About Dave

Test.

2016

From time to time, until November 8, people last year would ask me how much I was loving the political circus. “It must be the story of your career,” they’d say.

“Well, yes,” I would say. “Much like Joan Didion got the story of her career when her husband and daughter dead.”

Hyperbole — it’s our new lingua franca. I’d reported on politics for most of my life by the time the 2016 election began, and knew that elections typically devolved into gaffe-policing and guides to which ads were false. (Usually not most of them.) But 2016 was, as the documentarian Adam Curtis put it, a defeat for journalism, in which people like me were reminded how little people want to hear information that rumbles their worldview. My worst memory of the year is not anything from a rally; it is becoming part of the problem, and telling friends on election night that early returns suggested their favored candidate would win.

Lots of hairshirting already; I don’t need to add more. Once I got some distance from the election, I felt bursts of pleasure about what good had come out of the year.

Crank up the listicle-maker.

I wrote a book. After 12 years of daydreaming and 3 years of writing, I finished my history of progressive rock; it’s being edited now for a June 2017 release. The panic I have about articles (did I leave in any clunk? Will a grammar scold hunt me down?) is multiplied 1000fold but this is a lifetime goal that cost me a personal life and feels worth it.

I made new friends. This happens every fours, and while I’m not sure how much longer it can happen — do I want to be passing out on the Gillibrand campaign plane at age 39? — it’s always a joy. You develop a little patois on the campaign bus, and (assuming you’re not singularly annoying) you share it with people who are chasing the same deadlines as you. You trade transcripts; you let her have a question because he has a follow-up because you asked a question already.

I survived a car crash. Wasn’t planning on it, but a small nightmare finally came to me. I was making good time on the road from Madison to Green Bay (to De Pere, first), when a traffic stoppage came out of nowhere and I spun off, taking a car with me. The permanent damage has been a right thumb that no longer bends. And that is it. I could have died, I didn’t, and have never felt the same since.

Movies of 2016

I do a version of this every year. The campaign and my book deadline made this year’s explorations a little more limited — which is fine. I have maybe 10 more to see in order to not be befuddled by award season.

  1. La-La Land
  2. Sing Street
  3. Everybody Wants Some!!
  4. Don’t Think Twice
  5. Moonlight
  6. Love and Friendship
  7. Captain America: Civil War
  8. Weiner
  9. Doctor Strange
  10. Arrival
  11. Deadpool
  12. 10 Cloverfield Lane
  13. Midnight Special
  14. Hail, Caesar!
  15. Finding Dory
  16. Eye in the Sky
  17. Zootopia
  18. Sausage Party
  19. All the Way
  20. The Nice Guys
  21. Genius
  22. Kubo and the Two Strings
  23. The 13th
  24. Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising
  25. How to Let Go of the World (and Love All the Things That Climate Can’t Change)
  26. Florence Foster Jenkins
  27. Kung Fu Panda 3
  28. Weiner-Dog
  29. Keanu
  30. Star Trek Beyond
  31. The BFG
  32. The Neon Demon
  33. X-Men: Apocalypse
  34. Suicide Squad
  35. Ghostbusters
  36. Zoolander 2
  37. Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice
  38. Independence Day: Resurgence
  39. Ride Along 2
  40. Warcraft
  41. Central Intelligence
  42. Demolition

Both sides do it!

I’ve been traveling for work, so — maybe blessedly — I didn’t initially see this AP story by two reporters I like very much personally. It’s no patch on them when I say that “Welcome to the Trump-Clinton conspiracy election” is a textbook-ready case of how the search for equivalence can wreck a piece of journalism.

The problems previewed by the headline get worse in the nut graf.

Donald Trump and his surrogates hint at a mysterious “illness” afflicting rival Hillary Clinton. Pushing back, Clinton warns of murky ties between Trump and the Russian government, insinuating that her Republican opponent may be a puppet of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Two problems here. One: The ties between Trump and the Russians are by no means as “murky” as the conspiracy theory that Clinton’s doctors (and her campaign schedule) are covering up a devastating illness. Two: The Russia talk is not a pushback on the “Hillary’s health” stuff. It’s been happening independently; indeed, Clinton was been pushing it before Trump elevated the health rumors.

The second point is just obviously misleading, while the first requires the application of blinders that characters the worst both-sides journalism. Much of the story deals with the ways Trump has tried to exploit Internet theories about Clinton’s health, and how Clinton’s pivoted from that to an attack on Trump’s embrace of kookery more generally. The “but Russia!” equivalence platter is saved for the final two grafs.

In the aftermath of hacked Democratic emails, Trump encouraged hackers from Russia to find Clinton’s missing State Department emails, an apparent invitation for a foreign power to intervene in a U.S. election.

Clinton’s team frequently points to Trump’s ties to Russia. Her campaign has a page on its website devoted to a Q-and-A about Trump’s “bizarre relationship” with Russia, fueling an unproven theory that Trump is a shill for Putin.

So on the one hand, Trump is elevating theories that rely on rumors or forged medical records; on the other, Clinton’s accusation that Trump “is a shill for Putin” is “unproven.” But the first attack is baseless; the second is political rhetoric based on — wait for it — reporting from the AP.

I’m not fond of quickie campaign “fact sheets” like “5 questions every voter should ask about Donald Trump’s bizarre relationship with Russia.” Question 5 suggests that “Trump publicly encouraged further Russian espionage to help his campaign.” That’s true, though Trump later tried to pass it off as a joke. Question 4 is fishier, noting that “some suggest” that Trump’s as-yet hidden tax returns might reveal deals with Russian oligarchs. But the basis is a 2008 quote from Trump’s son Donald: “Russians make up a pretty disproportionate cross-section of a lot of our assets.”

Question 3 suggests that Trump would fulfill a Russian “wish list.” Again, there’s a basis: He has talked about lifting sanctions on Russia, and he rather uniquely among Republicans has said he wouldn’t contest the annexation of Crimea. Question 1 quotes a few instances of Trump praising Putin.

But Question 2 is the humdinger. Asking why Trump “surround[s] himself with advisers with links to the Kremlin,” the Clinton campaign… explains the links several Trump advisers have to Russia. The outdated page spends the most time on Paul Manafort, Trump’s campaign manager until this month. The “kill shot” on Manafort is generally understood to be the AP’s August 17 story on his secret work for Ukraine’s pro-Russian faction.

Donald Trump’s campaign chairman helped a pro-Russian governing party in Ukraine secretly route at least $2.2 million in payments to two prominent Washington lobbying firms in 2012, and did so in a way that effectively obscured the foreign political party’s efforts to influence U.S. policy.

So, on the one hand, Trump’s campaign and surrogates are speculating wildly — and in some cases, citing bogus medical information — to question whether Hillary Clinton’s health has collapsed. On the other hand, Clinton’s campaign is citing Trump’s public statements, his family’s public statements, and the financial ties of campaign advisers to say that he’s shilling for Russia.

I am wracking my brains, and I can’t imagine how these two stories were conflated. In the quest to say that Both Sides Do It, the AP elevated Trump’s conspiracy-mongering about Clinton’s health to the level of his campaign’s well-reported Russia friendliness; it downgraded that friendliness to the level of a conspiracy.

The word for this is not “balanced.” It’s “pathetic.”

Little Furry Things

Zootopia (Howard/Moore/Bush, 2016)
A terrifying and unrelenting vision of a world long after the apocalypse, where only mammals survived, and built their own civilization with all of the mistakes that zoomed humanity.

Nah, fuck it, this is a kid’s movie about a cute bunny (Ginnifer Goodwin) who fulfills her lifelong dream of becoming the first tiny mammal cop in a world of talking animals; previously, we see, only the largest animals had become cops. (This seems entirely sensible, but a nice training sequence reveals how Judy Hopps learned to use her speed and high jump to compete with the more lumbering cops). Assigned to the garbage meter maid beat, she encounters a con artist fox (Jason Bateman), who is far more comfortable with the limitations placed on him by speciesism. There is a mystery. Spoiler: They solve it.

The test of any kid’s cartoon is whether the target audience will find it cute and the parents who pay for it will find it witty. “Zootopia” succeeds, even if some of the jokes are right on the bunny nose. (A mob boss named Mr. Big — who is actually very tiny — and talks like Vito Corleone! Ah ha ha fuck you.) The characters are adorable, the world-building is gorgeous if theme park-esque, and there is a delightfully problematic through-line about whether we can ever escape our genetic inheritance. Put another way: This is a movie for children in which the hero explains that some animals may simply be “biologically” inclined to violence, and where the voice of Idris Elba, through a water buffalo, says that “this world was already broken.”

Kung Fu Panda 3 (Jennifer Yuh Nelson, 2016)
The delightful but derivative series continues (no one can say “concludes”) with a story about the titular panda, Po, (Jack Black) encountering an ancient, soul-sucking evil (J.K. Simmons) and overcoming him to become a “master of qi.”

Look, if I was eight or nine years old, I fully believe that these would be my favorite movies — funny, furry characters getting into beautifully choreographed battles, all re-enactable in the backyard. As a man who was born around the same time as Michael Phelps but achieved much less, I still have a spot for these movies — in part because the voice casting rewards fans of “Mr. Show,” in part because I watch them when I am on planes and very tired.

Still, there’s a visible tug of war between the plot points that were designed by committee and the dialogue punched up by funny people. I enjoyed the banter, especially a running gag about Kai’s frustration that no one remembers him 500 years after he was banished to the spirit realm. I sort of shrugged through the introduction of a Secret Panda Village where a civilization that abandoned Po (for reasons never explained) takes him in and acts all goofy. Evil is defeated by people Being Themselves and Working Together. Finally!

The blog where it happens

This is a model takedown, and a lot of fun even if you’re not so much a “Hamilton” hater so much as a person who can’t understand how your friends had the time and foresight to see this thing.
 
Caveat: The impossibility for anyone but your annoying Instagram friends to get a ticket is cited as evidence that few people have experienced the dang thing. “Hamilton is the ‘nationwide sensation’ that only .001% of the nation has even witnessed.”
 
True, not many people have gotten to see it in person. But the cast album went platinum, in an age when nobody buys albums anymore. Lines from the musical have infiltrated culture and reporting. Insofar as a piece of theater can become widely known, this one is widely known. Just as people who have not seen “Star Wars” know “Luke, I Am Your Father,” I know “the room where it happens.”
 
That said, the people insisting that this is the greatest work of art of all time are silly. (That’s obviously Jethro Tull’s “Thick as a Brick.”) I guess the question is whether this musical is still cool when the inevitable “Rob Marshall’s ‘Hamilton'” film adaptation comes out at the start of President Hillary Clinton’s second term.

Ghostbusters (2016)

The first “Ghostbusters” was a formative movie experience for me, but not a sacred one. I saw it on TV or VHS sometime before 1989, i.e. when I was 7 or 8 years old. (I know this because I saw the sequel in the theater, when I was tood young.) Parts of that movie mapped the “screaming terror” part of my brain — Rick Moranis’s party gone wrong, Gozer’s red eyes, the librarian ghost that transforms when Bill Murray talks to it. In my teenage years and, yes, even today, the better lines became part of my conversation. “Cats and dogs, living together!” “When someone asks you if you’re a God, you say yes!”

Still, I snorted with all of the other right-thinking people when the geek army, having conquered all of pop culture, declared war on “Lady Ghostbusters.” I wanted it to be great.

It is not great. As remakes go, it’s higher than “Rollerball” and many floors below “Dawn of the Dead.” I align myself, as usual, with Sonny Bunch, mostly in his contempt for the people (cough RICHARD BRODY) who have been attempting to retcon the original film as a middling nostalgia joint.

PETTY COMPLAINT DEPT.

Product placement. A minor gripe elevated by how goddamn much it appears. Patty’s uncle is not just not a rent-a-car — he’s not a “Enterprise rent-a-car.” Holtzmann doesn’t just eat during the first sighting — she eats Pringles. For Christ’s sake, the Manhattan-based Ghostbusters order pizza and we get several wide shots of the Papa John’s box it came in. I’m not even a New Yorker and I was offended on Gotham’s behalf.

Dialogue. This is by far the least funny of the Paul Feig movies, and it happens to be the one grasping for the baton from a cultural institution. The more improved-sounding dialogue is perfectly fine; Wiig and McCarthy have great chemistry, eve if the joke is that they’re never in emotional sync. McKinnon, one of our muggiest actors, is fun to watch but never quotable; Leslie Jones is better than I’ve ever seen her, but I can’t remember anything she said.

Plotting. We get to the ghosts fast enough, but there’s no momentum and plenty of holes. The chintzy TV ad campaign of the first film explained how they stayed in business; this time the ‘busters have money problems but seemingly infinite scrap metal. Killer lazers shoot into random streets with no effect. Characters make stupid decisions to set up the conflict, far less satisfying than the original film’s “everything was going fine until the fucking EPA showed up” plot motor.

DEPT. OF THINGS I DIDN’T HATE

New characterizations. Feig didn’t want people to be muttering “is that the new Egon,” and voila, the four ‘busters are actually pretty well drawn characters. If one measure of success is that nerdy girls have new heroes to trick-or-treat as, then this is a success — go ahead, awkward girl who wants to gel up her hair and be Holtzmann.

Feminity. Seriously, it was fine. A dance party instead of “we came, we saw, we kicked its ass?” Sure. A himbo secretary? Very funny, thanks to Thor. Unlike some percentage of the Internet, I’m fine with this film existing. I just don’t feel a need to ever see it again.

July 12

Just a few goals: Finishing a story, finding someone to buy a concert ticket, meeting up with the busy friend who could not make time for the concert. They were met in that ascending order of difficulty.

The story had come from an editor, who realized that the grumpy recalcitrance of Republicans toward the “Black Lives Matter” movement had been absent (or at least underplayed) in our coverage. Putting that together was easy, mostly involving sources from my coverage of criminal justice reform. Around 1, however, I decided everything would be improved if I went to the Hill and grabbed some senators after their weekly lunch. (Their last, for a while.)

No holes in that plan until around 4, when I slowly made my way out of the Capitol and saw a police officer running to the floor of the House.

“What’s up?” I asked Billy, an old colleague from Bloomberg.

“I’m trying to figure that out,” he said.

For a reporter, I remained uncurious, and walked toward the exit. From Twitter I learned that the Capitol was “on lockdown,” or as the news chyrons would put it: “ON LOCKDOWN (SIREN SIREN SIREN).”

Fucking lockdowns. I enjoy weird danger as much as anyone, but the “lockdown” is usually a feature of the security state mingling with the media’s fear complex. If anything threatening or unmonitored approaches the Capitol (or any federal building)

“Some guy had a gun on 3rd Street.”

“Lost Themes,” the album, is perfectly produced – so much so that you wonder if more could have been unlocked from the melodies Carpenter wrote when he was throwing them onto soundtracks. Live, the only flaw was Carpenter’s guitar player. Most of his task involved windmilling, which he pulled off so barely that we waited for the inevitable flub. It never came, but the sound never clicked, either, and the riffs that were tyrannosauric on vinyl sounded like the gasps of a fuzzbox.

The crowd made up for that. I’ve never actually sought out one of those “Everytown Philharmonic Plays Themes from Blow-Em-Up” movie revues, but I can now imagine them, with the ordinary thrill of the familiar amplified by a frenzied audience. An establishing shot from “They Live,” a smoggy bridge with a pick-up truck parked on it, elicited fist-pumping and ovations. (I joined at the sight of Rowdy Roddy Piper.)

“Horror movies will never die!”

On “Welcome to Earth”

Apparently, for years, people have misremembered Will Smith’s alien-punching “Independence Day” quip as “Welcome ta Urf” and not the clearly enunciated “Welcome to Earth” that one of our most beloved and marketable stars actually delivered.

General consensus: People be racist. And I spend a lot of time on the Internet, so I can confirm that people are pretty racist.

However, I wonder if there’s a less ethnocentric reason for the wide misremembering of the scene. Thinking of it, I remembered Will Smith chomping on a cigar as he punched the alien. With a cigar in your mouth, “Welcome to Earth” would indeed sound more like “Weh-come ta Urf.”

I remembered it wrong. First, Smith punched the alien. Then he said “Welcome to Earth.” THEN he grabbed a cigar (he was just carrying one), put it in his mouth, and said: “Now that’s what I call a close encounter.”

Because humans have evolved to minimize the amount of trauma we remember, we have forgotten that second, clunk-tastic quip. Indeed, many “Welcome ta Urf” memes use the photo of Smith and the cigar, suggesting that people conflate the two lines and their relative use of Smith’s mouth and teeth.

In conclusion, racism is over. Congratulations, everyone!

Hey, why doesn’t the media investigate this Trump guy?

 

Brian Beutler has a little fun with the conservatives who insist that The Media went easy on Donald Trump, knowing that he’d be an easy kill (or something) if he got through the primaries. This is not a fringe group, or some guy on Twitter — it’s a group that includes Sen. Ted Cruz, whom we all expect to run for president until the FEC files a restraining order against him.

In general, campaigns outgun and outpace the press at investigating rival candidates (particularly with respect to archival information that can’t be found online, and that requires expertise to obtain and decipher). They have more resources, no daily print deadlines, and no need to worry about impartiality. For a variety of reasons, the other Republican campaigns and anti-Trump activists did an absolutely abysmal job sifting through his dirty laundry between June 2015 and today. Bad researchers might’ve been part of the problem, but for too long most Republicans mistakenly assumed Trump would collapse on his own—and why bother investigating someone who was sure to implode?

This is all true. Tim Miller, the very smart co-founder of the oppo group America Rising who went on to be Jeb Bush’s game but constantly beleaguered spokesman, has admitted that Bush simply didn’t have the resources to dig into Trump by the time Trump became a threat. Cruz himself openly whiffed on attacking Trump on the theory that his support would collapse and he would reap the benefits. (Cruz’s tendency to delineate his plans while reporters listen is one of the things I like best about him.)

But this gripe is even worse than we’re letting on.

No one’s trying to protect Hillary Clinton. That’s the undercurrent here, and it must be based on zero conversations with political reporters. Washington mostly dreads the Clinton Restoration, with its promises of tightly controlling media teams, jobs for people with long-nursed grudges, and — let’s be honest — none of the cool factor that Barack Obama brought with him.

Reporters did investigate Trump. He launched his bid on June 16, 2015. Within three weeks, before he had fully taken command of the race, the Washington Post was up with a story about undocumented immigrants working on his D.C. hotel. Every story you know about Trump was excavated by journalists, be it the old quotes assembled by Buzzfeed, the old court documents assembled by Wayne Barrett, or the new looks at his business failures reported by my employer and other fine outlets. If voters wanted to read it, the material was there. We could hardly force-feed it to them.

Conservative media outlets failed and want to blame everyone else. Every presidential cycle brings forth new, well-funded (at first) conservative media outlets, often with the promise of hard-hitting news that the MSM (mainstream media) won’t cover. With time (and with exceptions), they eventually regress to the mean and become hot take factories. Nobody told The Daily Signal, The Federalist, The Daily Caller, Bold, Rare, etc that they were banned from investigating Trump’s finances or past statements.

Yet they didn’t do it. To use The Federalist (which I generally like) as an example, Trump coverage usually fit into the the categories of Blaming the Media (“Trump Proves Super PACs Can’t Buy Elections, But Free Media Can“), Insisting That All is Well (“6 Best Things About Paul Ryan Being ‘Not Ready’ To Support Trump“), or keying off of facts reported by the MSM to say that Trump was going down (“If Trump Runs America Like Trump University, His Campaign Promises Are Lies“). Coverage on the right generally debated what was happening, and did not shape it. The old conservative media quandary, of too many wannabe George Will and not enough Bob Woodwards, held up. (Separately, a lot of popular right-wing media figures just kind of rode the wave.)

UPDATE: Some folks point out that I left the Washington Free Beacon off the list. It did have good Trump reporting, though I think of it more as a source of good original Hillary reporting.

When a candidate wins, more resources are used to cover him. Like I said, there has been plenty of gimlet-eyed Trump coverage. That there’s more now does not mean it was lacking before. It meant that there were X reporters in a newsroom, and Y many candidates to cover, and the opportunity cost of digging into a story that might not be about the nominee is high. (I am convinced that one reason for snarky media coverage of Sen. Rand Paul is that big resources were used to profile him, for years, and editors/reporters came to see it as a bigger wasted investment than an igloo colony in Arizona.)

The strangest contradiction of this point was probably the one Fox News viewers saw on Sunday, when my colleague Bob Woodward was chided over the resources the Post was using to crash a book about Trump.

“Are you making an equal effort, because that’s something that we’re hearing from folks, an equal effort on Hillary Clinton?” asked Chris Wallace. “You’ve got 20 people on her?”

Well! Clinton, a political figure since the 1970s, has had quite more than 20 Washington Post reporters look into her background. Several Washington Post reporters, present and past, have written books about her. What does that have to do with the effort (which I’m not part of) to power through and publish a book about Trump, in time for the election?Look at the work of Ros Helderman, who published scoop after scoop about Hillary Clinton’s email investigation, during the period when 1) that story was new and 2) she was the presumed Democratic nominee. Now, Ros is doing more about Trump.

I’m fascinated by the qualms people have about the political media. When it comes to how cable news has covered Trump’s campaign — particularly, the full coverage of his rallies, a privilege awarded to no other candidate — I share those qualms. But enough already with the blame. The Fourth Estate held nothing back.

Stop shaming me for shaming airlines on Twitter

People like to complain about things on the Internet. People also like to complain about the vast amount of Internet devoted to complaining. I rise today to defend an unjustly maligned form of gripe: Twitter-shaming airlines for bad service.

Since Twitter became the main method by which journalists talk to each other, some have spoken out against the microblogging tool as a way to yell at airlines. To wit, just to quote people I know in DC:

And, most relevantly, here is Jack Shafer reacting to my gasket-blowing about a botched American Airlines flight today, which as of this writing might strand me in O’Hare for seven hours and cancel two in-person interviews.

Here, I would refer to the wisdom of Ricky from “Trailer Park Boys.” If you’re inclined to nag someone for using Twitter to talk to an airline, make like a tree and fuck off.

Consider:

1. A problematic flight is a time-suck at every level. If I’m on a work trip, I likely spent a few hours setting up interviews, a rental car, a hotel room, etc. A late flight or blown connection means I erase that work and start over. Emails, phone calls, online wrangling to reshuffle plans. You can see why the person doing all that might also take to social media to say “hey, this is no fun.”

2. Stranded airplane time is arguably the most unproductive time. Trying to do work? You need to hunt for a place to charge your device. Oh, and most planes don’t have places to do that, and neither do (most) airplane restaurants.* No, you’re likely be spending this time in a cramped space, at high risk of proximity to a baby (loud but harmless) or someone who doesn’t want to dirty his hand by using it to block a cough.** You could make a phone call, but you can’t exactly tell people to call you back, because — optimistically — you want to be in the air. Also, how effective are you when your brain is calculating and recalculating whether you can make a connection or land before Hertz shuts down?

The answer is “not very.”

3. Twitter gets results! Honestly, most of Twitter — the part I love most — is bullshit self-promotion and joke-telling. Do you need that in your life? You do not, fun as it is.

Ah, but airline-shaming — airline-shaming is a shotgun wedding of stupid form to beautiful function. As popular as Twitter is, it’s easier to reach a human being at an airline there than it is over the phone. Let’s use the example I’m most familiar with, today’s. I needed to connect in Dallas to a flight to O’Hare, which would connect me to a Sioux City flight. (I note here that I woke up at 4:10 am to do this.) Two stupid events intervened. One: A plastic bag had blown on the plane’s wheels earlier that day, and melted a bit. That took twenty minutes to clear. Two: A plane in O’Hare needed a part, so our (already delayed!) flight was chosen as the vehicle to bring it. Another twenty minutes.

I was supposed to land at 12:41 in pursuit of a 1:34 connection. Good enough! Instead, I spent 40 minutes watching as the arrival time crept just late enough to likely guarantee that I would arrive as the gate closed. (Let’s say 1:24, to be safe.) At 12:05 I tweeted:

Will you slam the doors to my connection and strand me in the airport overnight? Flight 3404 to SUX. This delay is outrageous.

At 12:30, this DM came through:

We’ve alerted ORD of your tight connection. We can’t guarantee that they can hold the connection, but they’re aware. In the event you don’t make it, you’ve been protected on the next flight to SUX, which is at 8:39p.

See? That… technically did not solve my problem at all. But that confirmed my presence on the airline’s radar, and gave me something to point to if I’m screwed again. (A few times I’ve been given airline miles and whatnot to make amends.) In a pre-Twitter world, what would I have had? Maybe, maybe, some ear time with a call center staffer who could not help.

In conclusion, hail Twitter. And fuck O’Hare. I swear if I give myself a 20-minute connection, I sprint across the entire airport. If I have a three-hour connection, I get a two hour 40 minute delay and spring across the entire airport.

*Some appreciation here for Minneapolis, with its identical but convenient bars that plunk down stools right in front of outlets.

**Not to capsize an already-irritating post with something yet more irritating, but if you have an Apple Watch — yes, yes, I know — and do not engage in some light walking or aerobics every hour, you get an alert shaming you to do so. Getting that alert when stuck in a tarmac’d airplane is a special sort of shit-nudge.