Funeral for a friend.

Jeez, what a sucktastic Saturday. I spent much of it traveling to, attending and returning from a funeral. The husband of my former editor at Bridge (the one I still speak to and like) died suddenly, of an apparent heart attack. At 37. Everyone was in shock, and the funeral home was filled to capacity with very sad people.

Derek still seemed flattened, and I expect he will be for some time. The two of them made one of those unlikely pairs that somehow works perfectly — the curmudgeon and the happy sprite, with Derek, the journalist, playing the curmudgeon role. The good news is, he has lots of people holding him up, many of whom wore bow ties to the service, in tribute to the deceased, Jesse, who wore them often.

Anyway, it got me thinking.

I found this Twitter thread last week. Someone dug up Ross Douthat’s college writings and found, whaddaya know, he hasn’t really changed since 1998. He was a smug little shit then, and remains one today. I was taken by the one headlined, “The Cross and the Triangle,” sniffing over the appointment of a lesbian to an associate-minister position at Memorial Church, which I gather is an important one at Harvard. Young Ross was “opposed to homosexual conduct,” like his church and, he points out, many others. Damn liberals.

It was a reminder that roughly 20 years ago was an utterly different era in how we think about gay people in this country. One of the last funerals for a gay person I attended was during the AIDS era, when it was common for health-care professionals and even morticians to refuse their business. My friend Paul had to find a new dentist. I expect some of the funeral directors would have preferred ditch burials, maybe preceded by an open burn, like for zombies.

But of course AIDS was, paradoxically, also one of the things that started to change our thinking. I once asked one of my gay male friends, who came of age in the ’70s, how many sex partners he’d had in his lifetime. First we had to determine what constituted sex, and settled on any activity where one or both parties reached orgasm, since body fluids were what was causing the plague. He had to estimate. It was a big number. A big, big number, and fairly common for that era, at least for men. A few years later, he was the one in the casket, having been lovingly cared for through a horrible illness by a partner he considered a husband. It was common at the time to consider gay men infantile pleasure-seekers, incapable of true romantic connection with another human being. (This, even though every city and town, large and small, had its Fred and Howard or Bob and Steve, two “roommates” who’ve shared a house for decades and always decorate it so nicely at the holidays and invite all the auxiliary ladies to use it for their fundraisers. I knew one of these guys back in Columbus; they had a custom drape to hang over the mural of semi-nude Roman centurions lounging around in leather harnesses, etc., when the auxiliaries came through.) Seeing how they mourned their dead put that one to rest.

Anyway, back to the funeral. The woman who led the service was a lesbian, and her partner/wife was one of the eulogists, speaking of their “gayborhood,” and their “framily.” I’m so happy that people don’t have to live lies anymore, to be “confirmed bachelors” but actual husbands to other husbands, wives to wives. Life goes better when you have someone you love sleeping next to you every night, drinking coffee with you in the morning, and you don’t have to hide it.

I expect I’m now at the age when the funerals will come more often. We had a “celebration of life” last summer. Saturday was a celebration of life, too, only no one was feeling particularly celebratory.


Otherwise? I’ve got a big day of writing ahead, so I should wrap. A little bloggage:

Thanks to LAMary for this, a collection of social-media shots from the White House staff holiday party. Folks, I’m worried about Tiffany. Very, very worried. She doesn’t look well.

If you aren’t one of those who caught this charming story about an unlikely friendship between Charles Barkley and Lin Wang, enjoy it now. Who is Lin Wang? That’s what makes the friendship unlikely.

On to my friend’s arts-grant application. Happy start-of-the-week, all.

Posted at 11:41 am in Current events, Same ol' same ol' | 14 Comments

Smocking hot.

It seems as though I read a while back — which, in this insane time, could mean anything from two days ago to a year ago January — that Trump deliberately uses bad grammar, random capitalizations and misspellings in his tweets, because that’s the way “the base” writes, and it helps them claim him as their own.

I believe it. Or, as we say these days, put that in your pipe and smock it.

Folks, I’m feeling out of sorts this week. Dunno why. I’m just slow and sluggish and fat and farty and tired. My knees hurt, and all I want to do is read about Michael Cohen and his bottomless misery, as well as his future in an orange jumpsuit.

So let’s get to the bloggage, because I have to be back at work in…eight hours.

What was I saying about maybe trying to get into “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel”? I don’t think so anymore. I think Emily Nussbaum hits that nail pretty squarely. Reminded me of why I quit watching in the first season.

For you Hoosiers and Buckeyes: The estrangement of the Amish Cook from the editor who launched the column (and, she suspects, cheating her out of her end).

I think I know why I’m not feeling it this week: We reached the end of the most recent Great British Baking Show, and the WRONG PERSON won. Team Ruby all the way here. Or even Kim-Joy. But not…him.

Into the rest of the week, then.

Posted at 9:58 pm in Current events | 51 Comments

A few days away.

This weekend seems to be all about luxury for me. I’m house-sitting/nannying at my friends’ house two miles away from my own. They’re in London, but their 15-year-old twins are here, and the dogs need to be fed. So this is really a pretty sweet gig — the girls are self-sufficient and look after themselves, the dogs just need to be let into the yard from time to time, and the house is very pleasant. I basically just sit around and wait to do practically nothing, ensuring there is an Adult Presence on call and no teen ragers take place, because the midcentury modern furniture is too nice for that.

This must be what it’s like to be in a harem, only I don’t have to screw anyone. I never realized how much I do on a typical Saturday until I didn’t do anything. It felt pretty good.

(Of course, this means I’ll have to do the laundry Tuesday, when I get home, but eh, no biggie. There’s something to be said for watching the rabbits play on the front lawn as the sun comes up, listening to the coffeemaker burble away in the kitchen. Also, the bed I’m sleeping in is vast and has a firm mattress. After all this exertion, I took a siesta yesterday afternoon that was the best nap of my life.)

Here’s my buddy Leo. We’re reading the Times together.

And besides lounging, that’s what this weekend has been about, for me: Reading the Times. Reading the Post. Reading reading reading reading, because I don’t want to miss a nuance of the news breaking this weekend, which, like so many things, has been right in front of us all along. I’ve been checking Deplorable Twitter for reaction, and — this house having cable TV — an occasional Fox News fly-by, but there’s nothing there you wouldn’t expect. Just crickets or BFD. I expect we’ll have to wait for another round of pulse-taking out in Red America to find out what they’re thinking.

A few days or weeks ago — who can say — I saw a story about a farmer who was starting to suffer from the agricultural tariffs. He was feeling the pain, he said, but he just had to keep believing the president knew exactly what he was doing, and all would be revealed soon. I’ve seen less childish belief from first-graders talking about Santa Claus. I expect that’s what’s going on out there now.

So! How was your weekend? Leave links in the comments, if you wish. There are so many stories about what’s going on out there, I feel like I can’t pick just two or three, especially when so much of what I read is behind paywalls. But there’s this, from Politico, on what’s going on in North Carolina, and it’s free:

In the two weeks since Thanksgiving, Bladen County has been the focus of investigations into irregularities in the race for North Carolina’s 9th Congressional district. Specifically, how did the Republican, Mark Harris, win 61 percent of the absentee-by-mail votes when Republican voters only requested 19 percent of all absentee ballots? How did he manage to win the county at all, given the fact that it has three times as many registered Democrats as Republicans?

The numbers are close enough to jeopardize Harris’s apparent 905-vote victory over Dan McCready and might even force a redo of the election. That a small-scale fraud in a rural county of only 35,000 people could have fudged the result of one of the most watched Congressional races in the country is a reminder once again of the outside influence of economically left behind places like Bladen County, where the poverty rate is 20 percent and the median household income of $32,396 is about half the national median.

Local and national news outlets have done a fairly convincing job assigning blame for this fraud to a man named Leslie McCrae Dowless. A lifelong county resident, Dowless took money from an organization that took money from Harris’s campaign and, in turn, handed that money out to anyone willing to go door-to-door and persuade people to request and then hand over absentee ballots. A few of the foot soldiers have confirmed their parts, and several voters signed affidavits saying someone took their unsealed and incomplete ballots, which is illegal.

A fruitcake true-crime story for fruitcake season, via Laura Lippman. I’m only halfway through, but it’s wonderful, and so far, there haven’t been any murders.

With that, I find that I grow weary of this back-breaking labor, and need to relax some more. Happy Sunday, all.

Posted at 9:43 am in Current events | 61 Comments

Memo day.

With just a few exceptions, our life has improved since we cut the cable cord a while back. We’re not missing much great TV, and don’t feel obligated to watch, to name but one example, George H.W. Bush’s funeral. The best stuff is always streaming somewhere – that’s how I took in the Kavanaugh testimony – and the best of the best will live forever on Twitter, or until it is GIF’d and meme’d and otherwise enters the memory hole of the internet.

I thought of this while not-watching the Bush funeral. I guess I missed some eulogies that were OK, but ultimately, I wasn’t a GHWB fan, so I’m not going to invest a few hours watching. (This sentiment doesn’t apply to the current POTUS’ funeral, whenever it may be. That one I will pregame, watch and maybe watch again.) Ultimately, he was a public figure with strengths and weaknesses, and people are going to have opinions about that. Most of them are dumb. Next.

One thing I’ll give him credit for: The Americans With Disabilities Act. I did some reporting about that one its…10th anniversary, maybe? Around there. As I recall from the obits, the story about how Bush came to take up the cause came after the parents of disabled children were losing some key benefit in a sunset clause, and complained to him about it. He found them, and their children, and the disabled adults who supported them, impressive. That is very true, and if it’s something he should have already known, well, it’s never too late to learn something.

I recall interviewing a man born with incomplete limbs — one good arm and three flippers, basically. He was a hoot. He walked with prosthetics and could do anything with his good hand. Among the jobs in his work history: Repo man. I asked him about that one.

“The big secret is that it’s not nearly as exciting as you’ve been led to believe,” he said. “Ninety percent of people just give you the keys.”

“And the other 10 percent?”

“Well, I tried to get a foot in the door,” he said. “Then they’d slam it on my foot, and I’d say, ‘Lady, you can do that all day. It’s plastic and I can’t feel it.’ Then they give you the keys.”

Like I said earlier this week: I love to talk to people about their jobs. Especially interesting ones.

The ADA is monumental legislation that opened new worlds to people who have to navigate it differently than most of us. (And yes, it probably wouldn’t pass today, because a business might be burdened by it.) I came away wishing every house could be build along the principles of…I forget the term. Deborah would know. It’s the term of art to describe wider doorways, lower countertops, levers instead of knobs and the rest of it, the sort of easily incorporated modifications that would have kept my parents in their house for years longer than they ended up staying. I expect the Trump administration will overturn that one any minute now.

Today is Manafort Memo Day, right? I think I’m going to just step aside and wait for that one, and I hope it’s a good one. POTUS has already gone a little nuts on Twitter this morning, so I expect he’s at full pucker right now.

Two bits of bloggage today, both from the NYT and I apologize for that, but they’re both good:

BEDMINSTER, N.J. — During more than five years as a housekeeper at the Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, N.J., Victorina Morales has made Donald J. Trump’s bed, cleaned his toilet and dusted his crystal golf trophies. When he visited as president, she was directed to wear a pin in the shape of the American flag adorned with a Secret Service logo.

Because of the “outstanding” support she has provided during Mr. Trump’s visits, Ms. Morales in July was given a certificate from the White House Communications Agency inscribed with her name.

Quite an achievement for an undocumented immigrant housekeeper.

Boom. Also, this, a lovely look at Michelle Obama’s book, beyond the tear-into-the-index-and-find-out-what-she-said-about-Trump approach of the first days. Which is to say, the writer actually read the thing.

Posted at 9:55 am in Current events | 34 Comments

Adventures in latex.

I drove up into Macomb County at evening rush hour tonight — which you non-locals should read as, “I willingly inflicted painful torture upon myself” — to meet with a friend, one of my old filmmaking gang. He’s applying for an arts fellowship, and wants me to help write his application. He’s a special-effects makeup artist, a great guy, who worked for Chrysler for 15 years, took his buyout money and trained and transitioned into this practical art. It was very practical while the filmmaking tax credits existed, but today he spends a lot of time building prosthetic limbs in the long intervals between film work. We were talking about the intricacies of working with silicone skin when I said, “You should make sex dolls.”

“I’ve made a lot of sex toys,” he said.

Not the whole doll, but he had an early apprenticeship at a place in Los Angeles that makes dildos and fake hoo-has and various other love aids for the lonely.

“You mean, like the fake dicks of the stars?” I asked.

“Are you kidding? I cast…” And then he named a famous male porn actor who probably has a Google alert on his name. He described the PVC pipe full of latex molding compound that he prepared, with a hole cut in the middle for insertion. The actor was a pro, preparing himself for this very modern star appearance with no need for a fluffer or any other visual aid. Just drop trou and get to work. It was all quite efficient.

How about the women? I asked. They would come with a friend who would “twiddle the bits,” my friend said, until they were sufficiently protuberant, then the work was over fairly quickly. The latex only went on the outside, and then they hopped down and cleaned up.

I remember watching a “Real Sex” episode late at night about this practice. I mostly recall the production process, somewhere in Asia, where assembly lines of bored-looking Filipino women would hand-paint the details on the blanks. I wonder what they think of this faraway land known as America, I thought at the time. Today I’d think, I bet they understand why we elected Trump.

Anyway, my friend has come a long way from casting porn penises. He worked on the Hobbit movies, and won a local Emmy for this commercial, although if you ask me, the real workhorse was the poor actor, who had to live in that latex for 17 hours.

I love talking to people about the work they do.

So, a quick midweek hop to the bloggage? Sure.

Do you have coyotes in your neighborhood? And a small dog? That pup may need a coyote vest. Sorry, I don’t think they make them for cats.

Who is Scott Free? Deplorable America wants to know.

I petered out on “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” after a few episodes last year, but Hank has convinced me I was wrong, wrong, wrong. I’ll try it again. What else do I have to do? Besides apply for an arts grant without mentioning penises, that is.

Happy Wednesday! See you (I hope) at week’s end.

Posted at 8:51 pm in Current events, Same ol' same ol' | 39 Comments

Cleaning up. Everywhere.

We cleaned a closet this weekend. The big closet, the master-bedroom closet, the one we share. We cleaned it because it was a two-person job.

God, what a nightmare. What SHAME. There’s nothing like finding perfectly good shoes you haven’t worn in a decade to make you want to cover yourself in sackcloth and ashes. Then you look at the shoes and think, I never really liked these anyway, which makes you feel even guiltier that you bought them in the first place.

Into the donation pile they go.

At least there wasn’t anything NWT in there — that’s “new with tags,” for those of you who don’t stalk used-clothing websites. I’ve heard those horror stories.

It took half a day to get it all out, sweep, dust, mop the floor with Murphy’s and restock it with about one-third the items. But it honestly made me so happy that the first thing I did Sunday morning after I got out of bed was go to the closet and just admire it for a minute or two.

Then I cleaned the bathrooms, and that felt even better. I’m so bourgeois I can’t stand it.

I have a friend who, when she swaps her clothes seasonally, hangs everything up with the hangers reversed. As she wears things, she rehangs them the correct way. If anything makes it to the end of the season with the hanger still backwards, out it goes. Now that’s discipline. I don’t have it, though.

And with that, you’ve heard the fun of my weekend — Christmas shopping, exercise, dust in my nose. Went to a yoga-class benefit for the 501c3 I serve on, and they gave everyone a gift bag. Sticky-bottom socks, shea butter for your feet, all that stuff. Coupons for stuff like nutritional consultation, etc. I worked in the back row, so I could look at two or three rows of bottoms way firmer than mine in skin-tight leggings. Every time I do yoga, I think I should do it more. Then I get to class and think my ass is the fattest one here.

So, it would seem the the Mueller endgame is here, no? Certainly we have passed a significant milestone. I saw someone say on Twitter that she was expecting a royal flush. Do you? What’s the best intel we have so far? It would seem that he knew all along that Manafort’s lawyers were reporting back to Trump’s lawyers, but he let it go on, so he could feed specific information and manipulate the genius POTUS into certain responses?

Just make it a merry Christmas, Bob.

One bit of bloggage today: Why so many parties? Obviously, because it’s the end of the world.

Posted at 9:31 pm in Same ol' same ol' | 36 Comments

The gallop at midweek.

It’s still Wednesday, isn’t it?

Crazy beginning of the week, but at least it went pretty fast. Lots of work makes for flying hours. Two links you might consider hitting, before we start, both by me: A visit to the “Harvard of Santa schools,” with a former Hoosier; and some strict inside-baseball stuff for Detroiters, a quick-turnaround piece on a local scandalette.

Traffic is important in this job, and we’re trying to build a readership. So click and then come back. We’ll wait.

The Santa piece was fun. Ann, the woman at the beginning and end, used to read my column back in the Fort, her hometown. If you went to the Holly Trolley this past weekend, you saw her around town. She connected with me on Facebook a while back, and when this chance to go to Santa school in Michigan came up, she dropped a line. Serendipity.

So, hope you all are doing fine. I’m trying to get my Christmas ducks in a row, with the idea of having my shopping 90 percent done after this weekend. Then, to do the baking, although based on how my waistbands feel after this past weekend, maybe it’s best to delay that a while and go for roasted vegetables for a few days. Alan got me a sous vide for my birthday, and I made my first ribeye the other night. It was good, but too rare, even though the meat thermometer said it was ready. I ground the leftovers the next day and made shepherd’s pie for one (Alan had to work late). Very good. I look forward to exploring the wonderful world of eggs this weekend.

I also committed to my first swim meet, sometime in January. I’m not a fast swimmer, so I expect utter humiliation, but I will power through, as that is my sole virtue — doggedness. I show up, I put in the time, but I just don’t get any faster. Ah, well. The Olympic team needn’t call me up.

Which reminds me: If you’re a podcast listener, I highly recommend “Believed,” which dropped a few weeks ago from Michigan Radio. You can find it in the usual places. It’s about the Larry Nassar case, which I followed closely, but I’m still learning things I didn’t know from these stories. It’s very good at delving into some of the psychology behind these stories, particularly questions like, how could these young women not realize they’d been assaulted? How could this happen with their own parents in the room? And how could so many parents hear their daughters trying to tell them what happened, and still not respond appropriately? You’ll leave with more compassion for the flawed people in the world. (Although not for Nassar.)

As long as we’re back to bloggage, two more quick recommendations, and then I’m out.

Funny: Alexandra Petri on Melania’s bloody Christmas forest. Very funny.

Not funny at all: Laura Trujillo’s account of her mother’s suicide and its aftermath. Painful enough to read that if this issue is painful for you, it might be too painful. My grandfather committed suicide when my mother was 10, and it’s an act that I believe reverberates in our family to this day. But I learned a lot about suicide, and it’s absolutely beautifully written. Thanks to Hank for recommending it.

Time to draw the curtain on Wednesday and maybe eat some pizza. Talk later.

Posted at 7:11 pm in Current events, Detroit life, Same ol' same ol' | 82 Comments

Tryptophan hangovers.

You guys! I’m so bad at blogging this week! And I apologize. Somewhere along the way of having a birthday party, preparing 1.5 Thanksgiving meals, driving to hell ‘n’ gone and eating my weight in pretty much everything, this little task got dropped.

So here it is Sunday morning, a turkey breast is in the oven (yes, it’s too complicated and boring to explain), and I’m seizing this chance while I can. So, the weekend! The holiday! How was yours? The feast at Mar-a-Lago looks like it was lit, as per usual. Let’s look at the photos, shall we?

Fox News selected a set in which Melania managed to creak into a half-smile, and even Barron — poor Barron, forced to put on a goddamn necktie — seems to have a semi-pleasant emotion stirring behind his usually impassive face.

The Daily Caller proclaimed Melania “wowed” in a black lace dress, then posted photos where you could see approximately seven inches of the dress. Fashion coverage of Melania’s outfits is the best reason to read right-wing media, because that’s where they really shine. FLOTUS never fails to wow.

This is the pic most outlets went with. I like Melania’s thousand-yard stare.

I trust everyone else had a decent holiday, barring disaster. No neckties, anyway. And I hope the football team of your choice won the big game, although that certainly didn’t happen north of the 42nd parallel. The Lions sucked, the Wolverines sucked, and we’re supposed to get a few inches of snow overnight. Michigan — it’s a character-builder.

I was thinking about fake news a bit, especially after reading a rather disturbing New Yorker story about the future of AI-assisted “deep fake” technology. This is the programming that will someday allow you to see Meryl Streep in pornography and Barack Obama having a celebratory cocktail with Osama bin Laden. You think your Thanksgiving arguments with Uncle Foxnews are fun now? Just you wait.

The problem, of course, is not that people believe these things — although some will — but that far more people will then not believe anything. It’s one reason people grow frustrated with the chilly, cat-lays-the-bothsides-mouse-at-your-feet journalism of today, which is problematic in a world where all the rules have been suspended.

OK, my turkey is beeping and I have to get moving. Happy Sunday, see you soon.

Posted at 9:10 am in Current events, Same ol' same ol' | 59 Comments

More rakes please.

“There are hells below this” is something Neil Steinberg says from time to time. (It seems like it’s a phrase from Shakespeare or something, but when I google? It’s all him.) It’s a more elegant flip on the one lesson I learned from the newspaper game: Never say it can’t get any worse. It can always get worse. And usually does.

Anyway, this past week has been a new, deeper hell, in term of our national situation. By the time the president was rambling, exactly like a dementia-afflicted senior citizen, about raking the forest floor? I no longer had the spirit to even grimly chuckle. The president is deferred to, always — it’s one of the perks of the job — but I can only hope that sometimes, somewhere, there is someone in the White House who is brave enough to correct him.

What am I saying? Of course no one does such a thing. They just write anonymous op-eds in the New York Times.

Happy end-of-weekend, all. Ours went pretty well. After the dinner/cake thing in A2, I took Alan out for a peaceful Saturday breakfast, since any birthday when you have to work isn’t much of a birthday at all, in my opinion. Stopped by John King Books — a five- or six-floor temple of used ones — and bought four novels, in an attempt to rekindle my interest in the concept of reading for pleasure. Cheated with one that I’d already read, but it was long ago and at least I know the author (Martin Cruz Smith) is reliably pleasing to me. I also got a hardcover of “All the Light We Cannot See” and am hoping for the best. Also, did you know Elmore Leonard published a YA novel? No? Me neither. So I added that to the stack. Simplicity and brevity will do me good in the weeks ahead.

After John King there were chicken tacos, which I mention because I know how much you guys need to know that. And then it was “The Ballad of Buster Scruggs,” the new Coen brothers movie that premiered in theaters last week before immediately hopping to Netflix. It was daffy and funny and I recommend it, especially if you’re a Coen fan.

One more thing before I hop to the bloggage: I followed some of the discussion of My Pants over the weekend. I found McEwan’s take interesting, but maybe not entirely convincing. For My Pants to rise, phoenix-like, from Trump’s ashes is no small task. He’ll have evangelicals, of course, but even moderate Republicans are going to be put off by the montages of Pence clapping, smiling and looking his oleaginous, toadying self next to POTUS. That first cabinet meeting alone should suffice, but we’re in a different place now, bets off, but I have a feeling. He’s the only person connected to this White House who I find almost as repellant at Trump himself. And that is saying a lot. I can’t believe the same suburban women who voted for Trump hoping for the best (and flipped blue in the midterms) would fall for this guy.

OK, then: Your greater-than-the-sum-of-its-parts story today is this one, about a fake-news farm that doesn’t pretend to be anything else, and the people who continue to believe what they publish, even when, for example, he publishes something like this:

He noticed a photo online of Trump standing at attention for the national anthem during a White House ceremony. Behind the president were several dozen dignitaries, including a white woman standing next to a black woman, and Blair copied the picture, circled the two women in red and wrote the first thing that came into his mind.

“President Trump extended an olive branch and invited Michelle Obama and Chelsea Clinton,” Blair wrote. “They thanked him by giving him ‘the finger’ during the national anthem. Lock them up for treason!”

Blair finished typing and looked again at the picture. The white woman was not in fact Chelsea Clinton but former White House strategist Hope Hicks. The black woman was not Michelle Obama but former Trump aide Omarosa Newman. Neither Obama nor Clinton had been invited to the ceremony. Nobody had flipped off the president. The entire premise was utterly ridiculous, which was exactly Blair’s point.

The story hits another gear when they visit one of those individuals who spends all day on Facebook, liking and sharing stuff like this because she thinks it’s true. The mournful violin strains of “Eleanor Rigby” began to play in my head, reading this:

It was barely dawn in Pahrump, Nev., when Shirley Chapian, 76, logged onto Facebook for her morning computer game of Criminal Case. She believed in starting each day with a problem-solving challenge, a quick mental exercise to keep her brain sharp more than a decade into retirement. For a while it had been the daily crossword puzzle, but then the local newspaper stopped delivering and a friend introduced her to the viral Facebook game with 65 million players. She spent an hour as a 1930s detective, interrogating witnesses and trying to parse their lies from the truth until finally she solved case No. 48 and clicked over to her Facebook news feed.

…On her computer the attack against America was urgent and unrelenting. Liberals were restricting free speech. Immigrants were storming the border and casting illegal votes. Politicians were scheming to take away everyone’s guns. “The second you stop paying attention, there’s another travesty underway in this country,” Chapian once wrote, in her own Facebook post, so she had decided to always pay attention, sometimes scrolling and sharing for hours at a time.

..She’d spent almost a decade in Pahrump without really knowing why. The heat could be unbearable. She had no family in Nevada. She loved going to movies, and the town of 30,000 didn’t have a theater. It seemed to her like a place in the business of luring people — into the air-conditioned casinos downtown, into the legal brothels on the edge of the desert, into the new developments of cheap housing available for no money down — and in some ways she’d become stuck, too.

Apologies for the long excerpt, but it’s worth breaking my three-paragraph rule for this one. If you have a lonely older person in your life, ask them to lunch. All the lonely people, where do they all come from?

There’s a guy here in Metro Detroit, a civilian who knows the Affordable Care Act better than most legislators. I follow him on the tweeter machine. He recently published a spreadsheet of the “AHCA Class of 2017,” i.e., those legislators who voted to repeal Obamacare and just ran for re-election. This is a one-stop shop to find out the electoral fate of all 217 House Republicans. Most were re-elected, but enough weren’t that it’s worth checking out.

And with that? I’m off to the gym and grocery.

Posted at 12:34 pm in Current events, Same ol' same ol' | 83 Comments

Natal anniversary.

It’s birthday season. Actually, it’s birthDAY for Alan and Kate, which means little time for you, although here’s a fresh thread. I just finished frosting the cake, and from here on it’s a run-run day until we head to Ann Arbor for dinner. Wendy’s coming along, and will spend the short week with her friends at Kate’s co-op. She loves that place, because it’s pretty much petting and walks and treats nonstop; she sleeps for two days after coming home from these canine bacchanals.

We’ll have a relaxing weekend afterward; Kate will be recording her band, part of her senior thesis. Yes, senior thesis. Assuming all goes well, she graduates in April. Sunrise, sunset.

A few reading recommendations for the next few days.

The NYT’s Facebook investigation is well worth your time. The short version: Fucking assholes. If you’re pressed for time, you can get the short version via podcast on The Daily, today.

Also, a companion piece on the ghastly behavior of Sheryl Sandberg in all of this.

I have a like-hate relationship with e-scooters. How about you? I think this WashPost writer gets the gist:

Electric scooters are a little like Q-Tips .

In both cases, the products are marketed with explicit warnings about how not to use them, even though everyone knows that’s precisely the way pretty much every customer will use them.

For scooter riders here in Santa Monica, it means: Don’t you dare ride on the sidewalk, which is against the law, even though it sometimes feels super unsafe to ride next to cars. Or: Wink-wink, always wear a helmet. Also, the beach bike path is verboten, even though it is the smoothest, most fun, most scenic ride possible. And definitely don’t just dump your scooter in the middle of a busy path or sidewalk.

Aw shucks, well, we did warn you. Guess it’s your fault if you land in the ER.

And with that, I best get moving. Happy weekend, all.

Posted at 9:46 am in Current events, Same ol' same ol' | 28 Comments