So after writing last night’s entry, I spent too much time today thinking of dumb style rules that should have been changed for the sake of clarity. A few years ago the New Yorker — which probably has an ironclad style rule insisting that their The always takes a capital T — ran a really good story on a family whose household income was right at the national median, but were, for all intents and purposes, working poor. It was really about how people with no critical-thinking defenses fall for things like those “a diamond is forever” and “priceless” TV ads and spend themselves into a lifetime of debt when, on paper, they should be doing OK.
Anyway, this family gave the writer full access to their finances, and there were long sections accounting for every penny that came into the house and back out again. And all of it was rendered in what I assume was New Yorker style at the time, i.e., it was all spelled out.
So, “the family earned thirty-four thousand seven hundred sixty two dollars last year, of which five thousand eight hundred forty nine dollars went to federal taxes, one thousand three hundred ninety one to state taxes and seven hundred twelve to miscellaneous local taxes. …The mortgage payment on their three-bedroom home is six hundred forty three dollars and seventy-two cents monthly, plus an electric bill of…”
My eyes were glazing over after about a page of this. And it went on for pages and pages. It was a really good story but man, it took a commitment.
Just goes to show you, even in the bigs they make bad calls.
Like you didn’t know that.
Speaking of bad calls, speaking of a bad moon risin’, things are looking grim here in the Mitten State. I spent much of the weekend reading about the Delphi bankruptcy, and nothing I read made me feel better. When a business with 175,000 employees teeters on the brink, no one feels good. What makes this worse is the salt-in-wound news that, oh by the way, the bosses’ landing pad was just made softer and fluffier:
With reports circulating that Delphi Corp. could file for bankruptcy as early as today, the company promised about 21 of its top executives Friday that they’d get more money if they are fired or laid off. The Troy-based maker of almost every part you’ll find on a car, from brakes to satellite radio receivers, wants to encourage those leaders to stick with the company, even if it files for bankruptcy.
The workers, I remind you, are being asked to cut their pay from the $26-an-hour range to around $10. A Freep columnist put it this way:
People trying to understand what’s happening at Delphi Corp. need only remember that we live in a competitive world.
To compete with stingy auto suppliers overseas, Delphi needs to pay its hourly workers less.
To compete with corporations at home, Michigan’s fourth-largest company needs to pay its top managers more.
He went on to suggest that at this rate, it’s only a matter of time before top executives at Michigan’s largest public companies are unable to walk through their factories or walk their dogs beyond the perimeters policed by their invisible security fences without protection.
A friend of mine is harsher: He thinks within two years we’ll see physical assaults by blue collars upon white collars, and won’t that be a jolly old time. I hope he’s wrong. I also hope I am recognized as a penniless writer, and blameless in all of this.
But it is going to be the proverbial long cold winter.
Most days I think Christopher Hitchens is just an old sot, but he can still bang ’em out of the park when he needs to. On Harriet Miers and the alleged lack of a religious test:
Of the nomination of Harriet Miers, by contrast, it can be said that only her religion has been considered by her conservative fans to be worth mentioning. What else is there to say, in any case, about a middling bureaucrat and yes-woman than that she attends some mediocre place of worship? One could happily make a case that more random civilians, and fewer fucking lawyers, should be on the court. But the only other thing to say about Miers is that she is a fucking lawyer. Her own opinion of herself is somewhat higher: She does not attribute her presence among us to the laws of biology but chooses to regard herself as having a personal and unmediated relationship with the alleged Jesus of Nazareth, who is further alleged to be the son of God. Such modesty! On this basis, the president and his people have felt able to issue assurances of her OK-ness. So, as far as I can determine, she was set, and has passed, a religious test: that of being an “Evangelical” Christian.
Ooh, look. Terrorism: Three explosive devices found in a courtyard between two Georgia Tech dormitories on the East Campus Monday morning were part of a “terrorist act,” an Atlanta police official said.
One of the devices exploded, injuring the custodian who found them inside a plastic bag. Two others were detonated by a bomb squad.
The custodian suffered ringing to the ears and was treated at a local hospital. The events led to a temporary evacuation Monday morning.
Under Georgia state law, a terroristic act is described as the release of a “hazardous substance,” specifically for “the purpose of causing the evacuation of a building” with “reckless disregard of the risk of causing such terror.”
The custodian found the three devices about 9 a.m. in a plastic-type garbage bag, Moss said. When he picked up the bag, one exploded, as it was designed to do when handled. The explosives were made up of chemicals placed inside plastic bottles and could have seriously injured someone, officials said.
Somewhere on campus, the Delta Zoo boys are hiding under their beds. I’m going to go out on a limb here and speculate these were toilet-cleaner-and-aluminum-foil bombs and the perpetrators were not exactly al-Qaeda. Could be wrong. We’ll see.