The American Dream Quantified

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From “The American Dream Quantified, At Last”

This graphic is worth several thousands of words. Among other things, it explains why parents are increasingly anxious about their children’s futures and why education policy makers are fixated on economic competitiveness often at the expense of “the whole child”.

For the record, my dad made about 10x more than me.

The Public Bathroom Battleground

While everyone debates whether and how to make them gender neutral out of respect to transgendered people, an even more insidious issue goes completely unreported.

The scourge that is open-door bathrooms in high traffic public buildings! Exhibit A, right inside the door of the Briggs YMCA in Olympia, WA. Exhibit B, at Martin Village Theater in Lacey, WA. These are open door bathrooms where you hear everything in the immediate vicinity and you have to choose the most distant commode or risk being seen doing your bidness.

I understand not wanting homeless people camping out, and security issues and all, but how on earth am I supposed to relax my bladder enough when I FEEL like I’m participating in your damn conversation?! And when I’m worried you might be trying to catch a peak.

When will sound dampening, closed doors, and some modicum of privacy return to public bathrooms? When will the madness stop?

Thankfulness is a Mindset

Not just the point of the bestest holiday of all. I give thanks for my health. The world’s greatest physical therapist, Pamela Johnson, correctly diagnosed my chronic calf pain early in the calendar year and prescribed a series of exercises designed to strengthen my hips. Now that my calves correctly offload all the pounding to my new and improved hips, I extended my 1,000 miles/year streak to 17 or 18 on November 12th. My utter lack of speed has never been more apparent, but thanks to newfound “proximal stability,” the endurance is back, and I feel great*.

Speaking of running, a scientific poll conducted on this morning’s run revealed greater sadness surrounding Florence’s death than Fidel’s. Check this if you’re curious about the probable path of Cuba’s economy.

I give thanks for my wife’s and daughters’ health and that my in-laws live about 990 miles closer than a few months ago.

I give thanks for a pantry full of food and drink, the ever changing beauty of Budd Inlet, flannel sheets, and the comforter my in-laws just tossed my way. “My” comforter because the Good Wife has her own convoluted system of layers.

I give thanks for friends who run even if it’s cold, dark, and raining.

I give thanks for the labradude’s continuing playfulness despite nearing the end of his life.

I give thanks that UCLA basketball is rolling.

I give thanks that somehow I installed the new wiper blades correctly.

I give thanks that the daughters will be home in three weeks.

I give thanks for all the readers of the humble blog.

*Steph Curry also lacked proximal stability during his first few years in the Association. And missed a fair number of games as a result of chronic ankle pain. So, look for marked improvements to my playing time and three point shooting percentage in 2017.

Techies, Solve This Scourge Already

Last night at Vic’s Pizzeria, while I waited for The Good Wife to bus her dishes, I read a flyer announcing some kind of Trail Celebration. I was intrigued but wasn’t sure if it was a trail run or something else altogether. When I saw the event took place on November 12th, four days earlier, I gave up trying to make sense of it.

Granted, compared to electing a celebrity buffoon President, dated flyers may not inspire much outrage, but this is an underappreciated scourge. I probably feel this way because college campuses are littered with announcements about foreign films, guest lectures, job fairs, and celebrity buffoon President protests that took place yesterday, last week, or three months ago. And litter is the operative word, especially for my minimalist friends and me. You can’t look anywhere without being bombarded by yesterday’s news.

Which begs the question, in this digital age, why are we still felling trees to announce trail celebrations and foreign films? Why haven’t the techies created affordable digital bulletin boards with EXPIRATION DATES attached to each announcement. So the foreign film announcement disappears at the exact time and day at which it’s shown. Is that asking too much?

As the Dust Settles

A twitter summary of what Chris Arnade’s learned about life in working class American cities and towns:

 1.  If you don’t think many liberal & cosmopolitan circles are infused with contempt for uneducated whites, you are living a fantasy.

2. If you don’t think that the contempt is understood and felt by the working class whites you are also living in a fantasy world.

3. It is a contempt more fully realized because many liberals have entirely removed themselves from the working class. White & black!

4. Other than donations to inner city charities. Or panel discussions on the challenges of poverty.

5. Their personal life is entirely removed from realities of working class. They would rather eat bespoke insects than go to Applebee’s.

6. And before I get Yale-splained about visceral racism of working class. Look inward at the destructive racism & classism of the elites.

7. Remember we are a divided country: by race, class, education, geography, and meaning.

More analysis from an Arnade interview in The Atlantic

Chandler: Some have talked about the idea of a cultural pulling of the lever for Trump—how media and pop culture that are seen as mainstream have put forth liberal-seeming ideas with a sort of certainty, a style and cachet, that turned support of Trump into something countercultural, a revolutionary act. Does that make any sense to you?

Arnade: Sociologists call that “valid social capital.” The elites control the valid social capital—what’s cool and what’s not cool, the in club and the out club. Oh hell yeah! Part of Trump’s appeal is the fact that he isn’t supposed to be appealing. I met people who were voting for him because it wasn’t acceptable to vote for him. It was insiders versus the outsiders and it made them feel much more like, “Hey, I’m an outsider, [now] I’m part of a group. Now let’s go take this over.”

Chandler: Did you find yourself arguing back, “But Trump’s the ultimate insider! This is a guy who got a $14 million loan from his dad to start his first company.”

Arnade: You can’t do that because Hillary Clinton was also that person. And anything you said to point out that Trump was part of the establishment, they will rightfully point out that Hillary is more so. My God, she was the most insider there is. The only thing that kept her from being a complete insider is she was female, but otherwise, the Clintons have been in power since ’92.

Chandler: If the DNC asked you how to bring people like this back into the fold, what would you tell them?

Arnade: They’ve got to be a party of the working class again. All the working class. They’re a party of the black working class and that’s great. They’ve got to be a party of the working class and not bankers. Clinton’s convention was all about appealing to Republicans, bankers. They’ve got to step away from Wall Street and back to Main Street. I know it’s a cliche. They’ve got to remember their roots. They used to be about helping working-class people fight monopolies, fight corporate interests. Help them build unions, help them get pricing power from employment—that’s gone. I don’t know what Trump stands for, but also the Democrats…they’re the party of bankers and war. Hillary ran on a neoconservative platform that was more aggressive than George W. Bush’s. What do they offer working-class people?

So according to Arnade, a new and improved Democratic Party would:

  1. help working class people fight monopolies
  2. help working class people fight corporate interests
  3. help working class people build unions
  4. help working class people get pricing power from employment
  5. stop being the party of bankers
  6. stop being the party of war

Six is a serious stretch given W’s record versus Obama’s. If 1-5 are correct, it’s reasonable to speculate that Bernie Sanders would’ve done far better in the Rust Belt and carried the day.

Missing from Arnade’s, and nearly everyone’s post-election analysis, is any insight into this grossly overlooked question: Why is female academic achievement so much greater than male?

Pendulums Swing

Should have seen this coming, but was lulled asleep by Dan Dan the Transpo Man, and Nate Silver, and other number crunchers who kept telling me everything was going to be okay. I forgot the history, how incredibly rare it is for either party to win three elections in a row. National politics is about pendulum swings. Always has been, always will be. And the President-elect (damn, that was painful to type) vanquished 16 challengers in the primary because he understood how to use the media so much better than them. The refreshing fact that a woman made the finals didn’t compensate for the fact that she represented the status quo when the electorate was clamoring for change.

And now America’s fixation with celebrity has reached it’s vertex. And now my Middle Eastern grad student doesn’t know if her work permit will be renewed, whether she’ll be able to finish her degree, and whether her and her family will be okay. And now my daughters have to wait a little longer to elect a female President*.

And now health care will become more convoluted. And now tariffs on imports will mean the undereducated and underemployed white males who voted for the President-elect will have to pay a lot more for consumer products. And now because of the tough talk traditional alliances will be tested and foreign policy challenges will mount. And now terrorism will continue unabated despite the tough talk.

And now I remind myself of the stoic concept “trichotomy of control”, there are some things over which I have no control, some over which I have some control, and some over which I have complete control.” I will focus on the “some” and especially the “complete”. That’s why I got up this morning and ran in the dark. And that’s why I’m blogging again after too long of a break. And that’s why I’ll eat a healthy dinner tonight and cuddle with the sick labradude.

And I’ll do my small part as a writer, educator, and citizen to hasten the pendulum away from the simplistic, nationalist “America First” mania upon which it’s turned.

* my prediction, within 12 years