I wasn’t able to watch the march Saturday — cut the cable cord and only regret it two or three times a year — but I saw a few snippets on the gym TVs, and stayed on the treadmill a few extra minutes to take them in. It was a remarkable spectacle, I’m sure we’d all agree. Even more remarkable is the response to it from the other side, who are seemingly having a competition to see who can say the stupidest thing, from stocking classrooms with buckets of rocks to chiding students for not taking CPR classes to the too-numerous-to-count “sit down kids and listen to your elders” stuff.
That’s how you know you’re winning. That, and when Rod Dreher clutches his pearls and calls you Robespierre.
Kids, rock on. This is their fear talking.
I did some thinking on the treadmill (but just a few extra minutes of it). I once used to say things like, “America has made its bloody bed, and now it has to lie in it.” But I’ve come around to the more hopeful idea that something is better than nothing, and to do nothing because no one thing will solve the problem is a lazy and cynical position. In my lifetime — hell, just in the middle-aged portion of my lifetime — we’ve seen sea changes on smoking and homosexuality. Why not guns? So I’m choosing optimism. This just feels different.
Also, the graphics are pretty great:
Dahlia Lithwick on the march, too. Not-a-spoiler alert: This was not the work of George Soros.
Still cold here, insultingly so. I was going to take a walk to the bakery this morning, until I checked the temperature: 22 degrees. Newp. And that’s why we had stale bread at breakfast.
I have believed this for a long time, but it’s good to see I’m not alone:
You wouldn’t want to be operated on by a physician with only a few surgeries under his or her belt, and the assurance that this doctor brought a fresh perspective to anesthesia and incisions wouldn’t thrill you.
You would choose a pilot who had flown 999 flights over one with nine, and you would want your child’s teacher to be practiced with pupils, not merely a vessel of great enthusiasm.
So why the romance with candidates who have never done a stitch of government work before?
That’s Frank Bruni about the gubernatorial candidacy of Cynthia Nixon, but it could be me watching campaign ad after campaign ad by people promising to “run government like a business” and yelling at the screen, “But government isn’t a business, you twit.”
I lived 20 years in Indiana, which has a part-time legislature, and further limits its time in Indianapolis to alternating “short” and “long” sessions. Republicans are always emoting over how this makes the Hoosier state a true “citizen legislature,” and weeping over the founding fathers’ dreams that all legislatures would be made up of citizens, as though politicians aren’t actually citizens. The idea behind term limits, which we have in Michigan, is roughly the same: Make these bastards go home after a few years, because they suck. New blood! New ideas! No more career politicians!
One hazard of treating the U.S. Constitution as the revealed word of God, and the founding fathers (and mothers) as oracles of heaven is, we’re no longer an 18th-century collection of former colonies with a big idea and a wilderness close enough to see from the front porch. So maybe lawmaking for a nation of more than 300 million souls equipped with guns, smartphones and cars should be a little more than a regular meeting over the cracker barrel. Just a thought.
On to a cheerier topic: Your worst fears realized on a theme-park ride.
In a quest to be the record holder for the world’s tallest waterslide, investigators say, Schlitterbahn Waterpark of Kansas City rushed to build a dangerous and structurally complicated ride, ignored glaring safety red flags and replaced mathematical calculations with “crude trial-and-error methods.”
The string of negligence, according to a recently unsealed indictment, resulted in the 2016 death of a 10-year-old boy and more than a dozen injuries. Caleb Schwab, son of Kansas state Rep. Scott Schwab, was decapitated while riding the nearly 170-foot-tall Verrückt, a German word that means “crazy” or “insane.” On Friday, a year and a half after the boy’s death, the Kansas Attorney General’s Office announced criminal charges against the company and one of its former employees.
Schlitterbahn and Tyler Austin Miles, former director of operations, have been charged with involuntary manslaughter and several counts of aggravated battery, aggravated endangering a child and interference with law enforcement. Investigators say the company knew the waterslide was unsafe and could result in injuries and deaths, but still rushed to open it to the public. Perhaps more disturbing is the allegation that several injuries, from neck pain to concussion, had already occurred before Caleb’s death. Still, investigators allege, Schlitterbahn and Miles kept the ride open to the public — and even hid reports of those injuries and other alarming safety problems from law-enforcement officers who were investigating the boy’s death.
A reader comment:
I live about 30 minutes from this waterpark, and from the moment I saw them breaking ground on this ride, I determined that my daughters would never go near it. I live in Missouri, but I know Kansas well enough to know that the state does not require government inspections of such rides—part of what has made Kansas the GOP utopia that also included ruinous tax cuts that have nearly destroyed the state’s schools and social services.
Kate has aged out of her going-to-Cedar-Point phase, at least going with me, but whenever we were there I would dream of a book project: Embedding with a design team for a new roller coaster, and tell the story from blueprint to ribbon-cutting. If you still think of roller coasters as the wooden ones of your youth, you have no idea. Just the engineering has to be fascinating.
With that, I’m out of here. Good week ahead, all.