It’s warm and melting, and this is worse than anything else. OH YOU’RE NEVER HAPPY you say, but that’s not so. I appreciate the additional seven degrees more than you know. It’s the ice. The ruts in the street are eight inches deep. I tried to get out of my rut today to let a car pass, and within about 1.7 seconds I was driving sideways down the street. Although “driving” isn’t the proper term. Moving uncontrollably, that’s it.

I got back in the rut, where my wheels settled with relief, and managed to pass the car without having our rear-view mirror high-five one another. That’s the least of it. The dog walk was the treacherous part.

Nearly slipped doing down the back steps, which puts the lie to the phrase “a journey of a hundred miles starts with a single step,” unless my journey consisted of being airlifted to Mayo at Rochester. Birch is tugging to go, and pulled me along the glacier in the back yard to the back door - which could not be opened, because there was a ridge of ice that would not yield. So. Back up the deadly steps, out the front door, then down 20 steps, holding on to the railing like an old old man, until I got to the sidewalk. Around the block. Standing water and frozen sheets. Nice mix. Dog’s not happy. Twice I found myself sliding down a driveway without the ability to check myself, and I had to let Birch tug me to a snowbank where I could get traction.

Every year we think March is when it gets better. March is the Battle of the Bulge.


Update: should get the rest of the emails out tonight. Apologies if you get a duplicate.





One of the manifestations of twitchy, sullen, self-righteous miserabilism is the desire to see every problem as a crisis, and every crisis as a justification for the expansion of the state, or the abandoned of old norms.

You feel quite important when you realize that everything is a crisis.

An example from last month, a fastcompany piece:

How did home cooking become a moral issue?

Because people whose reason for living consists of investing injustice into everything were looking around for something new to make everyone feel bad about, in the sense that they felt better about themselves for knowing it was a thing other people felt bad about, and this might spark a conversation?

In their new book Pressure Cooker: Why Home Cooking Won’t Solve Our Problems and What We Can Do About It, three academics explain why we’ve put too much emphasis on family dinner.

The older I get the more the word "academic" assures me I'm in for some quality insights. First line:

There is a crisis in American kitchens. But what exactly that crisis is depends on whom you ask.

Is anything on fire? No? Because that would be a crisis. Is there nothing to eat? That would be a crisis.

If you turn to food media, the problem is we aren’t cooking enough. Everyone eats takeout. Kids are eating junk.

The solution would seem to be not to turn to food media.

But there are solutions, food pundits say. It’s easier than ever to cook and eat well, with our modern refrigerators and our modern plumbing and our modern stoves, argues farmer and author Joel Salatin, and if, with all those advantages, we still can’t cook and eat right, then we deserve what we get. The message is, yes, there’s a problem, but we can fix it, which is to say, you can fix it. You just have to try harder, shop smarter, cook better.

This is not advice. This is a criticism of what we've been BRAINWASHED to believe. Hence the moral crisis. Trying harder, shopping smarter, cooking better - it's not enough and it's impossible and sets up an unrealistic standard to that leads to a shame spiral.

First of all, let’s establish that the research here is amazingly broad and deep:

Over the course of five years, the authors interviewed more than 150 low- and middle-income mothers and a handful of grandmothers, in and around Raleigh, North Carolina, all primary caregivers of young children. Ultimately, they focused on nine.

It’s not that foodie doctrine is wrong, exactly — home-cooked meals are great, we should eat more vegetables, it is nice when families eat together — but rather that the prescriptions of (mostly white, mostly male) public food intellectuals stop making sense when confronted with real life.

You may add white mostly male public food intellectuals to your list of devils now, I guess. I would ask whether the nine subjects of the study had ever heard anything said by the public food intellectuals, but I gather that their influence is so malign and powerful that their wishes seep deep into the culture at large.

The mothers and grandmothers in the book do take food seriously. Across income levels, they care about how they feed their families, and across income levels, they feel like they’re failing. Which they are, in a way, because the task is impossible. A societal problem requires a societal fix.

If I get the gist, it's this: society (you know, SOCIETY) has to stop making women feel bad if they don't cook perfect meals for their family every day. We all have to pitch in. You there! Stop it!

After detailing the problems that poor people face - and they’re significant, and probably not caused or aided in any fashion by Public Food Intellectuals - - we pivot to middle-class women, who have issues of their own which occupy the same moral plain as women who have to cook on hotplates in motels:

One of the people in the book is Greely Janson. She’s a middle-class mother, she has one child, she has a very high level of education. She has a lot of knowledge about food, and ethical eating, and nutrition, and all of these things. And still, she couldn’t make it happen. They had very busy work schedules, and she was trying to achieve such a high standard that she always just kind of felt like she was coming up short, and that she was failing her kid.

Well, that’s her issues, and it doesn’t say a damned thing about a national moral crisis in the kitchen. If you can’t make a meal because you’re paralyzed by whether the beans were ethically sourced, and you feel like you’re failing your kid because you let him have a hot dog, you’re probably unhappy about everything in the gott-damned world.

The answer for the food crisis includes nationalized day care and government-run health care, if you’re curious. That’s for starters.

We have problems. Not every problem is a crisis. You need to reserve words for other things.


From a Twitter account detailing the looting of a "large shopping Center" in Maracaibo, Venezuela. Sounds like the Collectivos helping themselves, but I can't be sure.

People also looted the Pepsi distribution plant. They looted the trucks and stole the engines and wheels,


It's a city of 1.9 million people. Its Wikipedia page suggests a highly civilized place.

The above-linked twitter feed says it's under martial law now.


And we have a crisis because busy people get some tikka masala at the grocery store instead of making a dinner, and they feel poorly about that.



It’s 1933. Look at this dense front page - and remember, newspapers were BIG back then.

Interesting design - everything cascades to the bottom. And Prohibition’s imminent repeal isn’t the top story.

At the bottom:

“Snitched a ride.” Don’t know if the writer used the word wrong, or if it had become slang for something else for a while before it went back to its original meaning.



What the holy hell?

What - the - holy - hell?


Any relation, you wonder? Mitch Hedberg was from St. Paul. Anyway, a story in another paper in November said Hedberg had been arrested for the abduction. He was found not guilty after a sensational trial.

Jiggers! Here’s something no one remembers. Well, I didn’t.

Who's the guy in the middle?

Gerardo Machado y Morales (28 September 1871 – 29 March 1939) was a general of the Cuban War of Independence and President of Cuba from 1925 to 1933.

Machado entered the presidency with widespread popularity and support from the major political parties. However his support declined over time, especially following his 1928 re-election, which violated his promise to serve for only one term. As protests and rebellions became more strident, his administration curtailed free speech and used repressive police tactics. Ultimately, in 1933, he was forced to step down in favor of a provisional government headed by Carlos Manuel de Céspedes y Quesada and brokered by US ambassador Sumner Welles. He has been described as a dictator.

Died in Miami Beach. Who’d have thunk

Another forgotten name of the day, apparently famous for writing a poem about the Titanic disaster.

"The Old, Wise Order shall come again," he wrote in 1933. You're glad you didn't have to tell him. This page says he was a poet and a "popular New York celebrity."

You've no idea how much poetry they put in the paper in the first half of the century.

It still exists.

There’s something not quite happy about the thought of a 1933 County Fair. I don’t know why. Oh, the kids would love it. The teens would hang out in packs and look for the opposite sex. All the usual timeless things. But I just imagine that the adults would be somewhat worried and tired. I have no idea why.

  Social note. You'd love to see someone get drunk and try to introduce Miss Tschumperlin to Mirs Schiliplin.

The great illustrator Timmons, uncredited, with more BO problems:

Hey, he’s showering; that has to count for something.

Reminder: the government seal of approval had to be included, if you wanted to let everyone know you Did Your Part.


  Finally, that ole home-spun dude’s here to tell you some japes. The details are lost on us today, but you get the gist, and if you recall the front page, coming up with industry “codes” was part of the NRA. The codes set “fair practices” and also determined what you could charge.

The Supremes got rid of that booshwah in ’35. That Johnson fellow:

Hugh Samuel Johnson (August 5, 1881 – April 15, 1942) was a U.S. Army officer, businessman, speech writer, government official and newspaper columnist. He is best known as a member of the Brain Trust of Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1932–34.

He wrote numerous speeches for FDR and helped plan the New Deal. Appointed head of the National Recovery Administration (NRA) in 1933, he was highly energetic in his "blue eagle" campaign to reorganize American business to reduce competition and raise wages and prices. Schlesinger (1958) and Ohl (1985) conclude that he was an excellent organizer, but that he was also domineering, abusive, outspoken, and unable to work harmoniously with his peers.

The NRA was terminated by a ruling of the Supreme Court, and Johnson left the administration after a little more than a year.

The Brain Trust.

I thought they hated trusts.

That'll do; enjoy the update, and I'll see you around.



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