The surveillance state.

I back up my phone to Google Photos, and it’s starting to freak me out. The first thing it does when you upload your library is, it starts to look for matching faces, then asks you if you want to ID that face and make an album. I did this for my family members and close friends; it makes searching for pictures much easier.

It was a little unnerving that it could tell 4-year-old Kate was the same as 24-year-old Kate (although it couldn’t tell Wendy from Kevin, and they share only modest similarities). But then today, it flagged this photo, a throwaway from Kate’s high-school graduation in 2015. Who’s this guy, it asked:

That’s Kate’s friend Will. I ID’d him as such, and pretty soon it put this pic, from March 2020, in that album:

Man, I’d be hard-pressed to say that was the same kid; his appearance is pretty different there. Like Kate, Will is a musician. His band is the Stools (and they’re great). And Google stuffed these pics, from last summer’s Labor Day festival in Hamtramck, in there:

At least in that one, he looks close to his high-school self. And as for this, I can only assume it figured that since we know he’s White T-Shirt Guy in the pictures taken close to one another at the same location, that’s probably the back of White T-Shirt Guy’s head, too:

I realize this is just an AI thing, but it’s a bit unsettling. Will’s a good kid, but I hate to think we’re all out there somewhere, and Google Knows All.

But that horse has left the barn.

Meanwhile, here’s a picture of Kate from Friday night, when her other band, GiGi, played at a local punk/garage fest at a bar nearby. Someone was setting off fireworks nearby, and it made for some nice shots:

Well, it happened: I no sooner announce my exit from journalism than my swim coach pitched me on being a lifeguard at the Grosse Pointe Shores (or any other GP pool) next summer. Not sure if I want to do it, but it could be fun. My career, it takes a turn!

In bloggage, I have only this, which many of you have already seen, but on the tiny chance someone hasn’t, it’s so, so worth a click: A withering takedown of Jared Kushner’s White House memoir:

Every political cliché gets a fresh shampooing. “Even in a starkly divided country, there are always opportunities to build bridges,” Kushner writes. And, quoting the former White House deputy chief of staff Chris Liddell: “Every day here is sand through an hourglass, and we have to make it count.” So true, for these are the days of our lives.

Kushner, poignantly, repeatedly beats his own drum. He recalls every drop of praise he’s ever received; he brings these home and he leaves them on the doorstep. You turn the pages and find, almost at random, colleagues, some of them famous, trying to be kind, uttering things like:

It’s really not fair how the press is beating you up. You made a very positive contribution.

I don’t know how you do this every day on so many topics. That was really hard! You deserve an award for all you’ve done.

I’ve said before, and I’ll say again. This agreement would not have happened if it wasn’t for Jared.

Jared did an amazing job working with Bob Lighthizer on the incredible USMCA trade deal we signed yesterday.

Jared’s a genius. People complain about nepotism — I’m the one who got the steal here.

I’ve been in Washington a long time, and I must say, Jared is one of the best lobbyists I’ve ever seen.

A therapist might call these cries for help.

And then there’s the eye-goo line. But you’ve already seen that in a million places.

OK, time to take on my second-to-last week in journalism. Short-timer! What a feeling.

Posted at 4:47 pm in Current events, Same ol' same ol' | 35 Comments
 

My first network.

The first social network I joined was LinkedIn. J.C. advised me to, I think, or maybe he just told me about it. I joined, and spent years deleting emails about people who wanted to connect with me, or endorse me, or whatever. It was utterly useless; no one in journalism used LinkedIn, but my network grew, like a determined but unattended houseplant. Finally, sick of the emails, I took a deep breath and deleted my account. My first breaking of social-media shackles! Yay me.

A few months later I found myself laid off and looking for work. The first thing I learned in the applying-for-jobs thing? You’d better be on LinkedIn. So I had to open a new account, upload a resumé – don’t get me started on that nightmare, i.e. writing a resumé that will be read by an AI bot looking for keywords – and try to answer the essential questions: Does putting my date of college graduation on there brand me as an Old? Does anyone care that I graduated cum laude? How do you write a description of something that boils down to “I write?”

God, I am looking so, so forward to deleting that fucking account. If I get another job, I’m going to submit a resumé that says: I write. Or else I’ll get a very low-skilled thing that just involves filling out an application. That’ll be different. I can fill out a form in about 90 seconds flat, no matter the complexity.

So. I’m reading a story today in the Freep, with one of their dumb clickbait headlines, something about “these eight parts of Michigan” are of special concern for a potential polio outbreak. The areas – Detroit and seven low-income counties up north – are slipping below 60 percent full vaccination. FOR POLIO. The reason isn’t deliberate vaccine refusal, as we’ve seen in New York, but Covid-related slipping in parents bringing kids in for the standard juvenile array. With the New York flare-up, there’s concern it will spread, and honestly I am going insane here. Being a parent of a young child isn’t easy, god knows, but some things are simply no-brainers. Vaccination, for one. FOR POLIO. The childhood-disease shots are free virtually everywhere; all you have to do is come in. I’m sure in rural counties, they’ll come to you. So your child won’t get POLIO.

We live in the stupidest timeline. Just appalling.

Thank you for all your encouragement after learning of my fate. The more time that passes, the more I know this is the way it should be, at least for me. I think your emotions and body tell the truth, and it’s telling me: Time to move on. This is a good thing.

Or maybe I’m just lazy. I guess we’ll see.

Crazy week. We’ll see how things are next. Good weekend, all.

Posted at 8:32 pm in Same ol' same ol' | 27 Comments
 

– 30 –

I was going to post something last night, but saw my editor had this column ready to go, so I held off. To save you a click, Deadline Detroit is closing up shop on Labor Day, which means the Summer of Nance will end with a bang: Retirement, more or less.

I say “more or less” because I expect I’ll work again, somewhere. One thing about losing your job: It opens a lot of doors you might not have considered walking through. Maybe I’ll re-activate my lifeguard certification and become one of those old bags with a whistle. This sounds appealing – working part-time for an airline to cop the free-flights benefit. I always thought it might be fun to work in one of Michigan’s weed dispensaries; there has to be a book in it. There’s a labor shortage in this country. I won’t starve.

But before any of that happens, we’ll be doing more traveling – Spain, this time, mid-September to mid-October – and I’ll spend that time thinking about what I want to do next. Something election-related might be cool in the short term, because democracy ain’t gonna save itself.

Don’t worry about me. We saved our money, our house is almost paid off, I’ll be on Medicare November 1 and I still have my health, as they say. I told Allan (boss Allan, not husband Alan) that I’d stick it out until Deadline ran out of money, and I thought it would happen well before this. Truth be told, I have a spring in my step. It’s…interesting to not know what you’ll be doing January 1.

Mostly, I’m grateful that, in the last years of my career, I was able to have fun at work again, something that’s been missing since roughly the turn of the century. The News-Sentinel was like being aboard a sinking ship. Bridge was fine but Stress City. The Research Council was fine but so quiet and cloistered it could have been an insurance office. I didn’t make a lot of money at Deadline, but the stress was low and we had some good times. So I’m at peace with that.

I’ll hear your suggestions for how I should play out my string.

Speaking of democracy not saving itself, I have one piece of bloggage, and I beg you to read it: Jane Mayer’s deep dive on how state legislatures are, in the headline’s word, torching it. It concentrates on Ohio, but the same thing could be said about Michigan (although it’s looking up here), Florida and many other states. I read it and was chilled to the bone. Please do so yourself.

Now I’m going to finish one of my last DD newsletters and maybe make some calls for one more story. Later, guys.

Posted at 8:22 am in Current events, Same ol' same ol' | 46 Comments
 

Sorry, no.

I said I was going to let the universe decide whether I’d be taking the Badger home, and the universe said: No. The ship was sold out for cars, although I could have hopped aboard as a plain old human being. Unwilling to tow my Subaru across Lake Michigan in a dinghy, however, I had to drive home, but that is fine. It meant two hours or so of WXRT on the radio, and I defied Google’s suggestion that I take I-294 through the west suburbs, opting instead for I-94 through the city. It meant some delays, but nothing head-hurting. The Chicago skyline is my very favorite, and definitely worth a few minutes sitting in sludge.

Then a stop at Redamak’s in New Buffalo for a greasy-burger lunch, and another in west Michigan for fruit, and it was a very tolerable 6.5 hours behind the wheel.

It was great to see old friends; we’ve been separated too long. I only wish it hadn’t been so dang humid.

And now I’m back home, living in chaos, as we wait for the floor-refinishers to get here. In the interim Alan has been doing work in the room, so it’s not like we’re sitting here like lumps. But Alan hates the guest-room bed and I hate the fact that some of my clothes are here and some are there and some are god-knows-where. The dressers are crammed into my office room, and everything behind them is unreachable. I have two pairs of earrings to wear — a tragedy, I know — but one of the consolations of being, um, older is that you know where all your shit is, and you generally have it together. Not now.

OK, so while I consider how I want to spend the rest of the day, have some bloggage:

Say what you will about Beto, but he knows how to seize the moment.

I imagine the Trump inner circle these days being something like the last third of “The Departed,” where Leo DiCaprio is essentially shitting himself from stress over being a rat.

I read little nonfiction in book form, because I spend all day in a firehose of nonfiction in my work life, but this book sounds like it might be worth a visit to the library, whenever it arrives:

“Thank You for Your Servitude” concentrates less on the MAGA true believers — the likes of Steve Bannon and Marjorie Taylor Greene — than on the twisted and tormented souls in the Republican establishment who could have prevented Trump’s hostile takeover of the party but didn’t. Such Republicans, in Leibovich’s assessment, “made Trump possible” and they “refused to stop him even after the U.S. Capitol fell under the control of some madman in a Viking hat. It was always rationalization followed by capitulation and then full surrender. The routine was always numbingly the same, and so was the sad truth at the heart of it: They all knew better.”

So why did they go along? The usual Washington factors of greed, ambition and opportunism, for starters. Kevin McCarthy, who unwisely spoke to Leibovich at length and with considerable candor, made clear he would endure any humiliation at Trump’s hands and sacrifice any principle in pursuit of becoming House speaker. “Once McCarthy wins,” in Leibovich’s view, “nothing else matters: He will have made it.” Senator Lindsey Graham turned from Trump critic to lapdog out of a desire “to try to be relevant,” he told Leibovich, as well as a pragmatic understanding that his re-election depended upon Trump’s blessing and his base. Others submitted out of both fear and fascination; Leibovich notes the mystique that Trump, as “a pure and feral rascal,” held for rule-bound, easily shamed politicians.

Oy, these people.

OK, half of Thursday, Friday and the weekend await. Enjoy yours, and I’ll be back Sunday-ish.

Posted at 11:00 am in Current events, Same ol' same ol' | 58 Comments
 

Postcard from the road.

Hello from Milwaukee. Sorry for the long absence. I’ve been taking a little me-time, another mini-driving tour to see long-missed friends. First stop, after recovering from working until 4 a.m. election night, Chicago.

Oh, and the tl;dr on election night: Long but surprisingly un-hectic. It was a primary, after all. Only one GOP challenger was ejected, and lo, he made a fuss about it, but ultimately, very quiet. But it ran until 4:30 a.m., so Wednesday was a walking-into-walls kinda day. Thursday, though, it was off to Chicago, to see the Borden/Connor Co-Prosperity Sphere. We had a good time. Went to the Nick Cave show at the Museum of Contemporary Art, saw Kate play at the Empty Bottle, wilted in the heat.

Had cocktails here:

It’s a retro cocktail lounge that is truly retro — that is, unchanged over decades, not reconstructed based on someone’s snarky memories.

Saturday it was off to Milwaukee, to crash with Deb and Mike for a couple days. Fewer pictures here, but it’s been very relaxing, hiding from killer humidity in the a/c. We did venture out to the farmers market. A very fun gang was selling…spring rolls, I believe, with this offer:

I could totally do a one-minute plank, but didn’t want to show off. Also, we didn’t need spring rolls, and it was so, so hot.

I’m keeping this short because my laptop battery is dying, and there’s fresh hummus on the counter. Tomorrow, I’m going to let the universe decide whether to take the S.S. Badger home to Michigan. If tickets are available in the morning, it’s a go. Otherwise, just another very long drive.

Back midweek. Hope your summer is going as well as the Summer of Nance.

Posted at 5:37 pm in Same ol' same ol' | 57 Comments
 

Playing through.

Does it ever stop with houses? Ever? I’ll give you an example:

Our central air-conditioning unit is…old. When we moved in 17 years ago, the house inspector said he couldn’t give us an opinion on the A/C because a) it was the dead of winter; and b) the unit appeared old enough that it was nearing the end of its useful life. OK, fine, noted.

So every summer since, I’ve crossed my fingers as the weather heats up, hoping it will turn on and work. We had it inspected a few years ago; the guy took a couple of big mouse nests out of it and said it was down a…pound? I think that’s the unit?…of freon, but he wouldn’t add any because “it’s so old, it’s not worth it.”

It kept working. Finally, this year, I said maybe we should look into replacing it. I googled “life span of a central air conditioning unit” and learned the average one lasts about 12-15 years. And we’ve been here 17 years. And it was old when we moved in. So we called some companies and the parade of estimates is starting. In preparation, Alan went out to trim the shrubs around the unit and found the installation date on it: 1988. It’s 34 years old.

But it still works! It’s a goddamn miracle.

So the first guy shows up, goes downstairs to look at the furnace and says nope, won’t fit. The newer, high-efficiency A/C units are taller, and our furnace is too tall for it to sit on top, and so that means that to replace the A/C, we also need to replace the furnace (installed in 1998). So what started as a roughly $4,000 expense is now a $8,300 expense.

So, pfft. I’m thinking I’ll just wait until it finally goes kaput, knowing it will do so on a beastly hot day and who knows, maybe it’ll cost more.

Although three more quotes are coming our way, so maybe we’ll get a miracle. Let’s hope so.

Houses. It never stops.

Personal whining notwithstanding, it wasn’t a terrible weekend. Got some work done, got some socializing done, got some cooking done. But let’s not talk about that. Let’s talk about Ivana Trump’s grave:

I don’t think enough attention has been paid to the incredible weirdness of this — to be buried on your second ex-husband’s golf course? At the time — a whole week ago — the discussion was about how the Catholic church had to consecrate the land so “strict Catholic” Ivana (who was married four times) could be buried there. And now it turns out there may have been an ulterior motive? You don’t say!

Looks like Melania did the landscaping there. Seriously, they didn’t even have some sod laid down? Good lord, these people.

Oh well, the week ahead looks good. Hope it does for you. Election Tuesday.

Posted at 9:00 pm in Current events, Same ol' same ol' | 95 Comments
 

Mega millions.

I haven’t decided if I’m going to buy a lottery ticket for the Mega Millions drawing. Probably depends on whether I’m in a vendor’s business before Friday’s drawing. I will do so from time to time, never more than $3 worth, maybe $5. A friend of mine says, “What does a dream cost?” And as everyone else says, “You gotta play to win.”

Imagine winning that much money. I’d take the lump sum of course, and try to keep my name as quiet as possible. Soon you’d see some changes around here, though. I’d bestow large sums on my friends and family members, of course. Do some fun stuff, like…charter a private jet to some fabulous destination and invite cool people to come aboard. Buy Alan a bigger boat, or maybe a house on a great trout stream. Give lots to charity. (If all these things happen, you’ll know I won.) And I would, of course, set up some sort of trust to keep the pile away from moochers.

Like? Oh, like the Rev. Leroy Jenkins.

You Central Ohioans of a certain age remember Leroy, as shifty and grifty a preacher as ever stood in a pulpit, although for some reason I don’t know that he was much for pulpits – he was the kind of guy who preached in drive-ins. His Wikipedia entry is a font of hilarity:

Jenkins was known for his faith healing, through the use of “miracle water”. In 2003, while based in Delaware, Ohio, Jenkins’ “miracle water,” drawn from a well on the grounds of his 30-acre religious compound known as the Healing Waters Cathedral, was found to contain coliform bacteria by the Ohio Department of Agriculture. Jenkins claimed tests conducted by independent laboratories all found the water safe for drinking and that the state ignored his findings. Jenkins was later fined $200 because he didn’t have a license to sell the water.

More? Sure:

In 1979, Jenkins was convicted in Greenwood, South Carolina, of conspiracy to assault two men and of plotting the arson of two homes. Jenkins was sentenced to 20 years in prison, with eight years suspended, for the incident. In 1994, he was arrested for grand theft, but the charges were soon dropped when he agreed to pay restitution.

What does he have to do with the lottery? Only this:

In 2001, his marriage to a 77-year-old widow, a black woman who had recently hit the Ohio Lottery jackpot for $6,000,000, was annulled by a judge in Delaware, Ohio. The legal guardian of Eloise Thomas, whose husband had died just three weeks before the marriage to Jenkins, former Ohio state senator Ben Espy, claimed on behalf of the woman’s family that Thomas was incompetent and therefore incapable of knowing what she was doing when she attempted to marry Jenkins. Jenkins has repeatedly denied accusations that he was attempting to marry the woman for the sake of her net worth, which was estimated at $4,000,000.

That was an amazing story. As I recall, the woman was in a wheelchair, and Leroy was a good decade younger, although it was hard to tell, as he was one of those men who kept his hair Elvis-black until the very end. Ben Espy, the woman’s lawyer/guardian, was a former OSU football star and Columbus city councilman who lost a leg sometime in the ’80s, when the cornice of a building downtown abruptly gave way and fell onto the street below, where Espy was unfortunately walking. What a day that was in the ol’ newsroom.

Anyway, that was the kind of stunt that, shall we say, led the good reverend’s obituary when he died in 2017. Columbus Monthly did a pretty good later-in-life profile called “Leroy Jenkins starts over,” with a detail most forgot: The wedding was performed in Las Vegas. Naturally.

I will not be marrying Leroy, or any of his kin, should I claim the prize.

Now to lay low for a few days. Covid is tearing through my community again, and as I am still a Novid, so to speak, I absolutely do not want to get it. Election is next week and I’m hitting the road for a little driving trip afterward. I’ll be packing masks and tests and staying outdoors as much as possible. Have a great weekend, however you are testing at the moment, and I’ll be back toward the end of it.

Posted at 4:27 pm in Same ol' same ol' | 60 Comments
 

A cool dip.

Swimming in the St. Clair River Tuesday was everything I needed it to be. The thermometer passed 90 when we arrived, and after the usual sunscreening and locking up the wallets and phones and all that, we made our way down to the water. Went in slow, then fast.

The water temperature was about 65 degrees. And after the initial OMG THIS IS COLD, it was absolutely perfect. We did two drift-downs, from the most upstream ladder on the seawall to the downstream one, climbed out, walked back and did it again. This was followed by a drink and a snack at the Voyageur, and of course in between there was lots of discussion of current events, mutual friends and war stories.

It was glorious. Go swimming in this heat, if it’s available to you. It’ll do you good.

Today, however, was beastly hot, and it will continue to be so all weekend. Me no likey. Nobody likeys. As I have said before, it might as well be minus-9, in terms of its effect on your movements (and energy use, ahem). So I’m hunkered down for now.

On that topic, and speaking of the Voyageur, i.e., the restaurant we went to after our swim, we wanted to have a drink on the patio. But the patio was closed because of the heat. Also, there were only two cooks and hardly any wait staff, along with signs posted everywhere asking guests to be patient. This seems late in the pandemic for staffing shortages, but there you are. A million people died, and not all of them were 85 years old.

More short shrift today, but I’m interested in the hearings later, and am preoccupied with other things. Here’s a fresh thread. Enjoy.

Posted at 3:01 pm in Same ol' same ol' | 39 Comments
 

Tardy.

Sorry for the late update today. Got back from Indiana late yesterday afternoon and just ran out of gas. I made a speedy, 30-hour visit to the Hoosier state and, well. You know how it is.

The old burg looks great (in places) and less-so (in other places). Downtown is shining like a gem. New buildings, new construction going up, and a new riverfront park (from the last time I was there, anyway). Meanwhile, the shopping centers that bustled when I was there all look tired and used up. Fort Wayne Newspapers looks like absolute shit; I expect the new owners are just biding their time until they can swing the wrecking ball. And having killed the paper I once worked for, they didn’t even have the decency to take the name off the building:

Probably because it might cost them a few bucks.

But it was a good visit. Stayed with Alex and Harry in northern Allen County Saturday night, then swung down into town for a quick lunch with others before hauling back out.

And now we’re into another week-long stretch of miserable heat, but that just means…it’s time to go ottering. Planning a quick pop up to the St. Clair River tomorrow, in fact. Supposed to be 90 outside, but 65 degrees water temperature. We’ll see how that goes.

I just watched the first two parts of the Victoria’s Secret docs-series on Hulu. It’s as bad — the situation, not the series — as you’d imagine, and Les Wexner is not coming off well at all. I don’t expect that bothers him; he’s past 80 now and no one lives forever. But if I were one of his four children, carrying his name and just starting out in life, it wouldn’t be a good feeling.

New thread, and I’ll gain some energy as the week goes on. At least, I hope so. I’m laying low in case I caught a case in the Hoosier state; Covid is running wild again, and virtually no one was wearing a mask. Never change, Indiana.

Posted at 9:07 pm in Same ol' same ol' | 36 Comments
 

Some people.

When Alan was features editor in Fort Wayne, he had an intern one summer with a shall-we-say-foundational problem. She had no real instinct for a story.

One in particular sticks in my memory. A new freeway bypass was being constructed at the time, and of course it included many overpasses. When those are built, the ‘dozers pile up a lot of earth, leaving holes in the ground that become stormwater retention ponds. You’ve driven past approximately a million of these in your lifetime. In this case, one of the property owners whose land abutted this project had a dream, and worked out a deal with the highway department to make the retention pond near him just a little bit bigger, big enough to be the minimum size required to accommodate that dream: To host sanctioned water-skiing competitions. In that very pond.

I believe he had landed his first event, nothing Cypress Gardens-level, but still: A sanctioned water-skiing competition! In a freeway retention pond, the boats tracing extremely tight triangular patterns, with the traffic screaming by! Now there’s a story.

The intern could not be convinced. “It’s just a guy with a pond in his back yard,” she argued. “So he’s going to run a boat around on it. Big deal.”

I don’t think Alan won that one, and didn’t try to — any story written by any reporter who couldn’t see the humor and absurdity in that situation would be stillborn. But I thought about her when I read the comments on a short aggregation/rewrite I did for Deadline, of a charming story written for the Freep by my ottering friend Bill. He freelances a regular feature called Free Press Flashback, which is pretty self-explanatory. Sunday’s was on the time the city police department rolled out the red carpet for a Hollywood movie production, and the ensuing film, “Detroit 9000,” turned out to be a piece of crap:

A Black congressman from Detroit announces his run for Michigan governor in the ballroom of the Book Cadillac Hotel. After he collects $400,000 for his campaign in money and jewels from Black supporters, a group of masked robbers cleverly steals the loot.

That bold caper is the opening scene in “Detroit 9000,” the low-budget tire squealer that made big headlines in 1973. Hyped as the first locally filmed feature movie, it ended up embarrassing city officials and local celebrities who had fallen hard for Hollywood’s promise to splash the glories of Detroit across the silver screen.

After allowing filmmakers to use police assets from headquarters to horses, Mayor Roman Gribbs blasted the production team as “a garbage organization that produced a garbage movie.”

The police commissioner got a bit part, for which he will win no acting awards. Local celebrities got similar roles and walk-ons. And were rewarded with a film whose marketing line called their city “the murder capital of the world” — “where honkies are the minority race.”

It’s a funny story. Here are a few of the Facebook reactions:

So why bring it up?

Ya I know all about it. Do we really need to re live every one of these moments?? Certainly things are different now?

So.. Michigan is doomed, if all our media sources keep bringing up past filth and horrors. We’ve got to get past these garbage racist viewpoints. It’s too decisive and all it does is make this place slow and miserable.

Sigh. It must be terrible to go through life without a sense of humor. Like not being able to smell. Although I have to say, I’ve known reporters like that. Give them the job of writing about “Detroit 9000,” and they’d spend six paragraphs noting that a $400,000 fundraiser, in 1973, would be the equivalent of $2.6 million today, and that’s totally unrealistic for a single state-level function, plus it would be against the law to accept jewelry in lieu of cash.

I’m reading “The Bluest Eye,” by Toni Morrison, because some state senator concerned about Dirty Books is hooked up with some people who want it out of school libraries. It’s a Morrison novel I had not yet read, so I thought I might see what the fuss is about. The problem is a scene depicting the incestuous rape of an 11-year-old. It made me recall my high-school English teacher assigning Maya Angelou’s memoir “I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings” in which the 8-year-old Maya is also raped. My teacher was a very prim and proper old-school sort, but she did not shrink from the horror of those passages, and we had a very serious classroom discussion about them.

Perhaps this is why I grew up to be a Democrat. I was forced to read dirty books.

“The Bluest Eye” is a masterpiece, step one on Morrison’s path to the Nobel Prize. I pity the idiots who see it solely as obscenity. I wonder what they read for recreation, if they read at all. I guess the Left Behind novels had to sell to someone.

Hope all had a good weekend, with lots of recreational reading.

One of the things I read, not for recreation, was the New York Times’ Haiti project:

(F)or generations after independence, Haitians were forced to pay the descendants of their former slave masters, including the Empress of Brazil; the son-in-law of the Russian Emperor Nicholas I; Germany’s last imperial chancellor; and Gaston de Galliffet, the French general known as the “butcher of the Commune” for crushing an insurrection in Paris in 1871.

The burdens continued well into the 20th century. The wealth Ms. Present’s ancestors coaxed from the ground brought wild profits for a French bank that helped finance the Eiffel Tower, Crédit Industriel et Commercial, and its investors. They controlled Haiti’s treasury from Paris for decades, and the bank eventually became part of one of Europe’s largest financial conglomerates.

…How is it possible, many ask, that Haiti shares an island with the Dominican Republic, with its underground subway system, health care coverage, public schools, teeming resorts and impressive stretches of economic growth?

Corruption is the usual explanation, and not without reason: Haiti’s leaders have historically ransacked the country for their own gain, legislators have spoken openly on the radio about accepting bribes and oligarchs sit atop lucrative monopolies, paying few taxes. Transparency International ranks it among the most corrupt nations in the world.

But another story is rarely taught or acknowledged: The first people in the modern world to free themselves from slavery and create their own nation were forced to pay for their freedom yet again — in cash.

I knew nothing of this history, and I found the whole package fascinating. I checked Twitter for the reaction and found it to be, shall we say, derisive:

OK, fine. Sorry I brought it up. Man, people are so damn touchy.

I guess that’s all. Do yourself a favor and read a dirty book today.

Posted at 5:02 pm in Media, Same ol' same ol' | 44 Comments