Thursday Assorted Links

1. Today’s higher education case study—The (dreaded) University of Southern California.

2. This is what it’s come to. On the new game show Paid Off, lucky winners put holes in their student debt.

3A. Signs of a thaw for Ethiopia and Eritrea.

3B. The Addis Ababa art scene.

4. Trump tariffs spare clothing industry. How convenient.

5. Bloody Sunday. A preview.

Maybe You’re Like a Friend of Mine

Intelligent. Curious. A bit perplexed by young people’s identity politics and social activism.

I did my best to explain young people’s politics and activism to him based upon my relationship with my subset of university students who tilt decidedly left.

My primer was kindergarten. The graduate seminar is taught by Hannah Gadsby on Netflix. Her story is titled “Nanette”. Watch it if you’re the least bit curious or perplexed.*

For afterwards, here’s an interview with Gadsby. And here’s a “cheater’s guide to Hannah Gadsby and ‘Nanette'”.

From the guide:

“If you’re looking for a few giggles after a long day in the office, ‘Nanette’ is not for you. As you can probably guess by now, most of the show is not funny at all. It is disturbing, it is furious, it is sensitive and it is incredibly smart.”

Exactly right.

*turn on subtitles to avoid missing any of the quick, quiet, subtle Australian English phrases

The Kavanaugh Nomination Explained

Thank you Lili.

“The nominee looks good on paper—he’s Ivy-educated, Federalist Society–approved, and has the sorts of credentials serious thinkers like to solemnly enumerate. More importantly, though, Kavanaugh isn’t just a booster for presidential power, he’s someone who—having once laid out the grounds for impeaching President Bill Clinton—has since (in a move his advocates will no doubt cite as evidence of his broad-mindedness) changed his mind about how presidents should deal with being investigated. In brief, he doesn’t believe they should have to: ‘[T]he President should be excused from some of the burdens of ordinary citizenship while serving in office,’ Kavanaugh wrote. ‘We should not burden a sitting President with civil suits, criminal investigations, or criminal prosecutions,’ he added. The ‘indictment and trial of a sitting President’ would ‘cripple the federal government.’

Imagine Trump’s feelings when he heard that. Trump used the phrase equal justice twice in his speech, but what he really wants is exceptional justice. And Kavanaugh is willing to give it.

But installing a judge who will quietly immunize you from any legal consequences for wrongdoing requires finesse. It’s a challenge even for a showman of Trump’s caliber. A maneuver like this must look quite, quite normal in order to successfully mask his real rationale. It can be easy to forget, especially on the heels of a bile-filed rally in Montana, that Trump can ‘code switch’ when he has reason to, and he had reason to do so Monday, when what he needed was to make filling a Supreme Court seat look like the act of a statesman rather than a robber baron.

Kavanaugh went out of his way to play his part in catering to Trump’s ego.”

 

Highly plausible. I also LTM (laughed to myself) as Kavanaugh’s acceptance stretched from one minute to seven or so and Little St. Don couldn’t mask his complete and total annoyance at having lost the limelight. I’ve heard some people have been saying he’s a bit of a narcissist.

There’s Something Different About Them

Good sermon pastor, thank you. You’re right, the church does need to involve itself more directly with the “affairs of the city and state”. Apolitical churches do lack vitality.

But I wish you had concluded with “To Be Continued” because there is so much more to consider, isn’t there? It seemed like at least a three-parter.

As members of Good Shepherd Lutheran Church, it would be nice if our mutual effort to be more Christ-like was sufficient for us to quickly and simply come to common agreements about candidates, policy resolutions, and Supreme Court nominees.

But that’s fantastical, “pie in the sky” thinking. Why do I think that? Because there’s one other congregant in our church who I sometimes struggle to discuss politics with. Even though we have similar values and political philosophies, sometimes when we think and feel differently about a specific “affair of the city or state”, we get defensive, even offended to the point where one of us ends up with hurt feelings.

Given our congregation of 250-300 people, multiply the political pitfalls the two of us sometimes succumb to by 125 or 150. Reaching any kind of consensus on the “affairs of the city and state” is so difficult, most churches don’t even try.

I contend it’s impossible to reach any kind of consensus on candidates running for office and on policy issues, even those that directly overlap with Jesus’ example like what to do about homelessness, low-income housing, and taxes.

But that shouldn’t be the goal.* The goal should be to delve ever more deeply into “the affairs of the city and state” knowing that people will come to different conclusions. The goal should be to listen to one another more patiently, to extend more grace to those who think differently, and to maintain caring relations despite differing political philosophies and affiliations. For visitors to conclude, “There’s something different about them. Something compelling.”

The question you left me with is whether we can be an oasis for people who are completely burned out by political partisanship, rancor, and hatred. Can we learn to “do politics” differently, by listening to, empathizing with, and genuinely respecting one another despite our contrasting political philosophies and affiliations? So that we can be an outward looking, positive presence in our community.

I don’t know that answer to that, but I suspect our future depends upon it.

*especially if we want to maintain our tax exempt status

Saturday Assorted Links

1. Alison Byrnes’s dream vacation. Maybe yours too?

2. Kate Wynja, high school golfer of the year.

“. . . it broke my heart for the team.”

3. Restaurants of the future. Count me as pro simplification.

4A. Female members of congress by party affiliation.

4B. The future of the Democratic Party. Maybe.

5. Republicans’ latest tax con.

6. The future of cycling.

Good Morning Customers—College Is Now Half Off!

Add the Richmond, Indiana Quaker giant, Earlham College, to the list of endangered liberal arts species. You’ll find it right before Evergreen State College.

Paragraph to ponder:

“Nationally, the average tuition discount rate for first-time, full-time students climbed to an estimated 49.9 percent in 2017-18, according to a report by the National Association of College and University Business Officers. As a result, even as colleges have increased tuition, the net revenue per student has declined.”

If you’re shopping for a college, and they tell you tuition/room and board is $50,000/year, please understand that’s only the STICKER PRICE.

Only suckers pay sticker price.

If you’re an average negotiator, say half as good as St. Don, you should pay $25,000 out-of-pocket.

We should stop saying college tuition is going up and instead say where colleges are starting their negotiations with families is going up. Where will this ever increasing discount rate arms race end? Earlham and Evergreen are just a few of the growing number of canaries in the cave.

A Reading From the Book of St. Don

A confession. Sometimes when I add “LOL” onto a text message, I’m not LLOL (literally laughing out loud). However, this satirical essay by George Saunders, one of the best examples of satirical writing anyone has ever written, since the beginning of time, including probably, you know Napoleon or whoever, left me LLOL multiple times.