Bleak Friday.

The news was so horrible today, I took a rare break from it. I had plenty to do in other corners of the internet, and it made for a good excuse. Thanks to Jolene and others for keeping us informed of the high points of the day’s developments (and Coozledad for serving as the voice of my id Thursday); it meant I didn’t have to wade into the swamp. I’m sure there are not only alligators there, but snakes, mosquitoes and stinking mud.

These events are awful in so may ways beyond the obvious. I simply dread the weeks of bullshit, the moronic discussions on cable news, the self-promoting talking heads who simply aren’t helping in any way. How did we get to a point that this much static is simply expected? Maybe it’s time to do that thing people do and stop paying attention.

At least, stop paying attention to most of it. If anyone comes across the inevitable men’s rights advocates talking about the dangers of “low-status males,” let me know so I can go to ground for another week or so.

While we wait for a few things to settle out, and we learn more about those involved — like this roommate who apparently listened to this guy’s murder fantasies for six months without saying anything about it; talk about a piece of work — let’s look at a few other stories.

I’m not much for most newspaper think pieces, but as a swimmer, I found this one interesting:

Once a mainstay of cities nationwide, public swimming pools are becoming relics, waylaid by budget cuts, changing tastes and perception issues that touch on race and class. In the past few years alone, public pools have closed from Westland and Dearborn to Detroit and Royal Oak Township.

That’s not to say there’s nowhere to swim. There are 1,200 outdoor pools in Wayne, Oakland and Macomb counties that Michigan regulators define as “public.” More than 90 percent are anything but, tucked behind gates of subdivisions, marinas or swim clubs where membership fees of $2,000 aren’t uncommon.

It’s hard to imagine for me; I grew up in a bathing suit, living at the pool all summer long, along with everybody else in my neighborhood and school. Lessons were in the morning, then we came home for lunch and went back in the summer for general goofing off. The rules: No running, no horseplay on “the deck” (it was tolerated in the pool), few others. In this wildly unstructured block of summer, we all came of age. So this was interesting:

A simple swimming pool doesn’t cut it anymore, Yack said.

“If you don’t have a pool with lots of gadgets, gizmos and slides, chances are it’s going to be under-utilized and the cost of maintaining it will be difficult,” said Yack, who retired as supervisor in 2008 and is now serving as a township trustee.

We had diving boards, and that was pretty much it for gadgets, gizmos and slides. Of course, we were allowed to take floaties into the water, something verboten at our pool. We have a slide, with a million rules — no jewelry, no metal of any sort on one’s suit, only so many people allowed on the steps at a time, and so on and on and on.

I hate to see this, though. Swimming is a life skill. It shouldn’t be yet another thing divided by class and money.

GOP outreach to the younger demographic continues.

I had one more story to share, but I see it’s about Rachel Dolezal, and her 15 minutes are up.

Happy weekend, all.

Posted at 12:40 am in Current events | 113 Comments
 

Crazy nation.

For some reason I can’t quite explain, I’m a member of a Facebook group for Grosse Pointe moms. Here’s a post from today:

We want to have our daughter baptized but my husband and I aren’t currently members at a local church. Anyone know of a church in the area that will baptize her without a waiting period (seems the ones I’ve contacted require us to become members for six months before they will baptize her)? Don’t want to wait that long because she’ll be too big then to fit into the gown I was baptized in.

I held my tongue, but on this issue I’ve been rather influenced by my brushes with the orthodox Catholics in my circle, as well as our own Jeff the mild-mannered, and am tempted to say, where do you get off, lady? Churches aren’t public utilities, and if you don’t believe enough to even join a church, why bother to baptize your child at all? It’s not just about baptismal gowns, and if it is, again, why even bother?

Religion. Go figure.

I don’t know about you, but the talker of the day, for me, was this fantastic story out of Texas, where they want to claim the state’s share of Fort Knox’ gold and repatriate it to the Lone Star state, for…well, let them explain it:

On Friday, Gov. Greg Abbott signed legislation that will create a state-run gold depository in the Lone Star State – one that will attempt to rival those operated by the U.S. government inside Fort Knox and the Federal Reserve Bank of New York’s vault in lower Manhattan. “The Texas Bullion Depository,” Abbott said in a statement, “will become the first state-level facility of its kind in the nation, increasing the security and stability of our gold reserves and keeping taxpayer funds from leaving Texas to pay for fees to store gold in facilities outside our state.” Soon, Abbott’s office said, the state “will repatriate $1 billion of gold bullion from the Federal Reserve in New York to Texas.” In other words, when it comes preparing for the currency collapse and financial armeggedon, Abbott’s office really seems to think Texas is a whole ‘nother country.

Someone in this readership must live in Texas. I ask you: WHAT THE EFFIN’ EFF? This country is insane. I can’t wait to read the histories of our era, when I’m old.

While we’re on the subject, here’s quite the read from New York magazine. Remember during the last election, when the Mississippi tea party tried to bring down Sen. Thad Cochran, deemed too RINO for the state that ranks 50th in most measures of excellence? They thought if they captured a photo or video of his tragically afflicted wife, in a nursing home for a decade with early-onset dementia, they’d have his scalp, since Cochran had a ladylove on the side. Things didn’t work out for them, and someone took his own life. I’ll say it again: Our country has gone mad.

On a lighter topic, then. Our own Jeff Borden, if he hadn’t been a journalist, would have made a great radio program director. He once told me his idea for a killer rock station: Great music and all-female DJs, none of whom — this was key — would ever show their faces in public. He said, “I don’t care if they weight 300 pounds and have the face of a bulldog. If they had a great, sexy voice they could work for me. But no one ever sees them. Ever.” The idea, obviously, was to create a community where the sound was awesome and the visuals were entirely up to the listener.

So, a local DJ died this week. He was gone way before I ever came here. I never heard him. But from his obit, he had the right idea. There’s a sound check embedded in the story. What a voice.

So we slide down the downslope of the week. More work to do. Do yours.

Posted at 12:30 am in Current events, Popculch | 58 Comments
 

Watching the river flow.

When I was invited to an all! day! meeting! yesterday — and by “invited,” I mean, “told to show up on time, appropriately dressed” — I wasn’t exactly thrilled. There’s been a lot of sitting in my schedule lately, and besides being terrible for the bum and lower back, it’s just boring.

However.

Today’s meeting had a view:

skyline

So that helped a lot. And there was lunch, too. And the meeting wasn’t boring.

You know I bear no ill will toward Columbus, my hometown, but it does suffer from an acute lack of natural…anything. Like so many state capitals in the Midwest, it’s centrally located in a farm state, near no natural feature more interesting than its two muddy rivers. So I appreciate the blue straits, and Lake St. Clair, and the freighters that pass by during shipping season.

Much news happened while we were confined to the second floor of Bayview Yacht Club. Donald Trump is running for president, and from the photographic evidence, he’s stopped tinting his hair with Tang breakfast drink (as Dave Barry once observed about Strom Thurmond).

Let the jocularity begin, because what else can we have over this? Roy has an early gloss of the reaction from the right.

While we’re in New York, a great slide show from a New York tabloid photographer, c. 1980 and thereabouts.

Remember the Michigan tea party legislator I wrote about a while back? He’s the subject of a hot rumor these days. And, strictly by coincidence, I had another legislator profile in Bridge this week. Of course, it’s getting a fraction of the commenting attention being paid to a story about a toilet.

Science you can use: Why you probably hate the sound of your own voice:

Your body is better at carrying low, rich tones than the air is. So when those two sources of sound get combined into one perception of your own voice, it sounds lower and richer. That’s why hearing the way your voice sounds without all the body vibes can be off-putting — it’s unfamiliar — or even unpleasant, because of the relative tinniness.

Of all the Rachel Dolezal takes, I like Kareem’s quite a lot:

See, I too have been living a lie. For the past 50 years I’ve been keeping up this public charade, pretending to be something I’m not. Finally, in the wake of so many recent personal revelations by prominent people, I’ve decided to come out with the truth.

I am not tall (#shortstuff).

Although I’ve been claiming to be 7’2” for many decades, the truth is that I’m 5’8”. And that’s when I first get out of bed in the morning.

Wednesday! Time to get crackin’ on the story I would have started yesterday if I hadn’t been staring at the river.

Posted at 12:30 am in Current events, Same ol' same ol' | 41 Comments
 

Punctuated.

In the world ruled by moi, everyone would be issued five exclamation points on January 1. You can use them all in one day, or use them judiciously throughout the year, but when you’re done you’re done until the following New Year’s Day.

You want to live in my world? Learn to use the exclamation point!

Oh, the things that occur to me when I’m making my way through a 58-slide PowerPoint.

And if you know I’m reading PowerPoints, you know it’s a real Monday kind of Monday.

Just one thing today: “Game of Thrones” is concluded for another year. Which one of the dozens of recaps do you need to read? Just Grantland’s.

Let’s try again tomorrow.

Posted at 12:30 am in Same ol' same ol' | 60 Comments
 

Done and gone.

So, first this happened:

katethegrad

…and then this happened:

showinhamtramck

…and just like that, high school is over. Thank heaven, because I was ready for it. Toward the end there, her high school got several bomb threats, nothing Columbine-like, just the usual freakout over some bathroom graffiti. I hasten to add I understand the freakout — you can’t ignore that stuff — but the day I received an email from the district with this Scooby Doo subject line — North solves mystery and keeps focus on teaching and learning — I just kind of mentally threw in the towel. Bring on a new set of irritations. Microaggressions, climbing tuition bills, all of it. P.S. The mystery wasn’t solved. The day after they nabbed the kid they thought was making the threats, a new one appeared. Oh, well. School’s out.

I still can’t believe the Vipers booked a show the night of graduation. I had paid $70 for a ticket to the all-night party, and she was going to go, dammit. I made arrangements for her to be let in after the admission window had closed (you can understand why they have to do these things; someone might bring in a bomb) and she came home at sunrise with the usual party favors, including a pair of green boxer shorts with “Kiss me I’m Irish” all over them. Boxer Short Bingo, I gathered.

Now I will take a one-year break from caring who the superintendent is, the status of the teacher contract, and of course whether the district’s wifi will ever be brought up to snuff. I will commence caring again in June 2016. For now, I have no more fucks to give, as the kids say.

So, a little bit o’ bloggage as we start the week:

I found this story fascinating. A softball player at MSU is claiming an assistant coach threw two pitches at her head after she was overheard saying unflattering things about the program to a reporter, off the record. The coaches could be looking at assault charges, I expect. Laura Lippman has written several books with the theme that women’s worst enemies are often other women. I’ll say.

How Michigan is going to overturn its prevailing-wage law. Worth reading.

Honestly, I never expected a Bush — especially the smart one — to be this incompetent, but it’s just one thing after another with this guy. Or should I say, this guy!

The Rachel Dolezal case is simply a wonder to me. Someone on my Facebook feed wondered if this isn’t some sort of Munchausen’s syndrome. I wonder.

So let’s get the week underway, shall we?

Posted at 12:06 am in Current events, Same ol' same ol' | 30 Comments
 

Brainwashed.

Well, I think orientation’s done. For us, anyway. Kate’s program goes into day three, but I’ll be picking her up this morning. Upside: She’ll be registered, propagandized and basically ready to begin school in September. And I’ll know what laptop I need to buy for her.

I came away from the experience believing that college sure is different these days. Of course, when you’re standing on the brink of spending a fortune, would you want to go into it half-prepared? The program was excellent overall, answering every question either parents or incoming students could possibly have. There was a session about how to succeed academically, talking about study habits and the zillion resources students have at their fingertips. There were talks about stress, counseling services, academic advising, safety, housing, health care and more I’m probably forgetting. We talked about their feelings. We talked about our feelings.

And we learned the fight song. The best line of the session came from the housing guy, who was very funny, and pointed out that Michigan’s fight song is the only one that doesn’t exhort the team to fight and win, but just assumes they’ve already done so.

“You’ve gotten your kids into this school! You’ve won! You’re the leaders and best!” We heard that a lot. I’m sure the new freshmen did, too. And so you see why people who attend Michigan State say that AA stands not for Ann Arbor, but arrogant assholes.

And yes, to all who asked — laundry machines now operate with a card swipe. You load them up with Blue Bucks, and it goes down the drain as suds.

So now the summer unfolds before us. Graduation is later today. I plan to have a cocktail after.

Not much bloggage because I wasn’t online, but here’s this: The First Lady’s increasing outspokenness on race and FLOTUS-hood.

Mrs. Obama has often been open about personal experiences and race in speeches that went unnoticed by the news media, but rarely more so than in the speech at Tuskegee, where she recalled the New Yorker cover depicting her with a large Afro and an assault rifle. “Now, yeah, it was satire, but if I’m being really honest, it knocked me back a bit,” she said. “It made me wonder, just how are people seeing me.”

She noted that a fist bump with her husband was referred to as a terrorist fist jab. “And over the years,” she said, “folks have used plenty of interesting words to describe me. One said I exhibited ‘a little bit of uppity-ism.’ Another noted that I was one of my husband’s ‘cronies of color.’ Cable news once charmingly referred to me as ‘Obama’s Baby Mama.’ ”

…But outside that room, it stirred debate. To some critics, it sounded as if Mrs. Obama was complaining about a privileged life, and as if she were bitter and resentful. Ron Christie, who served as an aide to President George W. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney, said that as an African-American he was proud that the Obamas live in the White House.

“I just wish the Obamas would recognize the historical significance of that rather than say racism is driving everything down or that America is inherently racist,” he said. “America is not this mean, angry, racist place that sometimes I think the first family in the form of Michelle Obama would like you to believe.”

It wasn’t that long ago that someone first brought my attention to a conservative blogger named Matt Walsh, and ever since, it appears he’s everywhere. One of my Facebook friends is always posting his long, long, lightly edited screeds about this and that, and he’s gotten quite the readership, I gather. If you’ve never heard of him, I think this Gawker explication is about right:

Walsh, a 28-year-old married father of two from the Baltimore area, writes with a level of arrogance that makes Bill O’Reilly look like a monk. As the mighty defender of the majority, he offers a much-needed perspective for heterosexual, white, American men. Walsh is the cool Christian millennial for oppressed conservatives everywhere. He drinks! He smokes! He has tattoos! He’s not like those other stuffy right-wingers. If you feel like today’s conservative Christian pundits are just too kind and tolerant, don’t worry: Walsh thinks Christians should be more judgmental.

Pandering to the masses of right-wing fundamentalists, Walsh responds to current issues with a degree of moral outrage that asserts the stupidity and wrongness of anyone who disagrees with him, regularly touting that “liberals” and “progressives” are the ultimate enemy against God and country. Wait, what if you’re a Christian and a progressive? Don’t raise your hand, because Matt Walsh doesn’t think you really exist: he’s fully prepared to determine whether you’re a Christian or not. But his perspectives aren’t actually based in theological truth, much less Christian love.

Finally, now that’s what I call…disgusting.

Cap! Gown! Let’s do this!

Posted at 12:23 am in Same ol' same ol' | 78 Comments
 

Brave new world.

After a full day at the University of Michigan, with another half-day ahead tomorrow, I am exhausted and have much to report, but at the moment can only summon this one example of wonder, which I offer you now:

The dorm laundry facilities can be monitored online, and will indicate how many machines are free, as well as how much time remains on those that are in use.

Signs and wonders.

Carry on.

Posted at 12:13 am in Same ol' same ol' | 43 Comments
 

A long sit.

If you have to have a four-hour meeting, you should have it in our Ann Arbor office, where three windows look out onto green loveliness and you can gather strength from the verdant fields stretching away into more greenness, and…excuse me, did you say something? My back hurts during a meeting that long. But there was a lunch afterward, and more meetings, and now we’re all done for another quarter.

That was Monday. Plus the drive there in the rain, and the drive back in the mugginess, and then some spaghetti carbonara, because I can’t always get it together to marinate something and otherwise plan a decent dinner. Sometimes bacon and eggs and spaghetti is the best you can do. Fortunately, it’s delicious.

Tomorrow is orientation in Ann Arbor. I still have cleaning to do before graduation. And yet here I sit. Sue me.

It’s an all-pop culture bloggage menu today, because I’m out of gas to think very deeply:

What will be the song of the summer? A few contenders.

How horrible can people be? In a Walmart shampoo aisle, pretty horrible.

“Caps lock is the Palin family’s rhetorical open-carry.”

Off to bed.

Posted at 12:39 am in Popculch, Same ol' same ol' | 29 Comments
 

Full flower.

It appears flower season is over at Eastern Market, and thank Gaia for that. Besides produce, the market is full of bedding plants and perennials and hanging baskets and potted trees and all the rest of your landscaping needs, at bargain prices. Of course this attracts people from all over the metro area, intent on getting all their annuals in one go while of course stopping for lunch at some restaurant they visit twice a year and getting lots of snaps for their Pinterest page. All of these people drag enormous wagons and clog up everything.

It’s impossible, i’ve found, to get up early enough to beat this crowd. Last week I was ready to do some murderdeathkill, but this week the crowds were considerably less, and so I was able to get my arugula and eggs and meat. Eggs are $4 a dozen. Avian flu, the sellers all said. “I heard a guy in Iowa lost eight million,” one said.

“Maybe that’s why he had avian flu in the first place,” I said. What do I know? I’m no poultry producer. Just more b.s. that woman had to listen to last Saturday.

It was a lovely day, so we hit the water.

panorama

A little bumpiness in the panorama, sorry — it’s hard enough to keep the arrow on the line when exposing a panorama on solid ground, much less while out on the bounding main.

Sunday, I cleaned. And sweated. It went from clear and chilly to overcast and muggy in a trice. In other words, typical Michigan weather.

Expect spotty posting this week. Kate graduates Thursday, attends orientation in Ann Arbor Tuesday and Wednesday. Sunrise, sunset. Etcetera.

So let’s get to it, then:

Jeff posted this story last week in comments, but I just got a chance to read it, the story of the crafting of the president’s Selma speech. My favorite passage:

“Those who only understand exceptionalism as preserving the past; who deny our faults or inequality; who say love it or leave it; those are the people who are afraid,” Obama said, according to Keenan’s notes. “Those are the people who think America is some fragile thing.”

Worth a read.

And at the end of Saturday came the Belmont, which I simply couldn’t watch. I was so sure this would be like every other Derby-Preakness winner, but at the last minute I turned it on, and got to see the race from the backstretch on. Wow.

Here’s a nice deadline piece from Sports Illustrated, and here’s a blast from the past from the great Bill Nack. An awful lot of racing writing can easily tip into the overblown, but both of these pieces strike the right note of drama without getting that extra nudge.

Posted at 12:30 am in Current events, Same ol' same ol' | 20 Comments
 

Short shrift.

Warning, folks: This won’t be long tonight. I woke up at 3:30 a.m. and never really got back to sleep. A 4 a.m. rousing is sort of my baseline for basic functionality the following day. I spent the day staring blankly at my laptop, sending wan emails and otherwise wishing I were dead. But I did my bike ride, because summer is short and wheezing is character-building. I can’t waste this season. Winter was so long.

So a short link salad today before I hit the keys face-first, OK?

I’m the world’s biggest fan of “The Wire” — how has this tautology supercut been out for more than two weeks and I’m just now hearing about it? I demand to know.

Men are an on/off switch, women are a rheostat. Nowhere is this more evident than the description of “female Viagra,” just approved by an FDA panel:

Viagra treats sexual dysfunction in men by increasing blood flow to the genitals. Flibanserin, on the other hand, targets the frontal cortex, in particular some key neurotransmitters involved in sexual desire: By increasing the flow of dopamine and norepinephrine, flibanserin helps women with hypoactive sexual desire disorder feel turned on; at the same time, the drug decreases levels of serotonin, which is associated with sexual inhibition.

I will not be taking this in my dotage, preferring the more traditional bourbon goggles.

Ted Cruz came to town for a fundraiser night before last. And made a Joe Biden joke. Funny! The day before Biden buried his son. Who ARE these people? It’s not like this is a secret.

Fading so, so fast. Have a good weekend, all.

Posted at 12:30 am in Current events, Same ol' same ol' | 56 Comments