Two links and a snap for the weekend.

I promised myself no more two-post weeks, so here goes, because I’m a woman who only breaks promises to herself three, maybe four times a day, and today I’m going for only two. Overslept my alarm and arrived late to the pool, but I got in a solid 50 minutes, so that promise? Kept! Let’s see how this one goes.

Let’s start with a couple of good reads from Politico today.

You might have heard that Michael Cohen’s legal alma mater, Cooley, is routinely branded the worst law school in America by the legal profession itself. It’s a well-known Michigan business, so I’m pretty familiar with this rep. I wasn’t, however, familiar with some of these key details, laid out in a not-too-long, very readable Politico piece:

Recent, publicly available tax records show that the school’s president, Don P. DeLuc was paid $432,000 in 2016. His daughter Laura is one of the school’s associate deans. (The school would not provide the current salary figures for either President DeLuc or his daughter, nor make either of them available for interviews.) The recent tax records show that school’s 88-year-old founder, Thomas Brennan, a former Michigan state Supreme Court justice who stepped down as Cooley’s president in 2002, has continued to be paid more than $329,000 a year as an emeritus professor even though he works only five hours a week. An audit released last year revealed that under his contract, Brennan is entitled to receive a salary “based on two times the salary of a Michigan Supreme Court Justice, plus certain other benefits, until his death.”

The school said Brennan was also unavailable for an interview. He has continued to speak out publicly, however, through his “Old Judge Says” blog, in which he offers commentary that might easily be perceived as anti-Islamic, homophobic and radically insensitive. In a 2016 post, he remembered with affection the blackface minstrel shows of his youth. He recalled how he and his brother performed in local minstrel shows in the Detroit area, “our faces blacked to the teeth.”

“In these days of political correctness, the whole idea of minstrelsy seems preposterous,” he wrote. “But the truth is that minstrelsy was fun.”

Holy shitballs. How did I not know this?

Also in Politico today is a profile of James O’Keefe, the Project Veritas guy. He’s feeling whiny:

Aboard a cramped commuter train heading north, O’Keefe bemoans what he believes is a double standard. Critics consider him a villain for “allegedly” making misleading edits to videos, he says, but why hasn’t Katie Couric been branded with a scarlet letter for the deceptive editing in her 2016 documentary about guns? People still read Rolling Stone, O’Keefe complains, even though it published a 9,000-word account of a campus rape that never occurred. People trust the Post, he notes, but it was forced to print a correction after its ACORN coverage initially stated that O’Keefe had targeted the group because it helped African-Americans and Latinos. “Yet because I selectively edit,” O’Keefe says, using air quotes, “I am the most despicable person on the planet.”

This argument would elicit more sympathy if the critics were wrong about O’Keefe’s editing—it has, at times, been misleading—and if O’Keefe weren’t nurturing a double standard of his own. As our stop nears, he shakes his head and shows me a CNN story on his iPhone. Reporters have contacted advertisers for Alex Jones, the demagogic and conspiracy-minded radio host who is best known for claiming that the children murdered at Sandy Hook Elementary School in 2012 were faking their deaths as part of a government hoax. “Speaking of accuracy,” I say, glancing up. “Haven’t you been on his show?” O’Keefe stiffens. “Yes,” he replies. “And I’m not going to say a negative word about Alex Jones.”

Yummy yummy yummy. I’d also add that when Rolling Stone knew its rape story was false, they asked none other than Columbia Journalism School to investigate its processes, then published its report. Has O’Keefe ever done anything like that? Is that crickets I hear? OK, then.

(You know what has always bugged me about the Rolling Stone story? Even after it was determined that its fake victim, “Jackie,” was lying, almost all media sources continue to refer to her by her first name only, as rape victims are traditionally ID’d by media in these cases. Only the Breitbartian right has called her by her full name, Jackie Coakley. She’s not a mental patient or otherwise worthy of protection, is she? I don’t get it.)

I don’t have much more to report, but this and that:

Heard from Kate, who appears to be having herself a great time in Havana. She texted us a picture. I think my dad use to drive that Ford Chevy in the background. Maybe the same one:

“It’s so colorful,” she otherwise reports. After the five-month slog of a Michigan winter, I bet it is.

And with that, I’m outta here. Have a great weekend, all.

Late edit: Also read this NYT story on the courting of the Obama voter who flipped for Trump, if only because its through line is in Medina County, childhood home of Jeff Borden.

Posted at 10:47 am in Current events, Same ol' same ol' | 79 Comments
 

All wet.

“Flint still doesn’t have clean water” was how Michelle Wolf closed her now-notorious set at the White House correspondents’ dinner Saturday. I hear that a lot. The other day I saw a Facebook post featuring the brother of a friend, who lives in Indiana, thanking him for contributing to some church’s bottled-water drive, “for the people of Flint, who still don’t have clean water.”

As someone who lives about an hour away from Flint, this puzzles me. Flint has been receiving clean, treated Detroit water since shortly after the lead-poisoning scandal was fully revealed; the source was switched back from the Flint River. Of course, the damage had already been done, but in case you’re not up on all the deets, here’s what happened, in a nutshell:

The city, under emergency financial management, made the decision to make the switch from expensive treated Detroit water to the far-cheaper local source in 2014, restarting a riverfront treatment plant that had been mothballed for decades. This was done to save money and bide time until another source, a separate and brand-new water authority drawing from Lake Huron, came online. However, the people in charge of making the switch and running the utility didn’t properly treat the Flint River water.

We have known that corrosive water can eat away at lead pipes and leach the neurotoxin into drinking water for decades. Did we dig up every lead pipe in the country as a result? No. We started treating water with corrosion-control chemicals that, over time, build up a protective layer on the inside of pipes. When all this started, I had Alan check our service line, installed in the 1940s when the house was built. As far as we can tell, it’s lead, so we had the water tested. Lead levels were undetectable; Detroit water is treated properly. (Thanks, beb!) But in Flint, the plant had been out of service so long it didn’t even have the equipment necessary to inject these chemicals. They made the switch anyway. To save money.

And the rest, as Mitch Albom might say, using a cliche in a one-sentence paragraph, is history.

This is about as far as even a well-informed non-Michigan-residing American’s knowledge likely goes. But here’s some more: Besides making the switch back, the city began providing free water filters and bottled water to all residents. Experts advised letting the treated Detroit water flow freely, so the pipes could begin to “heal,” so to speak. As you can imagine, the residents of Flint had, shall we say, lost faith in expert opinion and most other forms of civic authority. Some stopped paying their bills. The public consensus was screw healing these pipes, tear them out and put in new ones. Cases of bottled water sat stacked on porches all over the city. The forces began to muster to start the slow process of pipe replacement.

When I went over there about 18 months ago, it was to watch a typical replacement process for one house and describe why it’s taking so long to accomplish. You can read the story I wrote then, or accept this summation: Because it’s amazingly complicated.

Flint is an old city fallen on hard times, and it has many of the same problems Detroit does with blight and abandonment. So when people elsewhere use “Flint doesn’t have clean water yet” as some sort of virtue-signaling catch phrase, I get a little peevish. Because before anyone turns one shovelful of dirt, about a million questions have to be answered: How do we prioritize? Who goes first? Who’s the owner of this property? (Often a difficult question to answer with so many rentals.) And so on. And that’s before money even enters the picture.

I don’t like to quote my own work, but I liked this passage:

It turns out that digging a hole in the ground in an older city like Flint is a lot like doing surgery in the 19th century. You never really know what you’re going to find in there.

What sounds simple – dig a hole, find the line, replace the line, fill the hole – rarely is. Once lines are laid, few clues on the surface hint at what might be underneath. People plant trees, gardens, live their lives in the houses above. Years pass, decades. The trees stretch their branches to the sun and roots deep into the earth. The city prospers and grows, falters and contracts. Residents move in and out.

And then, one day maybe 90 years after 1410 Ida and its neighbors were new, a bunch of guys in hardhats, mud on their boots, stand staring into a hole at the curb.

And this part:

Every pipe replacement starts with paperwork, because the city isn’t just replacing the lead service lines that run from the water main to the curb, i.e., the part of the line that is city owned. Because the entire system was damaged, they’re replacing the private portion as well, the lines that run from the curb to each house, and that requires written permission from homeowners, who may be absentee.

The houses on Ida Avenue were built in the 1920s. Part of the street is brick, laid in a herringbone pattern. Old street bricks are valuable, and must be preserved at the request of the city’s street department. Sometimes a sidewalk has to be destroyed to get to the line, and that requires repair, as does the street where the hole is dug.

But the main problem is, this is an old neighborhood in an old city. And the city did things differently decades ago.

Oh, and another complication: Winter, which regular readers know lasts for-goddamn-ever in Michigan. Asphalt can only be laid in warmer weather, and the holes created by this process are not suitable for the emergency winter pothole filler known as cold patch.

So you can see why “Flint still doesn’t have clean water” is a little glib. There is no magic wand, no hurry-up process, to replace thousands of service lines. In the meantime, state officials say (and I believe them) that a house with a properly installed water filter has safe drinking water. Again, you can’t blame residents for being suspicious, but chemistry is chemistry. Between the treated source water, filters and bottled water, even a poor resident of Flint in a lead-service-pipe house should be OK. (The state recently announced it was suspending free bottled water for Flint residents, in a move that should be in a dumbass-PR textbook eventually. But that’s a side issue.)

Meanwhile, lead levels are rising among children in? Anyone? Yes, Detroit. Why? The usual suspects — paint, mostly — but in a new delivery system: Dust. Demolitions of the city’s infamous oversupply of vacant and blighted housing have picked up in recent years, and even with a firehose spraying over the wreckage as it comes down, a certain amount of lead is aerated, and kids living within 200 feet of these demos are at risk.

Basically, it sucks to be poor. Or, put another way, they don’t call it “poor health” for nothing.

Man, I am running slow this morning. Barely slept last night, thinking about the approaching 4:30 a.m. alarm. I had to take Kate to the airport, where she left for three weeks of study abroad in Havana. I’m so envious, as I’d hoped to go to Cuba sometime this year, before the door slammed shut again. (I know, it’s possible. It’s just more of a pain.) She’ll be exploring the roots of native music and dance for two credit hours before commencing the rest of her summer break. I tried to shove all the knowledge I have of travel in places that aren’t modern Western democracies into her head; we’ll see if it takes. I just want her to have a good time and learn the rumba.

But now she’s laying over in Ft. Lauderdale, and will be officially overseas by mid afternoon. She’s carrying my vintage Nikon SLR, and I hope to see it again, but who knows. Alan packed her off with saxophone reeds and guitar strings as gifts for the native musicians they’ll be encountering; I expect new ones are hard to come by. She’s also carrying little Dove chocolates and Twizzlers to share with kids. I expect she’ll make some new friends.

Me, I gotta get some chores done.

Posted at 10:32 am in Current events, Same ol' same ol' | 61 Comments
 

Still sprinter.

I wish I could tell you that this weekend’s hellstorm was followed by something more seasonal, but no. It’s still cold, and yesterday we woke up to snow on the ground. Yes, it melted after the sun came up, BUT STILL.

Hello, Wednesday. Stormy Daniels is in Detroit tonight. Plans to see her still not gelled. She had to scratch her last date because travel delays didn’t put her in town in time to get her cabaret license, which she needs to dance in the city. I went out with friends last night, and suggested we tweet at her about taking her out to dinner. The way I figure it is, she’ll have to get the license during business hours, but her shows aren’t starting until close to midnight, which leaves hours to kill, and why not kill them with nice people who know the fun spots and won’t stare at her boobs?

This is my life now: Chasing strippers, and teaching myself podcasting. Which isn’t easy.

How’s everyone otherwise? What’s today’s news? Last night, someone said, rather mournfully, “I want gridlock in Washington again.” Who can’t identify?

So, a little bloggage? Sure:

Donald Trump’s addiction to lawyers, via Politico.

Via the WashPost, a spectacular video about how the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School journalism students put out the issue of the school paper dealing with the shooting there. Twenty minutes, well worth your time. I pass it along not only because it’s great video journalism, but because the picture it paints of the school itself, which is a virtual cathedral of learning, with a beautiful building, new computers, and opportunities for field trips to places like New York City. Compare this to a school in the poor parts of the city where you live. Kate’s high school was like this. Like many public institutions, quality varies widely.

OK, enough of the morning has slid by. Have a good one, all.

Posted at 11:13 am in Media, Same ol' same ol' | 51 Comments
 

Sprinter.

I wish I could tell you the headline for this piece is about a new exercise habit, but no. We’ve been imprisoned for most of the weekend by the weather, which can’t even be called the typical late-winter Michigan sucker punch, as we’re nearly a month into spring AND THIS SHIT IS RIDICULOUS. If you live east of the Mississippi, chances are you are, too — the storm runs from Florida to the upper Midwest, and depending on your latitude, you can enjoy tornadoes, drenching rain, freezing rain, piles of snow, gusty winds, all of it.

We avoided the snow, but northern Michigan was buried. RainrainrainrainRAIN here all day Saturday, freezing rain overnight, then more RainrainrainrainRAIN all day Sunday. I should have gone to the Schvitz, but I baked bread and did laundry and read Laura Lippman’s newest via the Kindle app. The world’s critics speak as one: It’s very good. And I agree.

In between there was a wedding:

The groom is on Alan’s staff, so I was the plus-one, although I’ve met the couple earlier. The bride is a flight attendant, and was the first to tell me about the emotional support turkey she flew with. I post the photo because I’m so impressed by their wedding photographer, even though I suspect she may have been inspired by this earlier execution:

A post shared by Beyoncé (@beyonce) on

But choosing the Detroit Public Library, and its magnificent murals, as a setting was pretty great. It bookended how the weekend started, with a screening of “Beauty and Ruin” at the DIA, part of the Freep Film Festival. It was very good, not perfect, but far from terrible, a documentary about the battle over the collection of the Detroit Institute of Arts during the city’s bankruptcy.

In between reading a new mystery, dolling myself up for the wedding, kneading bread and scowling at my flooded street, of course I tried to keep up with the news from Washington. I read the Adam Davidson piece in the New Yorker that someone posted, and I wish I could agree with it, but let’s face it — too many false alarms. He concludes:

Of course Trump is raging and furious and terrified. Prosecutors are now looking at his core. Cohen was the key intermediary between the Trump family and its partners around the world; he was chief consigliere and dealmaker throughout its period of expansion into global partnerships with sketchy oligarchs. He wasn’t a slick politico who showed up for a few months. He knows everything, he recorded much of it, and now prosecutors will know it, too. It seems inevitable that much will be made public. We don’t know when. We don’t know the precise path the next few months will take. There will be resistance and denial and counterattacks. But it seems likely that, when we look back on this week, we will see it as a turning point. We are now in the end stages of the Trump Presidency.

We’ll see.

Onward to the week, eh?

Posted at 5:43 pm in Current events, Same ol' same ol' | 54 Comments
 

Medium rare.

I wish I had more to tell you about the weekend, but it was pretty quiet, rotating around a friend’s 50th-birthday party. His wife threw a dinner party that was pretty luxe in every detail, up to and including the personalized beef Wellington:

Which were even prettier after they came out of the oven:

And there was fondue beforehand, and creme brûlée afterward. Alan was asked to bring his propane torch, and he put a nice crackly crust on the dessert. It was all quite glorious.

I got the birthday boy a Moleskine and a new pen. He’s recently jumped into journaling with great enthusiasm, and watching him explain his various systems made me wonder if I needed to write more down. Honestly, I haven’t felt like writing much more than grocery lists for months. Maybe it’ll get the gears moving again.

So, just a few bloggage items today:

Neil Steinberg considers the good old days.

I knew there was a good reason I had no idea who Tony Robbins was until just recently.

And now I’m going to do the Sunday crossword. Monday awaits.

Posted at 8:21 pm in Same ol' same ol' | 59 Comments
 

The good china.

I don’t know what it is with me and the Friday post these last few weeks. No excuse, but it seems the weekend errands and chores have been intruding into my Fridays. Not this week, with an official day off on Good Friday for maybe the first time in my whole career. I celebrated by meeting a friend for breakfast, then moving to another place for a single bloody mary.

It was Opening Day, after all. (The real O.D. was rained out.) It’s like a rule that if you live in the Metro Detroit area, you have to consume at least a little alcohol.

Then home to clean bathrooms, and ended up meeting Alan at the Schvitz, doing another of their great one-off events: Steam, followed by “Eastern Promises” upstairs. We skipped the steam, but the movie was great, and if you saw it, you know why it was selected for that venue, right? It features a fantastically blocked and staged knife fight in a steam bath, with a buck-naked Viggo Mortensen up against two Chechen mobsters. No one does movie violence quite like David Cronenberg.

All in all, not a bad Friday. Saturday was consumed with preparation for Sunday. We took lunch down to Defiance. I got out the beautiful cut-glass deviled-egg plate my sister gave me a while back for its annual appearance. I wondered if it was worth risking chips and potential breakage, then thought eh, go for it. We drag the good china around our lives, and hardly ever use it. My recent philosophy: Use it. Use the good china. Your children won’t care if it comes to them with a chip or three.

Back to work tomorrow. In the meantime, some links for you guys to enjoy. Or not enjoy. Although mostly enjoy:

I haven’t seen “The Death of Stalin” yet, but I’m a big fan of Armando Iannucci, so of course I read this piece about how to do political satire in, um, this fraught moment:

But reality has jumped the shark right now, and any attempt to present a fictional version of today’s events would never be as crazy as the real thing. The truth — in Washington, London or Moscow — is much more demented than fiction, signaling a full-on existential crisis for the comedy writer. No showrunner in his or her right mind would make their sitcom president urge his press secretary to go out on Day 1 of his administration and change the laws of math. If a hapless Sean Spicer character on a TV comedy had to spin photos showing a half-empty Mall into proof of the biggest inauguration crowd ever assembled, ever, period, President Trump would tweet that it was “unwatchable.”

Unwatchable comedy has come to Britain, too. Last year, Prime Minister Theresa May stood before her party conference and had a coughing fit while the letters in the slogan “Building a country that works for everyone” started falling off the screen behind her. If that had been presented to me as a script idea, I would have rejected it as too childish. It would have been a step up in maturity if the writers then suggested that the remaining letters should form the word “butt.”

Funny catch phrases from 40 comedies. Most of which aren’t that funny, and from movies I haven’t seen, so pfft.

If you haven’t seen this video yet, please watch. I’m torn between believing these people are whores, actors or victims. Right now I’m at “whores,” but that will change.

Let’s charge into the week ahead. APRIL.

Posted at 8:14 pm in Current events, Same ol' same ol' | 78 Comments
 

Warming up.

My new stove has a warming drawer. It’s genius. The drawer under the oven? Where you probably throw your pot lids and broiler pan and other hard-to-store items? The new thing now is to put a heating element on the bottom and lo, a warming drawer. I can find another place to store my pot lids, but I will give up this warming drawer when you pry it from my perfectly warm fingers.

Last night I was making dinner when Alan texted to say he wouldn’t be leaving the office until 8. That means he won’t be home until 8:40. I have to eat by 8 or I sleep badly.

That’s why we have a warming drawer, I replied. And I plated Alan’s chicken, rice and asparagus, put foil over it and stuck it in the warming drawer, on low, where it stayed for nearly an hour. Alan reports everything was delicious, and even the asparagus failed to shrivel.

People talk about when they felt they were truly an adult, or rich, or whatever. I always say that nothing made me feel that I was movin’ on up in the world like my first washer/dryer. Farewell, Solar Sudser laundromat, eater of one evening out of 10. Although I will say, it was the best people-watching in Fort Wayne. The clerk had trichotillomania (a compulsive disorder that caused her to pull out her hair) and a life that was a continuing series of disasters. I know because she discussed each one on the phone, loudly, while I sat eight feet away trying to read my new Spy or Vanity Fair.

I have a feeling my warming drawer will be another big lifestyle upgrade. I’m a simple woman, easy to please.

Friday: An ode to my incredibly quiet dishwasher, which shines a light on the floor to tell you it’s running, because you can barely hear it.

Not really.

Back when I was an equestrian, I boarded my horse at a barn with a fox hunter, a lawyer who basically lived for the sport — he didn’t work Tuesdays, because his hunt rode out twice a week, Saturdays and Tuesdays, and he didn’t miss. One day he debriefed me on their practices, and later on, when animal-rights groups made fox hunting a focus, and successfully banned it in England, of all places, I knew how much shit they were talking. Among the things I learned from my co-boarder:

The fox almost always “wins” the hunt, by going to ground (its burrow) before the hounds catch it. In the olden days, when fox were hunted because they were decimating the neighborhood henhouses, that’s when the terrier handlers would send in the Jack Russells, but no one does that anymore, because in the tradition of intelligent modern hunting, the hunter husbands the prey. Trout Unlimited and Ducks Unlimited, with memberships primarily comprised of anglers and hunters, do more for habitat preservation than many environmental groups, because no habitat? No trout or ducks. There is no Fox Unlimited, but fox hunters go to great lengths to make sure they have fox to hunt. They lose far more hounds in the course of a season — to cars, of course — than fox; one or two (fox) a year was a typical casualty list. They only hunt in winter, because spring and summer is when the prey are raising kits. And so on.

Have I bored you to death yet? No? Well then, you might enjoy this lavishly illustrated Washington Post feature on modern fox hunting in the D.C. area, which is probably the center of the sport in the U.S. It’s such a beautiful sport, and every piece of that fancy clothing has a specific purpose. Especially the flask, ha ha.

What else? Hmm. Are self-driving cars on your local radar the way they are in Michigan? Perhaps not, but the technology is galloping ahead like a field of fox hunters, and as a lot of the research and testing is being done by the domestic auto industry, we’re seeing a certain amount of it here. There’s a driverless van shuttling around the University of Michigan north campus, and a big proving ground out that way. A lot of people — including the organization I work for — is trying to see into the future, because man, when self-driving reaches critical mass, there is going to be a revolution in the economy. Job loss, job creation, winners and losers and things we haven’t even thought about. Bloomberg hazards a scan of just a few things that will change as a result.

I like driving, except when I hate it.

Of course, there are a few bugs to be worked out. Contains shriek-worthy dash cam video of the crash in question.

Time to put the nose to the old grindstone. Happy Wednesday.

Posted at 9:58 am in Current events, Same ol' same ol' | 69 Comments
 

Now we’re cooking with gas.

Every year, when the Olympics begins, I ask myself, why don’t I spend more time watching short-track speed skating? Every four years is too long to stay away from this crazy shit. And then, when the Olympics ends, I think, eh, see you folks in four. If speed skating was that thrilling to watch, we wouldn’t need football.

Although we’re all thinking about baseball now, aren’t we? Spring training is underway in Florida and Arizona, and the winter is in retreat, with the usual skirmishes as it does so. Now we’re just counting the days, literally. A nursery near my house has a countdown-to-spring sign it puts up right around now. The light is different on my late-afternoon dog walk. There are worst things to notice as I wait for the p.m. canine bowel movement.

Oh, look — more speed skating on the teevee.

May I have a drumroll, please? It is finished.

Yes, very happy, especially considering this is what we started with, from approximately the same angle:

I cooked my first meal on a gas stove tonight, and man, it felt good. Now to dirty this room up with life. It’ll never look this good again.

I’m restocking slowly and methodically. Everything has to be washed, and why not get a start on death cleaning by pitching the extra loaf pans, is what I always say.

I’d like to say something about the events of the day – CPAC, Wayne LaPierre, pothole hell – but it’s the end of the week, I worked hard today and all I want to do is put my small appliances back where they belong.

At least speed-skating appears to be over for the time being.

A good weekend, all.

Posted at 10:00 pm in Same ol' same ol' | 57 Comments
 

Meatballs for lunch.

For those of you who own Aeron chairs, a tip: Those mesh seats allow dust to fall through, and one day you will drop a pencil, bend down to pick it up and be so consumed with shame at the sight of its undercarriage caked in dust that you must stop what you’re doing this instant and clean that shit up.

I hate finding long-hidden dirt. When we took down the framed artwork in the kitchen, there were dust bunnies behind the frames. But who the hell cleans behind pictures? And needless to say, when we pulled the fridge out, there were horrors lying in wait.

No dead mice or anything, though. We are told that we’ll have a functioning kitchen by the end of the week. I’ll settle for a stove and running water. Alan has a plan to refit two closets, so most of Saturday was consumed with a trip to Ikea.

“The best thing about a trip to Ikea?” I said as we got into the car. “Swedish meatballs for lunch.”

And that was, indeed, the best thing about driving 45 minutes each way to get to goddamn Ikea — bland meat orbs in a powder-based gravy. That’s because they were out of the shelving we wanted, even though the website said they had nine sets in stock. “Uh, I guess the website hasn’t caught up,” the apologetic warehouse worker offered. We also got some silverware trays for our new kitchen drawers, but once we got them home, found they didn’t quite fit. So really, the meatballs were the best part of the day.

But lunch for two only cost $18. And we even split a dessert.

Hope springs eternal, and today Alan cobbled together another configuration of shelving, Ikea promised it was in stock, and he headed back out to get it, ill-fitting silverware trays in tow. I stayed home and cleaned up construction dust to the best of my ability.

To better weekends, once this is over.

In the meantime, there was some bloggage:

I am shocked, shocked to learn that Australians were involved in this:

A violent brawl that broke out on a Carnival Cruise Lines ship bound for Melbourne, forcing the vessel to dock early in NSW, may have been sparked by a dispute over a thong.

(That’s a flip-flop to some of you. We called them thongs when I was a kid.)

(A fellow passenger) said she believed the violence had all been instigated by one large family group of at least 20 people who “came onto the boat wanting to fight people” and were using any excuse to start trouble.

Travelling with her partner and another couple, she said their group became targeted two days ago after one member accidentally brushed past a member of the “violent” family.

I’ve known people like that, but they usually confine themselves to local taverns. The captain of the ship was quoted in another publication saying to a passenger who wanted the group put off the ship, “What do you want me to do? Throw them overboard?” In this case, I think that would have been a splendid remedy. And quite entertaining to watch.

In public discussions of higher ed, the comments swing wildly from “every child should have the opportunity to attend” to “not every child is suited for college, you know.” Both can be true, you know. Sarah Vowell strikes the right balance with this nice ode to Montana State, her alma mater, and land-grant colleges everywhere.

We are not fashion bloggers here, but we like fashion, so here’s a great shot of Helen Mirren, looking amazing.

Finally, I know the man is uncoachable, but can no one persuade him to stop doing this? Maybe by telling him it makes his hands look even smaller?

Onward into the week. Hope yours is great.

Posted at 5:42 pm in Current events, Same ol' same ol' | 97 Comments
 

Ten firehoses.

Another Friday, another late post. Well, there’s always the weekend ahead.

Truth be told, we’re even more confined to the second floor of the house as this kitchen project lurches on, although I hope it’s better this weekend. Yesterday was the absolute worst, with the appliances being delivered (one of them, anyway) along with the cabinets, which together filled every inch of space in the living and dining room. The cabinets are being built and hung today, so some of the footprint is reduced, but I have a stove in my living room and pretty much everything is filthy now.

And so I am not a very happy person. I need order. I have chaos. They tell me relief will come next week. We shall see.

This is what my chaos looks like, in the meantime.

Another reason I’ve not been motivated to write: The news just keeps coming. The portrait unveilings, subject of the last post, feel like they happened in 2012, now that they’ve been eclipsed by the school shooting, the Playboy Trump mistress and the Russia indictments, all in 48 hours. I read the Playboy-mistress story at 5:30 this morning, and the Russian indictments dropped during the lunch hour. I feel dizzy.

That’s not even counting ancillary stories, like Scott Pruitt flying around the country in first class because someone was mean to him the last time he sat in coach, “mean” being “told him to stop ruining the environment.”

Does it seem like something in the air has finally changed, though? I’m wary of epistemic closure, and I try to pay attention to the other side, I really do, but it does seem we’re in a different place now, public opinion-wise, than we were a year ago. Every parent I know with a school-age child is incandescent with rage. But I don’t get out nearly enough to qualify as a public-opinion expert.

In the meantime, even though Jolene posted this already, I want to bring it to your attention again: Just because you agree with a particular organization doesn’t mean they’re playing by the rules. In this case, it’s Everytown for Gun Safety, and their oft-quoted statistic that there have been 18 school shootings this year. No there hasn’t:

Everytown has long inflated its total by including incidents of gunfire that are not really school shootings. Take, for example, what it counts as the year’s first: On the afternoon of Jan. 3, a 31-year-old man who had parked outside a Michigan elementary school called police to say he was armed and suicidal. Several hours later, he killed himself. The school, however, had been closed for seven months. There were no teachers. There were no students.

Which makes it not a school shooting, in my mind. The organization I work for now has a hashtag: #FactsMatter. They really do. You can’t build good policy on a weak foundation. Keep that in mind the next time the news blows up, which will probably be in…about eight minutes.

Have a good weekend, all.

Posted at 5:46 pm in Current events, Same ol' same ol' | 55 Comments