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13 August 2013 @ 02:25 pm
Also in Nice Distinctions 24, supergee writes: "I hear that three people were allowed to marry one another in Brazil."

It turns out there is some basis for this report, but at first I thought his reference was to the Brazilian movie Dona Flor And Her Two Husbands.

In the film, Dona Flor was able to finesse the legalities, because one of her two husbands was technically dead.
13 August 2013 @ 02:11 pm
The recent obituaries for former congresswoman Lindy Claiborne Boggs stated that she was the second cousin of former New Orleans mayor DeLesseps Morrison.

I thought, how could that be?

Eventually I figured it out: the obituaries are wrong.

Mayor Morrison's grandfather was the same as Claiborne Boggs' great-grandfather.

So they were actually first cousins, once removed.

Lindy's mother was Mayor Morrison's first cousin. Morrison's offspring would be Lindy's second cousins.
13 August 2013 @ 01:51 pm
In "Nice Distinctions 24", supergee uses the acronym DFH for "Dirty Fucking Hippie".

I momentarily forgot what DFH stood for, so I looked it up and remembered.

But it turns out that DFH is also the network that broadcasts Turkish television channels in North America.
30 April 2009 @ 12:15 am

Ninety-seven years ago this month, Fred Russell, outgoing mayor of Mount Pleasant, Michigan, begged the Common Council for his $25 stipend.

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15 December 2008 @ 05:32 pm
Notes and announcements for the Clerk-Register staff:

When in danger, or in doubt

Run in circles, scream and shout!

These seem like dark days for Michigan. Our auto industry teeters on the brink of collapse. Property values are sinking to unexpected lows, and tax revenues will soon follow. Our fate seems captive of vast economic forces.

But that doesn’t mean we should give in to panic, as the sarcastic old rhyme advises. We have more power over our lives than we realize.

Would an out-of-state visitor to Washtenaw County take notice of how depressed we are, or how resilient we are? Is he going to tell his friends about the grumpy people he met here, or about how friendly and helpful everyone was?

It may not always be obvious to us, but Michigan still has a reservoir of admiration and good will from people around the country. By the way we treat visitors, we can deepen that reservoir – or drain it. The more people think of Michigan as a good place to live and do business, the better off we all are.

At this time of the year, we are likely see an unusual number of nonresidents in our offices. They may be unfamiliar with Michigan laws and processes and forms. Strive to be gentle and patient with them.


Let’s have a great week, and look forward to a new year full of good things for all of us.
17 November 2008 @ 11:15 am
The Community Action Network has created a 2009 calendar with pictures of local politicians and their animal friends. Jupiter (one of our cats) and I posed for the May photo.

The proof copy is online; the typos (e.g. in my name) have been corrected for the print version.

I honestly don't know how many people are going to be interested in a calendar that explores the intersection of companion animals and local politics, but they'll be on sale soon for $14.99. Proceeds will benefit the Humane Society of Huron Valley and the Community Action Network.
15 November 2008 @ 05:18 pm
Today I was one of about 400 people at the Rally for Equality in downtown Ann Arbor, one of many held around the country today expressing dismay at the passage of Proposal 8 in California.

City councilwoman Sandi Smith and I were the only elected officials there.
03 November 2008 @ 04:25 pm
If you want to be social on Election Night, here's another option for you.

We're reviving the old tradition of Election Night at the county seat, featuring immediate access to local election results, local politicos, local reporters, much election conversation and speculation, plentiful food, the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat. Also, televisions to follow national results.

It all starts at 8:00 pm at 200 N. Main (corner of Main & Ann), in downtown Ann Arbor.

Unlike partisan victory parties, you don't even have to pretend to have worked on a campaign. Democrats, Republicans, Greens, Libertarians, Socialists, and the unaffiliated all welcome.

You can also stroll to and from, um, partisan parties only a couple blocks away.
04 August 2008 @ 03:13 pm
Road rage in the early 1920s in Brooklyn, New York:

Five men were injured in an automobile crash following the firing of their pistols at Benson and Eighteenth Avenues, Brooklyn, early yesterday.

Their machine, containing six men, was passed by a small car occupied by a man and a woman on Benson Avenue. The small car turned into Eighteenth Avenue so sharply that the other machine had to turn out quickly to avoid a collision, the men in the big car fired five shots at the man and the woman, but so far as known none took effect. Then the big car crashed into a pole and was wrecked.

Five of the men, cut and bruised, were attended by an ambulance surgeon and then arrested and held on $5,000 bail each for felonious assault...

From the New York Times, April 28, 1922, page 36.
14 July 2008 @ 04:18 pm
Today's message to my staff:

Where I grew up, there was a busy boulevard through the center of town, with a broad median strip. One year, there was a very serious project to display large works of sculpture in this median.

They set up a committee and a jury of experts and obtained funding. Pretty soon, a series of abstract artworks were installed at intervals along the boulevard, each one with a sign announcing its title. There would be, say, a whole bunch of rusty metal shards bolted together, with a title like "Aurora of Happiness." Or a pile of huge glass balls labeled "Aggressive Ennui." Nobody but the artist understood what that was about, but the whole town was very pleased with itself over this wonderful display of Art.

A couple weeks later, another sculpture came along, which got a lot more attention than all the others put together. It was installed in the median in the dead of night by persons unknown, and consisted of what appeared to be a well-made set of wooden porch steps, nicely stained and varnished, with the title "Mother and Child."

You can imagine the cries of outrage at how some trickster or amateur had invaded the haughty circles of Art. Yes, right there on the highway median. Others thought it was a hilarious parody on the whole concept of abstract sculpture. I don't think they ever found out who was responsible.

The moral of the story is that we shouldn't pay too much attention to what is, or is not, "Art". Professors and art critics claim to have a monopoly on the definition, while others dispute it, and still others push the envelope, seeking official recognition for all kinds of odd objects and antics. If you dare to disagree with any of these folks, without holding an advanced arts degree, you'll be dismissed as ignorant or even immoral.

With half a million people poised to descend on our community this week in search of Art, we're likely to hear a lot of these arguments going on.

My advice is, when somebody announces they know what Art is, or what it is not, just smile politely and back away.

Instead, let us appreciate the Art Fairs not for what they claim to represent, but what they are: an amazing display of human ingenuity and effort.

As in past years, Clerk-Register staff are invited to take a two-hour lunch break on one of the Art Fair days. You can arrange this with your supervisor.

Let's have a great week, and enjoy the weather.