Ta-Nehisi Coates on O.J. Simpson

I hadn’t yet learned that black people are not a computer program but a community of humans, varied, brilliant, and fallible, filled with the mixed motives and vices one finds in any broad collection of humanity. More important, I did not understand the ties that united Simpson and the black community. When O. J. Simpson ran from justice, returned to it, was tried for murder, and eluded justice again, it was the most shocking statement of pure equality since the civil-rights movement. Simpson had killed Nicole Brown Simpson and Ron Goldman. I suspected that then, and I am sure of it now. But he’d gotten away with it—in much the same way that white people had killed black men and women for centuries and gotten away with it.

The essay in its entirety.

How To Win The Presidential Debate

Recognize most people watching have a built-in wariness of anyone wanting to “run” the country because the ambition needed to apply for the job is mind boggling. Many wonder, what kind of person thinks they’re qualified to lead the country? Most, understandably conclude, only a serious ego-maniac. Therein lies the challenge. Ego-maniacs make poor leaders because effective leadership requires humility and the ability to respect and work with diverse groups of people.

Broad policy ideas are important, but the details are likely to be forgotten in a few days time. Don’t trot out any preplanned lines that you hope are especially memorable because the most successful one-liners are always a mix of spontaneity and authenticity. If you’re focused and lucky, the spirit of spontaneous, authentic, memorable lines may strike you at some point. That’s the best you can hope for.

To gain respect of voters, choose self respect over political science, and refrain from counter-punching when attacked. Convey a sense of gratitude for the opportunity to serve the nation.

Present the most positive vision for the country and you’ll win the debate. More specifically, present the most convincing plan to continue closing the gap between our stated ideals and challenging realities and you’ll win. Convince voters you have the necessary mix of character, confidence, and humility to improve people’s quality of life, and you’ll win.

I’ll be watching.

 

Sentences to Ponder

Emma Brown in the Washington Post:

A growing number of California teachers have started driving for Uber on weekends and in the evenings, the Nation reported this month. In San Francisco, the average teacher would have to spend two-thirds of her salary to afford the city’s astronomical median rent of $3,500, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.

Adult Onset Seriousness

Playfulness is a wonderful attribute. One I’d like to revive.

Last Thursday afternoon. Lunch swim workout in the books. Walking across Foss Intramural Field back to the office. One of those perfect, sunny, 60-ish, post summer/pre-fall September days in the Pacific Northwest that you wish you could bottle. Frisbees filled the air.

Somewhere between young adulthood and adulthood I stopped playing frisbee. I used to be a SoCal legend in my own mind. At SoCal beaches my signature move was to huck it way above the waves like a boomerang into the onshore wind and then, hours, minutes, maybe 15 seconds later, catch it to the delight of hundreds, my girlfriend and a few other friends, myself. I don’t think our frisbee even survived the recent move.

Somewhere in adulthood I stopped playing, not just frisbee, everything it seems. Yes, swimming, running, and cycling can be child-like activities, but not the way I tend to do them. I train. I have distance and time goals. And tiny gps-enabled computers and apps that tell me how far, how fast, and many other things in between. Yesterday I ran home from church, 7.5 miles in 56 minutes and change, for a 7:30/m average (first half, downhill). At one point, I saw two good friends walking the opposite direction. We said “hello”, and even though we haven’t talked for a month, I kept going. You know, the average pace and all.

Hell, I don’t even PLAY golf anymore. And I’m not alone. Do any adults ever think “What a nice day, I should ask the rest of the office to chuck the frisbee for awhile.”? And yet, nothing is more natural for young adults on college campuses than to stop and play.

How to cultivate a playful spirit? What might my swimming, running, and cycling look like if I approached them as play? What about other non-work activities?

Before you suggest low hanging fruit like mountain biking, you should know I sometimes struggle staying upright even on intermediate trails. With that caveat, I’m open to any other suggestions.

What do you do, if anything to maintain a sense of playfulness?

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The “Secret” to Success

Apart from my good looks, unusual charm, and cardiovascular health, there’s nothing exceptional about me. I did well in school and I’ve done okay in life for one primary reason. Growing up I had a gaggle of caring adults around me who I didn’t want to disappoint. Teachers, older siblings, coaches, mom and dad, youth pastors, family friends, mom and dad.

Most kids who do poorly in school and/or life are just as capable as I was, they simply lack the network of supportive, caring adults. “If no one gives a shit,” they often end up thinking, “why should I?”

The Answer gets it:

“That’s the only thing that got me here is my teammates. My teammates and my coach. That’s the only reason I’m here. All those guys sacrificed their game and sacrificed different things for me to be honored like this and what I’ve done. Without them, it wouldn’t have happened. Without my coaches putting me in a position to succeed … Larry Brown molded me into an MVP and a Hall of Fame player. Without those guys I wouldn’t be here. Without those guys, man. I didn’t do this by myself, man. It was so many people, so many fans that came in there and cheered for me, night in and night out. So many people supported me and believed in me. They made it so easy for me to believe in myself because I didn’t want to let them down. I wanted my fans and my family and my friends to be proud of me.