No money, no problems.

Every so often someone will ask me if I’ve ever considered “monetizing” this blog. After I finish wiping tears of laughter from my eyes, I consider my options and conclude, yet again, that it ain’t gonna happen. Mostly because of my laziness, but also because I simply don’t care who reads this blog, or how many people read this blog, or even whether this blog exists into the next year, or the year after that. I have no idea what my traffic is. I haven’t checked my analytics in at least a decade, and don’t even know how I’d do it. Probably Google, but honestly? Who gives a shit.

In January, I think we’ll be coming up on — what is it, J.C.? — 23 years? I think so. I was a blogger before blogging was cool. Only MySpace and LiveJournal, maybe a few others, pre-date NN.C. Then, post 9/11, blogging got hot, and cooled off when the enthusiastic adopters realized you have to update the things once in a while, and what a pain in the ass that is. Then social media came along and destroyed it outright, because if you can’t say it in 140 characters, what’s the point? And yet, on I trudge, like the anachronistic crone I increasingly suspect I am. Yesterday I went to a party wearing skinny jeans. All the younger women — and everyone was younger than me — were in bootcut jeans, and it reminded me that skinnies are out-out-out, but oh well. This blog is like the woman who won’t go outdoors unless she’s wearing a hat and gloves.

Personally, I don’t think I look good in bootcut pants, plus I HAVE ALL THESE GREAT BOOTS and goddamn they need to be seen, not hidden under a bell of denim. I guess I could wear more skirts, but what if I have to get on a horse? Or a bicycle? Just doesn’t work.

And that, friends, is why I won’t be signing up with Substack anytime soon. Because of MySpace, jeans and boots. You can’t monetize that kind of meandering. Besides, J.C. has me with WordPress, and it is a fantastic content platform. In my paid work, every so often I’m asked to update a particular business’ website, and it, too, is on WordPress. Sometimes it takes me a while to get the update done, but so far I’ve always been able to do it. I told my boss that WordPress is like walking into an unfamiliar kitchen to make lunch. You may have to open a few drawers to find the right utensils, but you’ll find them. You won’t have to look under the pillows in the bedroom for the spoons.

And I suspect WordPress will still be around when Substack, et al, join MySpace in the great internet beyond, drifting like ghost ships, or space junk, or whatever metaphor you prefer.

Speaking of that party yesterday, a pro tip: If you day-drink, know when to stop, and even then you’ll probably feel like damp garbage afterward. Also, even excellent champagne is no substitute for good hydration. I’ll leave it there. But it was a fun party. Now the week, the last week before the holidays, begins. This should be the merry-and-joy week, but I suspect here at my house it’ll be the oh-my-god-we’re-out-of-tape week, the when-was-the-last-time-we-mopped-the-kitchen week, and of course the grocery-store-onslaught week. But it still lasts only seven days.

OK, a little bloggage, then:

Would you like to invest in Detroit real estate? Here ya go:

I saw this on Facebook Marketplace. Asking $180,000. Listed 13 weeks ago. Some caveats apply, of course:


All 1 bed 1 bath units
Message for address and more details

But would you look at that beauty, and imagine what it might have been like to live there in, say, 1940. The ground-floor units with that little covered patio — imagine sitting out there on a warm spring night, listening to the rain. The second-floor units, with walk-out decks on top of them. All the rest. I don’t know if the one-bed-one-bath deal was the original configuration, or if it got carved up later. But yes, NEEDS FULL REHAB. There are some developers who are taking on projects like this, but as always: Location, location, location.

And speaking of outdated content platforms, I stumbled across this the other day, a glimpse of Benjamin Dreyer, of “Dreyer’s English,” before he was famous. Here’s his annotation of the first paragraph of Shirley Jackson’s “The Haunting of Hill House,” and if you want to know what an editor’s job is like, read. I’ve known only a handful of editors even a fraction this skilled and thoughtful, and considered it a privilege to work with them.

OK, then. I got up early this morning and the murk is just now lightening to somewhat-less-murky in the sky outdoors. (Confession: I really don’t mind the murk, this time of year, except when I do. It’s like permission to not be outdoors, and I’m fine with that when it’s cold.) Enjoy your murk, or sunshine, wherever you are. And start on your to-do lists before you have to besiege the grocery store! Thank me later!

Posted at 7:44 am in Detroit life, Housekeeping | 30 Comments


Someone suggested I think about starting a Substack newsletter in my, ahem, retirement. I have thought about it, and I’m troubled by a few things:

1) Many days, I have very little to say, and would feel terrible charging anyone for it.

2) Even if I did the free thing, what if Substack goes toes-up? Another migration of content I don’t need.

3) It’s my goal to have the last surviving blog in the world.

Seriously, though, while I have no doubt at least some of you suckers lovely people might be generous enough to give me $20, $30 or $40 a year to read what I have to say, I don’t know that I could accept it, even though I firmly believe writing is work that is worth paying for. I have subscriptions to several paid Substacks (fave: Roy Edroso Breaks It Down), and several more to unpaid Substacks – a common setup is one freebie a week, and one or more bonus editions for the paying guests – and already it’s starting to annoy me; as a sales tactic, either the platform or the individual writers will send out teaser editions, with five grafs of writing, then a “want more? you gotta subscribe” pitch. There’s no easy way to know if the email you’re about to open is the complete freebie or the incomplete teaser.

I think, at least for now, this will remain a free-to-all space. I feel no pressure to produce if I’m feeling down or empty (although I usually do, unfortunately). I have a friend who uses Substack to write short fiction, with the gimmick that he does it every single day. A short story a day, going on more than two years now. Every so often he pitches for more subscribers, and he sounds almost angry that more people aren’t signing up. Writing fiction is hard work for sure, but it should also have something to say, or be entertaining, or be something other than a gimmick, which it inevitably becomes when you’ve pledged to produce it every single day.

I don’t want or need another job like that. There’s an argument to be made for taking it easy. I will write as long as I’m able, but having just finished 40 years of deadlines, I won’t take on any more right now. Now that we’re in our (gasp) third decade here, I’ll stick with dumb ol’ WordPress a little longer.

I was an early adopter of blogging, and now I’m a dead-ender of blogging. Me and Neil Steinberg, hangin’ in there. In a Laura Lippman line I’ve certainly quoted here before: She never met a rut she couldn’t love.

If a crisis hits and I have to beg for money, we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it.

I’ll tell you this: One of my goals for post-work is to raise my game here. Won’t be so busy, will have more time to think things through. Fingers crossed.

Bloggage: I don’t think this story is paywalled. It is instructive, however, about some of the candidates invited to a “Call to Action” conference hosted by Church Militant, which is a far-far-far-right Catholic outfit here. Here’s our Republican candidate for Michigan Secretary of State:

“We see the authoritarians that have taken over the Democratic Party, the traitors that exist in our own party. We understand that we the people have got to rise up, get involved,” Karamo said, sharing a couch with Arizona Republican secretary of state nominee Mark Finchem.

The two are part of the America First Secretary of State Coalition, a group of election deniers vying to serve as their states’ top election administrators that includes those campaigning on a blend of stolen election claims and evangelism. Their campaigns appear to be part of a larger Christian nationalist movement marked by radical religious and political views, according to experts.

…”Part of my passion is to get more Christians involved in government,” she said during the panel. “We’re not trying to establish a theocracy,” she emphasized later. The “justice and the truth that we are fighting for” is for everyone, not just Christians, she said. “We just hope at the end of the day, they come to Christ.”

Ai-yi-yi. She doesn’t have much of a chance, but still.

Meanwhile, the two mopes who plotted to kidnap the governor were convicted today. Good news for midweek. See you all later. Tip your waitress, but not me.

Posted at 9:28 pm in Current events, Housekeeping | 46 Comments

Summer of Nance.

I was going to write something last night, but I had a date with three former colleagues at a steakhouse about an hour away, and I opted to do that instead. Never turn down a chance to have a two-hour meat house date with fun people. I listened to “Twelve Dreams of Dr. Sardonicus” on the way home, very loud, and decided I don’t care how many people OK-boomer me, that record is great and I will not apologize for loving it.

It’s the Summer of Nance, I’ve decided. All healthy eating, self-improvement, open windows, warm breezes, old music and weeknights out in Howell, Michigan.

First, a housekeeping note: I don’t know what was going on with the page not loading on your iPhones, etc. I try not to bother J.C. with every little thing, but the other day I noticed the spam filter on my NN.c email has seemingly dissolved. Every day I have to kill a couple dozen penis-enlargement emails, and no matter how many times I mark them as junk/spam, it doesn’t seem to learn. This, J.C. suggests, is a server problem, at least in part, so who knows, maybe they’re going through some things at Dreamhost.

Anyway, J.C. is going away on Sunday for two weeks in the Galapagos Islands, so we must all keep our fingers crossed that nothing goes awry in his absence.

Another housekeeping note, but really just self-promotion: I had a chance to write the “I Wish I’d Been There” column for Echoes magazine, published by the Ohio History connection, and it was published in recent days. The e-reader is a little awkward, but just drag the slider to page 46 and there it is: A moment of Ohio history I wish I’d have observed directly, when Elvis Costello and Bonnie Bramlett got into a fistfight at the Holiday Inn in downtown Columbus. To the credit of Bill Eichenberger, who asked me to do it, I must say that column has a nice, playful spirit. I read one about 10-cent beer night at Cleveland Stadium to get a feel for the voice, then noticed the byline: Erik Harden, son of my old Dispatch colleague Mike. Small world.

Note to Dorothy: When I went into the clips from the separate Costello and Stephen Stills shows from that night, the byline on the review of the Costello show? Mark Ellis. Jeff Borden wrote about Stills. I always thought concert reviews were a waste of time, unless it was for a show that was going multiple nights, but then, newspapers used to have space to burn. They needed to fill those pages somehow.

I had trouble falling asleep last night — too much food — and saw the news about Shinzo Abe’s assassination on Twitter. I will always remember him as the guy who rolled his eyes at Donald Trump’s asshole handshake move. Of course, Ivanka is all torn up:

She of course chose a photo that included Herself. “My government service,” lol.

And now I have to prep for the day, so adieu, which is also a good first word in Wordle. See you after the weekend.

Posted at 9:36 am in Current events, Housekeeping | 42 Comments

How did we get here?

Although it came up by surprise, I’ve been thinking about the blogversary lately. When I started this in January 2001, I never, ever, ever thought it would go on this long. I feel like I started skiing down a very long hill and haven’t reached the bottom yet. Blogs hadn’t even gotten hot yet, then. I was an early adopter. Then 9/11 happened, and everybody had a blog – remember? The “warblogs,” every other one written by an asshole? Then the warbloggers beamed up to what was then called the MSM, or moved on to their own companies like, what was that? Pajamas Media? Yeesh.

Then blogs pretty much went away entirely, and it was all about social media. Now it’s Substacks and newsletters, which are just blogs in different form.

And on and on, NN.C grinds. As Laura Lippman once wrote, I never met a rut I couldn’t love.

Not that it’s been a rut. Now that there are, whoa, 21 years of archives over there on the left rail, I have an imperfect record of them. It’s not a journal; I can’t live entirely online. But it’s interesting to see how things change, what was upsetting me in…2007 or so. I admit that from time to time I think about chucking it all, maybe writing a book. But if I did write a book, I’d need a place to promote it, so…on I plug.

Glad you all who are here still show up to check it out. Admittedly, I haven’t checked my analytics in more than a decade. This might be a very thinly attended cocktail party, after all.

I should have more to say, but I’m out of gas. It’s been a long week, and now it’s cold again. For 10 days it’ll be like this, we’re promised. Ugh.

Something to read: Me, on the No. 1 asshole car in Metro Detroit — and many other cities.

Have a great weekend.

Posted at 9:25 pm in Housekeeping | 60 Comments

Schedule wonked out.

Greetings, somewhat late today. I had my second shot yesterday, then came home to write something (for work) before the dread second-shot side effects set in, and that ate up my blogging time.

You can read the thing I wrote here. It’s a local story, but those of you who follow HGTV — hi, Pam! — might recognize one of the parties involved. I’m pretty happy with how it turned out; it’s a both-sides condemnation that actually seems justified.

And with that, I will dip out. You have a fresh thread for the weekend now. I should also add a couple housekeeping notes:

Sorry for those of you who have had comments hung up in moderation. I don’t always get to them immediately — email issues not worth getting into — and if you’d like to avoid them in the future, this is what lands you in that particular holding pen:

Posting from a different IP address, posting from a different email address or name, or putting too many links in your comment. I thought it was set at two links, but maybe just keep it to one to be safe. And if you end up there, feel free to comment again, double-checking the stuff I just mentioned.

Let’s all hold hands and have a little cry for Prince Philip, too. I’ll be back Sunday/Monday, on schedule, I devoutly hope.

By the way, I’m still waiting for the side effects. Sore arm is it, so far, at 25 hours post-shot.

Posted at 2:01 pm in Detroit life, Housekeeping | 55 Comments

Happy anniversary to us.

Wednesday — or maybe it’s Thursday — will be the 20-damn-year anniversary of this stupid blog. Why am I still here? What the hell is wrong with me? I’ve been doing this so long that I was ahead of the curve to even start a blog, plowed through when they collapsed, and now anticipate another swell, now that the psychopaths are being kicked off the social-media platforms.

J.C. got me into this. His blog is still alive, but it has gone into hibernation for months at a time, hell, maybe years. He recently resurrected it, but the last entry was a month ago, so: I guess I win.

I mention J.C. because in my estate folder, there’s an envelope with his name on it. It contains the passwords to all my social media accounts, and bequeaths the millions and millions of words here to him. If he survives me, I ask that he kill my Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, whatever other social-media foolishness I get myself into, and in return, he can do whatever he wants with this thing. Publish it as the world’s longest book, download it to a hard drive and fire it into the sun, whatever he thinks best.

But who knows when that will happen? For now, we celebrate! Open the champagne! Put on some peppy tunes! And let’s hope we’re still here in 2021. Alan will be around shortly with the canapés.

But I guess most of you would rather discuss the other momentous event happening Wednesday. I gotta say, every photo I see of Trump looking defeated and pouty is like sweet sweet her-oyne going right up the main line. I expect at least one network I can get via Hulu will cover it live, and if not, there’s always the internet. But I want to see this on a wiiiide screen. It’s not porn; porn would be any Trump or cabinet member taking a perp walk in handcuffs. But it’ll do.

Speaking of deep satisfaction, check this out: The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel ran an editorial calling for Sen. Ron Johnson to resign. He bitched and demanded a response, which they allowed him to submit. But! The editors footnoted it. It’s hilarious.

Oh, and this: The just-released 1776 report? Has a major cut-and-paste section.

Read it between swearings-in. Our long national nightmare is…not over, but not quite as awful as it was maybe yesterday.

Posted at 9:00 pm in Current events, Housekeeping | 140 Comments

Road trip ahead.

Housekeeping note: Posting next week will be light, as I’ll be taking off on Wednesday to visit J.C. and Sammy in the U.P., where the cell coverage — with our carrier, anyway — is very very sketchy. As I recall, if you position your phone just so in a particular corner of the cottage, you can maybe conduct a short chat if you don’t mind getting your call dropped.

But that’s fine. I could use a little break. It’s very hot here.

Before I head out, though, I got a COVID test. Just to be sure. I went to the city of Detroit’s drive-through testing center, and besides the setting — the ruins of the state fairgrounds — it was an entirely pleasant experience. The whole thing ran like a Swiss watch.

It was sad to see the fairgrounds, though. I grew up in a state-fair town, and looked forward to it all summer, even as I knew that the arrival of the state fair meant summer was in its final stretch. But what a stretch — it was like the finale of a fireworks show, full of corn on the cob and Tom Thumb donuts and grandstand shows and barns full of blue-ribbon livestock and…so much more. Admittedly, the Michigan state fair was never a match for Ohio’s, but I was an adult by then. I took Kate a few times, and got to go through the Poultry, Rabbits and Pigeons building, among many others.

But the state subsidy was cut off during the financial crisis, and what remains of the state fair now meets in a horrible exurban convention center, while the O.G. fairgrounds slowly decay.

The test was…pretty much as expected. A swab goes a mile up your nose, and just at the point you’re knocking your shoes together and ready to scream, it comes out and you’re on your way. Hope to get the results before I roll north.

So I wish you a good weekend, and maybe you’ll be ready to read this: An oral-history retelling of the first Gathering of the Juggalos, 20 years ago this month. It was quite something, got the band banned from the Novi convention center, and sparked this recollection, among others:

We arrived that morning of the Gathering, our bus pulled in at like 7 or 8 in the morning. And we got down to the venue and the line was already 3.5 miles long. I thought we were going to get there and there would be 300 people, it was a pleasant surprise to see that I wasn’t the only one, and to see that wow, there’s people all over the world that are just like me. As different as we are, we have that common band, and it felt like a family.

It’s not like a family. It is a family. A dysfunctional one, but still.

Posted at 8:51 pm in Current events, Housekeeping | 61 Comments

Some thoughts at week’s end.

OK, then! Back-to-back 12-hour days, my legs are sore, I feel fat as hell and now, god help me, I’m taking advantage of the next hour or so by watching a Tyler Perry movie on Amazon.

I don’t think I’ve ever watched a Tyler Perry movie. Some people I kinda-sorta knew when the film tax credits were going strong in Michigan now work a lot in Georgia, and they work in Perry’s film factory quite a bit. And a factory it is, pumping out morality plays, but what the hell, it’s a living. The people I know who work on films have a different measure of whether one is any good. Do the checks clear? Then it’s good. Good enough, anyway.

Boy, does this movie suck. Have you ever heard of a simple car accident not bad enough to crinkle a bumper giving a woman “ruptured ovaries?” Yeah, me neither. “Acrimony” — look it up. Even Taraji P. Henson can’t save it.

So now the weekend is approaching. It feels like breaking a tape, but mainly it’s just a matter of making lists of things to do, then doing them, then starting it all again next week.

I hope there will be some reading.

Some things you might be able to read:

I know you’re sick of Roseanne Barr — so am I. Worth reading, anyway.

A friend posted this on her Facebook, and the first comment was, “Nikki Haley can go fuck herself.” Headline: What it’s like living in a country where giving birth costs $60. Second graf:

It started when presidential candidate and longtime Medicare for All advocate Bernie Sanders tweeted that it costs an average of $12,000 to have a baby in the United States, compared to just $60 in Finland — at which point former U.N. ambassador Nikki Haley decided to weigh in. “Alright @BernieSanders, you’re not the woman having the baby so I wouldn’t be out there talking about skimping on a woman when it comes to childbirth. Trust me! Nice try though,” she replied, adding, “Health care costs are too high that is true but comparing us to Finland is ridiculous. Ask them how their health care is. You won’t like their answer.”

You know how it went, right? Finnish maternity care is superior in every way, going well beyond the famous baby box. I’m so sick of this bullshit. Nikki Haley can absolutely go fuck herself.

Here’s something I wrote the other day, about a Detroit R&B oddity who died Sunday. Deadline Detroit appreciates the clicks.

(All of the above was written Thursday night. Friday morning addendum below.)

Neil Steinberg, most definitely a top-five blogger, wrote something the other day that kinda chilled me. After a discussion of how things end, with some elegant snatches of poetry, he dropped this:

Honestly, I read the poem and, inspired, thought of posting it here and quitting the blog cold after five years. Here, figure this out, good-bye. Because whatever the world wants, this obviously is not it. Five years is plenty.

Spoiler alert: He decides to go on. But every January I pass the anniversary of this blog, which has been going on since 2001. Not every goddamn day, but most goddamn days until recently, when I shortened it to three days a week and lately it’s coming in at two. Honestly, this has been a tough winter for me, and there have been days, many of them, when I just want to pack it in. This makes me worry that I’m losing some essential edge, some drive; doesn’t a writer write because they have to? I mean, because it’s an urge, not an obligation? If I’m dry, then this is it, right? Retirement, a rocking chair, Social Security and a final wave en route to the grave? My friends are starting to retire, and an amazing number of them (which is to say, two or three) have expressed a desire to never, ever do what they did all their careers. No hobby journalism for them. They’re out, and happy to be out.

It has to end sometime. Steinberg’s been doing this five years, I’ve been at it for 18. Eighteen years when I should have been writing books, right? But so many of the people I know who write books don’t have an audience at all — they’ve dropped their work into a well of sorts, all that work for one or two respectful reviews and then, nothing. At least here I have feedback. And it’s a discipline, and that is very important for writers. Laura Lippman does 1,000 words a day. You can fritter away a lifetime intending to write, but not doing it. It’s a muscle. It needs exercise.

But man, am I tired. And it’s snowing.

I’m not quitting. And I’m not fishing for encouragement. I’m just giving you an update on why I’ve been scarce here. The blog will go on, but one day it won’t. (I’ve actually added a short letter to our estate paperwork, bequeathing the contents of this blog, all XX years of blather, comments, links, dustups, changes, all of it – to J.C. Burns, who can do with it whatever he likes. That’s assuming he outlives me. I hope he does.)

What a merry ending, eh? I am off to the gym, to re-sore my legs. Have a great weekend, all. I will be back. Promise.

Posted at 9:33 am in Current events, Housekeeping | 36 Comments

A personal slide show.

I spent part of a busy weekend migrating my photos to Google’s photo app. I’m trying to extend the life of my phone a while longer; at four, it’s apparently ancient, at least according to the tech writers covering the new generation of iPhones, who assume everyone in the world wants a new phone every year.

Anyway, with G-photo doing auto backups at the default quality, I can delete all the ones on my phone and free up some space for more crap, like scooter-rental apps. Twice in the last week I’ve wanted to grab a scooter and spare my aching feet (plantar fasciitis acting up), only to find the available ones were from the company I don’t have the app for, dammit.

But that’s a tangent. Google photos are amazing. As soon as it synced with my phone, it started sorting everything, with almost terrifying accuracy. It recognized Kate’s face in pix taken from age 3 to present day. It recognized our old neighbor Allie with a full set of dreadlocks and a shaved head. At first it thought Spriggy and Wendy were the same dog, but once I corrected it, boom, two folders. Then, sometime overnight, it got into “things.” There are 41 Things folders; and I’m sure more are coming. It sorted food pix into Baking and Cooking. Landforms are divided by Beaches, Cliffs, Waterfalls, Caves, etc.

It’s not 100 percent accurate — it put all my sunrise pix into a folder called Sunsets, which bugged me, because what, it can spot my daughter’s eyebrows in a group picture from a homecoming dance six years ago, but not read a time stamp? The Flowers folder includes shots of a birthday cake for J.C., which included a frosting flower on top. But that cake is also in Baking, so no biggie.

It got me to spend some time with old photos this weekend, which most of us don’t do. It also dug up pix I thought had long been deleted, including this one, which I’m calling “selfies are stupid:”

(There are about three dozen selfies in my G-photo account.)

Here’s the view from the top floor of Michigan Central Station, after the official launch event Ford put on in June:

That’s going to be nice when it’s finished, assuming it gets finished.

It was a pretty good weekend — dinner with friends, a bike ride, and a Saturday-night stop at an after-hours party, whoop di do for a person who’s generally asleep by 11. I regret to say the after-hours was nothing much, though — fun enough, but I’ve been to a million of these so far, and the only difference between the legal, before-closing variety and this one was: Open marijuana smoking and nitrous balloons for recreational gas-sipping. Not my thing, although I do remember a party in Fort Wayne where a friend offered that particular canapé, and ran into his landlord when he was carrying the tank in — “Carl, I didn’t know you were a scuba diver!,” etc.

I don’t really have any bloggage today. I stopped reading Kavanaugh takes Friday afternoon, because I’m full-up and only awaiting the inevitable confirmation vote. And Kavanaugh takes were all there were to read this weekend.

Well, there was Tom & Lorenzo on Lady Gaga. I generally agree, although I think her boobs look like they’re in pain.

So let’s face the week ahead with strength and honor. It beats cowardice and scandal.

Posted at 6:45 pm in Current events, Housekeeping | 59 Comments

So long, suckers.

Another week where the news has pretty much defeated any effort to keep up with it, make sense of it, put it in context. I woke up about an hour ago and reached for my iPad to scroll Twitter and see what happened overnight. I learned:

There is potentially another Trump in the world, Qanon lunatics got into the Oval Office for photo ops this week and Infowars is telling the world that John Kerry is connected to an Antarctica energy beam that split a hurricane apart.

We booked the ticket a while back, but it appears the train has arrived in Crazytown. Please check around your immediate area for any small items you may have brought on board before you exit.

So I’m going on vacation. We’re spending a few days in Toronto. It’ll be nice to visit a sane country for a while. I intend to see Lake Ontario, eat some good food, maybe check out the racks at the big Uniqlo store, perhaps buy some skin-care serums at The Ordinary shops there. Beyond that, no plans. I will post some photos, depending on the quality of the wifi at our rental.

Haven’t had a vacation in a year. This will be nice. If they shut down the country in our absence, we will come as far as Windsor and wave at y’all. Or maybe we’ll stay in TO. Such a nice city — it’s “New York as run by the Swiss.” You ever hear that one?

I actually think about that sometimes. How I might behave in a national emergency, that is. The Handmaid’s Tale got me considering borders and the crossing thereof in a martial law-type situation. I can’t run anymore, so I’m glad we have a boat. I’m glad we have a kayak. I’m glad I can swim. I know the narrowest point in the Detroit River. Of course it’s all the sort of paranoid fantasy one considers on a long bike ride, or while turning laps in the pool, but you know, World War II wasn’t that long ago. Europeans had to decide which side they were playing for, and how they might resist if they opted to go that way. One thing I know is, if anything like that were to happen here, it would be a lot stupider, because we’d have Twitter and Fox News.

Before I leave, a few items:

The Michigan State alumni magazine, Spartan, tried to address the Larry Nassar situation in its summer issue. It was overruled from the president’s office. The student newspaper — God bless student newspapers everywhere — got a copy of one of the scratched covers. It’s remarkable. So is this passage:

The original teal-laden version of the summer 2018 MSU alumni magazine, aiming to “build a path to a better future,” was stripped down and changed to Spartan green.

The State News obtained the original special issue of the MSU alumni magazine from someone close to the administration of Interim President John Engler. This version, solely focused on ex-MSU doctor Larry Nassar’s sexual abuse and issues surrounding it, was not distributed to alumni.

Engler scrapped the three potential covers, according the Detroit Free Press, of a woman donning teal lipstick, a single teal ribbon and a wall of 60 teal ribbons all bearing the title “Finding Our Way” from a special issue of the MSU alumni magazine.

A Spartan green background, with a quote from Engler praising the university for having emerged from its “most difficult challenge in its history,” replaced these covers.

Propaganda is everywhere. Always.

A ProPublica essay to consider: Why Manafort and Cohen Thought They’d Get Away With It. Here’s some yup-yup-yup right here:

But how anomalous are Mssrs. Manafort and Cohen? Are there legions of K Street big shots working for foreign despots and parking their riches in Cypriot bank accounts to avoid the IRS? Are many political campaigns walking felonies waiting to be exposed? What about the world of luxury residential building in which Cohen plied his trade with the Trump Organization?

The answer is more disturbing than the questions: We don’t know. We don’t know because the cops aren’t on the beat. Resources have been stripped from white-collar enforcement. The FBI shifted agents to work on international terror in the wake of 9/11. White-collar cases made up about one-tenth of the Justice Department’s cases in recent years, compared with one-fifth in the early 1990s. The IRS’ criminal enforcement capabilities have been decimated by years of budget cuts and attrition. The Federal Election Commission is a toothless organization that is widely flouted.

No wonder Cohen and Manafort were so brazen. They must have felt they had impunity.

Finally, I imagine John McCain will no longer be with us by the time I post again. So farewell to a man who aspired to greatness, achieved it fleetingly, was as flawed as any of us and unleashed Sarah Palin upon us. Requiesicat in pace.

When I see you again, I’ll be using plastic money. (Not a card. Canadian cash is plastic. For reals. Another innovation that, in this country, would first be blocked by the vending-machine industry and then by paranoid lunatics.)

Posted at 7:53 am in Current events, Housekeeping | 124 Comments