Sampling.

We’ve been having a little problem with the water here in Michigan; maybe you’ve heard.

When the Flint story began to break big, I asked Alan to check our water service line, and he did, reporting back: Lead. OK, no need to panic. The whole country is full of lead or lead-welded infrastructure, and it’s not necessarily an E-ticket to brain damage. When the dangers of lead were first grasped, we didn’t instantly dig them all up, we started adding anti-corrosive agents to municipal water systems. Over time — this is among the 10,000 fun facts about water treatment that every state resident has learned in the last six months or so — this builds up a layer of protective coating on your pipes, so no more lead leaching into your water.

(In fact, one of the problems with Flint now is, the residents are so leery of running their water for any reason that even though the city is now buying treated, finished water from Detroit again, they aren’t running enough through their home pipes to allow them to heal, so to speak. But I digress.)

So, theoretically, because we’ve been drinking treated water from Detroit since we’ve lived here, we should be fine. I didn’t rush to have our water tested, figuring the labs would be inundated with samples from Flint, where they legitimately have reason for concern. I didn’t want to take up lab time because I feel nervous.

Then elevated lead levels were found in a few isolated spots in the local public schools, and I overheard one of the janitors talking to the lifeguard at the pool, saying, “Well, what did they expect? They took the samples at the end of Easter vacation. That water had been sitting in the pipes for days.” Personally? What I expect would be no or hardly any lead in my water. So that was worrisome. And as more emails are released from various government entities, a culture of gaming the testing samples is becoming evident; there’s a protocol that allows outlier readings to be thrown out, or averaged, or something, so that the reaction when a bad sample turns up isn’t oh no lead rush to fix it, but quick get a bunch more samples, so we can throw that one out.

Enough time has passed that the Flint samples must have eased off at the state lab; time for Nance’s peace of mind. It’ll cost $26, assuming I filled out the form properly – it seems very to-the-trade, and how do you like that tiny envelope?

watertesting

I’ll keep you posted on the extent of our brain damage.

What a weekend. Spring is here, and we set off for the local Junior League’s Decorator Show House. It was our family doctor’s father’s house, who I gather was something of an eccentric (when he got tired of keeping up the landscaping, he brought in goats, and ignored all official attempts to evict them), and a pack rat. After his death, the family spent months just clearing the place out. Late one New Year’s Eve, we got a text message inviting us there for one final, impromptu throwdown, and we went. It’s a spectacular house, and even with its ’70s shag carpet and years of neglect, it was clear the good bones were still there. Paul, our doctor, showed us the secret room where the booze was hidden during Prohibition (you could see the bottle marks on the floor), and the basement dry dock — yes, it has a canal leading to a boathouse that can be pumped out and boats hoisted for storage and repair, a feature that I’m sure got its share of action during the ’20s, too.

Every lakefront house in Grosse Pointe has some sort of Prohibition story attached to it, many of them b.s., but this is one whose stories I believe.

Anyway, the decorating was uneven, as most show houses are, but there were a lot of nice touches. The best were the ones where they let those good bones show through. Some moneybags will own it now, and it will nevermore host goats, I imagine. How often do you visit a house with its own lock, and not the kind on the doors?

So, then, a bit of bloggage?

Neil Steinberg with another Trump rant:

Have you looked at his face? The strain. The white circles around the eyes. He just doesn’t look like a well man. Yes, his keeling over dead sometime in the next six months would be a deus ex machina solution. But God looks kindly upon America. Or did.

Not to get overly personal and mean, which smacks of Trumpism. I don’t wish the man dead, just not living at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. The toughest challenge, facing him, is not to become like him. Because we lose that game, since he’s better at being him than we are.

“When fighting monsters,” as my favorite Nietszche quote goes, “take care not to become a monster.”

A daffy fashion piece by Robin Givhan, about Elizabeth Warren’s sleeves. Headline: Elizabeth Warren is sending you a subliminal message with her sleeves. For real.

The week ahead will be a bear, but I think I’m ready. I better be. You too?

Posted at 12:12 am in Current events, Detroit life | 40 Comments
 

This way to the weekend.

A mixed bag today, as the week lumbers to a close. It was a fairly productive one; can’t complain, even though I was a no-show yesterday. Just one of those days, when nothing much went well and I ended it thinking all I wanted from life was a little Netflix and a book. The next thing you know, you look up and there’s been a plane crash, Morley Safer checks out and…it’s Thursday night.

Happy Friday.

So let’s start with the best bloggage of the bunch. We were talking a few weeks back about the various eagle cams and falcon cams and all the rest of the cams that show us avian predator life in its cuddly fledgling stage. A great piece follows, from the WashPost, about the nest-cam operators who are shutting down, because the thousands watching online? Can’t handle the truth:

The osprey cam at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution is trained on a nest near the Massachusetts seaside, and the pair that call it home are now waiting for three eggs to hatch. But for the first spring in a decade, the camera is dark, and a note on the institute’s website offers only a two-sentence explanation.

“Regrettably, the cam will not be operating this season due to the increasingly aggressive actions of certain viewers the last two years,” it begins.

That is a staid reference to cam fans whose emotions about the nest morphed into vitriol — and fighting words. When the osprey mother began neglecting and attacking her chicks in 2014, anxiety exploded among some viewers, as did demands that the institution intervene to save the baby birds. When the same thing happened in 2015, the public passions took a more personal turn.

“It is absolutely disgusting that you will not take those chicks away from that demented witch of a parent!!!!!” one viewer emailed to Jeffrey Brodeur, the communications specialist who ran the camera. Another wrote: “I realize this is nature, but once you put up a cam to view into their worlds it is no longer nature. You have a responsibility to help n save when in need.”

It’s a great story — lots of anecdotes about people who are way too over-invested in the world that flies around over our heads. How much so? Oh, you have no idea:

In 2014, when the chicks featured on a bald-eagle cam in North Fort Myers, Fla., weren’t getting much to eat, some viewers decided to take matters into their own hands. Under cover of darkness, they headed to the nest site and tossed meat into it — a roast, to be specific.

I love the eagle cams as much as the next person, but when things get a little dicey, I just click away. That’s why we have Donald Trump – for the distraction.

Speaking of which.

The WP also has a pretty good piece about the next generation of Trumps, specifically his sons, Eric and Don.

It’s pretty good, but Hank Stuever started an interesting Facebook conversation about the difference between the Trump scions, who at least talked to the Washington Post, and Chelsea Clinton, who apparently still thinks it’s 1993 and she’s 13 years old, protected like the tender bud she was then. Now it’s 2016 and she’s 36, and she still doesn’t answer a question that wasn’t vetted, but feels she can campaign for her mother and face only the scrutiny she approves. So, then: Props to the young Trumps, who I liked better after reading this. Dammit.

Can we trust the Center for Tobacco Control Research and Education? Because these numbers are crazy:

If 10 percent of American smokers gave up cigarettes and the rest cut back by 10 percent, the U.S. could shave $63 billion off medical costs the next year, the analysis found.

It doesn’t pass the smell test, but I have no idea it’s a big number. But is it that big?

The new study found that regions with lower smoking rates had substantially lower medical costs from 1992 through 2009.

Californians spent $15.4 billion less on healthcare in 2009 than they would have if they smoked as much as the national average, the analysis estimates. At the other extreme, Kentucky residents spent an estimated $1.7 billion more than the national average on healthcare because they smoked more.

Maybe.

Here’s a nice Neal Rubin column from Detroit, about the breakup of a chain of sleazebags ripping off Detroit Public Schools. I don’t want to excerpt anything from it, but read it — it’s good.

Finally, Lisa Belkin, the former NYT reporter and author “Show Me a Hero,” wrote a piece about the time when, as a young reporter, Donald Trump made a pass at her. It attracted this fan mail:

belkin

Sorry for the language, but this is the sort of thing women who write on the internet get used to. Enjoy your weekend. May you get no communiques like that.

Posted at 12:02 am in Current events, Media, Same ol' same ol' | 60 Comments
 

Deep water.

I checked my email before leaving for the pool this morning, and learned that a filter at the pool had gone out, a part was needed and hadn’t been located yet and the pool would be closed for the rest of the school year. But the district wasn’t leaving us out to dry — ha! — but was relocating the sunrise swim to one of the high-school natatoriums. Which is only a few years old and several orders of magnitude nicer than the middle-school pool we use now.

So hey, I rolled up, parked, found the locker room and got wet. It was delightful, the keepers of this pool adhering to the more modern idea that the water should be on the cool side. And there was an extractor in the locker room, as well as, what’s this? Private showers? With curtains?

Yes, it appears the gang shower of yesteryear, the stage for Carrie’s disgrace and probably yours in some forgotten nightmare, is a thing of the past, at least here. Which immediately made me think that, once again, all the fretting about locker rooms is probably just more wasted worry.

And! There was an extractor for swimsuits! The rest of this year’s pool time is going to be 100 percent win.

(This opinion wasn’t shared by all, I should add. Two women confessed they felt freaked out by the vastness of the diving well, and the fact the shallow end of the lanes was nearly 7 feet deep. Neither will be going to the Olympics, I guess.)

I was called upon to do a late work chore this evening, which cut into my blogging time. In lieu of links, accept this photo of Saturday’s appetizer. Salmon tartare. So much yum.

salmontartare

And happy Wednesday.

Posted at 12:10 am in Same ol' same ol' | 74 Comments
 

The reaper.

As I think I’ve mentioned a time or ten, my link-wrangling on a day-to-day basis goes like this: When I find something interesting, I toss it into a draft post, a process that goes on all day, between other things.

I think it was the third item when I found they had a common theme today:

death

Honestly, though, the kickoff item is almost joyful. And it so happens that one of my Facebook friends was there when it happened: Bassist Jane Little, who only recently became the longest-serving orchestra musician in the world, collapsed on stage during a performance of the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra Sunday. She never regained consciousness, and died later that night. At 87, after 71 years with the ensemble.

Which would merely be sad, but not when you consider what they were playing at the moment she went down: “There’s No Business Like Show Business.” Which was their encore, in fact. And as one of her fellow players scooped her up and carried her offstage, they kept playing, so she actually left the limelight as the song reached a climax: So let’s go on with the show! A WashPost account of the incident, and her life, here.

A friend once told me he despised the platitude we so often say after someone dies: “Well, at least he died doing something he loved,” because most people don’t want to die, much less screaming toward the earth at 32 feet per second when a parachute malfunctions. In this case, though, I think we can make an exception. You couldn’t have scripted a better death; in fact, if you had scripted this, the director would have thrown it back in your face and called you Mr. Obvious.

Then, mid afternoon, I checked Twitter and found this:

Once you find the eyes, it’s just mesmerizing.

And on an animal theme, there are these outdoorsmen:

The weather at Yellowstone National Park on May 9 was fairly temperate: The low was 39 degrees Fahrenheit; the high was 50.

Nevertheless, when two tourists saw a baby bison, they decided it looked cold and needed to be rescued. So they loaded it in the trunk of their car and drove it to a ranger station.

Over the weekend, their action was widely mocked online as evidence of extreme anthropomorphism, not to mention stupidity. On Monday, the park revealed that it was also deadly — for the bison. The newborn calf had to be euthanized, the park said in a statement, because its mother had rejected it as a result of the “interference by people.”

My eyeballs just sprained themselves, they rolled so hard.

Finally, an astounding long-form project from the NYT, on the city’s century-old potters field on Hart Island. It’s very long, and I haven’t gotten all the way through it, but what I’ve seen is remarkable: Deep history, a slow burn of anger over the policy that dumps so many people in mass graves there, impressive enterprise (when the city wouldn’t let the media observe or photograph an interment, they hired a drone). And great writing:

New York is unique among American cities in the way it disposes of the dead it considers unclaimed: interment on a lonely island, off-limits to the public, by a crew of inmates. Buried by the score in wide, deep pits, the Hart Island dead seem to vanish — and so does any explanation for how they came to be there.

To reclaim their stories from erasure is to confront the unnoticed heartbreak inherent in a great metropolis, in the striving and missed chances of so many lives gone by. Bad childhoods, bad choices or just bad luck — the chronic calamities of the human condition figure in many of these narratives. Here are the harshest consequences of mental illness, addiction or families scattered or distracted by their own misfortunes.

But if Hart Island hides individual tragedies, it also obscures systemic failings, ones that stack the odds against people too poor, too old or too isolated to defend themselves. In the face of an end-of-life industry that can drain the resources of the most prudent, these people are especially vulnerable.

Indeed, this graveyard of last resort hides wrongdoing by some of the very individuals and institutions charged with protecting New Yorkers, including court-appointed guardians and nursing homes. And at a time when many still fear a potter’s field as the ultimate indignity, the secrecy that shrouds Hart Island’s dead also veils the city’s haphazard treatment of their remains.

The best single detail is about the AIDS row: Buried 14 feet deep, instead of the usual three. Just 16 bodies, but it brings back an era in a way few other memories do.

Have I bummed you out enough yet? Just think of Jane Little. On with the show!

Posted at 12:04 am in Popculch, Uncategorized | 51 Comments
 

23.

This past weekend, the Nall-Derringer co-prosperity sphere marked 23 years of legal partnership, with an expensive meal at one-a them fancy places opening up all over the damn place. It was pricey, but I wore a secondhand dress I got on a Facebook swap site for $5, so it all balanced out. And we did order the tasting menu, which is never cheap. Ah well, special occasion and all, and there’s a jar of peanut butter in the pantry that will get us through the next few days. Plus, I never would have tried ivory salmon without it, so there’s also that.

The event in progress:

outtodinner

When you’ve been married 23 years, you may find the other people in the restaurant more interesting than the person across the table. So it was with me and that couple behind us; “I’m listening, dear” expression was on his face every time I looked his way. As for her, great barrel curls.

The night before we did a quick hop down to Fort Wayne, to watch Kate’s band kick off their summer tour in front of a hometown assembly, check out the reno progress on Alex’ house and just generally get away from it all. It’s always strange to go back to a place you once knew but don’t quite so much anymore. Calhoun Street was both the same and different, downtown looked like it had recently had an oxygen hit, but the north side between downtown and Coliseum Boulevard was pretty sad. Not Detroit-sad, but faded and tired and neglected. Up near Alex’ house, though? Boomtown. I know, I know — FREEDOM and FREE ENTERPRISE and all that, but it’s so, so wrong to let your city grow holes like this. Here’s hoping the coalescing of millennials and retiring boomers make the move-back-in trend into something sustainable, because all those beige subdivisions where farm fields used to be is a terrible mistake.

Let’s look at the soup course from Saturday, take our minds off our troubles a bit, eh?

soupcourse

That’s an asparagus-spinach soup, and all the drizzles and swirlies and so on are pretty much forgotten to me now. But it was tasty.

In between all the visiting and sight-seeing, we had dinner with Mark the Shark, who’s on the school board, and let me tell you, this voucher program the Indiana legislature pushed through in the name of FREEDOM and CHOICE? Worst idea ever. Why hasn’t anyone sued over this? I’d be livid at the thought of my tax money being redistributed to every religious grifter in the state, and taken away from my local public district. We have school-funding difficulties in Michigan, too, but this is next-level.

I cleaned and frolicked this weekend, and have little bloggage because I barely glanced at the papers. But there’s this, the Donald Trump-and-women piece everyone’s talking about:

What emerges from the interviews is a complex, at times contradictory portrait of a wealthy, well-known and provocative man and the women around him, one that defies simple categorization. Some women found him gracious and encouraging. He promoted several to the loftiest heights of his company, a daring move for a major real estate developer at the time.

He simultaneously nurtured women’s careers and mocked their physical appearance. “You like your candy,” he told an overweight female executive who oversaw the construction of his headquarters in Midtown Manhattan. He could be lewd one moment and gentlemanly the next.

It’s a much better piece than I expected.

Now time for “Game of Thrones” and the week ahead.

Posted at 12:04 am in Same ol' same ol' | 56 Comments
 

The new secondary.

Bernie is coming in for a lot of abuse in these parts, and I don’t disagree with most of it, but he’s on to something when he offers young people free college. I think he has it wrong, though.

We all know college, or some form of post-secondary education, is almost certainly the necessary credential for a middle-class station in life. But college the way many of us experienced it — four years, consecutively, at one school, with either the full or partial support of our parents — is swiftly becoming a thing of the past.

I’ve mentioned this before, but I’ve written a couple of times about so-called early college or middle college programs. They’ve got a little toehold in Michigan, mostly with kids considered at-risk, though lord knows why. It’s a great idea: Instead of four years of high school, you go for five, and graduate at 19 with a high-school diploma and either an associate’s degree, a technical certification or up to I-can’t-remember-how-many college credits, that will transfer to a four-year institution.

The one I wrote about in Flint is pretty typical — it’s connected to a community college, and students move back and forth between the high school and college buildings freely. I came away thinking of it as high school minus the bullsh–, errr, those little extras that make it so. Few or no extracurriculars. No sports, no music (although students could play sports at their “home” schools, or participate in music via the college classes and ensembles. But no prom, no pep assemblies, none of the stuff we make movies about. Kids enter in 10th grade and are sort of eased into higher ed; it’s like a splint between the two worlds, and one reason I think “at-risk” kids tend to respond well to it is, they’re treated like adults, and they like that.

And it’s all free, paid for by the state’s per-pupil allowance.

If this is what Bernie means by free college, then bring on the free college. I wonder how many years we’ll have to wander in the wilderness before a generation or two rinses away the rose-colored hindsight about the best years of our lives, etc.

And, of course, we’ll have to build a lot more facilities attached to higher-ed institutions. Which will cost money. So of course it will never happen.

In other news at this hour, I read this excerpt from Frances Stroh’s memoir — or “debut memoir,” as the editor’s note says, which makes me wonder how many more may be coming — today. It’s called “Beer Money,” and of course you know which beer we’re talking about here. Fire-brewed Stroh’s, once proudly made in Detroit, now just one of those brands you cringe to remember. But when it was big, it was very very big, until the family succumbed to Kennedy Syndrome and drank and frittered it all away.

Hence the memoir.

It’s not bad at all; she’s a good writer, if a little on-the-nose about touching all the Grosse Pointe rich family bases: Indifferent to food, check. Topsiders without socks, check. Mother with freckled calves, check. Family in sprawling, icy house, check. And so on. But this part brought me up a little short:

I turned the car around by the yacht club and started heading back. The lights of Windsor were just coming on across the lake: Canada — our unlikely neighbor.

Never mind why it’s unlikely that Canada is next door; where else would it be? The problem is, you can’t see Windsor from the Grosse Pointe Yacht Club. It’s just all lake when you look out from there, maybe some blobby forms way out there on the clearest day, but not close enough to see the lights coming on.

This sort of thing drives me nuts. I know it’s poetic license and all, but it still does.

I’d like to pin down someone who writes regularly about a real place — Laura Lippman, maybe, or one of her confederates — about when you can invent streets and geography. It always takes me out of a story. One of Elmore Leonard’s kids writes novels (not well) and at in one had a couple “skidding to a stop in the gravel” alongside I-94 in Detroit. There is no gravel alongside I-94. It’s an urban freeway, not a fucking goat trail.

OK, enough bitching for now. No links today, and besides, you guys always have better ones.

Posted at 12:05 am in Current events | 102 Comments
 

Send in the cupbearer.

Kate’s been working her way through “Game of Thrones” in the millennial fashion — watching nothing else for days at a time — and I keep walking into the room just as big things are about to happen onscreen. The Red Wedding, Joffrey’s wedding – you Throne-heads know what I’m talking about. I like the show, but I think the immersion is seeping into my bloodstream; I just asked Alan to bring me a flagon of wine.

He brought me half a flagon. I considered beheading him, but he said there was more in the pantry.

Thanks for carrying the conversation yesterday. As to the burning question of Deborah’s library, here’s my method: Sort by mass-market paperback / trade paperback / hardcover, shove them wherever, and just know, more or less, where stuff is. Or sort by color. Oversize volumes on low shelves, trashy novels up high, classy stuff at eye level.

With all I had to do today, I thought I might stop over at MLive, the statewide online news network that carries Bridge content. I was actually wondering if the chatty, informational op-ed by a high-school guidance counselor, on the advisability of gap years for graduating high-school students, was attracting a sewer full of racist comments. (It was pegged to Malia Obama’s decision, of course.) I couldn’t find it, but I found the story I wrote yesterday, which was briefly on the Top 5 most-commented list. It’s about the movement to make menstrual supplies more affordable and/or free in certain situations, and I figured it would be trailing a long string of… never mind. Anyway, I was pleasantly surprised to find readers, male readers, saying they supported the idea of free tampons in schools, because they had daughters themselves.

Sometimes the human race can really surprise me. Pleasantly.

And then something like this happens, and I realize we will never change:

An Arkansas judge accused of swapping sex for reduced sentences resigned Monday after a state commission said it discovered thousands of photographs from his computer that depicted nude male defendants.

…Boeckmann’s resignation came after the commission said in a May 5 letter to his lawyer that it was in the process of recovering as many as 4,500 photos.

“They all depict young men, many naked who are in various poses inside the judge’s home and outside in his yard,” the letter states, adding that many of the men had received checks from the judge and had appeared before him as defendants.

Arkansas is sort of another country, isn’t it?

So, want to own a piece of internet history? How would you like to buy the birthplace of this very blog, for the low-low price of practically nothing? Well, you can, because my old house in Indiana is on the market. In the years since we left, someone has taken up the carpet and refinished the floors, and I suspect a bit of staging was done, too, because those pillar candles are always a dead giveaway, don’t you think? The floor Alan put in the kitchen remains, and thank goddess they didn’t paint the kitchen cabinets. Those are some serious wide-angle lenses in some pix, but ah well — that’s real estate for you.

Finally, this may be the only Trump news I have the stomach for at the moment: Speculation on who he might choose as a running mate. Seeing as how he already has a transition team in mind, I don’t see how this is wrong to do, do you? Note how he uses the phrase “take over the White House.” Ha.

OK, outta here. Happy Wednesday.

Posted at 12:11 am in Current events, Popculch, Television | 56 Comments
 

An agenda full of OMG.

I was just looking at my work and personal calendars for the next month, and realized it’s entirely possible I will not have ONE SPARE MINUTE to do anything I actually want to do before I take a two-week overseas vacation. Two big projects to finish at work, plus getting the house ready to host our house/dogsitter for two weeks — which is to say, cleaning this dump up and jotting down the million notes on garbage day, laundry machines, etc., as well as hoping the air conditioning doesn’t pick that fortnight to go on the fritz.

There may be gaps here. I’m always saying that, but this time I mean it, dammit.

I may be feeling surly because I’m working my way through this NYT profile of Ben Rhodes, the president’s deputy national security adviser for strategic communications, which seems to boil down to speechwriter/Twitter virtuoso, and it’s stirring up a range of emotions and random thoughts, among them:

1) I’m glad people this smart are working for us.
2) I should write more than this stupid blog and a million emails a day. Write-write, like some fiction. Or whatever. This guy is inspiring.
3) Fuck, what if Trump wins? Who will have this job then? Do you think that person will have even read a novel in their lifetime, much less aspired to write one?

I probably had about nine million more, truth be told. It’s a long piece, but absolutely worth your time.

As was this much lighter, fluffier Table for Three feature, with the president and Brian Cranston shooting the shit with an NYT reporter, on the subject of…well, on a lot of subjects. Ostensibly it’s pegged to Cranston playing LBJ in a new movie, but there’s lots of good stuff in there, like this, from the prez:

One thing you have to keep in mind is that I’m probably the most recorded, filmed and photographed person in history up to now. Because I’m the first president who came along in the digital age. Every leader is a funnel for the culture he lives in. And despite the exotic name and weird background, I grew up as an ordinary middle-class kid. The cultural touch points that shaped you are the same ones that shaped me. And the fact that that was true until I was 45 probably differentiates me from most presidents. For somebody like L.B.J., who fastened onto a political career early, it probably changed the way he experienced culture and presented himself. It never felt like a burden to me. What’s felt like a burden is seeing how politics has changed in ways that make it harder for Washington to work. There are a set of traditions, a constitutional design that allows someone like L.B.J. or F.D.R. to govern. And when those norms break down, the machinery grinds to a halt. That’s when you feel burdened. When you say, “Here’s what we need to do.” I’ve made my argument; the majority of the population agrees with me. Yet we’re confronted with endless filibusters and polarization that forbids us from getting stuff done.

The luxury to absorb all these long reads was one detail of my Mothers Day. I was served blueberry pancakes and a bloody mary and then left to my own devices, so I pretty much frittered the day down to its fringes, with a little bike ride and a big dog walk and a mental organization of the month ahead.

At the end of which: Iceland. Still hard to believe.

So, with that sort of week ahead? Best hop to it. But first, “Game of Thrones.”

Posted at 12:12 am in Current events, Same ol' same ol' | 70 Comments
 

Barrel’s bottom.

I’m decreeing today to be …silly. So let’s start with a dog picture:

wendyinthesun

She really likes the sun, and when it hits that white coat of hers, she almost glows. A good day.

What’s next? How about Donald Trump, celebrating Cinco de Mayo:

He loves Hispanics!

Jon Carroll, tellin’ stories, like he do so well.

Finally, a new reader took note of the post on spanking, and sent in a couple of stills. With a note:

…the media spankings I remember best were from the Westerns series which were on television all the time when I was growing up in Britain. Series like Bronco- that sure dates me! These were more likely to be a father and his big misbehaving daughter of the sort of age I was at the time- so they were of interest to me, but since as in this one below a shapely actress of about twenty two was pretending to be a girl of seventeen the effect may be similar. The ambience is different though, and growing up I preferred it. The daughter’s been sent to Finishing School, but has run off to the Circus to trick ride by day and perform in burlesque and hoochie coochie dancing by night.

FATHER: And you know EXACTLY what I’m going to do when I get you home.
DAUGHTER: (laughing) But I’m too BIG now to have my BOTTOM spanked.

spanking1

FATHER: You’ve been needing this for a long time
DAUGHTER: (squirming now) OOOH!! AWW!! Oh that’s ENOUGH!!!

spanking2

No, I don’t know why her hair is blonde in the second shot. But I love the shots.

And with that, I’m outta gas. Good weekend, all. More links appreciated.

Posted at 12:07 am in Same ol' same ol' | 103 Comments
 

Later, John.

And then there was one, and lo, it was the orange-haired one, and there was both glee and trembling in the land.

Reader, I had a little of both.

First was of course the obvious gloating one is bound to feel when just a few months ago, the usual suspects were calling the GOP field of primary contenders the best in years. Years, they said! Such a range of philosophies and approaches to the governing of our God-given Republic, yessiree. :::Draws deeply on pipe, or whatever stupid face accessory these people favor nowadays::: It will be a bracing race, and at the end, why, the world will be ours!

Meanwhile, see Gin and Tacos for a somewhat different take on the field:

The big money and bag men in the conservative movement bet on a candidate (Walker) so marble-mouthed, uncharismatic, mean, and stupid that he didn’t even make it to the Iowa Caucus and one so fundamentally incompetent (Bush) that not even a famous name, all the money in creation, and the blessing of the entire GOP establishment could win him better than a third place finish anywhere. The field was so bad and the Republican electorate is so mentally skewed that a man with no elected experience who is quite possibly insane and who never even pretended like he was campaigning seriously (Carson) got 10% of the vote. Red-meat Bible thumpers like Huckabee and Santorum never got off the launching pad. Recycled losers like Jindal, Rick Perry, and Lindsey Graham got so little attention other than mocking laughter that they quit before they too could win their 1% in Iowa. Rand Paul proved that he has a cult following of about 8% of the GOP electorate, just like his dad, and nothing beyond that. Shockingly, it turned out that nobody in any party was prepared to take bloated live-action Nelson Muntz / Tony Soprano hybrid Chris Christie seriously, nor a hatchet-faced sociopath with literally no professional, political, or personal qualities to recommend her to serve as dog catcher let alone president. It was worse than a clown car; clowns are, at least occasionally, funny.

So there was that. And because I am deeply suspicious of victory, knowing the grinding feeling of defeat, the inevitable It Could Happen thoughts intruded, and — may I just say something about victory and defeat? There have been times, in recent years, that I’ve felt a tiny hint of sympathy for conservatives, particularly younger ones, who have never known a world without Reagan worship, when Tax Cuts = Economic Growth is as indisputable as John 3:16, or that if winter comes, spring cannot be far behind. These are the people who are bleating that the problem with people like John McCain and Mitt Romney is that they weren’t conservative enough. The twin state-level disasters of Louisiana and Kansas, and to a lesser extent Wisconsin, large-scale laboratories for this school of thought, faze them not in the least. MOAR CONSERVATIVE, they rage, and then offer up…Ted Cruz. Srsly. (If I may lard this paragraph with ‘net speak.)

Anyway, wheels turn. Today you might be feeling pretty high on that wheel. Six months from now, it could be President-elect Trump. So don’t get too comfortable.

By the way, if you didn’t read Dahlia Lithwick’s marvelous piece on being on the the college debate circuit with young Ted Cruz, do so now. I found it simultaneously irritating — jeez, do all these Ivy League pricks know each other from their summer-camp days? — and amusing, because it’s Dahlia. Funny and wise, of course:

Most of my memories of debating Ted Cruz involve being hollered at. Austan (Goolsbee) was always defter than I was at deflating that which was most infuriating about Ted—the way he’d reframe a debate topic into something he had prepared, or would become fake-angry in ways that suited a 19-year-old even less than it suits a 40-something-year-old. I do remember that he wasn’t funny, and also that he never ever seemed comfortable in his skin. He always wanted to relitigate whatever round had just been decided, even if everyone else was careening drunkenly around the quad.

I have not one single memory of a relaxed Ted Cruz, or a joyful Ted Cruz, or an unguarded Ted Cruz. In every mental snapshot he is leaning forward and importuning someone to believe he is charming.

Sounds like the child really is father to the man.

Elsewhere in politics, the president came to Flint today. He was preceded at the podium by the governor, who was roundly booed. Cruel boos; this is pretty bad by any measure short of flying shoes.

Then Obama started to speak, and at one point asked for guess-what:

Mr. Obama, who coughed occasionally throughout the speech, paused at one point and looked offstage. “Can I get a glass of water?” he asked, drawing laughs and applause.

“I really did need a glass of water,” Mr. Obama said as he sipped the water that an aide handed to him. “This is not a stunt.”

It may well have been a stunt. But last month, when the governor was telling people that filtered Flint water was safe to drink, he was asked if he’d consider drinking it himself. He said he’d be willing to talk about it. Later he agreed, but the moment had passed, the moment when you reach out, grab that glass, and chug it down.

Oh, this week is going slowly, but once Thursday happens, stuff speeds up.

Let’s hope so.

Posted at 12:28 am in Current events | 38 Comments