Which way does the water run?

I don’t know whether this story is a reflection of the War on Science, Man’s Disconnection From Nature or just Our Idiot Nation. I do know it’s damn funny.

Three women buy inner tubes on a hot day and set out to float the Muskegon River. They’ve never tubed and they don’t know where they’re going, but this isn’t a dangerous voyage by any measure. And besides, they have a plan:

“They went and bought some tubes and they went to the Maple Island Bridge, which is one of the access points to the river, a popular spot,” Grabinski said Thursday. “They were misinformed: Somebody said (the river) makes a big loop and they’d come right back to their car.”


“Right about dark they realized that that was not the case and so they got off the river onto the bank, screaming for help,” Grabinski said. “It was an isolated area. Unless somebody else is coming down the river, nobody’s going to hear them.

“I can only imagine how frightened they were,” Grabinski continued. “They had no food, no shelter, and they were in swimsuits.”

They also had no cellphones, Grabinski said. They were rescued by chance more than 20 hours later, about 3 miles downriver from where they launched their tubes.

Oh, well. Some vicious mosquito bites, I’m sure, but they survived intact.

So. Friday, you have arrived. Bobby Knight lookalike Mike Pence is poised to bring more infamy to Indiana’s recent history with vice presidents. The less said about that, the better. Besides, funnier people than I will say funnier, more brittle bon mots.

And now we have another attack to contend with, this one in France. Jesus Christ, a semi driven into a crowd. I can’t stand it. I had some notes sketched out to write something about what’s been bugging me ever since Dallas — this idea that police must not only be respected and obeyed, but revered and elevated as the only thing keeping our society from the abyss. I reject this idea; they aren’t infantry soldiers, and we don’t live in a war zone. A lot of things keep us safe. A functional, fair economy goes a long way. Teachers, schools that work for all, or as many as possible. Freedom and opportunity. Police have a part to play, but it’s far from the only, or even the most important part.

But I don’t really feel like expounding on that today. A Bastille Day attack in France. A tubing trio of dimwits. That’s what I’ve got. We have a lot to talk about anyway. And a weekend ahead. Let’s enjoy it.

Posted at 12:08 am in Current events |

34 responses to “Which way does the water run?”

  1. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on July 15, 2016 at 1:28 am

    “Hope” is the thing with feathers –
    That perches in the soul –
    And sings the tune without the words –
    And never stops – at all –

    And sweetest – in the Gale – is heard –
    And sore must be the storm –
    That could abash the little Bird
    That kept so many warm –

    I’ve heard it in the chillest land –
    And on the strangest Sea –
    Yet – never – in Extremity,
    It asked a crumb – of me.

    ~ Emily Dickinson (314)

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  2. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on July 15, 2016 at 1:41 am

    It looks as if this slaughter in Nice might be more like the killings in Dallas: not a terrorist per se, but an unhinged person without previous history pointing at terrorism. It’s hate and anger and a disturbed soul that’s at issue, not whether shouting “Allahu Akbar” is the same as “Death to Infidels.”


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  3. Charlotte said on July 15, 2016 at 9:28 am

    When I guided rafts in NC, I was asked 2-3 times w week if the takeout was where we started. A week.

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  4. alex said on July 15, 2016 at 9:48 am

    That’s ‘cuz you were in NC.

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  5. Bitter Scribe said on July 15, 2016 at 10:15 am

    I wonder if the person who sold them the tubes was the one who told them that the river “makes a loop”?

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  6. Jim G said on July 15, 2016 at 10:27 am

    I’m guessing that they made up this person because they didn’t want to admit that it was their own hare-brained notion.

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  7. Jolene said on July 15, 2016 at 10:57 am

    It’s hate and anger and a disturbed soul that’s at issue . . .”

    Agree. I think Dylan Roof, Micah Johnson, Omar Sateen, and this fellow in Nice are cut from the same cloth. Isolated, detached from family to one degree or another, and lacking the education or skills (social or practical) to succeed in the economy, they attach themselves to some idea floating about in the cesspool of society and find a way to make themselves famous–adding to the world’s hurt, anger, and storehouse of ideas about how to destroy. Awful, awful, awful.

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  8. adrianne said on July 15, 2016 at 11:11 am

    Well, Trump made it official – another clueless Hoosier for VP!

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  9. adrianne said on July 15, 2016 at 11:18 am

    And here’s Charles Pierce’s red-hot take on Pence, celebrating “his rich history as a towering lightweight whose basic philosophy is divined from whatever bed-sniffing yahoo preacher or Hoosier plutocrat spoke to him last.”

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  10. Deborah said on July 15, 2016 at 11:41 am

    I think I’m going to take a bit of a hiatus from the internet, at least for the rest of the day. It’s too depressing and it’s making me cranky, no, make that furious.

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  11. Judybusy said on July 15, 2016 at 11:44 am

    I really agree with Nancy’s comments about how we make our world safer: through economic opportunity and education for all. One of the things I like most about my current job is so much opportunity to learn about various disparities in our community. I was of course not completely ignorant about these issues before, but it’s just been amazing. Yesterday, we had a fire drill – it couldn’t have had worse timing, as I was on the phone with a very irate client and I had to end it abruptly. While waiting in the holding area, I struck up a conversation with someone next to me. It turns out he’s a supervisor in a county program to address truancy. As many may already be aware, truancy is a strong predictor for doing poorly in society. He told me that 90% of children with a significant history of truancy will end up in the criminal justice system. Only one in five students graduate from high school in my local county. There is a state mandate that schools must report truancy so that it can be addressed. A few years ago, when a new school was added to the program, they had not reported truancy for six months. They simply didn’t have the staff to do it. Last year, this program received over 15,000 referrals. We contract with various agencies and they work with the families to address the root cause of the truancy. It’s most often linked to homelessness, mental health issues, or chemical dependency issues.

    We need to get this figured out, because locally, people of color make up 35% of the youth (under 25) population. I absolutely believe that it is the morally right thing to do, but maybe how we get everybody to be on board is to look at the economic costs of ignoring this grave problem. Over the lunch hour we had a presentation in which a professor talked about the results of the study on homeless youth aged 16 to 24. He partnered with a local agency which helps homeless youth. The costs over a lifetime of not getting these homeless, disconnected youth assistance is staggering. The very positive side is that if we were to help only 6% of the youth get connected with housing, education, and employment, we break even with the cost of investment to get services to those 6%. Here is a video summarizing the study http://www.youthlinkmn.org/the-cost-of-homelessness/ It’s a great argument to present to those who say “you can’t just throw money at things.” Well yes, if that school I mentioned above had had social workers in place to track the truancy those kids and families could’ve gotten interventions which would affected their life arc immensely. And yes, if we invest in homeless, disconnected youth their lives will be enriched immensely and so will society.

    Lastly, my office, the Hennepin County Public Defender, has started up a new website. You can also like them on Facebook. They are providing a lot of information about disparities in the criminal justice system on their page. The website also has a section in which book recommendations and articles are posted. http://www.hennepinpublicdefender.org Next month, I’ll be a featured staff person! I got to do a photo shoot and everything for it.

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  12. Peter said on July 15, 2016 at 12:41 pm

    I’m not as up to speed as I should be on the Nice disaster, especially because one of my cousins lives near there (as it turns out, he and the family left town early and headed to the in-laws).

    However, I thought I heard that the maniac du jour had just been fired, and that set him off. Is that true, or am I dreaming again?

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  13. Suzanne said on July 15, 2016 at 12:56 pm


    Frontline piece on lone wolves with research done by professor at Indiana State U (I even know a young man who had him in class. Said he’s a good guy)

    Pence. Ugh. My son said comments on political things on his Facebook feed run about 50/50 for and against Hillary & Trump. When Pence is mentioned, comments run about 85-90% along the lines of “he’s an idiot” and about 10% thinking he’s a good guy. So my hope is that Trump will be denied the GOP nomination and Pence will just go away.

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  14. basset said on July 15, 2016 at 1:28 pm

    Judybusy, we just need to run schools like businesses and all those problems will go away.

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  15. alex said on July 15, 2016 at 2:02 pm

    I decided to take the afternoon off because it’s such a beautiful day. And I could use a little alone time.

    A friend’s brother committed suicide this week in a really horrific way and it has left me feeling mentally and emotionally exhausted. I just saw him a few weeks ago at a party and he seemed to be doing fine.

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  16. Peter said on July 15, 2016 at 2:03 pm

    Oh, how I was hoping for Newt. I mean, if you’re going to go crazy, go full batshit crazy, not this lightweight stuff.

    When Newt texted that Muslims in the US who want sharia law should be deported, I thought oh, what could have been….

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  17. Judybusy said on July 15, 2016 at 2:04 pm

    Alex, what a horrible thing to happen. Suicide often leaves people so bewildered, especially, as in this case, he seemed to be doing fine. I am so sorry for you and his family and other friends.

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  18. Jolene said on July 15, 2016 at 2:18 pm

    Very sorry to hear about your friend, Alex. Suicide is so devastating. There’s not only the loss associated with any death, but also, and much worse, the sense that the person gave up hope–in both his ability to make a meaningful life for himself and the ability or willingness of others to help. Peace to you this sunny day.

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  19. Suzanne said on July 15, 2016 at 2:39 pm


    I can’t even…

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  20. Sherri said on July 15, 2016 at 2:47 pm

    As I mentioned last week, I’ve been interested in hearing from some black voices during this election season, since so much of the discussion has been centered on the white working class. Since you’re not going to find many black people on the cable shows or writing columns, I’ve turned to Twitter. What they’re talking about during this election is not so much about economic opportunity and education, but civil rights. What I’m hearing is that policing in America is not a matter of bias, it’s what policing was always designed to do from their perspective, from the slave patrols to Jim Crow to now: keep black people in line. Their voting rights have always been under assault. The 2nd amendment was added to the Bill of Rights out of fears of slave revolts.

    But they are also hopeful because black women show up to vote; they now have one of the best turnout rates. They are hopeful because the Obama coalition showed that you could win an election without a majority of the white vote. They embraced Hillary because she embraced them and that coalition, while Bernie dissed Obama, and they’ve got no time for somebody who wants to put economic issues above civil rights, because they’ve never seen that work for them.

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  21. Jenine said on July 15, 2016 at 2:53 pm

    There’s a lot of exhaustion showing up in my regular internet haunts. Writers are feeling sad and angry and shellshocked from the violent events of the last few weeks. I hope you all are safe and well and can avoid news video as much as possible.
    I’ve fallen in love with the Hamilton musical this month and I can’t recommend it enough as a retreat from the news.

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  22. Dorothy said on July 15, 2016 at 3:06 pm

    My cousin Tim is a high school French teacher and I didn’t know he was in France with some students until his wife posted this morning that they were not in Nice yesterday and all of them are fine. What a world this is – seems like it’s every other day now this kind of thing happens and suddenly we’re counting heads of people we know, know well or only slightly. I’m afraid to admit that I’m starting to get numb to this kind of news.

    Alex I’m sorry too, to hear about your friend’s brother. That’s the second time this week I heard about a suicide, too.

    Even if I had happy news to share or a joke to tell, it just doesn’t feel like the right time to do that.

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  23. Scout said on July 15, 2016 at 3:28 pm

    Another rough week. Maybe this will get a smile.


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  24. Peter said on July 15, 2016 at 3:34 pm

    Alex, I am so sorry to hear about this tragedy. I hope you will have better days ahead.

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  25. Sherri said on July 15, 2016 at 3:46 pm

    Busted taillights that aren’t, and more experiences of black life in America: http://www.chicagotribune.com/suburbs/naperville-sun/ct-nvs-being-black-naperville-america-st-0715-20160714-story.html

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  26. basset said on July 15, 2016 at 4:32 pm

    Meanwhile, in Newark, Ohio, the Longaberger building is for sale:


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  27. Jolene said on July 15, 2016 at 4:48 pm

    Rebecca Traister has some ideas about a link between domestic violence and some of the mass shooter/lone wolf terrorist incidents we’ve recently witnessed. I share her view, which overlaps with the idea of these guys as multidimensional losers that I mentioned at #7 above.

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  28. Sherri said on July 15, 2016 at 5:14 pm

    There’s a military coup going on in Turkey: https://www.theguardian.com/world/live/2016/jul/15/turkey-coup-attempt-military-gunfire-ankara

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  29. Deborah said on July 15, 2016 at 5:17 pm

    OK, I’m breaking my hiatus already, because something ridiculous happened this morning. I was outside just walking normally and suddenly got a sharp pain in my right foot. It hurts like hell when I step down on it. It feels a lot like when I stress fractured my foot 3 or 4 years ago, same spot, same foot. I went to the urgent care clinic nearby but won’t know for a few days what it is. And I’m supposed to be taking care of Little Bird with her leg surgery aftermath. They gave me a boot at the clinic, as a precaution, so we’re both hobbling around like old ladies.

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  30. LAMary said on July 15, 2016 at 5:38 pm

    Thank you for the poem, Jeff. It’s one of my favorites. Just a moment before I read it I was thinking about how to pull myself out of the feeling of despair that recent news has brought on. Emily Dickinson helped a bit.

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  31. LAMary said on July 15, 2016 at 5:58 pm

    “Give me silence, water, hope
    Give me struggle, iron, volcanoes.”
    ― Pablo Neruda

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  32. Sherri said on July 15, 2016 at 8:38 pm

    Samantha Bee gets to the bottom (ha!) of the Trump-Pence logo: https://twitter.com/FullFrontalSamB/status/754005058786910208/photo/1

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  33. Dexter said on July 16, 2016 at 3:13 am

    alex…when I was 13 my brother’s classmate hanged himself on Christmas Eve. I spent a long while trying to understand that. My condolences.

    Stupid people…I was watching cable TV at bedtime last night, a show about a woman , a skilled ultramarathoner who had set out on a California mountain region June day for a little 30 mile training ride. She told no one where she was going. She came to a raging stream, extra heavy and increasing snow melt, and crossed via a snow bridge over the creek. Snow bridges are dangerous as fuck, in case you didn’t know…especially on a hot-sun June day. As she ascended more, she realized the heavy snow pack was making her run impossible, so she reversed course. When she got back to the snow bridge, the sun had been working the top and the rushing water had been working the bottom…so of course the woman fell straight down into this freezing stream. She somehow, luckily, was able to crawl up onto a rocky ledge but the snow bridge proved to be too much, and she was only able to punch out a small hole, into which she shoved her backpack up through, hoping someone might see it. 7 hours of hypothermia nearly did her in, when three young men spotted the backpack, and with the help of a retired park ranger, made the hole bigger and pulled her up to safety. At times today I thought about her really bad decision making: not reporting her plan, and crossing a damn snow bridge over a fast-water rocky mountain stream. I was taught about snow bridges when I was about 5 years old. Damn, woman.
    The truck was a Class 6 truck. I used to make clutches for those trucks. Much smaller than a semi tractor but just the vehicle for mass homicide. I never hated the French like the republicans do (remember the dust-up over the Iraq invasion? Freedom fries? Hatred?) Four souls perished overnight…how agonizing was the night for families, and continuing for all the wounded in hospital.

    Dan Quayle II? Who knows? Pence was brought in to attract voters in solid blue rust belt industrial areas in Michigan and especially northern Ohio. If Trump wins Florida, Ohio, and Michigan, losing giants California and New York to HRC won’t matter.

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  34. beb said on July 17, 2016 at 11:40 am

    It’s clearly the road work cycle because as a kid growing up in Indiana I recall the joke was that you could tell when you entered Michigan because the roads were better while today that’s turned around. Indiana’s roads currently are better than Michigan’s.

    Having read about Trump’s roll-out of Pence I can’t imagine what a Trump presidency would be like. The man can’t stick to scripts, he can’t stop talking about himself. He’s a complete idiot. I can only imagine that if elected he will be hustled to a “secure location” never to be heard from again while his press secretary does all the talking.

    One of the troubling things about the attempted coup in Turkey is trying to figure out who were the good guys. The current president seems to be consolidating power in himself and suppressing a lot of free speech and opposition politics. So were the military trying to restore freedom to Turkey or take it away?

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