The fire, still burning.

I just deleted a spam comment from a user called EXTREME BIGGER PENIS. Does that work? Has it ever worked? Is there an individual in the history of the internet who said, “Yeah, that’s just what I’m in the market for,” and clicked? Obviously someone must have, or they wouldn’t keep trying.

Maybe EXTREME BIGGER PENIS is like $170 French bra — just one of those things you dream about, but never really expect to have.

Hope everyone’s weekend was great. Mine was pretty good, although I didn’t go to the market. Sunday was Flower Day, which really means Flower Weekend, which means I’d turn back if I were you. Seemingly every suburban family in metro Detroit descends on the market, each dragging a wagon behind, intent on buying a yard’s worth of bedding plants at discount prices, while also stopping for lunch and absorbing the Authentic Urban Atmosphere ™ in the bargain.

A friend of mine was up bright and early and thought he could get in and out at 7 a.m. Sunday. No dice.

Ah, well. What I did instead was grill a little and drink some wine. Watched two movies — “Let the Fire Burn” and “Twelve Years of Slave,” which was sort of an all-bummer double feature. I liked the both, but “Let the Fire Burn” will stay with me longer. It’s a remarkable piece of work, about the MOVE disaster in Philadelphia in 1985. I recall paying a lot of attention to it when it happened, because the two Philly papers were part of Knight-Ridder, my own paper’s parent company, and lots of people in Fort Wayne had some sort of connection to the place.

But I was too young and ignorant to truly grasp the horror of what happened, too quick to accept the journo-description of MOVE as “an activist group,” which is not what they were. They were, “Let the Fire Burn” makes clear, a like-minded group of crazy people who were dedicated to, and desirous of, a lethal confrontation with police, who screwed up their end of things in every way possible.

If you lived through it, you know what happened: Something like 30 square blocks of working-class Philadelphia burned, because MOVE was dug in to the last man (last child, really), and the cops wanted no survivors. It’s a horrible, tragic story, told entirely — and this is why I think it will stay with me — through contemporaneous video. There are no talking heads, no looks back through the lens of time, but rather, archival news footage and public-TV video of a post-disaster inquest, the sort of thing no one pays attention to outside of the immediate circle of those affected. It gives it a you-were-there immediacy, and if you’re paying attention, you are simply astounded.

“Twelve Years a Slave,” on the other hand, was simply a well-made, well-acted and well-written bummer from the first frame to the last. I feel about the same way that I did after watching “United 93” — glad I saw it, even gladder that I never have to see it again.


Other than that, it was the usual weekend: Cooking, exercise, shopping, errands. And so we notch another week off the indefinite number we are allotted. I wish I had more money to travel; it would be nice to notch out a few in some place like Istanbul or Beijing.

Bloggage? Sure:

Chihuahuas! On the loose, gettin’ in trouble! In Arizona!

This NYT piece on “trigger warnings” is getting beaten up all over the internets. I don’t want to pile on, but I’d be interested in hearing alternate views.

And so we launch ourselves into another Monday. Here we go.

Posted at 12:30 am in Current events, Same ol' same ol' |

30 responses to “The fire, still burning.”

  1. Dexter said on May 19, 2014 at 4:18 am

    OK, so the description of my weekend was dull as dishwater…that is because I was not in San Francisco, where this 97 photo grouping shows what the “Bay to The Breakers” race is all about. “Nudity is fine, but cops will confiscate all alcoholic beverages.” My kind of place…not really, but it looks like fun.

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  2. Dorothy said on May 19, 2014 at 6:57 am

    We had a fabulous weekend in Cleveland. In fCt we haven’t left yet but will do so shortly. All four of the people I knew personally whomever running in the marathon finished without any serious health complications, so BONUS. M son and daughter were bob limping a good deal last night. They inherited their mother’s bad knees I guess. We. Had a scrumptious dinner in Little Italy Saturday at Mia Bella. The race weather was just perfect. Now back to real life.

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  3. Dorothy said on May 19, 2014 at 6:58 am

    Crap. Forgot to proofread. Sorry folks.

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  4. David C. said on May 19, 2014 at 7:12 am

    Some people get the skeevies from clowns, so I’d imagine they would have to go on the trigger warning list. I can’t think of any subject that won’t creep someone out. So if you can’t afford therapy, the next best thing is to make everybody warn you about any subject they are going to talk about in case that might bother you.

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  5. Basset said on May 19, 2014 at 8:01 am

    “Fun” and running do not intersect for me. Public nudity, well, we’ll see.

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  6. alex said on May 19, 2014 at 8:16 am

    Extreme Bigger Penis spam should come with a trigger warning. Literature not so much.

    When I was in college, it wasn’t liberals whining about their sensibilities being offended in literature class, but conservatives. “This is a public university funded with my taxpayer dollars and you have no right to glorify atheism and communism and shove this crap down our throats,” was the frequent refrain of one disruptive woman who probably thinks of anything on the top ten bestsellers at Zondervan as worthy of study as literature and anything else as garbage. It’s lost on some people that education is supposed to introduce them to the marketplace of ideas, not coddle them in their own superstitions and prejudices.

    It strikes me as equally absurd that anyone thinks a book needs a PG warning because of sexism or racism when a book in a literature class will be examined in its full historical and cultural context, or that it’s possible to anticipate that students could be traumatized all over again because they’ve experienced firsthand the horrors that happen to be part of a story. It’s like putting a warning label on a bicycle that says “Don’t ride this thing off of your rooftop.” If you don’t know better then you probably don’t belong in college.

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  7. Jolene said on May 19, 2014 at 9:20 am

    Speaking of things to read, Conor Friersdorf, who writes for The Atlantic, distributes a “Best of Journalism” list via email throughout the year, and he has just, belatedly, assembled his list for 2013. A good list to take on vacation, especially if you’re, say, flying to Australia. All the items listed are online. None of them, though, specify what disorders might be triggered by reading them.

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  8. BigHank53 said on May 19, 2014 at 9:34 am

    The trigger warning stuff is mostly simple politeness. If you knew a combat veteran with a bad case of PTSD, you wouldn’t spring Saving Private Ryan on them without checking first. Unfortunately, like most matters of politeness, it’s not really amenable to formal rules and regulation*. They’re called “warnings” for a reason, so that if you know it’s going to be a tough read you can have tissues and your teddy bear handy. Or a stiff drink. We put warning signs on highways, too, and I don’t even see too many libertarians whining about those: the sign’s a damn sight cheaper than scraping up crash victims, and people who ignore the signs don’t have a leg to stand on if they want to complain afterwards.

    *I think the writer picked a deliberately inflammatory quote from the last professor, who predicted a minefield for junior faculty and adjuncts. It’s not hard to imagine how a school could do a terrible job of implementing required trigger warnings: first there would be a committee to study them, then another committee to implement them, then an outside consultant, then a new administrator to oversee the Office of Diversity Sensitivity Review, plus three supporting staff and the travel budget (how can you know if you’re doing an adequate job unless you go to two conferences a year?) and the final implementation of a useless point-scoring system that makes it impossible to use course material more challenging than the TeleTubbies. Fans of Connie Willis may remember her short story Ado, wherein so many objections to Shakespeare are filed that less than a single line of his plays can be taught to high school students…

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  9. Judybusy said on May 19, 2014 at 9:40 am

    And then there is this sort of crap that professors have to deal with: white students feel wronged by discussion of structural racism.

    My weekend was totally grand: we drove to Kansas City for a friend’s graduation from medical school; he started at age 40, so it’s even sweeter. We got to spend gobs of time with our friend, his partner and their very nice families. We sadly didn’t get any BBQ–our friend was a little busy and forgot to make lunch reservations!–but had a great time driving around the Mission Hills district ogling amazing homes.

    Once home, I made some headway on my garden re-design, moving a large pile of soil to other parts of the yard so that the landscaper can return to remove the underlying sod. It’s getting there. Happily, the perennial seedlings I’ve started didn’t suffer too much with the neighbor care. More poppies, lupines, butterfly weed and columbine for the garden await!

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  10. Connie said on May 19, 2014 at 9:58 am

    Where I hang on the internet I see a lot of trigger warnings, meant to support female sexual abuse survivors.

    We went to a lovely wedding this weekend, the first of the next generation of weddings. The reception room was filled with games and treats were served. Serious treats. Endless cupcakes, cookies and bars. It was fun.

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  11. coozledad said on May 19, 2014 at 9:58 am

    You half wonder if the Times didn’t bust their ass to run the trigger warnings piece as agitprop, considering how deeply Pinch Sulzberger stepped in his own shit over the weekend, likely violating a non-disparagement clause, opening the paper up to a host of lawsuits from Abramson and who knows else.

    I guess the Times isn’t a publicly traded company, or Pinch would have already faced a firing squad for the Bill Keller/Judith Miller/Lying Propagandist Shitweasels era.

    This comment from pdiddycornchips over at Wonkette ought to be engraved on Pinch’s office door. Like George Carlin said, it’s a club, and we ain’t in it:

    Sulzberger inherited an organization he’s clearly not qualified to run. He can’t be fired. He’s an untouchable. Piketty’s book looks into the future and sees a universe controlled by a million Pinches. In a world defined by slow growth and expanding financial markets, the Pinches will only get more powerful. We’re well on our way to rediscovering the joys of feudalism. Here’s the money shot.

    “If you get slow growth alongside better financial returns, then inherited wealth will, on average, “dominate wealth amassed from a lifetime’s labour by a wide margin”, says Piketty. Wealth will concentrate to levels incompatible with democracy, let alone social justice. Capitalism, in short, automatically creates levels of inequality that are unsustainable. The rising wealth of the 1% is neither a blip, nor rhetoric.
    It wasn’t her gender that did her in. She talked back to an untouchable and he executed her (figuratively) the same way any Lord might have done in the dark ages to a serf who offended him. Because he could.

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  12. nancy said on May 19, 2014 at 11:11 am

    I think Jolene mentioned my description of Abramson’s voice. I looked up some video proof. I think I described it too harshly, but the gist is there.

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  13. Sherri said on May 19, 2014 at 11:35 am

    Instead of complaining to the professors, some enterprising young college students should simply set up a crowd-sourcing app for allowing everyone to specify trigger warnings for works of literature. They could probably run ads on the app as well, like EXTREME BIGGER PENIS.

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  14. Basset said on May 19, 2014 at 12:02 pm

    About the chihuahuas… you’d be surprised how many dogs of that and other breeds are out there on the “Canine Underground Railroad.” We help with it sometimes, you carry a dog part way and hand off to another carrier; longest trips we’ve been part of include a golden retriever from Greensboro to Walla Walla and bassets from Pittsburgh and Columbus, one ended up in Austin and the other in San Antonio.

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  15. Deborah said on May 19, 2014 at 12:18 pm

    Abramson has a pronounced vocal fry. For the longest time I had no word for that but a year or so ago it was mentioned about the young woman who is the new voice of NPR and there were a few articles about vocal fry. It’s really hard to explain, it occurs at the end of some words with people who have it. Men can have it too.

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  16. brian stouder said on May 19, 2014 at 12:30 pm

    I skimmed the ‘trigger warning’ link, so possibly I missed some terrible-dark cautionary tale in there, but it looks like there’s no “there” there. A plugged-in teacher/professor might generically mention that any student is always free to object to something they’ve been assigned to read, and then treat such things case-by-case. Books (well-written ones, anyway) are powerful things, and they will make impressions that last.

    Aside from that, the ‘extreme bigger penis’ thing is indeed mystifying. First – that relative term “bigger” raises the question “bigger than what?” Here in Fort Wayne, semi-trucks keep smashing into the railroad overpass on Broadway (downtown near the old GE plant); an example of ‘too big’ (if you get my drift). The EBP sounds like a classically pointless thing to have – even moreso than comically enlarged breasts, which, afterall, can be shown off (more or less) without marking the person as some kind of creeper.

    And aside from all that – the almighty AT&T wants to gobble up DirectTV – and the whole thing may be derailed by….the NFL???!!

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  17. Julie Robinson said on May 19, 2014 at 1:39 pm

    Who clicks on those anyway? A heavily accented man called the other day from “Microsoft Technical Bureau”. How foolish do you think I am, I asked before heavily slamming down the phone.

    We finally got our planting done this weekend. Looking forward to trying yellow cherry tomatoes this year; we had yellow pear a couple of years ago and they were delicious. And I got a little sewing time in after getting my sewing/craft room rearranged. What do you call the female equivalent of man cave? Not woman cave, that’s for sure!

    Our daughter has a chiweenie, though the folks at the shelter thought there might be another breed represented too. She has a lot of the negative chihuahua traits such as barking aggressively at other dogs, and I think they stem from being abused, but also because she’s so small and vulnerable. She’s really kind of an ugly critter, with almost no hair, but when she gazes at you with her huge and sad brown eyes, it breaks your heart and you want nothing but to reassure her and make her content. And thus it will ever be with our animals, right?

    I have just survived my first audit at work, after almost three years on the job. Well, I think I’ve survived, I haven’t gotten the report yet. It was more than a little stressful, because I can’t always reconcile all the amounts every week. We have volunteers who count the offerings and sometimes they make mistakes. I have to take their figures and try to make sense of them all, and sometimes there’s just no making sense. I was looking back at something from last January, trying to find $19.50 or some such amount, all this on three hours sleep no less. I am very happy and relieved that it’s over.

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  18. Judybusy said on May 19, 2014 at 1:53 pm

    Julie, we’re remodeling the basement, complete with a cozy space to watch TV. We’re calling it the gal cave!

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  19. Julie Robinson said on May 19, 2014 at 2:02 pm

    I’ve been thinking of calling it Julie’s Fun Room, but then I remembered Woolf’s A Room of One’s Own. It’s my creative space, where I play with textiles and colors. Translated to mean I sew and make jewelry while listening to music or audiobooks, and I can go to my happy place. There you go, Happy Place! I think I’ll hold off on the door sign.

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  20. Deborah said on May 19, 2014 at 2:52 pm

    While waiting for our new fridge to be delivered I washed windows. Window washing is a big deal hear because we have floor to ceiling full wall windows on two sides of our place, it’s something like 540 sq ft of glass. (If I did the math correctly). The new fridge looks great, the old one worked fine but uglied out with rust pits on the door. It was old, came with the place. Now I need to get down on my hands and knees and scrub the white grout between the tiles on the floor. The fridge is so white it makes the floor look dingy. It’s a good thing I’m retired.

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  21. Deborah said on May 19, 2014 at 2:54 pm

    Here not hear, geesh.

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  22. Icarus said on May 19, 2014 at 3:21 pm

    “Is there an individual in the history of the internet who said, “Yeah, that’s just what I’m in the market for,” and clicked? Obviously someone must have, or they wouldn’t keep trying. ”

    You might want to look at today’s Dilbert, either Scott read your mind, or your blog.

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  23. Scout said on May 19, 2014 at 3:50 pm

    We began the weekend with a way overpriced raw vegan meal at a new restaurant. We were the only people there and after receiving the check we think we know why. The owner was sweet and told us his mission in life is to educate people about this way of eating. We wondered if it was proper to tell him that since everything is made of raw vegetables, serving actual adult portions would be a good way to further his cause. The $10 slice of carrot “cake” was the size of the sliver you take of your aunt’s fruitcake just to be polite.

    The next day we had a hearty brunch at the Phoenix Market Cafe, a place I highly recommend if you’re ever in town. In the evening, a women’s chorale concert which was much more enjoyable than it may seem, followed by pitchers of Hoegaarden at The Windsor on Central.

    Yesterday, a 2 hour 5 Rhythms Dance sweat and then in-home massages. I was purring like a cat.

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  24. Heather said on May 19, 2014 at 5:04 pm

    $10 for a slice of cake! Even Whole Foods wouldn’t charge that much. Must’ve been heirloom carrots.

    We finally got to ride along the Chicago lakefront this weekend–it’s usually at least 10 degrees cooler there, making it pretty chilly even on nice days this “spring,” but yesterday it was perfect. Once you get past downtown, the south side is much less crowded, and it looks like they did a lot of improvements down there too.

    There is a noisy Chihuahua that lives next door to my boyfriend’s place that has become his nemesis, barking nonstop Every. Single. Time. he goes outside. I don’t really like most small dogs but Chiweenies are pretty cute.

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  25. Tom M said on May 19, 2014 at 5:17 pm

    Re:MOVE, don’t forget that the Philly police have a history of dealing with riots and such like. See 1968 when Frank Rizzo basically cordoned off parts of Philly and let it burn. He reveled in his performance and was cheered for it.
    The problem in 1985 was that the police obtained an airborne capability.

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  26. Tom M said on May 19, 2014 at 5:35 pm

    Sorry, Philly riot was 1964, not 68. I went high school in Wilmington, Del. Where a 2 day riot in 68 turned into 9 months of Nat’l Guard occupation.
    Same difference i guess.

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  27. basset said on May 19, 2014 at 10:07 pm

    Lead story on our local FOX affiliate just now was a drunk man’s arrest for dropping his pants and humping an ATM inside a college-town bar. I am thankful once again that I am no longer working in television news.

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  28. alex said on May 19, 2014 at 10:12 pm

    Now that you mention it, basset, them Tennessee women always did look like they had a card slot where they mouth supposed to be.

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  29. Sherri said on May 19, 2014 at 10:46 pm

    Wait a minute, Alex, I’m a (former) Tennessean!

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  30. Basset said on May 20, 2014 at 7:25 am

    There’s more about it on Smoking Gun.

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