The haul-out.

Bottom line
Fun fact to know and tell: If bottom slime isn’t washed off with a hose when the boat is still wet, you’ll be removing it inch by inch with a chisel all winter. Note: This is not our boat. It’s a big gaudy fishing rocket with triple 300 hp outboards. Shudder.

Ah, the melancholy of a boatyard in autumn: Carhartt padded jackets have replaced shorts. The waterfront restaurant is closed for the season. There’s not a girl in a bathing suit, or a girl, period, in sight. (Except me. And as a female long past my sell-by date, it’s a scientific fact that I am, in fact, invisible.) Instead of boats passing up and down the channels, it’s forklifts and jeeps with winches and the shrink-wrapping crews everywhere. And us. Another fall, another day spent watching Alan yank repeatedly on an outboard starting rope. If I had a dollar for every yank I’ve seen the course of our relationship, I’d be blogging from my luxury houseboat tied up at Pier 66, Barbados.

The details are boring — hell, the whole day was boring, or would be to you guys. As for me, I did my part, and once we got the motor running again, the day went smoothly. I’ve learned, during these routine mechanical failures, to remain implacable while Alan howls obscenities at the sky. (If I had a dollar for every one of those, I wouldn’t be blogging at all. I’d have my houseboys taking dictation.) I think before I make a stupid suggestion (“Are you sure there’s enough gas?”). And I appreciate my surroundings.

There was less to appreciate this year. Sorry, Gov. Richardson, but not only can you not have any Great Lakes water because we don’t want to give you any, there’s not much left. Lush Life was sitting on the bottom when we left our slip for the year, and though a strong push freed her — thank God; I can only imagine the obscenities that little development would have required — that’s what you call a pretty low ebb. Granted, the water’s always down in fall, and Lake St. Clair is shallow enough that a stiff west wind can drop the water on the American side by a few inches, this is close to unprecedented. I hope we get shitloads of rain and snow this winter, because I don’t fancy poling.

In other decline-of-the-American-empire news, we’re also running out of gas. The price jumped by 30 cents a gallon mid-week, pushing us over the $3 mark. The local Fox affiliate did a story. I’ve mentioned before that I prefer Fox’s local news because it’s so unabashedly interested in the knuckle-dragger market that, perversely, it makes it easier to endure. The Fox story consisted of interviewing drivers as they gassed up at $3.25 prices, and adding another voice of the common man to the anvil chorus, doncha know. Why did they suppose prices were so high? As one, they answered: “The economy.”

No one mentioned the price of crude, the drop in interest rates, inflation. Not that you’d expect people interviewed at a Detroit gas station to be Alan Greenspan, but even the distant ringing of a clue would have been refreshing. But they all said “the economy,” and they all said it exactly the same way: “It’s the economy,” suggesting someone was asking a leading question, or maybe they were just that dumb. Anyway, the story wasn’t on for very long — nothing is, because the audience has the attention span of toddlers at a birthday party. And then it was on to a shocking armed robbery of a convenience store caught on tape. In Dallas.

Sometimes it’s fun to be a misanthrope. Sometimes sucking the gall-soaked rag of bitterness tastes pretty good.

Or maybe I just need some more coffee. And a shower. And a million phone calls, and some office-straightening. So, on to the bloggage:

This may be of interest only to journalists and media nerds, and its backward-running narrative makes it hard to follow, but if you have the time, it’s a wry giggle. Short version: Wall Street Journal runs an editorial that insinuates union officials live high on the hog and need more congressional oversight. As part of the argument, they toss off an astonishing figure: That one “Jimmy Warren,” treasurer for the United Steelworkers and AFL-CIO, earns a salary totaling $825,262. Wow. Having recently learned that Ron Gettelfinger, president of the United Auto Workers, knocks down around $150,000, this seemed, well, high. It also seemed high to the steelworkers’ media-relations people, who’d never heard of him. Turns out Jimmy Warren is a treasurer in a local in Alabama, and makes $8,252 and…anyone? Yes, and 62 cents, making the fat salary quoted by America’s leading financial newspaper a rather comical and gruesome error of misplaced decimal points. What’s more, the wrong-o figure came from a Human Events website on the “highest-paid union bosses,” which includes officials from such proletarian, blue-collar labor outfits as the players’ organizations for the NBA, MLB and NFL, the Screen Actors Guild, the Directors Guild, etc. And Jimmy Warren is still on the list. Oh, well. Mistakes happen. Picky, picky.

Paul Tibbets is dead. I predict a Bob Greene column in the next few days, remarking on how reclusive the man was, and how rarely he gave interviews (except to BOB). Note: I’ve read at least half a dozen of these rare Tibbets interviews over the years. And I haven’t even been looking for them.

OK, outta here. Have a great weekend.

Posted at 8:52 am in Current events, Media, Same ol' same ol' |

29 responses to “The haul-out.”

  1. Joe K said on November 2, 2007 at 9:16 am

    Gen Tibbets was a hero.
    The funny thing is, a lot of the people that wrote the horrible things about him would not be alive today because there fathers would have been killed in the invasion of Japan. I would dare any of them to talk to the men that had been through the island fighting leading up to Japan,and were waiting to invade the main island. I think they would liken Tibbets to a HERO. If not for the Atom bomb the estimate for the number of killed and wounded was around a 1,000,000 and a victory not until 1947-48
    Joe k

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  2. nancy said on November 2, 2007 at 9:28 am

    Gen. Tibbets was a hero? What did he do that was heroic? He followed orders, delivered a bomb, did his duty. If doing your duty is heroic, we have a lot of heroes in the world.

    Don’t get me wrong: I’ve always been baffled by whatever abuse he’s taken — although I think there’s been a lot less than some people, including Tibbets himself, would claim. He was a functionary; the bomb wasn’t his idea, his making or his strategy. I lived in Columbus when he did, and if there were vast demonstrations calling him a baby-killer, I missed them. He knew he was going to drop a very big bomb and was specially trained for the mission, but it’s a huge, huge mistake to hold him personally responsible for what happened at Hiroshima — if it hadn’t been him, they’d have found another excellent pilot to do the job.

    I notice the AP obituary had to go to Japan to find someone willing to say bad things about him.

    His defense of the mission is entirely warranted, but I think the defensibility of the atomic bomb has been well-established for some time. So I’m really puzzled as to why he’s not even going to have a grave marker for fear of attracting protests. Just scanning the blogs, I can’t find anyone saying anything other than rest in peace.

    EDIT: The Columbus Dispatch’s obit today says, “Tibbets was both revered and reviled for dropping the first atomic bomb 62 years ago on Hiroshima, Japan.” And yet, there’s not a single quote from anyone expressing revulsion, nor a fact offered to support the assertion. No one thinks Hiroshima was a day at the beach, and certainly there’s been questioning of the morality of killing tens of thousands of civilians in one fell swoop, but if anyone has said, “and it was ALL HIS FAULT,” it missed me.

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  3. brian stouder said on November 2, 2007 at 9:57 am

    What interests me about Tibbets, is the unique situation he found himself in, after the end of the war. He inhabited (or personified) a self-conciously historic spot; he was literally at the pointy end of the American spear, and he did something no one had ever done before.

    As for the discussion about Tibbets’ interviews and so on (Ft Wayne’s own Pat White loves to talk about his own interview with the B-29 pilot, as he did again yesterday), they always did strike me as a little…..disconcerting.

    Thinking about it, Tibbets’ public counter-example does seem to highlight the wisdom of the enduring quiet from the fellow from Wapakoneta Ohio (now THERE’s a great place name!), who rode a pillar of fire to the moon, there to literally stand at the very pinnacle of American power.

    I never used to understand why Armstrong was so closed-mouthed about – really anything! – but also about being the first person to set foot on the moon….

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  4. nancy said on November 2, 2007 at 10:11 am

    And what interests me about Neil Armstrong is how his silence inspired a dozen jabbering fools to rush in and fill it up, somehow.

    I think I wrote a column, years back, about an op-ed in a British daily that painted Armstrong as some sort of misfit loser psycho recluse, simply because he didn’t give interviews. “Deeply conflicted,” and all, most of it based on a single throwaway quote he gave once; someone asked him how he felt about his footprints enduring forever on the moon’s surface, and he said, “Well, I hope someday someone goes back and cleans them up.” He’s the sort of American other Americans recognize instantly — the self-effacing guy who gets things done and never hogs the spotlight, or even claims credit where it’s due.

    And the fact is, Armstrong understands perfectly his responsibility to history, and gave a handful of well-chosen interviews over the years, as well as full cooperation in his recent biography. All of this in addition to being a full professor of engineering at the University of Cincinnati. The guy’s just shy. Why is this so hard to grok?

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  5. Sue said on November 2, 2007 at 10:13 am

    Nancy, do they have Pulitzers for bloggers? Seriously, do you know how good you are?

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  6. Rich B said on November 2, 2007 at 11:23 am

    gall-soaked rag of bitterness

    Could be the name of a trendy new drink.
    Ouzo and vodka w/lime?

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  7. LA mary said on November 2, 2007 at 11:36 am

    Doesn’t it just tick you off that the NBA union guy makes all that money, all from the pockets of the poor players? It’s criminal.

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  8. nancy said on November 2, 2007 at 11:56 am

    Solidarity forever, for the union makes us strong!

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  9. brian stouder said on November 2, 2007 at 1:01 pm

    Well, no sooner than I add a Tess Monoghan book to my ‘to-read’ pile, then this Domino story from Baltimore happens

    At least it looks like no one was hurt, although some jobs may have been lost

    edit: and then there’s this

    the highlight: Don McCormick, a spokesman for the Iowa Department of Public Health, said he was not aware of any laws in Iowa restricting the sale of breast milk, but that state health officials advised against it.Heller said she hasn’t received any legitimate calls about her ad. “There was one prank caller,” she said.

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  10. Danny said on November 2, 2007 at 2:54 pm

    Bummer about the fire at Domino’s. That place is a real part of the city’s history. But it does sound like the situation is salvageable.

    Now here’s a news story that caught my eye today. Saudi Marriage ‘Expert’ Advises Men in ‘Right Way’ to Beat Their Wives.

    “So beatings should be light and not in the face.”

    I’m going to have to run this one by the wife and see if she thinks it is sound advice.

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  11. alex said on November 2, 2007 at 3:16 pm

    That’s nothing, Danny. I believe “Doctor” Dobson teaches the exact same thing right here in the good old U.S.A.

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  12. nancy said on November 2, 2007 at 3:22 pm

    Dr. Dobson teaches loving discipline, silly, not beating. And I think he only advocates it for children. The wife can usually be psychologically terrorized enough to fall in line.

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  13. Danny said on November 2, 2007 at 3:34 pm

    You know, we have an inside joke in evangelical circles with respect to Dobson’s “Growing Kids God’s Way.” We refer to it as “Beating Kids God’s Way.”

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  14. brian stouder said on November 2, 2007 at 3:39 pm

    So then, looking straight east from the office I’m in, we saw absolutely billowing black smoke –

    Here in Fort Wayne, news of a fire at the zoo turns every head. Sounds like it was in a new-construction area (foam rocks for the African Journey)…and the smoke has stopped…but it billowed for a good half hour

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  15. Jeff said on November 2, 2007 at 3:51 pm

    Said the proud Purdue alum — they just dedicated a new engineering building in West Lay-flat, Indiana, in the name of graduate and Cary Quadrangle resident Neil Armstrong, where he attended and actually smiled in public. Didn’t make it over there, but heard from friends it was a charming day with a quiet, but forthcoming man. Haven’t found a picture*, but there’s a replica of Apollo 1 in the lobby (which was the triple fatality tragedy that killed Roger Chaffee and Gus Grissom, both Boilermakers, along with Ed White, and that Armstrong accepted the request to head an investigative team at what appeared, at the time when he agreed to take it on, to be the cost of not being the first to walk on the moon — you know the “rest of the story” on that one), and a statue of Neil as a student walking up to the building, with moon boot footprints leading away from the young engineer.

    Dobson really hasn’t earned any defense for years, since he started rooting around in the troughs of DC for the stray morsel of political influence and kingmaking, but i would note this — his first book, “The Strong-Willed Child,” was the cornerstone of the edifice that became (metastasized?) into “Focus on the Family.” He had credentials enough to make some practical, realistic parenting arguments that were bracing in their clarity, for the time, and useful for parents who realized they had kids who weren’t following Dr. Spock’s script.

    Unfortunately, he went on to assume this success meant he was an expert on all matters of the family, and a relatively secularly-oriented text was adopted by the religious right (about the same time as Tim & Bev LaHaye’s marriage manual came out, which was silly then and reads like NatLampoon today) as a primary source, which led Dr. Dobson to become the voice of “firm, Biblical parenting,” and we went on down the road you know. But annoyingly, the first book is still pretty good.


    [*recheck on graphics — updated this week, i now see!]

    on Neil Armstrong Engineering Bldg.:

    on Neil Armstrong sculpture:

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  16. nancy said on November 2, 2007 at 4:17 pm

    I haven’t read “The Strong-Willed Child,” but I will say this: I often find myself in agreement with conservative parenting experts, particularly John Rosemond. However, I find we reach the same conclusion via different paths.

    For instance: Rosemond is a big believer is fostering independence by making them responsible for themselves, allowing them to make mistakes, not accepting excuses, etc. He talks about the difference between being authoritative and authoritarian — yes to the former and no to the latter — which is something I think kids need. He also advocates not making children the center of your home, but concentrating on your marriage first. The idea is, pay attention to your spouse and your marriage will be more likely to survive, and if your marriage survives and your home stays stable, the kids will be more protected than if you obsess over them to the detriment of your core partnership.

    This makes perfect sense to me. It’s an act of great compassion to let kids know they’re not the center of the world; it’s a relief to know the place will carry on without you, and that if all else fails and the marriage falls apart anyway, they’ll know it wasn’t their fault, which I think is the flip side of immature self-centeredness.

    We obviously part ways on corporal punishment. I’ve just not found it effective at all.

    Later in life, his own kids raised, Rosemond became an insufferable right-wing smugness factory and started expressing second thoughts about stuff he’d formerly been OK with — like working mothers. I think he decided he’d become a gray eminence, and adjusted his advice accordingly. Too bad.

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  17. harry near indy said on November 2, 2007 at 4:37 pm

    another great example of reticence was george marshall, chief of staff of the u.s. military during world war ii, and the father of the marshall plan.

    also, i wonder what rosemond’s kids think of their father.

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  18. del said on November 2, 2007 at 4:55 pm

    “And as a female long past my sell-by date, it’s a scientific fact that I am, in fact, invisible.”

    That was a magnificent line.

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  19. alex said on November 2, 2007 at 5:31 pm

    The wilfull child is a Calvinist idea — conceived in sin, devil born into ’em, gotta beat it out of ’em. It’s the kind of parenting espoused by people who aren’t terribly introspective and don’t remember what it’s like to be a child, who cannot possibly have any empathy with the polymorphously perverse things that children are because they’ve got sticks so far up their own butts they’ve forgotten how fascinating butts really are. And farts and shit. The best parents, IMHO, have a scatalogical sense of humor and can lob it right back at them good-naturedly.

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  20. LA mary said on November 2, 2007 at 6:00 pm

    Ask my kids. I can beat them at gross outs any day of the week.

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  21. Jeff said on November 2, 2007 at 6:36 pm

    Ditto the Rosemond points Nancy made, re eminence grise, which is the vague color Dobson emanates now. Alex, some kids are just plain confrontative from the git-go, and the trick (i’ve found) is remembering not to take it personally. What flips out many parents is to have one kid who seems to want to do what you ask and is sweet natured and agreeable, and then the next kid argues with you from which teething ring to why they have to go to bed. But kids are different (all uniquely so, but in a number of clusters of behavior), and hearing from the early Dobson that the reality of kids responding to you differently didn’t mean *you* had made a crucial mistake in toilet training was a real relief to many, churched or secular.

    Then he went from that insight to picking Supreme Court candidates and anointing political leaders, showing he’s a bit strong willed himself (as he’s admitted), but doesn’t have anyone he feels accountable to these days other than the inscrutability of the Almighty. Me, i’m guessing God has relatively as little interest in politics as in baseball. Is the World Series over, btw? 😉

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  22. MichaelG said on November 2, 2007 at 9:33 pm

    Jeff’s question about whom God may be rooting for reminds me of my days in grade school. I grew up in a suburb of Chicago and went to a Catholic grade school. Every Friday during the season the Sisters of Mercy would have us get down on our knees and pray for Notre Dame. Ever since, of course, I’ve rooted strongly against Notre Dame. But as for God, whom does he root for when Notre Dame plays Boston College? Which Jebbies are in favor that week? If I only had a tap on God’s bookie’s phone.

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  23. Jeff said on November 2, 2007 at 10:29 pm

    This must be a good day to reflect on the difficulty faith has in keeping a firm footing in political tides:

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  24. Jeff said on November 2, 2007 at 10:38 pm

    This is just amazing stuff (from the link above); especially as it relates to the odd twist Dobson took:

    JW: In fact, you and your dad spearheaded all that. You changed the face of evangelical Christianity.

    FS: I talk about some of that in the book. But I can’t say that for sure.

    JW: I can say it.

    FS: What I can say is that there would not have been a Religious Right as it became known, including the make-up of the Republican Party, without the involvement of my dad, myself, Dr. C. Everett Koop, you and those of us who were in on all this at the very beginning. My book discusses some of the unintended consequences. My father never would have pictured a day when his work would help lay a foundation for the anti-gay, anti-homosexual campaign being carried out by people like James Dobson and others. Those were not his issues. They were not his concerns. Dad was very narrowly focused. The issues that got him, me and people like you involved were very narrowly focused. And it was Roe v. Wade and all the fallout that came from that court decision.

    JW: In the early days, we never talked about the gay issue.

    FS: It wasn’t an issue at all. My dad’s interests were philosophical. They had to do with history and apologetics. They had to do with individual lives and trying to help people put broken lives back together. This is what his focus was. Unintentionally, I think some of the activities we got involved with in terms of the film series basically became part of an enormous political movement. It helped lay the foundation for that and eventually put people like George W. Bush in the White House. In fact, people like James Dobson and Jerry Falwell had never been involved with politics or anything else like that before. Dad died in 1984 before some of this happened. But even before his death, he would never have imagined the direction all this would go in. But that is what happens with unintended consequences.

    JW: You say in your book that your father thought these people were plastic and the people of the Christian Right were right-wing nuts.

    FS: Yes. He would come out of meetings with some of these people, shaking his head. I have some very vivid memories about this. But he essentially justified his work with them as being co-belligerents on projects that were of enough importance to tolerate them.

    [skipping on down a bit…]

    JW: You note in your book that you slowly realized that the Religious Right leaders you were helping to gain power were not necessarily conservatives at all in the old sense of the word. They were anti-American religious revolutionaries.

    FS: I personally came to believe that a lot of the issues that were being latched onto by the Christian Right, whether it was the gay issue or abortion or other things, were actually being used for negative political purposes. They were used to structure a power base for people who then threw their weight around. The other thing I began to understand is that in dismissing the whole culture as decadent, in dismissing the public school movement as godless, in talking about anybody who opposed them as evil, the Religious Right was only a mirror image of the New Left. Thus, the Religious Right and the New Left are really two sides of the same coin. What gets left out is a basic discussion about the United States and the reality of living here, the freedoms we enjoy and the benefits of a pluralistic culture where people are not crushing each other over beliefs. This gets lost. Thus, the kind of harshness you see in left and right-wing blogs today, for instance, such as it’s red state, blue state America, I just got sick of it. In other words, the Religious Right was as negative and anti-American as anybody I ever talked to on the Left. So the people we had coming through L’Abri in the late sixties and early seventies bashing the United States in a knee-jerk way over the Vietnam War was exactly the same kind of thing that you would hear in a different way from Falwell and Dobson and these other people.

    JW: You argue in the book that such people want the world to go badly. They want the apocalyptic view to prevail—the idea that the world will be embroiled in chaos and violence.

    FS: You are absolutely right. If, for example, you live in the Vietnam era and you don’t like the United States, you wind up rooting for the Viet Cong. You do what Jane Fonda did. You go to Hanoi and pretend they’re all good people, and you bad mouth your own side. The same thing happened with the Religious Right—that is, their idea was that without fundamentalist Christian beliefs being absolutely imperative for everybody in the country, the country would go to hell in a handcart and that would be the end of everything. So negative things were always accentuated. It’s like the local news channel that reports on the kidnapping of one child somewhere and plays it again and again and again until everybody is so paranoid that they think children are being snatched off the streets everywhere. But when you look at the real statistics, it doesn’t actually happen that often. America is a fairly safe place to raise a child statistically, no matter how it feels from the tabloid media. It’s the same thing with the Religious Right. By the time they tell you over and over about all the bad things happening, such as statistics on crime, teen pregnancy and so on, I begin to get the feeling that they don’t want things to get better. This is their shtick. This is the way they raise their money. This is how they maintain their central power base.

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  25. john c said on November 3, 2007 at 7:52 am

    For the record, Notre Dame is not run by the Jebbies, though BC is. I’m a BC grad and have never prayed for a victory, or for anything related to sports. I have a great old clip from the Second City comedy troupe of a skit involving a locker room interview in which the quarterback thanks God, etc. The next question from the interviewer is something like: “So tell me, why does God hate the Kansas City Chiefs?!” Hilarious.

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  26. Kim said on November 3, 2007 at 8:09 am

    As a kid I always wondered what kind of God would pay attention to a football team while the pilot on the POW bracelet I wore was still missing. My college roommate became a nun for several years (I would love to take credit for her social U-turn but it was all her doing) and we used to sneak onto the top of the retreat house to smoke cigarettes and drink and discuss whether, if one truly did have a hotline to heaven, what a worthy request should be.

    Rosemond is a grandpa now, doting as any. I’d guess his kids get ticked when he doesn’t follow the parents’ company line and spoils the grandchild, which is the grandparents’ prerogative. Or so I am told. Repeatedly.

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  27. alex said on November 3, 2007 at 9:36 am

    That was some good reading, Jeff.

    I recall a similar story about Barry Goldwater as regards the unintended consequences of what he started. In the 1980s Goldwater was invited to be the guest of honor at a Republican youth rally for Dan Quayle in Arizona. By the time it was his turn at the podium, however, he’d heard more extremist nonsense than he could stand and he proceeded to go on a tirade denouncing what conservatism had become and scolding Quayle for leading the impressionable young down the wrong path.

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  28. Kevin Knuth said on November 4, 2007 at 10:10 am

    In regards to gas prices, here is an interesting fact:

    When Bush took office, gas was $1.46 per gallon.

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  29. Halloween Jack said on November 5, 2007 at 12:31 pm

    Bob Greene is writing a column again? Where?

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