The shortest, longest month.

Man, for the shortest month, February is sure taking its sweet time clearing out, isn’t it? I started Friday with good intentions to see at least one movie in a theater, do some food prep for the week ahead, the whole nine. Ended up watching the Sunday HBO lineup, which dropped early because of the Oscar conflict, and wishing I was anywhere but here, where the temperatures dropped, the wind picked up, and life became generally sorta gray and boring.

Made significant progress on “The Underground Railroad,” though. Which I am loving. “Lincoln in the Bardo” is next. “I Am Not Your Negro” and/or “Get Out” will have to wait for next weekend. When it’s cold and the wind is howling, it’s more of an otter eating lettuce sort of Saturday night.

Also, “Piper,” which you should watch, because not only is this short film too stinkin’ cute for words, it is kind of a documentary of me learning to surf.

Whatever happened to going out during the week? We used to do that, back when we both were reliably off work by 5 p.m., which simply doesn’t happen anymore. Plus: February. Chill winds. Et to the cetera.

Just one word before we get to the bloggage, after watching the third episode in the final season of “Girls,” I’m crossing my heart and making a promise that I will pay attention to Lena Dunham throughout her just-getting-started career, and you probably should, too. I thought “American Bitch,” the so-called “bottle episode” airing this week, was a real piece of work, smart and nuanced and funny and not-funny, and sort of amazing coming from the pen of a writer as young as Dunham.

Like lots of people, I have found Dunham hard to take at times, but the more I see of her acting but mostly her writing, the more impressed I am. “American Bitch” is about the gray areas where power imbalance, gender, age and consent all meet, a place lots of women have found themselves, both today and when we were all young. It’s not an easy topic to tackle in 30 minutes, but she managed it, with a great deal of help from Matthew Rhys as the famous dick novelist whose behavior is at issue.

We spend a lot of time here feeling sorry for ourselves because great old artists and entertainers are dying. I think the best cure for that is to find some young ones worth watching. Dunham is.

Plus, she drives conservatives insane, because she’s something of an exhibitionist with her nude body, which is pudgy and has cellulite and is generally the sort they think ought to never be seen unclothed. Fuck those guys, I say.

So. Bloggage? I guess there’s some: Thanks to Sherri for finding this piece on the “brilliant jerk,” a well-known type, especially in Silicon Valley:

This term, “the brilliant jerk,” has been around for a while in corporate lingo. I remember first reading about in a New York Times blog post (R.I.P. blogs) in 2012. (PLEASE DON’T ACTUALLY ME ABOUT REED HASTINGS, YOU JERKOFF, HE’S TWO GRAFS DOWN.) I guess there was a series about Being The Boss and the URL was 🙁 What a world! Anyway it was a sort of advicey column about what to do about that one archetype, the Brilliant Jerk, in your workplace. It was fun to read when it came out because everyone got to speculate about who their brilliant jerk was.

But everyone already knows who the brilliant jerk at their workplace is because it’s the raging asshole!! It’s not hard to tell. And yet somehow as long as we’ve had a word for it, and probably even longer, we’ve wrung our hands over whether or not to cope with this fucktard over here because—wait for it—HE’S BRILLIANT!

Another Jewish-cemetery incident, this one in Philadelphia. The official word of 2017 is “emboldened.” Repeat after me.

My favorite Twitter chuckle of the weekend:

And on to Monday. But first, some chicken.

Posted at 6:09 pm in Current events, Same ol' same ol' |

41 responses to “The shortest, longest month.”

  1. basset said on February 26, 2017 at 7:24 pm

    Chicken? Wild game for us tonight, venison harvested by me in Maury County, Tennessee… and a new kitchen gadget, flexible skewers made out of steel cable. Just about to go lay em on the grill. Reading a Ty Cobb biography, looks like he probably WAS “the meanest man who ever played baseball.”

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  2. coozledad said on February 26, 2017 at 7:53 pm

    I’m old enough to remember some folks saying the Southern Poverty Law Center had outlived its usefulness. Just fucking saying.

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  3. basset said on February 26, 2017 at 8:27 pm

    Can’t recommend the flexible skewers, too difficult and messy to unload ’em. The carefully charred flesh of native ungulates, though… yes to that. And now more than ever on the Southern Poverty Law Center.

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  4. basset said on February 26, 2017 at 8:50 pm

    Guess everybody’s watching the awards show. I had to Google who Lena Dunham is, sorry. Just don’t live in that world.

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  5. Sherri said on February 26, 2017 at 9:00 pm

    The WaPo does another piece on Midwestern trump voters, some of whom are disappointed so far. There are a couple of things about these voters (or non-voters, as the case may be) that I don’t get.

    I don’t understand being so anti-abortion that you will close your eyes to everything else and vote for someone knowing the harm he will do to others, including family members. How do you resolve contradictions like that?

    Some of the people in the article say that they don’t like what trump is doing, or didn’t vote for him, but think that the protests are wrong, that we are now obligated to support the president. If you think the president is doing things that are wrong, immoral, even illegal, why would you be obligated to support hiim?

    Of course, I suspect they wouldn’t have felt so obligated to support the president had Hillary won, nor do I think they were claiming that President Obama’s choice for SCOTUS should be given a chance, because he was the president and we have to support him. Perhaps I’m wrong.

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  6. devtob said on February 26, 2017 at 9:47 pm

    Journalism today — An English newspaper, The Guardian, does the only in-depth story about the aftermath of a strike at the former GE Silicones plant in Waterford, just north of Albany, NY.

    And also the only story from the workers’ perspective.

    Sure, the local Hearst paper “covered” the strike, that it was happening, he-said-she-said, now it’s over.

    The Guardian story (with two bylines!) shows that the workers essentially lost out to their Wall Street private equity bosses (including Trump’s “jobs czar” Stephen Schwarzman), as they have since GE sold the plant in 2006.

    And, the kicker, a solid majority of the strikers voted for Trump.

    Like so many other white working class males, they heard Trump’s racist dog whistle, and voted for the rich white guy who said “Our wages are too high” during the campaign.

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  7. Julie Robinson said on February 26, 2017 at 9:48 pm

    Everyone in the gray states should get a week off to go to a warm and sunny place. I can’t make it through without time away. I was in Orlando in November but my job didn’t allow me to go again until February and I was very depressed. Sherri, I don’t know how you make it through the long gray days in northern Washington. I had trouble both times I was there and I was on vacation visiting my daughter, for Pete’s sake.

    We hosted a gathering at our church yesterday to learn more about all the new projects being planned around town, especially the downtown vicinity, since we are located downtown. We invited people from the neighborhood and were very pleasantly surprised when over 80 came. There was tremendous energy in the room except for a couple of cranks, and an artwalk down Broadway has already been planned. It was a great antidote to feeling hopeless and helpless about national politics. And I will proudly say it was my dear hubby’s idea, and he pulled it off big time.

    And now I just learned that a childhood friend’s mother died after a brief battle with pancreatic cancer, although from what I understand they all are. So eff Trump and all the Republicans, tonight I’m going to remember Mrs. Jones.

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  8. Deborah said on February 26, 2017 at 10:12 pm

    Piper won!

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  9. Deborah said on February 27, 2017 at 12:17 am

    Wow, weird end to the Acadamy awards?

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  10. brian stouder said on February 27, 2017 at 12:30 am

    Well, the Oscars ended in a train wreck!

    Pam and I rewound and watched the announcement of Best Picture again, after the initial “what the hell??!!” moment, and you could see the confusion ripple out into a big wave. But the “You’re so vain” guy wisely handed off to Faye Dunnaway, so that she was fully immersed in the mistake

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  11. Sherri said on February 27, 2017 at 2:26 am

    Here are the people who handle the cards behind the scenes:

    I’m glad I’m not in their shoes!

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  12. Sherri said on February 27, 2017 at 2:30 am

    Getting the wrong card has happened before:

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  13. ROGirl said on February 27, 2017 at 5:46 am

    Irrational beliefs may be due to evolutionary adaptation, according to some research:

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  14. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on February 27, 2017 at 7:22 am


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  15. coozledad said on February 27, 2017 at 8:32 am

    God damn Trump, God damn DeVos, and God damn their party.

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  16. Charlotte said on February 27, 2017 at 10:15 am

    devtob@6 — The Guardian has been doing some of the best reporting the past few years — their web coverage is really global, and to segue into what NNC was saying about younger talent, they’ve given Op-Ed platforms to a lot of terrific younger writers — Roxane Gay, Jessica Valenti off the top of my head. I bought an annual subscription (I assume all you newspaper types are grateful to Trump for that at least — he’s bringing back real reporting and folks like me are paying for subscriptions to numerous papers.)

    Nancy — glad to hear you’re liking Underground Railroad. I really can’t recommend Homegoing enough as well — both books stylistically exciting, new takes on their subjects, and beautifully written …

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  17. Deborah said on February 27, 2017 at 10:33 am

    I watched that episode of Girls too, I thought it was terrific. I’ve watched all of the Seasons on OnDemand, I think Dunham is someone to watch, read her book too.

    I got the book Mister Monkey yesterday and am waiting for Lab Girl, it had to be back ordered at the local bookstore because it had sold out. Someone here recommended them a few days back, I looked them up and they seemed interesting. I need to keep reading books lest I get caught up in the rabbit hole of politics on the internet, constantly.

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  18. Jeff Borden said on February 27, 2017 at 10:52 am

    Along the same lines, Cooz, the empty suit who is the Speaker of the House has told this ridiculous story of a poor child lamenting his free lunch. He wanted to bring his in a brown paper bag like everyone else. According to Paul Ryan, the boy had a “full stomach, but an empty soul.” How can you even discuss hunger with a dickwad like that? I’m fairly certain Maslow’s hierarchy of needs has food at a more basic level than soul fulfillment.

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  19. Suzanne said on February 27, 2017 at 11:07 am

    Saw the end of the Oscars, which for me is rare. I saw them announce La La Land, and said to my husband that it was entertaining, but I didn’t think it warranted Best Picture. Then I went into another room whereupon he starts yelling that Moonlight won, which made me think that he had not heard a word I said about La La Land and was too busy having his nose in Facebook. As I went back into the room with the tv and was about to yell at him, I look at the screen and think, “Whoa! He was right!”
    Faye Dunaway & Mr Vain did seem completely discombobulated the whole time, so in the end, I kind of wasn’t surprised.

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  20. coozledad said on February 27, 2017 at 11:08 am

    Jeff Borden: that whole feigned interest in the “lives of the unborn” has its genesis in the same racist horseshit they use to prosecute their agenda against the poor. They want some of the trappings of humanitarianism, but none of the cost. It’s a cargo cult version of humanity- similar to their grasp of literary art, humor, or the fundamentals of public governance. Anything that requires empathy is always at least slightly beyond their comprehension.

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  21. Deborah said on February 27, 2017 at 11:38 am

    A mixed-use 52 story building planned for downtown Detroit What do you think about this, Nancy?

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    • nancy said on February 27, 2017 at 12:30 pm

      I went to the meeting where much of this project was approved. I like the bottom part, i.e., the first nine stories, which is (on paper, anyway) pretty avant-garde and interesting in several ways.

      The tower baffles me, though. It looks like the building was shown to, say, Donald Trump and he said, “Where’s the tower? You can’t have a new building in a dense downtown if it ain’t a tower.” So the architect said, “Fine, here’s a fucking tower” and sketched one on.

      I’m calling it the Minaret of Capitalism. Spread the word.

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  22. Sherri said on February 27, 2017 at 12:40 pm

    Jeff(tmmo), the article says that the Marisa Tomei Oscar was not a mistake. However, in 1964, Sammy Davis, Jr was given the card for a different category when he was presenting.

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  23. Deborah said on February 27, 2017 at 12:59 pm

    Nancy, that building design has a lot of street presence which is critical. The same architecture firm, SHoP, designed a renovation of Site Santa Fe, an edgy contemporary art museum in the railyard district. The building has been a dumpy stucco structure so this will be quite different. Santa Fe has strict codes about aesthetics, everything tends to look the same. Not sure how they got away with this departure. The Railyard district has managed to get some metal facades because of the historical vernacular corrugated metal rail yard stuff that exited before the pueblo style aesthetic codes came to be.

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  24. Peter said on February 27, 2017 at 1:27 pm

    Jeff Borden at #18: when Paul Ryan said he had “a full stomach, but an empty soul” was he referring to Trump? Kind of fits him….

    I run into situations like this in Scouting – they are very clear in stating that kids need to pay their own way, but that no one should be denied to attend due to finances. I’ve run into situations where some parents wonder why some kids get to attend events when their parents are deadbeats – I tell them that it can get infuriating, but you can’t penalize the kid if his parent’s a douche. I also had to deal with folks that didn’t want to participate in fundraising – “just tell me how much I should write the check for”. I told them that I’d love the money, but part of the exercise is to show kids that they have to put in time and effort to get something back…

    I’m not too upset about the proposed budget – let’s just say that it doesn’t come as a surprise.

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  25. Sherri said on February 27, 2017 at 2:03 pm

    What’s been both abnormal and important so far about the trump administration? A lot.

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  26. adrianne said on February 27, 2017 at 2:37 pm

    This came up on my Web travels today, Syracuse University administrator won’t release a report on how many students are taken to the ER every weekend for insane drinking. I immediately thought of the terrific coverage in The Bridge from Nancy, Ron French and their team. Here’s the link to the SU student newspaper:

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  27. nancy said on February 27, 2017 at 3:27 pm

    Interesting read, Ace. One of the things that came up in our reporting is that it really takes one interested doctor to compile a lot of this data, because alcohol is frequently a secondary complaint when kids end up in the ER. They broke their arm because they fell down drunk, for instance — the broken arm is what gets logged.

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  28. Peter said on February 27, 2017 at 3:48 pm

    When my son went to SIU, they had the obligatory parent’s meeting, and the dean of students had a slide show that demonstrated that SIU, former #1 party school, was now very far down that list, although he admitted it was mostly due to other schools passing them up.

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  29. Peter said on February 27, 2017 at 3:55 pm

    Sherri, that list looked a little generous to me, and then I saw this: “The Trump cabinet is turning out to be composed of experienced, knowledgeable people who reflect the philosophy of the president and the 61-million-plus people who voted for Trump,” Mr. Edwards said.

    WTF?! Ben Carson? Betsy “God Loving” DeVos? That yahoo at the EPA? The bigger yahoo at HHS?

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  30. Rana said on February 27, 2017 at 4:02 pm

    Jeff Borden @18 – you know how my daughter’s future school has decided to handle that? They provide any child who wants one a bag with something like a bagel and cream cheese and an apple. That way kids who desperately need that food look just the same as their peers who forgot breakfast or were extra hungry that day.

    But heaven forfend that the poor ever be allowed to think that they’re as good as anyone else…

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  31. Sherri said on February 27, 2017 at 4:37 pm

    Even with a serious case of both siderism, there was still a preponderance of abnormal.

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  32. St Bitch said on February 27, 2017 at 5:17 pm

    Just a quick drop in…still have family crisis going on…but…

    ‘Underground Railroad’ is a feast for all of you literary gastronomes…plenty to savor, chew and digest

    Love ‘Silicon Valley’ Jakash…as a tech nerd and otherwise…made everyone in my family watch episodes when they came to visit…laughing just as much at every repeat viewing

    With you 100% about Lena Dunham, Nancy…been a fan since before season 1 of ‘Girls’ (the seminal ‘Tiny Furniture’)…’American Bitch’ showcases the brilliant, brave maturity-in-progress of her writing and Lena/Hannah character

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  33. Sherri said on February 27, 2017 at 5:18 pm

    The other day, my doorbell rang, despite my No Soliciting sign (oh so necessary in this neighborhood!) It was a variation of cold call I hadn’t seen yet. A young man in a suit introduced himself, said he lived nearby, and worked for Edward Jones. He was fairly persistent in trying to win my business. For some reason, I didn’t just shit the door on him, and let this wet behind the ears kid with a freshly minted finance degree try to educate me about money for a while, then told him that no, I wasn’t going to pay anyone to manage my money.

    He was telling me how much more someone in the business would know about what could be done with my money than the simple plan I have, not cooked up with a financial planner but just from reading. We’ve been following this plan from the time we had any money to set aside beyond the savings cushion, no matter how much money we’ve accumulated: index funds, mostly at Vanguard. Now, Warren Buffet in his most recent letter shows that hedge funds underperform an S&P 500 Index fund while costing $100 billion over the last ten years.

    That’s some serious snake oil!

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  34. Scout said on February 27, 2017 at 5:38 pm

    Sherri, I would have shit the door on him. But that’s me. 😉

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  35. alex said on February 27, 2017 at 5:56 pm

    “The modern conservative is engaged in one of man’s oldest exercises in moral philosophy; that is, the search for a superior moral justification for selfishness.” John Kenneth Galbraith

    All the explanation one needs for Paul Ryan’s pitifully disingenuous lament about school children with full tummies and empty souls.

    Sherri, I’m mostly invested in index funds and real property, and I wouldn’t take any advice from a financial advisor if it were free. The whole industry is a con game and it’s all about making commissions from steering people wrong. No shit they don’t want a law requiring fiduciary responsibility for their customers. If they had to make an honest living at it, they’d go broke.

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  36. Sherri said on February 27, 2017 at 6:07 pm

    If you have an Audible account, there’s a series on their new Channels feature called Ponzi Supernova, about the Madoff scandal, which I highly recommend. You mostly heard about individuals invested with Madoff, but there were fund managers who were invested with him and closed their eyes to what they had to know was an obvious fraud. As long as they were getting their returns, they didn’t care, and it’s really hard to prove a case they were doing anything illegal.

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  37. David C. said on February 27, 2017 at 6:07 pm

    It irritates the shit out of me when Fidelity sends out a letter telling me they can help me decide where to invest my 401(k). It irritates me more when the company sends out something on their behalf. Because the fees in a 401(k) are so well hidden, and because a lot of people believe the company pays the fees, I see so many of my co-workers pissing away money on fees for the funds and transfer fees when they churn their accounts looking for the highest return. I’ve done pretty well with my S&P 500 fund with a .05% fee. I don’t need their “help”.

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  38. Sherri said on February 27, 2017 at 6:17 pm

    What I would like to invest in is a local fund to develop affordable housing. Because it’s so expensive to develop here, most new development is high end apartments and condos, often tearing down old, more affordable options to build. There are requirements and incentives to make a portion of new developments affordable, but it seems to me if you were willing to take a lower return on investment and take longer to get that investment paid back, it ought to work to do a social responsibility fund to invest in affordable housing. It wouldn’t be a donation, it would be an investment you’d get a return on, so you could conceivably put more money into it. I’ve found a few examples in other areas, but not around here.

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  39. Sherri said on February 27, 2017 at 6:30 pm

    Now we know who handed off the wrong envelope:

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  40. BigHank53 said on February 28, 2017 at 8:24 am

    That sanctimonious comment from Paul Ryan about ‘full bellies and empty souls’ could only be made by someone who had never gone hungry in his entire privileged life.

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