In the dark.

I didn’t realize until yesterday that it was the 10th anniversary of the great midwest blackout, which I am not going to capitalize and you can’t make me. The Free Press headline writer asked where I was, and OK, I’ll bite:

I was at the pool at Veterans Memorial Park in Ann Arbor, enjoying some idle time before my Knight Wallace Fellowship commenced at the end of the month. Kate and her buddy were enjoying the water slide when suddenly the water stopped sluicing down the chute. There were a few moments of confusion, and then the lifeguards started whistling everybody out of the pool. Power was out, pool was closing. This was around 4 p.m. or so.

So we went home, just a couple blocks away. Power was out there, too. I turned on the battery-powered radio, and learned power was out in a whole lot of places. The NPR reporter’s voice was shaking; just two years after 9/11, it was plain she feared this was a terror attack, and if the terror was lacking for now, it would surely be on its way.

Alan came home, and we assessed the situation. We’d been intending to go back to Indiana in the next couple of days anyway, and with no juice for the foreseeable future, we packed up and hit the road, already low on gas. We pulled off the freeway in Jackson. No power, and hence no working gas pumps. Tried again around Marshall. Nope. On I-69 we dropped our speed to save fuel and crossed our fingers. There’s a truck stop just over the Indiana line with enough gas to fill an ocean. As it hove into view, it hove into view — we could see the lights and the warm glow of civilization.

We coasted in on fumes and filled ‘er up, then filled ourselves with Wendy’s. I reflected that Indiana is out-of-step with its neighbors on so many things, but I’d finally found something I could get behind — it’s even on a different power grid. But that time, it was one that worked.

Most people’s stories of how they weathered important events are boring, and I am no exception. Man, those Wendyburgers tasted good.


So today, the same guy who did the Crisco Fist art prank pulled another — putting For Sale signs on street lights, public statues and other buildings around the downtown area. As jokes go? Pretty lame, but you can see how the media covered it dutifully. It went a little like this:

(God, I loved that movie.)

Second somebody-explain-this-guy request of the week: I don’t read sci-fi (with a few exceptions), and so know nothing about Orson Scott Card, but I thought he was a generally respected author in the genre, albeit one with a problem with gay people. Now it appears he is, instead, actually nuts. Do these crazy ideas get passed around in a newsletter or something? This is the second or third time I’ve heard the Obama’s Band of Urban Gangs theory.

Over and out. I’m thinking it’s Oberon time.

Posted at 12:30 am in Detroit life, Popculch, Same ol' same ol' |

60 responses to “In the dark.”

  1. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on August 15, 2013 at 12:43 am

    Orson is, as you might suspect from his name (if you think about it, and know your American history), a pretty committed member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, and a fairly conservative member of the LDS at that.

    For a Mormon to have anxieties about the tendencies of collectivism and socialist models for public service is, to say the least, ironic. But that’s the root of it, not a common mimeographed text, but the shared fear of “what will a centralized authority make us do?”

    To which one might turn to a biography of Brigham Young for an answer, but never mind.

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  2. Sherri said on August 15, 2013 at 1:03 am

    Card’s Mormonism doesn’t fully explain his degree of nuttiness, I don’t think. As distasteful as I find his politics, I’ve enjoyed a number of his books, including Ender’s Game. I haven’t read any book he’s written in the last 15 years or so, though, so I can’t tell you if his nuttiness is increasingly bleeding over into his fiction.

    But Card isn’t unique among “generally respected” authors in the science fiction genre with some pretty repugnant political attitudes:

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  3. Sherri said on August 15, 2013 at 1:20 am

    On yesterday’s Elon Musk topic, this NY Mag piece articulates my point about the PayPal mafia a little less snarkily than I did.

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  4. Dexter said on August 15, 2013 at 2:02 am

    The big grid blow-out didn’t disrupt us, but I watched cable TV for hours straight as I was blown away at the magnitude of the thing. All is not always a bowl of cherries here, though; my cable internet has been offline for three hours and I had to call to get a tech down here ASAP after daylight. As soon as I hung up, I was back online. Who knows?
    My friend Steve had a similar story to yours, nance. He was a retired guy who worked at “The Harvester” in Ft. Wayne until the big close-down, then he worked for years in Springfield, Ohio until he got his retirement. He had been working as a driver for a car dealer , part time. The owner sent a van load of these old guys to some auto auction in Detroit. Each guy drove a newly-bought used car back to Auburn, Indiana. Auction cars are almost always nearly empty, so the fellows headed to the nearest gas station, yep, no power. They made a group decision after a careful inventory: they would try to make it to the big Marathon truck stop just inside the Ohio line off I-75. All the cars made it on fumes except Steve’s. His died on the exit ramp. His pals saw his vehicle die on the road and they all came back and pushed that damn car all the way off the ramp and up to the pumps. Steve told me they were so happy they could fill up that they celebrated with soda pop with ice and those delicious gas station hot dogs. OK, I bored you again, sorry. 🙁
    Here’s an oddity: I have had over 100 cars all told and I drove forklifts for decades, but until yesterday I had never had to use a car battery charger. The old van that I will eventually inherit from my recently dead brother-in-law was also dead as Julius Caesar. My neighbor came out bearing a loan, his battery charger. Easy-peasy.

    My sister-in-law in Wauconda, Illinois has quite a garden, including an apple tree. She is worried the tree will collapse on itself from the weight of so many apples, so she has to trash many, many apples to protect her tree.
    I have been picking apples in our city park from one tree for twenty years, minus the few years when it was too dry to produce any apples. And it happened. So many half-developed apples on the branches snapped off at least a third of the entire tree. Hundreds of apples wasted; these apples won’t be ripe until late September. It was as though I had lost an old friend. Those apples taste great, and I’m the only one in town who picks them, and no one gives a damn.

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  5. David C. said on August 15, 2013 at 6:26 am

    The apple tree in our garden has one lonely apple. We just planted the tree last year, and we didn’t have many bees when it blossomed, so I suspect that’s why. I guess we’re going to have to cut it in half when (if) if ripens.

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  6. Dave said on August 15, 2013 at 7:30 am

    Dexter, I was struck by your 100 cars. You’re about a year older than I am, I think, and I don’t think I’ve had more than 30, surely no more than 40. We had several for over ten years, our theory was buy them new or gently used and take care of them. Now I’m wondering what the average number of cars owned might be for we, ah, more senior folks. Also, it strikes me as funny that, when I start trying to recall them all, it gets hazy.

    I knew a man who took better care of his automobiles than anyone else I’ve ever known, with complete records. He was nearly 60 when I met him and he’d only owned four or five cars then.

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  7. beb said on August 15, 2013 at 8:18 am

    I’m waiting for the start of Ted Cruz birtherism. After all he was born in Canada, which is not and never has been a part of the United States. sure his mother was an American citizen but then so was Pres. Obama’s mother and yet that doesn’t seem good enough for them.

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  8. Mark P said on August 15, 2013 at 8:24 am

    Yeah, Card’s political leanings and generally whacko beliefs have been pretty common knowledge among science fiction readers. It’s kind of strange how many science fiction writers are right-wingers. Or maybe not. There are some, however, who have their heads screwed on right. I think John Scalzi is one of them. He at least sounds reasonable. He addressed the idea of boycotting Card and the Ender’s Game movie in a reasonable way, which was basically do it if you feel you should, and don’t if you feel you shouldn’t.

    Back in the 80’s when Reagan decided to sell the country to buy a missile defense system, one relatively well-known science fiction writer did a book promoting a space-based missile defense. He made out the case assuming that space shuttles would make weekly trips to orbit for a couple of years straight to lift all the hardware that would be needed. That was a turnaround time for the shuttle that was only a couple of orders of magnitude longer than possible. But hey, it made as good an argument as any factless right-wing argument of today.

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  9. alex said on August 15, 2013 at 9:06 am

    I’m home today with a nasty bug. It started with a hacky cough that just about makes me pass out during some of the more violent paroxysms, horrible head congestion and a mild but nagging sinus headache. At least it looks like it’s going to be a beautiful day to be quarantined.

    And speaking of what ails people, I have never seen a worse derangement syndrome than the Obama strain. Its sufferers can deny it all they want but it should be plainly obvious to anyone that racial animus is at the root of it. Some of the stuff I’ve come across on others’ facebook pages has made me un-friend them, and not the facebook way.

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  10. Deborah said on August 15, 2013 at 9:07 am

    I count 14 cars, that includes the ones my ex and I owned too. We’ve had our Beemer for 15 years now and it’s still in perfect condition. We just bought our Jeep, we’ll be super lucky if we have it for 10 years.

    I don’t remember the great Midwest blackout, it must not have included Chicago? Or we may have been on vacation in Europe or something during that time? I don’t even remember reading about it.

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  11. Dave said on August 15, 2013 at 9:20 am

    Deborah, it apparently ended at the Indiana-Ohio line, I haven’t any memory of it, either, except in the most vague, read about it, way. But then, I was in Indiana. . .read into it what you may. . .

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  12. John (not McCain) said on August 15, 2013 at 9:27 am

    I’ve only read a couple of OSC’s books, but both of them were very creepy because of his fixation on children’s “sexuality.” I think his focus on gay people is just him trying to deflect attention away from his own preferences.

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  13. alex said on August 15, 2013 at 9:57 am

    I’ve had ten vehicles, and it’s generally my habit to take good care of them and make them last. My Toyota truck is eight years old and still looks and drives like new. My Pontiac convertible is now six years old and immaculate. The Toyota is on track to surpass an ’89 Honda as the longest serving of any of my vehicles; I bought that one when it was three years old and drove it for another nine.

    It would be fair to say I’ve had eleven vehicles, come to think of it. My partner and I recently took in a ’90 Honda that belonged to my mom and we use it as our mule. She loved that car and hated to part with it and I understand why. In my experience, Hondas have always felt just like a good friend.

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  14. brian stouder said on August 15, 2013 at 10:01 am

    Rachel did a nice retrospective look at the big northeastern blackout. I remember that, at that time, it triggered restrospectives of the big 1965 NYC blackout.

    One story that made me laugh, regarding the 1965 event, was the story of one particular guy in NYC, who was posting a sign of some sort on a utility pole. The very instant that he hit the nail with a hammer, POOF! The lights went out; and he watched as darkness cascaded across Gotham City, right before his eyes

    For awhile there, he thought he was a latter day ‘Mrs O’Leary’s cow’ (or whatever!)

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  15. Dave said on August 15, 2013 at 10:14 am

    Between my wife and I, we came up with 25 vehicles, which also includes kids cars that we bought, cars that we’ve both had since we started driving, and the vehicles we brought with us to the marriage.

    Alex, we also have a 1990 Honda Accord, which my mother-in-law bought new, it has 74,000 miles on it now and well cared for. We mostly use it for short errands now. Until she passed away, it had lived all of its life in Florida and garaged out of the merciless sun, so it doesn’t have that Florida fade, nor the rust on the fender beneath the gas cap lid that so many of them have.

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  16. Julie Robinson said on August 15, 2013 at 10:16 am

    It’ll be interesting to see if the Ender’s Game movie is affected by OSC’s craziness. I haven’t read any of his books and don’t feel inclined to now.

    Count us vehicle-frugal too. I think I count six cars since I started driving, and have jointly owned another three or four in the almost 34(!) years we’ve been married. My otherwise not OCD hubby keeps binders with every single maintenance record performed. Usually we pass the cars on down to family members, but the one time we sold one, the buyer was estatic about that dumb binder and gave us the full asking price without haggling.

    Feel better soon, Alex. Go soak up some sun if you can, I would think just lounging in the middle of your flowers would improve your outlook.

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  17. Judybusy said on August 15, 2013 at 10:40 am

    Dave C @ 5: If you only have one apple tree, I don’t think it’s not going to do very well. In my master gardener’s course this year, I learned you need two trees of different varieties for pollination purposes. Interestingly, the article suggest putting a bucket of crabapple blossoms below your tree when it’s in bloom to get the cross-pollination!

    Funny OSC came up today. Friends and I saw Elysium last night (see it at a cheap theater if at all) and there was a preview of Ender’s Game. I mentioned to my friend that I thought Card had bad gay politics. I had no idea he was this nutty.

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  18. Judybusy said on August 15, 2013 at 10:41 am

    Ack, I really want that edit button. No matter how carefully I proof that darn HTML, I get it right 60% of the time. Here is the apple link, done the easy way:

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  19. Julie Robinson said on August 15, 2013 at 10:51 am

    I know, I know, Judy.

    Our last house had a single apple tree at the back of the lot, and some years it produced a ton of apples. I wonder if it was pollinated by the crab apple in the front yard. The apples were tasty but since we didn’t spray were often buggy, so I usually made applesauce. When we had too much of that, I learned that several days in a crockpot turns applesauce to apple butter.

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  20. Charlotte said on August 15, 2013 at 10:53 am

    I have four apple trees in my backyard, and this year is a big apple year. They’re two different kinds — yellow transparents (too sweet and mushy) and a red apple of unknown origin. I pruned them back hard last winter, and I have tons of apples this year. My trees seem to produce on a 2 year cycle — this is a good year. I’ve put up 10 pints of applesauce and 8 half-pints of apple butter so far — I picked the yellow transparents green and that seemed to work pretty well. The red ones I’m waiting on a little more color and ripeness, then I’ll pick them and take them to the local guy who will make cider for me. Chuck makes me hard cider from them, which is really lovely all winter.

    I also have 2 plum trees, one greengage that produces intermittently and one “wild” plum that drops little fruits all over the yard. And a grove of sour cherry trees down the street in a vacant lot that I rob shamelessly. I have pints and pints of sour cherries in syrup.

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  21. adrianne said on August 15, 2013 at 10:54 am

    Jesus H. Christ, Hoosiers, with judges like this Massa guy, why bother?

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  22. alex said on August 15, 2013 at 11:10 am

    Massa’s in the cold, cold tank.

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  23. Michael said on August 15, 2013 at 11:13 am

    The Orsen Scott Card nonsense is simply sad. I am an enthusiastic sci-fi reader and have read at over a dozen of his. I read “Ender’s Game” at least 15 years ago and it is far and away his best.

    Not only does one have to have the most vivid of imaginations to write good sci-fi but one also can’t limit thinking to the realities of existing politics, philosophies, technology, biology, religion or physics.

    I guess leave taking of reality comes to naturally to Card.

    Will I go see the film version of Ender’s Game. As a gay man I should be conflicted but I’m not. The differences between good sci-fi story telling and nutso political commentary are self evident.

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  24. Prospero said on August 15, 2013 at 11:14 am

    Rugged individualism, like that displayed in Orson Card’s political inclinations, is not unususal among science fiction writers, who tend to see themselves as swashbucklers, no matter that they are actually effete academmic types like yon Orson. Heinlein tended in this direction, Asimov the opposite. And of course, Card is LDS, which does not predispose him to enlightened political views on social issues. I haven’t read any of his books, after seeing him speak at Harvard in favor of the war in 1969. Seemed like a butthole obsessed with hippies and the decline of Western Society. It could have been dialogue for Gen. Buck Turgidson.

    The House of Representatives has worked for just 87 days this year, but Speaker John Boehner just called for a five-week recess. His paycheck ($196,500) should be garnished. Last I looked, he and his Congressional posse haven’t managed to repeal anything either, the dumbass.

    So far, the 113th Congress is the most unproductive in history. Nearly eight months in, just 22 bills have passed Congress and been sent to the President—worse than the famous “Do-Nothing Congress” that plagued Harry Truman with a total lack of work ethic, Protestant or otherwise. Most emplooyment situations, you have to actually do your job to get paid.

    Dexter: Did you see the throw that Puig made yesterday?

    But even though the House of Representatives has worked for just 87 days this year, Speaker John Boehner just called for a five-week recess and skipped town to go golfing with Donald Trump, and service constituents that don’t have jobs.

    No action on jobs? No problem. No action on immigration? He doesn’t care. And, yeah, I am judging Boner’s lack of effort on the work of the people. It’s disgraceful. Nice legacy Oompa Loompa.

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  25. mark said on August 15, 2013 at 11:28 am

    Card was invited to speak at Harvard in 1969? Pretty impressive accomplishment for a Mormom high-school boy. Perhaps the experience influenced his later career writing science fiction.

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  26. BigHank53 said on August 15, 2013 at 11:33 am

    Orson Scott Card’s politics have definitely gotten further and further right over the years. Or at least his public declarations of them have. I’m willing to overlook a fair amount of any artist’s personal foibles, as a general rule. Card lost me, completely and utterly, when he decided to retcon* the whole of the Ender’s Game universe in order to make it conform with his new politics while parasitizing that fanbase.

    Ender’s older brother Peter, as originally written, is a psychopath (complete with animal torture) and demogogue who winds up ruling the Earth and banishing both Ender and his sister. In the follow-on “Shadow” series, he’s entirely motivated by altruistic concern instead. I’d even be willing to grant this (nothing like an unreliable narrator) with the exception of one scene: the mother of the three children, who was originally a pretty cardboard character who only appears for a few pages of Ender’s Game, reappears to tell Peter that she was only acting dumb, that she was secretly a member of an oppressed religious group that believes in large families and she had to spend her entire life acting stupid so that the powers that be won’t catch her, and she can get away with having that third child.

    Not only was it a total departure from the reality he’d spent a couple thousand pages creating fifteen years earlier, it was unneccessary–it didn’t add to or change the story. Also pretty unbelievable: who can hold an act for thirty years? The only reason it was there, as far as I can figure, is to give Card the opportunity for a nice self-pity wank.

    Card is entitled to wank all he wants. I’m not going to watch.

    *Retroactive continuity: when a character’s backstory changes to fit the story’s present needs. Acceptable (and even fun) in comic books, where multiple artists work on the same story.

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  27. Jolene said on August 15, 2013 at 11:48 am

    I was struck too by the mention of 100 cars. I’m close to your age, Dexter, and I’ve had eight. Giving you credit for fifty years of car ownership, that’s two cars per year. Is trading cars a hobby for you? Is there a story here?

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  28. Bruce Fields said on August 15, 2013 at 11:53 am

    “Card was invited to speak at Harvard in 1969? Pretty impressive accomplishment”

    Uh, pretty much anyone at a university can reserve a room and put up some flyers.

    But my bet’s on Prospero being confused about the person or the date.

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  29. coozledad said on August 15, 2013 at 11:55 am

    BigHank53: I was going to ask you is there a science fiction writer who doesn’t essentially reconstruct morality plays, or harvest the scripts from westerns?
    I guess it would be hard to push an indeterminate or counterdeterminate narrative structure without winding up like Nabokov’s nearly illegible Ada or one of Italo Calvino’s dry set pieces.

    Then I remembered Slaughterhouse Five. Is that considered science fiction anymore?

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  30. Jolene said on August 15, 2013 at 11:57 am

    The mention of fruit trees, gardening, and canning has this farm-bred apartment-dweller feeling envious.

    Am wishing I had even a few of the crates of delicious tomatoes I picked as a child. August was a time of fresh, sliced tomatoes for every meal. Of course, at the time, I had no idea how much I’d miss them now.

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  31. Prospero said on August 15, 2013 at 12:05 pm

    Did I say invited? Didn’t think so. It was indeed Card, and he was a member of YAF chapter at BYU, and it was most certainly 1969.

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  32. Kirk said on August 15, 2013 at 12:08 pm

    At 61, I have owned seven cars. Not being in love with cars, I didn’t get one until I needed one, when I was 22. My Ford Escort lasted me 13 years, a few of which were years when I mostly rode the bus to work.

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  33. brian stouder said on August 15, 2013 at 12:11 pm

    Jolene, I just plopped a cherry tomato into my mouth – hadn’t done that in years – and when I bit into it, the explosion of flavor was marvelous. (must be August, eh?)

    Non-sequitur: If you’re going to be a newly discovered animal, your PR couldn’t possibly improve upon this, for a roll-out:

    The lead:

    A new mammal species has been confirmed by scientists, and it’s already melting hearts. The olinguito, described as a cross between a house cat and a teddy bear, is first new carnivore identified in the Western Hemisphere in 35 years, and it’s considered one of the cutest scientific finds in recent memory. Researchers first spotted the critter on a trip to Ecuador in 2006. On their very first night out into the fig tree jungle near Otonga, they saw it, but it has taken seven years to determine, genetically, how distinct it really was from the other furry mammals it resembles.

    (go see the photos, if nothing else)

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  34. Charlotte said on August 15, 2013 at 12:23 pm

    Oh tomatoes. Mine are still all green. It’s always a race between frost and ripe tomatoes here. They spend their last several weeks swathed in plastic or old sheets at night.

    I’ve had 6 cars — got my first at 24? Not really a car person. I’ve had my Subaru for 10 years, and was looking at a Honda Fit this spring when I decided I didn’t want a car payment. I think I’m just going to drive the Subaru forever (also, I work at home, and only put about 10k a year on the mileage).

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  35. Deborah said on August 15, 2013 at 12:28 pm

    Charlotte, I’d be interested in how your friend makes hard cider. I’d love to do that.

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  36. Jeff Borden said on August 15, 2013 at 12:31 pm

    Nine cars for me including the new Abarth. Our 1999 Acura TL is now my longest serving vehicle, surpassing my 1980 Honda Accord, which ran well for 12 years before succumbing to Midwest rust and rot. Unlike Kirk, I really love cars, but I never had the kind of income allowing me to trade them in regularly. So, like many of the commenters above, I was pretty fanatical about taking very good care of them, inside and out. Now that we have a shaggy, shedding dog. . .uh, no more fanaticism.

    BTW, seriously, WTF is going on in Texas? Rep. Steve Stockman is inviting the rodeo clown who insulted President Obama to his district. I visited his Facebook page and could only read one or two comments before the gorge rising threatened to spew across my laptop. Racism. . .conspiracy theories. . .laments about the last days. . .it’s a wingnut smorgasbord. I get that the GOP completely controls Texas and goodie for them, but Lord, why are there so many hateful political asshats in the Lone Star state?

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  37. brian stouder said on August 15, 2013 at 12:32 pm

    Between Pam and I – plus cars I owned before I knew her – I get to something like +/- 20 vehicles.

    One was stolen, two were wrecked (most recently, by my son) and two or three gave up the ghost and went to scrap

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  38. BigHank53 said on August 15, 2013 at 12:36 pm

    Coozledad, the short answer is yes. The longer answer is yes, but not very many. There’s a limited number of plots out there, and a lot of consumers of any kind of fiction don’t really want their preferences challenged. The latest growth segment, based on Twilight and The Hunger Games, is teen paranormal action/romance. Walk into B&N and marvel at the shelves laden with the stuff.

    Movie, TV, and video game tie-ins are the worst, of course, because the serial characters are require to survive in recognizable form. It is probably personal prejudice but I feel that the audience for that stuff is the least interested in being challenged by a book. The stuff is printed Twinkies.*

    We mostly want to see our good protagonist triumph over that nasty antagonist, and at least get a smooch from the age-appropriate object** of their affections.

    A couple things you might want to look at that definitely aren’t ripped off from Westerns: Ian MacDonald’s River of Gods and almost anything written by the late Ian M. Banks (Books of his without the “M.” are contemporary fiction, not SF.) particularly Transition.

    Slaughterhouse Five still falls into the SF category as far as I’m concerned.

    *Not that I don’t consume a lot of fluffy entertainment myself. But there’s no way to make a Lois McMaster Bujold novel into a deep meditation on human motivation. Those books come halfway up to your knees, and they don’t apologize for it.

    **Nabokov wasn’t writing for most people.

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  39. Heather said on August 15, 2013 at 1:12 pm

    Five cars, all bought used. One was totaled when someone hit me, sold another when I went to Italy for a year (both Honda Accords). Had the car previous to the current one, a Toyota Corolla, for eight years, and I plan on having my Honda Fit for at least that long.

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  40. Prospero said on August 15, 2013 at 1:33 pm

    New interpretation for the 1968 Fair Housing Act.

    Ada is impenetrably, pretty much. Nabokov’s best novels are Bend Sinister and the incomparable Pale Fire, which is a brilliant piece of self-referential post-modernism, although I doubt the author would have seen it that way. Nabokov was also a lepidopterist of some note, and actually named some butterflies. He also proposed a theory of butterfly evolution that was discounted by most scientists at the time, but has since become widely accepted.

    One fascinating human being.

    An excellent example of SF that owes everything to Westerns is the Sean Connery movie Outlander, which is basically High Noon with Connery in the Gary Cooper role. Very good movie. China Mieville’s books are pretty much rooted in Raymond Chandler noir. Mary Doria Russell’s excellent The Sparrow, and its sequel Children of God are metaphorically about the European bungling in conquering America and ethnic cleansing of Native Americans. There is even a well-meaning Jesuit that manages to screw things up royally. C.S. Lewis’s Perelandra trilogy is totally imagined, particularly the other planets the hero Ransom visits (Mars and Venus) but the final book is based heavily on Arthurian legend. Steve Erickson’s Tales of the Black Clock is an alternative history in which an American is hired by Adolf Hitler as his personal pornographer to write fantasies about Adolf and his cousin with whom he was erotically obsesssed, Geli Raubal. His similarly alternative history, Arc D’x is about Jefferson and Sally Hemings.

    Nabokov wrote this poem:

    I found it and I named it, being versed

    in taxonomic Latin; thus became

    godfather to an insect and its first

    describer — and I want no other fame.

    We’ve had power go out the last three nights.Easy to tell, all the clocks are flashing. Microwave, oven, DVD player, stereo. Pain in the ass.

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  41. Bruce Fields said on August 15, 2013 at 1:42 pm

    “It was indeed Card, and he was a member of YAF chapter at BYU, and it was most certainly 1969.”

    Oh, well, good story then!

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  42. Dexter said on August 15, 2013 at 1:44 pm

    I’d drive , I’d see a car in somebody’s yard and I would have to test drive it, then buy it. I bought cars for $200 to $9,000, depending on my mood. I bought a 1960 VW convertible Bug once for $200 , just on a whim. I drove 80 to 140 miles per day , to work and back and then all over hell just for fun, and I’d keep a junker a while and then get my For Sale sign out and dump it, or just drive it to the junk man. I bought just two new cars, one in 1974 (Pinto wagon) and one in 1977 (Honda CVCC hatchback). I had too many Volkswagen Bugs and buses to accurately count in my mind without stopping to concentrate; I had a Volvo 240 wagon, I had a Karmann Ghia, my favorite. I must have wasted a couple hundred grand buying cars and trucks I didn’t need. And then there is my old work buddy Greg. He owned NINE full-size vans at one time, all insured and working. Why? He had the bug like me.

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  43. Charlotte said on August 15, 2013 at 2:09 pm

    Dexter — my Volvo 240 sedan was probably my favorite car ever. Unfortunately it had a stiff clutch, and no air conditioning, and had to go when I found myself facing commutes of 60-90 minutes in the South Bay in stop and go traffic. Also, best car I ever had in snow.

    Deborah — hard cider is made just like brewing beer (which Himself also does when the weather cools down). I also have another friend who I hear has a wee still in his basement lair, I’m thinking we might have to try turning some of the hard cider into Calvados for another fun winter project.

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  44. Scout said on August 15, 2013 at 2:18 pm

    I’m 55 and have owned or co-owned 14 vehicles. The two we have right now we’ve had for 15 years, so most of the activity took place during my 20 year marriage to a guy who thought a 3 year old car was old and a 5 year old car was ancient. We are currently car shopping to replace our VW Golf. It’s between a Prius and a Mazda 3 Hatchback. So within a few weeks my number will go up to 15.

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  45. Scout said on August 15, 2013 at 2:22 pm

    Dexter, one of mine was a Ghia… definitely in the top 5! The other favorites were a Fiat, an Alfa Romeo Spyder, my first boxy Volvo and the current Golf, which I am having a hard time letting go of, but it’s time.

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  46. brian stouder said on August 15, 2013 at 2:30 pm

    When Grant and I were in Danny & LA Mary’s part of the world a few weeks ago, our rental car was a blue Nissan Versa.

    My very first experience was – I could not figure out how to turn on the headlights (full stop, much fumbling, and then, eventually, success)

    Aside from the counter-intuitive controls (trunk release button? – on the floorboards left of the driver seat! Fuel door release? Right next to it!) I came to really like that car. Plenty of power when you need it, comfortable enough, and easy to park.

    And then, the mad killer/kidnapper – from San Diego! was being looked for in the very same type car!!

    Thank heavens we were there last month rather than last week

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  47. Lex said on August 15, 2013 at 2:57 pm

    OSC lives here in Greensboro. Until the recent demise of the local conservative alt-weekly, he bombarded us with columns on everything from movies to architecture, all taking the position that if he were emperor in some kind of Old Testament/Mormon/lunatic theocracy, everything would be all better. He’s the guy for whom the Garfield panel “Christ, what an asshole” was invented.

    I’m not a big SF/fantasy fan, so take this with a truckload of salt, but I read Ender’s Game and found it just creepy. As in vaguely pedophile creepy. I’ve read none of his other books and don’t intend to. Further affiant sayeth not.

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  48. Dorothy said on August 15, 2013 at 3:17 pm

    Just for the hell of it I had to try to list the cars that I drove – my husband has had his own vehicles over the last 40 years of driving:

    1976 Pontiac Astre (twin to a Vega) – bought new on my 19th birthday (gave it to my younger brother when he needed wheels and we were upgrading)

    inherited a pea green Mercedes when hubby’s great aunt died, but we sold it to buy a new 1984 Chevy Celebrity station wagon (one kid here/one on the way)

    Three leased Chevy Blazers in a row between (I think) 1994-2001)

    2001 Saturn S Series 4 door coupe – bought new, but gave to daughter in May 2005 when she graduated from college and needed a car. She was rear-ended in September 2005 and we made the payments on her new Chevy Cobalt. She still has it. She’ll pay for her next car when she’s ready for one!

    2004 Chevy Malibu – had 11,000 miles on it when we got it

    2012 Chevy Equinox – bought new May last year

    Mike was driving his dad’s ’67 Barracuda when we first started dating in 1973. Before we got married he had an old El Camino with side pipes, an old 442 and some kind of truck. He’s been a truck guy exclusively since then. Currently his Chevy is a 2007 white Silverado. Its predecessor was a 2001 red Silverado (Josh named “The Beast”) which he gave to Josh when we moved from Cincinnati to South Carolina. In 1999 we bought a well-used Lumina when our daughter got her driver’s license. It was ugly and had red wine colored velvet interior. The kids HATED it, but it got them to school and/or work (Josh eventually drove it too). Mike dubbed it the “Babe Magnet” when Josh started driving it. A misnomer if there ever was one.

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  49. alex said on August 15, 2013 at 4:02 pm

    We have an absolutely comical photo of a ’79 Cutlass that my brother inherited and took to college as an undergrad at Rose Hulman. When he came back after graduation he drove it home with a giant piece of plywood strapped to the top serving as a pedestal for all of his worldly belongings, which he had fashioned into in an amazingly intricate tower and secured well enough to tolerate highway speeds. (One of the best things he ever did with his engineering degree. He went to grad school to become a geologist instead.) I had the use of that car for a while myself after my brother was done with it, and it stands out as a favorite, quite cushy with the sort of gothic motif that was so popular on ’70s cars, but much better built than any GM products I remember from subsequent years.

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  50. Deborah said on August 15, 2013 at 4:04 pm

    I should add to my car count that the first 8 cars I had were jointly owned with my ex while we were married for 15 years. The last 6 were during the 23 years my (now) husband and I have been together, my husband has had 3 cars and 1 motorcycle and I had 3 cars. I know this doesn’t seem to add up but some of these overlapped and now we have the Beemer and the Jeep jointly (which are included in the count). Never mind it’s too confusing. The point I was trying to make is that my ex was much more of a car guy, he liked to get different cars, my husband now likes to keep them for a long time.

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  51. LAMary said on August 15, 2013 at 4:49 pm

    Dorothy, I remember you telling about the Babe Magnet once before and you said “babe magnet” was shortened to BM. I threatened to buy a Chevy Lumina for my son. We saw one for sale, parked on the street. He declined and chose to stick to riding his bike.

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  52. Prospero said on August 15, 2013 at 5:44 pm

    My ex-wife had a Ghia that I loved to drive. The only problem with that car was that the main road from the burbs to Boston downtown, Storrow Drive, goes underwater in the underpasses when the charles rises in a bad storm. It’s a weird feeling to be driving an airtight car and have all the tires leave the road surface at the same time. This happened more than once in that car. Other than that, it was a treat. My favorite though was a TR-6, that remarkably started reliably in Boston in the wintertime. No conceivable explanation. The Triumph was British Racing Car Green, and I could make Boston to Athens GA in 10 hrs in that car. It was fast, but it’s about the only Triumph I ever heard of that didn’t have problems with the electrical systems. Second best was the Mazda 626 we traded the TR on when my daughter was on the way. Excellent car. We had a gigantic Dodge of wome kind for a while that was a great Drive-In Movie car. It was like driving a houseboat. A little red VW wagon that was beat to hell but ran great. One night out at Faneuil Hall, my wife hit a parking garage pillar and just kept driving out of the garage. Our friends in the back seat were appalled that we weren’t upset about the car. We thought it was hilarious. I’ve got a 69 Cougar convertible now, which I only crank up to leave the island. Sucker slurps gasoline like a rummy but damn it is fun to drive. Huge engine and dual carbs. A masterpiece of American fuel inefficiency. Very high gloss black with red striping. Been in the family for 25 years or so, used to be my mom’s car, but UGA cops used to pull her over regularly thinking she was some tri-delt with a dady’s money hot car.

    My lottery car, without a doubt would be the four seater Triumph Stag convertible or an old Volvo P1800 (seriously good styling, particularly the Volvo):

    I’ve also got Triumph Bonneville bike which S. is afraid to ride. So am I sometimes. That thing “gets away from you”. I drove it 105 mph once on an X-way in Worcester MA. scared the crap out of me like my dad’s Caddies.

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  53. Prospero said on August 15, 2013 at 7:59 pm

    Even dumbass paleocons cannot possibly believe that this idiotic Cuccinelli idea is valid or desirable. Even the social conservative’s cannot possibly be that stupid,

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  54. BigHank53 said on August 15, 2013 at 9:43 pm

    Prospero, I hadn’t known you lived (and drove) in the Boston area. The best car my family ever had for Boston driving was a VW Rabbit GTI that the previous owner had rolled over in a field in New Hampshire, damaging every single body panel and cracking the windshield. My brother and I bought it for $450, replaced the windshield and the bad steering rack that had caused the rollover. Left the bodywork alone, with giant scrape marks running across the roof. We gave it to our Mom for Christmas one year when she was in sore need of another ride, and since it stayed in the family we borrowed it a fair amount. Everyone got out of your way when you were trying to merge in that car.

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  55. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on August 15, 2013 at 9:43 pm

    I want an electric blue Rolls-Royce cut down into a pickup truck. If I found one, I’d name it Agnes.

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  56. alex said on August 15, 2013 at 10:38 pm

    Yes, there is a God:

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  57. Jolene said on August 15, 2013 at 11:12 pm

    I saw that too, Alex, and thought it was great. Good to see that my opinion of her is widely shared.

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  58. Sherri said on August 15, 2013 at 11:38 pm

    I think Bezos should fire Fred Hiatt. He hired Jennifer Rubin, and continues to employ George Will, Charles Krauthammer, and Richard Cohen. There have to be better options out there.

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  59. MarkH said on August 16, 2013 at 12:04 am

    Cars. Always been a car guy, had a lot of them. Sold cars for seven years. My first car was a ’66 Karmann Ghia. What a blast; it was my Porsche 356. Then, over the last 42 years, in order: ’67 Alfa Romeo GTV, ’66 Chevy Corvair 2-dr 110, ’50 Jaguar XK120, ’74 Mercury Capri V6, ’78 Ford Fiesta, ’81 VW Jetta, ’81 GMC 3500 pickup; ’81 Yamaha 750 Seca, ’79 Toyota Tercel, ’87 Ford Ranger Supercab, ’86 Toyota 4wd wagon, ’86 Buick Park Ave., ’01 Olds Alero, ’95 Subaru Impreza 2-dr.,’84 Ford Bronco II, ’99 Olds Aurora.

    The current fleet, none less than ten years old: ’02 Chevy Suburban, ’90 Chevy Suburban, ’00 Chrysler 300M, ’86 GMC 3500 pickup, ’89 Alfa Romeo Spider, and a ’67 Alfa Romeo Giulia Super Sedan-1750 motor, currently for sale.

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  60. dull_old_man said on August 17, 2013 at 10:53 am

    Sorry I got here late.

    I painted houses for 10 years, so I needed a car that started that I could spill paint on. I bought a series of cars for $200 to $300 and drove them until they needed a repair that cost more than the purchase price. Had a lot of Detroit iron, but know I haven’t had 100.

    I pictured Agnes as a Rolls-Royce bread truck. I’m not going back to check.

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