Mad Men Season 7 Episode 11 Recap

Chris Piascik Mad Men illustration
Every week, Chris Piascik (@chrispiascik) illustrates a moment from the episode and I write up a recap.

Episode title: “Time and Life.” (Time Life Building) I’m exhausted and this might be sloppier/less informative than usual.
Episode timing: No clue! When are applications due for Greenwich Country Day?

So, Lane Pryce (Jared Harris) directed this episode. I think this was his first. There were a few really great shots (Pete and Ken in the opening scene, Don, Roger, Ted, Joan having a drink in Don’s office, and the partners after the Hobart meeting.), but I don’t know if that was his doing.

Well, here we go again. The agency is changing! Ohnoes. It’s as if this hasn’t happened once a season since… I don’t know. The agency is getting adopted, absorbed, eaten, swallowed, dissolved by McCann Erickson. “They waited so long, I thought we were safe.” The Partners see this as a bad thing, McCann tries to spin it as something good. “I shouldn’t have to sell you on this. You are dying and going to advertising heaven.” I don’t know what to think! From Ted’s perspective, someone else will be in charge and he’ll be able to just work. Roger’s losing his agency and namesake, and Joan, as far as I can tell, is thinking only about that meeting from earlier in the season where Peggy and her were sexually harassed. “Need you to be the voice of the bright side.” “For the first time I feel like whatever happens is supposed to happen.” “They don’t know who they’re dealing with.” I’m not really sure what Don thinks except he generally does not work well with a boss so we can guess. It just feels redundant, this storyline, and I wish there could be some tension and something happen, without it being more agency upheaval.

(I think Harry Crane was somehow a partner at one of the previous agencies and decided not to sell or something, this makes me chuckle.)

The Partners come up with a plan to keep the agency together by moving to California with the conflicting accounts. “We’ve done this before.” They all feel pretty, pretty, pretty good about it, butttttt Hobart cuts them off and says they’re coming to McCann and that’s it. (“I shouldn’t have to sell you on this. You are dying and going to advertising heaven.” This was just one meeting in tonight’s episode that did not go as planned. Roger and Pete try to convince Ken to move with them. Pete and Trudi try to convince Greenwich Country Day to accept their daughter. (This was funny in that the headmaster kept giving different reasons why he wouldn’t accept her, but the real reason is a centuries-old feud between the Campbells and the McDonalds.) And The Partners telling the agency that they were being absorbed, and them being comically ignored. Basically, no one’s buying what they’re selling anymore. They’re out of touch, which is about the worst thing you can be as an advertising agency. It seems sudden for them to have lost it so quickly, maybe they’ll get it back at McCann.

The other seemingly big storyline was Peggy telling Stan about having a child. Pete sees a kid hug Peggy and gets a look. He remembers. I thought the baby was living with Peggy’s sister at one point, but that is hazy. “You do what you want with your children, I do what I want with mine.” “I don’t know, but it’s not because I don’t care. I don’t know, because you’re not supposed to know, or you can’t go on with your life.” “You don’t know lots of things about lots of people.” Peggy’s mad at that lady for yelling at her, but won’t let Stan judge her for the decisions she makes. It’s complicated and I guess I don’t have a ton to say about it.

I say it every other week, or maybe more, but I can’t get over the fact that the “Don Draper is really Dick Whitman, and shh, no one knows,” storyline isn’t a storyline anymore. There are subtle references every now and then, but it’s just not a source of tension anymore. Why?

Don and Roger messy at the bar was fun. Roger mentions how there will never be anymore Sterlings because his daughter is his only child, like he was. “No more Sterling Cooper, and no more Sterlings.” Obviously, the loss of the Sterling Cooper agency hurts for this reason. Don says something about aspiring to be like Shakespeare or something, and Roger says this drive is what he envies about Don. Don says he envied Roger not having to have this drive. Just a quick little scene about being born rich and born poor, I guess.

Lastly, if you’re still reading, when Don starts to tell The Partners about moving to the west coast, he shuts the curtains. Joan tells him to open them to keep the calm. This struck me as a nod toward transparency being the right way. I wonder if this is a recurring theme I haven’t noticed before, or if it’s a new theme to keep an eye on.

Last song: Money Burns a Hole in my Pocket by Dean Martin

Mad Men Season 7 Episode 11 Recap

Mad Men Season 7 Episode 10 Recap

Every week, Chris Piascik (@chrispiascik) illustrates a moment from the episode and I write up a recap.

Episode title: “The Forecast.”
Episode timing: I didn’t pick up on anything. Is this being left purposely vague? Presumably it’s sometime in May/June since Glen is finished with college and Sally is going on a trip?

In a shortened season, the mid-season malaise tends to happen at an accelerated pace. I don’t feel like much has happened last week or this week. Or, maybe stuff has happened, but not the kind of stuff I pick up on for these recaps. Hard to say!

In any case, this episode is all about the future, as made obvious by the episode title, “The Forecast.” Don’s task for the episode is writing a speech for Roger on what the future brings. He’s stumped and asks Ted Chaough, Peggy, Meredith, Sally… Anyone. “Let’s assume that it’s good, but it’s gonna get better. Supposed to get better.” After thinking about it for 15 minutes, let’s go out on a limb and say Don’s never looked to the future, never been able to, never had a reason to. At the same time, part of Don’s trouble “painting a picture” of the future is his dissatisfaction with his life/advertising. Don seems to be looking for something outside of advertising. More than advertising. He still doesn’t think what he does has much value. It’s why he responds to Ted (a pharmaceutical account) and Peggy’s (to create a catch phrase, something of lasting value) dreams the way he does. They’re valid, but because they’re based on goals in an advertising career, they’re cheap, or cheaper than real dreams. Which Don doesn’t have anyway, or can’t access.

Joan, on the other hand, dreams of charming Richard Burghoff / Bergoff. CHARMING with a capital MING. Joan is still a cool customer, much savvier than she comes off, but she still wants love. Richard wants her, but not to be saddled. “You’re such a disappointment.” “This is not how I saw things. I have a plan, which is no plans!” Joan remains frustrated by her son, “You’re ruining my life.” This felt like they were tying up Joan’s story, the way they tied up Megan last week. That said, I’m hoping for some Roger/Joan closure. “I don’t want to be rigid, it makes you old.”

Creepy Glen Bishop is back, baby, and there’s chest hair for everyone. He’s joining the army because he wants to impress Betty, or rather, he flunked out of college, and he thought if he joined the army, he could get with Betty. I’m half surprised Betty didn’t go for it. Didn’t she let him watch her pee before? Jeeze, Betty. You already said he’s “a fine young man.” “I feel safe because I know you’re mine.”

Don’s selling his house, which means… something. His real estate agent looks like Pete Campbell’s LA real estate girlfriend. She’s having trouble selling the empty shell of a condo because it reeks of failure, “It looks like a sad person lives here.” This seems a bit heavy handed, actually. Don sees the empty house and sees opportunity, thinks of all the stories you can tell with a blank slate. The real estate agent just sees it as a hard sell. Don’s “Sold a lot uglier things than this,” and, “That’s the best opportunity in the world.” Basically, Don’s an empty shell, just like his apartment. He’s always thought this was best (“opportunity”). Some people are beginning to point out that this chameleon act, empty shell lifestyle is not a good thing. In fact, it’s sad. Mathis and Sally both make this point explicitly during the episode, “Anyone pays attention to you, and they always do, you just ooze everywhere.” Come to think of it, I think this is what the episode is about, this is the big take away. “Don’t blame your failure on me” is what Don said to the real estate agent, but in other words to Mathis.

Sally and Betty seem to have made a certain kind of peace, “This conversation is a little late, and so am I,” “Everything’s a joke to you,” but it might just be her maturing and biding her time. A little birdie who I watch with every week thinks it’s interesting/good that Don’s relationship with Sally has been explored way more than his relationship with Bobby. Sally is an interesting character with depth, Bobby and Gene are just there. “You’re a very beautiful girl, it’s up to you to be more than that.” This is Don telling Sally that she can be like Betty, pretty and boring, or like him, pretty and successful. Right?

Miscellaneous
-Did you notice Don told Meredith he’d get the coffee himself so he could get two doughnuts and have an excuse to go into Ted’s office? I thought that was cute, but I don’t know why Don didn’t just ask Meredith to get him two doughnuts. Do you ever feel like there’s less to actually do, but more to think about?”

-Lou Avery is in California, still trying to sell his comic.

-When Sally’s friend was hitting on Don, he told Sally he didn’t want to embarrass her, but it seemed wildly out of character for him to go about it like that in front of Sally. He’s vain, but not THAT vain.

-Last song playing is The First Time I Ever Saw Your Face by Roberta Flack. Fitting.

Mad Men Season 7 Episode 10 Recap

Mad Men Season 7 Episode 9 Recap

Mad Men Season 7 Episod 8 art by Chris Piascik

Every week, Chris Piascik (@chrispiascik) illustrates a moment from the episode and I write up a recap.

Episode title: “New Business.”
Episode timing: Megan mentions the 24th of the month, so maybe a couple months later? The only other reference I noticed was Diana seeming to have been away from New York for a while. I didn’t pick up anything hinting at the date.

My favorite part about this episode was when Diana said she had “a twinge in my chest,” and Don said, “a pain.” I was so excited because this a reference to the Carousel scene from the first season. “Teddy told me that in Greek, “nostalgia” literally means “the pain from an old wound.” It’s a twinge in your heart far more powerful than memory alone.” Diana continues to be a reference to all of Don’s women from the past. (To drive this point home, Diana is the goddess of the hunt, worked at a Greek diner, come on.)

I hope we see Diana again. She’s so interesting and sad, real. She tells Don she lost a daughter, and Don thinks she’s punishing herself. When it turns out she’s running away from another daughter, Don realizes… something. She’s a lot like him. Diana living in an empty room contrasts with Don’s now empty house. Diana is living in her pain, wallowing it, and while Don has certainly wallowed, he doesn’t seem to want to remember the pain regularly. Some lines, “Can’t you see I don’t want anything?” “You don’t think I’ve felt grief?” “I know you think you deserve this.” “When I was with you, I forgot about her. I don’t ever want to do that.” Don does want to forget and continues to chase women to be able to… This might be a dumb question, but what’s his main pain? The failure of his family? His childhood? Dick Whitman/Don Draper?

It’s definitely been a while since Don’s double life has been a part of the show, I wonder why. That said, “I know it’s not real, nothing about you is.” Megan wasn’t really talking about Dick Whitman, but maybe she said. “Aging, selfish, sloppy liar.” For the crowd that despises Don, that’s about what they think. “I’m vain.” Yep. Don and Sylvia and Diana and Arnold in the elevator. Yep. (Other people write about the doors/elevators. Check that stuff out sometime.)

Harry Crane is such a dick. When he goes in to tell Don he was going to have lunch with her, he looked disheveled, which had to be on purpose. Harry hits on her and Megan at least has enough self-respect to walk away from him. He’s such a weasel. “Oh, Harry.” With such contempt.

Megan’s mother, Marie, stealing everything from Don’s house was…funny. Marie was mad Megan had to pay for the move, and without changing her tone or skipping a beat, called Megan a whore for letting Don pay for it. And then she clears out the house. And then Megan took a million dollars from Don for the divorce. I don’t know if he had to do that, but she seemed to appreciate it. Now Don can start over fresh with no furniture. Then Roger has sex with Marie in Don’s place, which he knew he shouldn’t have done, but did anyway.

Marie “hates what he’s done to this family.” And she could have been talking about any of the families. This, combined with the reference to the Carousel scene makes me think the loss of Betty/Sally/Bobby/Gene, etc is the big loss. Who knows?

The last story line to discuss in the episode is Peggy and Pima and Stan. I know I shouldn’t still feel like this, but I want more than anything for this story line to lead to a return of Sal Romano. PLEASE. In any case, Pima, a fancy photographer swoops in and seduces Stan and tries to seduce Peggy. Not sure why she was trying to seduce both of them. Wouldn’t she have continued to get work with just Stan on board? Peggy either sees the truth of Pima, or gets Jealous of Stan. Either way, I don’t know what any of this means. “I can feel the tension of your need for my opinion.”

Miscellaneous!

-Betty was on the show for the first time, but I assume we’re not done with her. She’s going to get a masters in psychology because people, “Seek me out to share their confidences.” OK, Betty.

-NAC = “No afternoon calls.” Not bad.

-Don’s secretary references the Manson brothers leading to a funny exchange where Don asks if they’re coming in for meeting.

-Don and Pete have to go golfing with Burt Peterson. Don says he’ll roll up his sleeves and rent clubs. Remember when Burt Peterson got fired from one of the agencies 4 or 5 mergers ago? Pete’s hair is still receding (the actor shaves his hairline back, which is so ballsy) and seemingly asks Don for advice on how to be single.

-The last song: C’Est Si Bon by Yves Montand

Mad Men Season 7 Episode 9 Recap

Mad Men Season 7 Episode 8 Recap

Chris Piascik's illustration for Mad Men Season 7 Episode 8
Every week, Chris Piascik (@chrispiascik) illustrates a moment from the episode and I write up a recap.

Episode title: “Severance.”
Episode timing: Pretty sure the speech Don watches took place between April 20th, and April 30th, 1970 (when the draw-down was announced and when the incursion into Cambodia was announced). Nixon was announcing the removal of 150K soldiers from Vietnam. Episode 7 was on or around July 20th, 1969, so about 9 months from then. More importantly. It seems like the Manson murders may have been skipped.

It usually takes me 3 or 4 episodes to get in a groove with the recaps, so who knows how this will go. Not very well, probably. Over the years, Mad Men has had series finales with a lot of upheaval, only to start next season with everything smoothed out. Though it wasn’t a finale, the mid-season break last year had plenty of upheaval, and though this isn’t a premier, there was plenty of everything smoothed out. Whatever the agency was called last year, they’ve been merged into McCann Erickson. Notably, Don Draper is still there, and Cutler is gone. (Ted Chaough is there, to, with a great mustache. And he and Don seem to be friendly.)

The first scene in the episode, with Don casting a fur advertisement, calls to mind Don’s first copywriting job at a fur shop.

Don and Dottie: A waitress in the diner looks like Rachel Katz of Menken Department stores (Don likes brunettes), and I wonder if this half season is going to be a rehashing of all of Don’s multi-episode flings. Dottie had a book by Jon Dos Passos, but I can’t figure out the significance. Don thinks he knows her, Dottie thinks he’s soliciting her, and, well, Don goes along with it. “You got your $100 worth, you can go.” “You got your $100 worth, you can go” is a pretty obvious reference to the ‘advertising as prostitution’ theme throughout the show.  When Don goes back a third  time, she seems far more gentle, more empathetic. “When people die, everything gets mixed up.” This scene obviously contrasts with Don going to where Rachel Katz’s family was sitting shiva. Rachel’s sister asks Don what he was looking for and he gets that Don Draper puppy dog thing. He still doesn’t know what he’s looking for.

There’s been at least one (two?) airline attendants on the show, so if we are looking back at all of Don’s flings, Tricia from TWA fits right in.

Peggy and Joan: Peggy and Joan have a problem with panty hose (“We had a problem, but we solved it.”) and when they go to a meeting with their colleagues at McCann…it doesn’t solve the problem. Joan is super pissed and Peggy seems less so. Peggy probably (definitely?) has more experience with this, but at the same time, Joan slept with a client to secure his business for the firm. Peggy seems to blame how Joan was dressed, and the years long, unresolved tension between Peggy and Joan is raw. Their relationship is so interesting, because you can never predict how one will respond to the other. Peggy can’t understand why Joan is so pissed because she doesn’t NEED to work like Peggy does. I think Joan can’t really understand why Peggy would take that abuse and not stab anyone. Peggy’s response is to fall in love and Joan’s response is to go shopping. “I want to burn this place down.”

This plot line was contrasted with Peggy’s interaction with her employee Mathis, “You want a raise? Stop acting like a secretary.” And then, “The kind of girl who doesn’t put up with things.” “Funny,” “Fearless.” Peggy continues to be totally in control and totally out of control. “I thought you were a fling, but now I think you might be more.” “I’ve tried new-fashioned.”

Ken Cosgrove: Ken’s story continues to be up and down. His father-in-law is retiring, but a beneficial replacement is stepping in. His wife wants him to quit, and they fight, and the very next day he gets fired by a smirking Ferguson Donnelly and an in-season-form-with-ridiculous-mustache Roger Sterling. (I think Ferg was drinking from a Sterling Cooper Draper Price Mug?) Pretty sure Ken still hates Pete and maybe vice versa? But anyway, Ken goes over all the accounts and writing, “This world is boring.” I think Pete really does envy Ken. Then Ken gets the last laugh by getting a job at Dow to be McCann’s client. “Shit.”

Did you notice in one of the casting scenes Ted Chaough opens the door to let one of the women in, but Pete lets her out? Ted Chaough also has a ridiculous mustache.

Is That All There Is by Peggy Lee was the song at the beginning of the episode AND the end of the episode

Mad Men Season 7 Episode 8 Recap

Mad Men Season 7 episode 7 recap

Mad Men Art
Every week, Chris Piascik (@chrispiascik) illustrates a moment from the episode and I write up a recap.

Episode title: “Waterloo.” Last week when I saw the title of the episode, I thought immediately Bert was going to die. Waterloo is where Napoleon was defeated, and Bert has always struck me as a little Napoleon. Usually I’m wrong about these things.
Episode timing: Apollo 11 took off on July 20, 1969, so that’s pretty clear. Note to Tate conspiracists, The Tate murders are about three weeks from now.

It’s easy to watch a lot of episodes of Mad Men and say nothing happened, even most of the episodes this half season. Well, not tonight. Not tonight!

Bert Cooper getting the opening scene confirmed for me the episode would be about him. I would love to see a Bert Cooper prequel at some point. He seemed to have so much cache (“He was a giant” get it, Napoleon), but in 7 seasons, I think we only saw him do 3 or 4 things. I watched his scene with Roger twice, about being a leader, loyalty, and Jim Cutler not being on his team. Despite him being mad at Don, and tired of him, he still backs him because of team. That was pretty great. “No man has ever come back from leave, even Napoleon.” Roger realizes that with Bert gone, and Don on his way out, he wouldn’t be able to hold off Cutler any longer, and so he engineers the sale of the agency to McCann. Isn’t it going to be weird in the future to watch Mad Men Season 7 and have this giant thing happen between episodes 7 and 8? Also, this feels like the 10th or 15th time a Mad Men season has ended with the agency facing a significant amount of upheaval in the future from some sort of restructuring or sale.

“Maybe they won’t make it, all their problems will be over.” Ted Chaough is done. He’s had it. He’s finished. We didn’t see much of him at all this year, but it seems like Don won the war they were having last season? It’ll be interesting to see if he has a bigger role next year. This is as good a place as any to mention Jim Cutler’s attitude toward the baby Lou Avery. As mentioned previously on the show, Cutler doesn’t care about creative, and Avery is evidence of that. His dismissal of him, “Get back to work” with a little wag of his hand was delicious. I hope we get to see Don fire him next year.

Harry asked Don for impartial advice and he offered, “Don’t negotiate, just accept the deal.” It was sound advice, I wonder what percentage Harry would have gotten. And then he missed out because he hadn’t signed yet. Poor Harry Crane, always looking for more. Maybe he’s the suicide everyone expects? Roger saying Cutler wanted to whittle the agency down to just Harry and the computer makes a lot of his actions previously more clear. “It’s the agency of the future.” Though Cutler didn’t have any interest in the computer until the 2nd or 3rd episode. Was going all in on the computer just an excuse to get rid of Don? When Cutler realizes he’s beat, he capitulates almost instantly. “It’s a lot of money.” It finally became clear why Joan was so venomously mad at Don (though, I guess I should have remembered this), when Don merged with Ted to cancel the IPO, he cost Joan about a million dollars. Don pitching Ted on staying was nice because we got to see Don pitch one final time. He mentioned again (though it hasn’t come up in a while) not wanting to deal with the the business side anymore, he just wanted to do the work, to be creative. “You don’t want to see what happens when it’s really gone.”

Cutler perceived Don’s surprise arrival at the cigarette meeting as a breach of contract, and moved quickly to have him terminated. He erred by not including all the other partners in his plans, especially because Don had been the good soldier lately. “Sometimes actions have consequences.” Earlier in the season or last season, Cutler said something about “what Don did to Ted” or something. It seems like he’s really had it out for Don since then. Pete is protective of his prize pitcher, “That is a very sensitive piece of horse flesh, he shouldn’t be rattled.”

Don being threatened with termination has his secretary throwing herself at him. That was… unexpected. It also leads Don to call Megan and discuss it as an opportunity. She doesn’t see it that way. It’s been happening all season, and some last, but they’ve grown apart. They seemed to have patched things up after their last fight, but only on the surface. Megan doesn’t want what Don can offer, he knows it, and he doesn’t even fight it. I think his offering to take care of her was also mostly, “Don’t tell anyone about my secret,” but at this point, who could she tell? None of her new friends would care. “Aren’t you tired of fighting?” “I guess I could see it as an opportunity.” “Marriage is a racket.”

The scenes of everyone watching the moon landing were excellent and foreshadowed Peggy’s pitch. Peggy, Pete, Harry, and Don; Roger, Mona, their grandson, and son-in-law; Betty and co; Bert and his maid. “One small step for man, one giant step for mankind.” Peggy’s pitch was like a less polished Don pitch. Same tempo, storytelling, etc. “All of us were doing the same thing at the same time.”

Peggy didn’t end up wearing either of the outfits she asked Julio about. Julio, who basically functions as a reminder to Peggy’s pregnancy. (As did “Pete’s pregnant,” which I’m not really sure I know what that means.) And during the pitch, when Peggy mentioned there was a 10 year old boy at her house watching television, the next shot was of Pete. There baby would only be about eight and a half, though. Don has been pretty supportive of Peggy for a while, or at least an episode and a half, but it was back to their early to mid-series form like when she was driving out to NJ to bail him out. “What if there was another table where everyone gets what they want when they want.” That’s been brought up before, mostly relation to Don doing whatever he wanted when he wanted, and not having any consequences. Peggy getting drop ceiling installed in her house was funny.

Cynical Sally is making eyes at the hunky older stud whose family is visiting. She does her hair and wears make up on her way to work, for his part, the hunky stud doesn’t wear a shirt when going down for breakfast. One might assume Betty would be furious at this behavior, but she’s not, I think, because she approves of it. Kind of a tie in to the conversation around Sally almost breaking her nose and her face being all she had. Also, from what we know about Betty, it wouldn’t have been a surprise for her to hit on the kid. I picked up on a contrasting of Sally and the football player with Peggy and the handyman, but as always, I’m too tired to figure it out, and let’s be honest, I probably couldn’t figure it out anyway. In any case, while I think Betty approved of Sally’s actions, I think Sally kissing Neil, instead of the hunky older stud, was another pushback against her mother. It was her not being cynical. The hunky older stud said something about how much the moon landing cost, a line of thinking Sally parrots to Don a few minutes later. Don responds, “Don’t be so cynical” and she takes it to heart. It’s nice. Also, she smokes cigarettes exactly like Betty and it’s spooky.

And that leaves us with a bestockinged Bert Cooper singing and dancing for Don, “The Best Things in Life Are Free.” Don appeared to be headed to his old office before the song and dance, and it makes him teary. So what are the free things Don is going to take joy in next year? The work! I don’t want to think too much about this song and dance, except, again, it’s going to be weird in the future when people are binge watching Season 7. I’m pretty glad not to have to stay up until 1:30 on Sunday nights anymore for a while, but splitting the season was done for purely money reasons on the part of AMC and it’s bullshit.

So what do we expect for next year? It won’t take 7 episodes to wrap things up tightly, so I imagine there will be more drama and intrigue. If Megan actually is going to be killed in the Manson Family murders, then next year will have to pick up 3 weeks from now. That would actually track roughly with a month passing between episodes, but I’m not sure how that’s more than a one episode story at most. What do you think’s going to happen?

Mad Men Season 7 episode 7 recap

“Nothing matters to anyone anymore but share potential”

Luke O’Neil, who seems to write pretty much every article on every site these days, calls bullshit on that stupid “How much does it cost to book your favorite band?” link that around this past week. Some acts seem way lower than they should be, some acts seem way higher than they should be, and there a lot of bands making more for one show than you made last year. O’Neil mentions a lot of sites who should know better shared the list anyway. Basically, this isn’t what your favorite band earns every night, it’s what your favorite band would charge to play at your Bar Mitzvah. Lastly, and smartly, O’Neil ties the sharing of this list to that Facebook dude cluelessly railing against viral media content.

This is exactly the sort of thing the Internet Thinking Apparatus was talking about yesterday in the wake of Facebook exec Mike Hudack’s anti viral media rant. Nothing matters to anyone anymore but share potential. Being able to affix a few famous musicians’ names and some big dollar figures to a headline under the guise of Data is a perfect recipe for viral success. It’s certainly worked here. The post is one of Priceonomics biggest traffic hits, with 1.2 million views as of this moment. Someone should put together a list of what traffic-worshipping sites charge for their integrity. A few ten thousand views seems to be about the going rate. That would be a huge viral hit.

“Nothing matters to anyone anymore but share potential”

Militia on an Army base

This story, by Nadya Labi, about an anti-government militia forming on a military base really doesn’t make the US Military look very good. Isaac Aguigui’s wife died suspiciously resulting in a cash payment of about a half million dollars to Aguigui, money he then used to buy weapons and drugs, and befriend other disaffected soldiers. Eventually, the militia’s paranoia turned on itself and murdered one of the members and his girlfriend. Before that, the Army missed several signals something was wrong.

Aguigui became close to Private Christopher Salmon, nicknamed Phish, who had been caught committing travel-voucher fraud in Iraq and was assigned extra duty as punishment. His wife, Heather, was pregnant, and she had recently been discharged from the Army for prescription-drug abuse. The two men sat together, smoking Spice and talking about their deepening antipathy toward the military and the government. At first, Heather was skeptical of Aguigui; she had met him before Deirdre died, at a beer-pong party off post, and overheard him arranging to meet a girl at the barracks. But after Deirdre’s death she felt sorry for him—and, she said, “he was my husband’s best friend.” She suggested inviting him to dinner at their home, a white four-bedroom row house on the base. “He came to my house and never really left,” she said. “One night turned into a week, a week turned into a month.” He took over the couch, and then moved into his own room.

Militia on an Army base