Dark days in the Hoosier state.

I gotta tell ya, folks, I’m astonished at the blowback over the Indiana decision. Of course it can’t last, and it’s probably out of proportion to the offense; as many have pointed out, what about all the other states that have versions of this law? Why do they get a pass? I can’t tell you why, but I do know that sometimes the stars just align, and sometimes you’re standing where their light is most concentrated.

You know, like a laser.

On the other hand, this couldn’t happen to a nicer and more deserving bunch of folks. It is enormously satisfying to see this legislature, where seldom is heard a discouraging word, writhing and blinking like moles dragged into the sunshine. Here’s David Long, the state Senate leader, and Brian Bosma, the speaker of the House, looking very uncomfortable, answering questions like, “Isn’t it legal to put up a ‘No Gays Allowed’ sign now?” Why yes, yes it is. (Note: You could do this in Michigan, too.) The governor looks more miserable and angry with every new interview and press conference. Keep in mind, this guy was a talk-radio host; if nothing else, he should feel comfortable in front of a microphone. The fact he isn’t should tell you something.

Here’s Matt Yglesias on Mike Pence, c. 2008. Just for the hell of it.

So I was thinking about our trip this weekend, and how nice it was. The train was definitely the way to go — no parking hassles, no driving hassles, time to catch up on some reading. It’s five hours from Windsor to Union Station, and this being Canada? Everything runs on time to the minute. (I kind of fell out with train travel on my Amtrak adventures in Indiana. The trains were slow and my god, were they late. When you are planning a weekend in Chicago, and you roll up to Waterloo to catch your train, and it’s hours late, only you don’t know that yet, because the station is just a three-sided lean-to with no connection to any sort of master control. No train? Just wait.)

What did we do when we were there? What we always do on city visits — walked around interesting neighborhoods, ate when we were hungry, shopped a little. (The exchange rate is very favorable now, which means that $65 cocktail hour was really a $52 cocktail hour.) Went to a good restaurant called Beast and a less-good one called Lisa Marie. Everything is small plates now, tapas-y stuff that you taste and eat and pass around. All things considered, it’s a better way of doing things than the meat/2-veg model.

We did have the best pho EVAR. Love pho.

Meanwhile, while we were in Canada, Kate was in California, enjoying a mini-spring break with a friend and with her nervous mother’s permission. They went to some two-day music festival in Santa Ana, staying one night with a family in Santa Monica, former Grosse Pointers who moved out there a few years ago. She came home referencing the strange SoCal slang she heard: “When something’s funny, they say, ‘Dude, that’s humor.'” It’s funnier when you hear it out loud.

But now we’re all home, and Wendy is very happy. The dog sitter spoiled her rotten, but now the pack is reunited, and it feels so good.

Just one bit of bloggage today, an NYT piece on the HIV outbreak in Indiana that got the gov to loosen his ideology in favor of human life. Very big of him.

I can recommend “Going Clear,” too, although it doesn’t restore your faith in humanity.

Time for bed. Lap swimming in the ayem.

Posted at 12:25 am in Current events | 17 Comments

The $65 cocktail hour.

Hey, guys. We arrived late last night, and after all the decompressing and unpacking and mail-sorting, I had no time to update. Then, today, I start a brutal week with two projects circling for a landing.

So you’ll have to wait for the Toronto download. We had a nice time. I will never drive there again, although I will probably take a rolling suitcase.

In the meantime, just one bit of bloggage: This piece on the Indiana RFRA situation, written by an IU law professor who’s a friend-of-a-friend. If it doesn’t go viral, there’s no justice in the world; he does an excellent job nailing the specifics down, in simple, easy-to-understand terms.

I leave you with this perfect moment: Cocktail hour at the Fairmount Royal York Hotel, where we killed the last hour before the train left. I’ve been pinching pennies all my life, and am not one for many indulgences, although I’d love to just once own a really, really high-quality black cashmere sweater. IS THAT SO MUCH TO ASK? Anyway, we thought we’d have a drink, and the drinks were so good we had two. The waiter anticipated everything, bringing water without being asked, the wifi password, a little dish of salty snacks (that’s Alan bogarting all the wasabi peas) and, of course, two absolutely perfect cocktails — a Manhattan for the gentleman and this lovely concoction of vodka, champagne and raspberry deliciousness called a Bubbles & Berries. The bill? A mere $65. I think it was worth every penny:


Talk tomorrow, then?

Posted at 8:57 am in Current events, Same ol' same ol' | 58 Comments

Auguring in.

It’s hard to stop thinking about the suicidal German pilot, isn’t it? The details keep sticking with me, especially the part about his breathing:

In the final moments, the sounds of terrified passengers filled the plane even as Lubitz — audibly breathing as a bleeping alarm warned of imminent collision — kept quiet through the end.

Heaven help us from a man who can breathe calmly through the act of taking 150 lives. It will be interesting to see how this one unfolds:

But as officials carted out boxes of belongings, including a laptop, from his family’s home in a middle-class neighborhood of this southwestern German town, questions centered on several months in 2009 when Lubitz took a leave from his pilot training.

Here’s hoping this isn’t a here-we-go-again deal. I can’t stand the stupid, as the kids say.

A busy couple of days, but a long weekend ahead — Kate is off on a solo spring mini-break, and we are off to Toronto, just for the hell of it. The house- and dog-sitter arrives in the morning, and I cleaned two bathrooms today. Vacations, even mini-vacations (this is only a weekend), are hard, until they’re not.

So, before we head off for the great white north, a few pieces of bloggage:

A sea change in Kentucky’s approach to heroin addiction. Via the HuffPost, which I don’t generally trust, but here goes:

On Tuesday night, Kentucky lawmakers passed wide-ranging legislation to combat the state’s heroin epidemic. The bipartisan measure represents a significant policy shift away from more punitive measures toward a focus on treating addicts, not jailing them.

The state will now allow local health departments to set up needle exchanges and increase the number of people who can carry naloxone, the drug that paramedics use to save a person suffering an opioid overdose. Addicts who survive an overdose will no longer be charged with a crime after being revived. Instead, they will be connected to treatment services and community mental health workers.

Speaking of drugs, and emergency measures, Indiana’s in it, too:

Gov. Mike Pence Thursday declared the HIV epidemic in southeastern Indiana a public health emergency and gave local authorities the OK to begin a short-term needle-exchange program to help fight an outbreak that now includes 79 cases all linked to intravenous drug use.

But Pence made it clear that allowing for a temporary needle exchange program does not reverse his long-held opposition to needle exchange programs.

Of course it doesn’t. He’s opposed to them, except when they work.

Fans of “The Wire,” and of the president — which probably covers everyone here — will want to watch this delightful conversation between Barry and David Simon, talking criminal justice and the war on drugs. Two smart people, jawin’. You’ll like.

A good piece by my colleague Ron on the obstacles in front of poorer high-school kids when they start to look for college options:

Michigan’s low-income high school graduates, as well as many of the state’s rural grads, enroll in college at lower levels than their wealthier, suburban peers. Those who do enroll are less likely to attend a four-year school, and more likely to drop out before earning a degree.

Some of that gap is because of differences in academic achievement that correlates stubbornly to family income. But there is another, less visible cause, one that involves physics tutors and strategically groomed extracurricular activities.

This is the after-school gap – an admissions-driven arms race that widens the already-broad college access gap between low-income students and their wealthier peers.

With that, I’m off to pack my suitcase. Good weekend, all. Eh?

Posted at 11:02 pm in Current events | 111 Comments

Beep torture.

Being a terrier, Wendy is a little high-strung, although not overly so. But today she came upstairs where I was working, jumped up next to me and cuddled up, trembling like a leaf. It took me a while, but I figured it out: There was a smoke alarm chirping with a dying battery, down in the basement. Spriggy was also high-strung, but brave as a mongoose, and chirping smoke alarms had the same effect. One day I came home and found him in an absolute lather — trotting from one end of the house to the other, panting, frantic. All over a little beeping.

And that? Was pretty much the extent of the news developments at this end today. That, and the usual household annoyances, plus 7,000 emails.

God, I can’t wait for warm weather. Thirty-seven degrees today was the best it got. Worst cabin fever I’ve had since…last year.

So a quick stop by the bloggage, and I’m headed to bed.

This site has been around for a while, but I’m just finding it: The Reductress, the Onion of women’s magazines. Case in point: Local woman wins stress-eating contest:

The third annual Häagen Dazs-Frito Lay Stress-Eating Contest was held this weekend at Morgantown County Fair in Morgantown, West Virginia. Eight competitors from the area took their places on the stage with one goal in mind: to stress-eat heaping piles of food until their feelings went away. But only one woman would come out on top: head server at Rocky’s Water Hole and recent, Mica Sullivan.

“I fucking deserve better, you know?” said Sullivan, in a rambling Facebook status posted at 3:14 this morning as she scraped the bottom of a bag of chips. “He’s trash.”

It appears Ben Carson is crazier — or just more offensive, in every way — than we thought. Here’s Carson and Armstrong Williams watching the SOTU:

“He looks good,” Williams said. “He looks clean. Shirt’s white. The tie. He looks elegant.”

“Like most psychopaths,” Carson grumbled. “That’s why they’re successful. That’s the way they look. They all look great.”

For those unfamiliar with the mood of America’s far right, casually branding the president a psychopath is exactly the sort of talk that strikes a chord—and just the thing that has made Carson a sensation in the GOP. Today the former pediatric neurosurgeon—who’s never run for elected office—is suddenly besting candidates like Jeb, Marco, and Rand in some 2016 polls and preparing to announce his campaign for the White House. As for the current resident, well, Carson is sometimes encouraged to cut him just a little slack before he hands over the keys.

Psychopath. Good one. Keep it up, guys. This is a winning strategy if there ever was one.

Facebook as the great publisher of the future. Oh, joy.

Killer Wednesday ahead. Expect…not much posting until Thursday.

Posted at 12:24 am in Current events, Same ol' same ol' | 127 Comments

We dance just as good as we walk.

It’s strange around my house these days. After years of Kate turning up her nose at every album I ever loved, including the Beatles and Stones, suddenly we’re drowning in it here. The other day she stayed in bed with a sore tummy for the first hour of school. I stuck my head in to ask how she was doing and heard Neil Young singing “The Loner.” This was after the previous week, when it was “Volunteers,” on vinyl of course, a record I once knew by heart but haven’t heard in at least a quarter century. All those deep cuts came back to me like old friends.

But all this was topped this weekend, when I heard her in the bathroom, with her music of course — it goes everywhere with her — putting on makeup to Archie Bell and the Drells’ “Tighten Up.”

“You’re joking, right?”

“No! We listened to it over and over last weekend in Chicago,” she said. They were there playing a gig. Unchaperoned. Hey, they gotta grow up sometime, and they already did this once last fall, in Grand Rapids. The thought of these four teenagers cruising around Chicago listening to “Tighten Up” on a loop is sufficiently amusing that I choose not to be alarmed. (Although maybe I should be.)

“Fun fact: Your uncle served in the army with Archie Bell,” I said. “He was drafted. They both were stationed in Germany.” Family history.

She came home from Chicago with a few records, including the Mamas and the Papas’ “If You Can Believe Your Eyes and Ears” and the Stones’ “Between the Buttons.”

Her boyfriend’s favorite band is Buffalo Springfield. Kids these days.

How was your Monday? Mine was back to the mangle, i.e. the gym, then drive to Ann Arbor, drive home, make a million phone calls, collapse. Along the way I found a li’l bit of bloggage:

It’s all over for Jackie no-last-name and her ridiculous tale of gang rape at the University of Virginia. Rolling Stone’s own independent inquiry will be reporting soon, and that should be an interesting read.

A great story about the prison-written history of the Indiana Women’s Prison. Fascinating. It turns out the Hoosier state likely had its own Magdalene laundries.

As for Ted Cruz? I can’t even. Can you?

Posted at 12:14 am in Same ol' same ol' | 66 Comments

The b.j. queen.

I see Monica Lewinsky has started her big comeback tour. As Jeff the mild-mannered likes to say, grace and peace to her. You can’t say this poor woman ever tried to cash in on her bad luck, and in fact has really suffered for it. Imagine being her, carrying that name and face around for the last 18 years. Imagine going on a date. (Imagine being the guy who dates her.) Imagine just walking down the street, with her famous, fabulous mane of hair. And imagine introducing yourself: Hi, I’m Monica. Better that she be named Kate or Heather or any other, more common young-woman name. Anyone who lived through Lewinsky 1.0 would know her instantly.

I just can’t imagine. All for a little fling with a married man who flung with so, so many. The wheel spins around and you, yes you are the one who gets to pay. And pay and pay and pay.

Funny that she’s apparently chosen cyberbullying as her issue, when her ordeal happened largely before cyber was a thing — her shaming was more old-school. But she can certainly speak with authority about what it’s like to see your privacy go up in smoke, justlikethat. I’m glad the NYT story didn’t skimp on the fact this was a story in which both left and right disgraced themselves:

Ms. Lewinsky was quickly cast by the media as a “little tart,” as The Wall Street Journal put it. The New York Post nicknamed her the “Portly Pepperpot.” She was described by Maureen Dowd in The New York Times as “ditsy” and “predatory.”

And other women — self-proclaimed feminists — piled on. “My dental hygienist pointed out she had third-stage gum disease,” said Erica Jong. Betty Friedan dismissed her as “some little twerp.”

“It’s a sexual shaming that is far more directed at women than at men,” Gloria Steinem wrote me in an email, noting that in Ms. Lewinsky’s case, she was also targeted by the “ultraright wing.” “I’m grateful to [her],” Ms. Steinem said, “for having the courage to return to the public eye.”

Yep. She was collateral damage in the right’s effort to destroy Bill Clinton, and in their reflexive defense of him, the left lined up to kick her, too. Besides, isn’t she what every married woman fears? The office girl with the glossy hair and the big boobs, lingering by the copier to bat her eyes at your husband? We don’t blame him, we blame her. I know I did, and I hadn’t been married five years yet. I took my turn putting her through the wringer; they’d have pulled my columnist card otherwise.

I still don’t think young single women should go putting the make on older married men, but I’m older myself now, and I no longer see her as the villain. I recall my friend Lance Mannion fuming, “I can forgive him the sex, but not the stupidity. It’s not like Washington isn’t full of beautiful, promiscuous, discreet thirtysomething adulteresses; he could have had anyone he wanted. But he picks an intern.” Yep, exactly. For a man so practiced in the art of extramarital stepping out, he really, really should have known better.

And while Monica bore the brunt of all of this, the whole country was put through the wringer. The impeachment was a nightmare of comic misery; I remember sitting in the Meijer parking lot, my chin on my chest, listening to …who was it? Larry Flynt? Talking about the dirt he had on Bob Barr? I think so, but it could have been any number of other freeze-frame moments from that very weird interlude that gave us Linda Tripp, Linda Tripp’s plastic surgery, Lucianne Goldberg and her spawn, a million pearl-clutching mommies moaning about having to explain oral sex to middle schoolers, Ken Starr and his ewwww report, blue Gap dresses and Maureen Dowd’s Pulitzer and all the rest of it. I loved the ’90s as much as anyone, but not that part of it.

So, some bloggage:

Congratulations, white guys! You win the race again! In the age of exquisite sensitivity to diversity, how the hell does this happen?

Dahlia Lithwick looks at the demented decision to try 12-year-olds as adults. One our own juvie-justice guy, whose name has already been dropped once, might like to read.

I haven’t finished this Michael Kruse piece on Jeb Bush and his problems on the GOP right, but I will. The first third looks pretty good.

So! Let’s have us a week, why don’t we? Hope yours is great.

Posted at 12:25 am in Current events | 41 Comments

Low-rent lunch.

Today at work we had a lunch meeting with some important people, and we ordered in subs from a well-known national chain that, I guess I should say, is not Subway. My bun was stale and the cookie was cold, which made it tough and not particularly good. Of course, even with these shortcomings, I pretty much ate it all, because that’s the way I was raised. Leave edible food on your plate? Unless you’re gagging or maggots are crawling on it, you clean your plate, girlie.

Hard to break those habits, isn’t it? But we filled out a very sternly worded feedback form on the website.

Are French children taught to clean their plate because of the starving ones in China? Good question. Answer: Probably not.

The food was bad, the meeting was better, the day was a parade of sniffles, but! Fewer sniffles than yesterday. The corner may have been turned, and I feel better, although my voice is worse. So what, I don’t work in radio. But let’s skip to the bloggage.

Eric Zorn looks at the Michael Brown/Ferguson situation and observes the truth is complicated:

Yes, Brown never even said nor pantomimed “hands up, don’t shoot.” But Wilson’s exoneration is not tantamount to an exoneration of American law enforcement in how it interacts with minority communities.

Yes, the explosion of destructive rage in Ferguson was rooted in a lie, a lie that advocates should disown, as Capehart did. But that lie is rooted in a broader truth.

A lie can reveal a truth — such an ironic message, and it’s the one many are missing about Ferguson. Brown may not have done what we’d like him to have done, but the incident didn’t touch off weeks and months of protests over nothing, which is what the DoJ report revealed.

I’m beginning to think of “Empire” as the guy you fall madly in love with for three days and then wake up, climb out of bed and say, “What was I thinking?” Tom and Lorenzo at least partially agree. Great fun, but the season is over, and you just know they’re gonna fuck it all up next year.

At least John McCain tried gentle correction. Rick Santorum just stands there. What a profile in courage.

Have a great weekend, all. I’m-a try to get better.

Posted at 12:29 am in Current events, Same ol' same ol', Television | 67 Comments

St. Blah’s Day.

Day two of the cold was no better. The first Sudafed I took had little effect, so I popped another at bedtime, only to learn anew why pseudo ephedrine is a base ingredient of crystal meth — if there’s anything more miserable than having a cold, it’s having a sleepless cold. Tonight it’s a double shot of Nyquil, plus melatonin.

Maybe some whiskey, too. My own little St. Patrick’s Day celebration.

How was yours? I spent part of it reading about Aaron Schock, whose existence hadn’t really hit my radar screen yet. What a train wreck. The mad redecorating had to be a giveaway of something seriously wrong. Downton Abbey? That show is so OVER.

Cathy Cambridge does her duchess-y duty in a spectacular coat. I was buying a coat for Kate last winter, and thought I’d found the perfect one, at Nordstrom. It was well-cut, buttoned up well, even showed off her figure a little. I was ready to order it wrapped up when I thought to grope for the tag: $900. Um, no. Cathy Cambridge’s coat is way more than $900.

Privatization means rodent cake for prisoners. Eh, they just nibbled one side — the rest of the cake is perfectly fine.

Back to bed.

Posted at 12:20 am in Same ol' same ol' | 63 Comments

Crumpled tissues.

Sorry for the no-show yesterday. Work intruded, and I planned to update Monday morning, but alas — I woke up with a cold, which will teach me to make plans for what promised to be (and was) the warmest day of the year so far.

I’m not a good cold sufferer. I’m very whiny. If I didn’t have another big project due in two weeks, I’d have taken the day off and mainlined “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt” all afternoon. You shouldn’t take sick days for a cold, though — it’s burning your sick-days seed corn.

So I worked. But I’m watching “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt” now. And enjoying it very much.

Can’t say so much for “House of Cards,” which has already lost me, but I may power through anyway. It has skated so far from Realityville that it’s not even fun to hate-watch anymore. However, Claire and her wardrobe — actually, everybody and their wardrobe — never fails to entertain. I’ve never seen a show where everyone dresses to match the sofas.

“Who are you wearing?”

“Restoration Hardware!”

So, as you can tell, I’m pretty tapped out. Not much bloggage, either. There’s this very good story from the NYT’s ongoing occupation of Detroit’s North End neighborhood, a look at the city’s scrapping economy, and the parties who oppose one another in it. It’s very good — glosses over a few fine points, but for a national audience? First class. Recommended.

Me, I’m going to bed. Happy St. Patrick’s Day. Maybe a shot of whiskey will cure me.

Posted at 12:30 am in Same ol' same ol', Television | 30 Comments

Blinded by the light.

I lived in Indiana for 20 years, a state that didn’t observe daylight saving time, and ached for it. Part of it was the simple embarrassment of living in a backwater, one of two states in the union that didn’t observe it; Indiana was fond of dumbshit policies like that, like keeping its welfare system not at the state or even county level, but townships. People in Indiana, as charming and down-to-earth as they are, could also be stubborn in truly unique ways.

The problem, we were told twice a year, was that the state lies at the western edge of the eastern time zone, and the line kept getting fiddled with. At one time it was in the Central zone, then the line ran through Indianapolis, bisecting the state. Now it’s the western border, except for carve-outs around Evansville in the southwest and Chicago in the northwest. So those practical Hoosiers threw up their hands and said enough, and opted out.

Oh, but we’ve been through this many, many times. Indiana now observes DST, adopted the year after we left. And now it would seem Hoosiers were ahead of their time.

This week a Michigan lawmaker introduced a bill to end DST in Michigan. It’s not going anywhere, but it accompanies a wave of anti-DST blah-blah, the two previous links coming from Slate mainly because I’m too lazy to dive deeper.

This happens more often in recent years, I’ve noticed, and only in the spring. No one ever complains about getting an extra hour of sleep in the fall, even when it means gloomy evening commutes and grilling dinner by flashlight. When did we get so soft? It takes a couple days to adjust, but before long we’re all enjoying the long evenings and warm nights in the yard and bike rides after work. Aren’t we? I do, anyway. I can’t recall a single thumb-sucker about how stressful DST was until fairly recently.

Of course, that might be because there weren’t a million websites looking for clickbait, too.

So we limp into the weekend. I’m feeling my general energy return, probably because the light is returning, too. I’m even cleaning the house again. Woot.

Bloggage? Hmm.

Me, on Michigan’s aging northern region.

If you missed it in the comments yesterday, Bob Pence, a now-deceased member of our readership (but who only rarely commented) was revealed to have left $1 million to the ACRES land trust, sort of a local Nature Conservancy in northeast Indiana, dedicated to preserving natural areas. Good old Bob.

And while we’re on sort of a Hoosier kick, it looks like Fort Wayne daughter Nancy Snyderman is out of work at NBC News. I talked to her a few times and always liked her, but to judge from the comments, many, many others did not. She’ll land on her feet. But still.

Have a good weekend, folks.

Posted at 12:30 am in Current events | 96 Comments