We were headed to Columbus for Nall Family Christmas, driving through rural Ohio, when I missed an exit. It was one of those where the next exit is something like 15 miles down the road, so I said screw it and let Siri or whoever recalculate the route. It wouldn’t have paid to double back.

The new route took us through the back roads of western Ohio. It’s been a while since I did that; probably since we lived in Fort Wayne, and I would travel U.S. 33 from northeast Indiana to Columbus, through all the small towns along the way — Neptune, Willshire, Rockford, et al. It’s all four-lane now, but wasn’t back then; I knew every place it was safe to pass, when it paid to wait until the next four-lane stretch. One time I raced a particularly jerkoffish trucker through Willshire, him on the main road, me on a residential side street that ran parallel. And beat him back to the main drag! Because there’s nothing worse than sucking semi tail pipe if you don’t have to.

God, that drive sucked so bad. What I remember about the course of 20 years, though, was how the little farm towns never improved. They got shabbier by the year, the signs to the food co-op fading, the dairy freezes marking time with their seasonal openings and closings. About the only institutions that seemed to have staying power were the bars, but even they didn’t age well.

Year after year, the young people decamped for Columbus or Toledo or Fort Wayne. Because that’s where the jobs are. Not in…Pleasant Mills, Ind.

I guess this is the America that some think can be made Great again — the farms rescued from corporate owners and restored to ma and pa; the giant dairy processor that’s driving prices into the basement dematerialized somehow. And who knows what else. The kids come home and sell farm implements instead of motorcycles downstate? Hard to say. It was depressing.

I’m a city person, and I can’t ever see not being one. And now — puts finger to earpiece — I hear we’ve taken out a major Iranian military leader, just in time for the 2020 campaign! Yay! A distracting war!!!

An airstrike near the Baghdad airport has killed Iranian Quds Force commander Qasem Soleimani and another senior Iranian-linked figure in Baghdad, Iraqi state television reported Thursday.

No one immediately asserted responsibility for the strike, which Iraqi television said also killed Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, an Iraqi militia commander. But the death of Iran’s most revered military leader appeared likely to send tensions soaring between the United States and Iran.

Also, this:

A book that pushes the conspiracy theory Qanon climbed within the top 75 of all books sold on Amazon in recent days, pushed by Amazon’s algorithmically generated recommendations page.

“QAnon: An Invitation to the Great Awakening,” which has no stated author, ranked at No. 56 at press time, was featured in the algorithmically generated “Hot new releases” section on Amazon’s books landing page. The book claims without evidence a variety of outlandish claims including that prominent Democrats murder and eat children and that the U.S. government created both AIDS and the movie Monsters Inc.

God, this stupid country.

Well, here it is, January 2, and the new year already is off to a pretty bad start. Full speed ahead!

Posted at 9:42 pm in Current events, Same ol' same ol' |

33 responses to “Nowheresville.”

  1. Dexter Friend said on January 3, 2020 at 3:07 am

    My drives to Columbus have been regular for 25 years now. First, they were checking out OSU with our daughter when she was a HS junior, then visiting her on Indianapolis Ave, then on 5th Avenue & Penna Ave., then right down in a real tough part of the city, and then off Roberts Road in an apartment , then to her spec house she had build off Spindler Road, and now in Commercial Point way south of Grove City. We started out hooking into US 23 but as the area became swamped by big box stores and the traffic lights went on forever, we switched to 127 to 33 into Marysville through Bellefontaine and on to 270 to 71 S. Sometimes I took US30 east to the two-lane country roads into Marysville but several times the locals were passing on yellow lines and damn-nearly smashed me, so I quit going that way. I grew up in NE Indiana and the kids that went on to university usually ended up in Indianapolis or Chicago. One friend ended up in Dallas, one in St. Pete, but most went to Chicago. In Dad’s day, they went to Chicago too, but mostly Detroit. Once about 4 years ago , coming out of Van Wert, a driver must have knocked over the arrow sign for 127 north , and I went through Grover Hill for my first and only time. That is the worst looking town I have ever seen in Ohio; it rivals poor towns in Mississippi we drove through 50 years ago. One nice thing from the drive 6 days ago: the shabby truckstop/restaurant at 127 & 33 was levelled and a new Marathon truckstop/restaurant was built and is now open. It’s not a monster Love’s or Petro-size, just a cozy little place.

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  2. Suzanne said on January 3, 2020 at 9:37 am

    Somewhere in Southern IN, between Terre Haute and Bloomington, is the town of Bowling Green, IN. I was legit scared to drive through which, thankfully, didn’t take long. I truly expected to see some Deliverance type kid sitting on a porch, strumming.
    Yes! Let’s all move to places like this and make America great!

    This thing with Iran does give me pause because people in power like Pompeo and Pence truly believe that we are in the End Times and the return of Jesus is coming. They have been wanting, trying, hoping for a Middle Eastern war because they believe the Book of Revelation predicts that will happen right before Jesus returns. Foreign policy by Biblical prophecy. What could go wrong?

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  3. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on January 3, 2020 at 9:40 am

    Driving US 36 through western Ohio and eastern Indiana is my parallel experience; it’s our not-I-70 route from east of Columbus to the northeast corner of Indianapolis which we take sometimes to break up this regular journey. The towns over thirty years do indeed seem to just be steadily crumbling away, and we’re increasingly baffled as to what keeps any population together in some of those areas . . . but now there’s a big wind turbine farm as we enter Indiana heading west, which certainly breaks up the trip, but it doesn’t look like they keep any or at least many locals employed. Probably income for a hatful of large landowners.

    Just east of Greenville, OH is Bears Mill, an 1840s constructed grist mill which I commend to anyone passing through that neighborhood. If you like old working grist mills! Bought some great pumpkin butter there last trip through.

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  4. Icarus said on January 3, 2020 at 9:53 am

    We spend Christmas and Easter in Olive Branch, MS since that is where the majority of Nightingale’s family is (parents, sister). We split the drive into two legs: Chicago to Mt Vernon where we stay at a Drury Inn which provides free dinner and breakfast. It is nowhere in the zip code of healthy but it beats having to strap the kiddos back in the car after a 4-5 hour drive to look for suitable food. Plus they have a pool which helps burn energy before bedtime.

    Apparently Mt Vernon is a halfway point for a lot of people. I got to talking to a fellow who told me he drove 14 hours from Boulder and was gonna get up at 3 am to drive 14 more to Virginia Beach!

    It wasn’t too bad this trip. The in-laws managed to keep their racist political viewpoints under wraps until almost the last day (usually they break by midweek). My FIL doesn’t like his quiet routine disrupted and all the grandkids running around getting into things did get him to go full OLD_MAN_GET_OFF_MY_LAWN mode before not too long, but otherwise it was one of the better trips in recent years.

    That said, ever time I think moving down there won’t be so bad, BIL Jethro does a good job of talking me out of it by simply opening his mouth and spewing Fox News talking points.

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  5. Suzanne said on January 3, 2020 at 10:28 am

    Lest you all think I am crazy about the apocalyptic minds in the Trump administration, do read this entire thread from a theological prof & author

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  6. nancy said on January 3, 2020 at 12:15 pm

    Thanks for that. I recall a line from a book I’ve recommended here more than once — “End of Days,” by Gershom Gorenberg. It’s about the struggle over the Temple Mount. An American evangelical pastor is explaining his community’s zealous support of Israel and especially a takeover of the T.M., so the new temple can be built. He said, “The Jews think this play has three acts, but we know it has four.”

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  7. Bitter Scribe said on January 3, 2020 at 12:49 pm

    What kills me about small-town farmers is that the worse Trump makes their problems, the more they support him.

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  8. jcburns said on January 3, 2020 at 12:50 pm

    Did you miss the turn in Findlay, by the iconic Pioneer Sugar plant? All the construction there has things messed up (at least the last time I went through.) Glad you explored some rural Ohio, though. We do a lot of that between the south and Michigan!

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    • nancy said on January 3, 2020 at 1:12 pm

      That is indeed exactly the exit I missed.

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  9. Dorothy said on January 3, 2020 at 1:01 pm

    Your comments about the countryside prompt me to share this: we bought 3 acres of land in Knox County, OH in 2008, built a nice house and left in 2013 when hubby’s job seemed creaky. It was an idyllic setting and we loved having the open space around us, and best of all we had amazing sunset views from the porches across the back of the house. Now that we are approaching retirement age, hubby wants to find a place on 3 or 5 acres so he can go back to his beloved beekeeping. I’ve told him many times that I don’t like the idea of living ‘isolated’ like that at this point in our lives. (Too far away from a neighbor to run and ask for help, if something awful happens, like in 2006 when he fell 12 feet off of a ladder.) I also don’t want to keep up with the responsibilities that go with having that much property. He isn’t happy about that. I feel like I have to cave in. Even our kids have said it’s sort of nuts to buy a place with acreage in our retirement years. I’ve even told him that if he dies before me, I’ll certainly sell and move out immediately and get into a condo or something. I’m so torn. I want him to be happy in retirement but I want to be happy, too. What the hell is the solution?

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  10. Heather said on January 3, 2020 at 1:05 pm

    A friend of mine has in-laws in Elkhart, IN, and paints a pretty bleak picture of their situation. She and her husband moved from Chicago to LA last year and for her husband’s family they might as well have moved to the moon.

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  11. Deborah said on January 3, 2020 at 5:05 pm

    I hear you Dorothy, we have 100 acres in Abiquiu and I worry sometimes what I’d have to do in an emergency. We’re not there full time all year long but still. My husband and I are both on the same page about having our cabin in such a remote area but I still have anxiety about it from time to time. I rarely spend time in the cabin by myself for that reason.

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  12. Deborah said on January 3, 2020 at 5:14 pm

    Suzanne, that’s creepy. It’ll be interesting to see what justification those folks come up with when it turns out they’re wrong (about everything).

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  13. beb said on January 3, 2020 at 5:23 pm

    One of the signs of the End Times was the appearance of the “Anti-Christ.” Considering that Trump is the opposite of every thing the Christ stood for and the way he is worhiped by his supporters I can’t help thinking that Trump is the Anti-Christ.

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  14. Deggjr said on January 3, 2020 at 5:53 pm

    The Left Behind series described the Anti-Christ as tall and Romanian but otherwise the description was a good match with Vladimir Putin (IIRC). His sidekick, The False Prophet, was a buffoon. Donald Trump!

    Not that the Left Behind series is the authority on anything other than possibly what American Evangelicals believe. Oh no.

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  15. Charlotte said on January 3, 2020 at 5:58 pm

    Dorothy — are there any cohousing solutions? Or buy a place with some acres and lease to young farmers? That way, there would be people around … I’m thinking of putting out feelers to my younger neighbors to see if they want to share my veggie garden — they have little kids, and frankly a lot of the heavy lifting is getting pretty heavy (plus Himself doesn’t eat any of it).

    My ideal solution for my elder years is kind of like this co-housing development that was just being built when I was at UC Davis:

    Common garden, a place to eat with others if you want, kids! My wee town is kind of like a bigger version of this in some ways, and so many of us don’t have kids or moved here later in life that we’re pretty good at taking care of one another ….

    But my beloved aunt has deteriorated a lot since moving out to our family farm full time 5 years ago — only having Trumpies around, and feeling so isolated after spending half the year in Chicago has not been good for her. I fear it’s the beginning of dementia … isolation isn’t good for anyone.

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  16. alex said on January 3, 2020 at 6:06 pm

    Dorothy, we’re still about ten years out from retirement but can think of nothing better than having property. We wish we had even more of it. It keeps us fit and gives us room for our hobbies. And we can always sell if it becomes too much to deal with.

    I follow the real estate listings and constantly see lovely houses but can’t quite get comfy with the idea of being on a small lot and hemmed in closely. If anything I’d like to get farther away from people. (BTW, we have some neighbors down the road who have “Rapture” signs on their vehicles, and from the way they have let things go it’s apparent that they know they can’t take it with them so they don’t bother.)

    I feel privileged to live with scenic views and relative privacy and it sounds like you enjoyed that too. Maybe there’s a compromise that would allow for beekeeping but not too much strenuous yard work. Low-growing fields of clover maybe?

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  17. Sherri said on January 3, 2020 at 6:19 pm

    When I was at my parents’ house last week, I saw a sheet of paper with a list of discussion questions about the Rapture. I assume it was from their Sunday School class at church. Southern Baptists have always been big on the End Times and the Second Coming.

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  18. Dave said on January 3, 2020 at 11:12 pm

    I always lived on the north side of Fort Wayne and in our many, many trips to Central Ohio, we usually took 30 to Ohio 115, scooted around the north side of Lima on Bluelick Road, to I-75, down to 309, catch Ohio 117 at the next light, and take that into Huntsville, where we’d pick up 33. It got much better in later years when the road got four-laned between Bellefontaine and Marysville.

    Another way we’d go for variety was Ohio 31 north out of Marysville to Kenton, and then 309 toward Lima, coming into the east side of Lima, up I-75 to Bluelick Road and then across, as above. I suspect 31 is the road that Dexter speaks of having a couple of scares on. Occasionally, we’d take 33 all the way to 127, up and through Van Wert.

    Nancy, I believe most of 33 is still two lane, all the Willshire, Pleasant Bend, down to St. Marys, and the stretch between Wapakoneta and Huntsville.

    Today, we drove through Washington, PA, the freeway was blocked so we took the route Waze laid out for us and drove right through downtown. It looks about as awful as one could imagine with closed-up stores and rough looking homes, I’ve read articles before that there’s a massive drug problem there, as there is in much of rural America, I’m afraid

    Dorothy, living out is ok but there’s valid reasons for not doing it at a, ahem, more senior age. Perhaps he’s worried he’ll have nothing to do. It’s a dilemma, I saw how my parents did at advanced ages with the two acres I grew up on, it was ok until it wasn’t and wasn’t can sure come on fast.

    You just know Trump has no plan.

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  19. Dexter Friend said on January 4, 2020 at 3:38 am

    Quite a mishmosh of opinions about Qassem Soleimani being assassinated. Most retired generals and admirals who now are contributors to msnbc are congratulating Trump, but with an asterisk, sort of. One commenter said this was as if back during the height of the USA’s war on Iraq, Cheney, Wolfowitz, Rumsfeld, and 2 generals would have been killed all at once. Soleimani was more than a national hero, he was revered all over The Region. Trump is thumping his chest, using this as a campaign moment. Bush43 and Obama both had Soleimani sighted-in, each could have ordered a kill-shot, but both Obama and Bush43 declined, just as Bush41 stopped a few miles from the Baghdad palaces of Saddam, after the “crispy critters” advance towards Baghdad in the early 90s. Crispy Critters? That was charred remains of Saddam’s Elite guards , burned like firewood by USA flamethrowers. None of this had to happen , but Orangey had to tear up the agreements Obama and all the European heads of state drew up. The idiot says he’s for peace just 48 hours ago, then possibly started another war less than 24 hours hence.
    Those prolific wind farms…I hate them, I despise them. They are just too much. They aren’t everywhere, yet. I only see them a few times on my trips to Columbus. After the ancient Great Black Swamp dried up, leaving rich muck soil for the farmers, oil was discovered, and especially in central Ohio, oil wells were everywhere. Now it’s wind turbines, but I did see one oil well the other day somewhere south of here…the owners had a functioning oil well right in the middle of their front yard. No one has any sympathy for my hatred of the view the wind turbines offer, and I know how people are all a-gaga over them, but aesthetically, they are horrid.

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  20. Deborah said on January 4, 2020 at 4:50 am

    I disagree Dexter, I think wind turbines are gorgeous, very elegant aesthetically. Not to mention their renewable energy environmental impact. Also, the destruction of birds has been debunked as compared to other bird killers

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  21. jcburns said on January 4, 2020 at 9:15 am

    I find the wind turbines beautiful as well. There are hilltops in Europe that are edged with a row of them, and out in west Texas, they sprout by the dozens.
    Northwest Ohio has had powerful winds from the west for, well, I guess, centuries, and makes sense that if we can cleanly generate power from them, it’s certainly better than filling the Ohio River valley with coal plant emissions.
    Here’s a Toledo Blade article from late 2018 that does a pretty even job of talking about the benefits the turbines have brought to Van Wert and the efforts by some to Not have them In (My) Back Yard.
    I saw a fancy model railroad layout the other day that had HO scale windplants, and it was an amazing sight…but then again, I grew up anticipating the 21st century would have a futuristic look.

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  22. Julie Robinson said on January 4, 2020 at 10:04 am

    Sorry to pile on, Dexter, but I also find wind farms beautiful, even mesmerizing. I’m glad we are developing some alternatives to fossil fuels. The solar panels on our roof in Orlando aren’t beautiful, but you can barely see them from the street, and they’re providing most of our electricity.

    Since I’m still on vacation I’m trying to avoid thinking about yet another war, but it keeps creeping in. Yesterday I painted a door and weeded the garden. Apparently I also weeded out some veggies, since they pretty much all look like weeds to my northern eyes. I told my daughter that’s what you get with unskilled labor.

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  23. Jakash said on January 4, 2020 at 1:24 pm

    Since I know practically nothing about her, it’s intriguing to me that 2 Chicago Tribune columnists, one “vaguely libertarian” and the other an out-and-proud liberal, both think Amy Klobuchar may be the way to go in order to oust Hair Furor.

    Steve Chapman says “Klobuchar is the Honda Accord of the field: reliable, practical, affordable — and unlikely to drive you into a ditch.”

    Eric Zorn, in his annual prediction column, flatly states: “Amy Klobuchar, a Democratic U.S. senator from Minnesota, will be elected president of the United States in November.” For whatever that’s worth — as he notes, himself: a year ago he “predicted former Texas U.S. Rep. Beto O’Rourke would be leading the Democratic field heading into the Iowa caucuses.”

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  24. Jakash said on January 4, 2020 at 1:36 pm

    So, “Meat Loaf says Greta Thunberg has been brainwashed into thinking climate change is real.”

    While there are lots of solid “noted scientist Meat Loaf” takes on Twitter, my favorite quip after a quick look is John Fugelsang’s: “It’s almost like Meat Loaf is praying for the end of time to hurry up and arrive.”

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  25. Jakash said on January 4, 2020 at 1:49 pm

    Another spot-on tweet from Mr. Fugelsang:

    “You can now think of Iran & Iraq as one Islamic Nation that hates us.

    Call them Iranq.

    And now
    we’re at war w/both
    because of 2 millionaires-at-birth
    who dodged going to ‘Nam
    but supported sending others
    and who both ran for President
    & came in 2nd
    but got the job anyway.”

    Uh-oh, 3 comments in a row is getting a little close to Prospero territory — must return to lurking! : )

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  26. Sherri said on January 4, 2020 at 2:47 pm

    I think many columnists are full of shit. I guess the bloom must be fading off the Mayor Pete rose if Klobuchar is becoming the center right dream, but you can not win the Democratic nomination without African American support. It’s not a party of white men, that’s the Republicans.

    Speaking of columnists being really, really wrong:

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  27. Dexter Friend said on January 4, 2020 at 5:44 pm

    Some of you see beauty, here’s what I see:

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  28. Deborah said on January 4, 2020 at 10:07 pm

    Dexter, here’s another view

    LB and I watched the movie Midsommer last night on OnDemand in Santa Fe, creepy.

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  29. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on January 5, 2020 at 6:06 pm

    20% of the population lives spread across 80% of our land mass. An interesting analysis of “rural” — what it is, and isn’t.

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  30. Peter said on January 5, 2020 at 7:37 pm

    Here’s the part that gets me from the NYT story:

    “…top American military officials put the option of killing him – which they viewed as the most extreme response to the Iranian-led violence in Iraq – on the menu they presented to President Donald Trump.

    “They didn’t think he would take it. In the wars waged since the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks, Pentagon officials have often offered improbable options to presidents to make other possibilities seem more palatable.”

    I’m really as naive as they come, but my gosh what a load of crap. Are they stupid, evil, or both? They didn’t think he would take that option? Where have they been for the last three years?!?

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  31. LAMary said on January 5, 2020 at 7:42 pm

    For Connie: I hope this link works.

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  32. Connie said on January 6, 2020 at 6:17 am

    Ha! Not related. There are approximately 600 of us worldwide, with half of that in this country. Not a name you run into often.

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