June 13, 2013

"Reading Brooks’s laments about Snowden and 'the fraying of the social fabric,' I found myself thinking about Norman Rockwell..."

"... if not in the same way Brooks might. (In 2008, after what he saw as a rhetorical triumph by Sarah Palin, Brooks wrote, 'Somewhere in heaven Norman Rockwell is smiling.') The image that came to mind was one of the panels from Rockwell’s 'Four Freedoms' series: the one on freedom of speech, in which a man stands up at what looks like a town meeting. He might be about twenty-nine. He is wearing a work jacket, so maybe he’s a high-school drop-out. There are better dressed people in the hall. And they are listening to him."

Writes Amy Davidson in The New Yorker, with the sentimentality that Rockwell haters loathe about Rockwell. Here's the referenced Rockwell painting:



I was going to snark that there's no way that guy is 29, but then I asked Meade, "How old does this guy look," and he said, "29." And, "That's what guys who work on the farm look like when they're 29."

Then I tried my other idea: "How do we know he's not a communist, dressed that way to trick the naively idealistic Norman-Rockwell-loving folks of that small town? He's dressed like a folksinger. He could be Pete Seeger." And Meade said: "You can tell by that greasy dirt on his jacket. That guy does real work."

We talked about the difference between this idealized farmer — with his real dirt, in a real place, with real people — and Edward Snowden — who operated within computer networks and evanesced into Asia. But it's 2013, and maybe that Rockwell character does need to be a man detached from the American soil, floating out there in unmediated space. And yet — as Meade said — "He's Tea Party."

78 comments:

Helenhightops said...

I think Rockwell has made the speaker look like Abe Lincoln.

X said...

How do we know he's not a communist, dressed that way to try to trick the naively idealistic, Norman-Rockwell-loving folks of that small town?

like juror E7 in the Zimmerman trial?

He's dressed like a folksinger. He could be Pete Seeger.

he doesn't appear to be stealing song royalties from black guys.

Ann Althouse said...

"I think Rockwell has made the speaker look like Abe Lincoln."

Meade said that too.

edutcher said...

I have a feeling that whole "fraying of the social fabric" business has a lot to do with people not worshipping at the feet of the latest Democrat Messiah (FDR, JFK, LBJ (for a little while), Bucketmouth, Willie, Choom).

Ann Althouse said...

He's dressed like a folksinger. He could be Pete Seeger.

You'd rather he look like Peter Yarrow?

And Meade said: "You can tell by that greasy dirt on his jacket. That guy does real work

The only "real" work is manual labor?

LarsPorsena said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
rhhardin said...

Farmers around here hire people to farm, I think owing to ethanol laws making corn and everything that corn displaces acreage-wise pricier.

Buying up more farmland and clearing new land seems to be the rule.

The US really leads in agriculture efficiency.

We plant cars in Iowa, as the economics saying goes, by way of international trade.

gerry said...

he doesn't appear to be stealing song royalties from black guys.'

Or, as revealed in the Venona Papers, taking orders from the Comintern.

Meade said...

This new property tax you county politician folks are proposing, I can see how it'll help you pay for hiring more county employees who'll write up more rules and regulations on this and that, and I can see how those things will get you more votes that'll help you get reelected next year. And I don't blame you for wanting those things.

But you need to know, if this tax goes through, combined with this wet cold spring we've been having, I and my neighbors won't have the money to both pay the tax and pay the interest on the bank notes we all had to take out last winter in order to buy our seed corn. No seed corn, no crop. No crop, no milk. No milk, no cheese. Government cheese or otherwise.

edutcher said...

LarsPorsena said...

How do we know he's not a communist, dressed that way to trick the naively idealistic Norman-Rockwell-loving folks..

Because his hands are rough from work and he has dirt under his fingernails.


Maybe he just got back from pulling some Kulak he had shot out of his newly-plowed furrow.

LarsPorsena said...

Blogger LarsPorsena said...

".."How do we know he's not a communist, dressed that way to trick the naively idealistic Norman-Rockwell-loving folks.."

Because his hands are rough from work and he has dirt under his fingernails.

Leftists always lament the worker's plight but never actually do work themselves.

Meade said...

The only "real" work is manual labor?

No. But it's the only thing that puts real food on commie folksingers' real plates.

Helenhightops said...

Meade is right; that is what he is saying, AND all those guys know him. There is only one school in the community. The guy in front of him was in first grade with him, and the guy behind him was in school with his father. The family is known and respected in town.

edutcher said...

Meade said...

The only "real" work is manual labor?

No. But it's the only thing that puts real food on commie folksingers' real plates.


True that.

Robert Cook said...

Why does the New Yorker writer assume, because he is a laborer, that the man may be a "high school drop-out?"

This is really a tell of her youth.

At the time this painting was made, (and in fact, even today), most Americans did not go on to college from high school.

Also, more manual labor was performed in this country at the time of this painting...even by high school graduates.

Rockwell was making the point, though, that all Americans had the right to participate in the public debate about what kind of communities and society we were going to have and how they would best be organized and managed--laborers as well as bankers, as it were.

To the degree this was true then, it is less true today.

Saint Croix said...

Meade is good for Althouse because he keeps her from going off the snark cliff.

"How do we know he's not a communist, dressed that way to trick the naively idealistic Norman-Rockwell-loving folks of that small town?"

Hating Rockwell is New York snark.

"You can tell by that greasy dirt on his jacket. That guy does real work."

That's brilliant American snark from the heartland. It's simultaneously snarky about those damn lazy socialists, mixed with sincere admiration for the old-fashioned American work ethic.

LarsPorsena said...

Blogger Meade said...

The only "real" work is manual labor?

No. But it's the only thing that puts real food on commie folksingers' real plates.
________________________________

Agriculture, mining, and manufacturing. Everything else is just nice 'stuff'.

Meade said...

And without commie folksingers, there's no telling just how many roads a man would have to walk down before you pass an immigration bill that'd bump him to the front of the line and give him amnesty.

gerry said...

I can't feel sorry for Brooks. In fact, I resent Brooks' laments. He is a Baby Boomer (and so am I), and it was a majority of the Boomers whose lives and philosophy and selfishnesses spawned the fraying of the social fabric. His lament is phony since he embraced - and embraces - what he laments.

Poor baby.

traditionalguy said...

Evanesced? What kind of word is that? An apparition that suddenly melts away?

OK, Snowden is very New England like. He fits what the Bill of Rights was written to protect: Secretive, now you see us, now you don't, Boston merchants ( a/k/a smugglers) trying to survive the Monarchy's latest bold Armed forces sent here to round them up and rob all of the money left in the Monarch's North American Province.

Snowden would have been the guy who fired the first shot at Lexington. He has definitely been heard around the world...not as a traitor or as a hero but as an American willing to fight back.

cahall said...

This guy isn't Tea Party. He's like my Grandfather, a former cotton-picker and Okie who became a master carpenter, served in WWII as an army engineer (shot several times by the Nazis as he was repairing a bridge), and lifelong Democrat. I didn't know him that well, but I knew his thoughts on Republicans, which he was always happy to share with my eight-year-old self. Reagan was "that Goddamn actor," and even Eisenhower was a "phony." His only political heroes were FDR and JFK. He worked his ass off every day of his life, and he was definitely a hardcore "leftie" who believed that Republicans were out to screw the little guy at every opportunity and favor big business. He wasn't afraid to speak his mind, or to get his jacket and hands dirty, and he easily could have been the man in this painting.

LarsPorsena said...


..Snowden would have been the guy who fired the first shot at Lexington...


Snowden would have revealed Washington's extensive espionage network from St. Petersburg.

Robert Cook said...

"...(my grandfather) was definitely a hardcore 'leftie' who believed that Republicans were out to screw the little guy at every opportunity and favor big business."

Your grandfather was right. Unfortunately, today, the Democrats are largely just Republicans with better table manners.

Phil 3:14 said...

what kind of communities and society we were going to have and how they would best be organized and managed

Must every community be "organized"?

LarsPorsena said...

Today the guy in the picture didn't ask the right questions he'd have state employees rummaging through his records for dirt and the IRS giving his returns extra scrutiny.
(See Joe the Plumber).

edutcher said...

gerry said...

I can't feel sorry for Brooks. In fact, I resent Brooks' laments. He is a Baby Boomer (and so am I), and it was a majority of the Boomers whose lives and philosophy and selfishnesses spawned the fraying of the social fabric.

I've often wondered about that. The campus commandos would have been outnumbered by the hard hats and the YRs.

Or was it that the hippie dippy types just got all the publicity?

Robert Cook said...

Why does the New Yorker writer assume, because he is a laborer, that the man may be a "high school drop-out?"

This is really a tell of her youth.

At the time this painting was made, (and in fact, even today), most Americans did not go on to college from high school.

Also, more manual labor was performed in this country at the time of this painting...even by high school graduates.


Because in those days (tail end of the Depression), a lot of people had dropped out of school to get a job and help the family along. It's not about not going on to college, it's about not finishing high (or even grade) school*.

All that's showing is Cook's Lefty "working class" snobbery.

...(my grandfather) was definitely a hardcore 'leftie' who believed that Republicans were out to screw the little guy at every opportunity and favor big business.

Your grandfather was right. Unfortunately, today, the Democrats are largely just Republicans with better table manners.


If Cook actually believes that, he never took a good look at Dingy Harry, Slobbering Barney, Kerosene Maxine, or Tom Harkin.

* One of the requirements for the 1st Special Service Force, an otherwise elite unit in WWII, was a 3rd grade education. In those days, a 3rd grade education meant you could reliably read, write, and do simple arithmetic.

Mitchell the Bat said...

Half the fun of practicing before a zoning hearing board is during the intermission, watching the developers buy off the complaining neighbors by promising to plant screening evergreens that somehow never show up on the final plan.

Illuninati said...


cahall said...
"This guy isn't Tea Party. He's like my Grandfather,... and lifelong Democrat. I didn't know him that well, but I knew his thoughts on Republicans, which he was always happy to share with my eight-year-old self. Reagan was "that Goddamn actor," and even Eisenhower was a "phony." His only political heroes were FDR and JFK. He worked his ass off every day of his life, and he was definitely a hardcore "leftie" who believed that Republicans were out to screw the little guy at every opportunity and favor big business...

Democrats then were not at all like todays Democrats. Back then the Democrats were strict segregationists who believed black people were inferior and needed to take a test before they were allowed to vote. Women were housewives and secretaries. Abortion was illegal. Democrats may have been "lefties" but they were religious conservatives who hated Marxism. When people needed a hand out they had to work for it. Illegitimate childbirth was almost unheard of and the unwed mother was scorned.





Mark O said...

If I had a hammer I could tell you where all the flowers had gone.

Seeger took the FIRST amendment in defense to HUAC. Musical genius and fascinating man.

Peter said...

Farming today is hi-tech and requires significant capital. Unless it's hobby farming.

Jeffersonian agrarianism is long gone. Even though we've long been emancipated from that cross of gold with paper money (not mere silver!).

Roughcoat said...

If he were my grandfather, he'd be a Republican. Grandpa was the son of a German immigrant, raised in a German speaking household in small-town rural Illinois. Everyone in his mostly German community was a Repbulican, very staunchly so. Being a Republican was a tradition that extended back to the Civil War, in which most of their immigrant fathers (including my great-grandfather) had fought (on the Union side of course). He came from the "liberal German" tradition, my grandfather, and he associated the Democrat Party with slavery, rebellion in the interests of slavery, big-city corruption, cronyism, and graft, and socialism/communism and their attendant tyrannies. He associated the Republican Party as the party of racial equality and fairness. The Republican Party was, for him, the voice and protector of the American middle and lower middle class. It was the party of true liberalism, in the classic sense.

Paul Zrimsek said...

This guy isn't Tea Party. He's like my Grandfather, a former cotton-picker and Okie who became a master carpenter, served in WWII as an army engineer (shot several times by the Nazis as he was repairing a bridge), and lifelong Democrat.

He's probably asking why that goddamn Nip family three doors down hasn't been relocated yet.

ricpic said...

That guy standing up in the Norman Rockwell painting is a bitter clinger! Kill him!!

St. George said...

Rockwell was a fascinating man. Grew up in NYC, not some rural midwestern small town. Became a socialite, traveling with his first wife to Europe on ocean liners.

Moved to New England small town because his unsound second wife could get treatment at a new facility there. He himself was in therapy and used his art to create a fantasy world that he did not know in his own life.

In his third marriage, his wife was fairly liberal and inspired him to do his 1960s civil rights paintings.

He was the Robert Crumb of the pre-LSD generation.

St. George said...

And that's Rockwell in the far left corner

cahall said...

Paul Z, I think it'd be fair to say that at this point, neither the Democratic nor Republican parties represent any of the best qualities of the past. All of the rabid partisan sniping present on a blog like this one represents a delusional mindset that thinks that in reality there is much of a difference between the parties. Yes, they vocally stake their various claims to different kinds of special interest groups, but in the end, the Dems and Repubs fit into the pockets of whoever can afford to purchase them. In the voting booth, it comes down to, who will screw me the least?

El Pollo Raylan said...

I went to a "promotion ceremony" at a local middle school yesterday. It was for 8th graders who've made it through and will begin high school. When I went through the system, we didn't make a such a big deal about it but out here it's different. Fully 3/4 of the student body is Latino either by name or on the face of it. Many are immigrants.

The school's principal gave a stirring speech, being sure to mention her personal connection to Caesar Chavez --"my parents marched with him"--before repeating her speech in fluent Spanish.

She brimmed with optimism. I looked and listened for any sort of resentment—the sort that the Democrats say the Tea Party engenders. I listened for any hint or dog whistle. But I heard nothing. The closest she came was to advise her students "not to take things personally." Which I found odd. And why should there be any resentment? The California Public school system is quite generous to all--less so at the primary level than the secondary and university level so quite literally there is nothing to bitch about.

The only thing that bothered me was that during the pledge, many (well most) of the parents declined to put their hand over their heart. Maybe there should have been a reminder in Spanish? But all the kids showed respect for the pledge and also for the color guard—yes we have a real ROTC color guard at every such event. I was heartened.

Robert Cook said...

"Must every community be 'organized?'"

If it's not organized in some manner it's not a community, but merely a collection of isolated individuals living in disconnected proximity to one another.

If there are roads, public utilities, places of business, etcl, it's a community...with organization.

Lem said...

But if Brooks means the sort of arrangements that keep members of Congress, who are supposed to be exercising oversight, from pushing back after secret briefings, or that lead the President to tell us that the acquiescence of all three branches—even when one is represented by a secret, rubber-stamping court—should ease all doubts about a policy, then perhaps some damage is useful.

Let’s try something at a smaller scale.

What happens when the police fails to inform criminal suspects of their right to remain silent, before they are interrogated to preserve the admissibility of their statements against them in criminal proceedings? My understanding (and I might be wrong about this, I only went to HS) is that evidence of wrong doing obtained prior to the Miranda warning may not be used at trial on behalf of the people, the prosecution.
In other words, we seem to regard the potential damage, that a suspect may go free, useful.

At the NSA scale what potential damage do we regard useful?

The frame of reference I’m looking at covers pressure cookers to flying planes into buildings. The bigger stuff I'm not going to mention because it hasn't happened yet, so why worry about it.

BTW. When are memory lapses useful?

edutcher said...

Cook shows his true colors

Communities don't need to be "organized". They come together when people have a need to work together for a common good.

The idea such things have to be "organized" into being is a statist, totalitarian one.

Robert Cook said...

"Because in those days (tail end of the Depression), a lot of people had dropped out of school to get a job and help the family along. It's not about not going on to college, it's about not finishing high (or even grade) school*.

"All that's showing is Cook's Lefty 'working class" snobbery.'"


A lot of people who did not drop out but who completed high school went on to jobs of physical labor, because that's the kind of world it was then and the kind of work that needed and plentiful.

I don't even know what you're talking about with your reference to "working class snobbery."

Robert Cook said...

"Communities don't need to be 'organized.' They come together when people have a need to work together for a common good."

If they've "come together" and are "working together for the common good" (or for any purpose), they're organized.

Lem said...

The Miranda warning example you might say is faulty or bad because that's exactly what Snowden is saying... "we haven't done anything wrong".

But I'm considering it here in the context of what do we consider "useful" or what is an acceptable level of risk, to put it another way.

Why not have that conversation.

When does the need of the many outweigh the need of the few?

Lem said...

My comments are disappearing again.

lemondog said...

Since Rockwell liked to depict life as he experienced it or envisioned it, it is not surprising that this image depicts an actual occurrence. This is a scene of a local town meeting in which one person spoke out in lone dissent but was accorded the floor as a matter of protocol. Once he envisioned this scene to depict freedom of speech, Rockwell decided to use his Vermont neighbors as models for a Four Freedoms series.[4] The painting took four attempts. Earlier versions were troubled by the distraction of multiple subjects and the improper placement and perspective of the subject for the message to be clear.[3] An Arlington, Vermont Rockwell neighbor, Carl Hess, stood as the model for the shy, brave young workman, and another neighbor, Jim Martin, who appears in each painting in the series, is in the scene.

Apparently Carl Hess had the Lincolnesque look......

One wonders how today Rockwell would depict Freedom of Speech.

NSA spying, people twittering, online bashing......

El Pollo Raylan said...
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El Pollo Raylan said...

ed said: Communities don't need to be "organized". They come together when people have a need to work together for a common good.

The idea such things have to be "organized" into being is a statist, totalitarian one.


At the molecular biology level, self-assembly occurs when disparate elements come together to build something living and complex like a cell.

At a baser, chemical level, self-assembly occurs when like atoms or molecules fall into place in a crystal. That's what Barack Obama is as a community organizer--just a seed crystal for like-minded people to nucleate around. There's really nothing "higher order" about his inorganic level of organization.

edutcher said...

Community organizer is just longhand for rabble rouser.

That's all FDR was when he used the upper classes as a whipping boy for the country's ills.

And the low info voters bought it.

Robert Cook said...

Communities don't need to be 'organized.' They come together when people have a need to work together for a common good.

If they've "come together" and are "working together for the common good" (or for any purpose), they're organized.


The people of the settlement of Smithtown figure they would do better with a road to the river.

They all pick a day to devote to it and do the work.

Who organized the community, the first guy to say, "Y'know, we're all talkin' about a road."?

bpm4532 said...

I'm still not convinced we're not being played. Snowden really hasn't revealed all that much that wasn't suspected or known in certain tech circles. However, the attention certainly seems to be letting the air out of the sails of the other scandals.

Two other points:
1. If it was this easy for this guy to get highly classified stuff copied and out the door, why should we have confidence in NSA's controls over the information being used for domestic spying?
2. How much of this would be necessary if we had enforced our borders and immigration?

Schorsch said...

It's not just a work jacket, it's an A1 flight jacket coopted for civilian work. Rockwell's contemporaries would recognize it, and the character of the man who wore it, even if a modern writer for the New Yorker does not.

edutcher said...

bpm4532 said...

I'm still not convinced we're not being played. Snowden really hasn't revealed all that much that wasn't suspected or known in certain tech circles.

But it wasn't known publicly.

And it seems to have scared the Demos.

Roger J. said...

MR Cook--Toqueville remarked about the ability of American communities to organize themselves--and he was writing in the 1830s--"Democracy in America" is still a fascinating read.

lemondog said...

Preliminary study for "Freedom of Speech", 1942

Interesting prelim study shows a cleaner more angry speaker surrounded by more disgruntled, less friendly faces.

edutcher said...

The idea being he's known for taking the unpopular view.

He also looks like a truck driver.

bagoh20 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Paul Zrimsek said...

I think it'd be fair to say that at this point, neither the Democratic nor Republican parties represent any of the best qualities of the past.

I think so too. The point of my example was that neither party represented any of the best qualities of the past in the past either.

Meade said...

Spam filter caught non-spam, now released.

El Pollo Raylan said...

Amy Davidson wrote: The image that came to mind was one of the panels from Rockwell’s “Four Freedoms” series: the one on freedom of speech, in which a man stands up at what looks like a town meeting. He might be about twenty-nine. He is wearing a work jacket, so maybe he’s a high-school drop-out. There are better dressed people in the hall. And they are listening to him.

The guy in the Rockwell painting stood up at town meeting. Snowden "stood up" in Hong Kong. Big difference, lady.

El Pollo Raylan said...

The guy in the Rockwell painting is a guy we live with and we're comfortable with (most of us, at least). Snowden is some guy on the lam who we have to listen to through secret communiques.

Lem said...

The Snowden Story is not holding up.

Meade said...

"Snowden is some guy on the lam who we have to listen to through secret communiques"

of rat-faced communicators who, from Brazil, publish in non-American publications.

gerry said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
gerry said...

"of rat-faced communicators who, from Brazil, publish in non-American publications"

who happen to be gay (NTTAWWT)

Chip S. said...

Your obsession w/ hidden motives is the reason the authors of The Federalist used the 18th-century equivalent of screen names.

Arguments stand or fall on the basis of their own strength, not the authority (or lack thereof) of the person making them.

Which is why I don't care about Edward Snowden.

Except that the manner in which he came to possess his info provides additional insight into the operations of the NSA.

traditionalguy said...

Free Speech today means the internet talkers, or some brief raw footage in a crisis that gets on CNN before the narrative is added.

So Snowden's actions is the epitome free speech in today's digital information age.

He knows what they are doing and is unafraid to speak up.

Why again is it relevent that he is accused of being a snotty nosed young jerk that ran away? Why does that matter except to slander the guy to weaken his message?

virgil xenophon said...

St. Croix@8:04/

"Hating Rockwell is New York Snark"

Yes, the people Rockwell represent are soooo utterly, irredeemably plebeian don'tcha know..

Jim said...

And the Gang of Eight are going to legalize 11 million to compete with this guy to drive down his wages.

caplight45 said...

Gotta love Meade. You've got a great guy there. He remains untouched and unadulterated by all that is Madison, WI.

Carl said...

Of course there are still laboring poor out there.

And it's not surprising they should make $100,000 a year New York scribblers and NGO lawyers uneasy. They must know instinctively what would happen to them if the scrabbling poor really lose faith in the system.

Rockwell may well have known that, too, and chosen to pay homage up front to lower a smidge the risk of later having to beg for his life or food in front of the neighborhood public safety council.

But I prefer to think he was in no small part reminding the high and mighty, the lucky and powerful, that preserving the dignity and rights and hopes of the poor was not only the decent thing to do, but the only long-term guarantee of their own survival.

Lydia said...

Now this is just plain sad -- Norman Rockwell’s granddaughter paints terrorists:

For the better part of the past decade, under the pseudonym “Lapata,” Daisy Rockwell has been creating images of terror suspects in unexpected poses.

In one piece, Mohamed Mahmood Alessa, a New Jersey man arrested for allegedly trying to join a terrorist group in Somalia, is cuddling his cat.

In another, Aafia Siddiqui, currently serving 86 years for attempting to kill U.S. nationals, is seen on her graduation day.

Rockwell told CNN the innocent-looking portraits – based on actual photographs of her subjects – were intentional and her way of “dismantling the aura of fear” that surrounds these people, to better understand their actions.

“We are supposed to think that those who wish America ill are motivated by evil and to not think any further than that,” says Rockwell. “(But America) has spent quite a bit of time meddling in the affairs of other countries. Whether we like it or not, there are plenty of reasons out there for people to wish us ill as a country.”

Oso Negro said...

Snowden is not a Tea Party or Norman Rockwell painting type. He is a lapsed government stooge metrosexual.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

If they've "come together" and are "working together for the common good" (or for any purpose), they're organized.

Yes. But....the difference is that they have organized themselves to the best use of their own needs and desires. Organization from the bottom up.

The Big Brother Government that we have now wants to organize us from the top down and dictate to us exactly HOW we are to organize and what our needs and desires are. One size fits all organization without any consideration of local needs and issues and generally without the cooperation or consent of the organized.

Joe Schmoe said...

"He's dressed like a folksinger. He could be Pete Seeger."

It's the hands. The easiest way to tell a workman from a commie is to check their hands.

DavidD said...

Freedom of Speech, fine.

But Freedom from Want? Can we get any more Communist than that?

The only way the government can guarantee freedom from want is to deny freedom to want.

Meade said...

Thanks, cap. Appreciated.

Tom from Virginia said...

I went to the Norman Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge MA recently. The tour guide talked about this painting quite a bit. And yes, she said Rockwell was trying to paint the face of Lincoln.

Tom from Virginia said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Tom from Virginia said...

And Wikipedia states that one of the reasons Rockwell moved to Stockbridge was to be near a psychiatric hospital for his wife. So not even Norman Rockwell lived in Norman Rockwell's America.


Rusty said...

caplight45 said...
Gotta love Meade. You've got a great guy there. He remains untouched and unadulterated by all that is Madison, WI.

He's not just a stuffed tiger. He actually works, like with his hands.

Which is another pet peeve of mine.

Why is it that you snobby intellectual types think that just because somebody works with their hands they can't be as smart as you?