Man, you can take your let-us-treasure-these-final-warm-days-before-the-snow-flies and stuff it. It’s 88 degrees as I write this, and I think I speak for many here: This weather blows. Two more days and it’s over, and after seeing a Christmas tree at Costco this afternoon, I say bring on the pumpkin spice and all the rest of it.

(I realize the pumpkin spice arrived the day after Labor Day, yes. And we had a few cool days in there before Lucifer arrived. But this shit is miserable.)

This weekend was Dlectricity, a biennial art festival that takes place after dark along Woodward Avenue and a few surrounding blocks. They’re light installations, mostly. There are several such events like this, the other being Noel Night, and last year I told Alan that Noel Night had joined the lengthening list of Things That Used to Be Fun, But Aren’t Anymore. Which is to say, parking is a nightmare, every attraction has a long line, etc. We decided to park about a mile or two away and use the new bike-sharing service to get close to the action, which is what we did, but about that weather? After we arrived, I looked down at my shirt and it was wet, in one of those Vs like you see in the movies when the handsome leading man is interrupted in the middle of his morning run.

However uncomfortable, it was still a good idea. Rode down, docked the bikes, walked around the installations, picked out another couple bikes and rode back to the car. The way home was in the new protected bike lanes, which was awesome.

As for the exhibits, I liked the bunnies best.

Two more days of this, then we drop below 80 for a daytime high. Maybe we can turn off the air conditioning.

Today I made the mistake of looking at some Twitter and Facebook posts about #Takeaknee, and it has dispirited me mightily. I have but this to say: God bless Martha Ford, that raving Marxist. She linked arms with her players while wearing sunglasses. I’m not inclined to tumble for WASPy matrons, but I did this time.

I have nothing blogwise, do I? Maybe:

How Trump bungled what could have been a first down. Why? Because he doesn’t understand football.

The latest heat-n-serve repeal from the GOP kitchen looks to be in peril. We shall see.

I don’t make it a point to watch the first lady’s speeches, so this piece was interesting. Turns out her observations are correct: She did appear to be on the brink of tears throughout. What’s going on in that lady’s head? (Never mind the outfit.)

Happy Monday. I hope wherever you are, it’s not as hot as it is here.

Posted at 6:49 pm in Current events, Detroit life, Same ol' same ol' | 28 Comments

May I borrow that pen?

I was reading the paper yesterday and came across one of those stories we’ve discussed before – the public shaming of someone caught embezzling. There’s something so uniquely humiliating about seeing these items bought with purloined funds; the evidence tags only underline the foolishness of risking liberty, fortune, reputation and family for something that inevitably looks shabby under a courtroom’s glaring lights.

This case hasn’t gotten this far; the accused is still only accused, but the feds are not shy with their filings in this case, in which an executive for Fiat Chrysler allegedly siphoned funds from a company training fund into his pocket and from there into various other pockets around town. He had the mansion and the swimming pool and the Ferrari and the “outdoor kitchen,” but this story is about his fondness for expensive fountain pens. He bought two — two! — $36,000, limited-edition (aren’t they all?) MontBlancs, with mother-of-pearl this and sapphire-embedded that. They were, the story labored perhaps just a teensy bit too hard to underline, issued to honor Abraham Lincoln, who I have to think would have guffawed at such a thing. (I shudder to think of the gewgaws yet to come to commemorate our 45th president.)

Anyway, not only does this guy have to squirm under the magnifying glass of those with subpoenas, he also has to endure the scorn of the pen community:

“This is a guy trying to live like how he thinks rich people live,” said Eric Fonville, president of the Michigan Pen Club, a collectors group of about 130 members. “Nobody would buy a $40,000 Montblanc. True millionaires don’t spend money like that.”

It so happens I agree, but someone must buy the things, or MontBlanc wouldn’t go to the trouble to make them. I guess they’re all tacky people.

But the shading is not over:

Iacobelli does not appear to be a serious pen collector. Fonville, the pen club president, had never heard of him until the indictment.

“He’s not a part of the pen-collecting community,” Fonville said.

And with that, a disgraced former Fiat Chrysler executive imagines life in a cell, and when everything he writes with resembles a crayon.

Stay honest, people. Or you could find yourself publicly shamed by a pen-club president.

So, we now march into the weekend. Hot and steamy here, which I guess is sorta-Indian summer, although I thought that had to come after the first frost, and we haven’t had that yet. I’m going to do the NYT mini crossword and ask you once again to read my Schvitz story, so I can be web-traffic queen for a day.

This other Bridge link will be live after noon EDT today. It’s about a crappy poll that claimed Kid Rock could beat Debbie Stabenow in the Michigan Senate race. If you follow the link within it to the FiveThirtyEight debunking, you find this remarkable passage:

After Delphi Analytica released its Michigan survey (it has released eight polls in all), I received a direct message on Twitter from Michael McDonald, a source I had spoken to before. McDonald follows political betting markets and had previously contacted me about another survey firm, CSP Polling, that he believed was a shell organization started by some people who use PredictIt, a betting market for political propositions. McDonald said that CSP stood for “Cuck Shed Polling.” Like Delphi Analytica, CSP Polling doesn’t list anyone who works there on its website.

A betting market for politics? Really? Talk about fools and their money.

Good weekend to all.

Posted at 9:14 am in Current events | 75 Comments

The good table.

The Detroit News has an annual event where they recognize the Michiganians of the Year, and this year’s was last night. I went as Alan’s date – a little reluctantly but dutifully, attitudes I shed as the evening went on. The view from atop the Motor City Casino was spectacular even on a drizzly evening, the company was good, the honorees inspiring and how often do you get to go to a party with Kate Upton?

Her uncle Fred, a Republican congressman from southwest Michigan, was being honored, along with Debbie Dingell, in a special bipartisan co-award. Dingell came close to tears describing her friendship with Fred Upton, a scene that good Republicans these days would laugh at scornfully, I suspect. Uncle Fred is said to be maybe retiring, or perhaps will run for the Senate. Dingell is in her second term, and indefatigable. Dunno what Kate’s next project is; I expect she’s concentrating on planning her wedding to Justin Verlander. And no, I never really got closer to her than looking at her blonde updo from a couple tables away, but I glimpsed her from the side at one point, and she has enviably nice legs.

And that’s why I didn’t update last night.

Back at work, and I feel pretty good so far. Yesterday was a bit of a grind, but I kept my nose to the stone and only have a little blood spattered on my blouse to show for it. In between, I caught up with some podcasts, in particular the week-old “What Happened” edition of “Pod Save America,” a 45-minute interview with Hillary Clinton. This WashPost piece concentrates on her comments about Bernie, but what stuck with me was her flinty defense of the necessity of courting big-money donors in an age of Koch, Mercer, Sinclair Broadcasting, et al. These are people who either own media empires or command them as such, and in an era when people are so easily manipulated by utter fucking bullshit, well, you can’t fight fire with kumbaya. I encourage you to click that last link, last week’s NYT magazine piece on the Russian propaganda operation, another piece I’m catching up with. It’s sort of terrifying.

And I’m multitasking with the NYT podcast looking at yesterday’s UN speech by the prez. He’s very fond of unnecessary modifiers, I notice — completely unacceptable, totally destroy, etc. Beyond that, I’ve not had enough coffee to further analyze that one.

So on to the bloggage.

We all know this, but Jamelle Bouie says it again.

Do you follow Will Sommer’s coverage of right-wing media? You should.

There’s a big freeway-restoration project going on in Detroit, the rebuilding of one side of the I-75 bridge over the Rouge River, but not only the Rouge River – it also crosses a landscape of industrial works that looks like the set of a dystopian sci-fi movie. It’s a two-year project and everyone around here knows about it. Except for this guy, who broke through the barriers, did $50,000 worth of damage to the project and nearly fell through the bridge surface. I know this is hard to believe, but police say alcohol may have been involved here.

With that, let’s tackle Wednesday.

Posted at 9:01 am in Current events, Detroit life, Same ol' same ol' | 77 Comments

All I ever wanted.

As I mentioned a couple days ago, today begins a week of vacation for yours truly, the first full week off since last Christmas, and yes, it’s nobody’s fault but mine. You can procrastinate on claiming your days off, the same way you can in filing expense reports and the like.

All I know right now, though, is I NEED A LITTLE BREAK. Yesterday I was toiling in one form or another for about 14 hours. Not heavy lifting, of course, and yes, there was a 20-minute power nap in there, but still. My mind needs a break from the news, from the grind, from all of it.

We’re going up north for a week. Alan will fish, I will read.

And there’ll be at least one more week off before the year-end holiday break. I mean, use it or lose it.

So now we wait for the next catastrophe. One of my Facebook network is posting intermittent short posts from Sint Maarten, the Dutch side of St. Martin, which took a direct hit from Irma and is awaiting José. It’s grim there. I know dozens of people in Florida, and I’m thinking all my good thoughts for them. And of course we don’t know what our president will think of next. All I know is I’ll have a poor cell signal for a while.

I hope to put fresh posts in from time to time, probably picture posts you can comment on, as I don’t even know our rental’s wifi status. I hear the weather will be fine for at least some of the time. The woods and river are pretty up there. No hurricanes, anyway.

Have a great week, all. I plan to.

Posted at 4:52 pm in Current events, Same ol' same ol' | 58 Comments

Fresh notebook pages.

It’s a bad policy, but Michigan schools are prohibited by law from starting until after Labor Day, and there’s a tiny part of me that is OK with that. I want the curtain to come down on summer before it rises on the school year, and yesterday was a perfect ending. The day was windy and increasingly hot through the afternoon, the gusts pushing the 80s out like a broom. A big front of thunderstorms was behind it all, and it hit around dinnertime where we are. It was the whistle that blew to clear the pool for good, send all the kids home to lay out their first-day outfits and backpacks, eat the final summer meal and set alarms for the first time in weeks or months.

Then, today, cool again, struggling to reach 70. My social-media feeds are full of pictures of little kids holding signs that say FIRST DAY 2017-18 and older ones smirking at mom.

People who live at this latitude say they like the change of seasons. They better, because they sure do change.

How was your weekend? We did a little sailing…

And I did a little rokkin’…

And there was relaxation, and some cold beers, tacos and laundry. The show was fun, Edgar Winter and Alice Cooper and Deep Purple on one bill, in that order. My young friend Dustin describes himself as an old soul, mainly reflected in his fondness for music that was popular when I was in high school. I wouldn’t have purchased a ticket for $5, but I was happy to be his plus-one as he reviewed the show for the local paper. The revelation was Edgar Winter, who I expected to be at death’s door, but wasn’t, and did a valiant “Tobacco Road” cover in honor of his late brother. Alice Cooper was…Alice Cooper, givin’ the folks what they came there for. Deep Purple took too many extended breaks for keyboard-solo noodling, doubtless to give the lead singer time for oxygen treatments backstage.

“One day, one of these guys is actually going to die out here in front of my eyes,” Dustin told me once. “And then my life will be complete.” He does a pretty fair impression of Roger Daltrey gasping for breath after struggling through the final yell in “Won’t Get Fooled Again” that always makes me laugh. “He actually bent over and put his hands on his knees,” D. said, eyes aglow.

Our first trip to this venue was two years ago, to see Steely Dan, and of course Walter Becker, half of that group’s central duo, did actually die over the weekend. I have complicated feelings about that. Long live their many fine recordings.

During one of Deep Purple’s extended jams, I scrolled Twitter and learned of the DACA situation. What is there to say about that? The nation’s mattress continues to get soaked with pee.

And now we have Irma coming for us, but “The Deuce” to look forward to. One of these things is not like the other thing, and I’m not making the comparison.

Short week ahead, then VACATION FOR ME. Rarely have I needed one so badly.

Posted at 6:00 pm in Current events, Same ol' same ol' | 107 Comments

Open your eyes and see.

I remember something medical ethicist Art Caplan once told me in an interview, which I’ll paraphrase here: “Americans are great at saving the baby from the well.” (This was not long after the Baby Jessica story, which most of you will recall.) He went on: “We’re not so great at buying her a pair of glasses so she can see the well in the first place.” In the disaster in Texas — in every disaster — a lot of people have valiantly, heroically, pitched in to save the baby from the well.

That link goes to a WashPost story on the “Cajun Navy,” the assemblage of mostly Louisiana people who turn out with their low-draft boats to save people left in dire straits by floodwaters. I believe they first came to national prominence in the northern Louisiana floods last year, and they’ve turned out to help in Houston, of course. And that is a great thing, because lives are in acute danger. What’s much harder is caring about people when they’re not in danger, when they’re not wading chest-deep through the wreckage of their lives, holding their pets on their shoulders, or their children, or each other.

It’s harder — for some people, anyway — to admit that climate change is having a direct effect on these storms, and maybe we should swallow hard and make some difficult decisions. Maybe it’s time to buy the baby some glasses.

During the 1993 Mississippi floods, some towns were so inundated that after the waters receded the hard decision was made to actually relocate them, to rebuild on bluffs instead of bottomland. This wasn’t 100 percent popular — history blah blah blah 500 year storms blah blah blah — but cooler heads prevailed. Or maybe they were cash-register heads, because the argument was pretty plain: If we want to rebuild on this soggy plain, we will be uninsurable, period. The next flood will take what it wants with no hope of recompense. And so the town trudged up the hill, and rebuilt there.

The floods in Houston are said to be similarly rare, a once-in-five-lifetimes thing, even though other no-way storms and damage have hit with more yes-way frequency in recent years – Katrina, Sandy and the the 2016 Louisiana floods, to name but two. Just in my little corner of the world, we have inches-in-not-many-hours rain events nearly every year, filling basements, closing freeways and overwhelming infrastructure that once could handle anything. We had one last night, in fact. We had one last summer. In 2014, Detroit got four to six inches of rain in four hours one night in August, doing a cool $1 billion in damage. And chances are, you didn’t even hear about it.

Maybe it’s time to buy the baby some glasses. Climate change is a done deal, southern Louisiana is nearly lost, but perhaps we can start acknowledging that this thing our modern age did to the planet exists, and plan or modify our infrastructure accordingly. At the very least. Something.

Otherwise, it’s just us and the Cajun Navy, CNN, and the rest of this televised pathos-porn we love so much. Which is not enough.

So, bloggage:

This week also marks the 20th anniversary of the death of Princess Diana. A complicated woman, a tabula rasa for the princess fantasies of millions of young women, who were collectively flattened by her violent end in a traffic accident, as a drunk-driving chauffeur tried to outrun a pack of photographers. I stuck with that story three days before I couldn’t watch another minute, but it went on for three weeks, maybe more. It was a rare case of worldwide hysteria. I mostly remember snapshots:

My local Borders bookstore had a table set up with a blank notebook, where customers could write their thoughts and condolences, with the promise it would be sent to the royal family. The pen was one of those with a feather glued to a ballpoint, I guess because it seemed more princess-y. There was a bud vase with a single flower and a box of Kleenex. This was an exercise that would arouse strong emotions; you needed a tissue. I wonder whether the book was ever sent, and if so, which mail clerk in the royal retinue fed it to the furnace and whether he laughed over it first: “Nigel, it says ‘ere, ‘Charles U R a monster and U deserve that horseface hag.’ Ha-ha!”

The classic-car auction in Auburn, Ind. a couple days later featured a Rolls-Royce with a single claim to fame — it had been used to carry Charles and Diana around on one day of a years-earlier trip to the U.S. Which is to say, she had sat in it for… maybe an hour? Two, tops? Sounds about right. The auctioneer treated this thing like it was the jawbone of a saint with centuries worth of provenance to back it up. The dumbasses at the auction lined up to fling some gladiolus stems into the back seat, like they were seeing on TV in London. I’m sure some tissues were dampened there, too. That they were bestowing near-religious significance on a car, to commemorate the death of a woman who had just died in a car? This seemed lost on them.

I wrote a column after 10 days or so wondering if maybe we weren’t all getting a little overexcited. I received a letter from a woman accusing me of hating Diana for her beauty, because I was so plain. That’s the word she used — plain. I’ve been on Team Camilla ever since, because Plain Girls Rock, or at least Survive. Plain girls don’t date vapid playboys and entrust themselves to their private-sector chauffeurs, anyway. At least I hope not.

My favorite single detail of the whole tawdry affair: Four people were in that car, three of them unsecured, all of whom died. The fourth, the princess’ palace-issued bodyguard, was sitting in the passenger seat. He fastened his seat belt, and survived. Let’s all lift a glass to Trevor Rees-Jones, and remember to buckle up.

Oh, and here’s a Hilary Mantel essay about Diana.

Finally, I remember Alex met an earlier partner at an event in Huntington, Ind., called the Nut Fry. Apparently nut fries are a thing in Indiana, and no less an authority than Rex Early, aka a “GOP power broker” used to host one.

And now you know.

Posted at 8:45 pm in Current events | 71 Comments

Saturday night, special.

Sunday morning as I write this, a coolish one that reminds us of what lies ahead, but frankly, delightful to enjoy after weeks of swelter. I slept late because I stayed up late last night. The Schvitz, currently undergoing renovation, hosted a fight night party for the McGregor/Mayweather matchup. Ladies admitted free, freewill offering toward the construction fund appreciated.

I went alone, but met friends old and new, including the owner of a marijuana dispensary. The law is in flux here, with a new city ordinance and a state licensing system set to go online later this year. The old dispensary was closed, but a new one is planned. The owner was optimistic and promised it would be something fantastic. I forget the exact language he used, but he implied a Walmart of weed crossed with Nordstrom-level customer service, or something. Should be amusing to see, once it’s finished.

Was the fight worth staying up late for? Meh. Of course the outcome was foreordained, but McGregor delivered, staying upright for 10 rounds and only fouling his opponent with MMA-ish moves about a million times. I wish I could have enjoyed the memory of watching it a little longer, before reading somewhere — can’t recall where, so no link, sorry — that McGregor was the rooting choice of White America, and they’re taking his brave stand as a victory. Well, bully for those rednecks then. I’m feeling a little cranky these days, and I’m blaming it on TAJ, or Trump-adjusted terms, as the new phrase goes. McGregor won in Trump-adjusted terms.

I miss the days when our president didn’t impose himself into my consciousness so often. But that is the world we live in now.

Honestly, Friday’s events left me feeling discouraged and depressed. The more you learn about Joe Arpaio — and I encourage you to follow this Twitter thread, and click the links — the more repulsed, sad and insert-bad-emotion-here I got. And that was only one of the awful things that happened Friday. In an optimistic moment, it’s possible to see this shitshow as the last gasps of a dying corpse. When I’m feeling less so, I think: 60 million people voted for this shit.

Right now I have to get the house in order. We’re having guests for the “Game of Thrones” finale, and I need to do some prep work. In the meantime…

Remember Kirk Jones, the guy who went over Niagara Falls to his death that I wrote about a while back? The Detroit News did a deep dive — so to speak — on him. Nothing about his life is particularly surprising, and he fits the pattern of so many Niagara “daredevils,” who really should be called desperados, in the truest sense of the word. I still owe you guys a story about the Toby Tyler Circus, Jones’ brief employer. One of these days.

A good NYT piece on the best and worst places to be gay in America. I’m not spoiling things to note that most of the best places are in urban America.

Someone was looking for a book recommendation recently, can’t recall who. I can recommend “Mrs. Fletcher,” Tom Perrotta’s new novel over there on the nightstand. It’s funny and seemingly slight, but it has some interesting things to say about contemporary sex and sexuality. I guess I also have to read Joshua Green’s “Devil’s Bargain,” although I don’t want to, but I probably have to. I’ve heard good things. It’s going on the list.

And with that, off to whip up dessert, then do a little more shopping. Enjoy this lovely day, and give thanks you’re not Conor McGregor, who this morning probably feels like he was in a car accident. See you in roughly 48 hours.

Posted at 11:32 am in Current events, Detroit life | 67 Comments

Last weeks.

A shortish day, a longish week, and I am so ready for it to be over. How’s your Thursday/Friday/Saturday?

Oh, but what am I talking about? This is one of the fleeting final weeks of summer, and we should savor every minute of it.

That said, I still need a vacation.

I’m planning to do another version of last year’s Sunrises of Summer post, as I can’t seem to stop myself from taking a photo every day I see it. That’ll be for Labor Day. Today was the last day I’ll swim at the Shores pool, overlooking the lake. It’s such a lovely spot, and never lovelier than at sunrise, which comes later and later. In another month, it’ll be the equinox, then the slog to the solstice, and then we start our trip back into the light. This fourth-grade science lesson is brought to you by Got Nothing to Say.

So let’s skip to the bloggage.

Charlotte posted this the other day, but it took me a while to get through it and I’m here to tell you it’s worth your time — GQ’s odyssey in search of Dylann Roof. It’s, um, a powerful piece:

In Charleston, I learned about what happens when whiteness goes antic and is removed from a sense of history. It creates tragedies where black grandchildren who have done everything right have to testify in court to the goodness of the character of their slain 87-year-old grandmother because some unfettered man has taken her life. But I also saw in those families that the ability to stay imaginative, to express grace, a refusal to become like them in the face of horror, is to forever be unbroken. It reminds us that we already know the way out of bondage and into freedom. This is how I will remember those left behind, not just in their grief, their mourning so deep and so profound, but also through their refusal to be vanquished. That even when denied justice for generations, in the face of persistent violence, we insist with a quiet knowing that we will prevail. I thought I needed stories of vengeance and street justice, but I was wrong. I didn’t need them for what they told me about Roof. I needed them for what they said about us. That in our rejection of that kind of hatred, we reveal how we are not battling our own obsolescence. How we resist. How we rise.

Reporters know about outfits like the Congressional Budget Office. Most states have a local version of these wonk-nests, where apolitical number-crunchers estimate the financial implications of legislation proposed by politicians, and then attach it to bills, just so everybody knows what they’re voting for. Trump doesn’t like the CBO, says Steve Rattner:

Developing long-term projections — particularly for complex policies like health care — is exceptionally difficult. And by no means do C.B.O. analyses invariably prove correct.

But passing sweeping legislation without input from the budget office would be like planning a picnic without checking the weather forecast. Meteorologists are not always right either but imagine what life (and businesses such as agriculture) would be like without them.

Finally, my old newspaper is more or less folding — they’re dropping the paper-paper and going all-digital. I don’t even care. Shit happens.

But I hope it doesn’t happen on your weekend. Enjoy.

Posted at 9:32 pm in Current events | 70 Comments

Before and after.

I found some fascinating pictures online the other day:

Portraits of the first lady as a young woman, and as a young model, compared with today. I believe they were offered in the course of a Quora forum on what sort of plastic surgery she’s had, but I find them fascinating for other reasons. The first left-hand shot, I have to think, is Slovenia Melania, a pretty young woman hoping to become a model. Bottom left, Model Melania, already dating her share of wealthy pigs in hope of a permanent life here, but still hopeful in some way; maybe she’ll snag a hedge-fund manager closer to her age, one who stays in shape and remembers her birthday without having his secretary remind him.

And on the right, Melania Trump. I’m sure some combination of surgery and fillers and god knows what other witch-potion has given her that perma-squint, but even if we could see all the way past those flat brows and through the prickly hedge of her lashes, we’d find…maybe nothing? I’d love to put together a timeline of her modeling photos — because a model should have a zillion of them, right? — and see if we could find the exact moment when her soul left her body.

Midweek, feeling…midweek. The humidity is blowing out as we speak and will be replaced by clear, low-humidity, moderate-temperature loveliness, so I guess I will be enjoying it. Summer won’t last forever. Maybe an early-morning bike ride or something. Summer is fleeting; best enjoy it.

I was checking in on this and that today when that and this sent me over to Condoleeza Rice’s argument for why we should leave Confederate monuments where they are:

“I am a firm believer in ‘keep your history before you’ and so I don’t actually want to rename things that were named for slave owners,” she said Monday on Fox News.

“I want us to have to look at those names and recognize what they did and to be able to tell our kids what they did and for them to have a sense of their own history. When you start wiping out your history, sanitizing your history to make you feel better it’s a bad thing,” she said.

Huh. I remember when the Oklahoma City bombing memorial opened, an architecture critic noted how hard you have to look to find the name “Tim McVeigh” and there certainly isn’t a bronze rendering of him in that memorial. I haven’t been there, but I suspect he’s right, as someone who’s read approximately 10 million letters to the editor wondering why newspapers put the name of accused killers on the front page, WHEN THAT’S WHAT THEY WANT.

Is there a statue of Osama bin Laden at the 9/11 memorial? Yeah, I didn’t think so.

Ignore the typos in this post to get a sense of just how ridiculous the Kid Rock for Senate campaign really is:

The July poll that went viral on the Internet, lifting Kid Rock as a serious contender for U.S. Senate, may have been created by a fake polling firm to cash in on lucrative bets related to the 2018 Michigan elections.

According to FiveThirtyEight, numbers from a mid-July poll incredulously showed the raunchy musician from Romeo (Mich.) leading Democratic incumbent Debbie Stabenow by a 30-26 percent gap. That raised questions among political pros whether this whole episode was a scam.

First, the so-called polling firm, Digital Analytica, had existed for about a week prior to the highly publicized poll of July 14-18. Second, there are some indications that this shadowy group may be engaged in cashing in on an online gambling website, PredictIt, which offers the opportunity for betters to make wagers on political matters relating to future elections and the advancement of political figures.

People around here are still click-whoring on this nonsense. I hope it can stop now.

Happy middle of the week to you. Next week’s a short one. Whew.

Posted at 8:47 pm in Current events | 100 Comments

Just keep swimming.

When some of the people I swim with started signing up for an open-water race this summer, I hesitated, then thought what the hell. The thing I always liked best about riding was getting away from the schooling ring circles and doing what the discipline called for — jumping fences, hacking out in the countryside, whatever.

So why not get out of the pool? In entering, I chose a distance other than the shortest one (1.2 miles, with the other choices being .5 mile, 5K and 10K), and set some goals, in order of escalating ambition and reverse order of likelihood of achievement:

1) Don’t drown.
2) Finish.
3) Don’t finish at the back of my age group.
4) Win my age group.

The swim was Sunday, and I made it to No. 3. It was way harder than I anticipated, mainly because open-water swimming layers on another skill neglected in the pool: Staying on course. Also, navigating a start, when a zillion people all plunge into the lake and start swimming for the first buoy. An older woman I was chatting with beforehand advised starting toward the back of the pack, but we still had a scrum before the faster people surged to the front and the rest of us strung out behind. At one point I reached forward for a stroke and my hand landed flat on some woman’s ass. Sor-reee! But then the hard part started, i.e., figuring out why I’d sight the buoy and start off in that direction, and check again in a hundred yards and discover I was headed in a different direction. Nothing seemed to work, and I think I probably added a big chunk of yardage just zigzagging all over the place, trying to stay on course.

But the turnaround finally came, and as I started back, I thought, man, this is taking a long time. After I finished and collapsed on the grass to recover, a guy eating a banana next to me said he’d been wearing a swim watch, and the course was 2,800 yards, or nearly 1.6 miles. Oh, well. My time was atrocious — 1:05, but I finished fourth in my age group, which I believe was Pre-Medicare Crones. Three other crones were behind me. The age-group winner was 15 minutes faster, however, so better luck next year.

The distance group first-place finishers were 13 (M) and 27 (F). They were probably eating ice cream in Ann Arbor by the time I dragged my ass up the beach. But I’m glad I did it. The weather was perfect and I finally got to experience the culture of the professionally run amateur sporting event. Which is to say, I got a T-shirt, a medal and a new swim cap.

So. Monday is Eclipse Day, and in filling the nation’s pages, feeds and airwaves with related garbage masquerading as journalism, NBC News went with the Scrooge angle: The eclipse will cost America almost $700 million in lost productivity. Please join me in a hearty fuck-you to whichever economist pulled that number out of his butt. Americans really love this sort of self-laceration, which in its own way beats anything ever put on a Soviet propaganda poster. I once read a lost-productivity analysis of the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue. OMG the carnage in the bottom line. I can’t even.

If you’re lucky enough to be in the path of totality and have clear skies, I hope you leave your work station, go outside and have the human experience of marveling at our cosmos. I plan to.

Some more bloggage, then? Sure:

I know what whattaboutism is, but I didn’t know it was a Cold War tactic, only that it has in my experience been wielded mainly by certain conservatives I’ve known, who couldn’t acknowledge the mistake of one of their own without saying, “But what about Bill Clinton? Huh?” Here’s an explainer on the history of whattaboutism.

And just to tie up last week’s threads, I’m not the only one who has noticed the peculiar influence of the College Republicans on the greater party:

The pool of people the Republican Party will be drawing from when selecting candidates a generation from now will contain these men and hardly anyone else. Cvjetanovic wasn’t the only marcher photographed with a current Republican elected official. Allsup, the erstwhile WSU College Republicans president, was photographed with Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers. “I communicate with people from their office on a fairly regular basis,” he told his student paper a few months ago, also mentioning that members of his organization had earned internships and jobs in her office.

This is the state of the GOP leadership pipeline. In a decade, state legislatures will start filling up with Gamergaters, MRAs, /pol/ posters, Anime Nazis, and Proud Boys. These are, as of now, the only people in their age cohort becoming more active in Republican politics in the Trump era. Everyone else is fleeing. This will be the legacy of Trumpism: It won’t be long before voters who reflexively check the box labeled “Republican” because their parents did, or because they think their property taxes are too high, or because Fox made them scared of terrorism, start electing Pepe racists to Congress.

Hey, even the National-goddamn-Review has noticed.

Man, am I beat. “Game of Thrones,” then off to bed for me. This girl is going to sleep well tonight. Hope you do, too.

Posted at 9:31 am in Current events, Same ol' same ol' | 50 Comments