Exercising Our Freedom Not to Speak

Needing sunshine and ocean views, I watched some of the Andy Williams San Diego Open at Torrey Pines Sunday afternoon. More simply, the San Diego Open. In two weeks, I’ll watch parts of the L.A. Open at Riviera.

Few people fully appreciate the slighted cousin of freedom of speech, freedom not to speak. News flash: we are not required to use the stadium or tournament labeling corporations pay tens of millions for annually. Care to join me in sabotaging the Professional Golf Association’s sponsors and other sports-affiliated corporations investments in branding?

Which brings me to another corporate brand, our Celebrity President who is dominating the news for reasons extremely concerning to anti-fascists worldwide. More important than being liked, or even respected, the Celebrity President craves attention. Good press (Fox News) is better than bad, but bad press is MUCH better than being ignored. As steady consumers of President-centric media, we fuel his mania. The dilemma, of course, is we have to pay attention, because as proven already, he has the power to wreak havoc on civil liberties, economic policy, the environment, and foreign policy, meaning life as we’ve known it.

What to do? Shine the light elsewhere, like on “How US college endowments lost big taking on more risk”? No, we need to shine the light as brightly as possible on his every move, while simultaneously applying our freedom not to speak. . . his name. I hereby propose, that everyone, from hence forward, simply refer to him in writing and in speech as the President. If all of us dissenters assiduously avoid using his last name, eventually, he’s certain to lose his mind at which point he will be declared incompetent, necessitating a return to private life where he can watch all the corporate branded professional golf he wants.*

*while no doubt bemoaning the continuing rise of international players. . . Wang, Rahm, etc.


First of many. Thanks for the questions, which in some cases are edited for brevity.

Samantha from Winnipeg: Federer or Nadal? SWilliams or VWilliams? Thoughts on the Australian more generally? Gotta love the tennis time machine. Back. From. Near. Death. I’ll be pulling for Rafa, but he has to be the underdog given the relative toughness of his semi-final match. Would LOVE to be there for that one, not just because Melbourne’s weather is a tad nicer than Oly’s right now. Same for the women, I’ll be pulling for big sis, but FiveThirtyEight probably has Serena’s chances of winning at about 90-92%. SWilliams is The Establishment. VWilliams represents change. Do upsets come in threes, Brexit, Celebrity President, VWilliams? Two others thoughts. First, if you’re a parent intent on raising a female professional tennis player, make sure your daughter is going to be at least 183cm and 68 kilos. Besides being taller and heavier than in the past, the women are ripped. Gone are the finesse days, it’s all power all the time. One thing hasn’t changed, still the sexiest sport outside of beach vball. Can I write that?

Fransisco from Stockton, CA: Most outlandish or worrisome thing Trump’s said or done so far? Actually, I have to give this week’s outlandish award to Fox New’s Lou Dobbs who said, and I kid you not, “President Trump has accomplished more in five days than President Obama did in eight years.” Fair and balanced. What were you doing watching Fox News. Looking for Megyn Kelly. Can I write that?

Priya from Hyderabad: Any movie recommendations? Last movie I saw was LaLaLand. I’m with Anzi Ansari on that one.

Other art suggestions? I highly doubt that this will be coming to Hyderabad anytime soon, but thanks to Lance calling in sick, last night the Good Wife and I went to “My Name is Rachel Corrie” in semi-sketchy, totally funky, downtown Olympia.

I recommend the one-woman, ninety minute, no intermission play. I think of it as a three-parter: 1) the spoken words taken from her diary, emails, and other writings; 2) the multimedia backdrop and minimalist staging; and 3) her actions. The writings were the first drafts of a very young woman, as a result, the many lengthy monologues didn’t move me nearly as much as the multimedia backdrop coupled with her radical selflessness. As a young woman she said she remembered one rule from her second grade teacher, a rule she thought we should apply throughout the world, “Everyone has the right to feel safe.” At age 23, she traded all her safety in for a modicum of Palestinian safety during the Second Intifada. She didn’t make it to 24. In the post play convo, one person said she died without accomplishing anything. That person is woefully unaware of the numerous, positive ripple effects of her short-lived life, starting with the Rachel Corrie Foundation.

Don from Marion, Ohio doesn’t have a question, but comments on the previous “Fact or Fiction?” post. Osnos is NOT punking you – those doomsday shelters are for real. Two millennia ago, Paul instructed the early Christians in Phillipia to”be anxious in nothing”. Similarly, Stoics pursue tranquility or inner joy of which contentment and gratitude are essential ingredients. This reporting is an incredibly convincing counter example to conventional wisdom about wealth. Most people work from the assumption that more money is more better. Is it possible to read that whole story and not conclude that when it comes to wealth, somewhere in the seven, eight, nine figures, there’s a serious point of diminishing returns? How much is enough? Excellent work by Osnos, made me ALMOST feel sorry for worried centi-millionaires and billionaires. 

Erin from Brainerd, MN. Why do people email you their mailbag questions instead of just leaving a comment? Dunno.

Future Posts

Democracy is alive and well in this corner of the interwebs.

Who would you like me to dialogue with next? What questions do you have for a possible “mailbag”? What topics would you like me to write more about.

Shape your humble blog by leaving a suggestion or question. Thanks in advance.

Thank You For Being Late—Buyer Beware

Excellent take down of Thomas Friedman’s newest NY Times best seller by Justin Peters of Slate.

Fav pgraph:

“Thank You for Being Late was put to bed well before the presidential election, and throughout the text Friedman makes occasional dismissive references to Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders. (Ha ha, remember those clowns? Good thing technocratic rationality prevailed!) Near the end of the book, Friedman presents an earnest 18-point plan for governmental reform in the age of accelerations; a platform for the “Making the Future Work for Everybody” party, as he puts it. Thomas Friedman doesn’t know a damn thing about the future. Despite all of his self-serving rhetoric about necessities and inevitabilities, he still couldn’t recognize that Trumpism is in part a consequence of thought leadership, of rampant globalization with blithe disregard for its domestic casualties, of having your head jammed so far up the future’s ass that you’ve completely lost touch with the present.”

If you’re looking for something better to read, I recommend Hillbilly Elegy: Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis by JD Vance. In this day and age, I guess I shouldn’t be surprised that it has become a political beach ball, batted around by Republicans and Democrats to argue for conservative and liberal social and economic policies. It’s Vance’s story of growing up in a dysfunctional family in Kentucky and Ohio, two states I grew up in. Here’s an idea, you can’t tell a person their story is “wrong”. Yes, if you must, you can tell them the conclusions they draw from it are misguided, but how about waiting awhile.

Alibaba, can I count Hillbilly Elegy as a 2017 book if I started it in the final days of 2016? What do your “book list” rules say about that? I also just finished the sup short collection of essays by Oliver Sacks that you gave me for Christmas. Does the fact that I enjoy reading and thinking about how people approach the end of life mean I’m old? How ’bout waiting awhile to answer that.

I just started a bruiser, Empire of Things by Frank Trentmann. Hoping to finish before UCLA cuts down the nets in Phoenix and/or JSpieth birdies #12 at Augusta National on Sunday. Also hoping everyone forgets I’m reading this so no one asks how it’s coming. #toomuchpressure