This past weekend was the reunion of the Knight-Wallace Fellows, all classes; the Running of the Fellows, if you will. Excuse me, but whenever I spend time with those folks, I feel called upon to be droll. Ann Arbor, and Wallace House in general, is a very droll place. Someone’s always chuckling dryly. The executive director is a big fan of editorial cartooning, and every term the New Yorker’s cartoon editor comes in for a visit, as well as Pat Oliphant. Oliphant is soft-spoken and a little shy, and prefers to draw his way through his seminar. One or two are always suitable for framing, and are hung in our little clubhouse:

I didn’t do every event this year, but I missed this guy at the last reunion, and was told I might as well have missed Bruce Springsteen at MemAud, c. 1975, again:

That’s Ralph Williams. He’s a rock star at Michigan, or was until he retired a couple years ago. I took one of his classes back in the day, on the Old Testament. (His lecture on Job had to be relocated to a larger hall, so all the parents could attend.) His “last lecture” packed the house back then, and there’s a reason for that. He is to lectures what ducks are to water. Big, booming voice, expressive hands, amusing asides — give him a topic and he’ll go extemp for an hour without breaking a sweat. I forget his formal topic, but the gist was the complaint of all people who remember what was, confronting what is, worried about what will be — the explosion of information, the dearth of meaning. He read some Thucydides, some Shakespeare, some Gore Vidal, mixed well, baked for 45 minutes and sent us on our way with a head full of intellectual muffins, or something. I try not to worry about things I have no control over, but he did make some thoughtful points, the main being that our democracy is based on concepts that are in eclipse at the moment, including respect for other views and the time it takes to pay attention and learn about the nation’s business. Whereas, just now, I checked three Twitter feeds and my Facebook while I tried to think how to finish this sentence. Clearly I am not cut out for Congress. Then again, at least half of the people who have represented me over the years weren’t, either.

I never know what to do when people inform me the world is in grave danger. Wring my hands. Nod sympathetically. But mostly I go make a cup of coffee.

I stopped at Ikea on the way home, and didn’t go to the dinner that night. The required energy level ultimately gets wearing, so I just went shopping. Ikea was full to the rafters with people who were not speaking English, so many that I suspected one of those overnight shopping excursions from a European capital, like they used to have to Gurnee Mills. But I think they were new Americans of various sorts — university people, immigrants, others with an eye toward making fortunes here after they’ve found a cheap couch. Which reminded me of another chat I had in Ann Arbor, with a business professor. She is one of those people with a brain like a computer; ask her a question, she blinks twice, the hard drive spins behind her eyes and she gives you a concise, informed answer.

She also has no obvious emotional triggers. I recall, seven years ago, asking her about Burma. Fort Wayne was at the time, and still is, absorbing large numbers of Burmese refugees, and the U.S. was going its usual route — economic sanctions and lots of talk about tyranny. She blinked twice, the hard drive spun, and she said China, while no fan of the military junta that rules the place, was going ahead and forming trade partnerships, in the interest of having a friendly neighbor between it and the Bay of Bengal. Guess which one would likely prevail. (The Obama administration took a turn away from this policy last year. GOP, help me out — was this part of the Apology Tour?)

Anyway, she marveled at how many of her students — masters candidates, mind you, at a top-10 business school — are amazingly ill-informed, read little news, either in newspapers or offline. She said she recently discussed exchange trading in class, how a person who is buying and selling commodity contracts has to be well-informed in general, has to know how a storm brewing here might affect the harvest there, what the stress of a natural disaster might do to a shaky ruler (speaking of Myanmar), etc. The class response? Crickets. Bottom line: Expect further rug-pulling by Asia, and learn Chinese.

Which seems a good time to skip to the bloggage, highlighted by one of our own college students:

Eighteen-year-old Indiana University freshman dies after aspirating vomit. Why yes, he’d been drinking. (At Ball State, if that sort of thing matters to you.)

Jon Stewart, national treasure, and why he is funnier than you. (He has writers. A lot of writers. And good ones.)

Speaking of someone who probably wasn’t snoozing through b-school, Gretchen Morgensen talks sense about the continuing housing mess, and the arguments against “let it crash.”

Speaking of which, I’d better go attend to my so-called career before it does the same. The week awaits.

Almost forgot: Why I do not follow sports. It just breaks your damn heart, every time. If that isn’t a completed catch in the end zone, I’m Sarah Palin.

Posted at 9:06 am in Media, Same ol' same ol' |

32 responses to “TMI.”

  1. prospero said on September 13, 2010 at 10:15 am

    It was a catch, for sure. Thing is, officials and the NFL are citing a rule that does not apply. Calvin Johnson maintained control of the football, astonishingly, in one hand, until he clearly relinquished control voluntarily after being down, with the ball, in the end zone. Play is over. No “continuity” required.

    Here’s what the ref said:

    In order for the catch to be completed, he has got to maintain possession of the ball throughout the entire process. Well, the process was not finished until he finished that roll and the entire process of the catch.

    Say what? To me, that sounds like “Mobsters were threatening my family.”

    Aside from the fact that refs applied it inappropriately, the rule contradicts about a buck 280 other rules regarding possession, forward progress, fumbles, pass completions an touchdowns. As the rules stand, a running back can “reach” the ball to “break the plane” and if a DB knocks the ball loose, it’s still undeniably a TD. How ’bout that process?

    What’s even worse, if Matt Stafford hadn’t been injured, the Loins (salute to Van Patrick) would have hung 40something on da Bears.

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  2. Bob (Not Greene) said on September 13, 2010 at 10:42 am

    Hello, $P!

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  3. Julie Robinson said on September 13, 2010 at 10:57 am

    Isn’t it always like that at IKEA? It’s a good experience for us WASPs.

    Neither of my kids is very well informed about world issues, despite all the newspapers, NPR, and dinner discussions around our house. Our daughter is in Poland right now and was puzzled that her friend was so hesitant to speak critically about the government. When I explained secret police and neighborhood spies she was stunned.

    I love the Palin cartoon. It’s missing only the bicycle with Toto in the back basket.

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  4. coozledad said on September 13, 2010 at 11:04 am

    From what I’ve seen in comments sections on various blogs, the Republicans are now pretty much claiming China is one of the Capitalist role models we should emulate. After all, they make all the lawn chairs the goobers drag to the racetrack, they’re the backbone of Wal-Mart, and they do it all with prison labor and a thoroughgoing contempt for the environment. Obama just hates on Myanmar because they embrace the core Republican virtues of child sex slavery, narco trafficking, and a top-down military government, i.e. freedom®.

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  5. brian stouder said on September 13, 2010 at 11:44 am

    the Repub­li­cans are now pretty much claim­ing China is one of the Cap­i­tal­ist role mod­els we should emu­late.

    Yes – see the article (linked yesterday in the comments) on the i-Phone maker that Saint Jobs over at the Holy Apple (or the Apple that tempts us, and which inevitably fouls up everything) has teamed up with.

    One of his business expenses is plastic catch-netting on his high-rise dorms, so as to slow down the suicide rate of his workers; speaks volumes about the Chinese model of capitalism.

    And btw, something about that article was bothering me, and this morning in the shower, it hit me(!); they compared this guy to Henry Ford – because of the “vertical integration” that he relentlessly pursues (as Henry did).

    But Henry did something even bigger, and which this guy will never, ever do – he paid his workers very well (to the consternation of Henry’s contemporaries); that was part of his revolutionary approach.

    This latter-day “Henry Ford” treats his workers the way Henry would treat iron ore; a raw material to be utilized, with an endless re-supply coming in by the trainload

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  6. LAMary said on September 13, 2010 at 11:53 am

    I have colleagues who fall into two categories of news awareness: Fundie Fox news watcher and Entertainment Tonight/TMZ fan. I doubt if either would even recognize the word Myanmar. One is a biz school grad from USC. That one warns me about all the hidden socialist totalitarian things in the health care bill.

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  7. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on September 13, 2010 at 12:50 pm

    More and more often, when I slide the completed mediation agreement over to the juvenile for the first signature, after I’ve read the draft aloud and we’ve all discussed around the table modifications and additions to what I wrote down as we working the next-to-last stage, the first reaction from the kid is “Wow, you wrote all that down?”

    Apparently, the sight of a page full of double spaced, handwritten, legible text is akin to a first encounter with the Grand Canyon or an initial experience with darkness away from city lights as the Milky Way appears — they’ve never seen anything like it before, and they’re a bit amazed.

    That tracks, IMO, with the reading less, processing little phenomenon that college teachers are encountering with greater frequency each fall, even at an elite school like my wife’s college.

    n.b. — Ford explicitly said that he had to keep the price of the Model T down and the wages up to where the average employee could afford to buy his product, “or what’s the point?” Too bad he blotted his copybook so thoroughly with other foibles; his sense of worker-oriented capitalism and student-centered education was pretty admirable. His oft-misquoted line is actually “History is bunk, as it is taught in today’s schools.”

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  8. beb said on September 13, 2010 at 1:21 pm

    Jeff (TMMO) it’s well worth remembering that when Ford raised wages for his employees he was facing a 300% annual turnover in his work force. Mass production will never work is too much time is lost training replacement workers. Sure, later he said it was so his workers could buy his cars but at the time it seems solely to keep his workers on the job.

    When it comes to the housing crisis I tend to listen to Atrios, who was right about the bubble years before it exploded.

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  9. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on September 13, 2010 at 1:39 pm

    Was that because of working conditions, or competitors offering better pay? I wasn’t aware of a turnover factor, but certainly wouldn’t doubt it, just would love to know a bit more about why.

    When my wife and I went house shopping in 2004, I went back to our board (at the housing coalition) and said “there’s trouble coming down the pike.” Very little satisfaction in that, as Cassandra would say. What did Atrios say? I lack enough info to cobble up some search terms.

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  10. prospero said on September 13, 2010 at 2:12 pm

    China acts in perfectly amoral, cynical, and self-serving fashion in world economics, which characteristics probably make it the paragon of global capitalism. The example of Myanmar is paradigmatic. China’s free to make deals with thugee Burmese colonels and generals somewhat less legitimate than West Bank settlements and Pervez Musharraf, because it doesn’t even pretend to believe in human rights. No way the US could get away with that.

    It is a little hard to believe there weren’t at least overtures after W stole Florida. If Raygun’s your patron saint, you probably believe ruthless, repressive dictators in Myanmar are Freedom Fighters, even though they missed an education at School of the Americas.

    Meanwhile, just a year ago, Aung San Suu Kyi (the landslide democratically elected head of Myanmar) had another 18 months added to her “house arrest”, or as we say in the free world, kidnapping. If you’re not familiar with it the CIA World Factbook is a spectacular source for information about other countries. The Backgound section on Burma (sic) is instructive regarding why the US should be thinking serious sanctions, not trade agreements.

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  11. 4dbirds said on September 13, 2010 at 2:27 pm

    It was a touchdown.

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  12. Dexter said on September 13, 2010 at 2:40 pm

    I try to refrain from commenting on Palin, but to the last sentence from Julie Robinson #3, I offer this. 🙂

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  13. Rana said on September 13, 2010 at 3:17 pm

    I wouldn’t be surprised if Ford had to offer higher wages to counteract the drawbacks of working for him: highly repetitive labor, little room for advancement, and a high degree of meddling in his employees’ personal lives (including home inspections and prohibitions against drinking).

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  14. brian stouder said on September 13, 2010 at 3:33 pm

    Rana – yes, and no boarders!

    When I first read about it, the Henry Ford social engineering/citizen manufacturing effort struck me as (at best) idealistic and idiosyncratic*; or (more bluntly) oppressive, and heavy- handed. The unannounced home-inspections (for example) would be very upsetting; but imagine the Asian tycoon’s set-up, wherein you have an equally repetitive, boring assembly job, and go home to a company high-rise. You never really get AWAY from work; and if you get fired, you lose absolutely everything, instantly.

    *late nineteenth century plutocrats did seem to have grand ideas about creating a Greater Society; Hershey leaps to mind, along with Henry Ford. Pullman ran a screwed-up deal, though; and we’ll skip the steel and coal guys

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  15. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on September 13, 2010 at 3:46 pm

    I don’t think Frick or Mellon cared much about workers’ homelives on any front; Carneige is an interesting outlier, but there’s not much to generalize from there.

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  16. Jeff Borden said on September 13, 2010 at 5:13 pm

    It was a touchdown. The Chicago Bears are terrible. The Detroit Lions earned the win. It’s a stupid rule.

    On football, I have not seen as entertaining a college football game as Michigan vs. Notre Dame in a very, very long time. I’m generally not inclined to like the Irish, and I think Michigan coach Rich Rodriguez is slime, but whatta game. Man, I sure hope the Michigan line protects Denard Robinson, who accounted for 502 yards all by himself. What a player. I’m going to be seeking out Michigan games whenever they are on TV just to watch this kid. If he doesn’t get hurt –and he’s built lean and thin– he’ll run away with the Heisman.

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  17. Bob (Not Greene) said on September 13, 2010 at 5:32 pm

    OK, it was a touchdown. But the Lions didn’t earn anything. They found, again, a way to lose, because they are a crappy team with a recent history of awfulness that’s hard to match. Finding themselves ahead, miraculously, 14-3 in the first half, the Lions find a way to give up 10 points in the final minute of the half.

    The Bears should have lit up the woeful Lions, but had a disturbing propensity for dropping the football at then end of plays. The Bears rolled up close to 500 yards of offense and held the Lions to less than 200.

    That said, I have no confidence in the Bears. I have the Bears for six wins, tops, this year. One big reason? The man who is their head coach doesn’t understand that when you have the chance to take a lead you do it. You don’t go all meathead and try to score a touchdown when what you need at the time is a field goal. Dumb. They kick that field goal and the last “touchdown” by Detroit doesn’t even matter.

    List your favorite Lovie Smith mistake everyone! Was it calling a timeout last year to challenge a call and then losing the challenge and pissing away two timeouts at once? Or was it taking the most exciting special teams player, potentially in the history of the NFL, and making him into a mediocre wide receiver? Others?

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  18. Kirk said on September 13, 2010 at 5:55 pm

    Kudos to Jim Schwartz for not whining about the call.

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  19. Jeff Borden said on September 13, 2010 at 6:00 pm

    Bob NG,

    There are so many Lovie miscues to choose from. . .but my favorites are his many challenges. I think he’s like 1 for 99 so far, but he keeps throwing that challenge hanky.

    I think you’re being generous. I have the Bears winning four or five and the Detroit game was one of the contests I figured they would manage to win. They are going to be stomped by the Cowboys next Sunday as Dallas looks to rebound from its opening loss to the Redskins. I believe the Cowboys will not just cover the spread. They will obliterate it.

    The Bears need a housecleaning from the front office through the coaching staff, but the McCaskey family never seems to summon up the grit to make the tough moves. Watching Rocky Wirtz reverse decades of his father Bill’s mismanagement of the Blackhawks in a couple of seasons is a good template to follow, but the NFL is so rich and powerful that even the worst teams run by the dumbest people make significant profits.

    As noted above, I’m going to be watching Denard Robinson and the Wolverines whenever I get the chance. The young man may be a flash in the pan, but right now, he may be the most entertaining guy in shoulder pads in both college and the pros.

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  20. Bob (Not Greene) said on September 13, 2010 at 6:34 pm

    I can’t argue with you Jeff B. The Bears’ problem, like the Hawks of old, is an ownership problem. And, like the Cubs, the Bears make so much money there’s not a lot of incentive to fire failed coaches or G.M.s in the middle of a contract. Jerry Angelo has screwed up so many drafts it’s amazing he’s still in charge. Here are his first-round picks since 2001:

    2001: David Terrell (bad and didn’t like the cold weather)
    2002: Chris Getz (plays baseball for the Royals)
    2003: Michael Haynes (awesome physical specimen who didn’t want to play football) AND Rex Grossman (failed QB)
    2004: Tommie Harris (best of the bunch, oft injured and very odd guy)
    2005: Cedric Fucking Benson
    2006: Traded it away for two lower-round picks (Danieal “so-so” Manning and Dusty “suck-ass” Dvoracek
    2007: Greg “Fumbles” Olsen
    2008: Chris “Turnstile” Williams
    2009: No pick (see Jay Cutler)
    2010: No pick (see 2009)

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  21. Joe Kobiela said on September 13, 2010 at 6:36 pm

    I am a bears fan from way back, I was a bear fan when they went 1-13 in 69, then lost a coin toss for the #1 pick which would have been Terry Bradshaw. They may have been terrible, but no team really wanted to play the bears because you came out of the game beat to shit and usually lost the following week. Go to you tube and put in Dick Butkis and watch in awe, The guy just plain killed people. Watch Sayers, watch Payton, he never got hit while running because he hit you first. Lovie’s teams play like a bunch of pussy’s.
    Pilot Joe

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  22. alex said on September 13, 2010 at 9:00 pm

    Butkis. Pussy’s.

    Jeez, Joe, and you’re always on my case for injecting gratuitous filth into the discourse around here.

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  23. beb said on September 13, 2010 at 9:13 pm

    Jeff @9: It was the working conditions. He was just breaking in the idea of assembly-line production and was employing people who thought of themselves as craftsmen. The pace even then was grueling. So as long as he was paying par with other manufacturers it was easy for workers sick of the line to go and find work elsewhere.

    Atrois was warning in the early to mid ’00 that there was a housing bubble that the Fed needed to deflate. Later he said that the problems with the banks wasn’t liquidity but solvency since no one knew what these CDOs were actually worth, but feared since they were bases on mortgages, that they were worthless. All of which has been pretty much the case.

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  24. Joe Kobiela said on September 13, 2010 at 9:22 pm

    Sorry to offend your feminine side, I miss spelled Butkus, I figure you may enjoy, yet never played the game. Play the BUTKUS you tube then watch Lovies bears play and see the difference.
    Pilot Joe

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  25. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on September 13, 2010 at 10:36 pm

    Yeah, the un-Collateralized Debt Obligations. Those puppies were the poison pill that polluted the whole system. That was the flip side of the no money down, ARM fueled, mirror-fogging mortgage boom; put ’em together and you’ve got a counterfeit coin that goes “plank” when you toss it on the counter.

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  26. Dexter said on September 13, 2010 at 11:59 pm

    Kirk: and kudos to Jay Bruce who came back from a painful rib injury and hit two taters and knocked in another run as the Reds clobbered the Snakes, as the Reds march towards October with some problems, yes, but still leading the Central Division by a healthy margin. This is the most fun I have had watching a Reds team since “the old days” of Bench, Perez and Morgan, Gullett and Driessen and Tolan and Geronimo…these Reds are just a blast to watch night after night.
    And clicking over to football, the Jets Jets Jest! ? No offense whatsoever, confusion, pathetic display of play calling at the end, and old Ray Lewis sealed the deal with yet another killer-clean-hit, and the Jets bubble of popularity is over just one game in.

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  27. Deborah said on September 14, 2010 at 8:39 am

    Anybody else notice how the comments here are fewer and further between when they’re mostly about sports? What do you think that means? I certainly have nothing to add when the subject is football.

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  28. brian stouder said on September 14, 2010 at 9:00 am

    Well, Deborah, if we get to talking about Formula One, THEN I’ll go on and on about The cool Australian, Mark Webber (as opposed to his thoughtless young German team-mate, Sebastian Vettel) and their odd (and awfully wealthy) Austrian team owner who wears dress jackets without putting his arms in the sleeves, as he wanders here and there; and the upcoming (in two weeks) night race (the only night race on the F1 calendar) on the streets of Singapore, which should be sublime; or the unfolding (and entirely unsurprising) folly of my old favorite Michael Schumacher’s “comeback” to the sport…..but I don’t think the conversation will head that way!

    On the other hand, some pretty big primary races are concluding right now, so tonight’s news will be interesting. Will my ex-party (the GOP) decide that “RINO” means you have to be a racist to be a “real” Republican, and that actual, successful, compromising (and governing) Republicans are impure, unfit, and fraudulant?

    Aside from all that, the young folks and I shall see Sean (pronounced “seen”, I am told) Astin tonight at IPFW, and we’re looking forward to that

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  29. Peter said on September 14, 2010 at 9:40 am

    How ’bout them Bears! Still, I think my 4-12 prediction will hold up just fine.

    Pilot Joe, you may remember this, but being a long time Bears fan, you remember the bizarre plays, and, horrible as that touchdown reversal was, the Bears could top that: in the late ’70’s, Bears were playing Atlanta, down by a few points with a minute to go, and they were at the Atlanta 1. Running play, Payton jumps over the top and breaks the plane, before he lands on his head he tosses the ball to the official, who catches the ball, rules it a fumble and Atlanta touchback.

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  30. LAMary said on September 14, 2010 at 9:40 am

    Deborah, let’s talk about the ugliness of women’s high fashion shoes. I started a six month subscription to Harpers Bazaar and while a lot of the clothes are gorgeous (lots of camel cashmere and silk blouses) the shoes are hideous. Even models with legs like vaguely shapely twigs look bad in these shoes.

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  31. brian stouder said on September 14, 2010 at 9:44 am

    Peter, didja see the Notre Dame runner who hot dogged as he ran toward a touchdown Saturday, and flipped the ball away about 3 yards before the goal line? And, they got the points. (but ND still lost)

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  32. Dorothy said on September 14, 2010 at 9:56 am

    Someone in my office subscribes to the NY Times and I picked up his copy this morning and read this article.

    The more I read about this kind of stuff the less I enjoy watching any kind of football. I was relieved to hear my 13 year old nephew was cut from football tryouts last week at his middle school.

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