Nothing like a little smack in the face to start your Monday off right. From a story in my alma mater, the Columbus Dispatch:
Patrick Sims was driving and typing a text message when he fatally struck a bicyclist in Colorado. Ashley Miller was doing the same when she killed a driver in Arizona. And New Yorker Bailey Goodman might have been reading or typing when she slammed into a tractor-trailer, killing herself and four passengers.
Even if you discount the final example — dead men tell no tales — that’s some sobering stuff there. People sometimes ask me why I still drive a stick shift, and I tell them, “Because you have to pay attention.” Also, it occupies your texting hand.
Ah, what a weekend. Lessons learned: Don’t eat braised lamb shanks at 10 p.m., followed by a big cup of strong coffee, if you want to sleep well that night. Also, avoid scallops the next night, unless you want to spend early Sunday morning throwing up. In between was some fine sailing with John C and his wife Mary, on their share-boat Voyageur, which is docked at Windmill Point, Grosse Pointe Park’s public marina. Windmill Point is at the very bottom of Lake St. Claire, where it funnels into the Detroit River. The current is stronger, and the freighters come a lot closer:
But you get a little skyline with your sunsets, imperfectly captured here:
Everybody looks at the sunset, but when you’re on the water, it’s always rewarding to look to the east, too, to see the dark rising out of the lake:
I don’t know if I got bad scallops or just too much fine food in too short a time. My life is so PB&J these days, it’s a shock to the system to see a white tablecloth. Maybe that’s what did it. In any case, it made for a wasted Sunday; nothing like dehydration to take it out of a gal.
So let’s skip to the bloggage:
The pros but mostly cons of mercenaries: “If I’ve got one ambition left here,” (the American officer serving in Iraq) said, “it’s to see one of those showboats fall out.” Out of the helicopter, that is:
In a style now familiar to many living beneath Baghdad’s skies, a Blackwater sharpshooter in khaki pants, with matching T-shirt and flak jacket, sat sideways on the right side of each chopper, leaning well outside the craft. With their automatic weapons gripped for battle, their feet planted on the helicopter’s metal skids, and only a slim strap securing them to the craft, the men looked as if they were self-consciously re-creating the movies of Arnold Schwarzenegger and Jean-Claude Van Damme.
Blackwater defends its low-flying, ready-to-shoot posture as a powerful deterrent to attacks on American officials being moved through the capital’s streets. But that posture has become, to the company’s critics, a hallmark of its muscle-bound showiness.
…Contractors say the high profile of their armored convoys, coupled with the covert nature of the insurgents, places a premium on high mobility and rapid response — driving at high speed and in a bullying manner through city traffic and driving on the wrong side of boulevards and expressways, always ready to resort instantly, at the first hint of threat, to heavy firepower.
It is a formula fraught with potential for error. To be overtaken on Baghdad’s airport road by a private security convoy driving at 120 miles an hour, with contractors leaning out of windows or part-opened doors with leveled weapons, waving their fists in a frantic pantomime, is a heart-stopping experience even for other Westerners in armored cars with guards of their own. For ordinary Iraqis, with no weapons and no armoring, it can be pure terror.
No shit. Never mind when they open fire on a carload of civilians.
I guess the UAW didn’t learn from the Detroit newspaper strike: It’s unwise to strike an industry already on the ropes. But hey, they’ll give it a try. Maybe. This all comes with the news the state legislature has one week to get the lead out and put together a budget agreement that will keep state government running into the next fiscal year. “Wouldn’t it be great to have a UAW strike and a government shutdown at the same time?” Alan wondered this morning, a surly note in his voice. Sure. Our house has already lost 18 percent of its value since we’ve lived here; soon it’ll be like Mississippi, only with more snow.
T-minus 12 minutes to strike deadline? Better hit publish and hope for the best.