No more New Yorker.

Cranky Old Man #75

How come Theranos CEO Elizabeth Holmes gets charged and convicted for fraud, but prosecutors have no interest in the company's board of directors?

At one point, Theranos’s board also included former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger; former Defense Secretary William Perry; former senators Sam Nunn and William Frist; Richard Kovacevich, a former chief executive officer of Wells Fargo & Co.; William Foege, the former director of the Centers for Disease Control; Gary Roughead, a former U.S. Navy admiral; Riley P. Bechtel, a former board chairman of Bechtel Group Inc., and James Mattis, a former U.S. Marine Corps general who later served as a defense secretary in the Trump administration.

That's an all-star team for corruption, but — crickets.

♦ ♦ ♦ 

My wife and I subscribed to The New Yorker for the last several years of her life, so I'll open with an apology to her: Honey, we need to let our New Yorker subscription lapse.

It saddens me, because The New Yorker has been my favorite magazine for a long time. Maybe it's still my favorite magazine. Even when they (increasingly often) hit a flat note, there's still something worth reading in every issue, but it ain't worth the price they're asking — $169.99 for a year.

And the pretentiousness gnaws at me, and the predictability. And the balderdash.

Here's the article that snapped my camel's buttside, about the "hyperpartisanship" of American politics today. And here's the specific moment: 

Americans today seem to be divided into two cabins: the Donkeys and the Elephants. According to a YouGov survey, sixty per cent of Democrats regard the opposing party as “a serious threat to the United States.” For Republicans, that figure approaches seventy per cent.

No need to wade hip-deep into an outhouse, so I only read half the article. I've read articles quite like it a hundred times, and recognize the scent.

"Hyperpartisanship" is a fancy way to say "both sides do it," but both sides don't.

It's not 'hyperpartisanship' when one side is (foolishly) still trying to do old-school politics, looking for compromise and trying to get things done, while the other side storms the capitol, furious over things that never happened.

Democrats, always the center of American politics, are philosophically the same boring farts they were in the 1990s. Republicans have run away from reason and facts, democracy and reality.

It's becoming a crisis, and half-assed journalism doesn't help. Half-assed journalism at full price — nah. Thanks for some fine reading over the years, New Yorker, but kiss my flabby arse goodbye.

♦ ♦ ♦

In the same camelback-busting issue, there's this full-page ad for NBC News and I don't even understand it. NBC's very very well-paid anchordude, Lester Holt, stands next to a bald man in the aftermath of the Kentucky hurricane. Was it Hurricane Lester? Is the ad supposed to make me change the channel, and watch Lester instead of Fester?

Old me, shaking his head.

♦ ♦ ♦

My surviving subscriptions are Harper's (for now), The Nation, The Progressive, and Smithsonian. Nothing goes better with coffee and eggs than a magazine, so they're all on paper, of course.

Any recommendations for magazines I'm missing but shouldn't?

♦ ♦ ♦

More craptastic journalism: Teachers in Chicago are rightly pissed off about being expected in class, in person, in the midst of a re-raging pandemic. As I was driving back from the diner, a newscast from AP Radio News referred to this as "a squabble."

No, a squabble is when my brother has the remote control and won't give it back. A matter of life and death is not a 'squabble'.

♦ ♦ ♦

On life and death, very obviously: All the schools, in Chicago and probably in America, should be closed until it's safe for students and teachers to be in the building. Which ain't now and probably won't be soon.

♦ ♦ ♦ 

Cops who can't be trusted on the witness stand

♦ ♦ ♦  

Here's a legendary local boondoggle that might be unknown outside of Wisconsin:

Foxconn is a Taiwanese conglomerate I'd never heard of until several years ago, when our state's startlingly corrupt Republican Governor, Scott Walker, handed them billions of dollars in tax breaks and incentives to build a manufacturing facility in Wisconsin.

Foxconn took the the money, but never built the factory.

♦ ♦ ♦

Thanksgiving has passed and I'm thankful for that, but here's some American History not taught in school, about the earliest white folks' settlement in America, and their years of wars against the Puquot people who'd lived on that land for millennia. No surprise, the killings were about God, as much or more than about food, land, or harsh weather.

♦ ♦ ♦

Everything is still working — my knees, my dick, my bowels. No major rashes, I'm still self-ambulatory, and seem to have my wits about me.

I'm old, though. Soon enough, some part of me will go haywire, and it might be something difficult or impossible to repair.

My health insurance will end when my job ends in a few weeks, but my prescriptions won't.

My ancient Chevrolet's check-engine light has been on for the last 20,000 miles, its motor sounds like an elephant snoring, the brakes are squeaking and two out of four fenders are rusted.

My recliner popped loudly a few weeks ago, and now it's more difficult to tilt it back.

Haven't vacuumed since Trump.

My modem glitches out once or twice weekly.

The toilet is so stained it'll need to be replaced after I'm dead, but that's the landlord's problem.

None of this keeps me from sleeping my usual 2-3 hours twice nightly, but trouble's in the forecast, and it's coming soon.

♦ ♦ ♦

One-word newscast:

Sidney Poitier  

♦ ♦ ♦

 Mystery links  — Like life itself, there’s no knowing where you’re going:


 Sing along with Doug:
 Handbags & Gladrags, by Big George

Tip 'o the hat:
All Hat No Cattle • Linden Arden
BoingBoingCaptain Hampockets
Follow Me Here • John the Basket
LiarTownUSAMessy Nessy Chick
National ZeroRan Prieur
Vintage EverydayVoenix Rising

Extra special thanks:
Becky Jo • Name Withheld • Dave S.


Cranky Old Man 

← PREVIOUS          NEXT → 


← PREVIOUS          NEXT →


  1. It's not much to brag about, but I got a photo credit in Smithsonian Magazine and an actual check in the mail from them, in 2001 or 2002. In about 2000 I bought a fairly early Kodak digicam and was shooting many rolls of film, especially after I figured out that there was nowhere to insert them. I've always been somewhat interested in chess and, happily, pretty bad at it. Happily, because I had a second cousin who was quite good at it: he was county champion in about 1962 and once more later in the 60s. He ended up moving out of the bedroom he shared with his wife so he could wake up in the middle of the night, turn on the light, and solve a chess problem. Does everybody understand that there were only a couple hundred computers in 1962 and that none of them would fit in my second cousin's bedroom and none could play chess?

    Forward 40 years to 2001, and the U.S. Chess Championship was held in Seattle. I drove the 30 miles north to the tournament daily for the length of the tournament. After the first day, I realized that the photographers got to go behind the velvet ropes and get up close and personal with the players. All it required was a photo vest, a hat with a fake credential in the band, a camera that didn't click when you took a picture, and a set of balls if challenged. I had access to three out of four.

    So I showed up on Day 2 with my vest with some ski-lift tickets stapled to it, a piece of official-looking paper stuffed in the hatband of my only hat, a broken light meter because I didn't own a functional one, and my new Kodak digicam. I ducked under the velvet ropes, and got what turned out to be some great pictures of Boris Gulko, Yasser Seirawan, and many other notable grandmasters, as well as of some of the women who were playing in the tournament against men, but were to be awarded separate prizes. I looked like a photographer and I was taking pictures. Nobody bothered to ask to see my credentials. One of the women contestants was Jennifer Shahade, sister of one of the male players and a damn good player. She was 19 years old and a student at NYU. I ended up talking with her between games, and brought her some photos of her playing in the tournament that I printed on my home printer. She signed a few for me, and kept the rest as a memory, because she won the 2000-2001 U.S. Women's Championship in Seattle that week. (She won another Women's championship a few years later, then switched to professional poker because it payed better. It was a kick in the pants presenting the photos I printed each night to the appropriate players as a keepsake of their time in Seattle. Considering the pressure they were playing under, they were all pretty darn friendly and appreciative.

    Jennifer gave me her email address, and about three months later I got an email from her saying that Smithsonian Magazine was going to do a piece on her and that it would likely include a small photo. They wanted to send a photographer to her home in Philadelphia.

    Jen told them she already had photos from a professional photographer, and asked me to email her some likely candidates. I did so, and Smithsonian was happy to save the money and found the photos acceptable. Two months later Smithsonian sent me a check for $400. I wish I could have afforded to frame the original, but I needed the money. The credit in the margin of that issue remains a prized possession.

    That's where my professional photo career ended, but I will always be grateful to Jennifer Shahade for recommending me to Smithsonian. She was a class act then and remains so today as a professional chess commentator and lecturer.

    That's my Smithsonian Magazine story. It's trivial, but I'm a man of small accomplishments, and I enjoy each one.


    1. Not trivial. An enjoyable story, and holy smokes — $400 is more than I'd expect a magazine to pay, and seems surprisingly fair for a day's work (even if it wasn't really work for you).

      Smithsonian is a quality publication, by the way. As you know, I guess. Reasonably priced, too. My annual subscription costs something like $15.


🚨🚨 BY THE WAY 🚨🚨
The site's software sometimes swallows comments. If it eats yours, send an email and I'll get it posted.