On the wane.

At the beginning of June I said it was going to be a bucket-list summer, and in large part it has been – Iceland, a full-moon kayak trip, less work on the weekends, another trip coming up Labor Day weekend – but unless you have staff, or help, it can’t be sustained. So this weekend was, eh, low-key. Cleaned a closet, got ahead on some work stuff, read an actual book, did some back-to-school shopping with Kate. At, goddess help us, a mall. But it was fine, because we scored what we needed and I got a deal on some end-of-summer white Levi’s (yeah-yeah-yeah):

whitelevis

The yeah-yeah-yeah is an echo of my youth, when a radio ad on WCOL, for a local clothing store, featured four Beach Boys-y voices singing, “White Levi’s, yeah yeah yeah!” Back when there was work for studio singers doing local advertising. That’s an economy that probably only still exists in Nashville and Los Angeles, right?

Funny how jeans brand loyalty goes. I’ve been a Levi’s girl since I first put them on, a million years ago. I’ve worn boot cut, flares, 501s, 501CTs, skinny, straight, Bold Curve, everything. The very idea of spending $200 for a pair of blue jeans just blows my mind, and from time to time, I’ve visited higher-end stores and tried on Seven for All Mankind, Joe’s, the various premium denim brands. I’ve always buttoned them up, looked in the mirror and thought, Man, these are some ugly-ass pants, right here.

Maybe I’m not wearing them right. Or maybe I just have a Levi’s body. My sister-in-law is a Lee’s gal, and has been for years. When I visited Montana many moons ago, all the cowboys wore Wrangler. From time to time, I’ve bought Gap and Lee’s and maybe one or two others, but I always come back to Levi’s.

Besides my white capris, I got a pair of 501s and a slim-leg pair in inkiest black. All in a smaller size than I wore a year ago. Life is good.

The other thing that made the trip to the mall not-so-bad was the Dream Cruise, an annual event that entrances half of Detroit and drives the other half crazy. This is the grassroots cruise of classic cars up and down Woodward Avenue for (officially) a weekend and (unofficially) a week. People who live or do business along the route either love it or hate it. The younger, hipper contingent is represented by the Magic Bag, a music venue that closes for a few days and puts a snarky message on their marquee, chosen in a contest of loyal customers. This year’s winner:

dreamcruise

That’s pretty good, but my favorite was a couple years back: “Giving Downriver parents an excuse to visit their gay children since,” etc. A little local humor.

But for people who stuck to the freeways, well, there was magic to be seen every few miles, as some amazing classic would pull onto an entrance ramp and merge in with all the other contemporary lozenge-shaped rides. Nothing like seeing a Chevy as old as you are to put a smile on your face. And I am decidedly not a car gal.

Also – and this may just be me – it seemed like a fairly non-Trump weekend. How about for you?

So not much bloggage today, just a dog-days weekend of paying some, but not intense, attention to the news. Just this: A look at cat stories over the years in the New York Times, including a perfectly fabulous photo that even non-cat people should enjoy.

Oh, and Flint’s Claressa Shields, the toughest girl in a pretty damn tough town, wins her second Olympic gold, in women’s boxing. Congrats to T-Rex.

Bring on this week, OK?

Posted at 12:01 am in Current events, Same ol' same ol' | 48 Comments
 

Friends when you need them.

Had to go to Grand Rapids Wednesday, and I left early, clicking on every cylinder. Got my laptop, got my phone, got my earbuds, had my podcasts cued up. Sunglasses? Got ’em. The only thing I didn’t have was a full tank of gas, but I had enough to get well out of town, and when the light came on and the trip computer said I had 40 miles left, I pulled into a BP station in Fowlerville.

Opened my bag and found…no wallet. I mean, it just wasn’t there. Because obviously not every cylinder was clicking earlier in the morning. And I didn’t pack it.

So there I was, not enough gas to get home, not enough to get to Grand Rapids, no ID, no credit card of any sort, just my smiling face and a phone. And my old boss Derek, bless his heart, who was nice enough to meet me 10 miles down the road with $40 cash. Which was enough to gas me up and buy lunch at Steak & Shake. I hate to ask for help, but as the life coaches say, it’s selfish not to. Because people want to help you. I still felt pretty stupid.

But there’s nothing like a five-hour drive, round trip, to get you caught up on your podcasts and other audio stuff. I think we discussed this a few days or weeks ago, but I ended up subscribing to “Keeping it 1600,” with Jon Favreau and Dan Pfeiffer, both Obama people, and “Radio Free GOP” with Mike Murphy, a #NeverTrump Republican who ran the Jeb! campaign. So it was that, plus the latest “This American Life,” which was all about summer. I only really enjoyed the first act of TAL, which was about a 66-year-old lifeguard suing New York City for age discrimination after they insisted he wear a Speedo for his speed test. It was hilarious, if only for the lengthy list of slang terms for men’s Speedos.

And on the way home, I caught J.D. Vance, author darling of the moment, discussing “Hillbilly Elegy,” his highly praised memoir about growing up po’ white in Middletown, Ohio, on “Fresh Air.” He’s an impressive guy, but I’m a little baffled by the praise this book is getting, but maybe that’s because I grew up in Ohio, and Vance’s people are hardly unknown to anyone from Columbus on south. He is quite a bit younger than I am, so I missed southern Ohio’s descent into opioid-addiction hell. He’s obviously entitled to his interpretation of his own world, but I found his explanation of hardscrabble-white fondness for Trump unconvincing. He gives his relatives too much credit for seeing an authenticity in Donald Trump that — in his opinion, anyway — Hillary Clinton lacks. Terry Gross tried to prod him a little, pointing out that Trump was born rich and got richer, but Clinton, as well as her husband, came from modest circumstances.

Yeah, he said, but Clinton surrounds herself with slick elites. Whereas Steve Bannon is jes’ folks, I guess.

Speaking of which. The hiring of Bannon suggests this campaign is going to auger all the way in, Trump-as-Trump, guns blazing. I’d start a pool on what he’ll say next, but honestly, not sure I have the imagination. Which leads us to the bloggage:

Another smart Trump take by Josh Marshall, mapping the Trump hate bubble.

Remember when Adrianne predicted the future of the Columbus Dispatch, after it was sold? Lo, it appears it is coming to pass.

You’ve probably read various cases made that Walmart actually makes for a net loss to taxpayers, because it pays so little its employees regularly qualify for food stamps, etc. Well, as this excellent Bloomberg report notes, it doesn’t end there. I’d paste a paragraph or three, but I can’t seem to copy from the site. Worth your time.

Posted at 12:04 am in Current events, Same ol' same ol' | 61 Comments
 

That day is done.

Well, today was better. Slept almost seven hours — four hours and 20 minutes of it “deep,” according to my sleep tracker, which may just be shining me on, but the placebo effect is real — and ate mostly protein and vegetables today, and feel 79 percent more like myself today.

And I was a regular Phelps in the pool today, if by “Phelps” you mean Edwin Phelps, DDS, age 67, who was once a lifeguard at Ocean Beach and was quite the backstroke talent for his city pool’s summer team in 1964. But I did the whole Monday workout, the dreaded 400-400, 300-300, 200-200, 100-100.* I got out feeling tired and so f’ungry I felt like stopping for an Egg McMuffin AND a puck of hash browns. But I restrained myself, ate healthy(ish) and learned later today there’s a very good reason a swimming workout leaves you hungrier than most. Short answer: Your body burns energy doing the work, and keeping warm. No wonder the athletes keep those Olympic Village kitchens working more or less around the clock.

And I made a little progress on a project today, so: Yay me. Tomorrow is another day.

I do not, however, look anything at all like this woman, whose rather provocative blog is probably blowing AMB (angry man-boy) skulls to pieces all over the planet. In a nutshell: She is a young, beautiful, slender athlete who exercises outdoors in scant clothing, and you wouldn’t believe the abuse. Like how? Like this:

Earlier this summer I headed to a local park in the South End of Boston to push myself in an outdoor bootcamp workout I was testing for the upcoming week of classes I teach. It was a hot Saturday afternoon and halfway through my workout I had a guy come over to me from across the park and start talking to me from a few feet away. I took my headphones out thinking he was asking me something, instead my ears were filled with profane things he “wanted to do to me”.

Last week I was going for a run before work to clock four miles for my half marathon training. I ran past a parking garage that has an attendant in the front to direct traffic between cars exiting and people crossing. A thankless job, I smiled gave him a wave to thank him and kept running. I took two steps before he yelled after me a “MM HMMMM”. Like he was salivating over a steak.

Yesterday I was walking to the laundromat to drop off clothes before heading out to teach a class. Walking out of the laundromat I decided to sneak in the 7Eleven next door to see if they carried my new favorite ice cream brand so that I could come grab some after class. A man so kindly held the door open for me, I thanked him and walked inside. They didn’t have the brand so just 60 seconds later I walked back out and he was sitting on the other side of the street watching me come out. I turned down the side walk and he crossed the street to follow me. He even yelled at me to stop and wait for him.

I will freely admit that even if I had a body like hers, I probably wouldn’t go running in a sports bra and compression shorts. But I also demand that she should be able to without having guys howling at her. But of course, the real fun of this piece is in the sewer of the comments, which you should not read unless you’ve removed all guns, knives, hanging ropes, etc., as well as disconnected your gas lines, because some of these people make you want to stick your damn head in the oven.

The only men who catcall me anymore are homeless guys in Detroit, and honestly, as long as they’re not total fucking creeps about it, I don’t let it bother me. Nothing like an old dude parked next to a 40 and a bag of his worldly goods telling you you look like Beyoncé to start your day off right.

I SO wish Coozledad was still with us, so we could hear his colorful opinion about this feeb, charged with the homicide of his neighbor, upon whom he (the shooter) had regularly bestowed racial slurs and! Hit the neighbor’s mother with his car. Oh, and yeah, he was drunk. But you’re gonna love his mugshot, because that is the face of the master race.

With that, let’s hit second gear on this week.

* Swimming nerds eyes only: 400 pull, 4×100 freestyle, 50+50×3 back/breast, 3×100 IM, 200 kick, 4×50 on your medium interval, 8×25 sprints. It takes me a solid hour and change, but I’m slow.

Posted at 12:02 am in Current events, Same ol' same ol' | 76 Comments
 

Too much hot.

What a long weekend, and I am bushed. It’s the weather, which makes every step you take outside feel like 100. We ended up at a downtown park for a beer-and-wine festival, where every beer went warm in your hand and, well, bleh. It was still fun, but I’ve had enough of this miserable heat wave. It seems to be breaking, but that’s happened before. Our August cooldown is overdue.

When you start out talking about the weather, you know you don’t have anything to talk about. That said, the weather sort of is the story today, as southern Louisiana floods from truly apocalyptic rainfall, but don’t worry: Climate change isn’t happening. This is just the 500th year of the 500-year rainfall event. Don’t you feel lucky to be here and see it?

I once asked a lobbyist how his industry was handling the policy aspects of climate change, when a fair number of the people they had to deal with wouldn’t even acknowledge climate change is a thing. He said, “We’re just moving forward, because we have to.”

Man, I’ll say.

Saturday was the usual grind of errands, topped off by dinner for a friend’s birthday, which included this wine:

bandol

It was so soft and warm in your mouth it made your tastebuds do a happy dance. Remember when “wine” = Gallo? Life is better in so many ways.

As you can tell, I’m flailing a bit here. So here’s the bloggage:

Why Jamaica produces so many great runners.

This week’s Trump-campaign-as-train-wreck overview, from the New Yorker.

Starting the week at Zzzzzz. I hope I have another gear or two left.

Posted at 12:04 am in Current events, Same ol' same ol' | 51 Comments
 

Let’s dicker.

I was looking at a pair of shorts on an online store the other day, trying to decide if they would suit, when I took a closer look at the price, teased with the red pixels that indicate markdowns and savings: $49 retail, marked down to $48.93. Seven cents. (Please let’s not make this discussion whether it’s right to pay $50 for a pair of shorts. I concede it isn’t, but these were a specialty item, and I was only window-shopping.)

I’ve been having good luck with online chat on retail sites, so I summoned up some poor sap in the Philippines and we had some back-and-forth over this. My side amounted to really? and his was all about profuse apologies and we’ll-get-to-the-bottom-of-this. Check back! he advised.

Today I did. The shorts had been put on real sale this time:

dynamicpricing1

I’ve also been looking at an item on my holiday gift list. You can buy it directly from the manufacturer for $99. Ever since I made the mistake of comparing it to the Amazon price, I’ve been served an ad for it regularly. It started at $119, which is baffling enough, but today it changed to this:

dynamicpricing2

I assume this is another example of Amazon’s forward-thinking dynamic pricing, also known as the one where the shoes you want are, ooh, sorry, not available at the lower end of the price range we just teased you with to get you to click from the Google search. Rather, you’ll be paying the other price, the top one, maybe more. It turns out the cheap price is only for people who want them in chartreuse and size 2. Know any tiny people with itty-bitty feet and no color sense? Tell them the world is their oyster.

I’ve seen this enough times that it has pushed me away from shopping on Amazon. Based on the absurdity of the price-chop on those shorts, I can only assume it’s spreading, or seeping, or something.

Can one of you tech-savvy people explain what’s going on? I sorta understand about the shoes, but I’m baffled by the meat thermometer. If you can find the same thing, in 10 different colors, on the manufacturer’s website at price X, why would you pay 50 percent more somewhere else?

The mysteries of our brave new world often leave me cold.

A few short links here, at least one of which basically has nothing to do with Him, although maybe with the mysteries of our brave new world: How Twitter became plagued with trolls and abuse, and has stayed that way for nearly a decade.

My friend Amy Welborn homeschooled her two boys for four years, and is writing a pretty great blog series on why and how she did it (and might do it again). She’s not hostile to public education, and is a strict-but-not-insane Catholic, so I found it interesting. It seems she did it for the right reason, which boils down to: School sucks, not all the time, but a lot of the time, and if you have the right temperament, the right kids, the right skills and the means to do so? Why not. This is part four, which I link because she has the links to the other parts right at the top, and you can go from there.

Himself’s North Carolina director is alleged to have pointed a loaded gun at a colleague’s knee. Are you surprised? Didn’t think so.

Finally, Jon Favreau, the former Obama speechwriter and current pundit/podcaster, has a column up about how to react when the inevitable Trump comeback narrative is unleashed later in the campaign. You might want to clip and save.

And here it is, the weekend again. Enjoy it.

Posted at 12:01 am in Current events, Same ol' same ol' | 69 Comments
 

A full dance card.

A long, hot, busy, tiring weekend, and I’ve got an action-packed couple of days ahead. So if y’all don’t mind, this will be a bit phoned-in.

Fortunately, I took lots of pictures.

First, a bit of old business: I see a few of you were disappointed that we sip Woodford Reserve in any form other than neat or over a single ice cube. I hear you. I felt the same way when a bartender at a downtown Fort Wayne hotel told me that DeBarge, the ’80s pop band, ordered a $500-a-bottle cognac for their after-show drinks, which they mixed with Coca-Cola. But we’re long on good sippin’ whiskey right now, including this adorable find, which we stocked up on in the Iceland duty-free, bringing back bottles for our dog sitters, and one for ourselves. This stuff, Nikka, from Japan:

nikkawhiskey

That’s a 500ml bottle, not the usual 750, which I attribute to Japan being a country with limited storage space, presumably including liquor cabinets. But I love the shape of the bottle, the understated label, and the contents? Quite nice.

On to the weekend, which began with a rare night sail. The worst of the heat was blowing out and the breeze was just about perfect. Rain threatened but never really developed, and we had a long, lovely sunset to enjoy:

GPYCsunset

That spire is the Grosse Pointe Yacht Club. We headed down to the mouth of the river, where we could see the skyline:

sylineatsunset

Of course, the other thing you should do when the sun is dropping is occasionally look in the other direction, because photographers don’t call it the golden hour for nothing:

goldenhour

Nice illustration of the breeze there, too. And here we have Heckle, Jeckle and their full extended family. These are cormorants, the shitting, roosting, fish-eating bane of the Great Lakes at the moment:

cormorants

We tacked around the bird party and headed back, catching a nice moonset in the bargain:

moonset

OK, that one was a little Instagrammed. Sue me.

The next day I had a chance to put on my old boots and dig out my chaps, because I had volunteered to help with a Detroit Neighborhoods Day activity, introducing city kids to horses. It was…an interesting day, for a lot of reasons. It was also sweaty, busy work, fitting kids with helmets, getting them onto a couple of willing ponies and leading them around a couple of big circles before pulling them off and putting the next one on. Just when I was thinking I could really use a break, these guys showed up:

blackhorsemen

I didn’t know such a group existed. They brought horses, too — all in western tack. I heard one call another a buffalo soldier, so you get where they’re coming from, i.e., the great tradition of African-American cavalrymen on the Great Plains. As this photo shows, not every rider came dressed for the occasion, but Charles didn’t care. He was an enthusiastic teacher, almost an evangelist for sitting up straight, legs down and putting fear where it belongs, under a pile of manure somewhere. It didn’t quite work with this girl, but she held on gamely for her trip:

riderinadress

It was four hours under a sun that grew hotter by the hour. At the end, I went out for a too-large Mexican lunch and a couple of margaritas, and woke up Sunday with a face so swollen I felt like Jerry Lewis in his prednisone period.

And Sunday was a trip to Defiance for a family reunion. It went the way most family reunions in city parks go. Alan’s sister brought some pictures of previous reunions, including this one of Alan, c. 1979:

youngalan

His Bob Seger period, right there.

Which brings us to right now, Sunday night. Tomorrow is Trump (I hope), Tuesday is a hard deadline, so you may have to look at these pix for a while. In the meantime, you might read this infuriating story by Bill McKibben, about the experience of being tracked by a conservative PAC trying to discredit his work around climate change.

And while I don’t want to load you up with NYT links — I know they’re limited for non-subscribers — this was an interesting essay on a subject of interest to maybe 100 people in the world, i.e., what’s happening to the restaurant scene in northern California as an unprecedented wave of money sweeps over it. I noticed it mainly for the arresting turns of phrase, like this:

I went there twice for work and concentrated both times on the food alone. I was knocked out, especially by a creation called Tidal Pool, which involved a clear littoral broth of seaweed dashi pooling around sea-urchin tongues, pickled kelp and foie gras. I know that I will set off the gag reflex in certain quarters when I confess that, in my view, Mr. Kinch took the sensory pleasure of falling off a surfboard into cold Northern California water and transformed it into the world’s most delicious bowl of Japanese-French seafood soup. Mr. Kinch, I concluded, was the savior sent to bring California cuisine into the 21st century.

How do you remove a sea urchin’s tongue? How is this different from eating ortolans? You tell me.

And when I get an empty 30 minutes, I’m going to read this, Jeb Lund’s account of the GOP convention, because I love Jeb Lund’s stuff.

Once more into the breach.

Posted at 12:12 am in Detroit life, Same ol' same ol' | 29 Comments
 

Here, kitty.

Folks, I don’t know how much more of this I can handle. The campaign, you know. It’s barely started — it hasn’t started, if you consider Labor Day the formal kickoff, a quaint idea we might want to consider reviving — and I don’t think I can drink from this firehose much longer. If Donald Trump’s campaign strategy is going to consist of saying outrageous shit twice a day, my only options will be leaving social media, gouging my eyes out or moving to Sakhalin Island until Thanksgiving.

Keep in mind, it is my job to pay attention to politics, at least at the state level, so add one more layer to the madness. The bright side: We have far fewer Trumps in Michigan, although I’m sure a few will pop up soon. The state’s primary is tomorrow.

I simply lack the capacity to sustain this level of outrage for the duration. So if you pop into this page and see a kitten video here and nothing else, know that I’m rebooting in an attempt to stay sane.

I’m also taking a bit of time off from posting links to election stuff, unless I feel fairly sure it’s something most of you haven’t seen yet. Trying to keep up is too damn distracting from my real work.

Hope everyone had a nice weekend. I worked at home four out of five workdays, so by Friday I was ready to jump the damn fence. We went to a new Chinese-ish place in what used to be Detroit’s Chinatown. I guess there really was one, once upon a time. It was a block or two long. Anyway, this place serves small plates (because every new place does, now), and when I say Chinese-ish I emphasize the -ish. Case in point: The cheeseburger eggroll, which sounds awful but was delicious. We sat by the window, the better to see the obviously poor family on the other side of the street, who had pulled up a couple of strollers to visit, while the kids played on the sidewalk and tree planters. That’s Detroit’s Cass Corridor in one frame, right there.

Saturday was the traditional million errands followed by a fine dinner and movie. Which was? “Midnight Special,” a film I hadn’t even heard of until Saturday night. We’re generally not supernatural-thriller people, but damn if it wasn’t half bad, buoyed by a fantastic cast. Whoever said there are no small parts, only small actors must have been thinking of Sam Shepard, who has one or two brief scenes and makes you want to want to follow him offscreen, just to see what he does next. Add Michael Shannon, Adam Driver, Joel Edgerton and Kirsten Dunst, and you want to follow everybody offscreen. Even the detective from “The Night Of” is in this, and makes a single line resonate.

The story? Meh. But I liked the execution.

And now the week ahead yawns. Not much bloggage (see above, me going around with my hands over my ears), but there was this splendid tale of how the home pregnancy test went from a to-the-trade item only to something in every drugstore. Of course a woman was behind it.

I’m going to think Sunday-evening thoughts now: What’s for dinner, is the laundry done, will this season of “Ray Donovan” turn around. You think your Monday thoughts, and I’ll see you soon.

Posted at 12:09 am in Current events, Movies, Same ol' same ol' | 56 Comments
 

Flesh and blood.

Although weekends are the time to sleep in, I don’t do it often, and rarely on Saturdays. That’s because I like to go to the Eastern Market on Saturday morning, and the longer you wait, the less likely you are to find a parking place — is there any self-imposed headache of modern life more onerous than the endless search for parking? — and, well, other factors come into play.

This past Saturday, I decided to do a boxing class at 8, come home to shower, and then take Alan with me to the market. That doesn’t happen often, because he does believe in the weekend as a time for late sleeping. We got there around 11. It was ridiculously crowded, but I lucked into a decent parking spot, and at my favorite fruit stand I stood behind a woman who was buying blueberries, raspberries and shelled peas. She had exacting standards about how she wanted all these items wrapped and packed, but I didn’t stink-eye her until she paid with a credit card.

Yes, yes, Square makes it easy to pay with a card at a place like this, if the seller has the doohickey and a good cellular connection. BUT STILL. THIS IS A FARMERS’ MARKET, LADY. Jeez, bring cash. As she was finishing her purchase, the seller said, “This is the last week for peas.”

“What? Why?” she demanded to know. The seller said, with some hesitation, “Because it’s a spring vegetable? And it’s summer now?” This seemed to arrive as a foreign concept to her, this idea that when things are done growing, you’re done buying. But who can blame her? Peas are growing somewhere in the world right now, and for a price, you can get fresh ones on your table. But really, lady, get a clue.

This never happens at 7 a.m.

It was a good weekend. We’re dog-sitting, for this girl:

layla

She’s a miniature schnauzer who belongs to some friends. We’ve known her since puppyhood, and she’s “a bit of a Hapsburg,” as our friend says, which you can read as: Neurotic. Won’t climb stairs, and when she comes here, has a very difficult time moving from rug to floor to rug; the first time she visited, she stood on the front doormat for 15 minutes, refusing to budge.

We all thought she was being a princess, but after half an hour of this in our house this time, it came to me all at once: “You’re blind, Layla. Or close to it.” It explains everything — why she tracks close to walls, why she walks right next to the sidewalk, but not on the sidewalk, all of it. She’s gotten progressively more comfortable through the weekend, but I still think she’s got a serious visual impairment, and sure enough, the breed is susceptible to several.

She wants to run around the house, and if you stand behind her and nudge her with your shin, she’ll scamper from the rug across that shiny hardwood floor, but you can tell it bothers her, that it requires a certain leap of faith. It probably looks like something dangerous.

That’s so often the problem with purebreds, isn’t it? This is why so many Jack Russell people fought so hard against AKC recognition, which only came in the last 15 years. Pedigrees fuck everything up.

We had a brief respite from the heat Saturday, then more of it today. I took a long bike ride for the first time in a while, and it tapped me out. My legs felt sore and I was famished, but fortunately, I’d put a nice rub on a tri-tip earlier, a cut of beef I only learned of recently. I hear it’s very big in California, but until Saturday I’d never seen it in any meat market here. But my butcher had two, so I bought one. Used a NYT recipe, plus their suggestion for the rub. Oh my GAWD was it good. I could have eaten the whole thing by myself, but left some for tomorrow’s lunch. Gaze upon its deliciousness:

tritip

Admittedly, an Instagram filter. But that’s pretty close.

Scant bloggage, but something: The term “government schools” was something I heard in Indiana for some time before we left, so I was puzzled that this NYT story on the phrase’s deployment in Kansas treated it as something new, but there you are. Good god, these people:

Kansas has for years been the stage for a messy school funding fight that has shaken the Legislature and reached the State Supreme Court. Gov. Sam Brownback, a Republican, and his political allies threatened to defy the court on education spending and slashed income taxes in their effort to make the state a model of conservatism.

Somewhere along the way, the term “government schools” entered the lexicon in place of references to the public school system.

“Our local grade school is now the government school,” State Senator Forrest Knox wrote in an op-ed article last year, echoing conservative concerns that the government had inserted itself unnecessarily into education.

The intent was obvious to her, Ms. Massman said. “They are trying to rebrand public education,” she said.

Not to bring you down or anything. Here’s something more uplifting, a story I’d never heard until reading this 20-years-later update — about the day a black teenager saved a white racist from an ass-kicking or worse. A truly uplifting tale.

The week awaits! Fueled with red meat, I’m ready for it.

Posted at 12:03 am in Detroit life, Same ol' same ol' | 34 Comments
 

Firecracked.

We had an impromptu dinner party on Independence Day. That’s the best kind, especially if it includes sailing and ribs and potato salad. Also, beer and prosecco and a bloody mary and wine. And a puppy. Because nothing makes a holiday gathering like a puppy playing around with the bigger dogs while we all look on and say oh god, he just walked right through the fence! Which he did, a couple of times, although he then walked right back in. In a few more weeks he’ll be safe in the yard, but not until he puts on a little size.

Sailing and ribs and a puppy. Beer and vodka and wine. And then the people’s fireworks, the Fallujah-under-siege soundtrack that, on July 4, goes on and on and on. It was a good holiday, if a little noisy. (And not nearly as drunk as it sounds.)

So that’s why no blog yesterday. Also, I tried very hard to avoid the news all weekend, and I was enjoying the sense of waiting for the news alert about Trump’s veep choice. Maybe we should have a pool, or a countdown clock. I’m setting odds on… Chris Christie, 5:2; Mike Pence 3:1; Joni Ernst 15:1. Oh, and Gary Busey at 50:1. Anyone else want to weigh in?

A few items of interest for you all to chew over. Gene Weingarten is breaking up with CNN. Over Corey Lewandowski, of course. Well, he lasted longer than I did. I gave up CNN about 19 shootings ago, when I finally found Wolf Blitzer simply too distracting, his strange anti-charisma finally doing what it was apparently meant to do. But he (Weingarten) is right: The hiring of Trump’s campaign manager, complete with non-disparagement agreement, is a deeply cynical bridge too far:

CNN apparently didn’t worry much about the guy being a fawning Trump suckup lickspittle who was likely sent away from the campaign with a wonderful golden parachute and a non-disclosure agreement that doesn’t allow him to be critical of Trump. How could CNN even consider such a grotesque arrangement? Well, because they’ve been doing it for years! This seemed like business as usual. They simply have never been doing it with a preposterous thug toady before. (They have, however, gone way over the line before. Ana Navarro embarrassed herself, and CNN, for years, over her fawning defense of Jeb Bush, particularly after he said that he still would have invaded Iraq after knowing what we know now. Ana was the first on the air with the revelation that, to her exclusive knowledge, he “misunderstood” the question.)

So now CNN is giving lots of air time to someone with no apparent sense of shame who is also in Trump’s back pocket, and the results have been more than predictable. It turns out Corey Lewandowski, who clearly isn’t allowed to say anything bad about Trump, also hasn’t anything to say that is not worshipful of Trump. Whom he calls “Mr. Trump.” You know, the way journalists do, out of respect.

I know we have some heavy people in the readership here. How do we feel about the paternalistic attitude people who run the contemporary workplace too often take toward fat people?

Those who do manage to land a job are less likely to be offered a salary bump or promotion compared to their slimmer peers. Obesity was found to lower a woman’s annual earnings an average of 4.5% and men’s earnings as much as 2.3%, according to a 2004 study by Charles L. Baum of Middle Tennessee State University. Some pundits have argued that this may be the last accepted form of prejudice in the U.S.

Progress to end this form of discrimination has been slow, with only a handful of states passing laws to curtail it. Meanwhile, researchers found in 2008 that weight-based discrimination is “increasing at disturbing rates.”

Doesn’t surprise me.

Finally, a WashPost column about anti-Muslim discrimination in Frederick, Md. Someone posted it in comments yesterday. I’m not sure how much to make of it, and I sincerely hope the writer got all the verification she could get, because it’s hard for me to believe there are that many awful bigots in Frederick, but what do I know?

So with that, I’m off to bed and hoping tomorrow will be a little cooler. (It won’t.) I’ll just think of that puppy.

Posted at 12:01 am in Current events, Same ol' same ol' | 115 Comments
 

The end of a long week.

Ugh, what a week. Busy and brutal in equal measure, with a dose of boredom thrown in. A killer combination. But in the middle, there was this:

Strawberry Moon Paddle #belleisle #detroitriver #detroitoutpost #kayakmichigan

A photo posted by Detroit Outpost (@detroitoutpost) on

That’s me! A bright spot in the week, watching the sun set and the moon rise, on a two-hour tour. A two-hour tooouuuur. We saw a whole bunch of geese on a seawall:

geese

And of course I took a selfie. It was pretty dark by this point, so hence the baseball-size grain-that-isn’t-grain, but here you go:

selfieafterdark

The Detroit River is beautiful, day and night.

I hope by this weekend I feel more or less normal again. We’ll see. In the meantime, a question for the room. How long has Scott Adams been such a twit? Of course you should always be suspicious of an opinion based on the anecdote of a commercial for dishwasher detergent, but what the hell?

I came across Adams the way everyone did, via “Dilbert,” which was hilarious and got to the essential truth of corporate employment years ahead of “The Office.” But as so often happens, you need to separate the art from the artist, because in this case the artist is spending his non-Dilberting time writing these weird blog posts about Donald Trump and men’s rights. It’s like when you discovered Miles Davis was a wife-beater.

Jesus, am I tired. Best wrap this up.

Since I started taking better care of myself, people will occasionally offer some helpful advice. Try blue-green algae, say, or take a tablespoon of organic apple cider vinegar every day, or whatever. I smile, I nod, and I keep doing what works: Exercise. For sure:

Although we don’t think of it this way, you can make a pretty good argument that exercise is as good as drugs for many conditions. A 2013 meta-analysis of meta-analyses (that’s how much data we have) combined and analyzed the results from 16 reviews of randomized controlled trials of drug and exercise interventions in reducing mortality. Collectively, these included 305 trials with almost 340,000 participants.

Finally, we missed much of fish fly season here in Grosse Pointe. But as you can see from this photo taken night before last, it’s still going on.

Talk soon.

Posted at 12:06 am in Detroit life, Same ol' same ol' | 88 Comments