A Glimmer of Hope at (Anti)Liberty University

Calum Best, 22, who graduated from Liberty in May and who has spoken out against Mr. Falwell’s political activity, called the move ‘a victory.’

‘It feels like they did it more because they were embarrassed, more than because it was the correct thing to do,’ he said. But, he said, ‘it’s great that he is gone.’

‘He is the one who holds up Liberty’s culture of focus on money, material well-being, political nationalism,’ he said. ‘Without Falwell gone, we can’t really change any of that.’

Ruth Graham’s last piece for Slate, Why That Falwell Jr. Yacht Photo Was the Final Straw before she moves to the New York Times. Graham quotes Marybeth Davis Bagget who taught English at Liberty for 17 years and resigned this spring after publishing an op-ed calling for Falwell Jr.’s removal based on his handling of the coronavirus crisis.

“One man cannot act this way without many enablers, and any meaningful reform of the school will require a thorough and brutally honest inquiry into the LU culture.”

Amen to that.


The New Abnormal

We may be missing what’s most remarkable about this President because we focus on his most recent, outlandish lies. We’ve become completely desensitized to his publicly and regularly calling people names like “Crazy”, “Sleepy”, and “Pocahontas”. Sure Presidents have done it in the past, but sporadically, and in private. This new normal is not normal. At all.

Imagine if, in faculty meetings, a school principal regularly referred to one teacher as Crazy, another as Sleepy, and still another as Pocahontas. And then to top it off, used racial slurs like Kung Flu when discussing the coronavirus. Imagine if a pastor had derogatory names for her staff or if you routinely referred to a co-worker as Crazy. Imagine if your boss did. How long would they last?

And yet, like political signage at this time of year, it’s just become a part of the landscape.

Yesterday, I did it to myself again. The President’s press conferences are really bad reality television not just because he’s taken leave of his senses when it comes to Covid-19, but because you’d think the “journalists” are part of a Saturday Night Live sketch. How did they ever get jobs in a shrinking, cutthroat field?

Nevermind the virus, rising unemployment, and need for policing reform, yesterday’s first question was about Kanye West’s state of mind. Someone PLEASE permanently revoke that dude’s press credential.

Of course, on the rare occasion that a real journalist is allowed in and then called upon, the President’s answer is always the same, “Thank you for coming.”

Wednesday Required Reading

1. Canceled Races Aren’t Stopping Endurance Athletes From Setting Wild New Records. I’ve been lethargic lately, postponing and/or bagging workouts altogether. Maybe I should try to take one of these records down, but which one? Wonderland in 18 hours? With the help of an electric mtb.

2. Is Your Blood Sugar Undermining Your Workouts? Uh, maybe that’s my problem seeing that I’ve been hitting Costco’s cakes hard all summer.

3. Garmin reportedly paid multimillion-dollar ransom after suffering cyberattack.

4A. Liberty University Poured Millions Into Sports. Now Its Black Athletes Are Leaving. 4B. Photo appears to show Jerry Falwell Jr. with zipper down and arm around a woman. I recommend college presidents, to the best of their abilities, keep their zippers out of the news.

5. Shira Haas of ‘Unorthodox’ on Sharing the Joys of Her First Emmy Nod. I dare you to try to watch Unorthodox’s four episodes over four days.

6. Make Pizza … On Your Grill. Then invite me over.

Just Shut Up and Run, Pass, and Kick

That’s the sentiment of Mark Zeigler of The San Diego Union in “It’s time for college sports to tell athletes take it or leave it”.

Did Zeigler major in cynicism in college?

“Many of the 17 demands involve COVID-19 and racial equality, the summer’s two hottest topics and no doubt a way to exert leverage with a sympathetic public ear.”

Some of Zeigler’s criticisms of the players efforts to improve their young adult lives are fair, but here he is at his worst:

“Is enough ever going to be enough? Because apparently college athletes – or at least college football players – aren’t going to stop asking for more even as they receive concession after concession. The latest group with its hand out is Pac-12 football players, who issued a lengthy list of “demands” Sunday with the threat of boycotting the season. Here’s a suggestion: Go ahead, boycott away. Your loss.”

There’s a glaring internal inconsistency to his argument. He points out the players are getting a tremendous education for no cost and then implies student-athletes are in reality just athletes who don’t care about school. So, which is it?

For the life of me, I don’t understand anyone that criticizes young people for standing up for what they think is right, especially when most people are apathetic, just going along to get along.

I say right on to the players for imperfectly jabbing at the status quo.

Those who benefit most from the status quo are often the most offended— administrators, coaches, journalists, fans who want to be entertained every fall Saturday afternoon. How dare any players not gratefully accept what they are generously offered. How dare they think for themselves. How dare they agitate for change. Who do they think they are, citizens in a democracy?

I hope the players stick it to the whole, damn, NCAA sports industrial complex.


Best And Worst Countries To Raise A Family

Top 35 according to a Los Angeles based travel website.

Two stories, one related to #5, and the other, #34. A year or so ago, one of my favorite PLU students from the early years reconnected with me via Zuck’s monopoly.* Her family had recently moved from London to Luxembourg. She posted this little Lux missive yesterday.

“Since the late 1300s they (Luxembourgers) have held a Fun Fair called Schuberfour down the road from us, in light of Covid it was cancelled. Instead they put up small carnival rides all over the city for the kids to enjoy for free. The bumper cars happen to be a 7 minute walk from our house. They also set up a drive in movie theatre where we were able to enjoy Back to the Future with the kids.”

Seven hundred year old fair, LOL. And walkable bumper cars is very tough to compete with.

Shifting gears to #34. Our church’s brand new pastor, who is in his early 30’s is leaving after one year. One of the primary reasons. . . his family can’t afford housing on his pastor’s salary. And Olympia is less expensive than Tacoma which is less expensive than Seattle. Reminds me of the personal finance retirement advice I often read when the topic is pre-medicare medical insurance, consider moving to another country.

* Teachers often have fav students. The statue of limitations of admitting SF was one of mine has long passed.

How Jared Kushner’s Secret Testing Plan “Went Poof Into Thin Air”

Katherine Eban in Vanity Fair.

In early April:

“. . . the prospect of launching a large-scale national plan was losing favor, said one public health expert in frequent contact with the White House’s official coronavirus task force.

Most troubling of all, perhaps, was a sentiment the expert said a member of Kushner’s team expressed: that because the virus had hit blue states hardest, a national plan was unnecessary and would not make sense politically. “The political folks believed that because it was going to be relegated to Democratic states, that they could blame those governors, and that would be an effective political strategy,” said the expert.

That logic may have swayed Kushner. “It was very clear that Jared was ultimately the decision maker as to what [plan] was going to come out,” the expert said.

On April 27, Trump stepped to a podium in the Rose Garden, flanked by members of his coronavirus task force and leaders of America’s big commercial testing laboratories, Quest Diagnostics and LabCorp, and finally announced a testing plan: It bore almost no resemblance to the one that had been forged in late March, and shifted the problem of diagnostic testing almost entirely to individual states.”

When “effective political strategizing” substitutes for human decency.