... freedumb!

My wonderful shelter dog, having lived in my home for a mere two months, is a paragon of canine virtue compared to the Tea Party Taliban.

            At the beach
                  "Yeah, I have to be on the leash at the beach. But it's cool. I can dig it"

Our previous installment shared a few simple lessons for the these miscreants, including:

If it's not your yard, it's not your problem
Leave other people's food alone
Don't crap on other people's lawns
Nobody wants to hear your barking
Be a good pack member
Try a little tenderness
Wag your tail once in a while
Here are a few more lessons that will also fall on deaf ears:

Yes, the rules apply to YOU: We've seen your type before. There's no obedience class that can hold you. The whole world is laid out for your ease and convenience. Rules are just for the others. It's a story that's been done to death, and it's getting really, really old. Instead of checking up on us and sticking your nose into our business - literally and figuratively - why not just straighten up and fly right and stop being such a pain in the butt.

Don't take more than you need, just because you can: Oh, I know. You're the big dog now, living large in your McDog House, surrounded by all the stuff you swiped when everyone else busy working. You can't stop dreaming about getting even more yummy food. Lemme tell you: you're wasting your time. You can't take it with you, and if you try wolfing it down, you're gonna die from stomach bloat. Your demise will not strike everyone as tragic. Just sayin'...

Don't whine: On a related note, if you're lucky enough to have a good place to live, nice stuff, good health, and no worries about the future, nobody wants to hear about your "first world problems". Shut up and show a little gratitude, not a lot of attitude! Many of the folks you're supposed to be helping don't have any of that, or if they have it, they're worried sick that you're gonna take it away from them. Don't be a dick.

Protect the kids: Remember when you were a pup, and your whole world revolved around "mommy" and "food" and "warmth" and "safety"? Nothing meant more to you than knowing that all that would be there for you - today, tomorrow, the next day. So quit stealing food, turning families out into the cold, and frightening people to death with worry that they won't be able to survive. Nobody needs that shit, and you know damn well: we have plenty of food, plenty of homes, and enough of everything for everyone to share... unless jackasses like you get greedy!

Respect your elders: Preying on the old folks isn't even sporting. Sure, they're easy to hunt down and they're crunchy, but they're the ones who built your home, kept you safe, provided for your care and education, and made many sacrifices for your sake. It's not easy being old and worrying that death is always over your shoulder. Show some love and respect, and don't turn the old folks out in the cold, starve them, or lie to them to make them live in constant fear. For shame!

As you walk the streets this Halloween night, it won't be hard to spot the Tea Party bad dogs. They're the ones scaring the kids and stealing all the candy and giving it to the rich. With any luck, a few pieces will trickle down to you... someday.


Explanations abound for the mass extinctions of slow-witted lumbering beasts that once roamed the earth only to find their skeletons incorrectly reassembled in the natural history museums of the world. Today, however, we are witnessing a mass extinction in real time, a mass suicide of paleo-epic proportions; an extinction apparently yearned for by its victims. Nothing in your science text books explains this bizarre phenomenon, so grab some popcorn and take a seat as your intrepid diarist delves into this antediluvian debacle.

The architect of this extinction is Calgarasaurus tedcruzii. Hailing from the Canadian Shield, this anointed king of the always gullible Baggasaurs spotted the approaching asteroid, and figured out a way to ensure a direct hit on fellow GOPasaurs.  Normally, Calgarasaurs tend to their own business in the greasy Albertan oil sands. This specimen, however, has utterly flummoxed the Birthersaurs by declaring itself "American" by virtue of birth to an American female in much the same way that Obamasaurus Rex would have... Oh, coprolite! No! It can't be!!! But... I digress.

C. tedcruzii applied his highly educated mind to the problem of extinction and recast it as an "opportunity" to wreak massive destruction on Obamasaurus Rex, mainstream GOPasaurs, and ordinary people simply trying to survive. In the end, O. Rex reigned supreme, yet C. tedcruzii looked upon the steaming scorched earth and pronounced it "a good start".

His jubilation was not shared by Boehnersaurus lachrymosii whose extinction loomed large as C. tedcruzii blathered on. The Orange One did his best to walk the survival tightrope, a task made all the more challenging by his continued reliance on ethanol-based sustenance. In the end, he "survived", but with his planetary dominance greatly diminished as the Baggasaurs threatened further assaults on their own kind unless they are given... wait. They'll remember it in a second... it's on the tip of their tongue. Hold on...

Sensing a seismic shift (or perhaps just short of cash), Griftasaurus palinii emerged from seclusion to work her Mesozoic magic on witless followers whose short memories left them vulnerable to one more scam. Attaching herself to C. tedcruzii like a life-draining parasite, G. palinii yammered away at that shrill frequency that caused proto-birds to fall from the sky while besotted Baggasaurs opened their hearts and wallets to their once and future queen.

The Henry Higgins who foisted this redneck Eliza Doolittle on the world, McCainasaurus getoffamylawnii, attempted to distance himself from the ongoing bloodbath by reprising his elder-statesman-voice-of-reason persona. By now, however, even the most micro-minded of his fellow GOPasaurs had consigned him to the scrap-heap of history, his illustrious military and political career eclipsed by the possibility of G. palinii sitting one heartbeat away from the nuclear launch codes.

Speaking of shrill voices, Archeopteryx bachmannii joined in the fray, squawking something about Obamasaurus Rex and "end times". As usual, this was no more than paleo-projection as her own self-inflicted end times had spelled the extinction of her reign of error. Still, as so often happens, the song has ended, but the malady lingers on as A. bachmanni cannot accept her fate and continues her pathetic efforts to warn the world of one impending doom, while blissfully unaware of the real impending doom.

Impending doom has long followed Darthvadersaurus cheneyii, who has eluded the Grim Reaper with the help of the same cutting-edge medical care that he would happily deny other lifeforms. Despite several brushes with extinction, this cold-blooded, soulless creature not only walks the Earth, he shamelessly shills his latest book, explaining how - despite his infirmities - he managed to serve as puppeteer to the guileless Shrubasaurus "W".  Some secrets are best taken to the grave. Just sayin...

The hydration-challenged Cubanasaurus Rubio while temporarily forgotten in ongoing festival of self-destruction remains alive. His vision of a world where Immigrasaurs could freely roam the Continent, however, has been relegated to oblivion. In order to maintain his end of the Faustian bargain, C. Rubio has agreed to scale back his vision to the point that it's recognizable only with the aid of a scanning electron microscope. Otherwise, someone will be swapping out that water with hemlock.

As the Baggasaurs continue sinking their teeth into their GOPasaur kin, a few denizens of the swamp have been plotting world domination. While many believe that C. tedcruzii will claim his self-anointed place in the paleo-pantheon as the next White Cave occupant, he will have to eliminate some heavyweight - or formerly heavyweight - contenders. Behemasaurus christii has reduced his girth (again, with the aid of the medical options he would deny to other lifeforms) and focused his eye on a possible slog to the White Cave. He will have to eliminate Plagiasaurus randpaulii, son of the post-octogenarian Texasaurus ronpaulii and devotee of the Rand Petroglyphs.

Even Wisconsinasaur paulryanii, the would-be sixth son of Dressageasaurus cruella and her mate Brontosaurus romneii, has been recasting his death-dealing philosophies in cold numerical terms aimed at appealing to Conservasaurs. Sadly, extinction has claimed most of them, leaving only the shrieking Baggasaurs to run the place. These craven Cretaceous cretins watch that curious glowing object in the sky and yell, "BRING IT!!!" and drool in anticipation of the resultant shock and awe that they will unleash upon a world that failed to show them the proper respect.

Respect has been dwindling for the paleo-pundits who rode this train-wreck to its illogical conclusion, fanning the flames of hate and stoking the fears of creatures incapable of critical thinking. Venomasaurus limbaughii, abandoned by many of his enablers sponsorsaurs, continued his assault on females, alternatively-hued or alternatively oriented lifeforms, Immigrasaurs... in short, the wily mammals who would be taking over the place soon. Anorexiasaurus coulterii pronounced her love for one, then another, then another of the would-be White Cave occupants as she slid into irrelevance like a thread of spaghetti slipping down a drain. Buygoldasaurus glennbeckii became just another deinstitutionalized voice crying in the wilderness.  

The seismic shift we're witnessing? It's just the crazed Baggasaurs and desperate-to-survive GOPasaurs lurching to the far, far Right, desperate to extend their grip on a slippery world. Once enough of them pile on, they'll be experiencing that wild ride they crave... a ride right down into the Subduction Zone. Eventually, they'll be reduced to their only value: a couple of BTUs. Until then, enjoy the show... and invest in popcorn futures!


Watching Ted Cruz foaming at the mouth, it's clear that we need to do a better job of inoculating the Right-wing fringe. Running amok having slipped the collar of reality, they are humping the leg of anyone unable to outrun them. They bark incessantly without provocation. Never content with their own food, they scarf up the food of the young, the poor, the disabled, the elderly, even our veterans. These are some very bad dogs.

By contrast, my recently adopted shelter dog is a paragon of canine virtue:

Evening sun

Dogs embody many fine traits and live by a simple, cooperative code that makes pack life a possibility, whether the pack contains other dogs or humans... or even cats. The Tea Party also lives by a simple code: self above others, and the answer's always "NO!!"

Until a "Tea Party Whisperer" emerges to tame these miscreants, my dog Logan and I offer the following behavioral suggestions, recognizing that they may fall on ears deaf from barking "Benghazi!! Benghazi!! Benghazi!!":

If it's not your yard, it's not your problem: Within a few days of joining our pack, Logan was able to grasp that activities on other people's properties are not a reason to bark. Someone's cutting down a tree? Mowing the lawn? Riding by on a bike? Walking their dog on a leash? Interesting, but not an excuse to freak out. Observe and report. Live and let live. Don't be a dick.

Leave other people's food alone: Chances are, you're getting plenty of food. Some of you are eating great, high-protein, gourmet meals, all you can eat, any time you want. Don't swipe food out of other people's dishes. Don't beg at the table. If you have a nice home, plenty of food, a comfy dog bed, and cool toys and you still whine, you're a very bad dog.

Don't crap on other people's lawn: Everybody poops, but nobody likes to encounter your poop. If you can't keep it in your own yard, make sure you contract with someone to pick up after you and keep our environment livable for everyone.  The world is not your bathroom.

Nobody wants to hear your barking: Sure, if there's something serious going on and you need to warn people, it's okay to bark. But if you do it 24/7, you're a moron and a public nuisance. Your bark won't mean a thing, and we'll just tune it out and consign you to the doghouse.

Be a good pack member: Your loyalty to the pack is a cornerstone of civilized living. Sinking your fangs into another pack member is the worst sort of behavior. Steve King? Ted Cruz? I'm talkin' to you. If a politician will throw their closest allies under the bus, it's for sure that they'd do the same for their constituents.

Try a little tenderness: Chances are, you're better off than many folks in your district or state. It's okay to show some compassion, lend a helping paw, and share your food, home, or toys. You might win some new friends and build your pack... or PAC. Remember, nobody cares how much you know until they know how much you care.

Wag your tail once in a while: Sure, it's fun to growl, bark, jump up on people, mark your territory, and otherwise behave like an alpha male prick. We get it: you're rough and tough, but you're no fun. You've lost your sense of humor. You're just a doggie downer. Surprise us all by embracing the joy in your life. If nothing else, you'll get us to pay attention and wonder whether you might be human after all.


Since joining Twitter, I've done quite a few daily "alphabets" of Tweets on current events. Today's were about gun violence in general, the Navy Yard tragedy in particular. Someone suggested that I summarize them in one place, so here they are. Read and weep:  

A for atrocity, AR15
And Aaron Alexis - a horrible scene

B for bullsh*t spewed by NRA shills
Who swear it's just people - no gun ever kills

C for the carnage that guns cause each day
Remember: REAL PEOPLE have been blown away

Desperate actions by desperate men
We turn on our TVs; it's happened again

E, everywhere: that's where gun dangers lurk
At home, on the town, in the street and at work

F, firearms - just the name conjures fear
And thousands are killed by them every year

G for gunsense: the idea that, someday
Congress won't be indentured to the NRA

H for hypocrisy: Kelly Ayotte
Dissed victims of Newtown and hopes we forgot

I, indignation: how many must die??
While NRA tells us to go out and "buy"

J is for judgment: will there come a day
For NRA puppets frog-marched on display?

K for the killings with AR15s
We're way too accustomed to massacre scenes

L is for love, brightening every day
No match for an AR15, sad to say

Manufacturers love NRA rhetoric
But for victims and families, it seems really sick

N is for Newtown, young lives blown away
No action's been taken since that dreadful day

O, operations and post-trauma care
Those not killed by bullets face more than their share

P for the profits that gun sales rake in
In some value systems, a real deadly sin

Q is for quashing emerging gun bills
The NRA motto? "The Status Quo Kills"

R for the rage that empowers someone
To take their revenge at the end of a gun

S for the Second Amendment that reads:
"More Freedom! More Guns!" what America needs

T, testimony on Capitol Hill
Forget about passing a gun safety bill

U, unrepentant, a man without care
That's NRA spokesman, the vile LaPierre

V for the victims gunned down yesterday
But it's business as usual for NRA

W for witless and Wayne LaPierre
Gun violence leaves families deep in despair

X marks the spot of each droplet of blood
Where victims were gunned down and fell with a thud

Y, yesterday, and for more days to come
We'll witness more massacres; don't become numb!

Z for the zealots all armed to the teeth
They laugh while we weep at the funeral wreath


Two weeks have elapsed, and our adopted shelter dog Logan is settling in nicely. He's getting more accustomed to being around the water, and his coat is morphing from a sandy off-white "shelter color"


to a lush, variegated golden brown.

Evening sun

He's gained subcutaneous fat and muscle on a regimen of high-end dog food and frequent walks and exercise. At 43 pounds, the vet feels that Logan's at his ideal weight: sleek and well defined, an ideal that the other members of the Cassandra Carolina pack can only dream of. Perhaps Logan will drag us off the couch enough to remedy that. More often, we're the ones waking him from his sleep to head outdoors:

Sleepy baby

He's got plenty of reasons to indulge in restorative sleep. Always inquisitive, his mind is going a mile a minute to figure out every smell along his miles of leash walks, psychoanalyze every visitor to our yard and home, and study the nuances of dishwasher loading, laundry, cooking, and other household activities. Just as humans can't lose weight without sufficient sleep, Logan seems to need sleep to remodel himself into the stronger, more muscular, more assertive being that has been lurking inside him for the two years that he was at the shelter.

While Logan sleeps, I've had time to reflect on all manner of things. Having gone 18 years between dogs, I've noticed that the world of dog care has become a lot more complicated. Follow along below the high-protein free-range-chicken-based all-natural food morsel for the rest of the story...

Continue Reading

As promised, I've moved from Texas to North Carolina, and the first order of business was adding a dog to our two-person pack. I've had several gently-used dogs in the past. One was adopted full-grown from a shelter in Massachusetts and went on to live another 17 years. The sainted "Shadow" would be a hard act to follow.

Shadow with bandana

Given our corporate and personal travel regimens, Mr. Carolina and I knew that having a dog wouldn't really be feasible until we moved to North Carolina where - retired - we could devote ourselves to welcoming, training, and providing a good home for a dog. In the mean time, we contented ourselves with a faux-canid, the lovely Molly. Here she is inspecting the surroundings of our construction site near the Intracoastal Waterway:


Molly was a bundle of plush obedience, but unable to carry out basic dog responsibilities, so we waited for the time that we moved in full time to begin scouring newspapers, websites, and listings for shelter dogs near our North Carolina home.

One thing we noticed right away: we were in the land of hounds. Every dog seemed to be at least part hound. There was a palpable dearth of shepherds, collies, retrievers, setters, and other mixed breeds that were the object of our search. The reason? Many of these "desirable" breeds are caught up in a vast canine underground railroad, making their way to shelters in northern states that have bigger budgets and larger pools of potential adopters. I've heard this here, and from shelter operators "up north". What's left are plenty of hound and pit-bull mixes and miscellaneous small dogs.

Mr. Carolina narrowed down our 75-mile-radius quest to two dogs: one was a chocolate lab mix; the other a nearly white "lab mix" with a tail curled up over his back.

The picture of the chocolate lab reminded me of my ex-brother-in-law's ex-girlfriend's ex-chocolate lab. Surely this sad, weary dog has met her just reward in the great green pastures of doggie afterlife, having been bred repeatedly - too repeatedly, in my opinion - to supplement her captor's cash flow. This was the brother-in-law who - while living unemployed in his mom's house and totaling her car - was reading and channeling Ayn Rand in his contempt of the poor and homeless who simply wanted to enjoy an outdoor lifestyle. But... I digress.

The white dog with the curled tail looked like a definite prospect. His on-line photos showed a grinning countenance, bright eyes, and a clean coat. This was no lab, though. His long legs and stance and that Spitz-breed-like tail suggested a more intriguing genetic provenance. We contacted the shelter in rural South Carolina and learned that, yes, he was still available, and we could see him that weekend.

Coming from New England, my concept of an animal shelter involved a fixed location with a building housing cats and dogs in well-maintained cages or pens, with volunteers and paid staff caring for them, walking them, feeding them, and handling administrative tasks. Some shelters handled farm animals or small pets, but most shelters I had dealt with were in the dog-and-cat adoption business. They organized events, advertised on local television, and maintained relationships with sympathetic veterinarians who would provide low-cost or pro-bono services.

This place, by contrast, was a rambling rural property in farm country, with chickens and ducks wandering in the road, dusty dogs laying in the afternoon sun, an assortment of interesting humans, alpacas, goats, cats, dogs, and probably other unseen life-forms. For the most part, the dogs lived outdoors in fenced-off areas with dog houses up on wooden pallets. One would be mistaken to assume that this somewhat haphazard arrangement suggested a lack of care by the proprietors.

The people running this shelter devoted their lives to the care and placement of animals, many of whom came into their cares as a result of abandonment, abuse, or the inability of their owners to maintain their care. As a no-kill (except in truly necessary cases) shelter, they keep the animals as long as necessary. In the case of this particular dog, most of his two-year life was spent at this shelter after being found at a nearby river as a stray. He was neutered, microchipped, and up-to-date on immunizations.

They brought out the dog on a leash, and he trotted right along with us as if to say: "Cool. New volunteers to break in!" He wasn't nervous or jumpy, and seemed to tolerate the many other animals barking, squawking, and clucking in his immediate vicinity. After a leash-walk, he flopped down at our feet while we filled out the paperwork and discussed our personal situation, plans for the dog's care and housing, and agreed to their obligatory home visit.


I resisted the temptation to suggest that our air-conditioned home on a nicely wooded half-acre lot within the reach of a cool sea breeze would be an upgrade from this place, where it looked like an animal bomb had exploded on two sides of a dusty rural road. Come on up. We are happy to show you where we live, and how this dog will live. We are all about transparency.

One truly depressing fact here in the Carolina low country: many dogs are "adopted" for sinister purposes, including use as "bait" in dog fighting, if they are not "fighting" breeds. The home visits are done in part to confirm that these dogs - so well loved at the shelter - do not fall into such a fate. Other than that, larger breeds (at 43 pounds, Logan is "medium-sized" to me) don't get too many takers. It's hard to think about dogs being transported half a country away to find good homes.

Thus it was that we came to adopt "Logan", who has been with us for a week and a half. Curiously, within this short time, his coat has begun to turn a richer, variegated golden color, perhaps a function of improved diet.

Logan exploring the back porch

From the first night, he has slept on our bedroom floor, sleeping through the night. He was trained to a crate - something new to us, but not to him - and will flop in there from time to time when he's tired. He took well to chew toys, destroying the ones meant to be destroyed, while gently "nomming" on a treasured squeaky plush gator.

Nomming on gator

Clearly a good sport willing to participate in stupid pet tricks, Logan allowed me to dress him in a Patriots jersey for game day.

Game day!

The Pats won, so we will have to stick with this moronic ritual for the remainder of the season. Victory becomes him, and he was able to show his joy with this excessive celebration:


Yesterday, he had his complete check-up at the vet, where he was as well behaved as any dog in the history of vet visits, enduring every veterinary poke, prod, needle stick, and intrusion into his private areas with good humor. Clearly the women at the shelter took good care of him, socialized him, and prepared him well for a life after their ministrations. They also kept him in very good health, as confirmed by a battery of blood tests and full examination.

Initially, Logan lavished his attention on me while keeping Mr. Carolina at arms' length. I think that some shelter dogs remember their abusers, those who let them down, those who treated them cruelly or disdainfully, and keep others of that gender on their "suspicious characters" list. When Mr. Carolina took Logan on a walk down to our local marina, Logan became very skittish around the boats, the water, or both. Not exactly what we had hoped for given our plans to involve him in The Life Aquatic.

The next day, I took Logan on the leash to the marina, and he was fine. We took him together and he was fine. Clearly it was being with Mr. Carolina that was the variable governing his reaction.


Remember, though: Logan was found by a river as a stray. It wouldn't be unheard of in this neck of the woods for someone to dump a dog by the side of the road, or out of a boat. If that's what happened, and if I ever found the person who did such a thing to Logan, my 60-year life of thoughtful nonviolence would come to an abrupt end, probably without a moment's remorse.

Nothing's insurmountable, as I've learned with my other gently used dogs. They all endured something bad; they revealed their stories to me in their own ways, in their own time. They all learned to trust again, and to make themselves vulnerable to the strange goings on and the loves and losses of a new home. So far, Logan has given every indication that he will be in contention for Earth's Best Dog consideration. We'll keep you posted.


In what can only be described as the Full Employment Act For Paleo-Pundits, throngs of craven Cretaceous creatures are literally stumbling over one another in their haste to fling themselves off the cliff of relevance and into the Tar Pits of Doom.

                    Dino Tapestry

While past mass extinctions were attributed to externalities - meteor impacts, climate change, wily little mammals eating the GOPasaurs eggs (or lunch) - this event appears to have been entirely self-induced. Darwin, already spinning in his grave as these creatures have eluded their well-deserved extinction, is approaching launch velocity. Among the species caught up in this epic self-cull are the following "dirty dozen" GOPasaurs whose only remaining benefit to the planet would be their BTu value:

Griftasaurus palinii: this leathery-skinned part-time denizen of the Bering backwoods is best known for her ability to mesmerize her prey by winking. Once in her grip, these hapless creatures willingly surrender their assets, convinced that, this time, her nails-on-a-chalkboard vocalizations are sincere. In the world of the lizard-brained, this Cretaceous con works like a charm, again and again.

Boehnersaurus lachrymosii: having evaded the Reaper by hiding out on lush grasslands, orange camouflage coloration, and masking its natural scent in vats of distilled spirits, B. lachrymosii has ample reason to weep. Unable to corral his own GOPasaur herd, and unwilling to carry out the most basic responsibilities of his position, his entire existence now focuses on maintaining his tenuous grasp on his job, and on reality.

Brontosaurus romneii: Already extinct, you say? This Lazaroid lizard continues to emerge from his cash-filled Caymanian cave from time to time to share his unsolicited insights, careful to avoid any references to the fossil record which reminds votersaurs that B. romneii was the progenitor of healthcare program enacted by Obamasaurus rex.

Bloviasaurus limbaughii: still spewing toxic blasts from his Oxycontin-filled bunker, this heinous creature has lost many of his followers through the efforts of massive Mesozoic Campaigns of Shame. The remaining sponsors of his blathering, eager to avoid co-extinction in his inevitable collapse, are leaving the drainage basin in droves.

Albertasaurus tedcruzii: the Grim Reaper has a special plan for this self-aggrandizing foreign interloper. Fueled by delusions of adequacy, this craven creature has already outgrown the Permian Basin and has its beady eyes set on the White Cave. Birthersaurs - once swarming around the ankles of O. rex, are awash in adoration for A. tedcruzii, unconcerned about his dubious provenance.

Cubanasaurus marcorubio: this hydration-challenged Latinosaur, carrying on his shoulders the hopes of a generation of immigrasaurs, has been satisfying his thirst with Baggasaur Kool-Aid. As a result, he has sunken into the fossil flip-flopping that has claimed so many other GOPasaurs. Unable to placate any faction, he can only watch as his prospects erode like a sand bar in a tsunami.

Louiesaurus gohmertii: elevating hateful ignorance to an art form, this single individual has managed to drag down the already perilously low collective GOPasaur IQ. L. gohmertii's witless utterances and disdain for other life-forms exemplify the "we've-got-ours-screw-you" mentality that spurs mammalian usurpers to accelerate their efforts to convert the Permian Basin's Red Shift.

Gaffasaurus perrii: having shaken himself free of his gubernatorial mantle, this fumbling Texasaur is once more launching himself onto the Continental scene. While his previous fossil faux pas were exacerbated by ingestion of massive quantities of red wine and pain medication, much of the fault lies not in the stars, but in the fact that this is one truly witless creature who cannot locate his posterior with both forelimbs and a flashlight.

Archelon mcconnellii: this already fossilized Kentuckian kritter had its posterior soundly kicked in a recent campaign appearance. Opponents, smelling blood in the water, are circling for the kill, as A. mcconnellii swims further and further to the right to placate the Baggasaurs, who are already laying the fire for a delicious turtle soup, reportedly a favorite menu item at the White Cave

Libertariasaurus randpaulii: considered by some best hope for GOPasaur domination, this Mesozoic monomaniac preaches from the Ayn Rand Petroglyphs, eschewing any assistance from the Federales. The fossil record, however, shows that his drainage basin has been the beneficiary of considerable influx of funds, a fact brought home by his newest nemesis...

Behemasaurus christii: thinner in girth, bloodier in tooth and claw, this Jerseysaur is clearly keeping his options open. Not one to take coprolites from fellow GOPasaurs, B. christii slashes back with the fighting style that will exemplify his neck of the woods in future eras. L. randpaulii has chomped on the wrong GOPasaur in taking on this Mesozoic mesomorph.

Archeopteryx bachmannii: extinction takes many forms, the saddest of which is the rapid deterioration of mental faculties. A. bachmannii, not exactly at top dead center on the flywheel of life, is now spinning out of control in full view of fellow GOPasaurs who considered her a viable contender for the paleo-presidency. Now, she continues her pathetic vocalization while her mate, the curious Marcasaurus, is simply grateful to have her out of the cave for weeks at a time.

There is no shortage of schadenfreude as we witness - in real time - the self-inflicted demise of creatures who have bedeviled us, imperiled our offspring, and trashed our surroundings. It takes a village to chronicle this debacle, and you, dear reader, are encouraged to share your observations in the comments as the drama unfolds.

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