92 in the shade.

Sorry for taking the day off. Had an early appointment in Detroit Wednesday morning, a day that promised to be brutally hot (and delivered), with an ozone alert to boot. Curtail your driving, the radio warned. So I took the long way home.

It might have been an environmental misdemeanor, but until you’ve worked at home, you don’t know how important it is to just get the hell out of the house once in a while. I followed Woodward to Jefferson and took a lap of Belle Isle, which is being readied for the Indy Grand Prix Labor Day weekend. I’m not sure what the exact course is, but if it’s what I think, there’s one sharp turn pretty near the water, and I wondered what the chances of a spin-out ending up in the river might be. That would be so awesome.

But mostly I looked at the landscape. We’re deep in the Big Dry now — haven’t had a significant rain in weeks and weeks. A shower here, some drops there, but little more than that. It’s making everything look tired and zapped. In Grosse Pointe, people water constantly, even the median strips are sprinklered, so it’s still fairly lush, but in Detroit, not so. In the car with Kate, I’ve taken to pointing out dead trees — the emerald ash borer continues its sawdusty reign of terror — and they’re more common than P.T. Bruisers. Especially in Detroit, where they can’t keep up with removing dead buildings, let alone dead trees. (Wait until we finally do get a thunderstorm, and they come down on power lines.) One of the many incongruous sights in this city is a profusion of green growing over a crumbling ruin, like the “ghetto palms” that sprout on roofs and through cracks in pavement. It seems to make a statement about the implacability of nature and the impermanence of everything else, but when nature can’t keep up anymore, it’s sort of creepy.

Today will be hotter, we’re told. Oh, I can’t wait to see my electric bill this month.

Last night was taken by the tragedy in Minneapolis. Whenever there’s a breaking story like this, the first thing the over-cabled household does is look for the channel with the least offensive anchor presiding over it all. CNN had Paula Zahn, whose passive-aggressive style requires her to mention children on that school bus seen “with blood on their faces” and no other explanation. So I switched to MSNBC. Keith Olbermann can be insufferable in many contexts, but I liked him doing breaking news; he prefaced every fact with a million caveats — this just in, unverified, we don’t know if this is true, chaotic information streams, etc. Given how much of breaking-news info turns out to be b.s., it’s nice to hear a little honesty. One other thing: Olbermann has a command of the English language that’s getting rarer every day. Yesterday I heard a radio host speak of “accolations” instead of “accolades,” and of a body being “interned,” rather than “interred.” One of the bridge-collapse witnesses said he’d crossed the span moments before, “and that’s too close to call.” Of course he was upset, but he meant to say “too close for comfort.” I don’t blame the guy for flubbing the common expression, but does it have to go on the newspaper website?

(Note to non-journalists: You fix that by lopping the last two words — “…and that’s too close.” The quote is still accurate, and it makes more sense. Or you don’t use the quote.)

It’s unseemly to quibble like this when there’s been a tragedy of such magnitude. As I write this, it’s nine confirmed dead and 20 missing, which suggests the final death toll will be around 30. Just an average day in Baghdad. And a final note: Much of the early TV coverage concerned the children on the school bus, and rightly so. We’re hard-wired to protect children; they are, as the great philosopher Whitney Houston tells us, the future. That’s one reason I was so stunned to learn that, in actuarial terms, the death of a child is nothing much. I learned this from a man who’d had a child drown at his summer camp, and participated in the wrongful-death settlement. Kids, for all their innocence and potential, for the injustice of having them taken from us, for the devastating pain it causes their survivors, the insurance companies don’t really pay a lot for them. Their father or mother, yes, especially if they’re sole support of a family. But you don’t pay for potential. This is the market at work.

So, bloggage:

I read the Daily Telegraph every day. How did I miss this? Fifty must-watch web videos. They’re a tad Brit-centric, but the must-sees of all this TV are David Attenborough’s lyre bird segment and, of course, the Mike Tyson montage. God, that guy was an animal. I don’t know why more of his opponents didn’t just shit their pants and faint at the sound of the bell.

A nice deconstruction of yet another legacy of the Bush family, Clarence Thomas. It concerns his legal arguments, not his video-rental habits.

Roy has a cold, too, but it didn’t stop him from appreciating the most recent 6,000-word geyser of crap from Camille Paglia. This one’s a gem. Read.

Off to stare at the punishing sun and mutter.

Posted at 7:27 am in Current events, Media, Same ol' same ol' |

36 responses to “92 in the shade.”

  1. Raymond McInnis said on August 2, 2007 at 7:56 am

    nancy, i found out about you blog via google alerts — keith olberemann. i love your stuff. i don’t see a way to subscribe.


    raymond mcinnis

    155 chars

  2. brian stouder said on August 2, 2007 at 8:32 am

    The alicublog riff was pretty good. In reading about Lincoln (and especially in Herndon’s Informants, a compilation of the statements and recollections amassed by Billy Herndon), those 19th century ‘camp meetings’ come up several times. They sound like Woodstock type events, including the chance to have lots of sex. But then, in exchange for a few nights of bliss, you face a lifetime of subsistence farming to support the babies you brought into the world.

    By way of saying, if I was assigned to write a 6000 word-geyser of crap, the Subject would be ‘why cable/satellite/internet profusion is a net-good thing’, and the Theme would be ‘humanity’s unchanged basic desires’

    680 chars

  3. Dorothy said on August 2, 2007 at 8:43 am

    Dear Mr. McInnis:

    Just bookmark the page. No subscription necessary. Come back and visit often.


    p.s. Nance you’re in rare form today!

    161 chars

  4. Danny said on August 2, 2007 at 9:10 am

    Nancy, do they have the tirade of Mike’s where he freakin’ flipped out on a reporter and told him he sodomize him until he loved him?

    Classic, Mike. I mean his voice was cracking and everything like a crazy man (edited: death to adverbs). He kept telling the reporter, “Yeah, you scared now.” I think we were all scared.

    326 chars

  5. Joe K said on August 2, 2007 at 9:34 am

    I know you hate the Pres and his administration, and that’s fine, it’s your right, but to compare the number of dead in the bridge collapse to Baghdad, I think is just a bit much.
    Just my feelings.
    In other news, I cashed my first retirement check Wednesday, after 30.6 yrs at Dana, I called it a career and took a job as a charter pilot. I was at Willow run airport last night picking up canceled checks to take to Cleavland. I took off around 9:20pm and let me tell you, the city of Detroit from 5,000ft at night looks magical, and out over the lake is DARK.
    Will supply pilot reports on my travels from time to time,
    Living the dream.
    Retired factory rat,
    Full time pilot!!!

    703 chars

  6. Kirk said on August 2, 2007 at 9:35 am

    Boxing stinks, but I have to say that one of the most exciting sports events I’ve ever seen on TV was Buster Douglas’ whipping of Tyson in Tokyo. It was a “ding-dong, the witch is dead” moment.

    193 chars

  7. Jolene said on August 2, 2007 at 9:35 am

    I’m trying to figure out how the death toll from the Minnesota disaster dropped overnight. Last night, there were some reports of seven deaths and some reports of nine. This morning, there were four.

    But you’d think that, given how long the 7-9 report held, someone would have said, “Where are the other three (or five) bodies?”

    What’s the likely explanation, journos?

    385 chars

  8. ashley said on August 2, 2007 at 9:40 am

    Now reports say 4 are dead.

    Hmmm…that means 1000 more bridges, and they’ll almost be up to the Katrina and levee failure death toll.

    Can’t wait for Bush to make a speech at the foot of the bridge saying how they’ll build them bigger and stronger, and we’ll have the best bridges in the world.

    Kinda like what he did in Jackson Square talking about the levees.

    We’re. All. Fucked.

    395 chars

  9. Jim said on August 2, 2007 at 9:44 am

    Great piece on editing from Salon:


    93 chars

  10. brian stouder said on August 2, 2007 at 9:47 am

    Jolene – I think the higher number came from the newspaper (Star Tribune?) and therefore I believe it. The lowered number comes from the police….my guess is that 4 people’s remains are actually recovered – but the rescuers could see people trapped and obviously deceased, and as night fell, the danger of fooling around in the tangle of steel outweighed extricating them

    372 chars

  11. nancy said on August 2, 2007 at 9:54 am

    Jolene, these disaster sites tend to be the definition of clusterfuck. There’s duplication. Victims are taken to different hospitals. The command-post gets rattled, and no one double checks. Remember the miners who were all found alive, and then they were all dead?

    Joe, I’m not trying to compare Baghdad and Mpls. I’m only pointing out that when these things happen stateside, our jaws drop at the carnage. Thirty people! Think of all those funerals, all the children who lost a parent, the reverberations of grief and mourning. And it happens…pretty much every day in Iraq. Every day. Just an observation.

    If YouTube has that clip of Tyson tuning up the reporter, it’s not the one I linked to. That’s just punching, pure and simple.

    743 chars

  12. LA mary said on August 2, 2007 at 9:59 am

    There are lots of ghetto palms in the Bronx too. I always liked the way they added an exotic flair to the area. In Hunts Point, a particularly colorful part of the Bronx, we had Ghetto Palms, packs of wild dogs, and prostitutes too strung out for Times Square or the bridge and tunnel traffic.

    293 chars

  13. Jolene said on August 2, 2007 at 10:13 am

    Actually, the death toll from the bridge collapse will likely turn out to be a good day in Baghdad.

    Last night, I heard a report saying that 2000 people had died in bombings or other forms of violence in July, a figure that was countered by the Iraqi government (such as it is). The government contended that there had been only 1600 such deaths. So, between 50-65 per day or up to twice as many as the number of people killed in the shooting at Virginia Tech. Ev-er-y day.

    478 chars

  14. Jolene said on August 2, 2007 at 10:23 am

    Am listening to the press conference re the bridge collapse right now. Nothing funny about this, obviously, but, having grown up in North Dakota, I am getting a kick out of hearing the Garrison Keilloresque speech.

    216 chars

  15. Danny said on August 2, 2007 at 10:43 am

    Nancy, here’s the Mike Tyson we know and love. Whoa. Crazy.

    131 chars

  16. James said on August 2, 2007 at 10:50 am

    Raymond McInnis:

    If by “subscribe” you mean getting a RSS feed, look at the very bottom of this page. See the RSS link?

    122 chars

  17. nancy said on August 2, 2007 at 10:57 am

    Oh my God. The French subtitles really make it work: Vas de faire foutre, sale pute!

    91 chars

  18. Jolene said on August 2, 2007 at 11:07 am

    Guess I’ve been leading a sheltered life. Never heard “fuck you til you love me” before.

    89 chars

  19. nancy said on August 2, 2007 at 11:12 am

    But then, I bet some of us hear Je t’enculerai jusqua ce que tu m’aimes pédale more or less every night.

    113 chars

  20. Jolene said on August 2, 2007 at 11:13 am

    On interment vs. internment: I used to work near Arlington Cemetery. When funerals were going to be held, our security people would forward emails from Arlington notifying us of flyovers that would be taking place during the “internment”.

    If you google “internment, military funeral”, you’ll see many such references. I’ve seen it so often, I’ve begun to wonder whether they know something I don’t.

    405 chars

  21. nancy said on August 2, 2007 at 11:19 am

    My Oxford American makes it clear: “USAGE: Interment, which means ‘burial,’ should not be confused with internment, which means ‘imprisonment.'”

    144 chars

  22. Jolene said on August 2, 2007 at 11:26 am

    Right, I meant to comment on the frequency of “interment” in sources where you’d think they’d be paying attention, not the correctness.

    I’m out. Thanks, Danny, for the Tyson link. Am always happy to learn something new.

    224 chars

  23. Danny said on August 2, 2007 at 11:39 am

    …Nothing funny about this, obviously, but, having grown up in North Dakota, I am getting a kick out of hearing the Garrison Keilloresque speech.

    Yeah, those people are way into the long “O” sound. Having loved PHC for years and having had my wife take me to see Garrison when he did a show with the San Diego Symphony (under the guise that they were the Young Lutherans Symphony), I too noticed the pronunciation.

    426 chars

  24. Jeff said on August 2, 2007 at 12:06 pm


    7 chars

  25. Kath in Mpls said on August 2, 2007 at 12:28 pm

    I was watching the local news when they announced at 6:14 that the bridge had collapsed. Because they didn’t have anyone on the scene yet, they continued with the usual fluff accompanied by scripted light-hearted banter about the weather for the upcoming weekend. I know they’re not Walter Cronkite, but I think some sort of change of tone was warranted. It was 10 minutes before they put some guy who was looking out on the bridge from his apartment window on the air.

    469 chars

  26. Jeff said on August 2, 2007 at 12:36 pm

    Oh, and Cane Ridge was 1801, Dr. Paglia. Just visited there on the way back from Mammoth Cave, KY, and the “shrine” is a church-ish building built around the oldest, largest log structure in North America: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cane_Ridge

    247 chars

  27. Rich B said on August 2, 2007 at 1:37 pm

    Thanks a lot. Now I’m gonna have to spend an hour and a half translating french for a couple of seconds of literati titallation.

    129 chars

  28. derwood said on August 2, 2007 at 1:37 pm


    Where in North Dakota did you grow up? My better half is from Minot.


    90 chars

  29. brian stouder said on August 2, 2007 at 2:17 pm

    Why not Minot?

    14 chars

  30. Danny said on August 2, 2007 at 2:31 pm

    derwood, not me. Kath grew up there.

    37 chars

  31. brian stouder said on August 2, 2007 at 2:51 pm

    Sign of the times – our 3 year old loves (amongst other things) Dora the Explorer, and for her recent birthday she got lots of Dora stuff (along with glittery shoes, which she loves – but I digress)…..and today we are working on properly returning much of it, as it was affected by the leaded Chinese paint product safety recall by Fisher Price

    And indeed, that story was ‘news we could use’

    396 chars

  32. LA mary said on August 2, 2007 at 2:52 pm

    They have a sign there asking that exact thing, Brian. Been there? It floods nearly every year. Tsuris River. Or Souris, depending on your outlook.

    147 chars

  33. brian stouder said on August 2, 2007 at 3:45 pm

    Makes me wonder what the chamber of commerce in Climax Michigan says

    (edit: here’s what google produced, regarding Climax –

    Climax, Michigan, in Kalamazoo county, is 9 miles SW of Battle Creek, Michigan and 99 miles NW of Toledo, Ohio. The village is located in the Kalamazoo – Battle Creek metropolitan area. Climax has a population of 791.

    The People and Families of Climax
    In Climax, about 66% of adults are married. Lots of Climax people are married off. Large households are normal in the village. Be careful driving in Climax, since the village is home to many young children.

    Wealth and Education
    In 2000, Climax had a median family income of $50,625. Poverty is less common in Climax than most places. The village enjoys an educated population.

    Political Inclinations
    Residents of Climax gave more campaign money ($250) to George W. Bush than to the other people running for President in 2004. Residents gave more to the Republican party than any of the others.

    Climax Housing
    Owners occupy 78% of the housing units in Climax.

    1072 chars

  34. Dorothy said on August 2, 2007 at 3:53 pm

    Is Derwood’s real name Darren?

    And Rich – an hour and a half? Go to Dictionary.com and use their translation feature. Took me about 10 seconds total.

    153 chars

  35. Danny said on August 2, 2007 at 4:00 pm

    I’ve never used it, but I often see Babel Fish referenced in the cycling forums when they have to translate something from the foreign news services.

    By why translate yourself. Mike already speaks French and translated for us.

    279 chars

  36. Rich B said on August 2, 2007 at 6:28 pm

    Ah ha, thank you Dorthy. Another time saver would be a spellcheck in the!!!??? Hey, there is a spell checker in the replies field.

    I misspelled spell check and found a spell checker by right clicking within the Reply field borders. It’s my Mozilla/Firefox on my home computer, because I had no such support on my work computer earlier in the day.

    353 chars